ce399 | research archive (esoterica)

The Holy Grail of the Unconscious: Carl Jung’s Red Book (NY Times 9/20/09)

Posted in Uncategorized by ce399 on 30/06/2010

This is a story about a nearly 100-year-old book, bound in red leather, which has spent the last quarter century secreted away in a bank vault in Switzerland. The book is big and heavy and its spine is etched with gold letters that say “Liber Novus,” which is Latin for “New Book.” Its pages are made from thick cream-colored parchment and filled with paintings of otherworldly creatures and handwritten dialogues with gods and devils. If you didn’t know the book’s vintage, you might confuse it for a lost medieval tome.

And yet between the book’s heavy covers, a very modern story unfolds. It goes as follows: Man skids into midlife and loses his soul. Man goes looking for soul. After a lot of instructive hardship and adventure — taking place entirely in his head — he finds it again.

Some people feel that nobody should read the book, and some feel that everybody should read it. The truth is, nobody really knows. Most of what has been said about the book — what it is, what it means — is the product of guesswork, because from the time it was begun in 1914 in a smallish town in Switzerland, it seems that only about two dozen people have managed to read or even have much of a look at it.

Of those who did see it, at least one person, an educated Englishwoman who was allowed to read some of the book in the 1920s, thought it held infinite wisdom — “There are people in my country who would read it from cover to cover without stopping to breathe scarcely,” she wrote — while another, a well-known literary type who glimpsed it shortly after, deemed it both fascinating and worrisome, concluding that it was the work of a psychotic.

So for the better part of the past century, despite the fact that it is thought to be the pivotal work of one of the era’s great thinkers, the book has existed mostly just as a rumor, cosseted behind the skeins of its own legend — revered and puzzled over only from a great distance.

Which is why one rainy November night in 2007, I boarded a flight in Boston and rode the clouds until I woke up in Zurich, pulling up to the airport gate at about the same hour that the main branch of the Union Bank of Switzerland, located on the city’s swanky Bahnhofstrasse, across from Tommy Hilfiger and close to Cartier, was opening its doors for the day. A change was under way: the book, which had spent the past 23 years locked inside a safe deposit box in one of the bank’s underground vaults, was just then being wrapped in black cloth and loaded into a discreet-looking padded suitcase on wheels. It was then rolled past the guards, out into the sunlight and clear, cold air, where it was loaded into a waiting car and whisked away.

THIS COULD SOUND, I realize, like the start of a spy novel or a Hollywood bank caper, but it is rather a story about genius and madness, as well as possession and obsession, with one object — this old, unusual book — skating among those things. Also, there are a lot of Jungians involved, a species of thinkers who subscribe to the theories of Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist and author of the big red leather book. And Jungians, almost by definition, tend to get enthused anytime something previously hidden reveals itself, when whatever’s been underground finally makes it to the surface.

Carl Jung founded the field of analytical psychology and, along with Sigmund Freud, was responsible for popularizing the idea that a person’s interior life merited not just attention but dedicated exploration — a notion that has since propelled tens of millions of people into psychotherapy. Freud, who started as Jung’s mentor and later became his rival, generally viewed the unconscious mind as a warehouse for repressed desires, which could then be codified and pathologized and treated. Jung, over time, came to see the psyche as an inherently more spiritual and fluid place, an ocean that could be fished for enlightenment and healing.

Whether or not he would have wanted it this way, Jung — who regarded himself as a scientist — is today remembered more as a countercultural icon, a proponent of spirituality outside religion and the ultimate champion of dreamers and seekers everywhere, which has earned him both posthumous respect and posthumous ridicule. Jung’s ideas laid the foundation for the widely used Myers-Briggs personality test and influenced the creation of Alcoholics Anonymous. His central tenets — the existence of a collective unconscious and the power of archetypes — have seeped into the larger domain of New Age thinking while remaining more at the fringes of mainstream psychology.

A big man with wire-rimmed glasses, a booming laugh and a penchant for the experimental, Jung was interested in the psychological aspects of séances, of astrology, of witchcraft. He could be jocular and also impatient. He was a dynamic speaker, an empathic listener. He had a famously magnetic appeal with women. Working at Zurich’s Burghölzli psychiatric hospital, Jung listened intently to the ravings of schizophrenics, believing they held clues to both personal and universal truths. At home, in his spare time, he pored over Dante, Goethe, Swedenborg and Nietzsche. He began to study mythology and world cultures, applying what he learned to the live feed from the unconscious — claiming that dreams offered a rich and symbolic narrative coming from the depths of the psyche. Somewhere along the way, he started to view the human soul — not just the mind and the body — as requiring specific care and development, an idea that pushed him into a province long occupied by poets and priests but not so much by medical doctors and empirical scientists.

Jung soon found himself in opposition not just to Freud but also to most of his field, the psychiatrists who constituted the dominant culture at the time, speaking the clinical language of symptom and diagnosis behind the deadbolts of asylum wards. Separation was not easy. As his convictions began to crystallize, Jung, who was at that point an outwardly successful and ambitious man with a young family, a thriving private practice and a big, elegant house on the shores of Lake Zurich, felt his own psyche starting to teeter and slide, until finally he was dumped into what would become a life-altering crisis.

What happened next to Carl Jung has become, among Jungians and other scholars, the topic of enduring legend and controversy. It has been characterized variously as a creative illness, a descent into the underworld, a bout with insanity, a narcissistic self-deification, a transcendence, a midlife breakdown and an inner disturbance mirroring the upheaval of World War I. Whatever the case, in 1913, Jung, who was then 38, got lost in the soup of his own psyche. He was haunted by troubling visions and heard inner voices. Grappling with the horror of some of what he saw, he worried in moments that he was, in his own words, “menaced by a psychosis” or “doing a schizophrenia.”

He later would compare this period of his life — this “confrontation with the unconscious,” as he called it — to a mescaline experiment. He described his visions as coming in an “incessant stream.” He likened them to rocks falling on his head, to thunderstorms, to molten lava. “I often had to cling to the table,” he recalled, “so as not to fall apart.”

Had he been a psychiatric patient, Jung might well have been told he had a nervous disorder and encouraged to ignore the circus going on in his head. But as a psychiatrist, and one with a decidedly maverick streak, he tried instead to tear down the wall between his rational self and his psyche. For about six years, Jung worked to prevent his conscious mind from blocking out what his unconscious mind wanted to show him. Between appointments with patients, after dinner with his wife and children, whenever there was a spare hour or two, Jung sat in a book-lined office on the second floor of his home and actually induced hallucinations — what he called “active imaginations.” “In order to grasp the fantasies which were stirring in me ‘underground,’ ” Jung wrote later in his book “Memories, Dreams, Reflections,” “I knew that I had to let myself plummet down into them.” He found himself in a liminal place, as full of creative abundance as it was of potential ruin, believing it to be the same borderlands traveled by both lunatics and great artists.

Jung recorded it all. First taking notes in a series of small, black journals, he then expounded upon and analyzed his fantasies, writing in a regal, prophetic tone in the big red-leather book. The book detailed an unabashedly psychedelic voyage through his own mind, a vaguely Homeric progression of encounters with strange people taking place in a curious, shifting dreamscape. Writing in German, he filled 205 oversize pages with elaborate calligraphy and with richly hued, staggeringly detailed paintings.

What he wrote did not belong to his previous canon of dispassionate, academic essays on psychiatry. Nor was it a straightforward diary. It did not mention his wife, or his children, or his colleagues, nor for that matter did it use any psychiatric language at all. Instead, the book was a kind of phantasmagoric morality play, driven by Jung’s own wish not just to chart a course out of the mangrove swamp of his inner world but also to take some of its riches with him. It was this last part — the idea that a person might move beneficially between the poles of the rational and irrational, the light and the dark, the conscious and the unconscious — that provided the germ for his later work and for what analytical psychology would become.

The book tells the story of Jung trying to face down his own demons as they emerged from the shadows. The results are humiliating, sometimes unsavory. In it, Jung travels the land of the dead, falls in love with a woman he later realizes is his sister, gets squeezed by a giant serpent and, in one terrifying moment, eats the liver of a little child. (“I swallow with desperate efforts — it is impossible — once again and once again — I almost faint — it is done.”) At one point, even the devil criticizes Jung as hateful.

He worked on his red book — and he called it just that, the Red Book — on and off for about 16 years, long after his personal crisis had passed, but he never managed to finish it. He actively fretted over it, wondering whether to have it published and face ridicule from his scientifically oriented peers or to put it in a drawer and forget it. Regarding the significance of what the book contained, however, Jung was unequivocal. “All my works, all my creative activity,” he would recall later, “has come from those initial fantasies and dreams.”

Jung evidently kept the Red Book locked in a cupboard in his house in the Zurich suburb of Küsnacht. When he died in 1961, he left no specific instructions about what to do with it. His son, Franz, an architect and the third of Jung’s five children, took over running the house and chose to leave the book, with its strange musings and elaborate paintings, where it was. Later, in 1984, the family transferred it to the bank, where since then it has fulminated as both an asset and a liability.

Anytime someone did ask to see the Red Book, family members said, without hesitation and sometimes without decorum, no. The book was private, they asserted, an intensely personal work. In 1989, an American analyst named Stephen Martin, who was then the editor of a Jungian journal and now directs a Jungian nonprofit foundation, visited Jung’s son (his other four children were daughters) and inquired about the Red Book. The question was met with a vehemence that surprised him. “Franz Jung, an otherwise genial and gracious man, reacted sharply, nearly with anger,” Martin later wrote in his foundation’s newsletter, saying “in no uncertain terms” that Martin could not “see the Red Book, nor could he ever imagine that it would be published.”

And yet, Carl Jung’s secret Red Book — scanned, translated and footnoted — will be in stores early next month, published by W. W. Norton and billed as the “most influential unpublished work in the history of psychology.” Surely it is a victory for someone, but it is too early yet to say for whom.

STEPHEN MARTIN IS a compact, bearded man of 57. He has a buoyant, irreverent wit and what feels like a fully intact sense of wonder. If you happen to have a conversation with him anytime before, say, 10 a.m., he will ask his first question — “How did you sleep?” — and likely follow it with a second one — “Did you dream?” Because for Martin, as it is for all Jungian analysts, dreaming offers a barometric reading of the psyche. At his house in a leafy suburb of Philadelphia, Martin keeps five thick books filled with notations on and interpretations of all the dreams he had while studying to be an analyst 30 years ago in Zurich, under the tutelage of a Swiss analyst then in her 70s named Liliane Frey-Rohn. These days, Martin stores his dreams on his computer, but his dream life is — as he says everybody’s dream life should be — as involving as ever.

Even as some of his peers in the Jungian world are cautious about regarding Carl Jung as a sage — a history of anti-Semitic remarks and his sometimes patriarchal views of women have caused some to distance themselves — Martin is unapologetically reverential. He keeps Jung’s 20 volumes of collected works on a shelf at home. He rereads “Memories, Dreams, Reflections” at least twice a year. Many years ago, when one of his daughters interviewed him as part of a school project and asked what his religion was, Martin, a nonobservant Jew, answered, “Oh, honey, I’m a Jungian.”

The first time I met him, at the train station in Ardmore, Pa., Martin shook my hand and thoughtfully took my suitcase. “Come,” he said. “I’ll take you to see the holy hankie.” We then walked several blocks to the office where Martin sees clients. The room was cozy and cavelike, with a thick rug and walls painted a deep, handsome shade of blue. There was a Mission-style sofa and two upholstered chairs and an espresso machine in one corner.

Several mounted vintage posters of Zurich hung on the walls, along with framed photographs of Carl Jung, looking wise and white-haired, and Liliane Frey-Rohn, a round-faced woman smiling maternally from behind a pair of severe glasses.

Martin tenderly lifted several first-edition books by Jung from a shelf, opening them so I could see how they had been inscribed to Frey-Rohn, who later bequeathed them to Martin. Finally, we found ourselves standing in front of a square frame hung on the room’s far wall, another gift from his former analyst and the centerpiece of Martin’s Jung arcana. Inside the frame was a delicate linen square, its crispness worn away by age — a folded handkerchief with the letters “CGJ” embroidered neatly in one corner in gray. Martin pointed. “There you have it,” he said with exaggerated pomp, “the holy hankie, the sacred nasal shroud of C. G. Jung.”

In addition to practicing as an analyst, Martin is the director of the Philemon Foundation, which focuses on preparing the unpublished works of Carl Jung for publication, with the Red Book as its central project. He has spent the last several years aggressively, sometimes evangelistically, raising money in the Jungian community to support his foundation. The foundation, in turn, helped pay for the translating of the book and the addition of a scholarly apparatus — a lengthy introduction and vast network of footnotes — written by a London-based historian named Sonu Shamdasani, who serves as the foundation’s general editor and who spent about three years persuading the family to endorse the publication of the book and to allow him access to it.

Given the Philemon Foundation’s aim to excavate and make public C. G. Jung’s old papers — lectures he delivered at Zurich’s Psychological Club or unpublished letters, for example — both Martin and Shamdasani, who started the foundation in 2003, have worked to develop a relationship with the Jung family, the owners and notoriously protective gatekeepers of Jung’s works. Martin echoed what nearly everybody I met subsequently would tell me about working with Jung’s descendants. “It’s sometimes delicate,” he said, adding by way of explanation, “They are very Swiss.”

What he likely meant by this was that the members of the Jung family who work most actively on maintaining Jung’s estate tend to do things carefully and with an emphasis on privacy and decorum and are on occasion taken aback by the relatively brazen and totally informal way that American Jungians — who it is safe to say are the most ardent of all Jungians — inject themselves into the family’s business. There are Americans knocking unannounced on the door of the family home in Küsnacht; Americans scaling the fence at Bollingen, the stone tower Jung built as a summer residence farther south on the shore of Lake Zurich. Americans pepper Ulrich Hoerni, one of Jung’s grandsons who manages Jung’s editorial and archival matters through a family foundation, almost weekly with requests for various permissions. The relationship between the Jungs and the people who are inspired by Jung is, almost by necessity, a complex symbiosis. The Red Book — which on one hand described Jung’s self-analysis and became the genesis for the Jungian method and on the other was just strange enough to possibly embarrass the family — held a certain electrical charge. Martin recognized the descendants’ quandary. “They own it, but they haven’t lived it,” he said, describing Jung’s legacy. “It’s very consternating for them because we all feel like we own it.” Even the old psychiatrist himself seemed to recognize the tension. “Thank God I am Jung,” he is rumored once to have said, “and not a Jungian.”

“This guy, he was a bodhisattva,” Martin said to me that day. “This is the greatest psychic explorer of the 20th century, and this book tells the story of his inner life.” He added, “It gives me goose bumps just thinking about it.” He had at that point yet to lay eyes on the book, but for him that made it all the more tantalizing. His hope was that the Red Book would “reinvigorate” Jungian psychology, or at the very least bring himself personally closer to Jung. “Will I understand it?” he said. “Probably not. Will it disappoint? Probably. Will it inspire? How could it not?” He paused a moment, seeming to think it through. “I want to be transformed by it,” he said finally. “That’s all there is.”

IN ORDER TO UNDERSTAND and decode the Red Book — a process he says required more than five years of concentrated work — Sonu Shamdasani took long, rambling walks on London’s Hampstead Heath. He would translate the book in the morning, then walk miles in the park in the afternoon, his mind trying to follow the rabbit’s path Jung had forged through his own mind.

Shamdasani is 46. He has thick black hair, a punctilious eye for detail and an understated, even somnolent, way of speaking. He is friendly but not particularly given to small talk. If Stephen Martin is — in Jungian terms — a “feeling type,” then Shamdasani, who teaches at the University College London’s Wellcome Trust Center for the History of Medicine and keeps a book by the ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus by his sofa for light reading, is a “thinking type.” He has studied Jungian psychology for more than 15 years and is particularly drawn to the breadth of Jung’s psychology and his knowledge of Eastern thought, as well as the historical richness of his era, a period when visionary writing was more common, when science and art were more entwined and when Europe was slipping into the psychic upheaval of war. He tends to be suspicious of interpretive thinking that’s not anchored by hard fact — and has, in fact, made a habit of attacking anybody he deems guilty of sloppy scholarship — and also maintains a generally unsentimental attitude toward Jung. Both of these qualities make him, at times, awkward company among both Jungians and Jungs.

The relationship between historians and the families of history’s luminaries is, almost by nature, one of mutual disenchantment. One side works to extract; the other to protect. One pushes; one pulls. Stephen Joyce, James Joyce’s literary executor and last living heir, has compared scholars and biographers to “rats and lice.” Vladimir Nabokov’s son Dmitri recently told an interviewer that he considered destroying his father’s last known novel in order to rescue it from the “monstrous nincompoops” who had already picked over his father’s life and works. T. S. Eliot’s widow, Valerie Fletcher, has actively kept his papers out of the hands of biographers, and Anna Freud was, during her lifetime, notoriously selective about who was allowed to read and quote from her father’s archives.

Even against this backdrop, the Jungs, led by Ulrich Hoerni, the chief literary administrator, have distinguished themselves with their custodial vigor. Over the years, they have tried to interfere with the publication of books perceived to be negative or inaccurate (including one by the award-winning biographer Deirdre Bair), engaged in legal standoffs with Jungians and other academics over rights to Jung’s work and maintained a state of high agitation concerning the way C. G. Jung is portrayed. Shamdasani was initially cautious with Jung’s heirs. “They had a retinue of people coming to them and asking to see the crown jewels,” he told me in London this summer. “And the standard reply was, ‘Get lost.’ ”

Shamdasani first approached the family with a proposal to edit and eventually publish the Red Book in 1997, which turned out to be an opportune moment. Franz Jung, a vehement opponent of exposing Jung’s private side, had recently died, and the family was reeling from the publication of two controversial and widely discussed books by an American psychologist named Richard Noll, who proposed that Jung was a philandering, self-appointed prophet of a sun-worshiping Aryan cult and that several of his central ideas were either plagiarized or based upon falsified research.

While the attacks by Noll might have normally propelled the family to more vociferously guard the Red Book, Shamdasani showed up with the right bargaining chips — two partial typed draft manuscripts (without illustrations) of the Red Book he had dug up elsewhere. One was sitting on a bookshelf in a house in southern Switzerland, at the home of the elderly daughter of a woman who once worked as a transcriptionist and translator for Jung. The second he found at Yale University’s Beinecke Library, in an uncataloged box of papers belonging to a well-known German publisher. The fact that there were partial copies of the Red Book signified two things — one, that Jung had distributed it to at least a few friends, presumably soliciting feedback for publication; and two, that the book, so long considered private and inaccessible, was in fact findable. The specter of Richard Noll and anybody else who, they feared, might want to taint Jung by quoting selectively from the book loomed large. With or without the family’s blessing, the Red Book — or at least parts of it — would likely become public at some point soon, “probably,” Shamdasani wrote ominously in a report to the family, “in sensationalistic form.”

