One thing that annoys me about present-day work life is that apparently in a lot of jobs you have to sign on to some sort of registration app in order for your payment to be processed. Basically, whether or not you’re paid nowadays depends on whether you install an app and follow the instructions given to you by its proprietor. This kind of frustrates me because in previous employment I did not encounter such a process nor did my employer see fit to implement such a process, and because the fact of this process occurs to me as a step towards robotism – that is, the broad automation of human life and activity. For what reason that I have difficulty explaining, other than I guess a life-long antipathy towards robotism, I ended up overthinking that reality, and in the process of that a peculiar word came to my mind, a word known as “rewilding”.
The term “rewilding” is associated with conservation biology, and it usually refers to either the restoration of natural habitats that were previously subject to human alteration or management or the reintroduction of rare, criticially endangered or nominally extinct species into the wild. However, there are some contexts where I have seen the term “rewilding” in terms of human lifestyles. Now, I don’t mean in the anarcho-primitivist context where it means humans literally returning to the ways of primitive hunter-gatherer societies. Instead I mean the way you see the term “rewilding” used in lifestyle magazines to refer to things like “rewilding your home”, or “rewilding for your home”, which seems to just be a way of making your life feel more connected to nature in a very shallow way – things like planting more plants, birdwatching, walking a dog (which normal people do anyway), taking photos of the natural landscape, going barefoot, feeding ducks, learn Latin for the purpose of knowing scientific names of flora and fauna, always moving and never sitting down, and a litany of trifling activities that bear no weight on the “wildness” of the psyche and often don’t actually do much to establish your relationship with nature. When I think of the concept of re-connecting with the “wild self” as it were, I think about relearning or reconnecting with skills we developed in the wild, like hunting in the wilderness, making primitive tools by yourself, and discerning the knowledge of the wilderness by heart, and to be fair, some human rewilding resources talk about this – I’m kind of fascinated by the idea of wilderness retreats and survival camps being part of that, and if I’m not mistaken the mythopoetic men’s movement has also sometimes talked about that. However, I think there’s also a deeper philosophical current that should be meditated upon, and here again we can refer to Carl Jung.
In Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, Jung talks about an experience he had in Africa, meditating upon what he saw:
From a low hill in the Athi plains of East Africa I once watched the vast herds of wild animals grazing in soundless stillness, as they had done from time immemorial, touched only by the breath of a primeval world. I felt then as if I were the first man, the first creature, to know that all this is. The entire world round me was still in its primeval state; it did not know that it was. And then, in that one moment in which I came to know, the world sprang into being; without that moment it would never have been. All Nature seeks this goal and finds it fulfilled in man, but only in the most highly developed and most fully conscious man. Every advance, even the smallest, along this path of conscious realization adds that much to the world.
Here Jung speaks of the pure state of nature as a way for civilized humans to become one with the primeval moment of the birth mankind, to recall the state before and upon the arising of sentient consciousness, to rediscover the primeval world that did not realize that it was, that did not cognize its own being. Nature here tends towards what would appear to be a goal of rediscovering itself, thus humanity arises, as the only species on Earth yet capable of such profound self-realization, thus (and this is where I disagree with primitivism) civilization, the fruit of Man’s existential labour, is essential to this goal. Humans before civilization lived and conceived nature in principally savage terms, that is to say in terms of a life that is so fraught with mortal dangers and perils lurking around the corner that it must have been hard for our ur-ancestors to imagine the beauty that we have found in nature for centuries onwards. In order to conquer the savagery of the pure state of nature, and seize command of his own destiny, Man creates civilization, the greatest and most elaborate expression of his species-being. But in so doing he also ends up taking a flight from nature, perhaps necessarily so, but in this process Man becomes forgetful of his roots, of the nature of his being, and delusions arise that poison the soul and corrupt civilization. Man’s capacity for cognizance enables civilization to reflect back into itself and renew the insight of its past, thus the civilized man can step into the wilderness and do what pre-civilized man cannot; meditate upon the primordial state and achieve a sort of apocatastasis (restoration or reconstitution, in the context of a primordial or pristine state) for the psyche.
It is for this reason, among others, that Man must keep harmony with the natural world, and prevent the balance of the world’s ecosystems and the ecosystems themselves from being destroyed by his own hand. When Man invites desolation to the natural world, and were he to replace it totally with his own creation, than Man would lose the ability to have that experience that Jung talked about it, and the apocatastasis of which I speak would cease to be possible for at least the majority of humans. And the talk of “rewilding”, though on my part no doubt the result of overthinking, is essential to this in another sense, in that it reconstitutes the aspects of Man’s psyche that, in his heart of hearts, he knows he is not to escape from even while in civilization, and thus each flight from nature made by civilization causes him suffering. This connectivity of the psyche to nature grants Man roots into the earth that remind him of that which would be lost to the scourge of robotism – that which makes him fully human.
Sometimes you hear about how there’s apparenty agenda in our culture industry to promote and/or normalize pedophilia. This usually gets dismissed as a subject of crass conspiracism, typically due to a preponderance of ludicrous theories concerning child-molesting Satanists present in the halls of government throughout the Western world. But what if I were to tell you that, in fact, there is actually some truth to this idea, that there is in fact an effort to normalize pedophilia in some areas of culture? Well, we are apparently seeing an emergent example in the present day.
On August 19th, the French director Maïmouna Doucouré released a movie called Cuties (or “Mignonnes” in the original French), which has generated such controversy over what seems to be a promotion of pedophilia that people are calling for a boycott of Netflix, which is hosting the film on its platform as of September 9th (which is when the recent wave of controversy began). So what’s all this about? The film is about an 11-year old Senegalese girl living in Paris who joins a dance group with three other similarly aged girls, supposedly in order to escape the overbearingly conservative lives burdened on them by their families. That sounds innocent enough until you remember that by “dance group”, we mean a twerking group, which means that there is a certain deal of sexualization involved, which in turn means that the film involves the sexualization of children as part of its plot and visuals. And of course, the poster Netflix ran with and continues to use for the film actively flaunts this element, showing the girls (who, I again have to stress, are prepubsecent) wearing the kind of clothes worn by adult twerk dancers, which tend to be very revealing and suggestive. Following the outrage, Doucouré tried to pass off the film as having been inspired by her own apparent experiences growing up in a polygamous family, and other people quickly defended the movie. But as you’ll see, this excuse is typically bohemian in its pretentiousness.
Those who have seen the movie appear to have found scenes involving the girls twerking in front of adult security guards in order to secure passage, which they allow, the girls pulling each others’ clothing and smacking each others’ behinds while practicing, a girl photographing her vagina and sharing it on social media, an apparent 5 year old girl taking a turn at webcam porn, a girl trying to take a photography of a boy’s penis, and a girl trying to inflate a used condom with her mouth. I’ve even heard that the vagina scene relates to a plotline in the film involving incest, namely one of the characters tries to seduce a relative of hers after he discovers what she’s been doing, and when he naturally refuses her advances she steals his phone, locks herself in her room and uploads her vagina to social media in an attempt to smear him as a pedophile. In addition, some audience reviews take issue with the way that the cinematography of the film appears to emphasize the sexuality of the main characters, noting that the camerawork frequently resorts to gratuitous close-ups of the bodies of the characters as if voyeuristically surveying them. Now what I can’t quite tell is if all this is supposed to be poorly-executed comedy (after all, this film is billed as a comedy-drama film so it would make sense to wonder what the comedic element is) or actual quasi-pornographic material, not that it would make a difference since either way children are being sexualized in some way, but I’m going to leave you to guess what any of this has to do with polygamy in Islamic culture, because from where I can see it’s not particularly obvious. Could it have something to do with the fact that the main character comes from a Muslim background? If so, the subtext would appear be about defying the rigidity of Islamic culture, but then all that really says is that the film’s message is that you should leave behind Islamic culture only to become an object of grotesque sexual desire by pedophiles. And isn’t there something weird about how the main character is from a religious and ethnic minority being peer pressured into this by a white girl? I know it sounds woke but you could legitimately interpret the film that way without being off-base.
Speaking of reviews though, my god that’s another story. Rotten Tomatoes in particular gave us a lesson on the gulf between liberal film critics and film audiences. The audience review score for Cuties is presently 3%, suggesting a unanimously negative reception among audience members (that is unless you believe that it’s all a QAnon troll operation in which case I don’t quite know what to tell you, but we’ll get to that later). The critic review score, on the other hand, is presently 89%, suggesting a roundly positive reception among film critics, and the “critics’ consensus” of the movie describes it as “a thoughtful look at the intricacies of girlhood in the modern age” and “a coming-of-age film that confronts its themes with poignancy and nuance”. It really does make you think about the possibility that a lot of film critics might be sympathetic to pedophilia considering how they treat a film that features such overt sexualization of children. And if that’s not enough, many positive reviewers don’t appear to address the issues brought by negative reviewers substantively, or at least in a way that reassures us that there is nothing pedophilic about the movie. Of course that might be because such a stance is not possible to maintain, so instead many of them simply praise the film for having the tenacity to make people feel uncomfortable about the subject of how young girls “really” live (in France, maybe, where pedophilia was normalized for decades, but nowhere else as far as I’m concerned), and as a result challenging an era that is “terrified of child sexuality” (read: not ostensibly pedophilic). This consenseus appears to be so far-reaching that even supposedly conservative outlets like The Telegraph leap to the film’s defence.
Some critics appear to be so enamored (gross) with the film that they entirely dismiss any and all negative reception to the movie as being nothing more than far-right or anti-semitic propaganda (which is funny because there’s nothing about Jews in the movie), with one in particular even trying to say that everyone calling the film’s defenders pedophiles are merely pretending to do so. Essentially, these people believe that the only reason people are trying to boycott Netflix because it’s airing a movie that they perceive (perhaps accurately) to be pedophilic in nature is because of a conspiracy by QAnon or some such to undermine the movie. This is of course a standard line that liberal commentators trot out whenever any semblance of negative opinion, whether popular or not, is directed at films they seem to enjoy or publicly endorse, such as the case for the 2016 reboot of Ghostbusters, the new Star Wars trilogy, among other films. I wonder, why can’t these people perceive that masses of people might actually hate the movies they like, and what is motivating them to defend what seems to be a very blatantly pedophilic movie? But none of this quite compares to one reviewer in particular, a YouTuber named Max Karson (who goes by mrgirl on his channel), whose take on Cuties might just be the most disturbing I’ve found. In his video titled “Cuties: An Uncomfortably Honest Review“, he not only calls Cuties a solid film and recommends the movie several times, but he actively admits that the movie tries to make you sexually aroused by children and praises the movie for this aspect, saying “it’s not bad at it, I’ll say that”. When commenting on the sexually explicit nature of twerking dances performed by minors, he says that girls and boys of all ages do this, and that any complaints about it merely resemble “old fogeys from the 1950s-60s”, and he even goes the extra step and says that the girls within the movie are “pretty hot” and even goes so far as to proclaim that the whole point of the film is so you can sit down and say “look at the blonde one”. Yes, you heard right. This man praises Cuties because he personally is sexually aroused by children. It’s out there in the open. None of these positive critics can actually tell us what’s not pedophilic about the film, but at least one in particular openly cops to being a pedophile. Of course he pretends that the film’s content has a much deeper purpose in mind, that it’s supposed to “inform” you, namely that you are capable of having sexual desires for children, but take stock of that for a moment. Really? Is it really the case that the average person has sexual feelings for children, or is it more likely to be the case that this is a pedophile projecting his own mental illness on the rest of societty in order to not feel ashamed about the fact that he’s a nonce.
