Thursday, 24 May 2018

Restoration of English magic

 A neolithic temple ('rems of'), near Bolam Lake, Northumberland

One of the best books I have read is the novel Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke (2004). This seems to be one of those very long novels that some people love, and others find dull - for me it is a sheer delight, from start to finish.

The underlying theme of the book concerns the restoration of magic to England; once the most magical of all countries when the North was ruled by The Raven King up to about 1400, but after he disappeared, magic incrementally dwindled to nothing. The novel is set around 1800, the depths of the 'Enlightenment' era, when magic begins to return.

Reading ancient sources, it is clear that England (including Wales) was indeed one of the most magical of places for a very long time. Our rural landscape is studded with 'lumps and bumps' - the remains of burial chambers, standing stones and stone circles, causeways and earthworks; going back anything up to 8000 years ago (the hunter gatherer 'mesolithic' era).  And almost all of these remains are religious or spiritual - what the archaeologists call 'ritual'.

Our ancestors, who we assume lived a life of extreme simplicity, frugality, and physical hardship - were also living a life of immersion in the world of spirit - that is what they seem to have cared about more than anything.

When the Romans first invaded under Julius Caesar, England seems to have been the religious centre of Western Europe, and the site of its druidic colleges. When Christianity arrived, it is possible that Glastonbury was one of the first centres outside the Holy Land; and from then onwards the religion was never eradicated - surviving the Dark Ages in the Westermost parts of the island (and in Ireland) before joining-up with the Anglo Saxons when they had converted - the old and new meeting and converging again at Glastonbury.

Anyway; religion was apparently The Most Important Thing for the people of England for a long time... but it did become very authoritarian in the Middle Ages (an instrument of Norman oppression) and after the industrial revolution, in particular, England became one of the least religious (and least spiritual) countries in the world (perhaps rivalled only by France); known for its practical, common sense, shopkeepers mentality - and the development of the atheistic and ultra-materialist materialistic anti-religions of socialism and communism.

Nowadays, our public life is of almost indescribable sordidness, shallowness, spite and hedonism.

And yet, and yet - knowing all this; I only need to drive out a few miles and take a walk in Northumberland, Country Durham or Cumbria and I am spontaneously, almost effortlessly and irresistibly, reconnected with that ancient spirit of the place.

None of this has much to do with the people - although I still do meet quite of lot of ordinary people who have a good but latent - deep buried - side of implicit, goodness and spiritual connection about them...

My point is that this side of Albion, which seems to emanate from the actual structure of the land, remains very powerful; so powerful that its intoxication can and does make me forget all the other and horrible stuff.

To the point that I sometimes feel that 'all we need to do' is bring this to articulation', raise it from an implicit feeling to explicit knowing; and we have Done It: done what needs to be done>

It is as if the Raven King is watching and waiting, and might return at any moment, when the time is ready, when asked.

But not any kind of return to a former state - but as a significant part of it, a new, mystical connection with all of those relics and residues I mentioned - with what is currently abstract history and archaeology; a direct apprehension of the ancestral spirit which makes up the very stones, vegetation and spiritual bones of the country. 

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

What to do when our instincts are corrupt

People often talk as if 'doing what comes naturally', would be the answer, the way ahead... Sometimes William Blake is interpreted as-if he said this, and other later Romantics did indeed say it - for example it used to be the way that DH Lawrence wrote; and was a kind of mantra among the 'beats' of the 1950s and the hippies of the 1960s and 70s.

But what if our instincts were not merely insufficient (as ought to be obvious) but also corrupt? What if our 'gut feeling's' had become corrupted so that they did not lead us towards survival, power, sex, life, fertility; but in the opposite direction?

Such is the argument of my current post at the Notions blog...

And I suggest what we might do instead:

We need to go as deep as our primary (metaphysical) assumptions, to know them; discern and decide - decide not not by common sense, nor by instinct - which is gut feeling; but by intuition which is the discernment of fully conscious, primary thinking of the real and divine self.

Indeed, before we can even attempt this, we each need to have decided that it is coherent and possible; that there is a part of ourself which is divine and which can know - know directly and without mediation - the truth of things.

We must - that is - be able to distinguish between instinct - which is thing of the animal in us; and intuition, which is a thing of the divine in us.

Instinct cannot save us - but will, on the contrary, direct and drive us into damnation and death; but divine intuition can save us; and it is the only thing that can save us.


Monday, 21 May 2018

What kind of fellowship quest is needed?

I am often stirred by the idea of a 'fellowship quest' - a small group who go on a journey to find, discover, destroy something; for the good of all. A band of brothers against overwhelming odds - the sort of thing seen in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, of Lewis's That Hideous Strength - and which links back to medieval examples such as Malory's King Arthur and Wu Cheng'en's Journey to the West.

When I consider what might be our modern equivalent, I am initially faced by a via negativa of what it would Not be - rather than any clear idea of what it should be; because it does seem clear to me that the old style heroic quest has been made impossible (or rather useless) by modern materialism, and the modern tendency to reduce spirituality to psychology.