For about two years, Shamdasani flew back and forth to Zurich, making his case to Jung’s heirs. He had lunches and coffees and delivered a lecture. Finally, after what were by all accounts tense deliberations inside the family, Shamdasani was given a small salary and a color copy of the original book and was granted permission to proceed in preparing it for publication, though he was bound by a strict confidentiality agreement. When money ran short in 2003, the Philemon Foundation was created to finance Shamdasani’s research.

Having lived more or less alone with the book for almost a decade, Shamdasani — who is a lover of fine wine and the intricacies of jazz — these days has the slightly stunned aspect of someone who has only very recently found his way out of an enormous maze. When I visited him this summer in the book-stuffed duplex overlooking the heath, he was just adding his 1,051st footnote to the Red Book.

The footnotes map both Shamdasani’s journey and Jung’s. They include references to Faust, Keats, Ovid, the Norse gods Odin and Thor, the Egyptian deities Isis and Osiris, the Greek goddess Hecate, ancient Gnostic texts, Greek Hyperboreans, King Herod, the Old Testament, the New Testament, Nietzsche’s Zarathustra, astrology, the artist Giacometti and the alchemical formulation of gold. And that’s just naming a few. The central premise of the book, Shamdasani told me, was that Jung had become disillusioned with scientific rationalism — what he called “the spirit of the times” — and over the course of many quixotic encounters with his own soul and with other inner figures, he comes to know and appreciate “the spirit of the depths,” a field that makes room for magic, coincidence and the mythological metaphors delivered by dreams.

“It is the nuclear reactor for all his works,” Shamdasani said, noting that Jung’s more well-known concepts — including his belief that humanity shares a pool of ancient wisdom that he called the collective unconscious and the thought that personalities have both male and female components (animus and anima) — have their roots in the Red Book. Creating the book also led Jung to reformulate how he worked with clients, as evidenced by an entry Shamdasani found in a self-published book written by a former client, in which she recalls Jung’s advice for processing what went on in the deeper and sometimes frightening parts of her mind.

“I should advise you to put it all down as beautifully as you can — in some beautifully bound book,” Jung instructed. “It will seem as if you were making the visions banal — but then you need to do that — then you are freed from the power of them. . . . Then when these things are in some precious book you can go to the book & turn over the pages & for you it will be your church — your cathedral — the silent places of your spirit where you will find renewal. If anyone tells you that it is morbid or neurotic and you listen to them — then you will lose your soul — for in that book is your soul.”

ZURICH IS, IF NOTHING ELSE, one of Europe’s more purposeful cities. Its church bells clang precisely; its trains glide in and out on a flawless schedule. There are crowded fondue restaurants and chocolatiers and rosy-cheeked natives breezily pedaling their bicycles over the stone bridges that span the Limmat River. In summer, white-sailed yachts puff around Lake Zurich; in winter, the Alps glitter on the horizon. And during the lunch hour year-round, squads of young bankers stride the Bahnhofstrasse in their power suits and high-end watches, appearing eternally mindful of the fact that beneath everyone’s feet lie labyrinthine vaults stuffed with a dazzling and disproportionate amount of the world’s wealth.

But there, too, ventilating the city’s material splendor with their devotion to dreams, are the Jungians. Some 100 Jungian analysts practice in and around Zurich, examining their clients’ dreams in sessions held in small offices tucked inside buildings around the city. Another few hundred analysts in training can be found studying at one of the two Jungian institutes in the area. More than once, I have been told that, in addition to being a fantastic tourist destination and a good place to hide money, Zurich is an excellent city for dreaming.

Jungians are accustomed to being in the minority pretty much everywhere they go, but here, inside a city of 370,000, they have found a certain quiet purchase. Zurich, for Jungians, is spiritually loaded. It’s a kind of Jerusalem, the place where C. G. Jung began his career, held seminars, cultivated an inner circle of disciples, developed his theories of the psyche and eventually grew old. Many of the people who enroll in the institutes are Swiss, American, British or German, but some are from places like Japan and South Africa and Brazil. Though there are other Jungian institutes in other cities around the world offering diploma programs, learning the techniques of dream analysis in Zurich is a little bit like learning to hit a baseball in Yankee Stadium. For a believer, the place alone conveys a talismanic grace.

Just as I had, Stephen Martin flew to Zurich the week the Red Book was taken from its bank-vault home and moved to a small photo studio near the opera house to be scanned, page by page, for publication. (A separate English translation along with Shamdasani’s introduction and footnotes will be included at the back of the book.) Martin already made a habit of visiting Zurich a few times a year for “bratwurst and renewal” and to attend to Philemon Foundation business. My first morning there, we walked around the older parts of Zurich, before going to see the book. Zurich made Martin nostalgic. It was here that he met his wife, Charlotte, and here that he developed the almost equally important relationship with his analyst, Frey-Rohn, carrying himself and his dreams to her office two or three times weekly for several years.

Undergoing analysis is a central, learn-by-doing part of Jungian training, which usually takes about five years and also involves taking courses in folklore, mythology, comparative religion and psychopathology, among others. It is, Martin says, very much a “mentor-based discipline.” He is fond of pointing out his own conferred pedigree, because Frey-Rohn was herself analyzed by C. G. Jung. Most analysts seem to know their bloodlines. That morning, Martin and I were passing a cafe when he spotted another American analyst, someone he knew in school and who has since settled in Switzerland. “Oh, there’s Bob,” Martin said merrily, making his way toward the man. “Bob trained with Liliane,” he explained to me, “and that makes us kind of like brothers.”

Jungian analysis revolves largely around writing down your dreams (or drawing them) and bringing them to the analyst — someone who is patently good with both symbols and people — to be scoured for personal and archetypal meaning. Borrowing from Jung’s own experiences, analysts often encourage clients to experiment on their own with active imagination, to summon a waking dreamscape and to interact with whatever, or whoever, surfaces there. Analysis is considered to be a form of psychotherapy, and many analysts are in fact trained also as psychotherapists, but in its purist form, a Jungian analyst eschews clinical talk of diagnoses and recovery in favor of broader (and some might say fuzzier) goals of self-discovery and wholeness — a maturation process Jung himself referred to as “individuation.” Perhaps as a result, Jungian analysis has a distinct appeal to people in midlife. “The purpose of analysis is not treatment,” Martin explained to me. “That’s the purpose of psychotherapy. The purpose of analysis,” he added, a touch grandly, “is to give life back to someone who’s lost it.”

Later that day, we went to the photo studio where the work on the book was already under way. The room was a charmless space with concrete floors and black walls. Its hushed atmosphere and glaring lights added a slightly surgical aspect. There was the editor from Norton in a tweedy sport coat. There was an art director hired by Norton and two technicians from a company called DigitalFusion, who had flown to Zurich from Southern California with what looked to be a half-ton of computer and camera equipment.

Shamdasani arrived ahead of us. And so did Ulrich Hoerni, who, along with his cousin Peter Jung, had become a cautious supporter of Shamdasani, working to build consensus inside the family to allow the book out into the world. Hoerni was the one to fetch the book from the bank and was now standing by, his brow furrowed, appearing somewhat tortured. To talk to Jung’s heirs is to understand that nearly four decades after his death, they continue to reel inside the psychic tornado Jung created during his lifetime, caught between the opposing forces of his admirers and critics and between their own filial loyalties and history’s pressing tendency to judge and rejudge its own playmakers. Hoerni would later tell me that Shamdasani’s discovery of the stray copies of the Red Book surprised him, that even today he’s not entirely clear about whether Carl Jung ever intended for the Red Book to be published. “He left it an open question,” he said. “One might think he would have taken some of his children aside and said, ‘This is what it is and what I want done with it,’ but he didn’t.” It was a burden Hoerni seemed to wear heavily. He had shown up at the photo studio not just with the Red Book in its special padded suitcase but also with a bedroll and a toothbrush, since after the day’s work was wrapped, he would be spending the night curled up near the book — “a necessary insurance measure,” he would explain.

And finally, there sunbathing under the lights, sat Carl Jung’s Red Book, splayed open to Page 37. One side of the open page showed an intricate mosaic painting of a giant holding an ax, surrounded by winged serpents and crocodiles. The other side was filled with a cramped German calligraphy that seemed at once controlled and also, just given the number of words on the page, created the impression of something written feverishly, cathartically. Above the book a 10,200-pixel scanner suspended on a dolly clicked and whirred, capturing the book one-tenth of a millimeter at a time and uploading the images into a computer.

The Red Book had an undeniable beauty. Its colors seemed almost to pulse, its writing almost to crawl. Shamdasani’s relief was palpable, as was Hoerni’s anxiety. Everyone in the room seemed frozen in a kind of awe, especially Stephen Martin, who stood about eight feet away from the book but then finally, after a few minutes, began to inch closer to it. When the art director called for a break, Martin leaned in, tilting his head to read some of the German on the page. Whether he understood it or not, he didn’t say. He only looked up and smiled.

ONE AFTERNOON I took a break from the scanning and visited Andreas Jung, who lives with his wife, Vreni, in C. G. Jung’s old house at 228 Seestrasse in the town of Küsnacht. The house — a 5,000-square-foot, 1908 baroque-style home, designed by the psychiatrist and financed largely with his wife, Emma’s, inheritance — sits on an expanse between the road and the lake. Two rows of trimmed, towering topiary trees create a narrow passage to the entrance. The house faces the white-capped lake, a set of manicured gardens and, in one corner, an anomalous, unruly patch of bamboo.

Andreas is a tall man with a quiet demeanor and a gentlemanly way of dressing. At 64, he resembles a thinner, milder version of his famous grandfather, whom he refers to as “C. G.” Among Jung’s five children (all but one are dead) and 19 grandchildren (all but five are still living), he is one of the youngest and also known as the most accommodating to curious outsiders. It is an uneasy kind of celebrity. He and Vreni make tea and politely serve cookies and dispense little anecdotes about Jung to those courteous enough to make an advance appointment. “People want to talk to me and sometimes even touch me,” Andreas told me, seeming both amused and a little sheepish. “But it is not at all because of me, of course. It is because of my grandfather.” He mentioned that the gardeners who trim the trees are often perplexed when they encounter strangers — usually foreigners — snapping pictures of the house. “In Switzerland, C. G. Jung is not thought to be so important,” he said. “They don’t see the point of it.”

Jung, who was born in the mountain village of Kesswil, was a lifelong outsider in Zurich, even as in his adult years he seeded the city with his followers and became — along with Paul Klee and Karl Barth — one of the best-known Swissmen of his era. Perhaps his marginalization stemmed in part from the offbeat nature of his ideas. (He was mocked, for example, for publishing a book in the late 1950s that examined the psychological phenomenon of flying saucers.) Maybe it was his well-documented abrasiveness toward people he found uninteresting. Or maybe it was connected to the fact that he broke with the established ranks of his profession. (During the troubled period when he began writing the Red Book, Jung resigned from his position at Burghölzli, never to return.) Most likely, too, it had something to do with the unconventional, unhidden, 40-something-year affair he conducted with a shy but intellectually forbidding woman named Toni Wolff, one of Jung’s former analysands who went on to become an analyst as well as Jung’s close professional collaborator and a frequent, if not fully welcome, fixture at the Jung family dinner table.

“The life of C. G. Jung was not easy,” Andreas said. “For the family, it was not easy at all.” As a young man, Andreas had sometimes gone and found his grandfather’s Red Book in the cupboard and paged through it, just for fun. Knowing its author personally, he said, “It was not strange to me at all.”

For the family, C. G. Jung became more of a puzzle after his death, having left behind a large amount of unpublished work and an audience eager to get its hands on it. “There were big fights,” Andreas told me when I visited him again this summer. Andreas, who was 19 when his grandfather died, recalled family debates over whether or not to allow some of Jung’s private letters to be published. When the extended family gathered for the annual Christmas party in Küsnacht, Jung’s children would disappear into a room and have heated discussions about what to do with what he had left behind while his grandchildren played in another room. “My cousins and brothers and I, we thought they were silly to argue over these things,” Andreas said, with a light laugh. “But later when our parents died, we found ourselves having those same arguments.”

Even Jung’s great-grandchildren felt his presence. “He was omnipresent,” Daniel Baumann, whose grandmother was Jung’s daughter Gret, would tell me when I met him later. He described his own childhood with a mix of bitterness and sympathy directed at the older generations. “It was, ‘Jung said this,’ and ‘Jung did that,’ and ‘Jung thought that.’ When you did something, he was always present somehow. He just continued to live on. He was with us. He is still with us,” Baumann said. Baumann is an architect and also the president of the board of the C. G. Jung Institute in Küsnacht. He deals with Jungians all the time, and for them, he said, it was the same. Jung was both there and not there. “It’s sort of like a hologram,” he said. “Everyone projects something in the space, and Jung begins to be a real person again.”

ONE NIGHT DURING the week of the scanning in Zurich, I had a big dream. A big dream, the Jungians tell me, is a departure from all your regular dreams, which in my case meant this dream was not about falling off a cliff or missing an exam. This dream was about an elephant — a dead elephant with its head cut off. The head was on a grill at a suburban-style barbecue, and I was holding the spatula. Everybody milled around with cocktails; the head sizzled over the flames. I was angry at my daughter’s kindergarten teacher because she was supposed to be grilling the elephant head at the barbecue, but she hadn’t bothered to show up. And so the job fell to me. Then I woke up.

At the hotel breakfast buffet, I bumped into Stephen Martin and a Californian analyst named Nancy Furlotti, who is the vice president on the board of the Philemon Foundation and was at that moment having tea and muesli.

“How are you?” Martin said.

“Did you dream?” Furlotti asked

“What do elephants mean to you?” Martin asked after I relayed my dream.

“I like elephants,” I said. “I admire elephants.”

“There’s Ganesha,” Furlotti said, more to Martin than to me. “Ganesha is an Indian god of wisdom.”

“Elephants are maternal,” Martin offered, “very caring.”

They spent a few minutes puzzling over the archetypal role of the kindergarten teacher. “How do you feel about her?” “Would you say she is more like a mother figure or more like a witch?”

Giving a dream to a Jungian analyst is a little bit like feeding a complex quadratic equation to someone who really enjoys math. It takes time. The process itself is to be savored. The solution is not always immediately evident. In the following months, I told my dream to several more analysts, and each one circled around similar symbolic concepts about femininity and wisdom. One day I was in the office of Murray Stein, an American analyst who lives in Switzerland and serves as the president of the International School of Analytical Psychology, talking about the Red Book. Stein was telling me about how some Jungian analysts he knew were worried about the publication — worried specifically that it was a private document and would be apprehended as the work of a crazy person, which then reminded me of my crazy dream. I related it to him, saying that the very thought of eating an elephant’s head struck me as grotesque and embarrassing and possibly a sign there was something deeply wrong with my psyche. Stein assured me that eating is a symbol for integration. “Don’t worry,” he said soothingly. “It’s horrifying on a naturalistic level, but symbolically it is good.”

It turned out that nearly everybody around the Red Book was dreaming that week. Nancy Furlotti dreamed that we were all sitting at a table drinking amber liquid from glass globes and talking about death. (Was the scanning of the book a death? Wasn’t death followed by rebirth?) Sonu Shamdasani dreamed that he came upon Hoerni sleeping in the garden of a museum. Stephen Martin was sure that he had felt some invisible hand patting him on the back while he slept. And Hugh Milstein, one of the digital techs scanning the book, passed a tormented night watching a ghostly, white-faced child flash on a computer screen. (Furlotti and Martin debated: could that be Mercurius? The god of travelers at a crossroads?)

Early one morning we were standing around the photo studio discussing our various dreams when Ulrich Hoerni trudged through the door, having deputized his nephew Felix to spend the previous night next to the Red Book. Felix had done his job; the Red Book lay sleeping with its cover closed on the table. But Hoerni, appearing weary, seemed to be taking an extra hard look at the book. The Jungians greeted him. “How are you? Did you dream last night?”

“Yes,” Hoerni said quietly, not moving his gaze from the table. “I dreamed the book was on fire.”

ABOUT HALFWAY THROUGH the Red Book — after he has traversed a desert, scrambled up mountains, carried God on his back, committed murder, visited hell; and after he has had long and inconclusive talks with his guru, Philemon, a man with bullhorns and a long beard who flaps around on kingfisher wings — Jung is feeling understandably tired and insane. This is when his soul, a female figure who surfaces periodically throughout the book, shows up again. She tells him not to fear madness but to accept it, even to tap into it as a source of creativity. “If you want to find paths, you should also not spurn madness, since it makes up such a great part of your nature.”

The Red Book is not an easy journey — it wasn’t for Jung, it wasn’t for his family, nor for Shamdasani, and neither will it be for readers. The book is bombastic, baroque and like so much else about Carl Jung, a willful oddity, synched with an antediluvian and mystical reality. The text is dense, often poetic, always strange. The art is arresting and also strange. Even today, its publication feels risky, like an exposure. But then again, it is possible Jung intended it as such. In 1959, after having left the book more or less untouched for 30 or so years, he penned a brief epilogue, acknowledging the central dilemma in considering the book’s fate. “To the superficial observer,” he wrote, “it will appear like madness.” Yet the very fact he wrote an epilogue seems to indicate that he trusted his words would someday find the right audience.

Shamdasani figures that the Red Book’s contents will ignite both Jung’s fans and his critics. Already there are Jungians planning conferences and lectures devoted to the Red Book, something that Shamdasani finds amusing. Recalling that it took him years to feel as if he understood anything about the book, he’s curious to know what people will be saying about it just months after it is published. As far as he is concerned, once the book sees daylight, it will become a major and unignorable piece of Jung’s history, the gateway into Carl Jung’s most inner of inner experiences. “Once it’s published, there will be a ‘before’ and ‘after’ in Jungian scholarship,” he told me, adding, “it will wipe out all the biographies, just for starters.” What about the rest of us, the people who aren’t Jungians, I wondered. Was there something in the Red Book for us? “Absolutely, there is a human story here,” Shamdasani said. “The basic message he’s sending is ‘Value your inner life.’ ”

After it was scanned, the book went back to its bank-vault home, but it will move again — this time to New York, accompanied by a number of Jung’s descendents. For the next few months it will be on display at the Rubin Museum of Art. Ulrich Hoerni told me this summer that he assumed the book would generate “criticism and gossip,” but by bringing it out they were potentially rescuing future generations of Jungs from some of the struggles of the past. If another generation inherited the Red Book, he said, “the question would again have to be asked, ‘What do we do with it?’ ”

Stephen Martin too will be on hand for the book’s arrival in New York. He is already sensing that it will shed positive light on Jung — this thanks to a dream he had recently about an “inexpressively sublime” dawn breaking over the Swiss Alps — even as others are not so certain.

