Change in Society and Change in Consciousness

    What does it mean to say that society has changed because consciousness has evolved?  It means that societal changes have come about because of an internal change, a change in how human beings think, feel, and understand.  

    Most discussions about changes in society refer to external forces such as changes in laws, technology, forms of government, etc.  But although changes in consciousness are more subtle, they are also influential in societal change.  A good example where we have to consider both internal and external changes is the case of monarchy.  Monarchy has been eliminated from most countries in the modern West and in many of those where it still exists, it is drastically weakened.  This has come about from changes in the structure of government, but we also have to consider changes in consciousness.  

    The Mad Monarchist blog writes in the section "Legitimacy": 

    "First and foremost, it is the official position here at The Mad Monarchist that the legitimacy of the remaining monarchs of the world is not to be called into question.  Monarchies, in this day and age, are an endangered species and monarchies must remain ever vigilant to preserve those which remain.  If any were to fall they would most certainly not be replaced by another dynasty or alternative member of the Royal Familly but whould be replaced by a republic.  That cannot be allowed to happen.  Now is not the time to argue over centuries-old conflicts or obscure genealogical charts. 


The Duke of Bavaria, for example, has no wish or desire to replace HM Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom even if it were possible for him to do so.  

In most cases, so much time has passed that the basis of these arguments have absolutely no meaning in the modern world.  In other words, for their arguments to even be considered, the entire mindset and way of thinking of society as a whole would have to change.  Being a reactionary sort, the Mad Monarchist believes this would be much for the better, but it is certainly not about to happen and would not be magically brought about by changing the person on the throne in London or Madrid.  In most cases there would have to be the most fundamental and far-reaching religious revival in human history for these issues to even be considered by the public of today."

    The last paragraph is crucial.  It is not just a matter of changing laws or changing rulers, but changing people's "entire mindset and way of thinking", i.e., consciousness.  Even if a monarch were able to be installed by some means they would be either a powerless figurehead or a dictator with a crown.  

    The Mad Monarchist another post, "A Monarchist Hero for Today" which provides an example of what the consciousness of people was like in the days of monarchy: 

    "Picture in your mind (I doubt it will require much imagination) this scenario which I certainly see.  You have a European country, a monarchy, which seems to be as often as not taking the side of the invaders, your monarch does not seem to be much of a monarch, inspires no one and seems more intent on simply securing a comfortable life than saving the country.  The populace is divided and many people seem to simply be looking out for their own selfish interests and not for their society, their nation, as a whole.  If you see things that I see, you might think I am talking about any number of countries today.  The Kingdom of Sweden might be a good guess.  However, I have no doubt that some of you already know that I am actually describing the Kingdom of France in or about 1429 AD.  It certainly seems highly reminiscent of the present in a number of ways, though just as certainly radically dissimiliar in more.

    France was in a state of crisis and a great and ardently monarchist, pious champion stepped forward to save it.  That person was, of course, an illiterate, teenage peasant girl from Domremy in northeastern France.  


    All of this is clearly impressive but why does it make Joan a model hero for monarchists today?  It seems to me, there are a number of reasons.  For one, Joan revived the French national spirit, giving them back their proper sense of themselves as French, identifying with their nation and not simply their village, town or provine which might just as easily belong to the English king as the French king or the Duke of Burgundy.  She made the French proud to be French again, made them believe in their identity and purpose.  This is something, it seems to me, everyone needs more of today in practically every country.  That goes for traaditionalists, conservatives and right-wingers just as much as those of the liberal, leftist or revolutionary varieties.  The left hates their countries for what they were, which is fine as they wish to destroy them anyway.  However, the right tends to hate their countries for what they are and this is deliberate for you will hardly have much zeal to fight for the salvation of your country if you do not love it.  Joan lived in what was possibly the darkest period in the history of France, she could have easily been discourged, but she fought for the France that could be, that should be and looked beyond the divided, dispirited country that was.  

Also, very much like today, Joan had to confront traditional institutions that were less than ideal.  However, she had a quality that made her immune to the damage this could cause.  Joan of Arc possessed a type of loyalty that seems exceedingly rare in this day and age, even among many who call themselves monarchists or royalists.  


She never faltered in her own loyalty, she fought the battles that made it possible for the king to do what he needed to do and she urged him toward the proper course of action but her loyalty did not depend on the King acting as she saw fit or of him reciprocating her commitment. "   

    Another example comes from Andrew Lang's writes in his book The Story of Joan of Arc

    "The Dauphin had no money to pay his troops, but men-at-arms came in, hundreds of them, saying that they would fight for the love of the Maid and of chivalry.  Not doubt they would have been very glad to crown her, in place of the stupid Dauphin, but the French law did not allow it; and Joan wanted nothing for herself, only to make France free, and go back to her mother, as she said."

    In other words, people in those days really believed in idea of legitimacy through descent; the idea that she could have started a revolution and become a queen would have been unthinkable to Joan of Arc.  Furthermore, the underlying motivation of the citizens of monarchies was strong enough that willingly risked their lives for their king.   

    All of this has changed drastically in the present time.  But, examining this change this through the perspective of the evolution of consciousness helps us to understand it better.  Things have changed not just because of revolutions or propaganda, but because people's underlying way of thinking has evolved.  A modern person cannot make themself think like someone from the 1400s.  

    This change in consciousness does not mean that monarchy can never come again, just that the old form of monarchy is no longer possible.  It may well be that if the world survives, then some new type of monarchy based on a different form of consciousness will arise.  In fact, something like this has already happened.  The form of government of the early United States, though inspired by the Roman Republic and Athenian democracy, was not an exact continuation of either of them but a new thing because (in addition to the geographic differences and other external circumstances) the consciousness of an 18th century American was very different from that of either an ancient Roman or Athenian.

    Monarchy is one example, but there are many others which show that we should take into account the development in consciousness as well as external factors when trying to understand changes in society.  

Three lost christian writings

    Three lost Christian writings which would be interesting to read are the books of Hegesippus and Papias, as well the Acts of Pilate.  The Acts of Pilate was an account that Pilate wrote of the events surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus and sent to the emperor Tiberius.  There is an apocryphal document with that title, but there is evidence that a real Acts of Pilate existed.  One example is that the early Christin Philosopher Justin Martyr writes refers to them his First Apology

    "How it was prophesied that our Christ would heal all diseases and raise the dead, hear what was spoken, as follows: 'At his coming the lame will leap like a hart, and the stammering tongue will be clear; blind will see and lepers be cleansed, and the dead will arise and walk.'  That he did these things, you can learn from the Acts of what took place under Pontius Pilate."

    No doubt Pilate's view of the miracles of Jesus was different than that of the Christians.  However, although some Romans were skeptical of the existence of the supernatural, many, even those who disbelieved in Christianity had no difficulty in accepting the miraculous healings of Jesus.  Indeed, pagan writer Eunapius writes of the philosopher Porphyry (who wrote a book against Christianity which only survives in quotation from other authors because all copies were burned): 

    "And he says too that he cast out and expelled some sort of daemon from a certain bath; the inhabitants called this daemon Kusatha."

    In other words, many Romans admitted the possibility of, and actually believed in, miraculous healings and other supernatural events, but their understanding of their significance was different than that of the Christians.  

    More evidence for the existence of the Acts of Pilate comes from Eusebius in his History of the Church: 

    "Our Saviour's marvellous resurrection and ascension into heaven were by now everywhere famous, and it had long been customary for provincial governors to report to the holder of the imperial office any change in the local situation, so that he might be aware of all that was going on.  The story of the resurrection from the dead of our Saviour Jesus, already the subject of general discussion all over Palestine, was accordingly communicated  by Pilate to the emperor Tiberius.  For Pilate knew all about Christ's supernatural deeds, and especially how after death He had risen from the dead nd was now generally believed to be a god.  