And finally let’s address one more aspect of this subject: how did Netflix respond to the backlash and people calling to boycott their platform? Did they try to defend Cuties on its apparent artistic merits, namely the argument that it’s not actually pedophilic and the backlash is a result of misunderstanding? Did they try to play the race card and accuse haters of being racist towards a black female director for a “bold” film? No, they simply insisted that detractors watch the film, the implication being none of the detractors actually watched the movie. Fat load of good that’ll do Netflix considering their stock has been plummetting since Netflix started streaming the movie, or considering that there’s now American lawmakers calling for Netflix to be investigated by the Department of Justice on possible child porn production and distribution charges. It’ll be interesting see where that goes. And evidently Netflix and their defenders are being dishonest considering that in order for people to be able to talk about the film’s content they will have to have seen it at some point, judging by some of the negative reviews. It also doesn’t quite account for the fact that we know a few things about the film’s production, namely the fact that the makers of Cuties spent six months auditioning a total of 650 young girls to twerk for them. Why exactly did this happen? Also take into account that the movie is apparently rated 18, which means the cast of the film itself probably couldn’t watch it, and the reason for its rating has to do with “sex and nudity”, and even according to IMDB the scenes in the movie are highly sexualized and thus could be considered pornographic and thus lawfully child pornography. But hey, I guess the editors at IMBD never saw the movie.
So what’s going to happen as a result of all this? I personally see a protracted legal debate surrounding the film, as there is no doubt that Netflix and Maïmouna Doucouré will defend their work from charges of child pornography, and the US government might well carry out an investigation to determine whether or not it actually constitutes child pornography. It seems that this will be a new flank of the culture war in the USA and beyond, where liberals will take the side of Netflix and Doucouré solely because conservatives are the offended party. I mean, just imagine if the film had a stronger association with LGBT themes. If that were the case, liberals would react to it the same way they reacted to Cruising back in 1980, calling for the film to be pulled from theatres on the grounds that it associates homosexuals with degenerate lifestyles. Given that Cuties is a French product, and that France has a history of widespread acceptance of pedophilia by its media and its intellectual noosphere, I do hope that people start having a conversation about that, and that it leads to them questioning many things.
So recently Priti Patel, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, talked about how she would be willing to change the law in order to label Extinction Rebellion a criminal organization. What this means is that the Conservative government, or at least more or less Patel herself, are going to look to just about any means within their power, to the extent that they will rewrite existing laws specifically for the purpose of locking up Extinction Rebellion protesters. This was motivated by a protest carried out by Extinction Rebellion last Friday in which they blocked access to three printing presses owned by News Corporation (yes, that News Corporation), resulting in delays to the publication of several newspapers, and in turn no doubt motivated by the reaction of several press outlets incensed by delays to production.
For some reason my mind thinks back to that time when Theresa May said she would “rip up” any human rights laws that stand in the way of passing new counter-terrorism legislation, which of course raised a lot of questions about just what kind of counter-terrorism legislation May was planning on passing. When Conservatives talk about how they want to push the envelope for what is legally permissible for the government to do, you get a sense that they want to redefine the limits of their power in order to justify what could be rather heinous. Our government’s counter-terrorism policy has already trampled over basic civil liberties as it is, and several anti-establishment organizations (on the left and the right) are already given watchful eye by the government under the auspices of the Prevent scheme, which can see ordinary people suspected of terrorism over trifling comments. So you can imagine why I might be skeptical of what the government might be planning, even if Extinction Rebellion’s antics are profoundly unlikeable.
What really gets me, though, is how all this on both sides seems to center around the whole Murdoch media trope. I mean, think about it. Gauge the reaction of much of the press, whether Murdoch-owned or otherwise, their condemnation of Extinction Rebellion as a threat to their industry (that’s what the talking point about them attacking freedom of speech ultimately comes from, although perhaps it’s not totally untrue that they dislike freedom of the press), and then consider the strong attacks by the government, by the Prime Minister and by Priti Patel, characterizing these protests as a threat to democracy. And on the other side of it, if you dig around searching for any sort of motivation for those protests, you find that all of the protesters are motivated by a shared despial of Rupert Murdoch, as though he were the Father of Lies himself, blaming him for primarily for a perceived burial of climate change news stories. So those presses got blocked mostly to stick it to Murdoch, and the government seems to be pondering drastic action seemingly to protect Murdoch. Can’t help but think about what must seem like quite a coincidence.
In any case, it is good to be wary of what the government is up to these days. I don’t expect it’ll be anything good. And keep in mind that the Labour Party is joining with the Conservatives on this. It might seem like the honest bipartisanship, until you remember that, here in the UK (not unlike in the USA), bipartisanship just means the two main parties are agreeing on further oppressing the average man. The Labour Party has never been reluctant to have authoritarian legislation pass through, and if anything that’s one of the few things they really agree with the Tories on. Just look at the Conservative attempts to ban pornography for example. To my knowledge at least, not a single Labour politician opposed it. And look at the Investigatory Powers Act, which granted the government the power to request telecommunication companies to hand your internet history over to them and allowed security services to hack into any device they pleased. I have not heard the Labour Party utter one word of opposition to this, not even Jeremy Corbyn and his cadres had anything to say. And if I recall correctly, it was the Labour Party under Blair that actually had a law in the books that, technically, criminalized blasphemy. I for one am not surprised that Labour are, once again, joining the Tories in finding ways to expand state power.
Over one year has passed since Thomas Karlsson’s announcement of the formation of the Global United Nightside Movement. One year, and yet still nothing. Indeed, I have hardly even seen mention of it on any kind of social media, or even on the Luciferian Research Society website where one might assume continued discussion of it might take place. What few posts I do see about it are just rehashes of the original post written by Karlsson, and if there’s any difference nowadays it’s just that there’s five people who aren’t starting anything instead of four (some guy named Andreas Axikerzus Sahjaza joined them). There’s still no website for the movement, no forum (well, I suppose you could argue that the Luciferian Research Society theoretically already exists for that, but then no one there is talking about it so it’s kind of a flat argument), no events, no manifesto, nothing. And it’s been a year. All of this should have been well-established by now.
You know what I find funny? Some of the newer posts say “30 years of Preparation for 30 Years of Action.”. Well, where’s the action? All I know is that Michael W Ford is still writing books, and maybe Stephen Flowers has too but I haven’t been following him lately. It’s been a year, so you’d think at least we’d see one year of action, but there’s none. Just people posting the exact same thing on Facebook like some kind of copypasta, and I have no idea if anyone’s even talking about it. Nothing is happening, and to tell the truth I’d forgive you if you told me you forgot all about this whole thing. We don’t have any working updates from anyone about the project. None of the apparent leaders of the movement have given any indications that there has been any progress for the project.
Considering the fact that nothing’s been established and it’s already a year, I begin to think that this Global United Nightside Movement project is destined not to be, either that or this entire time it was just a symbolic thing that wasn’t meant to correspond to anything tangible and active in the shape of any kind of movement. It seems increasingly likely to me that Ford, Karlsson, Flowers, Webb and Sahjaza are engaging in a kind of fraud, deceiving their followers into believing that their time will come to amass around a great new movement for the Left Hand Path while they still have yet to make the most basic steps towards its foundation. This Global United Nightside Movement is never going to take shape. Those who have yet to realize this are going to have to get used to it.
You have often seen a quote from Carl Jung going around, a quote that goes like this: “In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order”. Its ostensible meaning is relatively easy to apprehend, seemingly communicating the idea of chaos as the font of true, spontaneous, natural order, or the idea that what appear to be opposites actually contain and compliment each other, and while these are all ideas contained within Jung’s thinking, the full context of that quote is not quite shown. It is this context that I would like to show here today. The quote originally appears in The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious (or Collected Works Volume 9), and in its original context it pertained to a discussion of the concept of the Anima, which is usually interpreted as the unconscious feminine element in men, but which here is extrapolated as the archetype of life itself. To understand what I mean by that, let us explore pages 25-32 of The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious (or at least the version of it that I own).
Let us begin with Jung’s introduction of the Anima concept, and let us first establish the way he initially relates this to wild female spirits such as nymphs, nixies, sirens and even succubi (as well as witches):
The nixie is an even more instinctive version of a magical feminine being whom I call the anima. She can also be a siren, melusina (mermaid), wood-nymph, Grace, or Erlking’s daughter, or a lamia or a succubus, who infatuates young men and sucks the life out of them. Moralizing critics will say that these figures are projections of soulful emotional states and are nothing but worthless fantasies. One must admit that there is a certain amount of truth in this. But is it the whole truth? Is the nixie really nothing but a product of moral laxity? Were there not such beings long ago, in an age when dawning human consciousness was still wholly bound to nature? Surely there were spirits of forest, field, and stream long before the question of moral conscience ever existed. What is more, these beings were as much dreaded as adored, so that their rather peculiar erotic charms were only one of their characteristics. Man’s consciousness was then far simpler, and his possession of it absurdly small. An unlimited amount of what we now feel to be an integral part of our psychic being disports itself merrily for the primitive in projections ranging far and wide.
The word “projection” is not really appropriate, for nothing has been cast out of the psyche; rather, the psyche has attained its present complexity by a series of acts of introjection. Its complexity has increased in proportion to the despiritualization of nature. An alluring nixie from the dim bygone is today called an “erotic fantasy”, and she may complicate our psychic life in a most painful way. She comes upon us just as a nixie might; she sits on top of us like a succubus; she changes into all sorts of shapes like a witch, and in general displays an unbearable independence that does not seem at all proper in a psychic content. Occasionally she causes states of fascination that rival the best bewitchment, or unleashes terrors in us not to be oudone by any manifestation of the devil. She is a mischievous being who crosses our path in numerous transformations and disguises, playing all kinds of tricks on us, causing happy and unhappy delusions, depressions and ecstasies, outbursts of affect, etc. Even in a state of reasonable introjection the nixie has not laid aside her roguery. The witch has not ceased to mix her vile potions of love and death; her magic poison has been refined into intrigue and self-deception, unseen though none the less dangerous for that.
So why is this the archetype that we call the Anima, and how does it become so meaningful as to be the archetype of life itself? Continuing on:
But how do we dare to call this elfin being the “anima”? Anima means soul and should designate something very wonderful and immortal. Yet this was not always so. We should not forget that this kind of soul is a dogmatic conception whose purpose it is to pin down and capture something uncannily alive and active. The German word Seele is closely related, via the Gothic form saiwalō, to the Greek αίολος [aiolos], which means ‘quick-moving’, ‘changeful of hue’, ‘twinkling’, something like a butterfly – ψυχή [psyche] in Greek – which reels drunkenly from flower to flower and lives on honey and love. In Gnostic typology the ἄνθρωπος ψυχικός [anthropos psychikos], ‘psychic man’, is inferior to the πνευματικός [pneumatikos], ‘spiritual man’, and finally there are wicked souls who must roast in hell for all eternity. Even the quite innocent soul of the unbaptized newborn babe is deprived of the contemplation of God. Among primitives, the soul is the magic breath of life (hence the term “anima”), or a flame. An uncanonical saying of our Lord’s aptly declares: “Whoso is near unto me is near to the fire”. For Heraclitus the soul is at the highest level when it is fiery and dry, because ψυχή [psyche] as such is closely akin to “cool breath” – ψύχειν [psychein] means ‘to breathe’, ‘to blow’; ψυχρός [psychros] and ψυχός [psychos] mean ‘cold’, ‘chill’, ‘damp’.
