All above said does not pretend to be well-grounded criticism; it’s just an initial statement necessary for the further argument. For monotheism as it’s seen from below (i.e. as we can see it, dear readers of words), starts and ends with duality, for we cannot go beyond these boundaries until the ridge of noumena is conquered. The notorious “good” and “evil” will divide, disappearing in the infinity, until either the discourse is exhausted, or the subject changes his/her position on the hierarchical axis. Departing from “evil”, an amateur monotheist rushes into the corridor of “good” that narrows and narrows until it becomes difficult to breathe in there. The world of Abrahamic religions lives in this state of suffocation for quite a while – long enough to forget how the walls of that prison did feel to the touch in the beginning. And still, the most important at this point is the fact of assigning the characteristic duality of our judgements to the one and only Reality. That is why there are communists, liberals, nationalists, antifascists, but not the people with their own political program. That is why there are so many thelemites, chaotes, viccans, kremmerzians, and very few men and women who follow their personal, i.e. magical, path. There are doctors that prescribe big doses of medication, and doctors known as homeopaths, but these days there is no practitioner who would use light, fragrance, music, spells and alchemical substances as any actual guaritore (the one who cures) should do.
Any human choice in our yuga, including the choice of religion, is marked with this simplistic splitting in two. At the dawn of Islam Muslims considered the schismata of Christian Church a sign of God’s punishment for the wrong faith; very soon the same fate overtook the flock of Mohammad. Many esoteric groups and “kernels” were split in a similar way; however, those formal divisions are rather secondary, meanwhile the primary division between “us” and “them” takes place in our heart when we initially decide whom to follow. Instead of thinking in these terms shouldn’t we first try to find our own personal path? Wouldn’t it make more sense to join (if join at all) a formal hierarchy after we discerned our place in it, and not just because we like to follow, submit and, consequently, shift our personal responsibility?
It seems like modern knights of Grail are not as much people in armor as they are armor in people, mannequins inside out. These days our soul can watch the world only with two eyes like our body; however long ago it could glance over the universe with the eyes of dragonfly, and every facet reflected its own god…
3. Illusion of participation.
You are alone in front of yourself.
R. Schwaller de Lubicz
“Cosmopolite” was the signature of many alchemists, including Seton, Sendivogius and Philalethes. As a matter of fact, they can be considered the same person – an adeptus, who does not need names. He has no nationality, no family, no patria, and no regret for the lack of those. Anyone who has achieved the final goal on the path of Philosophers becomes himself, and when there’s no other in our mind names have no use any more.
Any liberation in traditional sense means deliverance from plurality in first place. Plurality in general opposes perfection, and plurality of manifested subject can be called a disease of the Only Consciousness so to speak. However, modern humanity does not think multitude as drawback; on the contrary, it has become the criterion of value; “the more the better” is a secret (or not so much) motto of modern world, which reminds me of a ward where patients with shamefully low body temperature of 36.6°C are being treated to achieve higher and higher marks.
What makes people stick together, what makes them to unite? If we look beyond a man-woman couple or conjugal union based on true love, we will always come to the same root cause: a need. One can distinguish two main types of unions: those that people create to get something they stand in need of (wealth, power, liberation, religious salvation), and those that people create to satisfy needs of others (provide health care, social rights, education etc). And when the true goals of a formal or informal union are distorted or abused even by a single member, such union will eventually either break up, or become similar to a person with infectious disease, who is suffering and also causing problems to everyone around him. When people in the groups created to give start to look for any selfish end (including fame and recognition), they compromise the basis of their union. When people united to take possession of something (power, material resources) make moves beyond their initial plan (“taking care of people”, patronizing arts and sciences) they step on the slippery road of white lie.
One may think that all above said relates only to “certain cases”, and failures of such groups are rather accidental; it all does not negate a possibility of creating a firm sane union of people with common goal. Unfortunately, such opinion is overly optimistic. For any “giving” groups to be functional, the people they are targeting should have ability and will to take. In order to take power or wealth in civilised manner, one need to find people ready to give it up or share. However, these days people forgot how to take or to give, they know only how to seize and to foist. Just visit any adolescent magus and sincerely try to tell him how to obtain Philosopher’s Stone; he will give you an advice to read Aleister Crowley and “Harry Potter”, and show you to the door. However, if you come across the same person ten years later, he will tie you up one moonlit night and torture with a red-hot iron to get hold of information you were once willing to favor; whatever rubbish you tell him now he will guard as “truly esoteric knowledge”, high value of which is guaranteed with your blood. Looking at the modern political life without prejudice, one can see that the variety it entertains is no better than one in a soviet department store: either “liberals” always ready to free you from a heavy load of material values, or “charismatic leaders” endowing us with their “stability” and “strong hand” holding a police truncheon painted like a horn of plenty. Either theft, or humiliation; either luxury, or scorn to well-being as such. Very monotheistic landscape.