    It is said that Tiberius referred the report to the senate, which rejected it.  The apparent reason was that they had not gone into the matter before, for the old law still held good that no one could be regarded by the Romans as a god unless by vote and decree of the senate; the real reason was that no human decision or commendation was required for the saving teaching of the divine messge.  In this way the Roman council rejected the report sent to it about our Saviour, but Tiberius made no change in his attitude and formed no evil designs against the teachings of Christ."

    As with Justin Martyr's reference, it is not likely that Pilate believed in the resurrection of Jesus; he probably viewed people's discussion of the resurrection as the emergence of a new religious sect.  Nonetheless, this document would be worth reading because it would give us a description of Jesus and the emergence of Christianity from a Roman perspective.  

    Hegesippus's writings have been lost, but he lived in the 100s AD and wrote five books that described events that happened in the early Church, many after the Acts of the Apostles.  For example, Eusebius quotes Hegesippus's description of the martyrdom of James, the first bishop of Jerusalem, who was killed by the Scribes and Pharisees.  This James was not James the Apostle, but a relative of Jesus who was a Nazirite (like Samson) and was widely respected because of his upright manner of living.

    Papias wrote five books called The Sayings of the Lord Explained.  Eusebius writes: 

    "Pre-eminent at that time in Asia was a companion of the Apostles, Polycarp, on whom the eyewitnesses and ministers of the Lord had conferred the episcopate of the church at Smyrna.  Famous contemporaries of his were Papias, bishop of the see of Hierapolis, and one who to this day is universally remembered - Ignatius, the second to be appointed to the bishopric of Antioch in succession to Peter."

    Papias did not know the Apostles personally, but he spoke with those who had known them.  Eusebius quotes Papias as writing: 

    "And whenever anyone came who had been a follower of the presbyters, I inquired into the words of the Presbyters, what Andrew or Peter had said, or Phillip or Thomas or James or John or Matthew, or any other disciple of the Lord, and what Aristion and the presbyter John, disciples of the Lord, were still saying.  For I did not imagine that things out of books would help me as much as the utterances of a living and abiding voice."

    Since Papias spoke with people for whom the age of the Apostles was still a living memory, his books would have much of historical interest.  

    Unfortunately, all of these books are long gone.  But then again, it is not unprecedented that long-lost Christian writings be recovered.  The Infogalactic page on Hegesippus says: 

    "Zahn has shown that the work of Hegesippus may still have been extant in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in three Eastern libraries, saying: 'We must lament the loss of other portions of the Memoirs which were known to exist in the seventeenth century.' "

    Furthermore, the Didache, an early document of Christian teaching, which had been referred to by other writings, but lost was rediscovered.  The Penguin Classics Early Christian Writings gives the following account: 

    "Towards the end of 1883, Philotheos Bryennios, then Metropolitan of Nicomedia, astonished the world by publishing a text of The Didache which he had discovered ten years earlier in a small eleventh-century codex of 120 pages in the library in Constantinople belonging to the Patriarch of Jerusalem (it has since been transferred to Jerusalem) - a manuscript we have already encountered as it contains the only complete Greek texts we know of the epistles of Clement and Barnabas.

    Another example of a lost and found again text is the Epistle to Diognetus.  The introduction to Early Christian Writings says: 

    "In about 1435 in Constantinople, where he had gone to study Greek, a young Italian student, Thomas of Arezzo, discovered amonst a pile of packing paper in a fish market a rather tattered volume of ecclesiastical writings in Greek.  The first five treatises in this manuscript volume were spurious works acribed to Justin Martyr, i.e., the second century apologist the fifth of them headed 'By the same [i.e. Justin], to Diognetus.  ... It was a work previously unknown - neither Eusebius nor any of the Fathers refers to it - and this sole manuscript was the basis of many editions, from that of H. Estienne in 1592 onwards, until the manuscript was destroyed in the flames of Strasbourg in 1870, a victim of the Franco-Prussian War.


it is the sole - though fleeting - evidence of a work that has fascinated since its discovery.  It is written in Greek of a conscious elegance rare among early Christian writings, even though at times, because of illegibility, it becomes barely comprehensible."  

Lessons from the Roman martyrs

    One of the greatest problems in the modern world is the absence of virtue.  This is more subtle than the obvious abundance of vice.  One reason is because it is an absence rather than a presence.  It is apparent if something happens that should not, but what if something that should happen does not?  That is much more difficult to perceive, in particular if we do not know what we should be looking for.  What tends to happen is that people have a general sense that something is not as it should be; but do not know what.  

    Two of the largest are the lack of courage and the lack of loyalty.  The story of early Christian martyrs provides an example of a time when both of these virtues were far stronger than they are now.  The courage of the martyrs is proverbial, but their story also shows the virtues of the Romans.  Although individual Roman emperors were depraved and wicked, many of the individual Romans were far superior to most moderns in honesty and courage.  For instance, when the Christians were asked to burn a pinch of incense to Caesar and be released or refuse and die, the Romans weren't lying.  They really did release those Christians who apostasized.  Compare this to the dishonest show trials of the twentieth and twenty-first century where those taken to trial are already marked for persecution and there is nothing they can do about it.  

    Despite their cruelty, the Romans were honest; they followed their own rules.  When Pontius Pilate released Barbbas, Barabbas really was released.  Paul was beheaded because he was a Roman citizen and Roman citizens could not be crucified.  The account of the martyrdom of Felicity and Perpetua states that Felicity was pregnant at the time of her condemnation, so she was not executed until she had given birth.  This is because the Romans considered it unjust to kill an unborn and innocent child along with the mother when the mother had been condemned to death.  

    By contrast, the dishonest anti-Christian governments of the 21st century do not follow their own rules.  Rules are applied selectively to Christians for the purpose of harming them.  Another contrast is that in many of the Christian perseuctions of the 20th century, the goal was either the elimination of groups that were Christian or the utter destruction of Christian belief along with demoralization of Chrisitans.  By contrast, genocide was not the goal of the Roman persecution.  Although pagan mobs sometimes did attack Christians indiscriminately at the time of the perecutions, the goal of the Roman officials was not to kill all Christians.  Their plan was to force the Christians into submission to the empire.  Indeed, the Romans were not concerned with the otherworldly beliefs of the Christians but only their refusal to honor the emperor as a god, which was seen as disloyalty to the state.

    Further, the Romans greatly respected courage.  Executions were public, so pagan Romans had seen many criminals killed.  But these criminals had no choice in the matter.  Once found guilty of a crime, they were executed and outside of escaping from prison, the were unable to stop it.  One the other hand, up untilthe point they were sentenced to death the Christians really could have walked away at any time by honoring the pagan gods and so they were choosing to undergo torture and death.  This must have been astounding to the Romans.  Among Roman soldiers in particular courage must have been greatly honored.  Eusebius in his History of the Church relates an account of a soldier who became converted in seeing a Christian undergo torment and death: 

    "Seventh among them must be reckoned Basilides who led the renowned Potamiaena to execution.  The praises of this woman are even today loudly sung by her own people. ...  She had hardly spoken when she heard sentence pronounced, and Basilides, a member of the armed forces, seized her arm and led her away to execution.  As the crowd tried to plauge her and insult her with obscene jess, Basilides thrust them back and drove them away, showing the utmost pity and kindness towards her.  Potamiaena accepted his sympathy for her and gave him encouragement: when she had gone away she would ask the Lord for him, and it would not be long before she repaid him for all he had done for her.  This said, she faced her end with noble courage - slowly, drop by drop, boiling pitch was poured over different parts of her body, from her toes to the crown of her head.  Such was the battle won by this splendid girl. 