Being that has soul is living being. Soul is the living thing in man, that which lives of itself and causes life. Therefore God breathed into Adam a living breath, that he might live. With her cunning play of illusions the soul lures into life the inertness of matter that does not want to live. She makes us believe incredible things, that life may be lived. She is full of snares and traps, in order that man should fall, should reach the earth, entangle himself there, and stay caught, so that life should be lived; as Eve in the garden of Eden could not rest content until she had convinced Adam of the goodness of the forbidden apple. Were it not for the leaping and twinkling of the soul, man would rot away in his greatest passion, idleness. A certain kind of reasonableness is its advocate, and a certain kind of morality adds its blessing. But to have soul is the whole venture of life, for soul is a life-giving daemon who plays his elfin game above and below human existence, for which reason – in the realm of dogma – he is threatened and propiated with superhuman punishments and blessings that go far beyond the possible deserts of human beings. Heaven and hell are the fates meted out to the soul and not to civilized man, who in his nakedness and timidity would have no idea of what to do with himself in a heavenly Jerusalem.
At this point we should interject for a moment to comment on the significance of the reference to Eden. Much like in the analysis of Erich Fromm, we find that Man’s departure from the Garden of Eden was necessary for the development of the human psyche, for the development of life writ large. The elfin spirit of the Anima doesn’t prosper well in the walled paradise that God constructed, and nor does Man, and this elfin soul compels Adam to eat of the fruit of knowledge, and serves as the inspirational daemon of his life. This invocation of the daemon as an inspiring entity also occurs elsewhere in Jung’s works. In Volume 17 of his Collected Works, we find that the daemon is used to refer to an inner law whose mandates an individual must obey if he is to become whole, whose inspiration is nothing less than the voice of the inner man (indeed, as I’d preferably like to explore further in a different post, he even identified this inner voice with Lucifer “in the strictest and most unequivocal sense of the word”). In his forward to Lucifer and Prometheus by R.J. Zwi Werblowsky he even notes that John Milton’s conception of Satan was the principium individuationis, or the principle of individuation. Anyways:
The anima is not the soul in the dogmatic sense, not an anima rationalis, which is a philosophical conception, but a natural archetype that satisfactorily sums up all the statements of the unconscious, of the primitive mind, of the history of language and religion. It is a “factor” in the proper sense of the word. Man cannot make it; on the contrary, it is always the a priori element of his moods, reactions, impulses, and whatever else is spontaneous in psychic life. It is something that lives of itself, that makes us live; it is a life behind consciousness that cannot be completely integrated with it, but from which, on the contrary, consciousness arises. For, in the last analysis, psychic lfie is for the greater part of an unconscious life that surrounds consciousness on all sides – a notion that is sufficiently obvious when one considers how much unconscious preparation is needed, for instance, to register a sense-impression.
Although it seems that the whole of our unconscious psychic life could be ascribed to the anima, she is yet only one archetype among many. Therefore, she is not characteristic of the unconcious in its entirety. She is only one of its aspects. This is shown by the very fact of her femininity. What is not-I, not masculine, is most probably feminine, and because the not-I is felt as not belonging to me and therefore as outside me, the anima-image is usually projected upon women. Either sex is inhabited by the opposite sex up to a point, for, biologically speaking, it is simply the greater number of masculine genes that tips the scales in favour of masculinity. The smaller number of feminine genes seems to form a feminine character, which usually remains unconscious because of its subordinate position.
With the archetype of the anima we enter the realm of the gods, or rather, the realm that metaphysics has reserved for itself. Everything the anima touches becomes numinous – unconditional, dangerous, taboo, magical. She is the serpent in the paradise of the harmless man with good resolutions and still better intentions. She affords the most convincing reasons for not prying into the unconscious, an occuption that would break down our moral inhibitions and unleash forces that had better been left unconscious and undisturbed. As usual, there is something in what the anima says; for life in itself is not good only, it is also bad. Because the anima wants life, she wants both good and bad. These categories do not exist in the elfin realm. Bodily life as well as psychic life have the impudence to get along much better without conventional morality, and they often remain the healthier for it.
Before we continue let us take the opportunity to establish something important. Take note of when Jung says the predominance of the unconscious is “sufficiently obvious when one considers how much unconscious preparation is needed, for instance, to register a sense-impression.” This is even true as regards choice, even as regards will. We know that in the human brain a choice is made before you realize that you are making it, as pre-existing brain activity generates a decisions ten seconds before that decision you are aware of your choice. In other words, before there is a conscious decision, there is an unconscious one. That means your choices, your will, your sensory activity are all predicated on unconscious preparation. Indeed, there is even a world of internal thought that a great deal of established philosophy doesn’t really recognize, because it is generally an established dogma that, in principle, any internal thought must be accessible to consciousness at all times, but despite all that dogma such is not the case. Thus the unconscious is a reservoir of that which is hidden from consciousness, which is potentially not only a whole realm of desires, but also memories, thoughts, decisions and other mental items. This will have rammifications for the discourse on chaos and order (which, if you think about it, probably does some thematic relationship towards the role of consciousness, or at least in the cosmological sphere) when we get to it later on. For now, though:
The anima believes in the καλόν κἄγαθόν [kalon kagathon], the ‘beautiful and the good’, a primitive conception that antedates the discovery of the conflict between aesthetics and morals. It took more than a thousand years of Christian differentation to make it clear that the good is not always the beautiful and the beautiful not necessarily good. The paradox of this marriage of ideas troubled the ancients as little as it does the primitives. The anima is conservative and clings in the most exasperating fashion to the ways of earlier humanity. She likes to appear in historic dress, with a predilection for Greece and Egypt. In this connection we would mention the classic anima stories of Rider Haggart and Pierre Benoit. The Renaissance dream known as the Ipnerotomachia of Poliphilo, and Goethe’s Faust, likewise reach deep into antiquity in order to find “le vrai mot” for the situation. Poliphilo conjured up Queen Venus; Goethe, Helen of Troy. Aniela Jaffé has sketched a lively picture of the anima in the age of Biedermeier and the Romantics. If you want to know what happens when the anima appears in modern society, I can warmly recommend John Erskine’s Private Life of Helen of Troy. She is not a shallow creation, for the breath of eternity lies over everything that is really alive. The anima lives beyond all categories, and can therefore dispense with blame as well as with praise. Since the beginning of time man, with his wholesome animal instinct, has engaged in combat with his soul and its daemonism. If the soul were uniformly dark it would be a simple matter. Unfortunately this is not so, for the anima can appear also as an angel of light, a psychopomp who points the way to the highest meaning, as we know from Faust.
If the encounter with the shadow is the “apprentice-piece” in the individual’s development, then that with the anima is the “master-piece.” The relation with the anima is again a test of courage, an ordeal by fire for the spiritual and moral forces of man. We should never forget that in dealing with the anima we are dealing with psychic facts which have never been in man’s possession before, since they were always found “outside” his psychic territory, so to speak, in the form of projections. For the son, the anima is hidden within the dominating power of the mother, and sometimes she leaves him with a sentimental attachment that lasts throughout life and seriously impairs the fate of the adult. On the other hand, she may spur him to the highest flights. To the men of antiquity the anima appeared as a goddess or a witch, while for medieval man the goddess was replaced by the Queen of Heaven and Mother Church. The desymbolized world of the Protestant produced first an unhealthy sentimentality and then a sharpening of the moral conflict, which, because it was so unbearable, led logically to Nietzsche’s “beyond good and evil”. In centers of civilization this state shows itself in the increasing insecurity of marriage. The American divorce rate has been reached, if not exceeded, in many European countries, which proves that the anima projects herself by preference on the opposite sex, thus giving rise to magically complicated relationships. This fact, largely because of its pathological consequences, has led to the growth of modern psychology, which in its Freudian form cherishes the belief that the essential cause of all disturbances is sexuality – a view that only exaserbates the already existing conflict. There is a confusion here between cause and effect. The sexual disturbance is by no means the cause of neurotic difficulties, but is, like these, one of the pathological effects of a maladaptation of consciousness, as when consciousness is faced with situations and tasks to which it is not equal. Such a person simply does not understand how the world has altered, and what his attitude would have to be in order to adapt to it.
In dealing with the shadow or anima it is not sufficient just to know about these concepts and reflect on them. Nor can we ever experience their content by feeling our way into them or by appropriating other people’s feelings. It is no use at all to learn a list of archetypes by heart. Archetypes are complexes of experience that come upon us like fate, and their effects are felt in our most personal life. The anima no longer crosses our path as a goddess, but, it may be, as an intimately personal misadventure, or perhaps as our best venture. When, for instance, a highly esteemed professor in his seventies abandons his family and runs off with a young red-haired actress, we know that the gods have claimed another victim. This is how daemonic power reveals itself to us. Until not so long ago it would have been an easy matter to do away with the young woman as a witch.
In my experience there are very many people of intelligence and education who have no trouble in grasping the idea of the anima and her relative autonomy, and can also understand the phenomenology of the animus in women. Psychologists have more difficulties to overcome in this respect, probably because they are under no compulsion to grapple with the complex facts peculiar to the psychology of the unconscious. If they are doctors as well, their somato-psychological thinking gets in the way, with its assumption that psychological processes can be expressed in intellectual, biological, or physiological terms. Psychology, however, is neither biology nor physiology nor any other science than just this knowledge of the psyche.
And now, after all of that explication of the Anima, we at last approach the main point of our exploration. The very context of that famous quote about order and chaos shall now become clear to you.
The picture I have drawn of the anima so far is not complete. Although she may be the chaotic urge to life, something strangely meaningful clings to her, a secret knowledge or hidden wisdom, which contrasts most curiously with her irrational elfin nature. Here I would refer again to the authros already cited. Rider Haggard calls She “Wisdom’s Daughter”; Benoit’s Queen of Atlantis has an excellent library that contains a lost book of Plato. Helen of Troy, in her reincarnation, is rescued from a Tyrian brothel by the wise Simon Magus and accompanies him on his travels. I purposely refrained from mentioning this thoroughly characteristic aspect of the anima earlier, because the first encounter with her usually leads one to infer anything rather than wisdom. This aspect appears only to the person who gets to grips with her seriously. Only then, when this hard task has been faced, does he come to realize more and more that behind all her cruel sporting with human fate there lies something like a hidden purpose which seems to reflect a superior knowledge of life’s laws. It is just the most unexpected, the most terrifyingly chaotic things which reveal a deeper meaning. And the more this meaning is recognized, the more the anima loses her impetuous and compulsive character. Gradually breakwaters are built against the surging of chaos, and the meaningful divides itself from the meaningless. When sense and nonsense are no longer identical, the force of chaos is weakened by their substraction; sense is then endued with the force of meaning, and nonsense with the force of meaninglessness. In this way a new cosmos arises. This is not a new discovery in the realm of medical psychology, but the age-old truth that out of the richness of a man’s experience there comes a teaching which the father can pass on to the son.