So we can no longer seek an artefact or treasure, can no longer aim to find a scripture or code; and learning and maturing are known to be insufficient.

The world has better and worse; but lacks any solid exemplars with hope for the future - anything which might 'win' is merely a lesser of evils, en route to corruption.

The kind of journey we need to embark upon is one where we don't go to any particular place, and are not accompanied by any physical persons; we seek something that can be known only by an inner and direct intuition - and which will save only those who grasp it for themselves - the most that the heroes can do is point at it, or at least point in the direction where other people might fruitfully start looking...

The companions are as likely to be drawn from the imagination as from the address book; and are more likely to communicate in meditative convictions as by words or writings or gestures.

To the modern mind, it all sounds nebulous to the point of delusional wishful thinking; so that the first step is to understand how such a quest is even possible (or, perhaps, even before that; how it is comprehensible); and what kind of 'treasure' is needed by modern Man.

When the sought-after has been found - what then? There is nobody, no group, no society to which it can be brought-back; and no mode of address by which people could be informed of its existence...

The finder, the finding group, instead articulates and clarifies what they have found; and knows that there are obscure ways by which anything known can become known by others (somewhat analogous to Ruper Sheldrake's 'morphic resonance' by by some other 'mechanism'; to-do-with Beings and shared consciousness, not 'fields' or 'forms').

Because, it seems that when one person discovers and knows - knows some-true-thing consciously and explicitly; this is what makes knowledge universal in principle.

Therefore, when the quest fellowship attains their goal, they have already done their work - and that triumph can never be deleted from reality.

Also, because we are talking about Beings (not physics) the provenance, the source, of this knowledge is known - it is accessed from A Mind (or perhaps more exactly: a Soul) - so The Fellowship's work is known, and the fact that the work came-from The Fellowship is known also.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

God Save the Queen?

Many people say that Queen Elizabeth II has done the best she can in the face of a rapidly changing world to preserve something of the old standards. Her family is more of a problem but she has held fast to tradition and not capitulated to modernism; not, at least, any more than has been necessary. 

I'm not so sure. Certainly she herself appears to have stuck to her traditional guns in most respects and she has, no doubt, been constrained by the fact that she is not supposed to be political in any way. But, as far as I can see, she has never spoken out against anything, and she has watched in silence as Albion is bit by bit dismantled and her inheritance, for which she is responsible, basically trashed. Of course, she is powerless but she has never said anything. 

She is a sincere church-going Christian and, it appears, a genuine believer but, once again, she seems to have stood by as the Church of England becomes little more than a secular bureaucracy focused almost entirely on affairs of this world. Perhaps she has no real beliefs other than simply preserving the institution of the monarchy but, if she does, she might have expressed them and tried to stem the tide. I realise her position is almost impossible in a modern democracy and I am not actually condemning her at all since heroism, which is what the course I am regretting she has not taken would have required, is a high calling open only for the few. However, I do believe history will show that she presided over catastrophic national decline and was ineffective in doing anything to avert it. What do others think?

(Having just posted this I see it follows on in a certain way from Bruce Charlton's last post on the absence of real leadership in the modern world. This is just what the current queen has never really shown in a position that surely demands it, even in its present much reduced form.)

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Life without leadership

This is a new phenomenon - that we must live without leaders. And this is the situation because there are none worthy to lead.

As I have said before, most modern leaders are overpromoted middle managers; mediocrities who are permanently out of their depth, avoidant of judgement, and reliant on committees and protocols to tell them what to do. The others are psychopaths - some charismatic, others merely aggressive; parasites who aim to exploit by manipulation.

There aren't any other kinds of leaders - at least not in large powerful influential organisations - and this includes the Christian churches. There are some genuine leaders of individual church congregations (I know one) - but none at the national level.

This is a novelty - to be without leaders to follow; to be in the position where we have to work things out for ourselves or else passively to consume garbage and nonsense.

In a nutshell we must be active - in our thinking; and part of this is that we need to know that we know, and know what we know - explicitly in a way that was not always the case.

Being right and doing right but without knowing it is right, has become a rare and fragile situation; extremely vulnerable to external subversion and indeed inversion.

So on the one hand there are no leaders of authority, no leaders worthy of being followed; and on the other hand, to survive and thrive, to remain Good in the face of endemic evil... we need to be conscious and self aware in such a way that, well, we do not need leaders... or at least, not in the way that we used to.

In sum: anyone who needs leadership in the modern world is going to be corrupted; so we will have-to strive to be the kind of person that can hold to good, and can discover new kinds of good, without leaders.

We needn't be infallible and unerring, luckily; just so long as we are properly motivated towards Good, and recognise and repent our errors and lapses. Just so long as we learn from experience - we will zag-zag in the right direction.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

A comment by Moose Thompson on Bruce Charlton's previous post set me thinking. The gist of it was that, while we are certainly living through a time of great spiritual apostasy, there are many things about the modern world which are a great improvement on the past. The abolition of slavery and the reduction of physical cruelty were cited but these are just the tip of the iceberg. There is less injustice in the world now, in the West, at least, and, of course, we live in considerably more comfort, materially speaking. The advances of science have brought relief and greater freedom to huge swathes of the population. Enlightenment values have also resulted in political liberation, and so on and so forth. The list is long.