In the Red Book, after Jung’s soul urges him to embrace the madness, Jung is still doubtful. Then suddenly, as happens in dreams, his soul turns into “a fat, little professor,” who expresses a kind of paternal concern for Jung.

Jung says: “I too believe that I’ve completely lost myself. Am I really crazy? It’s all terribly confusing.”

The professor responds: “Have patience, everything will work out. Anyway, sleep well.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: September 20, 2009
An article on Page 34 this weekend about Carl Jung and a book he wrote about struggling with his own demons misspells the name of a street in Zurich where, before it was published, the book was held for years in a bank safe-deposit box, and a correction in this space on Saturday also misspelled the name. It is Bahnhofstrasse, not Banhofstrasse or Banhoffstrasse. The article also misstates the location of Bollingen, the town where Jung built a stone tower as a summer residence. While it is on the north shore of Lake Zurich, it is south of the Jung family home in Küsnacht.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: October 4, 2009

An article on Sept. 20 about the publication of Carl Jung’s Red Book misstated part of the name of the Swiss bank where the book was kept for many years. It is the Union Bank of Switzerland, not United.



Babalon: Mother of Abominations

Posted in Uncategorized by ce399 on 29/06/2010

Not to be confused with Babylon.

Babalon—also known as The Scarlet Woman, The Great Mother, or the Mother of Abominations—is a goddess found in the mystical system of Thelema, which was established in 1904 with English author and occultist Aleister Crowley’s writing of The Book of the Law. In her most abstract form, she represents the female sexual impulse and the liberated woman; although she can also be identified with Mother Earth, in her most fertile sense. At the same time, Crowley believed that Babalon had an earthly aspect in the form of a spiritual office, which could be filled by actual women—usually as a counterpart to his own identification as “To Mega Therion” (The Great Beast)—whose duty was then to help manifest the energies of the current Aeon of Horus.

Her consort is Chaos, the “Father of Life” and the male form of the Creative Principle. Babalon is often described as being girt with a sword and riding the Beast. She is often referred to as a sacred whore, and her primary symbol is the Chalice or Graal.

As Crowley wrote in his The Book of Thoth, “She rides astride the Beast; in her left hand she holds the reins, representing the passion which unites them. In her right she holds aloft the cup, the Holy Grail aflame with love and death. In this cup are mingled the elements of the sacrament of the Aeon”.

[edit] The three aspects of Babalon

Babalon is a complex figure, although within Thelemic literature, she has three essential aspects: she is the Gateway to the City of the Pyramids, the Scarlet Woman, and the Great Mother.
[edit] Gateway to the City of Pyramids
The Seal of Babalon

Within the mystical system of the A.A., after the adept has attained the Knowledge and Conversation of his Holy Guardian Angel, he then might reach the next and last great milestone—the crossing of the Abyss, that great spiritual wilderness of nothingness and dissolution. Choronzon is the dweller there, and his job is to trap the traveler in his meaningless world of illusion.

However, Babalon is just on the other side, beckoning. If the adept gives himself totally to her—the symbol of this act being the pouring of the adept’s blood into her graal—he becomes impregnated in her, then to be reborn as a Master of the Temple and a saint that dwells in the City of the Pyramids. From Crowley’s book Magick Without Tears:

[S]he guardeth the Abyss. And in her is a perfect purity of that which is above, yet she is sent as the Redeemer to them that are below. For there is no other way into the Supernal mystery but through her and the Beast on which she rideth.[1]

and from The Vision and the Voice (12th Aethyr):

Let him look upon the cup whose blood is mingled therein, for the wine of the cup is the blood of the saints. Glory unto the Scarlet Woman, Babalon the Mother of Abominations, that rideth upon the Beast, for she hath spilt their blood in every corner of the earth and lo! she hath mingled it in the cup of her whoredom.

She is considered to be a sacred whore because she denies no one, and yet she extracts a great price—the very blood of the adept and his ego-identity as an earthly individual. This aspect of Babalon is described further from the 12th Aethyr:

This is the Mystery of Babylon, the Mother of Abominations, and this is the mystery of her adulteries, for she hath yielded up herself to everything that liveth, and hath become a partaker in its mystery. And because she hath made her self the servant of each, therefore is she become the mistress of all. Not as yet canst thou comprehend her glory.

Beautiful art thou, O Babylon, and desirable, for thou hast given thyself to everything that liveth, and thy weakness hath subdued their strength. For in that union thou didst understand. Therefore art thou called Understanding, O Babylon, Lady of the Night!

The concept contained within this aspect of Babalon is that of the mystical ideal, the quest to become one with All through the annihilation of the earthly ego (“For as thy blood is mingled in the cup of BABALON, so is thine heart the universal heart.”[2]). The blood spilling into the graal of Babalon is then used by her to “flood the world with Life and Beauty” (meaning to create Masters of the Temple that are “released” back into the world of men), symbolized by the Crimson Rose of 49 Petals.[3]

In sex magic, the mixture of menstrual blood and semen produced in the sexual act with the Scarlet Woman or Babalon is called the Elixir Rubeus (abbreviated as El. Rub. by Crowley in his magical diaries), and is referred to as the “effluvium of Babalon, the Scarlet Woman, which is the menstruum of the lunar current” by Kenneth Grant.[4]
[edit] Babalon and the Office of the Scarlet Woman

“This is Babalon, the true mistress of The Beast; of Her, all his mistresses on lower planes are but avatars” said Crowley in The Vision and the Voice.[5]

Although Crowley often wrote that Babalon and the Scarlet Woman are one, there are also many instances where the Scarlet Woman is seen more as a representative or physical manifestation of the universal feminine principle. In a footnote to Liber Reguli, Crowley mentions that of the “Gods of the Aeon,” the Scarlet Woman and the Beast are “the earthly emissaries of those Gods.” (Crowley 1997, Liber V vel Reguli). He then writes in The Law is for All:

It is necessary to say here that The Beast appears to be a definite individual; to wit, the man Aleister Crowley. But the Scarlet Woman is an officer replaceable as need arises. Thus to this present date of writing, Anno XVI, Sun in Sagittarius, there have been several holders of the title.

[edit] Individual Scarlet Women

Aleister Crowley believed that many of his lovers and magical companions were playing a cosmic role, even to the point of fulfilling prophesy. The following is a list of women that he considered to have been (or might have been) Scarlet Women (quotes are from The Law is for All):

* Rose Edith Crowley , Crowley’s first wife. —Put me in touch with Aiwas; see Equinox 1, 7, “The Temple of Solomon the King.” Failed as elsewhere is on record.
* Mary d’Este Sturges . —Put me in touch with Abuldiz; hence helped with Book 4. Failed from personal jealousies.
* Jeanne Robert Foster . —Bore the “child” to whom this Book refers later. Failed from respectability.
* Roddie Minor —Brought me in touch with Amalantrah. Failed from indifference to the Work.
* Marie Rohling . —Helped to inspire Liber CXI. Failed from indecision.
* Bertha Almira Prykryl . —Delayed assumption of duties, hence made way for No. 7.
* Leah Hirsig —Assisted me in actual initiation; still at my side, An XVII, Sol in Sagittarius.
* Leila Waddell — Laylah, Crowley’s muse and inspiration during the writing of The Book of Lies and for years afterwards.

[edit] The Great Mother

Within the Gnostic Mass, Babalon is mentioned in the Gnostic Creed:

And I believe in one Earth, the Mother of us all, and in one Womb wherein all men are begotten, and wherein they shall rest, Mystery of Mystery, in Her name BABALON.

Here, Babalon is identified with Binah on the Tree of Life, the sphere that represents the Great Sea and such mother-goddesses as Isis, Bhavani, and Ma’at. Moreover, she represents all physical mothers. Bishops T. Apiryon and Helena write:[6]

BABALON, as the Great Mother, represents MATTER, a word which is derived from the Latin word for Mother. She is the physical mother of each of us, the one who provided us with material flesh to clothe our naked spirits; She is the Archetypal Mother, the Great Yoni, the Womb of all that lives through the flowing of Blood; She is the Great Sea, the Divine Blood itself which cloaks the World and which courses through our veins; and She is Mother Earth, the Womb of All Life that we know.

[edit] Origins
[edit] Babylon and Ishtar
Main articles: Babylon, Ishtar, and Inanna

Perhaps the earliest origin is the ancient city of Babylon, a major metropolis in Mesopotamia (modern Al Hillah in Iraq). Babylon is the Greek variant of Akkadian Babilu (bāb-ilû), meaning “Gateway of the god”. It was the “holy city” of Babylonia from around 2300 BC, and the seat of the Neo-Babylonian empire from 612 BC.

One of the goddesses associated with Babylonia was Ishtar, the most popular female deity of the Assyro-Babylonian pantheon and patron of the famous Ishtar Gate. She is the Akkadian counterpart to the Sumerian Inanna and the cognate to the northwest Semitic goddess Astarte. The Greeks associated her with Aphrodite (Latin Venus), and sometimes Hera. Ishtar was worshipped as a Great Goddess of fertility and sexuality, but also of war and death, and the guardian of prostitutes. She was also called the Great Whore and sacred prostitution formed part of her cult or those of cognate goddesses.[7] Many have associated Ishtar with the figure in the Book of Revelation of Babylon the Great, Mother of Harlots and Abominations.[8]
[edit] The Book of Revelation
The Whore of Babylon. Painted by Gnostic Saint William Blake in 1809.

Babylon is referred to in several places in the Book of Revelation in the Bible (which may have had an influence on Thelema, as Aleister Crowley says he read it as a child and imagined himself as the Beast). She is described in Chapter 17:3-6:

So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.

Aleister Crowley recorded a revelation of his own in The Vision and the Voice.

All I get is that the Apocalypse was the recension of a dozen or so totally disconnected allegories, that were pieced together, and ruthlessly planed down to make them into a connected account; and that recension was re-written and edited in the interests of Christianity, because people were complaining that Christianity could show no true spiritual knowledge, or any food for the best minds: nothing but miracles, which only deceived the most ignorant, and Theology, which only suited pedants. So a man got hold of this recension, and turned it Christian, and imitated the style of John. And this explains why the end of the world does not happen every few years, as advertised.

[edit] Babalon’s Daughter

Crowley also had a vision of the Virgin Daughter of Babalon, which he published in his The Vision and the Voice, Liber 418 vel Chanokh; and also, again, in The Book of Thoth (1944, Part Two, Appendix, p. 143), under the description of The Virgin Universe:

” Now then we are passed within the lines of the army, and we are come unto a palace of which every stone is a separate jewel, and is set with millions of moons.

And this palace is nothing but the body of a woman, proud and delicate, and beyond imagination fair. She is like a child of twelve years old. She has very deep eye-lids, and long lashes. Her eyes are closed, or nearly closed. It is impossible to say anything about her. She is naked; her whole body is covered with fine gold hairs, that are the electric flames that are the spears of mighty and terrible Angels who breast-plates are the scales of her skin. And the hair of her head, that flows down to her feet, is the very light of God himself. Of all the glories beheld by the seer in the Aethyrs, there is not one which is worthy to be compared with her littlest finger-nail. For although he may not partake of the Aethyr, without the ceremonial preparations, even the beholding of this Aethyr from afar is like the partaking of all the former Aethyrs.

The Seer is lost in wonder, which is peace.

And the ring of the horizon above her is a company of glorious Archangels with joined hands, that stand and sing: This is the daughter of BABALON the Beautiful, that she hath borne unto the Father of All. And unto all hath she borne her.

This is the Daughter of the King. This is the Virgin of Eternity. This is she that the Holy One hath wrested from the Giant Time, and the prize of them that have overcome Space. This is she that is set upon the Throne of Understanding. Holy, Holy, Holy is her name, not to be spoken among men. For Koré they have called her, and Malkuth, and Betulah, and Persephone.

And the poets have feigned songs about her, and the prophets have spoken vain things, and the young men have dreamed vain dreams; but this is she, that immaculate, the name of whose name may not be spoken. Thought cannot pierce the glory that defendeth her, for thought is smitten dead before her presence. Memory is blank, and in the most ancient books of Magick are neither words to conjure her, nor adorations to praise her. Will bends like a reed in the temptests that sweep the borders of her kingdom, and imagination cannot figure so much as one petal of the lilies whereon she standeth in the lake of crystal, in the sea of glass.

This is she that hath bedecked her hair with seven stars, the seven breaths of God that move and thrill its excellence. And she hath tired her hair with seven combs, whereupon are written the seven secret names of God that are not known even of the Angels, or of the Archangels, or of the Leader of the armies of the Lord.

Holy, Holy, Holy art thou, and blessed be Thy name for ever, unto whom the Aeons are but the pulsings of thy blood. ”

[edit] Enochian magic

Another source is from the system of Enochian magic created by Dr. John Dee and Sir Edward Kelley in the 16th century. This system is based upon a unique language, Enochian, two words of which are certainly relevant. The first is BABALOND, which is translated as harlot. The other is BABALON, which means wicked. Some flavour of context in which they appear in can be found in a communication received by Dee & Kelley in 1587:[9]

I am the daughter of Fortitude, and ravished every hour from my youth. For behold I am Understanding and science dwelleth in me; and the heavens oppress me. They cover and desire me with infinite appetite; for none that are earthly have embraced me, for I am shadowed with the Circle of the Stars and covered with the morning clouds. My feet are swifter than the winds, and my hands are sweeter than the morning dew. My garments are from the beginning, and my dwelling place is in myself. The Lion knoweth not where I walk, neither do the beast of the fields understand me. I am deflowered, yet a virgin; I sanctify and am not sanctified. Happy is he that embraceth me: for in the night season I am sweet, and in the day full of pleasure. My company is a harmony of many symbols and my lips sweeter than health itself. I am a harlot for such as ravish me, and a virgin with such as know me not. For lo, I am loved of many, and I am a lover to many; and as many as come unto me as they should do, have entertainment. Purge your streets, O ye sons of men, and wash your houses clean; make yourselves holy, and put on righteousness. Cast out your old strumpets, and burn their clothes; abstain from the company of other women that are defiled, that are sluttish, and not so handsome and beautiful as I, and then will I come and dwell amongst you: and behold, I will bring forth children unto you, and they shall be the Sons of Comfort. I will open my garments, and stand naked before you, that your love may be more enflamed toward me.

[edit] See also

* Babalon Working
* Whore of Babylon
* Sex magick
* Magical formula
* Marjorie Cameron

[edit] Notes

1. ^ Magick Without Tears, ch.12
2. ^ “The Cry of the 5th Aethyr”. Hermetic.com. http://www.hermetic.com/crowley/l418/aetyr5.html. Retrieved 2010-01-08.
3. ^ The Vision & the Voice, 1998, p.54, 61, 131
4. ^ Grant, Kenneth. Nightside of Eden. London: Frederick Muller Limited. ISBN 0-584-10206-2
5. ^ The Vision and the Voice 1998, p.129
6. ^ Apiryon, T; Helena (2001). Mystery of Mystery: A Primer of Thelemic Ecclesiastical Gnosticism (2nd ed.). Red Flame. ISBN 0971237611.
7. ^ Sources at [1]. Retrieved April 28, 2007.
8. ^ For example, this author at Endtime Prophecy Net. Retrieved April 28, 2007.
9. ^ Dee, John (1659). A true & faithful relation of what passed for many years between Dr. John Dee … and some spirits. London: Printed by D. Maxwell for T. Garthwait.

[edit] References

* Crowley, Aleister (1981), The Book of Thoth, Weiser, http://altreligion.about.com/library/texts/bl_thoth.htm
* Crowley, Aleister (1998), The Vision and the Voice: the Equinox, IV(2). York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser.
* Crowley, Aleister (1997), The Book of the Law (Liber AL vel Legis) York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser.
* Crowley, Aleister (1996), Commentaries on the Holy Books and Other Papers : the Equinox,IV(1). York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser.
* Crowley, Aleister (1995), The Book of Lies. York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser.
* Crowley, Aleister (1997), “Liber V vel Reguli”, Magick, Book 4, Weiser, http://www.hermetic.com/crowley/libers/lib5.html
* The King James Bible
* Crowley, Aleister (1997), “Liber XV”, Magick, Book 4, Weiser, http://www.hermetic.com/crowley/libers/lib15.html
* Helena and Tau Apiryon (1998), The Creed of the Gnostic Catholic Church: an Examination.

[edit] External links

* The Book of Babalon by Jack Parsons.
* Liber Cheth Vel Vallum Abiegni Sub Figur CLVI, Thelemic Holy Book dealing with Babalon.
* Waratah Blossoms, chapter on Babalon from Crowley’s The Book of Lies.
* Kaos-Babalon 156 current, original approach to Babalon by Joel Biroco.

v • d • e
Important elements
The Book of the Law (Liber AL vel Legis) · Aleister Crowley · Thelemic mysticism · True Will · The Great Work · Holy Guardian Angel · Abrahadabra · Stele of Revealing · 93 · Aeon of Horus – Abyss – Magick
Thelema and religion
The Gnostic Mass · Holy Books of Thelema – Saints of Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica
Nuit · Hadit · Ra-Hoor-Khuit · Aiwass · Babalon · Baphomet · Chaos · Ma’at · Choronzon · Ankh-af-na-khonsu
A∴A∴ · Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica · Ordo Templi Orientis · Typhonian Order · The Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn
Kenneth Anger – Allan Bennett · Emile Brugsch – Mary Butts  · Marjorie Cameron – Aleister Crowley · Lon Milo DuQuette – J.F.C. Fuller – Karl Germer – Kenneth Grant – Lady Frieda Harris · Leah Hirsig · Hymenaeus Beta – Charles Stansfeld Jones – George Cecil Jones · Carl Kellner – Rose Edith Kelly · Grady McMurtry – Victor Benjamin Neuburg · Jack Parsons – Israel Regardie – Theodor Reuss · Leila Waddell (Laylah) · Jane Wolfe
Thelemite texts
Works of Aleister Crowley · Libri of Aleister Crowley  · The Book of the Law (Liber AL vel Legis) – The Equinox · Liber 777 · Magick (Book 4) · Confessions · The Book of Lies · Liber OZ (Liber 77) – The Equinox of the Gods – The Law is for All – Konx om Pax · The Book of Thoth · The Vision and the Voice – Little Essays Toward Truth – Eight Lectures on Yoga – Magick Without Tears – The Blue Equinox – Liber Aleph – Moonchild (novel) · Diary of a Drug Fiend (novel) – White Stains (poetry) – Clouds Without Water (poetry) – Collected Works of Aleister Crowley 1905-1907 (poems, plays, essays) – The Stratagem and other Stories (short stories)
Magick and ritual
Magick · Oil of Abramelin · Cake of Light – Bornless Ritual – Eroto-comatose lucidity – Gematria · Thoth tarot deck · Mass of the Phoenix – Hermetic Qabalah · Sex magick – Astrology · Yoga – Obeah and Wanga – Babalon Working – Ceremonial magick
Other topics
Unicursal hexagram · Body of Light · Night of Pan · City of the Pyramids · Boleskine House – Abbey of Thelema · Rites of Eleusis – Magical formula
Thelema · Thelemites · Thelemite texts


In Search of the Skeptical, Hopeful, Mystical Jew (NY Times 13/4/10)

Posted in Uncategorized by ce399 on 29/06/2010

What brought me to the small, neat office in the Kabbalah Center in Los Angeles — at the tacky southern edge of Beverly Hills where the upscale ambience of Doheny Drive turns into a decrepit stretch that includes two gas stations and multiple Korean nail salons — was Madonna, who doesn’t believe in death. And then there was my mother, who had recently died. Somehow, in an effort to reconcile divergent realities, I must have been looking for a resolution of the irresolvable, a way of navigating a path between the absoluteness of mortality and the lingering hope of something beyond it, between the immutable reality of personal loss and the promise of spiritual consolation.