In elfin nature wisdom and folly appear as one and the same; and they are one and the same as long as they are acted out by the anima. Life is crazy and meaningful at once. And when we do not laugh over the one aspect and speculate about the other, life is exceedingly drab, and everything is reduced to the littlest scale. There is then little sense and little nonsense either. When you come to think about it, nothing has any meaning, for when there was nobody to think, there was nobody to interpret what happened. Interpretations are only for those who don’t understand; it is only the things that we don’t understand that have any meaning. Man woke up in a world he did not understand, and that is why he tries to interpret it.
Thus the anima and life itself are meaningless in so far as they offer no interpretation. Yet they have a nature that can be interpreted, for in all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order, in all caprice a fixed law, for everything that works is grounded in its opposite. It takes man’s discriminating understanding, which breaks everything down into antinomial judgements, to recognize this. Once he comes to grips with the anima, her chaotic capriciousness will give him cause to suspect a secret order, to sense a plan, a meaning, a purpose over and above her nature, or even – we might even be tempted to say – to “postulate” such a thing, though this would not be in accord with the truth. For in actual reality we do not have at our command any power of cool reflection, nor does any science or philosophy help us, and the traditional teachings of religion do so only to a limited degree. We are caught and entangled in aimless experience, and the judging intellect with its categories proves itself powerless. Human interpretation fails, for a turbulent life-situation has arisen that refuses to fit any of the traditional meanings assigned to it. It is a moment of collapse. We sink into a final depth – Apuleius calls it “a kind of voluntary death.” It is a surrender of our own powers, not artificially willed but forced upon us by nature; not a voluntary submission and humiliation decked in moral garb but an utter and unmistakable defeat crowned with the panic fear of demoralization. Only when all props and crutches are broken, and no cover from the rear offers even the slightest hope of security, does it become possible for us to experience an archetype that up till then had lain hidden behind the meaningful nonsense played out by the anima. This is the archetype of meaning, just as the anima is the archetype of life.
In this light, the Anima serves as something of a metaphoric channel for a wider epistemic point. Chaos belies or rather contains a certain sense of order or law that is not immediately obvious to human perception, but nonetheless permeates the whole of existence and being and is its foundation. Indeed, Chaos itself is this very order. The meaning and order of Chaos is thus something that can be become known to Man through thorough engagement with Chaos as a subject, with the existential state of reality, and, most crucially, on its own terms despite such understanding moving through our own powers of discrimination. For many, this can seem difficult, but it is only through the proper understanding of the Chaos that underlies our reality that, ironically, Chaos becomes Order in the mind of Man. The Anima seems related not only to nymphs, nixies, succubi and other wily feminine spirits, but also to Helen of Troy, the daughter of wisdom, beautiful goddesses and even the Queen of Heaven (and further even the church itself). Why? Because all of that beauty and meaning, archetypally bundled up in classical femininity, is something that appears only after the apprehension of the wild and elfin nature, and what this means, broadly speaking, is that only by engaging that elfin nature, that Chaos, do we find the true meaning, the true beauty, the true order. And true to the wild nature of the Anima archetype, this can even mean the breakdown of an order that the individual was once used to, whether through external conditioning or through one’s own construction, as it gives way to the Chaos that lay underneath.
There is also a noticeable existentialist, or perhaps absurdist, subtext to be found here, one that I suspect is not usually picked up by those who follow Jung’s work, and one that I don’t assume Jung consciously took up for himself. This subtext comes from Jung’s discourse on meaning in relation to the anima. At first Jung appears to say that nothing has meaning, but then he adds that it is only those things we don’t understand that have meaning, and since we were born into a world that we do not understand, that world is rich with meaning not because of its inherent meaning, but the fact that we do not understand it, and try to interpret it, and that we have done so for all of human history without much concrete answers from the universe. Such a stance is not difficult to confuse with nihilism for many people, and yet it is precisely opposed to nihilism in the sense that it rejects meaningless in favour of meaning, but this meaning, in relation to the archetype of life, is derived not from commands from heaven but through apprehension, not to mention the fact that Jung’s worldview would, in a more general and abstract sense, necessarily entail deriving societal meaning from a historic unconscious source (namely the collective unconsciousness).
As a final note, let’s note what Jung says in page 24:
Whoever looks into the water sees his own image, but behind it living creatures soon loom up; fishes, presumably harmless dwellers of the deep – harmless, if only the lake were not haunted. They are water-beings of a peculiar sort. Sometimes a nixie gets into the fisherman’s net, a female, half-human fish.
We immediately get an archetypal association between water and what would come to be established as the Anima. Why is that important in light of everything else? For the answer to this, let’s turn to the 11th of his series of lectures at ETH Zurich, in which he talks about the unconcious in relation to the prima materia, the primeval substance and the starting material for the Great Work (and also, incidentally, has about three synonyms that tie back to Lucifer and one of which quite literally is Lucifer). In this lecture, Jung establishes that the prima materia is in fact a projection of the unconscious. We also get a noticeable connection to the theme of water.
For instance, let us imagine the prima materia is water, water is a mysteriously determined power which can also evaporate as steam.
By this analogy we have come nearer to understanding the prima materia: it is similar to water, subject to mysterious laws which impress us in a marvellous way.
Think, for instance, of the definition of the Tao in Lao-Tse’s “Tao-te Ching”, where he says that the Tao is like the nature of water, it always seeks the deepest place.
The secret power of water lies in its infallible faculty of knowing the deepest place and finding it.
It was this which impressed our forefathers so deeply; and when they speak of “water ” it is the essence of the unconscious that they describe.
This essence is a peculiar wisdom of nature, a knowledge which man does not possess, an instinctive knowledge, a conformity to obscure laws, totally inexplicable to naive man.
The mysterious operative in nature, which determines us, is therefore said to be of the nature of water.
But it is not tangible like water itself; we read in the Rosarium, for instance, that it is “aqua sicca” (dry water) , it does not moisten the hands.
It is evident that this water is not the ordinary water which flows in our springs and fountains, it is rather “a qua spiritualis” (a spiritual water).
Water here is a metaphor for the primeval and mysterious operative force in nature, for the prima materia and for the unconcious, and given that we find that Jung ascribes similar themes to the Anima, we can see the Anima as a signpost for this wider framework about Chaos. In fact, we can go right back to what I alluded to about order and chaos and their relation to consciousness and unconsciousness. When Jung comments in the lecture about how the opening of the Book of Genesis, we see him say this:
It is from nature that the image of the chaos was taken, the primeval condition of the creation: “And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was up on the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God moved up on the face of the waters.” (Gen. I:2.)
This text is the starting point of the whole idea, the prima materia is in the condition of the beginning of things, the condition before there was any consciousness.
This is simply the unconscious, for our consciousness originated in the unconscious.
Order is tied to consciousness and Chaos to unconsciousness, because it is only from the unconscious that consciousness derives its source, only from Chaos may Order arise, and thus Chaos is the source of all that has meaning and structure. Chaos, or the unconscious, is the water from which all things sprout, the soil from which all grows in potentia. The unconscious is also as Jung elaborates the dark soil of Hades, the underworld, into which life sinks upon death and springs forth into new life, thus the cycle of death and rebirth sets into motion. From my standpoint, the Anima is a signpost for the unconsciousness, which is itself the mental reflection of Chaos in human life, which underpins all of human activity. It is the shadow that envelops us, the hidden core of our species-being, and the Anima signals us to it.
Lilith as a figure almost needs no introduction, as she is a very famous (or should that be infamous?) mythological character whose currency stretches through from Christian culture, to occultism, to neopaganism and to Satanism and the like, and throughout the landscape of fantasy, horror and/or gothic literature. It is perhaps because of her popularity that she has become a ubiquitous archetype relating to some of the darker aspects of femininity. But, in this sense, it is perhaps also because of this that a lot of bullshit has been written about Lilith, and in general a lot of the presentation of Lilith is in many ways divorced from her historical background, and many times in neopagan circles she’s treated as though she was just a goddess of kinky sex with a rebellious attitude, when the actual mythology surrounding her often paints a much more sinister picture. And unlike what you might believe if you saw the intro to Night Angel, she most certainly is not to be identified with Kali, Pele or the various other goddesses who are typically considered “dark” from the perspective of pop mythology – for one thing, Lilith was never even a goddess. In general, as you encounter the mythical figure of Lilith, you will find much that is written about her or ascribed to her that is either ahistorical or just blatantly wrong. I have dealt with this sort of theme many times in my day, but only now do I take the time to write about it.
As you will understand going forward, one fact that affects our assessment of Lilith is that there are esssentially two Liliths present in our mythological canon, each with their distinct character. The first Lilith is the Lilitu found in ancient Mesopotamian mythology, which refers to a type of nocturnal wind demon that seduces men and is also believed to adbuct and kill babies – this I might call the “Pagan”, pre-Judaic or Pre-Pseudopigraphical Lilith. The second Lilith is the Lilith of the Alphabet of Ben Sira, which refers to the original first woman, created by God to be Adam’s wife, but who disobeyed Adam and proclaimed the forbidden name of God, resulting in her banishment from Eden and being cursed to lose one hundred of of her children every day – this I would refer to as the Judaic, Pseudopigraphical, or Christian Lilith. However, both Liliths tend to be very much related to each other in that the latter Lilith inexorably shares characteristics with the former Lilith, with the old myth of Lilith the Night Spirit extrapolated into Lilith the Vengeful Wife.
The “Pagan Lilith”
Many explanations have been brought forward over the years for the origin of the famous Lilith, some of them more or less accepted by scholarship than others, but the most likely explanation seems to be that the name Lilith has its roots in a type of demon known as Lil, also known as Lilu or Lilitu. Lilitu was usually the name of a specific type of demon, not usually a singular demon. One of the earliest references to a demon named Lilitu may have been Mesopotamian inscriptions that refer to Lilitu as a class of disease-bearing spirits or demons associated with the wind, rather than one specific demon. The Hebraic name Lilith ultimately seems to have its roots in the Sumerian name lilu, which means “air” or “spirit”. The name Lilith or Lilitu does not actually mean “screech owl” or “night owl” (that would be Lamia instead), but the association stuck in popular etymology due to an ancient superstition which held that that owls were associated with demonic powers. The Lilu and Lilitu classes of demons both have slightly different attributes connected to wind; the Lilu are associated with the southwest winds, Lilitu were believed to fly out like the wind or like birds. These demons also seem to be chiefly female, and most crucially they are referred to in Mesopotamian texts as being without husbands and thus seek out men to ensare for the purpose of sexual encounters, and it is said that men do not lie down with the Lilu/Lilitu in the same way that they lie down with their human wives. In Dictionary of Demons and Deities in the Bible, a comparison is made between these demons and the goddess Ishtar in that sexual encounters with Ishtar tend to end in death for the men who get involved, suggesting that sex with the Lilu/Lilitu tends to be dangerous for humans. Thus the Lilu/Lilitu demons can be established as dangerous or malevolent succubi as well as demons of wind and storms, and it is perhaps from this where the Jewish and Christian conceptions of Lilith find some of their roots. Later folkloric developments begin to establish the Lilu/Lilitu demons as child-stealers, as suggested by incantations found on Phoenician amulets, such as one found in the Arslan Tash site (though the authenticity is apparently disputed). In such an amulet, the Lilitu is depicted as a sphinx-like demon (referring to as “Flying One” and “Lilith”) and these amulets seem to be intended as apotropaic magical defences for women in childbirth. This establishes the role of the Lilitu demons as snatchers of children who are to be warded off by magical means in order to protect women and children from them.
