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Hermetic Charlatanry and 'Scientific Illuminism'

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick,alt.paranormal.spells.hexes.magic,alt.pagan.magick
From: (nagasiva yronwode)
Subject: Hermetic Charlatanry and 'Scientific Illuminism' (was Subjectivity and Magic...)
Date: Fri, 16 Jun 2000 17:34:45 GMT

50000615 Vom

Carroll 'Poke' Runyon:
>> >Magick, if pursued on a NeoPlatonic/Hermetic course,
>> >can certainly lead to as valid an "enlightenment" (all the more valid
>> >because of it subjectivity) as any Eastern system.

>> validity is not determined by subjective assessments except
>> for the particular individual doing the assessing. you may
>> believe anything you like, and consider your (even extremely weak)
>> criteria to be 'proof', but I think you'll find that in most
>> mystical cultures assessments of 'adeptship' or 'enlightenment'
>> (whatever that is) are conducted by the religious hierarchy
>> and proceed using certain political and observed standards.

richard sprigg :
>This does not argue against subjectivity, it merely suggests that
>certain subjective standards are misidentified as having universal

WAY too often.

>Just because a radio tuned to 105.5FM plays good music today is no
>argument that the channel should never be changed.

and just because I heard space aliens talking out of it last
night when I was high on LSD-25, this is no argument that it
was used by extra-terrestrials as a communication instrument.

>> peer review is also one of the foundations of modern science.

>Yes indeed. The identification of peers can be done by reviewing the
>independantly verifiable credentials of individuals.

or comparing notes on one's experiences, seeing what perceptions
and (at least tentative) conclusions others have drawn from these.

>To apply this to a mystical/magickal level of attainment is to assert
>that such a verification is possible. 

this is my experience, yes.

>Clearly this is by no means as cut and dried as the statement suggests.

no intent to be cut-and-dried, but this is more reliable than
presuming that I am the Ruler of the Universe based on my
futile delusions.
>>         @ Crowley appears to have failed in his pursuit of
>>           the Hermetic "enlightenment" if his "Confessions"
>>           the rest of his corpus is of any value as a
>>           reference ('Magical Record'),

>By whose standards? using which definitions?

conventional standards comparing the qualities ascribed by
Crowley and Hermetics themselves concerning the state and
those definitions typically utilized within said publications
and comparing them with the facts of the man's personal
expressions and accounts of his life and thoughts. it is
patently obvious.

>>           since it is obvious
>>           he was morally bankrupt and a failure in terms of
>>           his humanity (a lack of compassion and an
>>           inability to connect with other human beings
>>           being but two instances of said failure)

>Ah. The opinion of someone who disagrees with both him and his

note that I didn't ever state that I agreed or disagreed with
his expressions or his "philosophy" (if it can ever be shown
that the man provided, expounded on, or underscored any
particular paradigm -- the diversity inherent to his writings
seems to make such an hypothesis difficult in the extreme to
support). I don't think that one must disagree with his ideas
or what he says about himself in order to come to the conclusion
that his mystical enterprise failed rather badly.

in fact I agree with some of this text and find some of his
philosophical expressions to be worthy of consideration and
refinement (he was in serious need of a good editor).

>Not dissimilar to the opinions of the scientific
>establishment on the first theory of periodic tables, or of the
>archeological establishment upon Schleimann.

Crowley and his ideas do not compare well here, from what I
can tell. his ideas about magic aren't really novel, though 
his cult is rather peculiar, nor is there any kind of magical
'establishment' based upon him. there is a RELIGIOUS CULT
that he fostered, but I'll leave this for others to analyze.

>Again, this is not peer review, but normative review by "another".

and it was not masquerading as such a peer review, but it does
fairly analyze the relevant significance of and success in the
"magick" which the man promoted.

>The diametrical opposite of the comments by "another" in Equinox 5, 
>and just as unacceptably biased.


>>         @ Crowley appears to have failed in his pursuit of
>>           nonmystical magical results, if same records and the
>>           many accounts of his mundane pandering are accurate
>>           (that he begged money from friends and, once his
>>           inherited wealth was squandered, often lived on the
>>           sufferance of those he vampirized appears obvious)

>Indeed. He begged almost as shamelessly as Gautama, though with less
>success, largely due to the time and place in which he lived.

Gautama begged for the food to live. Crowley's lack of success was 
an indicator of the weakness of his magic or mysticism (or both). 

>>         @ Crowley appears to have designated magick as a
>>           solar-phallic enterprise,

>Not true. He did suggest that the Solar-Phallic paradigm was a suitable
>basis on which to run a church for the masses.

the "sex magick secrets" of his order (Ordo Templi Orientis; the
Order of the Temple of the East) are thoroughly enmeshed in solar-
phallicism. it was in response to this that Grant provided the
kteisian alternative.

>>           if what one may read in
>>           books like Francis King's "Secret Rites of the OTO"
>>           (available at some libraries) or Naylor's "O.T.O.
>>           Rituals and Sex Magick" (still distributed by places
>>           like Caduceus Books
>>           are any indication; this could have had some effect
>>           upon Crowley's magick, if Grant and Symonds are
>>           correct that the 'k' was a conceit of Crowley's and
>>           related to potentially dangerous ("demonic and
>>           chaotic") energies, as well as life-oriented symbols
>>           such as 'khu' and 'kteis', for which they say it
>>           stands, "the complement to the wand (or phallus)
>>           which is used by the Magician in certain aspects
>>           of the Great Work." ("Magick", p. xvi). perhaps the
>>           'k' short-circuited his Work.

>Perhaps it completed it.

based on Crowley's results, it would not appear to be so.

>Again, this is hardly peer review, but biased judgement based upon books 
>produced thirty to fifty years after Crowleys death, from sources often
>much older.

correct. never was this intended to represent an example of peer

>To the original point, Illumination is a subjective state to anyone
>except the recipient of illumination. 

without a clear description of the characteristics attendant to the
state in question, we cannot be sure it exists or where. once such
criteria are established, then evaluation of individuals based upon
shared time and a comparison with classical standards may be

this is far different than obtaining some sort of peer review for
an outrageous subjective phenomenon which only appears to be actual
for the person experiencing it (like blue flies crawling on the

>Other individuals may attempt to assess the state or level of
>illumination by diverse and even oblique methods, yet in the end they
>only see what is filtered through their own particular prism of

agreed, thus a careful discernment must be made where this kind
of thing goes. when its characteristics are ONLY appearing to
the individual in question, then the actually is obvious.

>The futility of the peer review method is demonstrated amply 
>by the ongoing arguments as to who was inspired, and when, 
>and to what degree.

no, that is a demonstration of the lack of scientific acumen
on the part of those who would like to market their 'Scientific
Illuminism' to the public as something other than a pyramid
scheme. serious mystics of this stripe would long ago have
developed clear standards of evaluation and set about coming
to discern who did and who did not qualify so as to benefit
from their ascended mastery. instead their greed for social
approval and addiction to power interfered and we have the
tangled webwork of intrigue, factionalization and confusion
which makes up charlatan-ridden Hermetic maelstrom you now
see before you.

blessed beast!
-- ; ; 
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