In a world where everyone is angling for a piece of the kabbalah mystique — an esoteric occult offshoot of Judaism dating at least to the 13th century — the Los Angeles center has been attracting Hollywood glitterati since it first opened its doors in 1993. And who can blame the neighboring institutions — the bevy of run-down ultra-Orthodox yeshivas and religious girls’ high schools with names like Torah Hayim and Ohr Haemet Institute, many of which have their own makeshift signs attesting to introductory kabbalah classes — for trying to cut in on a share of the booty? It all looks so easy, not to mention remunerative, thanks to the pricey little doodads offered in the center’s store (ranging from red kabbalah bracelets at $26 a pop to bottles of kabbalah water at nearly $4 apiece) and to the hefty donations solicited from members old and new.

Housed in a two-story cream stucco building with a red-tile roof that fits in with the 1920s- and ’30s-style Spanish Moorish architecture characterizing the neighborhood, the Kabbalah Center is set in the midst of shabbiness hard to reconcile with any kind of drawing power. All the same, in its Los Angeles incarnation, the center is spiritual home to Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, Roseanne Barr, Donna Karan and any number of other celebrities who dip in and out as the spirit moves them. Most important, as anyone who has heard anything about the center knows (and often it is the only thing they know), its public face is none other than the stridently non-Jewish and notoriously profane human meteor named Madonna.

Despite having based an unparalleled career on her in-your-face assault on her native Catholicism and its iconic imagery, this über-celebrity appears to seek life guidance from the center’s teachings: she avails herself of its teachers (her spiritual guide is Eitan Yardeni, who proffers kabbalistic wisdom to handpicked and mostly famous disciples); shows up for High Holy Days services in either Israel or Los Angeles; and attends the occasional Friday-night Shabbat dinner. Madonna brings the Kabbalah Center’s message of egoless dedication of tikkun olam (repairing the world) home to her fans both in her music and in personal appearances. Not incidentally, she has been lavish in her financing of the center’s larger ambitions and philanthropic enterprises, ranging from buying it property in London to providing millions for its outreach programs worldwide, including her pet project, Spirituality for Kids. Of course it is useful to the center’s relationship with its most generous benefactor — who is given pride of place as a member, with care being taken not to expose her to the curiosity of the center’s more plebeian devotees — that a primary kabbalistic tenet places great emphasis on the role of giving, the better to receive. “Embedded in their ideology,” explained Boaz Huss, a professor of Jewish Thought at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, “is that giving — and giving to the center — is important. They believe that they have the keys to redeeming themselves and humanity. They’re bringing in the light.”

Although the center has been mocked and derided since the day Philip and Karen Berg founded it in 1993 (an embryonic version existed during the ’80s in Israel and New York), no small part of that mockery is envy — and resounding disbelief. How could so many people, especially jaded celebrities who have seen it all and then some, fall for an ordinary middle-class Orthodox couple from Queens who hawk their intangible wares — a kind of “Spirituality for Dummies” or “McMysticism,” as it has been described — with so little guile and so much fanfare? And what is it precisely that the center is offering its adherents? On some level, you might argue that it doesn’t matter what the center is ultimately providing — whether it is religious self-help, theological kitsch, non-Jewishness for non-Jews and disaffected Jews, a sense of community akin to that offered at A.A. meetings or a way of ensuring your immortality by paying God in the form of contributions to the center — so much as the fact that it has brought a rarefied branch of Judaism out of the shadows and onto the red carpet.

What sets the center apart from other postmodern belief systems like Scientology, which have subverted the traditional relationship between spirituality and authenticity by insisting that authenticity itself is fungible or even beside the point, is that it has wrapped its ardent ecumenical message around the kernel of a centuries-old, highly ritualized religious tradition. Although the center denies its association with Judaism or any other existing religion (indeed, one of its leading members referred to the “stigma” of Judaism in conversation with me), its tiny insider circle of members (numbering a bit more than 200 in all), referred to as the chevra, or group of friends, abide by the laws and customs that are the underpinning of observant Judaism. These include observing Shabbat and a multitude of holy days; keeping kosher; maintaining a separation of sexes in synagogue; the wearing by men of crocheted yarmulkes of the modern Orthodox style that prevails both here and in Israel; and the wearing of skirts and sheitels by married women. (Sheitels are the wigs, usually made of real hair, that cover women’s natural hair to signify that they are no longer objects of allure and are off the marriage market, although the kabbalistic rationale is more exotic and quasi-scientific, having to do with negative filaments and positive circuitry.) The chevra are the chosen among the chosen, provided with housing, clothes, schooling for their kids, even plane tickets.

Still, given the proselytizing ambitions and will to visibility (there are a total of 10 centers in the United States and 16 internationally), it is difficult to get anyone close to the center to admit to this underlying belief system for fear of appearing too insular and exclusive. Even 34-year-old Michael Berg, the younger of the Bergs’ two sons, a graduate of rigorous Orthodox yeshivas in America and Israel like his 35-year-old brother, Yehuda, and one of several spiritual directors of all the centers, insisted that the center is without conventional religious affiliation. “We honestly do not believe we are spreading Judaism in the world,” he told me in a lengthy phone conversation. “The Creator gave the Jews these tools that were meant to be used and to show the way we should connect to the world.” When I asked him why the center insists on using “tools” instead of the word “mitzvot,” he answered without missing a beat, “If we used Jewish terms, we would alienate people.”

The history of kabbalah is long and thorny, filled with reversals in attitude toward the dissemination of its wisdom. It has been looked on with suspicion and even hostility by some Jewish authorities since it first emerged, its lore codified in an ur-text known as the Zohar, the authorship of which some attribute to Moses de León in the 13th century and others to the sage Simeon ben Yohai in the second century. Some principal ideas include a very specific and radical notion of cosmology, one that involves an initial cataclysmic “rupture,” or literally “shattering of the vessels” (shevirat hakelim), that occurred during the Creation, leaving in its wake a fragmented and disordered state of affairs that can be made whole through selfless devotion to tikkun olam. A second major theme focuses on a conception of God’s powers as being dynamic — God is evoked as a receptive female presence called the Shechinah — and the idea that human beings can unite with the divine spirit through meditation and by following the panoply of religious commandments, thereby restoring the universe to its original integrity. Although kabbalah was studied from early on by elite circles of Spanish Jews and from the 15th century through the 18th century by scattered communities in the European and Islamic worlds, the prevailing attitude within the normative Jewish community was restrictive. Fear of its antinomic implications being ever present, kabbalah was generally considered to verge on the dangerously heretic in its speculative and personalized approach to a hidebound and communal religious tradition. It was tenuously approved for study only for devout married men over the age of 40 who were well versed in the Talmud and Jewish law or for exceptionally gifted and sturdy-hearted yeshiva students.

Fast-forward to the last decade and a half. Enter Philip Berg and his second wife, Karen (he and his first wife had eight children before they divorced), who set up shop out of their Queens house with an original following that numbered no more than their two sons and a clutch of Israeli disciples. (Philip Berg, born Shraga Feival Gruberger, who changed his name in the 1960s, was a former insurance salesman; Karen was his onetime secretary.) When it comes to spreading the gospel of the theosophical system of kabbalah, lineage is all; if you can establish a proven generational link to a master kabbalist, you are immediately vaulted into a privileged position to transmit its enigmatic philosophy. Intent on validating his title to the dynasty of kabbalism, Berg linked his own genealogy through his teacher Rabbi Yehuda Brandwein (an uncle of Berg’s first wife), who in turn was the disciple of Rav Yehuda Ashlag. It is Ashlag who is the linchpin of the outwardly egalitarian but intensely hierarchical operation that is the Kabbalah Center — or, as many would argue, the justification behind an illegitimate group of squatters who lay claim to its ancient, sacral territory. A crucial and highly controversial figure who was born in Poland and immigrated to Palestine in the early 1920s, Ashlag began to revolutionize traditional attitudes toward the dissemination of kabbalah, prying open its historically hallowed, coded concepts. Among other innovations, he attempted to integrate kabbalistic ideas with communism and to modernize a system steeped in untouchable exclusivity by emphasizing the nonelitist nature of kabbalah and its ostensible link to scientifically ordained truths; his writings, which might be said to be the beginning of the “de-authenticization” process that many have accused the center of setting in motion, are the foundation of the movement, just as Ashlag himself is its sanctified figurehead. Thus the importance of Berg’s constantly reiterated link to his predecessors Brandwein and Ashlag, whose photos share an honored place surrounded by flickering candles on the bimah, the raised platform in the center’s synagogue from which the Torah portion is recited every Shabbat.

The Bergs have sold kabbalah as a source of inspiration to an audience that has nothing to do with academics and their careful distinctions between where one line of kabbalistic wisdom (the theosophic Lurianic strain) ends and another (the ecstatic Abulafian strain) begins. They have succeeded in boiling down an attenuated, arcane and often tedious system sprinkled with numerological symbolism and elaborate, loop-the-loop interlinkings of God, the world and the evil eye into an accessible lifestyle philosophy offering succor to the unaffiliated and disheartened of whatever racial or ethnic origin. Theirs is a canny reading of the infectious malaise of secular life and the widespread yearning for a transcendent context as well as an up-to-the-microsecond sense of branding.

In spite of my wide-ranging Jewish circle, I knew no one who had ever attended a class or service at the Kabbalah Center at either its New York East Side or its Los Angeles locations. Still, the fact that the movement seemed to speak to a hodgepodge of impulses and to represent a less than pristine — indeed, a somewhat tabloid — version of the religion I had been brought up in piqued my curiosity. My interest crystallized after a meeting with Madonna in the winter of 2006, months before my own first visit to the center. I met with her for nearly two hours in a hotel room on Central Park West in the process of writing a profile of her for a women’s magazine. She was dressed in her usual idiosyncratic mix of naughty and nice, wearing a form-fitting top tucked into a corduroy skirt that stopped modestly at the knees — all of it set off by a gold lamé belt, opaque brown knee socks and a pair of gold pumps. She was in New York to publicize the release of her album “Confessions on a Dance Floor.” In tribute to the nebulous spiritual guidance the center has offered her, which includes renaming her Esther, the CD features a track called “Isaac,” with a mantralike phrase in Hebrew, suggesting that Madonna is planning on ascending heavenward to join the sisterhood of Biblical foremothers — Sarah, Rivka, Leah and Rachel — at the right transmigratory, soul-evolving moment. (A core kabbalistic concept is gilgul neshamot, which refers to the recycling of departed souls.)

It became clear to me that Madonna had been schooled in basic center tenets: she let drop the exalted name of Brandwein, Philip Berg’s mentor; referred to the “light,” a term that would be much bandied about the center in my hearing, signifying a supremely opaque notion having to do with positive and negative cathodes (don’t ask) as well as the transmission of spiritual energy; and discussed reading the introduction to the Zohar, which she said was full of “potent information.” She went on to explain, in her prim, faintly British-accented voice, that kabbalah offered her “a reconciliation of science and spirituality” — of “the garden of Eden and superstring theory.” After informing me that her children and husband were taking Hebrew lessons, she evinced curiosity about my observant Jewish background, wanting to know whether my mother covered her hair. (She didn’t, in a break from her own family tradition.)

Finally, in what seemed to me a startling detour, she asked whether I believed in death. I answered somewhat bleakly that I did. When I turned the question back on her, she announced that she didn’t because she believed in the concept of reincarnation as taught by the Kabbalah Center. “The thought of eternal life appeals to me,” she told me, as though she were trying on a new outfit in front of a mirror. “I don’t think people’s energy just disappears.” I wasn’t sure what she meant by this — whether Madonna believed in a concrete form of reincarnation whereby she would return to earth as herself, all blond ambition and strenuously toned body, or in the more abstract concept of gilgul neshamot. But it made eminent sense that her link to the center would be based on something more than an altruistic vision of egoless self-betterment and earthly bliss, which is the message she conveys in her statements and songs. When I asked her why she hadn’t stuck with Catholicism, which incorporates belief in an afterlife, she snapped in reply: “There’s nothing consoling about being Catholic. They’re all just laws and prohibitions. They don’t help me negotiate the world.”

Seven months later, in the immediate wake of my mother’s death from lung cancer, I took a trip to Los Angeles to begin my own year-and-a-half-long journey of exploration into the Kabbalah Center. I thought of it as an investigative-cum-personal search, the goal of which was to find out what its appeal was to Madonna and others and whether it might have anything to offer me, despite its mumbo-jumbo aspect and suspect “vulgarization” of a pre-existing religion (as Moshe Idel, the foremost scholar of kabbalah, described it to me). Although my curiosity was initially intellectual, the unfortunate — or, as some might have it, propitious — timing and my own sense of grief undoubtedly made me less skeptical of the form of solace the center had to offer.

I visited the Los Angeles center on two occasions, separated by a period of some months. So it was that one winter afternoon, on my second visit, I found myself in Michael Berg’s airy wood-paneled second-floor office at the center, filled with photos of bearded kabbalists and shelves of seforim, solemn-looking books of Jewish learning of the kind that filled my father’s study when I was growing up. Under Michael’s guidance, we delved into several passages of the Zohar. (According to the bio on one of his book jackets, he “achieved a momentous feat when he was only 28” by doing the first translation of the complete Zohar from ancient Aramaic to English.) I became immediately absorbed by the abstract, centrifugal line of reasoning that ran through the text. It reminded me of the Talmudic commentators I had studied in high school — forever engaged in exegetical flourishes — in the way it somehow managed to remain clear of sticky human emotions while at the same time dilating on the mechanics of human behavior at its most paradigmatic. Michael and I got on to the topic of my mother’s recent death, and I listened spellbound as he gently conjured the logistics of reincarnation — which has no place in the doctrine of normative Judaism but which is embraced in all its hazy and exploitable reality by the Kabbalah Center. True disbeliever that I am, I nonetheless figured it might well be possible that I would meet up with my difficult but vivid mother once again in some coffee shop in the world to come, where we would no doubt have a heated argument but would at least be in the presence of each other.

I was ripe, in other words, for seduction — or was I? Coming from an Orthodox background — I am the product of a yeshiva day-school education, and although I am no longer observant, I have five siblings who are — my own interest in taking a closer look at the Kabbalah Center had been percolating for a long time. I heard the center referred to both in conversation and in the media in only the most dismissive terms, ranging from derision at its unsubstantial and misleading synthesis of Jewish, New Age and Sufi elements to rantings about its being “dangerous.” Still, disenchanted as I was with the patriarchal foundation and prohibitions of observant Judaism, I wondered whether there might be something worthy in a more ecumenical approach.

The center seemed to answer an intractable longing among its followers for an old-style sense of order in the midst of the chaotic jumble of contemporary choices and for something that elevated the disappointing limitations of human existence. Could it be that the very obsession with “authenticity,” which is where the center clearly came up short, was itself an outdated obsession? Perhaps the Kabbalah Center was a celebration of an ad hoc mix-and-match approach, a renunciation of “the bottled product” of ritually driven Judaism — as Gershom Scholem, the founder of kabbalah as an academic discipline, once described it — in favor of something more nondenominational and contemporary? Or, as Ben-Gurion University’s Boaz Huss put it: “Why does kabbalah have to be clean? The center annoys people so much because they subvert the basic perceptions of modern society, which puts religion here and pop culture there, in opposition to each other.” Alluding to the many A-list types who come and go, Huss insisted that the now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t quality of their involvement with the center is precisely the point: “Being in there for two minutes is a significant part of what the center is about. In a spiritual marketplace, most of the consumers don’t stay long.” Huss is also unperturbed by the spirit of entrepreneurship that commodifies everything the center touches, from flash cards to candles to baby bumpers. “They give spiritual guidance,” he asserted, “and they take money for it. Embedded in their philosophy is that giving as much as you can is important. They believe that they have the keys to redeeming themselves and humanity. People go freely, and most of the consumers are happy with what they get.” It doesn’t hurt the center’s gimme-gimme approach that kabbalah places great credence on the role of “giving,” although it’s dubious that the sort of “giving” the center encourages bears any resemblance to what the kabbalists originally had in mind.

My own more religiously informed background might have militated against my falling in with a bunch of lost, lemminglike souls who mumbled robotically about chakras, cosmic karmas and energy flows and whose eyes lit up when they talked about the “rav” and Karen as though they had just glimpsed the Messiah and his missus hurrying through the corridors, carrying bottles of kabbalah water and wearing the red bracelet said to be directly connected to Rachel’s tomb. But my self-imposed exile from the orbit of Friday-night dinners and Shabbat services and abiding nostalgia for the encircling warmth of the Jewish community made me more open-minded than I otherwise might have been. The fact that the chevra’s immersion in the classic minutiae of Orthodox Judaism was kept under tight wraps lest it scare off followers was precisely the aspect, the strategic missing piece in the puzzle, that forged the bridge from the center to the lost milieu of my childhood. It was what led me, in the initial throes of my exposure to this hitherto unsuspected enclave of closeted Jewishness, to call up an ex-Orthodox friend and tell her that she should take the first plane out of New York to attend the celebrity-studded celebration that was being planned for the rav’s birthday, with Donna Karan in attendance.