However bigger part of the above said is rather collateral to the main topic of our discourse. Coming back to it, one need to note that joining hierarchical human societies in order to liberate oneself, i.e. transcend all the needs of this world, is like bind one’s legs in order to run faster. Why then so many people looking for freedom so often end up in various formal unions? The answer is rather simple: they are rewarded there with the feeling of participation – in a political party, in a congregation, in an esoteric society. The deep and ineradicable urge to say “we”, to split one’s ignorance, one’s uncertainty and one’s fear of death with many of us, to break the mirror of consciousness into hundreds of fragments that cannot embrace the Universe, but are very clearly reflecting pieces of the sky through the cobweb in an old cupboard, – that is the real pivot of any human society these days, its rotating axle. However every individual getting rid of that illusion won’t lose much, and with the help of gods will find him- or herself.
4. Zodiac and il Corpo dei Pari.
Nobody has right to usurp initiation;
it conforms to the alchemical tradition
that knows no “societies” or “collectives”, but
only acting individuals, solitary experimenters.
Now we have to answer the most important question: is there a possibility of existence of truly initiatic organizations these days at all, and if yes, on what basis? In general, speaking of the basis, one should remember that in traditional hierarchy its place is high above, in our heaven, where the Philosophical tree takes its root; in other words, that basis is the supporting principle which is always above any human succession or written “rites” and rules. The principle is immutable, and any temporary necessity has no power to “adjust” it, because any existential need is always below such basis, including the need of liberation. Thus, a truly initiatic association of people can have its grounds only in a transcendent goal that is beyond any materialistic or rationally justified need.
However, presence of such foundation alone does not guarantee that the whole edifice will necessary be solid and long-lasting. Members of such society should have a personal motive that can be represented by a concrete task, performing which one could move towards the transcendent goal. If you use a rather trite metaphor of a prison, initiatic society is similar to a group of prisoners that plan to escape. It can include people of various social backgrounds, worldviews and life goals; some of them wouldn’t keep company on the other side of the barbed wire for more than ten minutes. However caught between the stone walls they are united with a common task, a vital and very dangerous one – to break free. Such groups can – and usually do – have an informal leader, an organizer endowed with wit, knowledge and experience that keeps all threads of the plan together and coordinate actions of others. However, his leadership ends up as soon as the task is successfully accomplished. Having reached the secure spot, fugitives shake each other’s hands, say goodbye and take their leave, following their individual paths.
One shouldn’t overestimate the above analogy, because the freedom achieved after such a virtual escape is in fact just a step towards the actual liberation, and there’s no organization capable of taking its members to the final goal, i.e. leading them out of any conditionality, because any group itself is a prison of a sort, a limitation, useful only as long as it is functional. Whether having left an organization, or formally keeping its membership, and individual sooner or later faces the last chasm separating him from the goal that he has to jump over on his own, and no one can help him with this but himself.
An effective “working group”, harmonically organized, however devoid of vertical hierarchy (but not devoid of a center) can be represented with an astronomical model, such as Solar system. An axis perpendicular to the plane of ecliptics and piercing the Sun plays a role of a vertical of our planetary hierarchy, where all planets are equal members of the system, taking their places and following their orbits according to the laws of mechanics and their individual physical properties. Projecting the principles of astrology on the human society, one can recall Zodiacal circle with its twelve theriomorphic members and the cross of solstices and equinoxes in connection with the Knights of the Round Table and their (almost) immovable center – King Arthur. Turning to more recent past, one could mention a group from Genoa, active in 60s and known as il Corpo dei Pari. It was founded by alchemist Giammaria who played a role of its center, or the “Sun”, as noted one of the members G. Sangiorgio. In this role Giammaria remained equal among equals and never had “successors” or “legatees”. The group broke up when its actual efficacy had been depleted, and every member (including the founder) went upon their individual voyage.
A horizontal circle with a vertical axis, passing through its centre, de-facto is the body of rotation of the cross. In this context, the image of twelve apostles with the Saviour at the top of the table not just shows us the similarity between the initiatic group that marked new era in the spiritual history of mankind and above mentioned figure, but also reminds us about the dangers that cowardice, desire to stand out, to exercise power, and other human weaknesses impose on those who were summoned as the equals – and also helps us to look differently at the crooked cone of the religious hierarchy…
If we cast aside fear pushing us to hide in the matrix of old embodiments and cultural paradigms, if we push aside our false optimism and attachments to all things that belong to the past, if we forget our persona and other illusions of this world, and glance around the actual state of things, we can easily see that the above mentioned geometric figure is losing its physical shape now; people who were making its centre are passing away, and our horizontal circle becomes a circle of people united around an invisible point, and we, the periphery, should hold to that invisible centre with our heart and mind, and basing on it we should built our invisible vertical axis…
And when that thinnest axis connecting our plane with the Principle eventually will dissolve, the circle will disintegrate, and the total dissolution will mark the end of the cycle and the beginning of different era.