A demon referred to as ki-sikil-lil-la-ke is sometimes identified with Lilith because Samuel Noah Kramer translated the name as Lilith in the 1930s. According to the Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Netherworld tablet of the Epic of Gilgamesh, the ki-sikil-lil-la-ke demon resided inside the trunk of a tree that had grown in the garden of Inanna at Uruk (whose wood she plans to use to construct a new throne), alongside a serpent that rested at the base of the tree and the Zu bird (or Anzu) that raises its hatchlings at the top of the tree (not unlike the Norse myths in which Nidhoggr resides at the base of the Yggdrasil tree and the eagle that resides at its top). The snake is killed by Gilgamesh while the Zu bird flies away, but the ki-sikil-lil-la-ke destroys the house that it built in the tree trunk and ran off into the forest to avoid capture. The ki-sikil-lil-la-ke demon could be related to storms and wind due to the the presence of “lil” in its name, thus perhaps connecting it with the Lilu or Lilitu. However, beyond this etymological association, there is little in common between this demon and the Lilu/Lilitu demons, and it could be that this is just a different type of wind demon, not sharing the predatory sexual aspects of the Lilu/Lilitu demons.
The famous Burney Relief
In popular imagination, and more specifically Left Hand Path and neopagan circles, the Burney Relief has been one of the main ways of representing Lilith, and there are those who maintain that the winged lady depicted in the Burney Relief was meant to represent Lilith. In actual historical scholarship, however, there isn’t really a consensus for just who the figure in the Burney Relief actually is, though I believe it’s safe to say Lilith is not that figure. If we look at ancient civilizations and their religions, and from there you look at the way that the gods and the demons were treated, you’ll find that demons were generally not given the kind of respect or reverence that would lead to large statues being erected in their honour, let alone what must have been a prominent image that would have been displayed to many people, wherever that originally might have been (scholars don’t quite know where it was originally stationed). Demons did get depictions in Mesopotamia, such as Pazuzu or Lamashtu, but very few (namely Pazuzu, Lamahstu and perhaps Humbaba) get depictions in plaques, amulets or statues, and in fact we only really know about Pazuzu statues from this time period. There’s no evidence that the Lilu/Lilitu were given the same treatment, there’s very little evidence of their depictions outside a handful of amulets, and their main description is textual rather than visual. One thing to keep in mind is that while the Lilu/Lilitu were seen as malevolent, Pazuzu was believed to be a protective figure despite his demonic nature, because he was believed to drive out all the other demons and evil spirits and thus was invoked in apotropaic rituals to protect humans from misfortune and diseases. There it makes sense that the Pazuzus would get small statues and plaques while the Lilu/Lilitu would get a handful of amulets, if anything. The ancient Mesopotamians simply didn’t believe that demons like the Lilu/Lilitu deserved that kind of reverence, and who could blame them considering they believed that they were just child-snatching wind succubi. Such a thing would hardly be worthy of honor in any culture. If there is a goddess that had the Lilu/Lilitu’s qualities in the ancient world, some people consider Lamashtu a goddess, though she is usually treated as a demon, but even as a (sort of) goddess Lamashtu was considered very malevolent and, like the Lilu/Lilitu, abducted and feasted on children, and Pazuzu (ironically another demon) was frequently invoked to protect women from her. Lamashtu was certainly not an object of worship for ancient Mesopotamian people, so on that basis there’s no reason to assume why the Lilu/Lilitu would be either.
Generally, in the ancient world, large statues were reserved for the gods, not demons, and usually major gods at that. Take the Greek pantheon for example. Large statues were typically reserved for the gods of Olympus as opposed to comparatively minor gods or daemons. In the case of Mesopotamia we might think of the huge statues of winged bulls that flanked the gates of palaces. These were known as Lamassu or Shedu, and were treated as the representatives of gods, stars and constellations, or were considered protective deities in themselves. Thus the winged bulls would be taken as representations of the gods and their power rather than the demons. Furthermore, what little we do know about how the Lilu/Lilitu were depicted in Mesopotamian textual lore and the iconography found in magical amulets doesn’t really match the figure shown in the Burney Relief, which is a winged nude woman with a crown and talons, standing atop lions.
Furthermore, although scholars don’t quite know who the figure depicted in the Burney Relief, it is my personal opinion that the figure in the relief is likely to be Ishtar or Inanna. Why? The three main possibilities given for the identity of the figure would be Ishtar, Ereshkigal or Lilith. Having ruled out Lilith entirely, we’re left with either Ishtar or Ereshkigal. If you examine the figure on the Burney Relief, you notice that many of her features bear a familiar resemblence to traditional depictions of Ishtar or Inanna. For one thing, the crown definitely resembles the one worn by Inanna, and the wings of the statue, although facing downwards, line up with traditional depictions of Inanna/Ishtar in which she has wings. Sumerian depictions of Inanna match the pose that the Burney Relief figure makes, and in fact we know of several smaller plaques wherein Ishtar/Inanna make the same pose as in the Burney Relief. I believe that the lions in the relief also tie the figure to Ishtar/Inanna on the grounds that lions are her main symbols, and indeed we see artwork of Inanna resting her foot upon a lion in ancient Akkadian art. With all this in mind, it seems a little baffling that scholars have such a difficult time identifying the goddess of the Burney Relief. What’s more, there are no depictions of Ereshkigal anywhere, so with numerous depictions of Ishtar corresponding to the Burney Relief and no depictions of Ereshkigal, there really isn’t that much reason to assume that the relief represents Ereshkigal, and certainly not much more reason than to assume the figure is actually Lilith.
The “Judeo-Christian Lilith”
Where the pagan Lilith was more or less a class of wind demons and succubi, the Lilith of Judaism, and later Christianity, represents a singular entity, following from later folkloric developments about a singular Lilitu, and this Lilith becomes far more mythologically signficant than the pagan version. It must be stated, though, that the Lilith we know does not necessary come from Jewish orthodoxy.
In the official Hebrew Bible, Lilith plays a minor role as an ambiguous “night creature” who settles in Edom following its destruction by God according to the prophecy of Isaiah 34 – and that’s if we assume the night creature is Lilith, if we remember that the name Lilith doesn’t actually mean night owl. It is true that the original Hebraic text does seem to use the word “lilit” (לִּילִית) to refer to the creature. Curiously enough, however, while English translations render it as “screech owl”, Latin renditions refer to this creature as Lamia, not Lilith. It could be, then, that Lilith was not intended to be a personal name in the Hebrew Bible but more of a descriptor for a generic creature. Beyond that, Lilith certainly does not appear in the original creation story of the Torah or the Tanakh. The Lilith that is recognized today thus comes not from the official Hebrew Bible, but from extracanonical Jewish tradition.
The earliest reference to Lilith as the original wife of Adam comes from the Alphabet of Ben Sira, whose composition is estimated at the earliest to be around 700 AD, which would have been well after the ascent of Christianity in Europe, not to mention the rise of Islam, so this would certainly have been a late addition to Judaic canon at best. It is considered to be possible that the story contained within the Alphabet may have predated the Alphabet itself, but this is not possible to determine. What is certain, however, is that the Alphabet of Ben Sira predates the composition of the Zohar, the foundational treatise of Kabbalah, at least according to Gershom Scholem (generally considered an authority of Jewish mysticism and tradition) who believes that its author, Moses de Leon, knew about the Alphabet of Ben Sira and its version of Lilith. In addition, the Alphabet of Ben Sira is considered to be a satirical work, rather than a serious doctrinal treatise, due to several instances of the author blatantly mocking or insulting Biblical figures, depicting them as perverts, and the protagonist of the book himself being depicted as being the product of an incestuous relationship between the prophet Jeremiah and his daughter, all and many other references suggesting the book was intended as a polemic satire of the Jewish faith. Furthermore, while the work is considered to be part of Midrashic tradition, this is largely down to Kabbalistic mystics and scholars accepting parts of its content centuries later as received wisdom, seemingly without paying mind to its overall lack of connectivity to Judaic tradition, and then after that the tale was repeated in Rabbinic compendiums to the point that, when this version of Lilith made it to English speaking audiences, nobody knew enough about ancient and medieval Jewish folklore to know whether the tale really was a statement of Jewish tradition or if the Alphabet was a satirical work.
In any case, the myth found in the Alphabet displays a remarkable transformation of the Lilith character. Here Lilith is a human, the original wife of Adam, distinguished not only by this status but also by her defiant temperament, her insistence that Adam not treat her as a subordinate when she tells him “I will not lie below”. When Adam insists that Lilith is inferior to him, she tells him that “We are equal to each other inasmuch as we were both created from the earth.”. This is often taken as a sign that Lilith, or rather the text’s authors, were preferential to gender egalitarianism on the grounds that it opposed the subordination of women to men. Of course, more profound is that Lilith utters the forbidden name of YHWH and flees the Garden of Eden, thus defying God. It is this defiance that becomes the origin of Lilith’s demonic characteristics. Three angels pursued Lilith on God’s orders seeking to bring her back to the garden, but she refuses, proclaiming that she was created to cause sickness to infants and that she has dominion over male infants for 8 days after their birth and female infants for 20 days. However, the angels ultimately convince Lilith to agree to an oath in which one hundred of her children die each day, and that when she sees the names of the angels on an amulet she would have no power over any infant bearing said amulet. Thus the myth of Lilith in the Garden of Eden is ultimately a rather drawn out explanation for a pre-existing Jewish tradition in which Lilith was viewed as simply a prolific child-snatcher, not the bride of some Adversary. It is interesting, though, how a being that we’ve already established to be a child-snatching demon is elevated to the status of God’s first wife. It does make you wonder what the Ben Sira’s intended commentary is. Is it that the religious institutions are patriarchal oppressors aimed against women’s rights, or its it that the Ben Sira casts women in a negative light by depicting the first woman as a traitor to Adam?