I was given fairly generous but carefully monitored access to the center and its doings. I attended Friday-night services at the New York center, where the prayer books include “directions for scanning” and a transliterated English text for non-Hebrew-speaking members. I noticed a sprinkling of Filipinos and other Asians as well as several diamond-bedecked Upper East Side women, all of whom looked as if they were just warming up to the strange brew on tap, clapping their hands and tentatively singing along with the Shabbat prayer. The women, cordoned off in a makeshift women’s section, seemed merry and carefree, while their children ran amuck, playing with Rubik’s Cubes and prancing around the bimah. Although there was no evidence of a formal dress code, as there usually is in an Orthodox synagogue, where pants and tank tops are eschewed, there is a casually imposed but strict gender divide, which put me in mind of all the Orthodox synagogues I had ever attended and reminded me uneasily of the compensatory ethos of liberation in confinement that is the Orthodox woman’s lot.

In Los Angeles, I attended a Friday-night dinner, where the emphasis on kabbalah not being a “religion” (always referred to in quotation marks, as though it were another of those tossed-out, old-hat ideas, like fidelity) is heightened to offset the lure of shopping at Fred Segal and where a microphone and slides accompanied the singing of prayers. The men circled Philip Berg, hands clasped around one another’s shoulders singing and dancing in the ecstatic, overheated manner of a Lubavitch gathering. I also went to Saturday mincha and maariv services, leading up to the Habdalah ceremony, in which a braided candle is lit, a symbolic sip of wine is drunk and a box of scented cloves is inhaled, marking the demarcation of Shabbat from the workweek. Again, the women were observers from the sidelines while the main action went on among the men, who wore white track suits and baseball caps in tried-and-true Guy Ritchie fashion. (The men wear white, one of the chevra told me, because “they are the ones reaching the light through prayer, while women are only vessels.”) The proceedings grew weirder as they went along, with a lot of football-huddle sort of male bonding interspersed with hora dances, gutteral noises and a talk by one of the chevra that ramblingly connected the weekly Torah portion with some aspect of goodness or spirituality.

Both Friday-night dinners followed the same pattern: tickets purchased ahead of time, prearranged seating at round tables (Madonna and Guy Ritchie are said to eat behind a screen, I was told), which appears to follow some invisible hierarchy of important and less-important guests. For all the press hubbub that surrounds the center’s doings and the 150,000 hits it gets every month on its Web site, the center’s dinners draw a relatively small number of people — several hundred in Los Angeles and less than half that in New York. (Although the center’s Web site alludes to a worldwide following in the millions, it is impossible to get an accurate number as to its actual following; one disenchanted observer puts it as low as 3,000 to 4,000 people.) The dinners are presented Chinese-style and are a mixture of Middle Eastern food — hummus and baba ghanouj — as well as the more ordinary Friday-night roast chicken or overcooked brisket.

During the course of my visits, I also sat in on the third session of a class called Kabbalah 101 at the Los Angeles center, taught by a patronizing and seemingly bored therapist named Jamie Greene. He quickly summed up the “universal wisdom” dispensed in the first two classes and then went on to talk generically about taking responsibility for your behavior and drew simplistic chalk diagrams with a white marker on a big blackboard. Listening to him coolly dispatch such enlightening concepts as “a credit card is a dangerous little thing” and “fear of intimacy guarantees that we’ll never experience intimacy,” I wondered if everything could be twisted into an emanation of kabbalistic principle, from gambling to self-destructive behavior, from business dealings to romance.

Most of the students were wearing the red string bracelet (notwithstanding the fact that the color red, according to Moshe Idel, has negative connotations in kabbalah) and all of them had copies of “The Power of Kabbalah,” written by Yehuda Berg, the more populist of the two brothers, with a cover blurb courtesy of Madonna: “No hocus-pocus here. Nothing to do with religious dogma, the ideas in this book are earth-shattering and yet so simple.” Subtitled “Technology for the Soul,” Berg’s book includes brief chapters on such subjects as “The DNA of God,” “The Light Bulb Metaphor Applied to the Endless World” and “Nanotechnologists Confirm the Kabbalists.” The class was a multiethnic assortment of mostly blue-collar workers of different ages. There was much talk about flows of consciousness, forces of darkness and blocking the light. “The light is always there,” Greene assured the class before they departed. “The light is endless.”

I met separately with some of the more significant teachers, including Eitan Yardeni (Madonna’s teacher), an intense 42-year-old Israeli who has been instrumental in opening Kabbalah Centers elsewhere in America and is currently the spiritual director of the London center. Yardeni grew up in a nonobservant family and started studying kabbalah as a teenager while in the Israeli Air Force, where he gave instruction in Hawk missiles. He explained the center’s grandiose mission to me: “We’re much bigger than Jewish; we’re here to touch souls all over the world, to give people universal tools to access the practical.” He added, “We’re talking about effecting change on a global level.” I had my horoscope read by Yael Yardeni, the center’s resident astrologer, who also happens to be the sister-in-law of Eitan, keeping it all in the family, and discovered that in one of my three past lives I had been a rebbetzin with oodles of children. (Yael has a waiting list of three months and charges $200 a session.) Astrology is a big part of the center’s construction of meaning, though it plays a marginal role in kabbalistic thought. When I met Karen Berg, she immediately pointed out that Donna Karan was a Libra, and at a Friday-night dinner in New York, Miriam, one of the hipper and better dressed among the chevra, confidently assessed me as a Scorpio. (Just for the record, I am a Gemini.)

During an earnest phone conversation with Michael Berg, I found myself growing teary-eyed when we got into a discussion of why, despite my late mother’s fervent wish, I had never put up on my doorways those small, elongated objects known as mezuzot, which enclose a klaf, a handwritten rolled scroll of parchment inscribed with a section of Deuteronomy. I was truly touched when Michael promised to send someone that very Sunday to put them up, only to discover that that was the last I would hear of it.

A year and a half after I began my explorations, the cynic in me writes the center off as hokum, a brilliantly shrewd commercial enterprise, playing on the existentially orphaned state that is the general condition of many people today, in or out of Los Angeles, offering spiritual cachet for cash. Still, the ever-hopeful, lapsed Orthodox Jew in me wonders whether I might have found my own personal mystically tinged form of antireligious religion had I been willing to overlook the crass reductionism and imbibe the New Age atmosphere of nonjudgmental compassion. Gershom Scholem, in “Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism,” observes on the last page: “The story is not ended, it has not yet become history, and the secret life it holds can break out tomorrow in you or in me. Under what aspects this invisible stream of Jewish mysticism will again come to surface we cannot tell.”

That there are glaring holes in the center’s facade — discrepancies and yawning gaps in scrutability — cannot be denied. Why, for instance, as many observers have wondered, is the center so reluctant to discuss how the millions it raises every year as a nonprofit organization are actually spent? Michael Berg insists that the center is a flawed “work in progress” that has made mistakes it must rectify.

Here’s what I do know: My mother has shown no signs thus far of resurfacing, and I would guess that Madonna continues to believe in her own immortality, as guaranteed by the center. And yet, who’s to say that the Bergs aren’t on to something more sustaining than kabbalah-imprinted merchandise, that they aren’t providing access to the secret life of mysticism that Scholem is referring to, albeit the Oprah version. Meanwhile, the couple from Queens and their chevra have pulled a rabbit out of a hat, made believers out of ex-car mechanics and former real-estate brokers. That’s them in the corner, flashing their red bracelets; that’s them in the spotlight, finding their nouveau, pseudo, po-mo religion.

Daphne Merkin is a contributing writer for the magazine.


In So Many Wonderlands (WSJ 18/3/10)

Posted in Uncategorized by ce399 on 29/06/2010

Paramount’s 1933 production of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ starring Charlotte Henry, with Cary Grant as the Mock Turtle and William Austin as the Gryphon.

There’s nothing curious—or curiouser—about the broad appeal of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” (1865) and its sequel, “Through the Looking-Glass” (1872). They are rare works, appealing equally to children and adults. As such, the books (almost always fused when adapted) have been regularly turned into films and television programs. Viewers never seem to tire of the Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, the Queen of Hearts and the rest.

Now another version, the first in 3-D, is upon us—this one, from Disney, directed by Tim Burton, whose affinity for dark dreams would seem to mesh well with Carroll’s rich imagination. Mr. Burton borrows freely from the sources, which for him means augmenting the role of the Hatter, played by Johnny Depp, and eliminating the White Knight and the Queen of Hearts. But he is merely the latest to tinker with Carroll’s texts.

Because “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking-Glass” together contain so many memorable episodes, it is practically impossible to distill them all in a couple of hours. That makes viewing multiple versions of the story something of a sport, one made far easier thanks to the prevalence of DVDs. Part of the fun lies in comparing portrayals of the recurring characters. Viewers may, for example, favor John Gielgud’s Mock Turtle in Jonathan Miller’s 1966 BBC adaptation over Cary Grant’s in Paramount’s 1933 version, yet prefer Gary Cooper’s White Knight in the Paramount movie to Richard Burton’s in a 1983 telling on PBS’s “Great Performances” (available on DVD from Image). Or they might debate the relative merits of various Hatters, contrasting, say, Mr. Depp’s low-key performance with spry Edward Everett Horton (Paramount again) and the bundle of nervous energy voiced by Ed Wynn in Disney’s famous animated version (1951).

Nor is there much consistency in depictions of Wonderland. Though some adaptations hew admirably close to the now-iconic illustrations drawn by John Tenniel for the books’ first editions, others bear the stamp of their era to an almost distracting degree. Mr. Burton’s picture falls into the latter category, as does Mr. Miller’s virtually psychedelic account (on BBC DVD), which imagines Alice as something of a flower child trapped in a happening—an effect only furthered by Ravi Shankar’s hypnotic score.

Even Alice’s arrival in Wonderland eludes consensus. Carroll’s books have her falling down a rabbit hole initially and then, in “Through the Looking-Glass,” re-entering it via a mirror. But Mr. Miller makes the rabbit hole first a tunnel, then a many-windowed corridor, and finally a series of staircases worthy of M.C. Escher. And in “Alice” (1988), the Czech filmmaker Jan Švankmajer goes beyond that. His take (on DVD from First Run Features) combines live action and stop-motion animation to have Alice watch the White Rabbit escape from a taxidermy display, scamper up a heap of rubble, and then dive into the drawer of a writing desk (a joke Carroll aficionados will savor).

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Paramount’s 1933 production of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ starring Charlotte Henry, with Cary Grant as the Mock Turtle and William Austin as the Gryphon.

Alice’s age, too, seems subject to interpretation. She is 7 in the books, yet only Irwin Allen’s cloying TV version, first broadcast on CBS in 1985 (and now on DVD from Sony), gets that right. Mr. Švankmajer makes her about 5, but most adaptations age Alice. She’s adolescent in the Paramount and BBC tellings, a late teen rejecting a marriage proposal in Mr. Burton’s movie, and a full-fledged woman when played by Kate Burton for “Great Performances.” She’s even been a young mother, portrayed by Kate Beckinsale in a sly British TV version from 1998 (on DVD from Lions Gate).

One constant in “Alice” adaptations is star power. Paramount’s early 1930s version (just issued on DVD by Universal) was the first to exploit this approach. Along with Grant, Cooper and W.C. Fields (as Humpty-Dumpty), the film features a panoply of once-familiar, now largely forgotten faces, including Jack Oakie as Tweedledum, Charlie Ruggles as the March Hare, and Edna May Oliver as the Red Queen.

The BBC’s “Alice” is nearly as star-packed, though not all the players fulfill expectations. Gielgud certainly does—his droll delivery of lines like “We called him Tortoise because he taught us” is unmatched. And nearly as impressive are Michael Redgrave’s haughty Caterpillar, Malcolm Muggeridge’s superannuated Gryphon, and Leo McKern’s coarse Duchess (talk about creative casting!). But it’s a pity to find Peter Sellers wasted as the King of Hearts.

* ‘Alice’: Half a Wonderland
* Speakeasy: ‘Alice in Wonderland’ Review Revue
* Speakeasy: Selling ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ One Eyeshadow at a Time

Indeed, the least successful adaptations are those beholden to celebrity casting. Allen’s mid-1980s production is a good example, with a host of past-their-prime performers stuffing the proceedings. Anthony Newley plays the Hatter; Red Buttons, the White Rabbit; and—of all people—Telly Savalas, the Cheshire Cat. Another TV version, this one originally broadcast on NBC in 1999 (and now on a Vivendi DVD), is just as bad, with Martin Short insufferable as the Hatter and Whoopi Goldberg an ill-chosen Cheshire Cat—though at least Ben Kingsley pleases as a martinet-like Caterpillar.

If stars are de rigueur, then special effects are essential. Carroll’s Wonderland is inherently phantasmagoric, and since “Alice” was first filmed, in 1903, trick photography has been part of the equation. One sees it used to great effect in the Paramount film, which incorporates an animated Walrus-and-Carpenter sequence among its varied charms. Mr. Burton’s new version, of course, approaches technology’s cutting edge. But those partial to Carroll’s stories must be mindful that what matters most in any “Alice” adaptation is the ability to link wonder and whimsy. Anything less is an affront to the inspiration.

Mr. Mermelstein writes for the Journal on film and classical music.


ZAX: The Crossing of the Abyss

Posted in Uncategorized by ce399 on 26/06/2010

The ability of the adapt to cross the Abyss is a product of:

* the adept’s mass virtue
* the adept’s karma and its overall polarity
* the attractive forces in Binah

A significant milestones in the life of a adapt is the crossing of the Great Outer Abyss. The Abyss is the 10th Aethyr and is called ZAX. Much has been said about the Abyss, some wise and some foolish. It is not a crossing to be taken lightly, especially if you have not been working to purify and prepare yourself along the way. The information and suggestions given here should aid in this initiation; however, you must supply the courage and determination from within yourself  to perform the actual crossing.

Because of the importance of this operation, it is suggested that you only attempt the journey when you are feeling your best. However when the time is right,  you may just “find” yourself in ZAX during a lucid dream or in an out of body adventure, or even in a meditation. A good protective name of power to keep in mind is the Enochian word NIAKOD (pronounced NEE-AH-KOH-DEH <–ra sound file). Call on this name of power when you are ready to make the attempt or if you just find yourself in ZAX.

As you enter ZAX, the tidal forces of Binah will naturally pull you across the Abyss toward the spiritual plane while the Archdemon KHORONZON (pronounced KA-RO-NA-ZON <– ra sound file) tries to thwart your progress. It’s a tug of war of sorts, with you in the middle. The Archdemon KHORONZON is a full-scale version of the demon you met in the 28th Aethyr BAG. When confronting KHORONZON and his drama you should maintain silence. If you speak out using logic and compassion, you will be doomed. KHORONZON is terrified by silence, due to the chaotic nature of ZAX. It is by silence and quiet determination that you can control the drama and gain passage through the Abyss. In other words, when you enter ZAX hold fast to your purpose (the crossing of the Abyss) without losing concentration and let nothing detract you from your goal. Ultimately if you fail to cross the Abyss it is because you yourself turn away and return to the human side. Do not look at it as a defeat, because in this turning away you will have learned some valuable information about yourself.

You see! If you get hung up in the Abyss it will be because of some fear or imperfection or because you did not effectively leave your human self behind. Upon entering ZAX, carrying such imperfection or piece of the human self, you may see a whirling of forms just prior to some shape or drama unfolding. What that drama or form becomes will be a product of your own karma and whatever human condition that you mistakenly try to take with you. No two people are likely to see this drama in exactly the same way because of the intimate nature of ZAX. This drama will indicate to you what aspect of your human self you have not effectively removed or purified. For this reason ZAX is also advantageous to transverse even after you successfully complete the crossing; transversing ZAX will always uncover any aspect of yourself that needs work. We are not static creatures and are forever evolving, so keeping ourselves pure and holy is an on-going process. While the Archdemon’s methods may be a bit extreme, they are effective in exposing any NEW areas (as well as old) that may develop in your continuing evolutionary process.

The key to successfully crossing the Abyss lies in eradicating any human failing prior to entering ZAX. The lower Aethyrs are designed to prepare you for this trip and to expose any imperfection you may have prior to your attempt to cross over. To cross the Abyss, you must be able to identify yourself totally with your spiritual personality rather than your human personality. If something does remain then KHORONZON will expose it for you. Now your next step is to go back over that lesson or failing exposed (perhaps even visiting the Aethyr that contains that lesson) and remove it from your being.

You see! No human being can cross the Abyss. However you are more than human at this point. You left the physical body behind to enter TEX and left your astral body behind to enter TOR. Now you must cast off the mental body and raise your consciousness to the spiritual body. ZAX is a ring-pass-not for your mental body. With consciousness firmly centered in your spiritual body, you can cross ZAX without incident and enter the higher Aethyrs easily and safely.


Anti-Oedipus and Surrealism

Posted in Uncategorized by ce399 on 21/06/2010


A Ship of Monsters (1959)

“A schizophrenic out for a walk is a better model than a neurotic lying on the analyst’s couch.”


Surrealism as a theory, a movement and an attitude has affected in some way most of the other movements in the 20th century and has either encouraged or reflected a popular tendency toward the devaluation of the rational (both in the philosophical and everyday sense) in literature, t he plastic arts, the media and film, advertising, clothing and hair styles and language usage…and, some might even suggest, in politics. A number of thinkers from the 18th century (Schlegel) to those of the post-modernist persuasion have seen in modern, avant garde art what Nietzsche called the “aesthetic phenomenon,” wherein “the concentrated dealings with itself of a decentered subjectivity set free from the everyday conventions of perceiving and acting (Habermas, p. 93) promise us some kind of release from the tyranny of the purposive-rational, which has strangled the spirit and fragmented modern life. “Modern art alone” comments Habermas, “can communicate with the archaic sources of social integration that have been sealed off within modernity” (p. 91).

What are we therefore to think, within such a context, and in view of the proclamations in the First and Second Manifestos of Surrealism of Breton, of Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia,. of Deleuze and Guattari, which appeared in 1972? Anti-Oedipus, in a convincing but ferocious jargon, purports to found a materialist psychoanalysis based on the concept of the autoproductive unconscious, which is a desiring-machine in a universe of desiring machines. This autoproductive desiring-machine is a contentless, non-moral force, like the Freudian id, whose products are always already also and immediately social production–there, it would seem handily solving the problem of the relation between t he self and t he collective, that collective which according to Michel Serres is a black box and a white noise. “In sum, we know nothing, and once more, the collective is black and makes noise” (Serres, p. 124).