This is a serious point which cannot be ignored. There have undoubtedly been many improvements in the world over the last several centuries. You might even say that things have always been getting better. And not just materially. There have been moral advances in several areas too, and even those of us who are interested in spiritual things have much more access to a much wider variety of spiritual teachings than would ever have been possible before.

No one could possibly deny any of this. And yet I would still go along with Bruce and say that we do now live in very evil times. Indeed, the two things may well be linked. The obvious improvements blind us to the subtler evils. What has happened is that the improvements on a material or humanistic level have obscured the spiritual collapse. They may well even have been partially responsible for the spiritual collapse. When you focus on one level of being, let's call it the worldly for convenience, you will clearly improve the state at that level. But if, in so doing, you neglect higher and more fundamental levels, you will be considerably worse off in the exchange. This is what has happened. We have concentrated all our energies on outer things, things observable to the mind and senses, and abandoned what is not so discernible. So inevitably we have made many improvements on the material and merely human levels. But at what cost?

Never before have human beings not regarded the spiritual world as primary. Perhaps occasionally you could find times like that in history but you would have to look hard and even then the spiritual rejection would not be to such a degree as it is now. Present day public morality actually enforces an anti-spiritual attitude. Whether this be in the fields of science, art and education, of culture in general, in matters of marriage and sexuality or the relations between the sexes, almost everywhere prioritises this worldly concerns over spiritual realities. Everywhere sees man, as in man and woman, as a creature primarily of this world and not as a visitor to this world from a higher plane of being. Even much contemporary religion does this. Other times and places, however corrupt in many ways they might have been, would not have thought like that and this is the primary reason for seeing the present day as the most benighted time in human history. We have forgotten who we are. No, it's worse than that. We actively deny and reject who we are. And in doing that we totally ignore our reasons for being here.

Note: It's occurred to me that Jesus' saying "He who is not with me is against me" has a bearing on this present time. Previously in the Christian world we may have been great sinners but we were at least with Jesus, outwardly so anyway. Now we are not even that which means we are against him. There is no neutral option.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Where did we go wrong?

One of the ways to discover what we ought to do (knowledge of which lies within all of us, but needs bringing to awareness) is to take a look at what we did wrong.

The basis of my analysis (which I have often stated) is that the West in general, and England in particular, had a divinely appointed destiny relating to the development of human consciousness towards what I have termed Conscious Participation.

This amounts to taking the modern scientific and highly self-aware consciousness, and using it as the basis of a spiritual Christianity embodying many of the aspects of early childhood 'animism' and 'anthropomorphism' - recognising that we dwell in a living, conscious reality composed of Beings.

Anyway, the basic (but approximate) chronology is that the Romantic Movement arose in England at the end of the 1700s, and heralded what was supposed to be the emergence of this new form of consciousness in more and more people. But what instead happened is that the purer and well-founded Romanticism of Blake, Coleridge and Wordsworth was subverted and hijacked into aspects of 'progressive'/ leftist politics such as pacifism, abolition, egalitarianism, sexual revolution (sexual license, feminism etc), communism and so forth.

So what happened that Should Not have happened?

Materialism - modern public discourse rules-out any reference to the reality of the spiritual/ immaterial. It was initially denied, not it is simply excluded.

This-world - modern public discourse denies any validity to anything other than this earthly mortal life. Again, continued existence after death was at first denied, but is not simply excluded as a possibility.

Empire. The expansion of English, and Western, influence around the world was at best a distraction from the spiritual poverty of the homelands, but even worse has spread this-worldly materialism almost everywhere. The true spiritual destiny of England related to England - it was for us to do as-it-were 'in isolation'; but instead of getting-on with this unique task, we adopted grandiose global schemes. These continue and have been corrupted to active evil, with massive and destructive UK military interventions all over the place - all of which seem to share the outcome of destroying Christian communities.

Impersonal. By multiple strategies - wholesale and universal bureaucracy, the destruction of marriage and families, the use of abstract procedures such as voting, laws and protocols... individuals and relationships have been largely eliminated from the public realm (except in the form of corruption for personal gain).

The mass media. The harms greatly outweigh the benefits, and the media have centralised and made-evil the major instrument of mind occupation and control.

The life of consumption. Living to consume is a natural outcome of materialism - is not what we English were supposed to do with our new way of thinking and being.We have become just-about the shallowest, fashion-driven, selfish, superficial, and self-destructive nation in history. This is inevitable if life is officially nothing but the attempt to maximise pleasure and minimise suffering.

There are other possible examples; but I'm sure you get the general idea... And the general idea of what needs doing instead...

Where we are now and how we live; our priorities and our focus, are not-at-all what was hoped-for circa 1800 - we are a very long way off target, and indeed moving in the opposite direction. 

What England should have done was indeed not even attempted, so far as I am aware, except by a very few isolated and little-known individuals.

We didn't try and fail, we didn't shoot and miss - we gave-up before we had even begun.