    Not long afterwards Basilides was for some reason asked by his fellow-soldiers to take an oath, but he insisted that he was unable to swear in any circumstances as he was a Christian and made no secret of the fact.  At first they thought he was joking, but when he stuck doggedly to his assertion he was brought before the magistrate, who, as he made no attempt to hid his convictions, committed him to prison.  When his brothers in God visited hin and asked the reason for this amazing impulse and determination, he is said to have declared that three days after her martyrdom Potamiaena stodd before him in the night, put a wreath about his head, and said that she had prayed for him to the Lord, had obtained her request, and before long would place him by her side.  At this the brethren bestowed on him the seal of the Lord [baptism], and the next day, nobly witnessing for his Lord, he was beheaded.  The records sate that at this period many other citizens of Alexandria accepted the teaching of Christ in a body, as Potamiaena appeared to them in dreams and called them."  

    Other Roman soldiers who became died for their faith are the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste, condemned to freeze to death.  In general, Romans were far more courageous than modern Westerners and soldiers even more so.  So it is no surprise that many soldiers became Christians.  

  In addition to their courage, the early Christians were extraordinarily tight-knit.  An egregious misunderstanding in the modern days is that it is somehow above tribalism to hate one's own family and one's own culture.  By contrast, the early Christians took the love and devotion of the family and extended it to the other members of their communities.  They moved above tribalism, while modern liberal Christianity falls below it.  In particular, there was no magic word beginning with "R" that caused early Christians to throw each other to the pagan mob.  

    The early Christians also helped each other in times of trouble.  If Christians in one city were suffering, Christians from other cities would bring food or money.  And in those days, this meant personally travelling across many miles with the possibility of encountering bandits.  Felicity and Perpetua both had young children and yet they knew that after they died their children would be cared for by the Christian community.  Indeed, a frequent exhortation used by Roman magistrates to convince Christian parents to apostasize was to consider their duty for family; who would take care of them if they died.  But the Christian parents were willing to die because they knew their children would be cared for.  But not only that, the martyrs were willing to accept the death of their entire family because they did not view it as the end; they had faith in life after death to an extent that is astounding.  

    This is shown by the feast day martyrs being the day they died; viewed as the day they were born to eternal life.  

    So, in general, people in Roman times were far more courageous and loyal than people now and Christians most of all.  Furthermore, loyaly and faith strengthen courage.  In these days, reading about the Roman martyrs is informative because it shows us the significance of these three virtues: loyalty, faith, and courage.

Sodom and Gomorrah

     JMSmith's recent post at the Orthosphere "The Luxurious Road to Lot's Door" discusses the danger of luxury in regards to the sinful city of Sodom:  

    "Idleness is luxuriant rest, and it has fell consequences, just like every other luxury.  This is because idleness permits the pursuit of pleasure, pleasures pale, and the pursuit of plesure is therefore an endless chase after new and increasingly piquant pleasures.  This is what St. Augustine meant when he said that the overgrown power and wealth of Rome caused the Romans to fall into the trap of luxury and chase an 'infinite variety of pleasures.' "

    The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is also interesting for other reasons.  In addition to striking details, such as Lot's wife turning into a pillar of salt and Abraham watching smoke rise over the plain in the morning, it is one of the three big times in the Bible that overwhelming supernatural force is used against the wicked.  The other two are the tower of Babel and the Deluge.   

    These three punishments use archetypal forms of destruction: fire, water, and the breaking up of human society.  The people of Sodom and Gomorrah and the people before the Flood were proverbially evil.  Geneis 18:20 says: 

    "The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great."  

    while Genesis 6:5 says about the people before the Flood: 

    "The the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great upon the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was altogether evil all the time."  

    But even despite that, their ends were fairly merciful.  Being burned alive by fire and brimstone is not a pleasant way to die, but it is much better than what the Sodomites would have visited upon the people of any city that they had conquered.       

    One reason might have something to do with the statement expressed by the Neo-Pythagorean Iamblichus

    "As it is better for a part of the body that contains purulent decacy to be burned than to continue as it is, thus also is it better for a depraved man to die than to continue to live."

    In other words, once someone goes wrong enough, it is more merciful for their soul that they die than live because otherwise they would continue to get worse and worse.  Furthermore, the thought of imminent death may lead to repentance. 

    This also relates to what Francis Berger writes about in his post: "The Misguided Yearning for a Vengeful God Part I" which discusses Berdyaev's ideas about how Jesus offered salvation, but also a new dispensation for creative freedom.  It may be that after the death and resurrection of Jesus, it is better for sinners to live and repent and continue to learn than to die.  

     I find these questions worth thinking about, but these are deep waters, which involve knowledge of times long past, so an answer will probably always remain elusive.

The Intelligence of the Ancient Greeks

     In Bruce Charlton's recent post "Christians cannot 'Be Good' in 2021 - but Can avoid being corrupted by evil", he writes in a comment 

    "In the early Eastern Roman Empire, apparently everybody argued about theology on every street corner and across the dinner table."

    This is interesting for two reasons.  One is that it shows the degree to which Christianity was a part of daily life in the Eastern Roman Empire.  The other reason is that the Christian theology of those days was highly abstract and intellectual.  The fact that it was discussed by the general population is evidence for Bruce Charlton and Michael Woodley's idea that general intelligence has declined since the industrial revolution.  

    But in addition to general intelligence, special intelligence has also changed.  In particular, there is reason to believe that the ancient Greeks had a special talent for understanding abstractions.  

    A good example of the ancient Greek approach to abstractions versus the modern is geometry versus algebra.  In its heyday, ancient Greek mathematics was primarily concerned with geometry, while modern mathematics, especially since the development of Calculus in the mid to late 17th century, has been highly algebraic.  

    The strength of algebra is that if you can manipulate an equation according to certain steps, then it is not necessary to think.  Just follow the steps to the end and you have your result.  Not just in mathematics, but much modern thinking, especially abstract thinking follows this procedure.  Develop a model and manipulate the model.  The goal is not to take the whole system into one's mind, but to follow each step and what is at the last step is the result.  

    Whereas in geometry, even when aided by diagrams, it is necessary to visualize and visualizing allows one to be able to hold the problem in one's mind as a whole.  Furthermore, the Greeks studied 3 dimensional geometry (for example, the Platonic Solids) yet without many of our technological means of visualizing, such as with computers.  They probably did carve models, maybe out of wood, but it is necessary to hold the shape in one's mind before carving.    

    I believe that the Greeks viewed abstractions in this way.  Similar to visualizing a shape or an interaction in geometry, they had a special talent for taking the whole abstraction into their mind and viewing it almost in a concrete way.  Of course, modern people still have the capability, but imagine an entire culture where this special ability to take up abstractions was widespread.  The Eastern Roman Empire was culturally and linguistically Greek and, in fact, everyone arguing about theology is exactly what you would expect in such a civilization.   

Don't believe polls

    Polls are quoted as if self-evidently valid (without considering the source or methodology), but in fact, I have come to believe that polls and opinion surveys are almost entirely worthless.  

    The biggest reason is that with the disppearance of landlines, there is now no easy way to randomly select from the population.  In addition, there has been a proliferation of polls on everything under the sun while the surveys themselve have become increasingly long and tedious.  So even if there was a way to select a random sample of the population, most of the initial sample may not respond to the survey.

    For these reasons, even though pollsters can analyze their data very precisely, the results may be entirely unrepresentative with respect to the population as a whole.  Indeed, those who respond to surveys, particularly phone surveys are probably not evenly distributed among the population as a whole.  Many of them may be high-conscientiousness members of the generations who grew up instinctively trusting people who call them on the phone and instinctively trusting polls.  On the other hand, there are probably very few people under 35 who answer surveys at all, especially phone surveys.  Futhermore, I suspect that most young children or teengers who answer polls are probably bribed in some way (free food, for example) and so for that reason their responses should be taken with a grain of salt.    

    But it is even worse than that because often surveys are badly designed: the meaning of a particular question to the designer may be entirely different from how the responders view the question.  Also, frequently surveys are not able to capture the nuance of individuals' views because most surveys are not open ended, all possible responses are proscribed in advance.  