The rest of extracanonical Jewish tradition, at least leading up to the Alphabet of Ben Sira, doesn’t mention Lilith being the first wife of Adam, and instead most tradition focuses on her being a child-snatching succubus. In the Dead Sea Scrolls, Lilith is referenced just once within the Songs of the Sage and in the text Lilith is treated as part of a litany of different types of demons and creatures in pretty much the same way as in Isaiah, referring to “all the spirits of the destroying angels and the spirits of the bastards, the demons, Lilith, the howlers (?) and [the yelpers…] they who strike suddenly to lead astray the spirit of understanding”. In the Midrash Rabbah, there is a version of Genesis where a “first Eve” (or Chavvah ha-Rishonah) is returned to dust by God, but she is not called Lilith and this identification is only made outside the texts and only really becomes established centuries later by Kabbalistic mysticism and extant Jewish folklore from the medieval period onward. Elsewhere in the Midrash Rabbah, in the Midrashic Numbers God threatens to destroy the Israelites and Moses pleads with God to reconsider his threat, in the process comparing him to “that Lilith who, when she finds nothing else, turns upon her own children”. In other Midrashic texts, Lilith appears as a type of demon (in the sense of “a Lilith” or “Liliths”) that seduces and mates with Adam, after he parts with Eve, and their copulation gives birth to various demons that soon fill the world. The Midrash Akbir, however, depicts Adam leaving Eve after Cain kills Abel, only for Adam to be seduced by Lilith and father numerous demons who are eventually destroyed by Methuselah. Sometimes Lilith appears as a singular demon rather than just a type of demon, such as in the Gemara where she appears as a demon who gives birth to demonic children, seizes men who sleep in a house alone like a succubus, shoots “arrows”, and even has a son named Hormin whose name is a corruption of Ormuzd which is another name for the Zoroastrian god Ahura Mazda. Lilith (or Liliths) is also the subject several Jewish incantations which appear on bowls for the purpose of either repelling or imprisoning evil spirits such as Lilith(s). In a next from Nippur, the Liliths (who are referred to as Lili in male form and Lilith in female form, again suggesting that Lilith was not a singular demon entity but a type of demon) are likened with hags and ghools and adjured in the name of Abraham, Isaac, “Shaddai of Jacob” and Ya Ha-Shem. The Lili seem to function as the Judaic equivalent of the incubus, a male demon who seizes and sexually assaults women in their sleep, in complimentary contrast to the female Lilith who is a kind of succubus. Lili would also produce children with their victims without their consent or even knowledge, the offspring being half-human and half-demon (a cambion, if you will), and no one would know about the fact of it being a product of such a union until the child inevitably behaves too erratically for any normal human child in accordance with its nature as a cambion. The female Lilith would also give birth to a demonic child as a consequence of her sexual union with an unsuspecting man, and this child would be born in a deserted area and would seek out its father, screeching and raging into the night whenever it is frustrated in its journey. Anyways, in a similar Persian incantation, “the liliths” as well as “the evil Lilith” are bound and sealed, and “the evil Lilith” in particular is cited as causing the hearts of men to go astray, appearing in dreams (both in the night and the day), creating nightmares and attacking children (both boys and girls). In some medieval Jewish magical texts, the demon Bagdana appears as “the king of the lilits”. Another amulet, the “amulet of Epra”, suggests that there are multiple species of Lilith, as it adjures all of them in the name of their offspring . Generally speaking, Jewish magical tradition held that the Lilith (or Liliths) was a succubus that also bore a patholigical hatred of human children and would thus attack them unless warded off with incantations and amulets, and in many ways this continues on from the Lilith found in the Hebrew Bible. Even Christian lore historically never really changed this connection, with the Byzantian Christian Michael Psellus identifying Gello, a demon from Greek mythology long believed to cause infertility and infant mortality, with Lilith, and even then this identification was ultimately dismissed by later Greek Christian scholars as a confusion. Indeed, speaking of Christianity, we should note that Lilith appears nowhere in the New Testament canon or extant historical Christian tradition, not even in the Gnostic sects.
Popular folk tradition and demonology cites Lilith as the consort of Samael, who she mated with after splitting up with Adam after refusing lie below him, but this idea does not come from The Alphabet of Ben Sira. Instead it comes from later medieval texts, such as A Treatise of the Left Emanation, which was a Kabbalistic text written in the 13th century by Isaac ben Jacob Alfasi ha-Cohen. The same text also posits that there are two Liliths, one of them married to Samael and the other married to the demon Asmodeus. It must be safe to assume that the Lilith who is married to Samael is the Lilith that was to sleep with Adam before disobeying him, and this one is identified as the “Matron Lilith”, while the one married to Asmodeus is known as the “Lesser Lilith”, and is the daughter of a being named Qafsefoni. Other folk traditions say that Lilith simply marries Asmodeus and not Samael, and together they are believed to produce demonic offspring together. Whatever the case, this idea as the wife of [insert powerful demon lord here] seems more or less to be the product of medieval mysticism that came after even the Alphabet of Ben Sira, and certainly after much of established Judaic tradition.
Much of what we now associate with Lilith isn’t really canonical, but despite this it is the basis of the Lilith known to modern demonology (Christian or otherwise) and Western literature. In fact, it seems that the popular conception of Lilith might be traceable to her appearance in Faust, one of the most famous plays in Germany written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. In Goethe’s Faust, Mephistopheles introduces the eponymous protagonist to Lilith (also known as “The Pretty Witch”) as Adam’s first wife and tells him to beware of her because of her otherworldly beauty and because those who are seduced by Lilith never escape her grip. This establishes what is essentially the core of the modern Lilith in Western folklore, the first woman created by God and the emblem of female seductive power as well as the negative side of femininity, and such an archetype continues throughout Western folklore. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, the famous troupe of Victorian-era British painters, particularly Dante Gabriel Rossetti, helped cement this version of Lilith through not only Rossetti’s famous painting Lady Lilith but also his sonnet called Body’s Beauty in which Lilith is described as “the witch he [Adam] loved before the gift of Eve” and her seductive character is elaborated. The poet Robert Browning composed a poem entitled Adam, Lilith and Eve, in which he, in an even more radical and maverick interpretation of the Lilith myth, depicts Lilith and Eve as cultivating friendship between each other. Some Victorian depictions re-emphasized the dangerous nature of Lilith, such as George McDonald’s Lilith in which the eponymous demon, cast as the Queen of Hell (which she never was in almost any of her myths), kills a child named Lona and tries to seduce and have sex with the protagonist Mr Vane, and other novels in which women named Lilith attempt to destroy the lives of male protagonists. 19th century French poetry also ramped up the evil nature of Lilith beyond her traditional scope. Victor Hugo depicted Lilith in La Fin de Satan as the daughter of Satan (again, never was this in any actual mythological canon) who was responsible for the crucifiction of Jesus, brought violence, imprisonment and “the cross” to the world, sees the French population as a threat to her schemes due to their “love of liberty”, and on top of all that is apparently so evil that she can never be redeemed while even Satan is shown being redeemed and turned back into Lucifer as an angel in God’s court. Remy de Gourmont wrote a play called Lilith in which Lilith is graphically shown having sex with Satan and seducing Adam while Satan seduces Eve.
Over time, Lilith eventually came to be seen by some feminists as a symbol of female empowerment and a new idea of femininity that was seen to have emerged in the time, and this idea has continued into modern assessments of Lilith. In his book Demonology and Devil-lore, the American abolitionist minister (and later freethinker) Moncure D Conway, who was sympathic to the suffragettes, seems to have thought of Lilith as not only an “infernal Madonna” but also a “protomartyr of female independence” whose attitude to Adam made him the “prototype of the ‘strong-minded’ and ‘cold-hearted’ woman”. It at first seems difficult to say if he is giving a sympathetic account since he simultaenously talks about Lilith in terms of female empowerment and also in terms of destructive demonic behaviours and not to mention negative female traits, though ultimately he seems to lean towards a somewhat feministic interpretation with lines such as “Had there been an order of female rabbins the story of Lilith might have borne obvious modifications, and she might have appeared as a heroine anxious to rescue her sex from slavery to man” and “we may suppose that Lilith found him [Samael] radical on the question of female equality which she had raised in Eden”. Apparently taking after Conway’s ideas, centuries later, was a scholar named Maximillian Rudwin, who wrote in The Devil in Legend and Literature that Lilith was the first woman to propose that men were essentially equal to women and that she left Adam because he thought the man should be the head of the family, and married Samael because he agreed with Lilith’s ideas about sexual equality. Rudwin even went so far as to mock Jehovah (or perhaps Christianity by proxy) on the grounds that he “could not foresee the widespread suffragist movement of the present day” even with his apparent omniscience. Ada Langworthy Collier wrote in Lilith, The Legend of the First Woman (the title alone should give us a clue as to where this is going) re-interprets Lilith as a character who, although clearly rebellious towards Adam, does not reject the authority of God and in fact is cast further as an apparently more benevolent or at least naive figure than any other interpretation; even her child-snatching ways from the old myths are recharactized not as a product of her own personality but instead an act of desparation brought on by her desire to have a child and jealousy of Eve, all ultimately motivated by the desire to fulfill the role of a loving mother to someone, and unlike the Lilith of actual myth she apparently returns the child she stole from Eve back to Eden. In addition to this departure from the mythos, we find that instead of Samael or Asmodeus this Lilith marries Eblis (clearly supposed to be Iblis, or perhaps Satan by proxy) after leaving Adam, despite herself not being an opponent of God. Apparently Collier based her own poem on old rabbinical myths and legends about Lilith, but also warned that she had not read the legend closely, suggesting that she might not actually have known what she wass talking about.
Perhaps the most radical interpretation of Lilith can be found in Renee Vivien, a radical lesbian poet who may have been a feminist or supporter of feminism. She wrote about Lilith in a similar way to Collier, depicting Lilith as the wife of Satan and thus Satan as a sympathetic supporter of the cause of feminism, and like Collier uses the name Eblis to refer to Satan, but unlike Collier’s and Conway’s Lilith, Vivien’s Lilith was created by the breath of dawn and not flesh and rejects Adam not out of his own apparent sexual chauvinism but because she considered Adam to be inferior to her by nature on account him being made of flesh and thus refuses to be his partner (which is actually even more radical than the Ben Sira). Furthermore, this Lilith is also sterile and on those grounds refuses to have children with Adam or even Satan, instead taking Satan as her “mystic lover” and, instead of having carnal relationships for the purpose of bearing physical offspring, engage in metaphysical intercourse that produces lustful dreams and other wicked fantasies and thoughts that haunt and corrupt the minds of men. On top of all that, she proclaims Lilith to be the symbol of lesbian identity itself, particularly as militantly opposed to heterosexuality, saying that “the dark breath of Lilith is within us” and declares her to be her foremother as an example of her refusing the love of men, preferring that of the serpent.
All of this serves as the root of the modern conception of Lilith within popular culture, religious commentary, demonology, occutlism and especially the Left Hand Path, given that the modern Lilith has a tenuous relationship (at best) to tradition in its characterization of Lilith. The modern Lilith is Adam’s first wife, the grand queen of Hell, the bride of Satan and the purest embodiment of lust itself, all of which have very little to do with the Judaic religious mythos she originates from, but find prolific expression in 19th century Western poetry, and this is where the modern Lilith seems to come from.
The Lilin (a.k.a. Lilim)
Some attention should be paid to the subject of the Lilin, a type of demon popularly known as the lustful offspring of Lilith. It seems that the term also originates from Mesopotamian mythology, wherein the term may have referred to hostile nocturnal spirits, a meaning that is carried over into the Jewish term, which simply means night spirits. According to Ronald Hutton (who may or may not be reliable depending on what you make of his neopagan bias), the Judaic Lilin are carried over from the Lilu/Lilitu of Akkadian and Sumerian folklore, who in turn were the minions of the demon Lamashtu. In the Targum Sheni, King Solomon summoned some Lilin and ordered them to dance for him. It is sometimes claimed that Agrat Bat Mahlat, the angel of prostitution, is the ruler of the Lilin, while some rabbinical texts suggest that Lilith herself is the mother or grandmother of Agrat Bat Mahlat. In A Treatise of the Left Emanation, the Lilin are the offspring of Lilith and Samael, whose presence in the world caused God to castrate Samael in order to prevent the couple from producing more of them. Beyond that, there really isn’t much out there about the Lilin other than they’re night spirits that have some relation to Lilith.