The desiring machine is a flow which is broken, deformed, interrupted by breaks-flows, by the flows-schizzes. It is similar to Bohm’s idea of fragmentation theory in which it is the combinations of vortices, of deformations of a continuum, which are perceived as the reality ‘As such, the desiring-machine is a phenomenon of physics, not metaphorically, but really, as a materialists psychoanalysis would demand. As such, psychoanalysis is a branch of physics. Since desiring production is also social production, a materialist psychoanalysis becomes likewise a materialist theory of sociology, history and economics and allows the authors of Anti-Oedipus to describe the evolution of humanity in three stages, which sometimes overlap or at least retain “vacuoles” or enclaves of a previous stage. These are the stages of the primitive territoriality, of the barbarian Urstaat, and of capitalism. Each of these states has its own way of engraving itself on the body of the citizen, and capitalism is the ultimate stage in which the “capitalist social formation…mobilizes [previous coded] flows that are effectively decoded…by substituting for the codes a quantifying axiomatic that is even more repressive” (Deleuze, p. 176).

Although capitalism does not invent Oedipus, it exploits it cynically and mercilessly, supported by modern Oedipalizing psychoanalysis, in order to force onto the autoproductive unconscious the triangular structure of the Oedipus, to define and limit the autoproductive unconscious to a familial concept which effectively breaks it away from the larger cultural and socio-economic framework, and to deform and replace its productivity by representation, by the despotic signifier. What had been real and productive is deformed by representation and the metaphysical atmosphere of idealism, rationalism, capitalism, and neo-idealist psychoanalysis.

Anti-Oedipus will replace the paranoid, molarizing, capitalist, neurotic, Oedipal psychoanalysis with schizoanalysis: a molecular, schizophrenizing point of view that sets free the autoproductive unconscious That is, it will provide a point of view from where the desiring-machines may be identified before their deformation by Oedipus and seek the dissolution of egos. “The first positive task consists of discovering in a subject the nature, the formation, or the functioning of his desiring-0machines, independently of any interpretation” (Deleuze, p. 322). “In this regard, the first thesis of schizoanalysis is this: every investment is social, and in any case bears on a sociohistoric field” (p. 342). “Libidinal economy is no less objective that political economy…” (p. 345). “Schizoanalysis would come to nothing if it did not add to its positive tasks the constant destructive task of disintegrating the normal ego” (p. 362). Here we have a basic theory for psychoanalysis and politics, a study which involves those whom Michel Serres once rather sarcastically “les psyches et pos” (la psychanalyse et la politique). How far can we go in claiming a surrealist influence, or if we are more modest, an intertextuality?

Deleuze, the Breton of the First Manifesto, and surrealism in general posit the unconscious as the primary reality which must be allowed to express itself. For Anti-Oedipus, it is not so much a matter of the “dictation of the unconscious outside any concern for the moral or aesthetic,” the classic definition from the First Manifesto, as it is of freeing the desiring-machine of the unconscious for an authentic desiring-production which is the equivalent of social production The mere expression of the autoproductive unconscious would deny it its productivity by replacing its productivity with representation represented by Oedipus. Nevertheless, I cannot imagine Breton objecting to this definition of the unconscious, which does not seem to me to be contradictory to the goals of surrealism. Breton’s view of the unconscious is not as broad as that of Deleuze and certainly his analysis of the problem is not as deep, as scientific, or as well thought out in its relations between the individual desiring-machines and the socio-economic sphere. Nevertheless, the freeing of the unconscious has the same goal for both surrealism and Anti-Oedipus: an expression-production freed from preconceived ideas, most particularly capitalist-bourgeois ideas.

Both Anti-Oedipus and surrealism require a destructive posture in relation to bourgeois capitalism, and both look to abnormal (although privileged might be a better word) states of mind for the insights and enlightenments required. In Les Vases communicants, Breton and Eluard sought to imitate the states of the various mental afflictions and Anti-Oedipus does specify the difference between schizophrenia as a critique and schizophrenia as a disease: schizophrenia as a critique becomes a disease when it is frustrated as a process by oedipalizing psychoanalysis and by capitalism, which cause the process to take itself as an end. “So the schizo is effectively neuroticized” (Deleuze, p. 363).. Still, Deleuze tracks Artaud about in much the same way Breton tracked Nadja, expecting to find and finding in mental illness some insight, and even a greater sanity than in the world of bourgeois normalcy. He finds Artaud rejecting Oedipus in

I don’t believe in father

In mother

Got no

pappamummy (p. 14)

and he draws further material from the diary of Nijinsky and L’Art brut, a periodic series of reproductions of art works done by residents of the psychiatric hospitals of Europe. “There is never a delirium that does not possess [a strong politico-erotic content] and that is not originally economic, political, and so forth, before being crushed in the psychiatric and psychoanalytic treadmill” (p. 274). “Why does it [capitalism] confine its madmen and madwomen instead of seeing in them it own heroes and heroines, its own fulfillment?” (p. 245).

The problem of a similarity in the concept of representation between surrealism and Anti-Oedipus is somewhat more complicated, given the great theoretical emphasis placed on the signifier by structuralism and post-structuralism, a concern which largely post-dates Breton. In the state of the barbarian Urstaat, however, Deleuze sees the despot establishing the practice of writing: “It is the imperial information that makes graphism into a system of writing in the proper sense of the term” (p. 202). Referring to the studies of Leroi-Gourhan, Deleuze remarks that “primitive societies are oral not because they lack a graphic system but because, on the contrary, the graphic system in these societies is independent of the voice” (p. 202). When, however, the graphic system begins to mirror the spoken word, it tends to supplant it. Writing, as Derrida has often claimed, takes its origin in the priestly class and has its roots in power. “The age of the sign is essentially theological” (Derrida, p. 14). On the other hand, a case can be made (as in the case of Linear B), that writing has its origins in record keeping of merchants.

Tristan Tzara recommended writing a poem by cutting words out of a newspaper and pasting them haphazardly on a piece of paper. Some of the surrealist poets appear to have followed his recommendation. Such a dislocation and mutilation of language, of the signifier, are done in the name of a graphism which has been appropriated by bourgeois power. This dislocation of language is more easily done with poetry, since poetry is nearer the “aesthetic phenomenon” than prose. Sartre no doubt realized this when he opted for prose as a form of commitment, fully accepting the metaphysics of presence and its basis in power, making of prose a form of action which acted on the external world, and rejecting the word-for-the-word’s-sake. Sartre saw language as an order forced on a formless world of objects and would have wanted nothing to do with desiring-machines (making Sartre a closet Platonist, of which he has been accused before). He rejected surrealism as well (Plato would have, too)–ironically putting himself in the bourgeois camp, at least from the point of view of the autoproductive unconscious. Sartre would have wanted nothing to do with the autoproductive conscious–since it would have threatened the pour-soi as the consciousness of being conscious. Seen from this angle, surrealism’s assault on the phonocentric bourgeois writing is consistent with its expectation that primitivism may provide a purified view of things. Nevertheless, Deleuze would have to see the anti-bourgeois linguistic mutilations of the surrealists an ineffective: “Writing has never been capitalism’s thing. Capitalism is profoundly illiterate” (Op. 240). “Electric language does not go by way of the voice or writing: data processing does without them both, as does that discipline appropriately named fluidics, which operates by means of streams of gas; the computer is a machine for instantaneous and generalized decoding [of the flows]” (p;. 241). With a little imagination we may see a surrealist in today’s computer hacker and electronic saboteur.

Besides the role of the unconscious and the automatism recommended in the

First Manifesto, probably the second principal characteristic of surrealism is the unification of opposites recommended in the Second Manifesto, i.e., the destruction between male and female, life and death, good and evil, etc. Deleuze deals with the opposition between male and female in his criticism of anthropomorphized sex and in general his concept of the desiring-machines does away with these oppositions. There is not as much the tone of mystical union, however, in Deleuze as there is in surrealism. “Everything is objective or subjective, as one wishes” he writes. “That is not the distinction: the distinction to be made passes into the economic infrastructure itself and into its investments. Libidinal economy is no less objective than political economy, and the political no less subjective than the libidinal…(p. 345). Such idea of unification seem more methodological in the

Anti-Oedipus than mystic and in any case the problem is solved by the desiring-machines. Yet, as Habermas frequently points out, mysticism seems to be lurking about in any post-modern who tries to resolve the Hegelian diremptions–and the desiring machine is certainly an omnivorous concept.

As for the concept of love, “l’amour fou,” which was supposed to tear the mind out of its domination to bourgeois values, the desiring machine absorbs it as well. Desire, which Breton traced back to the Marquis de Sade as the ancestor of surrealism,
“does not take as its object persons or things, but the entire surroundings that it traverses…” (p. 292). “In a word, the social as well as biological surroundings are the object of unconscious investments that are necessarily desiring or libidinal….The libido as sexual energy is the direct investment of the masses, of large aggregates, and of social and organic fields” (p. 292).

In this case, we have to be careful in claiming that Anit0Oedipus provides a much wider definition of desire that that which Breton traces back to Sade. Considering the importance Breton gave to the unconscious and to desire, I am convinced that if Breton did not go as far in extending desire as to have conceived the desiring-machine, he would certainly have found this Deleuzian concept congenial. “The truth is,” writes Deleuze, “that sexuality is everywhere: the way a bureaucrat fondles his records, a judge administers justice, a businessman causes money to circulate; the way the bourgeoisie fucks the proletariat….Hitler got the fascists sexually aroused. Flags, nations, armies, banks get a lot of people aroused” (p. 293).

This quotation naturally brings up the style of Anti-Oedipus. The book is an abstruse, jargon-ridden piece of work, interlarded with poems by, quotations from and references to Artaud, D.H. Lawrence, Nijinsky, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Henry Miller, Samuel Beckett, etc., with a shocking use of vulgarities in such a difficult work. The style is that of a surrealist shock treatment, as if the sudden impact of the language would drag you out of your capitalist, Oedipalized, molarized, paranoid stupor and make you realize the truth of the auto-productive desiring-machine.

Anti-Oedipus, rather surprisingly, has little regard for the usefulness of dreams, and certainly not that fascination the surrealists had. Dreams are Oedipal. “…and this comes as no surprise, since dreams are a perverse reterritorialization in relation to the deterritorialization of sleep and nightmares. But why return to dreams, why turn them into the royal road of desire and the unconscious, when they are in fact the manifestation of a superego, a superpowerful and superarchiaized ego…? (p. 316)

What is the last word on the relation between surrealism and Anti-Oedipus? If we accept Anti-Oedipus as the whole truth, then the desiring-machines absorb everything and Breton and company and surrealism are a bunch of desiring machines going along in their more or less Oedipalized, familialized, paranoid, molarized and triangulated fashion. But if we care to look at the 20th century as an adventure in pose-modernism, then we may say that surrealism and Anti-Oedipus use the unconscious in a very similar fashion. Surrealism, despite the rejection of the aesthetic preoccupation by Breton in the First Manifesto, is mostly an aesthetic phenomenon. Although Breton rejected Communism and saw surrealism as the revolution in mens’ minds, the manifestations of surrealism and “surrealist research” are mostly in art and literature. I would relate surrealism and Anti-Oedipus in the following way: Surrealism uses the resources of the unconscious to create art and literature; Anti-Oedipus uses them to understand and describe the human sciences, by positing desiring-machines which create history, society, culture and the economy.

For either one, a schizophrenic out for a walk is better than a neurotic on a couch.


Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Viking Press, New York: 1977. Trans. Of Anti-Oedipe. Les Editions de Minuit, Paris: 1972, by Hurley, Seem, and Lane.

Jacques Derrida. Of Grammatology. Johns Hopkins, Baltimore: 1976. Trans. of De la Grammatologie. Les Editions de Minuit, Paris: 1967, by Spivak.

Jurgen Habermas. The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity. MIT Press, Cambridge: 1987. Trans. of Der Philosophische Diskurs der Moderne: Zwölf Vorlesungen. Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main: 1985.

Michel Serres. The Parasite. Johns Hopkins, Baltimore: 1982. Trans. Of Le Parasite by Schehr.


Lacan and Psychosis

Posted in Uncategorized by ce399 on 21/06/2010

Although I appreciate any successful attempt to work interpersonally with psychosis, and I would be curious to hear more about Villemoes’ work, I have to say the following:

The idea of “ego-restructuring” would have been anathema to Lacan, who considered the ego to be an alienating function even if it appeared to be the only alternative to psychosis. He worked hard to save the truth of Freud from the creation of ego psychology.

In his early work Lacan discusses the absence of the “name of the father” as a possible factor in psychosis within the particular cultural milieux (patriarchal?) he and Freud were a part of, however he searched his whole life for an alternative to the impasse which psychoanalysis had reached – the either/or choice between a neurotic (“normal”) submission to the law of the Other or psychotic foreclosure of the symbolic. It was amongst the development of a new (modern/postmodern?) milieux that Lacan was able to perceive new directions.

In 1963 Lacan proposed for his yearly seminar “the names of the father.” While this was never given (for political reasons), from this point on he began work on the pluralization of the names as access to the symbolic. By 1975 when he gave his seminar on the “sinthome” (purification of the symptom) he states that we can “do without the name of the father provided we can make use of it.” The process of nomination borrowed from the poetics of James Joyce (and contempary artists in general) provided Lacan with a certain model of practice which is currently being evolved by many of Lacan’s decendants.

In my own work I have come to the conclusion that it is not usually a simple lack of maternal mirroring or paternal name/no/law which leads to psychosis but a direct intrusion – a “soul murder” or “violence of interpretation” (as Aulagnier calls it ) of the experience of the other. While the very existence of the other (mother, father) with its desires provides an inevitable constraining limit for the child, it is in the excessive objectification of the child that his soul or drive is put into the service of the other and nothing remains to be born into the subjective enunciation and transmission of the “I”. But in the everyday life of the current society this objectification and violence of interpretation are simply less complete, making neurosis and much so-called normality subject to a divided subjectivity. Rather than seek to adapt the objectified ego to its milieux of object relations dominated by a particular logos, Lacan sought the emergence of subject relations. In the clinical setting the “desire of the analyst” to listen, witness, play, and create “in relation” and to reveal the truth of bodily and mental”jouissance” and its symbolic transmission maintains a constraining limit, while preventing the objectification of the patient through the violence of interpretation which – for the most part – our families, cultures, and therapies are still dominated by, which can lead to the untying of the knot of the symptom and the production of new signifiers.

For new developments in Lacan’s late work and its application to pre-oedipal and psychotic experience I recommend:

Roberto Harari “How James Joyce Made His Name: A Reading of the Final Lacan”
Felix Guattari “Chaosmosis”
Piera Aulagnier “The Violence of Interpretation”
Bracha Lichtenberg-Ettinger “The Matrixial Gaze”
Julia Kristeva ” Revolution in Poetic Language”
Slavoj Zizek “Organs without Bodies”
Willy Apollon, et al “After Lacan”


The Vision and the Voice: The Tenth Aethyr is Called ZAX

Posted in Uncategorized by ce399 on 19/06/2010

In nomine BABALON Amen.

Restriction unto Choronzon1.

The Tenth Aethyr2 is Called ZAX3.

This Aethyr being accursèd, and the seer forewarned, he taketh these precautions for the scribe.

First let the scribe be seated in the centre of the circle in the desert sand, and let the circle be fortified by the Holy Names of God — Tetragrammaton and Shaddai El Chai and Ararita.

And let the Demon be invoked within a triangle, wherein is inscribed the name of Choronzon, and about it let him write ANAPHAXETON — ANAPHANETON — PRIMEUMATON, and in the angles MI-CA-EL4: and at each angle the Seer shall slay a pigeon5, and having done this, let him retire to a secret place, where is neither sight nor hearing, and sit within his black robe, secretly invoking the Aethyr6. And let the Scribe perform the Banishing Rituals of the Pentagram and Hexagram7, and let him call upon the Holy Names of God, and say the Exorcism of Honorius8, and let him beseech protection and help of the Most High.

And let him be furnished with the Magick Dagger9, and let him strike fearlessly at anything that may seek to break through the circle, were it the appearance of the Seer himself. And if the Demon pass out of the triangle, let him threaten him with the Dagger, and command him to return. And let him beware lest he himself lean beyond the circle. And since he reverenceth the Person of the Seer as his Teacher, let the Seer bind him with a great Oath to do this.

Now, then, the Seer being entered within the triangle, let him take the Victims and cut their throats, pouring the blood within the Triangle, and being most heedful that not one drop fall without the Triangle; or else Choronzon should be able to manifest in the universe.

And when the sand hath sucked up the blood of the victims, let him recite the Call of the Aethyr apart secretly as aforesaid. Then will the Vision be revealed, and the Voice heard.

The Oath

I, Omnia Vincam, a Probationer of A{.·.} A{.·.}, hereby solemnly promise upon my magical honour, and swear by Adonai the angel that guardeth me, that I will defend this magic circle of Art with thoughts and words and deeds. I promise to threaten with the Dagger and command back into the triangle the spirit incontinent, if he should strive to escape from it; and to strike with a Dagger at anything that may seek to enter this Circle, were it in appearance the body of the Seer himself. And I will be exceeding wary, armed against force and cunning; and I will preserve with my life the inviolability of this Circle, Amen.

And I summon mine Holy Guardian Angel to witness this mine oath, the which if I break, may I perish, forsaken of Him. Amen and Amen.

The Cry of the 10th Aethyr,
Which is Called ZAX

There is no being in the outermost Abyss, but constant forms come forth from the nothingness of it10.

Then the Devil of the Aethyr, that mighty devil Choronzon, crieth aloud, Zazaz11, Zazas, Nasatanada Zasas.

I am the Master of Form12, and from me all forms proceed.

I am I. I have shut myself up from the spendthrifts, my gold is safe in my treasure-chamber, and I have made every living thing my concubine, and none shall touch them, save only I. And yet I am scorched, even while I shiver in the wind. He hateth me and tormenteth me. He would have stolen me from myself, but I shut myself up and mock at him, even while he plagueth me. From me come leprosy and pox and plague and cancer and cholera and the falling sickness. Ah! I will reach up to the knees of the Most High, and tear his phallus with my teeth, and I will bray his testicles in a mortar, and make poison thereof, to slay the sons of men13.

(Here the Spirit stimulated the voice of Frater P., which also appeared to come from his station and not from the triangle.)

I don’t think I can get any more; I think that’s all there is.

(The Frater was seated in a secret place covered completely by a black robe14, in the position called the “Thunderbolt”. He did not move or speak during the ceremony.)

Next the Scribe was hallucinated, believing that before him was a beautiful courtesan whom previously he had loved in Paris. Now, she wooed him with soft words and glances, but he knew these things for delusions of the devil, and he would not leave the circle.

The demon then laughed wildly and loud.

(Upon the Scribe threatening him, the Demon proceeded, after a short delay.)