    And those considerations do not even take into account fake surveys.  At worst, the survey may be entirely fraudulent, with numbers made up on the spot.  But even if that is not the case, it may be designed so that only certain responses are possible, or interpreted in a disingenuous way, or presented to a deliberately nonrepresentative sample of the population.  

    Therefore, the burden of proof is on the polls.  A survey can only be trusted when it has been shown that those who design and implement it are both honest and competent.  And even then, it may be that a representative sample is so difficult to find that a honest and competent surveyor has to conclude that no conclusion can be drawn.      

    If we wan to understand the modern world, let us base our analyses on something more substantial than polls.

The symbolic truth of Medieval Cosmology

    In this post, I want to discuss how medieval cosmology is symbolically true.  This post will be highly speculative and outlandish, but none of the ideas discussed are original to this post; they all have been around for a long time.  Indeed, I think that they show that ancient and medieval people had insights into the nature of reality that have been lost in modern times.

    I have become increasingly convinced that the medieval world system is true, but symbolically, not physically.  They did not have our physical science so they did not know as much about the physical universe.  In addition, one of Owen Barfield's ideas about the evolution of consciousness is that as consciousness has developed through time, thought has become more separated.  For instance, the word "pneuma" meant both "spirit" and "wind."  So, the people of the Middle Ages might not have distinguished between the physical and symbolic interpretations to the same extent we would have.  

    The following picture, from Peter Apian's Cosmographia shows the medieval universe: 


Here is another picture in color, from the luminarium website: 

    In the medieval world system, the Earth is situated at the center of the universe, then above the Earth are concentric spheres, which form the Heavens.  The boundary between the Earth and the Heavens is the sphere of the Moon.  Then above the moon we have the spheres of Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and the stars.  

    Everything above the sphere of the Moon was believed to be unchanging, while in the air, between the surface of Earth and the Moon there lived "airy beings," subtle creatures, neither angels nor demons but perhaps kin to fairies or such legendary creatures.  

    In his post "We Are Not Alone", William Wildblood writes: 

    "The physical world we are aware of is something like the outermost crust of  sphere of being which has many levels corresponding, no doubt, to the many mansions that Jesus told us were in his Father's house.  There is this difference though.  Whereas in, say, the case of an orange the outer skin is the largest part of the whole, the exact opposite is the case with this order of reality.  Every inner section or plane is greater than the one external to it, and, not only that, but it includes further dimensions beyond he three we know as well.  Langugae fails here or, at least mine certainly does, but the idea that the inner is greater than the outer should not be so difficult to grasp if we think of the outer as essentially projected from the inner or a more limited version of it."

    This corresponds with the medieval model, except in that model the higher levels are outer rather than inner.  For example, the sphere of the Moon contains the sphere of Earth and the sphere of Mercury contains the spheres of both the Moon and the Earth.  But in both cases we are using a spatial metaphor to describe something that goes beyond the spatial, so both ways are helpful.  

    According to this idea, we should think of the spheres not as physical expanses, but as levels of reality.  Each higher level is less restrictive in terms of consciousness and other aspects than the preceeding level.  

    But, perhaps there is a distinct break corresponding to the boundary between the Heavens and the Earth at the sphere of the Moon.  In his book The Discarded Image (which is about the Medieval cosmology), C.S. Lewis writes that below the sphere of the Moon was the world of Nature, the physical world of change with which we are familiar.  I believe that the people of the Middle Ages were basically correct in this.  But rather than viewing the world of Nature as simply the Earth, we should consider it to be the entire physical universe.  

    In all the levels of reality above the physical universe, there is no entropy.  Rather it is what Bruce Charlton has called "open-ended creation."  So all change is positive, adding to what exists rather than taking away.  The people of the Middle Ages made a mistake in equating change with degeneration, but their insight is correct if we substitute change for entropy. 

    I believe that entropy is just the tendency of the universe to return to its original state of chaos.  The alchemists and Aristotelians were right to envision matter as pure potentiality, the ability to take on any form.  This form comes from the spiritual realms, the levels of reality above the material universe.    This undifferentiated matter naturally shapes itself to take on whatever qualities are presented to it, but after a period of time, the qualities leave to go somewhere else.    

    And if we view the physical universe as a level of reality, then that might make sense of the multiverse.  I am not sure whether to attribute this statement to William James Tychonievich or not, since he heard it in a dream, but it is a sensible assessment of the idea of a multiverse:

     "This has convinced me that there is no such thing as a parallel universe.  The universe we are in is in fact the only universe.  And that means it is real -- fully real."

    Two parallel universe theories, the quantum multiverse and the string theory landscape both consider the universe as merely an instantiation of one of many possibilities.  The fundamental reality is the spectrum of possibilities.  On the contrary, if there is a single universe, then it comes from some deeper reason, something more real and more meaningful.  

    Just for the sake of interest, I include this quote from Plato in the Timaeus, where Timaeus raises and rejects the possibility of a multiverse (the word used is world, but since later in the dialogue different planets and stars are discussed, it is clear that in this case world means the entire cosmos): 

    "Are we right in saying that there is one world, or that they are many and infinite?  There must be one only, if the created copy is to accord with the original.  For that which includes all other intelligible creatures cannot have a second or companion; in that case there would be need of another living being which would include both, and of which they would be parts, and the likeness would be more truly said to resemble not them, but that other which included them.  In order then that the world might be solitary, like the perfect aniimal, the creator made not two worlds or an infinite number of them; but there is and ever will be one only-begotten and created heaven."

    But suppose there are other intelligent beings?  Where would they be?  Rather than thinking of multiple cosmoi, multiple planets makes sense.  Since this level of reality is physical, then it makes sense that the realms of these beings would be separated by a physical means.  The universe is so vast and there are so many stars that I do believe some have planets which are inhabited.  However, the inhabitants of any planet seem to be prohibited by vast distances from visiting any other planet.  One reason might be to prevent beings from one planet from destroying or corrupting others from another planet.  

    Also, suppose we interpret the air between the Moon and the Earth symbolically, as subtle realms between the physical and the spiritual?  William Wildblood has written about this, referring to it as the psychic plane:

    "The psychic plane is higher than the physicla (higher meaning freer and more expansive) and relates to it as the mind does to the body.  But still it is the plane of subjectivity, being comprised of our thoughts, feelings, desires, beliefs and experiences, both individual and collective.  This gives us the clue that it is largely a creation of the created.  Spirit and matter are divine realities but the psychic plane is the product of human and non-human thinking and imaging.  (Non-human as it contains entities that are of a different order to ourselves, entities known in folklore and myth).  It is both formed of and contains the psychic impressions and experiences of all created life."

    What about the level directly above ours?  I think Dante had insight into this when he put the Garden of Eden directly atop the mountain of Purgatory, right below Heaven.  Indeed, I believe the level directly above ours is indeed the Garden of Eden.  That would mean the Fall of Man was indeed a fall, from a higher level of reality to a lower one.  If there are beings on other planets, they may have their own Edens, different realms from ours but in the same level of reality.  

    If that is true, then that level may be very similar to the Earth as we know it, while others may be much difficult to imagine, not because they are alien but because they are richer and more expansive than the physical universe.  For example, someone hearing the word hippopotamus, which literally means "water horse" may think that a hippo is just some exotic type of horse, when it is really a qualitatively different animal.  It's not that a hippo is alien; it is just difficult to imagine some things without experiencing them.  For example, in 2 Corinthians 12: 2-4, Paul spoke about seeing the Third Heaven, which I would interpret as the level of reality three levels above this one.  There may be some connection between the levels of the spiritual realms and the 9 choirs of angels, where each choir of angels qualitatively differs from the preceeding level.  If there is any truth to this traditional classification, then perhaps each choir lives on a different level.

    A natural question is, is there a level of reality below the physical universe, one more restrictive?  Yes, I think so.  That is the level that is called Sheol or Hades, the underworld depicted in mythology, which Bruce Charlton has written about.  I would distinguish Hades from Hell.  Hell is not a level because the levels of reality are not evil in themselves, they are just states of being.  Hell is parasitic on Creation.  It is using the power of wicked souls to corrupt Creation, to carve out a space of concentrated evil, excluding good.  