Lamia and Lilith
Returning briefly to the subject of the “Pagan Lilith”, it’s worth examining the connection between Lilith and Lamia that was mentioned earlier. Lamia was a demon found in Greco-Roman mythology who, similarly to Lilith (or the Liliths), seduced men and devoured children. Originally one of Zeus’ many human lovers, she became a demon after Hera, upon learning of this affair, cursed her to kill her own offspring (or alternatively they were killed by Hera). Lamia eventually became so established in Greek folklore that mothers and nannies would warn children about her in order to frigthen them into behaving properly. In this light, the Lamia could also be seen as having evolved into a type of demon rather than a singular figure, in fact this is how it came to be understood in folklore by the time of the Middle Ages. Indeed, manuscripts such as the Suda and the writings of Aristophanes establish that there is not one Lamia but many, establishing the concept of a generic Lamia, much like the generic Lilith is established in Judaic and Biblical tradition. Latin translations (particularly the Vulgate) of Isaiah 34:14, the only Bible verse that actually mentions Lilith in some form, use Lamia as the Latin name for the creature that is called Lilith in Hebrew. If Isaiah were to speak of Lilith as the sort of individual arch-demoness that Kabbalah and later Christian folklore do, this identification would not make sense. As such, the Lilith of Isaiah 34:14 was more or less a type of demon rather than a singular demonic individual, and since this is the case we can assume that Lamia in Latin is meant to translate what Lilith means in Hebrew. The very name Lamia has its roots in the Indo-European “lem”, meaning “nocturnal spirit”, which is very similar to the connotation that Lilith has in both Biblical and pagan Mesopotamian myth. Lamia, then, becomes another form of the Lilith myth within Greco-Roman culture, and thus in this way another “Pagan Lilith”.
All in all, there is much about Lilith that doesn’t have a great deal of connectivity with the Lilith found in ancient tradition. Contrary to a lot of neopagan and Left Hand Path interpretations, Lilith was never a goddess of anything in any tradition she was a part of. Far from being turned from a goddess into a demon by the Jews, Lilith has always been a demon, and often times a generic night demon, a type of succubus, rather than the arch-demonness that is recognized in contemporary folklore. Her status as a symbol of female empowerment is entirely non-traditional and rests not only on the Alphabet of Ben Sira but also a long line of 19th century romantic poetry that sought to re-establish Lilith as a character, both as a dangerous demon of seduction and a defiant symbol of female power or equality, even to the point of her having been taken up as a symbol of lesbian separatism on occasion. Now, I’m not saying here that archetypes are absolutely static and arent subject to change – indeed, several gods have undergone profound transformations during the life of their respective religious cults and ended up taking on new meanings as a result, and beyond that Lucifer and Christos (once a title for the god Serapis) are fine examples of this process – but the transformation undergone by Lilith seems to lack traditional continuity and raises questions about just what ideas of female empowerment or equality we’re dealing with when we attribute such a cause to Lilith.
The whole idea of Lilith being motivated by a belief in the equality of the sexes rests largely on the idea of her refusing to be subordinate to Adam, as is shown in the Alphabet of Ben Sira. But even if we put aside the fact that the Alphabet of Ben Sira itself is considered to be a work of satire in light of Jewish tradition, which would mean that every modern interpretation of Lilith is based on a text that was probably never intended to be taken seriously or even as official myth, and therefore totally unconnected to the mythos of Lilith, just what is Lilith outside the Alphabet anyway? A demon known for attacking men in their sleep and abducting and killing children. Just what ideas about equality and empowerment are in play for that to become a figure of noble defiance against patriarchal norms and inequality? At most, even within the 19th century, we find in Lilith an archetype about many of negative aspects of the female psyche, particularly involving seduction and the complete subversion of parental compassion (tied to the child-snatching and child murder). Her cruelty towards men in both mythos and poetry showcase a prolific female archetype of seduction as well as cold manipulation, she is the archetype of the women who seek to destroy men and children, the latter serving as obstacles to rampant and wanton selfish desire due to their invoking of ancient parental instincts in women, and if Lamia is anything to go by there are many other myths like this in world myth. If that’s someone’s idea of freeing women from patriarchal oppression, then what are we dealing with when it comes to feminism?
I can’t say I’m totally shocked or surprised by the outcome of the Democratic primaries, but nonetheless it’s hard not to be a little taken aback. You may remember that Bernie Sanders dropped out of the Democratic primaries in April, citing COVID-19 and the delegate gap as reasons why his campaign couldn’t continue, which meant Joe Biden became the presumptive nominee, the one to represent the Democratic Party ticket against Donald Trump. But who was going to be his Vice Presidential nominee? For months this had been the only real question on anyone’s mind, with everything else pretty much set in stone, and Biden sure took his time selecting his running mate. Over time he stressed that he would prefer to have a woman as a running mate, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear other than as a cheap way to score feminism points, and as Black Lives Matter took over the conversation it was suggested that Biden would prefer to pick a non-white woman for reasons of identity politics, thus narrowing down the speculated candidates to Kamala Harris, Susan Rice, Val Demmings, Keisha Bottoms, and Tammy Duckworth (Stacey Abrams thought she was going to be selected early on, but that didn’t happen). Still we waited until August 11th, at that point we found out that Biden picked Kamala Harris to be his running mate, with just a week to go before the Democratic National Convention.
Now why is this a big deal? How does it reflect on the Democratic Party ticket? Well we know all about Kamala’s record, particularly during her tenure as District Attorney, which will be very relevant considering she got picked as Biden’s running mate at a time where Democrats take Black Lives Matter very seriously. You might remember that she opposed proposals to reform criminal justice, upheld wrongful convictions on numerous occasions, threw parents in jail when their kids skipped school, opposed a bill that would require her office to investigate police shootings, made it so that you could go to jail for life even if you committed a non-violent crime under the “three strikes” policy, and even protected pedophilic priests from prosecution by refusing to assist their prosecution, after her own office consistently pursued cases against the Catholic Church before she took over. She is an evil that weards a police badge and everyone knows it, including progressives, hence why she earns the nickname of “Copmala Harris” or just “The Cop”. In a time where protests and riots are still occurring over another episode of police brutality, you would think that having a corrupt cop as the Democratic running mate would be profoundly out of touch, but evidently the party doesn’t realize this and it seems they think it’s a great idea as long as the cop in question is black (which is debatable in light of her Indian ethnic heritage). However this incongruity doesn’t seem to bother Black Lives Matter either, judging from an apparent post from their Instagram account in which they announced the following:
In our recent post that was deleted, a member of our team posted something disheartening about Kamala Harris. That post does not signify what we stand for and what our movement is about. That member has been terminated from our team and no longer represents us. Kamala Harris is a black queen and we stand with her.
Essentially, the group or more or less a branch thereof (these “leaderless” movements are so annoying to deal with) has decided not only that they support Kamala Harris, despite being the arch-cop of California, but also that anyone within their movement who has a problem with this is to be excluded from the movement or silenced within it. And I think we all know why. It’s the same reason that progressives decided to support with Joe Biden even though he’s against all of their ideals – the reason being to get Donald Trump and the Republican Party out of power by any available means. And ultimately it’s the same action, since Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are part of the same ticket. If you support Kamala Harris at this time, it is safe to assume that you support Joe Biden’s campaign as well. This is important to stress because even if by some means Kamala Harris is “more progressive” than Joe Biden, in supporting her you’d end up supporting Biden by default of the fact that getting her in power means voting Biden for President of the United States, thus invariably supporting a centrist form of liberalism masquerading as progressive politics by any metric. and that’s assuming Kamala even is progressive enough to match the Bernie Sanders movement that should have prevailed.
Ultimately, any kind of “lesser of two evils” triangulation will not work out. My prediction is that Trump will win the Presidency, and I’m inclined to think that the incongruity created by Kamala Harris being a corrupt District Attorney who somehow has become one of the main representatives of a party that, we’re told anyway, is the main political vanguard (in mainstream politics anyway) for any kind of opposition to police brutality and corruption will ultimately undermine the Democratic Party and its grip on the non-white voting blocs who they often try to capture during elections. I believe many of those people will be disillusioned and decide not to vote because they can’t support the Democrats or Republicans (which is in my view the morally correct decision), and it is not unreasonable to assume that the Republican Party might benefit from this shift. If Biden wins the election, it will be surprise me.
What I’m about to tell you about is essentially minor internet drama in the grand scheme of things, but I do so because it does seem to me to be another interesting case study on just how infested with liberal piety that gothic subculture tends to be. This week Drab Majesty, an American gothic rock and darkwave band, posted on their official Twitter account a joke about native mainland Chinese cuisine and its tendency to involve dogs, saying “I wonder if a magazine called “Puppy Digest” exists in China”. Of course, this tweet was taken with a great deal of offence from, well, the usual suspects (by which I mean people who are unaware of the Yulin Dog Meat Festival), and so Drab Majesty came to be accused of racism. I had hoped that perhaps the band would not bow to pressure but, alas, they deleted the tweet. No doubt they were more worried about losing their contract with Dais Records, and that my friends is why you go independent. To add to this, yesterday the lead singer Andrew Clinco (a.k.a. Deb Demure) issued a public apology on behalf of the band, describing what was apparently his own comments as “tone deaf” and “an impulsive desire to use my privilege and Twitter platform to showcase my litany of brain diarrhea and stupid puns”. He feels the need to clarify that he is not a racist while apologizing for a joke, and considers his remarks an “extreme lapse of judgement” that has “called my character into question”.
A question ticks around in my mind and I’m inclined to quote Al Pacino on this one: who are you carrying that load of bricks for? I’m not aware of any Chinese people who got offended by that remark. If anything, I dare argue that getting all guilt-ridden over a joke about eating dogs does more of a disservice to Chinese people than the joke itself, and I don’t say that just because I don’t think the Chinese would appreciate us Westerners frantically apologizing for a joke many native Chinese probably couldn’t even read. I mentioned the Yulin Dog Meat Festival earlier here, that’s an annual summer festival held in Yulin, a city in Guangxi, in which thousands of dogs are abducted from people’s homes, paraded around in cages, and sold off to people who slaughter them for consumption by festival-goers. Some people even recognize what used to be their own pets at those festivals. And a lot of Chinese people don’t actually like that festival, in fact millions of Chinese people supported a proposed legislation in 2016 to ban the dog meat trade and according to Chinese polls at least most Chinese citizens want the Yulin Dog Meat Festival to be abolished. One obvious fact that I think motivates knee-jerk outrage over dog meat jokes is that most Chinese people don’t actually eat dog meat. It’s just that there does seem to be a culture in China where dog meat has, for some time, been considered a delicacy, to the point that it was only just this year that the dog meat trade was officially banned, and even then only in the city of Shenzhen so far, as part of a fresh nationwide response to the wildlife trade following the outbreak of COVID-19. Put it this way: I’ll bet money that people in countries outside the West make fun of Westerners over something that doesn’t really apply to the majority of people in Western countries. Hell, I’m pretty certain that here in the UK we give Americans all sorts of crap for things that most Americans don’t even stand for. So again, I ask, who’s Andrew carrying the bag of bricks for?