They have called me the God of laughter, and I laugh when I will slay. And they have thought that I could not smile, but I smile upon whom I would seduce. O inviolable one, that canst not not be tempted15. If thou canst command me by the power of the Most High, know that I did indeed tempt thee, and it repenteth me. I bow myself humbly before the great and terrible names whereby thou hast conjured and constrained me. But thy name is mercy, and I cry aloud for pardon. Let me come and put my head beneath thy feet, that I may serve thee. For if thou commandest me to obedience in the Holy names, I cannot swerve therefrom, for their first whispering is greater than the noise of all my temptests. Bid me therefore come unto thee upon my hands and knees that I may adore thee, and partake of thy forgiveness. Is not thy mercy infinite?

(Here Choronzon attempts to seduce the Scribe by appealing to his pride.

But the Scribe refused to be tempted, and commanded the demon to continue with the Aethyr.

There was again a short delay.)

Choronzon hath no form, because he is the maker of all form; and so rapidly he changeth from one to the other as he may best think fit to seduce those whom he hateth, the servants of the Most High.

Thus taketh he the form of a beautiful woman, or of a wise and holy man, or of a serpent that writheth upon the earth ready to sting16.

And, because he is himself, therefore he is no self; the terror of darkness, and the blindness of night, and the deafness of the adder, and the tastelessness of stale and stagnant water, and the black fire of hatred, and the udders of the Cat of slime; not one thing, but many things. Yet, with all that, his torment is eternal. The sun burns him as he writhes naked upon the sands of hell, and the wind cuts him bitterly to the bone, a harsh dry wind, so that he is sore athirst. Give unto me, I pray thee, one drop of water from the pure springs of Paradise, that I may quench my thirst.

(The Scribe refused.)

Sprinkle water upon my head. I can hardly go on17.

(This last was spoken from the triangle in the natural voice of the Frater, which Choronzon again simulated. But he did not succeed in taking the Frater’s form — which was absurd!

The Scribe resisted the appeal to his pity, and conjured the demon to proceed by the names of the Most High. Choronzon attempted also to seduce the faithfulness of the Scribe. A long colloquy ensued. The Scribe cursed him by the Holy Names of God, and the power of the Pentagram.17)

I feed upon the names of the Most High. I churn them in my jaws, and I void them from my fundament. I fear not the power of the Pentagram, for I am the Master of the Triangle. My name is three hundred and thirty and three, and that is thrice one18. Be vigilant, therefore, for I warn thee that I am about to deceive thee. I shall say words that thou wilt take to be the cry of the Aethyr, and thou wilt write them down, thinking them to be great secrets of Magick power, and they will be only my jesting with thee.

(Here the Scribe invoked the Angels, and the Holy Guardian Angel of the Frater P. . . . The demon replied:)

I know the name of the Angel of thee and thy brother P. . . ., and all thy dealings with him are but a cloak for thy filthy sorceries.

(Here the Scribe averred that he knew more than the demon, and so feared him not, and ordered the demon to proceed.)

Thou canst tell me naught that I know not, for in me is all Knowledge: Knowledge is my name. Is not the head of the great Serpent arisen into Knowledge19?

(Here the Scribe again commanded Choronzon to continue with the call.)

Know thou that there is no Cry in the tenth Aethyr like unto the other Cries, for Choronzon is Dispersion, and cannot fix his mind upon any one thing for any length of time. Thou canst master him in argument, O talkative one; thou wast commanded, wast thou not, to talk to Choronzon? He sought not to enter the circle, or to leave the triangle, yet thou didst prate of all these things.

(Here the Scribe threatened the demon with anger and pain and hell. The demon replied:)

Thinkest thou, O fool, that there is any anger and any pain that I am not, or any hell but this my spirit? Images, images, images, all without control, all without reason. The malice of Choronzon is not the malice of a being; it is the quality of malice, because he that boasteth himself “I am I”, hath in truth no self, and these are they that are fallen under my power, the slaves of the Blind One that boasted himself to be the Enlightened One. For there is no centre, nay, nothing but Dispersion.

Woe, woe, woe, threefold to him that is led away by talk, O talkative One.

O thou that hast written two-and-thirty books of Wisdom, and art more stupid than an owl, by thine own talk is thy vigilance wearied, and by my talk art thou befooled and tricked, O thou that sayest that thou shalt endure. Knowest thou how nigh thou art to destruction? For thou that art the Scribe hast not the understanding20 that alone availeth against Choronzon. And wert thou not protected by the Holy Names of God and the circle, I would rush upon thee and tear thee. For when I made myself like unto a beautiful woman, if thou hadst come to me, I would have rotted thy body with the pox, and thy liver with cancer, and I would have torn off thy testicles with my teeth. And if I had seduced thy pride, and thou hadst bidden me to come into the circle, I would have trampled thee under foot, and for a thousand years shouldst thou have been but one of the tape-worms that is in me. And if I had seduced thy pity, and thou hadst poured one drop of water without the circle, then would I have blasted thee with flame. But I was not able to prevail against thee.

How beautiful are the shadows of the ripples of the sand!

Would God that I were dead.

For know that I am proud and revengeful and lascivious, and I prate even as thou. For even as I walked among the Sons of God, I heard it said that P. . . . could both will and know, and might learn at length to dare, but that to keep silence he should never learn. O thou that art so ready to speak, so slow to watch, thou art delivered over unto my power for this. And now one word was necessary unto me, and I could not speak it. I behold the beauty of the earth in her desolation, and greater far is mine, who sought to be my naked self. Knowest thou that in my soul is utmost fear? And such is my force and my cunning, that a hundred times have I been ready to leap, and for fear have missed. And a thousand times am I baulked by them of the City of the Pyramids, that set snares for my feet. More knowledge have I than the Most High, but my will is broken, and my fierceness is marred by fear, and I must speak, speak, speak, millions of mad voices in my brain.

With a heart of furious fancies, Whereof I am Commander, With a burning spear And a horse of Air To the wilderness I wander.

(The idea was to keep the Scribe busy writing, so as to spring upon him. For, while the Scribe talked, Choronzon had thrown sand into the circle, and filled it up. But Choronzon could not think fast and continuously, and so resorted to the device of quotation.

The Scribe had written two or three words of “Tom o’Bedlam,” when Choronzon sprang within the circle (that part of the circumference of which that was nearest to him he had been filling up with sand all this time), and leaped upon the Scribe, throwing him to the earth. The conflict took place within the circle. The Scribe called upon Tetragrammaton, and succeeded in compelling Choronzon to return into his triangle. By dint of anger and of threatening him with the Magick Staff did he accomplish this. He then repaired the circle. The discomfited demon now continued:)

All is dispersion. These are the qualities of things.

The tenth Aethyr is the world of adjectives, and there is no substance therein.

(Now returneth the beautiful woman who had before tempted the Scribe. She prevailed not.)

I am afraid of sunset, for Tum is more terrible than Ra, and Khephra the Beetle is greater than the Lion Mau.

I am a-cold.

(Here Choronzon wanted to leave the triangle to obtain wherewith to cover his nakedness. The Scribe refused the request, threatening the demon. After a while the latter continued:)

I am commanded, why I know not, by him that speaketh. Were it thou, thou little fool, I would tear thee limb from limb. I would bite off thine ears and nose before I began with thee. I would take thy guts for fiddle- strings at the Black Sabbath.

Thou didst make a great fight there in the circle; thou art a goodly warrior!

(Then did the demon laugh loudly. The Scribe said: Thou canst not harm one hair of my head.)

I will pull out every hair of thy head, every hair of thy body, every hair of thy soul, one by one. (Then said the Scribe: Thou hast no power.)

Yea, verily I have power over thee, for thou hast taken the Oath, and art bound unto the White Brothers, and therefore have I the power to torture thee so long as thou shalt be.

(Then said the Scribe unto him: Thou liest.)

Ask of thy brother P. . . ., and he shall tell thee if I lie!

(This the Scribe refused to do, saying that it was no concern of the demon’s.)

I have prevailed against the Kingdom of the Father, and befouled his beard; and I have prevailed against the Kingdom of the Son, and torn off his Phallus; but against the Kingdom of the Holy Ghost shall I strive and not prevail. The three slain doves are my threefold blasphemy against him; but their blood shall make fertile the sand21, and I writhe in blackness and horror of hate, and prevail not.

(Then the demon tried to make the Scribe laugh at Magick, and to think that it was all rubbish, that he might deny the names of God that he had invoked to protect him; which, if he had doubted but for an instant, he had leapt upon him, and gnawed through his spine at the neck.

Choronzon succeed not in his design.)

In this Aethyr is neither beginning nor end, for it is all hotch- potch, because it is of the wicked on earth and the damned in hell. And so long as it be hotch-potch, it mattereth little what may be written by the sea-green incorruptible Scribe.

The horror of it will be given in another place and time, and through another Seer, and that Seer shall be slain as a result of his revealing. But the present Seer, who is not P. . . ., seeth not the horror, because he is shut up, and hath no name.

(Now was there some further parleying betwixt the demon and the Scribe, concerning the departure and the writing of the word, the Scribe not knowing if it were meet that the demon should depart.

Then the Seer took the Holy Ring, and wrote the name BABALON, that is victory over Choronzon, and he was no more manifest.)

(This cry was obtained on Dec. 6, 1909, between 2 and 4:15 p.m., in a lonely valley of fine sand, in the desert near Bou-Sada. The Aethyr was edited and revised on the following day.)

After the conclusion of the Ceremony, a great fire was kindled to purify the place, and the Circle and Triangle were destroyed.


Almost from the beginning of the ceremony was the Scribe overshadowed, and he spoke as it were in spite of himself, remembering afterwards scarcely a word of his speeches, some of which were long and seemingly eloquent.

All the time he had a sense of being protected from Choronzon, and this sense of security prevented his knowing fear.

Several times did the Scribe threaten to put a curse upon the demon; but ever, before he uttered the words of the curse, did the demon obey him. For himself, he knoweth not the words of the curse.

Also is it meet to record in this place that the Scribe several times whistled in a Magical manner, which never before had he attempted, and the demon was apparently much discomforted thereat.

Now knoweth the Scribe that he was wrong in holding much converse with the demon; for Choronzon, in the confusion and chaos of his thought, is much terrified by silence. And by silence can he be brought to obey.

For cunningly doth he talk of many things, going from subject to subject, and thus he misleadeth the wary into argument with him. And though Choronzon be easily beaten in argument, yet, by disturbing the attention of him who would command him, doth he gain the victory.

For Choronzon feareth of all things concentration and silence: he therefore who would command him should will in silence: thus is he brought to obey.

This the Scribe knoweth; for that since the obtaining of the Accursed Tenth Aethyr, he hath held converse with Choronzon. And unexpectedly did he obtain the information he sought after having long refused to answer the demon’s speeches.

Choronzon is dispersion; and such is his fear of concentration that he will obey rather than be subjected to it, or even behold it in another.

The account of the further dealings of Choronzon with the Scribe will be found in the Record of Omnia Vincam.

1. Choronzon is described by Sir Edward Kelly as “that mighty devil”, as the first and deadliest of all the powers of evil. Rightly so, for although he is not a person, he is the metaphysical contrary of the whole Process of Magick.
2. The three Governors of this Aethyr, Lexarp, Comanan, and Tabiton, are drawn from the “little Black Tablet” of Spirit, which united the four watchtowers of the elements. (See Equinox I, No. VII, Plate III; facing p. 234). The one extra letter, L, is the eighth of the reversed letters beneath the bars of the Calvary Crosses in the watch-towers to form trilateral names which designate malignant forces. These letters are thus impurities introduced into the perfection of the Elementary Schema. (That they should be attributed to the element of spirit, which harmonizes and sanctifies the four, is a sublime mystery. The arcanum is declared — as far as may be — in this book 418 itself). The other 7 letters form the name PARAOAN, which is the central governor of the 22nd Aire; but here is a correspondence with I, the center letter of LIN; this Aire discloses the glory of the Table 7 x 7, which is pure spirit, the rose which is the heart of Babalon.
3. ZAX = {Caput Draconis}{Taurus}{Spirit}. Z is the Sun in His southern declination, i.e. at his weakest effect on an hemisphere. Follows the Bull, the type of the “Dying Gods”, and the element of Earth. This letter X occurs only in this, the 15th and 30th Aires. In the 15th, water is the prima materia which is treated by being placed between the pillars of judgement. In the 30th, it represents the reduction to mere matter of the false structure of the Aeon of the false formula. Here X is the basis, without constructive possibilities, of the universe; thus the whole formula represents the weakening of the energy of the Sun, and the falling into incoherent elements of all that is organized.
4. For this arrangement see the Geotia of Lemegeton of Solomon the Kin
5. Concerning the bloody sacrifice, see Book 4, part 3, cap. 12. For the pigeons see the text.
6. The greatest precautions were taken at the time, and have since been yet further fortified, to keep silence concerning the rite of evocation. The Major Adept is warned most seriously against attempting to emulate this operation, which is (in any case) improper for him to perform. To call forth Choronzon, unless one be wholly above the Abyss, is to ensure the most appalling and immediate catastrophe.
7. These are given in the Equinox Vol. I, No. 2.
8. Given in the French translation by Eliphaz Levi: and in the English by Aleister Crowley in “The Winged Beetle.” (“The Magician” is the title of that poem, see p. 228.)
9. See Book 4, part 2, caps. 4 and 8.
10. It is very difficult to give a good metaphysical interpretation of this statement. But to one who is given this perception, the words will appear to be the natural and inevitable expression of the facts.
11. These words are from some vision of old time: by them Adam was said to have opened the gates of Hell. These are the traditional words which open the Abyss.
12. This (and many following assertions) must not be taken as true. Choronzon is in no sense the master of anything. It is the personification of a moral idea in a much more far-fetched way than that in which we say “Venus is the Lady of Love”. For one can imagine Venus as a living individual being, while Choronzon is essentially not any sort of person.
13. Various elements had been bound up into a “bundle” by the energy of the Call, and thus constituted a momentary unity capable of sensation and of expression. The obsessing idea of any such being, conscious that it is not a true organism, and threatened with immediate dissolution, which in its rudimentary psychology it is bound to dread, is of necessity, fear; and fear breeds pain, malice, and envy. Above all there is an insane hatred for the supposed creator because the supposed blessing of creation has been withheld from the “bundle”.
14. That of modesty, none less.
15. Here the assumed character of this courtesan who was a marvelous mistress of irony as of fascination, intrudes upon that of the demon proper.
16. He actually assumed these forms at the time.
17. In this Aethyr are certain silences maintained.
18. {HEB:Nun- final}{HEB:Vau}{HEB:Zain}{HEB:Nun}{HEB:Vau}{HEB:Resh} {HEB:Vau}{HEB:Chet} = 333 = 3 x 111, and 111 = {HEB:Peh- final} {HEB:Lamed}{HEB:Aleph} = {HEB:Aleph} = 1. 333 also is {GRK:alpha} {GRK:kappa} {GRK:rho} {GRK:alpha} {GRK:sigma} {GRK:iota} {GRK:alpha}, impotence, lack of control; and {GRK:alpha}{GRK:kappa} {GRK:omicron}{GRK:lambda}{GRK:alpha}{GRK:sigma}{GRK:io ta}{GRK:alpha}, dispersion. The seer had no idea of these correspondences: nor had Dr. Dee and Sir Edward Kelly, from whom we have the name.
19. Dath. The doctrine of the “Fall” and the “Stooping Dragon” must be studied carefully. Equinox Vol. I, Nos. 2 and 3, have much information, with diagrams, in the “Temple of Solomon the King”. See also Liber 777. This question of the Abyss must be thoroughly understood. The entire system of initiation of the A{.·.} A{.·.} depend on these theorems. (See “One Star in Sight”).
20. Originally, for “understanding” was written “power”. Choronzon was always using some word that did not represent his thought, because there is no proper link between his thought and speech. Note that he never seems able to distinguish between the Frater and the Scribe, and addresses first one, then the other, in the same sentence.
21. This actually happened. On returning to Bou-Sada on another journey this spot had begun to show signs of vegetation.


The Black Sun and the Underside of Da’ath

Posted in Uncategorized by ce399 on 19/06/2010

The Black Sun
Posted in: 14. The Black Sun by Moon Elf on August 08, 2009


In esoteric Runelore the figure makes 3 swastikas which represent Arising, Being, & Passing Away to a new Arising.  Such as the solar eclipse represents the death of Osiris and the rise of Horus.

Found on the Norse Pagan band Non’s Website –

“There is a black sun which is not visible to the human eye.
It is our beacon and its fire burns within us” – Akkadian temple inscription

Image of Black Sun ring from


The Black Sun however seems to sometimes (mostly) but not always be associated with the Dark Left-Hand path of Satanic and similar cults as the “negative” version of The Star or The Sun of popular esoteric philosophy.

Ancient eclipses had very powerful effects on the history of the human race. It was traditional seen as a bad omen. The word “eclipse” is derived from the Greek, “ekleipsis”, which means “omission” or “abandonment”. In Chinese it is “shih”, which means, “to eat up”.  (again refer to section on Evil regarding the absence of God).

In alchemy, the black sun, or “sol niger,” represents the dark, destructive aspects of the sun.

From a description of the Icon of the Annunciation:  The black sun in the upper part of the scene represents the essence of God, indefinable and unknowable; the rays represent His energies (in the form of the Holy Trinity) which are manifestations of His essence and can therefore be known.

This icon represents the Annunciation, that is, the moment when “The angel came in unto (Mary), and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.” (KJV, Luke 1: 28-31).

For some alchemical explanations of Sol Niger in relation to The Sun card of the Tarot review http://www.cs.utk.edu/~mclennan/OM/BA/PT/M18.html


In Western Kabbalistic Tradition, Persephone and Hades are first encountered on the path between Malkuth and Yesod with Hecate as guardian of their Mystery. Pluto/Hades in his dark glory (the Black Sun or shadow-self) and Persephone as Queen of the Underworld, ruling death and rebirth (the bright-self) are to be encountered on the path between Yesod and Tippareth. These two paths lead to the “hidden riches” within the individual. The paths form part of an ongoing series of confrontations which are resolved in the process of attaining internal balance. This balance is to be found in the dance of energy which is poised at the knife edge between the forces of darkness and light, a manifestation of the power of Pluto.

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Post tags: 14. The Black Sun, Annunciation, Da’ath, Darkness, death, hidden riches, Horus of Behedet, initiation, occult, Osiris, Pluto, rebirth, Sol Niger, Solar Eclipse, The Shadow Self (Non-Self), The Sun, Underworld
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Kabballah / Qabalah
Posted in: 09. Kaballah / Qabalah by Moon Elf on

Binah: The Sphere of Understanding

While the synchronicities in various esoteric studies as well as sciences dealing with time and space plus the consciousness studies of mind altering substances all seem to lead to Sirius in some way or another I believe that the Kaballistic Sephirah of Binah holds the best summary of WHAT SIRIUS IS ALL ABOUT.