    Although, the story of the rebel angels being cast out of Heaven probably means that Hell can only exist in the physical universe, in Hades, or on the psychic plane.  There may well be parts of Hades that have been taken over and are what we refer to as Hell, but I do not believe that this is true for all of Hades.

    Interestingly enough, the spirits of the dead in mythology are depicted as demented and witless, which corresponds with a level of reality where consciousness is so restricted, that it is almost impossible to think.  Also, it seems that the higher levels can give "energy" to the lower levels.  One example would be a miracle.  If matter naturally shapes itself according to the spiritual, then an angel who wanted to heal someone would have no need to make use of such crude methods as surgery.  The angel could simply tell the matter what to do and it would shape itself according to the form presented to it.  The ancient Greeks also seemed to have a similar belief with regard to our world and Hades.  This is recorded in the story of the Odyssey, where Odysseus kills a sheep so that the shades of the dead can drink its blood and speak to him.  In other words, they are dependent on the energy within the blood of the sheep in order to speak.  

    This also relates to the tradition that between His death and Resurrection, Jesus descended to Hades, referred to in 1 Peter 3:19, where it is said that Jesus spoke to the "spirits in prison."  No one but Jesus had the capability to leave Hades under their own power.  

    I will close with a quote from The Discarded Image

    "a medieval man on a nocturnal walk was 'looking up at a world lighted, warmed, and resonont with music.'  The modern man looking at a night sky feels he is looing out; medieval man was looking in

Tacking between virtue sets

    In Wiliam James Tychonievich's post "Satan divided against himself", he uses a metaphor of a boat tacking against the wind to describe the progression of evil from Luciferic to Ahrimanic to Sorathic.  Tychonievich also makes use of the idea of Virtue Sets from G. at the Junior Ganymede blog in this post to describe two goods: Devic Good and Ahuric Good.  In the "Satan divided against himself" post, William James Tychonievich describes human nature as to "Pursue good, avoid evil"  From this, he then describes Ahrimanic Evil as "Sacrifice the pursuit of good in order to avoid evil" and Luciferic Evil as "Sacrifice the avoidance of evil in order to pursue good (e.g. to seek pleasure)."  From this, Tychonievich describes Ahuric Good as the type of good that seeks further good and Devic Good as the type of good that avoids evil.  
    I have a somewhat different attitude towards Luciferic and Ahrimanic Evil than that expressed in Tychonievich's post.  But the focus of this post is not Ahrimanic and Luciferic Evil as such but the tacking metaphor and the concepts of Ahuric and Devic Good, both of which are valuable insights.  So, why not combine the two?       
    In this diagram, evil is above the line in the middle and good is below the line.  The left is associated with seeking good and the right with avoiding evil, so Devic Good and Ahrimanic Evil are on the same side, while Luciferic Evil and Ahuric Good are on the same side.  Also, since in the tacking metaphor Sorathic, purely destructive evil is the endpoint of evil, there needs to be something on the opposite pole of good.  According to Rudolf Steiner's cosmology, Sorath will incarnate in several thousand years and will be the Biblical Antichrist.  So, Christ is naturally the opposite of Sorath.  (I do not personally believe in this idea of Steiner's about the Antichrist but since Rudolf Steiner's ideas of Lucifer, Sorath and Ahrimanic Evils are the original source of this model, it makes sense to consider these ideas). 

    On the other hand, since Sorathic evil is destruction, the opposite is creation.  Further, the two goods Ahuric and Devic Good can be thought of as both coming together to form Creation.  We need both to pursue good and to avoid evil to have Creation.  If there is no pursuit of good, then nothing will happen but if there is no avoidance of evil, then creation will degenerate.  
    In Tychonievich's original tacking metaphor, human beings can start one of two ways.   Either by being enticed into evil by Luciferic means, then overcorrecting to avoid evil leading to the Ahrimanic, then destructively raging against the Ahrimanic, leading to Sorathic.  Or, by pursuing Ahrimanic Evil for safety through control or for desire for power, then moving towards the Luciferic in reaction against the dehumanization of the Ahrimanic.  Then, trying to manage the Luciferic, making it even more destructive, leading to the Sorathic.  
    When I first had the idea of this diagram, I just tried to make a mirror image of the above pathway towards Sorath.  But it turns out that it works with the model.  For instance, in order to tack away from the Luciferic, one moves towards Devic Good, (in other words, one avoids the evil one is pursuing).  On the other hand, to move away from the Ahrimanic, we move towards Ahuric.  In other words, we bring forth some new good to push past the constricting mechanization of Ahriman.  And this actually fits with Steiner's idea, that in the modern world we were supposed to bring forth a new development, that we have to combat the Ahrimanic by moving through it.  
    The other important thing is that since this model is two-dimensional, to escape from evil it is not enough to move away from the evil in question, we also have to move towards good, towards Christ and Creation.  For instance, it appears that those who are most susceptible towards Luciferic evil are often not susceptible to Ahrimanic and conversely, the Ahrimanic are less susceptible towards Luciferic evil.  
    New Age types correctly deplore the evils of the Ahrimanic: the mechanistic dehumanization of the modern world.  However, they are also more vulnerable to the Luciferic - all the usual cultural subversions.  
    On the other hand, many of those who are resistant to the Luciferic are most vulnerable to the Ahrimanic.  This can be seen in individuals, but is also seen in countries.  The most Ahrimanic countries in the world are not particularly Luciferic, but it's a mistake to think that their Ahrimanic tendencies are thereby a good thing.  Ahrimanic Evil is still evil and for that reason, Ahriman won't save us from Lucifer.  Indeed, it's no coincidence that almost all of the worst cultural subversions, particularly those associated with the Sexual Revolution come from Ahrimanic and Luciferic conditions working together, from using technology to strengthen subversion.  

    The way to escape from the Luciferic is by cultivating Devic Good, virtue and discipline.  To flee one evil by moving towards another is no real escape.  The two-dimensional model of virtue sets is helpful for this reason because it reminds us that to move away from evil, we must move towards good.  

The Logic of Freedom

    This is the follow up post to "The logic of the system."  In the first post, I wrote that there is no room for freedom in the System.  But what is this freedom?  

    There are two big ways to think about freedom: negative freedom and positive freedom.  Francis Berger has referred to these as "freedom from" and "freedom for," respectively in several posts, such as this one.  These terms are useful because they clearly express the nature of each of these freedoms.  Freedom from is an absence of restrictions.  This is the most obvious type of freedom.  Indeed, most discussions of freedom only consider freedom from, particularly from a political point of view.  On the other hand, freedom for is more subtle.  Freedom for is internal; it is acting from within, from what Bruce Charlton has called the "true self."  

    Ultimately, freedom for only makes sense from a spiritual perspective.  If there is no spiritual aspect to human beings, then any action can only come from arbitrary desires with no deeper meaning.  On the other hand, if human beings are fundamentally spiritual, then freedom for means acting (however imperfectly) from the spiritual.

    These are the background concepts, but in this post, rather than the metaphysical issues, I want to discuss at a more specific level what freedom from would look like.  

    Both types of freedom are most fundamentally concerned with consciousness.  Political descriptions of freedom are incomplete.  Frequently, freedom from is described as something that is given to people by governments.  It is envisioned as a matter of choosing a system of governance that will provide freedom.  But this kind of description is incomplete because it doesn't go deep enough.  

    An example that highlights these issues is the Constitution of the United States.  The Constitution did not gift freedom to the citizens of the United States.  Indeed, if the consciousness of Americans at the time was contrary to the principles underlying the Constitution, then the new government would have been entirely unsuccessful.  It would have had to be imposed by force and would quickly have fragmented.  The Constitution was a crystallization of the consciousness of a particular time and place.