Physical Associations:  Astrology & I Ching

Psi & Science: Time/Space Continuum and Quantum Physics

Archangelic Level: Spiritual Intermediaries which all lead to Aloath Elohim (The Great Mother)

God Aspect: Aloath Elohim, who caretakes the Spiritual Principle of WHO WE WERE BORN TO BE

Binah is associated in the soul with the power of conceptual analysis and reasoning, both inductive and deductive.

The “understanding” of binah also implies the ability to examine the degree of truth or falsehood inherent in a particular idea.

Another feature identified with the property of binah is the ability to explain and elucidate concepts both to oneself and others. For this reason it is symbolized in Kabbalah as “the wide river.”

Another source on the Zohar has this to say about it:


Binah is the hidden source within God. Our texts allude to Her a few times. In the Zohar’s imagery She is a great river from which all streams flow out; She is the mother or grandmother of everything. Her name means “Understanding” and is also connected with ideas of making a distinction between things (bein = “between”) and building (banah). Within and beyond Her is unfathomable unity; out of Her emerges everything we can understand, the built-up world of distinct entities. Thus Binah is also the beginning of judgment. Before Binah, as far as anything can be perceived at all, it is all love and compassion. With Binah comes the beginning of difference, conflict and limitation, which are necessary for the world as we know it to exist, and the beginning of necessity itself as opposed to freedom.

The first polarities of existence to emerge from Binah are Chesed and Gevurah. They are polarities we can find in ourselves and in our experience of the world; their imagery builds on a tradition found in the Talmud and Midrash which finds them in God. That midrashic tradition speaks about the midat ha-rachamim — God’s attribute of compassion — and the midat ha-din, God’s attribute of justice. The midrashic texts see these “attributes” as polarities of God’s personality and even as separate beings competing for God’s attention: love on one side, justice on the other side, making irreconciliable demands. The imagery of Chesed and Gevurah also draws on the key Jewish experiential concepts of human love and fear of God. The attribute of compassion, and Chesed, stir our feelings of love; the harshness of the attribute of justice, Gevurah, is frightening.

The fear of God as the Zohar understands it is not just about awe or reverence; it includes terror, and it is a realistic response to a terrifying reality. The Zohar sometimes dwells on this fear response and celebrates it, without sugar-coating it in any way.

I’m going to note here that I believe this is the origin of Duality – again refer to Timewave Zero and Interra in regards to dualism and equalities – ie God IS the Devil – they are one in the same.

The same site continues:

The Zohar is true to experience in its understanding of evil, too. To many religious thinkers, evil is only an illusion, or only a lack of good, with no power of its own. God is always good and always present to us. The devil or Satan is nonexistent, a metaphor, or at most a servant of God, as in the Bible. The authors of the Zohar understood life very differently. They experienced evil as real and powerful. Their Satan is not a mere servant of God, but a threatening, powerful counterforce. They sensed that evil originates in God, and expressed this radically; see, in this course, “Jacob and Esau”. Also, there is a split, a gap, in the divine, between the Sefirot of Tif’eret and Malkhut, and there are times where we experience that gap as an absence of God. One of my teachers was once lighting Shabbat candles by the window of her apartment, on a high floor of a building. She looked up from blessing the candles, looked out over the city, and saw a city empty of God. It was a vision of the split, the absence. The Zohar’s vision of the reality of evil and divine absence is not true to everyone’s experience and it may be too depressing to be spiritually useful for many of us. Still, in our times, in a world of emotional bleakness in many people’s inner lives and devastation outside, it is compelling.

Another observation.  Where Da’ath lies in the Kaballah the surrounding 5 Sephiroh create an upside down pentagram like the ones used in Satanic literature with Tefiret at the bottom point.

Also the Dark Qabalah of Gates of Hell uses an averse pentagram but that tree lies upside-down beneath the standard Tree of Life like a reflection in a pool of water at it’s base sharing Malkuth.  Thus, technically it is upright as well.

Also, in the Tree the bottom half contains an upright pentagram.  The reverse one over Da’ath would be viewed as upright by the mystic as in this position he would be The Hanged Man.

Thus it seems that the upright pentagram is for transference of matter toward Spirit and the averse from Spirit to matter.   This is depending on what you are trying to attain; enlightenment or magic.


NOTE: During this portion of my studies I had a bizarre experience while contemplating the ‘True nature of God’, the Tetragrammatron, the Kaballah, Left-Hand path occult studies like Satanism and what they all mean in esoteric terms and how it compares to paganism.  Somehow, while doing my usual nightly things, my wife was on the computer, my son in the bath, I told my wife that I felt (in regards to all of this and the Sirius Mystery in general) that I was losing my mind and seriously began to fear I just might.  I had a weird experience in my mind’s eye of witnessing the non-dual nature of the Judeo-Christian God who’s Shadow Self is all things we associate with Satanism.  It was as if I could see it and feel it.  This later lead me to information on the Black Sun and Da’ath of the Kaballah and upon reading about it in Will Parfitt’s The New Living Qabalah this may be the “demon” Choronzon and it’s nature is dissolution.  This instantly brought to mind the fear of dissolution of the giant spider I’ve had for years and that Kali/Brahmani is my guide – and Kali is a demon slayer.  I do not know what instigated the actual experience nor how to reinduce it to explore it more fully but it was a terrifying one that was quickly pushed back into the dark as it were but I know it will come back again one day and Kali will be by my side (metaphorically speaking).  I am now attempting to find out what I can from the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn out of curiosity and also asking of the Temple of the Vampire as well.  I am obviously leaning toward myself and neither of these orders but also plan to avoid the negative occult like Satanism etc. though this is where people are obviously tempted to do so just as Crowley and others were.  I will not make that mistake.  I will stand firm to “My True Will” as this is definitely what this experience was partially about as I could see clearly the infinite paradigms of Will, even unconscious will at play in the world.  It was strange to say the least.

The key to this is Da’ath

Daath means Knowledge. Knowledge without Understanding. It is situated in the area of the Tree called The Abyss. It is sometimes called “The False Head” – coming up from the bottom of the Tree, it can look like Kether; but looks are deceiving. Daath is not the jewel that lies beyond the Abyss – it is IN the Abyss, and is also the gateway to the terrifying reverse side of the Tree, the zone of the Qlipoth – the demons and diseases that haunt our darker side.

Daath corresponds to the throat chakra. –funny because I’ve been working with this for years!! RhythmUS.net

In the Jewish Kabbalah, the qelipoth are not considered evil as such – they are necessary at times. For example, many fruits and nuts require an unpleasant shell or rind to protect their soft and delicious inner core; however, they do represent blocks and restrictions.

The Qlipoth are accessed through the sephira of Daath, the realm of the arch-demon Choronzon, the Demon of Dispersion. Daath leads to the reverse side of the Tree of Life, where each sephira has a corresponding disorder or disease,


It is said that every mage must some day confront and overcome it in order to ascend. Choronzon will do its best to hinder anybody from reaching Ascension or any other goal. Its greatest triumph is when a mage loses Arete. On December 6, 1909 Aleister Crowley foolishly let himself be possessed by the demon (Se Liber XXX Aerum, The Vision and the Voice, for more detailed descriptions). The end result was close to a disaster, and according to many mages Crowley lost the path towards Ascension.

NOTE: Refer to dissolution note above and Kali – also Choronzon seems to be the God archetype of the Chao or Chaos of Chaos Magick.  In other words Choronzon is the Great Archetype of Chao


Thus, if matter is condensed spirit (as philosophers say) then tapping the Source of all Creation such as this archetype then technically it could be possible to, through the use of magic or verbal command alone, bring ‘matter’ into existence formed by personal will.  Extreme I know but this is theoretical.

On The Sorceries of Zos by Austin O. Spare taken from Cults of the Shadow by Kenneth Grant

(7) Vide infra.

The New Sexuality, in the sense that Spare conceived it, is the sexuality not  of positive dualities but of the Great Void, the Negative, the Ain: The Eye of Infinite Potential. The New Sexuality is, simply, the manifestation of non-manifestation, or of Universe ‘B’, as Bertiaux would have it, which is equivalent to Spare’s Neither-Neither concept. Universe ‘B’ represents the absolute difference of that world of ‘all otherness’ to anything pertaining to the known world, or Universe ‘A’. Its gateway is Daath, sentinelled by the Demon Choronzon. Spare describes this concept as ‘the gateway of all inbetweenness’. In terms of Voodoo, this idea is implicit in the Petro rites with their emphasis upon the spaces between the cardinal points of the compass: the off-beat rhythms of the drums that summon the loa from beyond the Veil and formulate the laws of their manifestation.(8) Spare’s system of sorcery, as expressed in Zos Kia Cultus, continues in a straight line not only the Petro tradition of Voodoo, but also the Vama Marg of Tantra, with its eight directions of space typified by the Yantra of the Black Goddess, Kali: the Cross of the Four Quarters plus the inbetweenness concepts that together compose the eightfold Cross, the eight-petalled Lotus, a synthetic symbol of the Goddess of the Seven Stars plus her son, Set or Sirius. (9)

NOTE: Kali is The Terrible Face of God – see text under Kali….after rereading this some of it makes more sense and I can see the true nature of Kali much better.  I also noticed there was another meditation after the meeting the Goddess one under Fire regarding my introduction to the symbol for both Fire and The Sun.  Now when I look at this meditation I am reminded of The Abyss. 😉    Also as KALI IS MY GUIDE it is very important to note here “One of the most important aspects of Kali is that of Goddess Durga, the conqueror of the demon Mahishasura. This demon represents in the Hindu tradition the incarnation of all forces of Darkness.”


Daath is the Sephira of creation. It is here that the tidal forces of positive and negative come together to be used for the benefit of the physical developmental system. It is here where the polarized energy pours forth from the Abyss and becomes manifested into forms, such as your physical universe. As such, it is a very powerful and ominous place. The forces of positive and negative are kept in tight abeyance here, and this tension can be felt at all times, upon visiting.

Entrance into this Sephira can be achieved easily, once you know how to get in; however, leaving is another story entirely. Because of the energies present here, it takes a very strong will and tight conscious control to exit this Sephira, which is one of the reasons this place is kept hidden. If you are not prepared properly, you could enter here and be unable to leave, thus forfeiting your physical existence. Also, the energy that one can command here can be very destructive, if not used properly. Remember! This Sephira is the storehouse of all the energy of the physical universe and its accompanying developmental system.

When you are ready, your Sephira Spirit-Guide will show you how to enter Daath. Once he/she does, you will never forget how to get in and can come and go as you please. Know that if your Spirit-Guide showed you the way in, you possess the necessary resolve to leave; though, at first, you may find it difficult to do so. It’s only when you force an entry into this Sephira, before you are adept enough, that you can run the risk of not being able to exit.

Now, upon your first few encounters in Daath, you will seem to be alone. The inhabitants here do not like strangers and will not show themselves to you, until you and they are comfortable. So, at first, this Sephira may appear lonely and inhospitable. Also, it is a dark place, with dark greens and yellows and blues and greys about. In fact, it will be hard to distinguish colors while here. Daath also possesses a kind of electric to its atmosphere. This electricity is due to the enormous power that flows through this Sephira. You may feel a buzzing in your head (brow center) while here. This buzzing is the energy as it moves too and fro.

When the inhabitants do show themselves, don’t expect parties, fun, and games. The angels here are dedicated to their work, and they take that work most seriously. They are absolute in their ability to control their thoughts and direct the energy just when and where it has to go. These angels are master reality-creators, and their intellect can not be paralleled by any other. Ninth level healers come from this Sephira too, and, if you have ever had the opportunity to meet with these angels, either in meditation, in dreams, or during a healing, you will know what we mean by their seriousness. Their total focus rests to the task at hand and nothing else matters until that task is complete.

For a high-level magician (like a Magus), there is much to learn from the beings here. For one thing, their dedication to duty and how they achieve quick results, by being able to finely focus thoughts and energy, is unmatched. Seeing the expression on just one angel’s faces here will tell you much. In many ways, Daath is a mental place, born of discipline and focus and intent. It also is a place to learn the value of being charged at all times, for the energy here is always high and always ready to be applied and used. It’s not a stagnant place either. For the energy here must be directed and sent out, otherwise the tidal forces would build and rip the Sephira apart.

The Archangel here is called EKENOR. He will come to you in time, but not before you have had a chance to look around and meet with some of the other angels. He can help you to direct and focus your energy but he will do this by setting up tasks for you to complete. These tasks will accomplish this learning and in the process cement-in the information. Some other Archangels, in the other Sephirah, will just give you the information you seek. Not so with EKENOR. He expects that if you want to know the answer to something than you want to use it. So, don’t be surprised if you are put to work, shortly after meeting with this entity.

Now, you can go to this Sephira when you need absolute power over something. However, be warned that karma operates very intently with this energy, and, if whatever it is you are using this energy for is not for the best good, you will reap the karmic results.

As you can see there are several reasons why this Sephira was kept a secret throughout the years. However, for the carefully minded student that has achieved a sufficient level of magical expertise, it can be an invaluable learning tool as well as a great source of energy to create your world with. Use care and caution here, and you will do fine.


Magick Without Tears: “Monsters”, Niggers, Jews, etc (Chapter LXXIII) by Aleister Crowley

Posted in Uncategorized by ce399 on 19/06/2010

Chapter LXXIII: “Monsters”, Niggers, Jews, etc.

Cara Soror,

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

Come now, is this quite fair?  When I agreed to tip you off about Magick and the rest, I certainly never expected to be treated as if I were being interviewed by an American Sunday Newspaper.  What do I prefer for breakfast, and my views on the future of the theatre, and is the Great White Brotherhood in favour of Eugenic Babies?  No, dear sister—I nearly said sob-sister.  But this I will say, you have been very artful, and led me on very cleverly—you must have been a terror to young men—for the matter of that, I dare say you are still!

And I don’t see how to get out of swallowing this last sly bait; as you say, “Every man and every woman is a star.” does need some attention to the definition of “man” and “woman.”  What is the position, you say, of “monsters”?  And men of vinferior” races, like the Veddah, Hottentot and the Australian Blackfellow?  There must be a line somewhere, and will I please draw it? You make me feel like Giotto!

There is one remark which I must make at the beginning.  It’s some poet or other, Tennyson or Kipling, I think (I forget who) that wrote: “Folks in the loomp, is baad.”  It is true all round.  Someone wisely took note that the vilest man alive had always found someone to love him.  Remember the monster that Sir Frederick Treves picked up from an East End peep-show, and had petted by princesses?  (What a cunning trick!)  Revolting, all the same, to read his account of it.  He—the monster, not Treves!—seems to have been a most charming individual—ah!  That’s the word we want.  Every individual has some qualities that endear him to some other.  And per contra, I doubt if there is any class which is not detestable to some other class.  Artists, police, the clergy, “reds,” foxhunters, Freemasons, Jews, “heaven-born,” women’s clubwomen (especially in U.S.A.), “Methodys,” golfers, dog-lovers; you can’t find one body without its “natural” enemies.  It’s right, what’s worse; every class, as a class, is almost sure to have more defects than qualities.” As soon as you put men together, they somehow sink, corporatively, below the level of the worst of the individuals composing it.  Collect scholars on a club committee, or men of science on a jury; all their virtues vanish, and their vices pop out, reinforced by the self-confidence which the power of numbers is bound to bestow.

It is peculiarly noticeable that when a class is a ruling minority, it acquires a detestation as well as a contempt for the surrounding “mob.” In the Northern States of U.S.A., where the whites are overwhelming in number, the “nigger” can be more or less a “regular fellow;” in the South, where fear is a factor, Lynch Law prevails.  (Should it?  The reason for “NO” is that it is a confession of weakness.)  But in the North, there is a very strong feeling about certain other classes: the Irish, the Italians, the Jews.  Why?  Fear again; the Irish in politics, the Italians in crime, the Jews in finance.  But none of these phobias prevent friendship between individuals of hostile classes.

I think that perhaps I have already written enough—at least enough to start you thinking on the right lines. And mark well this! The submergence of the individual in his class means the end of all true human relations between men.  Socialism means war.  When the class moves as a class, there can be no exceptions.

This is no original thought of mine; Stalin and Hitler both saw it crystal-clear; both, the one adroitly, the other clumsily, but with equally consummate hypocrisy, acted it out.  They picked individuals to rule under their autocracy, killed off those that wouldn’t fit, destroyed the power of the Trades Unions or Soviets while pretending to make them powerful and prosperous, and settled down to the serious business of preparing for the war which both knew to be inevitable.

It is this fundamental fact which ensures that every democracy shall end with an upstart autocrat; the stability of peace depends upon the original idea which aggrandized America in a century from four millions to a hundred: extreme individualism with opportunity.  Our own longest period of peace abroad (bar frontier skirmishes like the Crimean war) and prosperity at home coincided with Free Trade and Laissez-faire.

Now we may return, refreshed, to the main question of monsters, real (like Treves’) or imaginary like Jews and niggers.

‘Arf a mo!  Haven’t we solved the problem, ambulando?  Everything would be okydoke and hunkydory if only we can prevent classes from acting as such?

I suppose so.  Then, what about a spot of pithy paradox for a change?

Why should the classes want to act as classes?  It’s obvious; “Union is strength.”  The worst Fifteen can do more with a football than the best opposing team of one—excuse my Irish!

Well, what tortoise is that elephant based upon?  Why, still obviously, upon the universal sense of individual weakness.  We all want a big bruvver to tell of him!  Hence the Gods and the Classes.  It’s fear at the base of the whole pyramid of skulls.

How right politicians are to look upon their constituents as cattle!  Anyone who has any experience of dealing with any class as such knows the futility of appealing to intelligence, indeed to any other qualities than those of brutes.

And so, whenever we find one Man who has no fear like Ibsen’s Doctor Stockmann or Mark Twain’s Colonel Grainger that strolled out on his balcony with his shotgun to face the mob that had come to lynch him, he can get away with it. “An Enemy of the People” wrote Ibsen, “Ye are against the people, O my chosen!” says The Book of the Law.  (AL II, 25).

Not only does it seem to me the only conceivable way of reconciling this and similar passages with “Every man and every woman is a star.” to assert the sovereignty of the individual, and to deny the right-to-exist to “class-consciousness,” “crowd-psychology,” and so to mob-rule and Lynch-Law, but also the only practicable plan whereby we may each one of us settle down peaceably to mind his own business, to pursue his True Will, and to accomplish the Great Work.

So never lose sight for a moment of the maxim so often repeated in one context or another in these letters: that fear is at the root of every possibility of trouble, and that “Fear is failure, and the forerunner of failure.  Be thou therefore without fear; for in the heart of the coward virtue abideth not.”

Love is the law, love under will.

Yours fraternally,