     From about 1740, consciousness in the West changed.  Among the changes was incresed individualism which meant (among other things) the gradual weakening of cohesion within groups.  But this was meant to be transitional.  We were supposed to move towards ..., well something that we can't quite imagine becuse it is qualitatively new, which hasn't been seen before.  Since the new has not been brought forth fully and the old has weakened, we have deteriorated.    

    The good thing is that since the Constitution was framed towards the beginning of this period, the spirit in which it was written is more aligned with common sense and truth that our current consciousness.  But, because it is a snapshop of what was meant to be a transitional stage, the Constitution no longer has the force it once did: most people simply cannot properly respond to it with their current consciousness.  But the solution is not to go back because we cannot.  It just doesn't work that way.  We were supposed to move forward towards a different kind of consciousness.  That is why originalism (the doctrine of trying to understand how the framers thought of the Constitution), though well-motivated is not a long-term solution.  Even though an individual person can, through study and imaginative engagement come closer to the consciousness of the framers, as the consciousness of the general public moves farther and farther away, the originalist will be increasingly less able to explain to others what he has learned and to persuade them based on this knowledge.  

    This is a specific example, but the increased political freedom that emerged starting from the Renasisance and increasingly from the 18th century is the consequence of changes in consciousness.  That is the only way to make sense of multiple changes that all built upon each other, the only way to make sense of things that seem to "just happen."  They don't just happen, rather, a subtle change that is not directly observable (except within each individual's mind) explains them.  

    Likewise, freedom for, positive freedom also takes place in consciousness.  It is internal.  It is possessed by each person individually and is not given by governments.  To try to envision what a world with this kind of freedom might look like, we want to consider the System and then take the opposite.  

     In the System, everything is impersonal.  Each individual is assigned a role, but it is the role that is primary, not the person.  The role could, in principle, (at least according to the logic of the System) be assigned to anyone else who satisfies whatever qualities are determined to be necessary.  On the contrary, with freedom for everything is personal.  A job is based on personal knowledge and personal capabilities.  We can imagine this as similar to apprenticeship.  Apprenticeship is fundamentally personal.  The apprentice learns from an individual master.  The master will be part of a broader tradition but it is the master who personally communicates both tradition and his own knowledge to the student.   

    Also, in the System, everything is abstract.  The System is run according to abstract, bureaucratic categories.  On the other hand, in a world of freedom for, no one is "running" anything.  People interact with each other based on their concrete, individual circumstances.  Also, because the System is abstract, all qualities not recognized by the System are declared non-existent.  Not only that, the System works by means both subtle and overt to diminish and eliminate any qualities it does not recognize.  With freedom for, all real and good qualities would have room to be expressed.  There would be no abstract, overarching categories that define what qualities are real and which are not.

    In the System, the goal is for everything to be mechanized and hence predictable.  Everything must happen according to predefined rules and there can be no deviation from these rules.  A world of freedom for would be entirely unmechanical.  That doesn't mean it would be chaotic.  It is possible to predict the behaviour of someone whom one knows well.  But this is an entirely different kind of prediction than prediction by abstract modeling.  Similar to miracles.  Miracles are fundamentally personal, not mechanical and that is one reason why the modern worldview cannot accomodate them.   

    Thus, although we cannot fully imagine a world of freedom for, we can get a better idea by thinking about these issues.  This post by Amo Boden also discusses some of the same issues, considering a civilization based on individuality.  Another good reason to think about freedom for is because if it is indeed true that this is what we are supposed to move toward, then freedom for provides the long-term goal for us.  But, by the very nature of freedom for, there is no formula; it isn't another abstract program with "freedom" stamped on it, but something qualitatively different.  It can therefore be approached in different ways for different individuals.  Let us move towards this freedom, in whatever way we may.


Tolkien and Psychedelics

     In my last post, I posted some Tolkien quotes and other thoughts related to William James Tychonievich's post " St. George, stake for the sun and inevitable 'miracles' "  As it so happens his post "Gadianton Canyon syncs" reminded me of some more Tolkien quotes.  Tychonievich discusses entities that people who have taken psychedelics, in particular DMT and ayahuasca claim to have seen.  

    In Tolkien's unpublished work the Notion Club Papers, one of the characters, Ramer, reports to the other members of the Notion Club mentioned in the title (based on the Inklings) about dreams that he has had.  Ramer believes these dreams to actually have been experiences where his mind was able to have experiences of other planets.  Bruce Charlton has convincingly argued on his Notion Club Papers blog that some of the character Ramer's descriptions of these dreams are autobiographical in the sense that they are things that Tolkien either dreamed or thought about.

    Ramer describes going through a process of training his mind to remember his dreams and get to the point where he can dream about things outside his experience of day to day life.  While describing this process, he says:

    "But it couldn't make much of it.  By which I suppose I mean that I couldn't remember much about such inspections, although I was now becoming pretty good at remembering large passages of more vivid and pictorial dreams.  And that mean I suppose also, that my mind was not able (at least not without more practice) to translate the notes into the terms of the senses which I can handle when awake.  All the same, I used to get at that time very extraordinary geometric patterns presented to me, shifting kaleidoscopically but not blurred; and queer webs and tissues, too.  And some other non-visual impressions also, very difficult to described; some like rhythms, almost like music; and throbs and stresses."

    Now, this is a very interesting passage because the Notion Club Papers was written in the mid 1940s when psychedlic drugs were not easily available.  Furthermore, I am certain, knowing Tolkien's personality, that he used no drugs other than alcohol, tobacco, and nicoteine.  Yet, this description of seeing shifting geometric patterns sounds very close to what people report from psychelic drugs.  Further, I think I remember reading somewhere that some people experience hearing humming sounds.  William Wildblood has written in a comment on a post

    "The barriers in our mind that separate us from higher states (and drugs just remove these barriers I think) are there so that we can focus on building a spiritual character.  Trying to bypass these barriers might be said to constitute a refusal to learn the lessons of the material plane."

    I find this idea to be plausible, that such drugs, by influencing the brain, break down barriers that are there for our own good.  But, because these barriers are broken down in an artificial way, what comes through is distorted.  Further, from the little I have read of the beings that people describe seeing, they seem to be at best of no relevance to humans or at worst, ugly and malevolent.  

    Interestingly enough, Ramer describes meeting beings in a dream visit to another planet: 

    " 'It's the same with Ellor.  Ellor!' he murmured.  'Ellor Eshúrizel!  I drew it once in words as best I could, and now it is words.  That immense plain with its silver floor all delicately patterned; the shapely cliffs and convoluted hills.  The whole world was designed with such lovliness, not of one thought, but of many in harmony; though in all its shapes there was nowhere any to recall what we call organic life.  There "inanimate nature" was orderly, symmetrical, unconfused, yet intricate, beyond any mind's unravelling, in its flowing modulations and recollections: a garden, a paradise of water, metal, stone, like the interwoven variations of vast natural orderes of flowers.  Eshúrizel!  

    Blue, white, silver, grey, blushing to rich purples were its themes, in which a glint of red was like an apocalyptic vision of essential Redness, and a gleam of gold was like the glory of the Sun.  nd there was music, too.  For there were many streams, water abundant - or some fairer counterpart, less wayward, more skilled in the enchantment of light and in all the making of unnumerable sounds.  Ther the great waterfall of Ӧshül-küllösh fell down its three hundred steps in a sequence of notes and chords of which I can only hear faint echoes now.  I think the En-keladim dwell there.'  

    'The En-keladim?' asked Jeremy softly.  'Who are they?' 

    Ramer did not answer.  He was staring at the fire.  After a pause he went on.  'And there was another world, further away, that I came to later.  I won't say very much.  I hope to look on it again, and longer: on Minal-zidar the golden, absolutely silent and quiescent, a whole small world of one single perfect form, complete, imperishable in Time, finished, at peace, a jewel, a visible world, a realization in material form of contemplation and adoration, made by what adoring mind I cannot tell.'

    'Where is Minal-zidar?' asked Jeremy quietly. 

    Ramer looked up.  'I don't know where or when,' he answered.  'The travelling mind does not seem very interested in such points, or forgets to try and find out in the absorption of beholding.  So I have very little to go on.  I did not look at the sky of Minal-zidar.  You know, if you were looking at the face of somebody radiant with the contemplation of a great beauty or a holiness, you'ld be held by the face for a very long time, even if you were great enough (or presumptuous enough) to suppose that you could see for yourself.  Reflected beauty like reflected light has  special loveliness of its own - or we shouldn't, I suppose, have been created.   

But in Ellor there seemd to be lights in the sky, what we should call stars, not suns or moons, and yet many were much larger and brighter than any star is here I am no astronomer, so I don't know what that may imply.  But I suppose it ws somewhere far away, beyond the Fields of Arbol [the solar system]."

    Ramer later describes the En-keladim, the beings he met:

    "And I've seen the En-keladim, my En-keladim, playing one of their Keladian plays: the Drama of the Silver Tree: sitting round in a circle and singing in that strange, long, long, but never-wearying, uncloying music, endlesslly unfolding out of itself, while the song takes visible life among them.  The Green Sea flowers in foam, and the Isle rises and opens like a rose in the midst of it.  There the Tree opens the starred turf like a silver spear, adn grows, and there is a New Light; and the leves unfold and there is Full Light; and the leaves fall and there is a Rain of Light.  


    My En-keladim I see in humane forms of surpassing and marvellouslly varied beauty.  But I guess that their true types, if such there be, are invisible, unless they embody themselves by their own will, entering into their own works because of their love for them.  That is, they are elvish.  But very different from men's garbled fables of them; for they are not lofty indeed, yet they are not fallen.'

    'But wouldn't you reckon them as hnau [sentient beings]?' asked Jeremy, 'Don't they have language?' 

    'Yes, I suppose so.  Many tongues,' said Ramer.  'I had forgotten them.  But they are not hnau; they are not bound to a given body, but make their own or take their own, or walk silent and unclad without sense of nakedness.  And their languages shift and change as light on the water or wind in the trees.  But yes, perhaps Ellor Eshúrizel - its meaning I cannot seize, so swift and fleeting is it - perhaps that is an echo of their voices.  Yes, I think Ellor is one of their worlds: where the governance, the making and ordering, is wholly in the charge of minds, relatively small, that are not embodied in it, but are devoted to what we call matter, and especially to its beauty.  Even here on Earth they may have had, may have still, some habitatiion adn some work to do.

    Now, in this passage, Ramer called the En-keladim elvish.  Terrence McKenna, has also called the entities he claims to have seen elves.  McKenna also referes to a "visual language" in the passage cited by William James Tychonievich.   The En-keladim also have a "visual language": the song takes visible life among them.  This idea of a living song or drama is something that Tolkien describes in more depth in On Faery Stories: 

    "Now Faërian Drama - those plays which according to abundant records the elves have often presented to men - can produce Fantasy with a realism and immediacy beyond the compass of any human mechanism.  As a result their usual effect (upon a man) is to go beyond Secondary Belief.  If you are present at a Faërian drama you yourself are, or think that you are, bodily inside its Secondary World.  The experience may be very similar to Dreaming and has (it would seem) sometimes (by men) been confounded with it.  But in Faërian drama you are in a dream that some other mind is weaving, and the knowledge of that alarming fact may slip from your grasp.  To experience directly a Secondary World: the potion is too strong and you give in to Primary Belief, however marvellous the events.  You are deluded - whether that is the intention of the elves (always or at any time) is another question.  They at any rate are not themselves deluded.  This is for them a form of Art, and distinct from Wizardry or Magic, properly so called.  They do not live in it, though they can, perhaps, afford to spend more time at it than human artists can.  The Primary World, Reality, of elves and men is the same, if differently valued and perceived.

    So, what is interesting in these passages is that Tolkien in his story describes something similar to what psychedlic experiences or entities, but in sharper consciousness and good or at least indifferent to humans instead of menacing.  

Some associations with St. George and Inevitable Miracles

     In this post, I want to make some associations with William James Tychonievich's recent post "St. George, stake for the sun, and inevitable 'miracles'. "  

    The story of St. George and the dragon made me think of this passage from The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien

    "But they were still living on the borders of myth - or rather this story exhibits 'myth' passing into History or the Dominion of Men; for of course the Shadow will arise again in a sense (as is clearly fortold by Gandalf), but never again (unless it be before the great end) will an evil daemon be incarnate as a physical enemy; he will direct Men and all the complications of half-evils, and defective half-goods, and the twilights of doubt as to sides, such situations as he most loves (you can see them already arising in the War of the Ring, which is by no means so clear cut an issue as some critics have averred): those will be and are our more difficult fate.  

    But if you imagine a people in such a mythical state, in which Evil is largely incarnate, and in which physical resistance to it is a major act of loyalty to God, I think you would have the 'good people' in just such a state: concentrated on the negative: the resistance to the false, while 'truth' remained more historical and philosophical than religious."

    And this is part of the significance of the St. George story.  In it, George faces evil embodied in a physical form, as a dragon.  Resistance to evil is not subtle, but obvious, though it requires courage.  This calls to mind the following passage from The Fellowship of the Ring

    "The Balrog reached the bridge.  Gandalf stood in the middle of the span, leaning on the staff in his left hand, but in his other hand Glamdring gleamed, cold and white.  His enemy halted again, facing him, and the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings.  It raised the whip, and the thongs whined and cracked.  Fire came from its nostrils.  But Gandalf stood firm. 


With a bound the Balrog leaped full upon the bridge.  Its whip whirled and hissed.  'He cannot stand alone!' cried Aragorn suddenly and ran back along the bridge.  'Elendil!' he shouted.  'I am with you Gandalf!'  'Gondor!' cried Boromir and leaped after him. "

    The Balrog is an uncanny monster, stronger than any human being.  Gandalf had earlier said "This is a foe beyond any of you."  Yet, Aragorn prepares to help Gandalf fight it.  And Boromir, who although he has Numernorean ancestry is weaker than either Gandalf or Aragorn follows Aragorn's lead.  This is a brave action deed from Boromir who has never heard about or thought to face such creatures.  

    In another letter, Tolkien also takes up the theme of choosing a side:  

    There are also conflicts about important things or ideas.  In such cases I am more impressed by the extreme importance of being on the right side, than I am distrurbed by the revelation of the jungle of confused motives, private purposes, and individual actions (noble or base) in which the right and the wrong in actual human conflicts are commonly involved.  If the conflict really is about things properly called right and wrong, or good and evil, then the rightness or goodness of one side is not proved or established by the claims of either side; it must depend on values and beliefs above and independent of the particular conflict.  

    Tolkien also had another interesting statment about sides in a letter to his son, Christopher: 

    "In real (exterior) life men are on both sides: which means a motley assortment of orcs, beasts, demons, plain naturally honest men, and angels."  This sentence is interesting because Tolkien describes the wide variety of human types and goes into more detail than most usually do.   

    As far as the idea of inevitable miracles, that makes me think of astronomical or astrological events.  So, it is appropirate that the Tintin comic refered in William James Tychonievich's post showed an eclipse.  Many ancient people regarded natural phenomena as having significance that could be interpreted by human beings.  Yet, often these events, especially astronomical phenomena are predictable because they follow regular patterns.  So, unexpected events portended by events in space could be thought of as inevitable miracles.  

    One thing I thought of was the Comet ATLAS.  I remember reading towards the beginning of the madness of 2020 that this comet was brightening and would draw closest to the sun on May 31, which happened to be Pentecost that year.  But, instead, the comet broke into pieces.  There seems to be some significance to that.  Ancient people thought that comets portended disaster, so what does a comet breaking apart mean?  Also, the article, describing the breakup says, "30 fragments on April 20, and 25 pieces on April 23."  There's April 23 again.  Furthermore, May 31 is close to May 30, which the day of Joan of Arc's death.  

    I don't have any conclusions, but I write this post in response to the statement in Tychoievich's post: "I'm not sure where this is all going yet, but it certainly feels as if the synchronicity fairies are introducing a new 'theme' that they intend to pursue for a while.  We'll see how it plays out.

     A good rule of thumb for synchro-mysticism is to make connections first and then see what happens.

The Logic of the System

    Over the past 30 or so days, Francis Berger has written multiple posts about freedom.  Freedom is an essential concept for these times because so much of what happens now and has happened in the modern world is based around freedom and its absence.  This post will be the first of two posts on freedom.  First, I want to discuss the underlying logic of the System that has co-opted so much of the West and by means of the West, the rest of the world.  In the second post, I will discuss the spiritual freedom which should be our goal.  Contrasting these two will aid understanding of both of them.  

    One way to think of the System is as one big Chinese Room, where Chinese Room refers to John Searle's famous thought experiment, which he used to argue that understanding and algorithmic rule-following are not the same.  In the experiment, a person who can speak English but not Chinese is placed in a room and given a set of instructions which explain how to manipulate Chinese characters according to certain rules.  Communications written in Chinese can then be slipped through a slot into the room.  The instructions tell the individual in the room how to respond, but the instructions never translate the characters into English, so the operator never knows the meaning of what he writes in response, only the form of the characters.  

    The operator is merely following a step-by-step process: no undestanding is required.  Certainly, if the operator can read and write Chinese, then he would do a better job than someone who can neither read nor write the language.  But, that person would be able to respond as he wishes rather than according to the program of the designer of the room.  And this is what we see in the system.  Many jobs have been gradually changed to become rule-following procedures.  Human beings are encouraged to think and act mechanically.  This has happened very quickly, especially accelerating over the past 20 or so years.  

    In previous times, a task depended on the competence of the person performing it, but now the goal is for someone to be minimally competent to follow instructions.  There have been many economic, sociological, or technological reasons put forward for these changes, but none of them are really satisfying explanations.  For one thing, most of them argue in some form or fashion that these mechanizing changes are inevitable.  But they clearly are not.  Indeed, in many cases they make things worse and less efficient and lead to silly errors that human beings who are thinking like humans would catch easily.  What is really happening goes deeper than this.  It's something happening in the consciousness of the managers who have implemented these changes.  An idea has taken control of their minds.  And the idea has to come from somewhere.  

    This level of coordination for things that make no sense and that everyone can see make no sense lends some credence to the idea of Rudolf Steiner that a being named Ahriman is the motive force driving the mechanization of the modern world.  In a lecture, Terry Boardman has said that he thinks Ahrimanic spirits are influencing people to invent technologies that ordinary human consciousness would not conceive of.  There may be something to that.  Whatever is happening, the standard explanations are not sufficient.  Indeed, Rudolf Steiner in a different context made the point that typical modern thinking cannot understand the true causes of events initiated by changes in consciousness.  The modern explanation simply describes how what is later came from what was earlier, but never says why in this way and not another.  

    So, the System consists of a large number of people following micro-specialized algorithmic tasks that are linked together into a larger design.  A good concrete example of this, with respect to VW, is shown in this post from the Brief Outlines blog.  

    And no one is supposed to think while performing their tasks or think about how the pieces fit together.  Even at what are supposed to be (though I do not believe they necessarily are to the extent they are portrayed) intellectually elite locations, such as Harvard and Silicon Valley, people are not supposed to think.  I have never been to either of these places, but reading about them gives one this impression.  

    In contrast to Emerson and Thoreau's day, when Harvard was about giving a liberal education, the education of a free man, someone meant to think for himself, a Harvard degree is now a certification of extreme conscientiousness and high intelligence.  But the intelligence isn't to be used to evaluate and understand for oneself; it's just to follow complex instructions.  Likewise, I have read that many technical professionals in their 30s have a difficult time being hired by Silicon Valley firms.  On the one hand, this seems surprising because one's 30s is when people who have been working at something for many years start to deepen their understanding, when they start to become experts.  But, it makes sense if you realize the companies do not want understanding.  They want to hire people in their 20s because they have the energy and the lack of obligations to work long hours.  These companies want high intelligence in the sense of quick learning, but only to be used inside the box they construct.  

    This restriction of thinking goes along with the idea of Ahrimanic forces as described by Rudolf Steiner.  In this post, Bruce Charlton quotes Steiner who says: 

"The Ahrimanic beings want to keep humans bound forever to earthly existence.  This is why they want to mechanize everything.  By doing this, they would transform the earth in their way.

They do not have the desire to rob human beings of action; indeed they want them to be as busily active as possible - so long as this is all done in a routine and stereotyped way. 

Ahriman is a great fan of convention!  He, it is, who inspires the constant compiling of statues.  Whenever Ahriman sees a committee at work compiling statutes, he is in his element! 

Point 1, Point, Point 3 ... First this will be done, then that; thirdly this member has these rights, fourthly that member out to do such-and-such.  The member would not dream, of course, of respecting these rights, nor doing what it says at all ... 

But this part of it does not matter.  The important thing is to compile the statutes and cultivate the Ahrimanic spirit. Then, you can point to paragrph so-and-so.  

Ahriman would like people to be active, but everything should be run along programmed lines.  Everything should be forced into legal terms ...

Every morning, a person should (as it were) find a list lying on his bedspread telling him what to do throughout the day, and he should do it mechanically ..."

    An important insight of Steiner's is that it doesn't particularly matter what the tasks are, the mechanistic form of the tasks is what imprisons people's thinking.  

    In addition to restricting thinking, the system also views everything as abstract.  It views all work as commensurable because it can all be converted into money.  Though of course we all know you can't really convert, say taxi driving to cooking by some sort of financial alchemy.  And money has become abstract because it has moved away from cash to electronic transactions.  Joe has a good post about this titled "Postmodern Vertigo."  He writes: 

    "Everything we interact with is just the surface layer and beneath it are layers upon layers of abstraction, and the vast majority of people, if not everyone, don't know all the layers between the concepts we have in our heads that let us interact with it and the physical reality around us tht we can see and touch.  There are entire fields of knowledge, entire communities of individuals, complete layers of reality that mostly everyone is unaware of."

    Not only is money conceived abstractly, but even the goods produced by the System are thought of in this way.  In reality, everything produced is produced for some reason and people must do work to produce it, but the System is viewed as a perpetual motion machine that produces and distributes goods.  

    In many posts, Bruce Charlton has described how the industrial revolution and the developments since have led to astonishing abundance never before seen in world history.  These developments all came from people made technological and scientific breakthroughs and then those others who undestood, improved and worked with these breakthroughs.  Yet, according to mainstream public discourse, all these things "just happen."  

    Ultimately, this will be the downfall of the rulers of this world.  They believe their own propaganda.  They think that the System really is a perpetual motion machine that can be entirely controlled by financial manipulations.  But of course this is not true.  For instance, research can be funded but this does not mean it will be successful.  Claiming that some technology will happen and spending lavishly will not actually cause the technology to be invented.  

    Likewise, the stregth of the System is that it can organize people according to abstract categories, such as by economic manipulations.  It takes no account of family, religion, community, any of the deeper bonds of humanity.  So, the System can control vast numbers of people without taking account of any human factors.  But, none of these abstract categories is fundmentally real.  They cannot last forever, they are not deeply ingrained in human beings.

    Thus, the System, which views everything as abstract and which restricts thinking is the enemy of freedom.  Everything is accounted for by its preordained place in the system, not based on what it is internally.  Hence, there is no place for freedom in the system.  

    In the next post, I will discuss the freedom which exists beyond the system.    

Change in Society and Change in Consciousness

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