I ask, but it seems to me like the answer involves whiny goths on the internet. The people most offended by Drab Majesty’s tweet aren’t Chinese people who complain about being unfairly stereotyped, but rather a contingent of angry Drab Majesty fans who are shocked to realized they have a problematic fave and would sooner be executed than live with that experience for once. The actual fan base is divided on the subject, and overall they’ve accepted Andrew’s apology, but I’ve seen some fans talk about how racist Andrew is because of that one joke, and some insisted on beating the dead horse well after the tweet was deleted. To me it just seems like goths nowadays don’t really take well to the idea of actually puncturing the niceties that have been set up so cynically by lice to stifle our character, which is weird to me because, as a subculture, goths should be rather anti-establishmentarian. But I suppose if they truly were allergic to political correctness why would I even be writing this? It’s funny though, the goths, who fancy themselves companions of the macabre, readily embrace what we now call “cancel culture” and are themselves cancelled without much effort, whereas in metal it’s hardly a problem. Tom Araya and his wife have had plenty of pro-Trump takes in the last few years and that hasn’t stopped Slayer from being one of the most popular thrash metal bands around. Varg Vikernes is really the ultimate example in that he’s one of the most reactionary musicians most people know about and it’s hardly affected anything. Maybe it’s just something about a different overall attitude between the subcultures.
R J Womack made an interesting point about paganism in one of his Dark Illumination podcasts: if you want to study paganism, never trust neopagan books (or even Left Hand Path books) and instead consult academic and historical works and papers instead. It’s some pretty straightforward advice, and it’s sensible too for the following reason: the sad truth is that a lot of occultniks and neopagans tend to use pseudo-histories and build their traditions off of connections that don’t often exist, and then try to claim that theirs is the true ancient tradition of magick as imparted by a long and supposedly unbroken line of mysticism going back to some ancient magickal order or some such – a trope that itself is probably traceable to Eliphas Levi, who called his brand of occultism Catholicism and claimed that it was an unbroken tradition whose lineage began in ancient Alexandria. It’s the trope wherein connections are made that otherwise don’t quite exist that plays into a strange form of eclecticism where multiple concepts are situated together but there’s no real syncretism in that they aren’t really fitted together, and it’s this that I’m here to talk about.
My girlfriend recently (and rather spontaneously) gave me a number of books from a local shop, one of which was a book called The Wicca Bible by Ann-Marie Gallagher. No doubt she knows I have a certain fascination with religion, and have a certain affinity for traditions and philosophies outside of Christianity, so she must have thought I might have liked to read it. Well I gave it a read and it seems to be a fairly standard introduction to Wicca. I’m not here to give it a review but one thing stuck out for me: namely the fact that the book seems to have a section on the Kabbalah (referred to within the book as “Qabalah”), as well as the Tree of Life found within Kabbalah, which implies that these are concepts found within Wicca, and that’s the main subject of the post. I had but one key question: what does a mysticism centering around the One God of the Tanakh, Torah and Bible have to do with a belief system that is based on witchcraft in the context of pre-Christian paganism? I mean, sure, technically Judaism is pre-Christian in that it pre-dates Christianity but lord knows nobody counts Judaism under the umbrella of pre-Christian, probably because they think Judaism can just be tacked on to Christianity, possibly because of the Old Testament books being part of the canon of the Bible (at least assuming that an alternative, perhaps anti-semitic impetus for excluding specifically Jewish mythos from the pre-Christian realm isn’t at work). Wicca centers itself around a dualism based on the Goddess and the Horned God, though usually with a little more emphasis on the Goddess, but Kabbalah doesn’t seem to have anything to do with it, and indeed the Godhead of Kabblah has nothing to do with neopagan ideas about the Horned God. The irony, of course, is that there exist horned depictions of Yahweh or YHWH, and the early form of Judaism had Yahweh paired up with a goddess named Asherah who was very much his consort, though for some reason you don’t see Wiccans really talked about Yahweh as the Horned God and Asherah as the Goddess, which tells me that Wiccans do not see Jewish mythos (the early form of Judaism being precisely what this represents) as a relevant or legitimate expression of their archetypal motif.
But perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s see if the book can give us a good idea of how tries to justify the connection between Wicca and Kabbalah:
The Craft is an eclectic path and consequently witches tend to be inclusive and inquisitive in their practices. We incorporate those tools, techniques, traditions and systems we find relevant, and honour those ancestors whose endeavours produced the means by which we can work to attain knowledge. We also acknowledge that the origin of some of these systems was a very different time, place and culture from our present one, and if we tear some techniques or ideas away from their moorings, we had better be clear what we are doing!
The Qabalah is just such a system. Many esoteric and mystery traditions of the West (for example, the Golden Dawn and the Rosicrucians) were heavily influenced by Qabalistic tradition. Aleister Crowley, the early twentieth century bad boy of occult magic, was fascinated with what is known as the ‘artificial’ Qabalah which concentrates on abtruse notions of numerology and angelic forms. The system with which most Wiccans are familiar is the ‘natural’ Qabalah, a system of the ten Sephiroth with 22 pathways connecting them.
The distinction between “artificial” and “natural” Kabbalah/Qabalah is definitely an unfamiliar concept, in that I’ve never seen it come up in any circles that discuss Kabbalah, which tells me that it might just be invented by the author – or at least I’m left to assume this because there are no citations. Beyond that it does the Q spelling and the link to Crowley and the Rosicrucians suggests that we’re not dealing strictly with the Judaic Kabbalah. As a matter of fact, there is not only a Jewish Kabbalah but also a Christian form, referred to as Cabala, and a Hermetic form, which is known as Qabalah. However, the Hermetic Qabalah appears to derive from Christian occultism and theology in that its history is bound up with the emergence of Kabbalah in a Christian context, as began during the Renaissance under the aegis of men like Pico della Mirandola and Johann Reuchlin. It should also be noted that Hermeticists use the term Qabalah to refer to what we refer to as Kabbalah and Kabbalistic mysticism in general, suggesting that they view Qabalah as a continuation of the Judaic Kabbalah, so we can speak of the Kabbalah in its Jewish context quite safely. But more to the point, the justification presented here is pretty weak, and the precise question of the connection of Kabbalah to Wicca is not addressed in the rest of the section. There doesn’t seem to be any reason why Wiccans should use Kabbalah except for “whatever, I do what I want!”. There’s even a part of the book that says of the Sephiroth, “there are a number of overlays provided by modern innovative modern mapping – including an association with the Nordic runes and one with the Celtic Tree Alphabet (see pages 346-47) – indicating the enduring power and appeal of the original symbolism and structure of the Sephiroth”, suggesting a connection between the Kabbalic Sephiroth and Norse runs and Celtic alphabet based on….reasons I guess. Ostensibly it’s to do with the 22 pathways between the 10 Sephiroth of the Tree of Life, but these are just nodes that connect the 10 Sephiroth and are assigned to various letters of the Hebraic alphabet, whose connection to pagan belief systems is, once again, not established in any way.
For our puroses it’s worth getting into the Sephiroth themselves and what they mean in the context of Kabbalistic mysticism. In very simple terms, they are manifestations of the Godhead (which, as we’ve established before, is YHWH in the Jewish context, although hold that thought because YHWH actually appears as a name of God connected to one of the Sephiroth) as expressed in the idea of Ein Sof (which refers to the concept as infinite “being” without attributes), and these manifestation intercede between the Ein Sof/YHWH and the manifest creation of the universe in order to allow the Ein Sof/YHWH to exercize control over creation. All of the Sephiroth are tied to functions and names of the Judaic Godhead. Malkuth is tied to Shekinah, a feminine aspect referring to the immanent presence of God in the world, and is the domain through which humans might experience union with the Godhead, and is associated with the names Adonai and Elohim. Yesod is the channel through which God’s uniting energies via Tiphereth meets with the Shekinah or Malkuth, almost in a sexual fashion (the phallus of the God as it were), and is associated with the names Elohim Hayyim, El Shaddai and Adon. Hod is the channel through which God judges the world and is associated with the name Elohim Zeva’ot (otherwise known as Tzevaoth or Sabaoth). Netzach is complimentary to Hod and serves as the channel for God’s grace, thus showing the complimentary opposition of mercy and judgement, and is also associated with the name Elohim Zeva’ot. Tiphereth is the Sephiroth that binds all of the others together, which is curious for its relatively lesser position, contains the powers of justice and mercy attributed to the Godhead, and is associated with the name YHWH (or YHVH). Geburah is the essence of God’s judgement and his powers of wrath and punishment, his left hand as it were, by which demonic forces (those of the Sitra Ahra) are subdued, and is associated with the name Elohim. Chesed is by contrast God’s right hand, the essence of God’s compassion and his powers of grace and love and is associated with the name El Elyon. Binah is an aspect of the mind of God that contains his powers of discernment, as well as the womb in which creation is given shape, and is associated with the name Elohim. Chokmah is an aspect of the mind of God that contains his powers of contemplation, as well as the primordial point of creation from which observable reality emerges, and is associated with the name Yah. Kether, which sits at the top of the Tree of Life, is rarely discussed because it is difficult to describe other than as the formlessness of God, or rather God as the infinite from which all springs, and is associated with the name Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh. Sometimes included among the Sephirothic Tree is Da’ath, which is the state in which all of the ten Sephiroth are united and thus share all of their functions. This is usually not treated as its own Sephira, but when it is, it usually represents a reflection of the infinity of Kether within the realm of finite creation.
All of these Sephiroth (except for maybe Da’ath) are to be taken as aspects of the Judaic God in that they all represent functions of the Judaic Godhead in its intercession with the physical world, and in that spirit they all take on names of the Judaic God. As such, their context and thereby the context of the Tree of Life is inseparable from the Judaic Godhead, and this is a Godhead that, in its unitary monotheism, is entirely distinct from the Wiccan concept of the Horned-Goddess dual Godhead, to the point that it actively repudiates it. Despite this fact, according to Ann-Marie Gallagher, many Wiccan “covens” have potential initiates visualize the ten Sephiroth or undertake guided visualizations based on the Sephiroth as part of their “training”. Exactly what visualization the ten primary aspects of the One True God of Judaism has to do with a religion that claims to be based off of ancient pagan tradition (often claiming to be based on a prehistoric faith based on the unnamed Horned God) is in no way clearly established by Gallagher. It just seems to be either eclecticism for its own sake undertaken by people who don’t seem to have an overriding organizing idea or belief system that would demand a fully consistent and holistic worldview in which all or at least most syncretic trappings would be harmonized in the whole, or just cheekily using the Hermetic Qabalah as a way of attaching it to occultism in a manner that is supposedly detached from Abrahamism. It’s never established in what way any of the concepts of Kabbalah are detached from their monotheistic context, and it’s never established why Wiccans should be practicing a mystical tradition devoted to a god that they very clearly seem to reject. It’s just, well, reasons, I guess.
The term Lumen Naturae (which in Latin means “the light of nature”) appears in various texts written by the legendary psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung, and its meaning points to a light that is contrasted with the light of revelation seen in traditional theology as a source of knowledge for Man. The Lumen Naturae is the light that shines imminently within all of matter (hence The Light of Nature), though it also seems to be a reference to the unconscious psyche. For Jung it is “whose strange and significant workings we can observe in the manifestations of the unconscious”. In this sense, the Lumen Naturae is one of those aspects of Jungian thought that, though it seems to not to be as talked about as often (not even by other Jungians), appears to be more central to Jungian thought and philosophy than it is given credit for, and it can be used as the bridge through Jungian philosophy to, situated within that realm, a doctrine that can postulate a doctrine of spiritual materialism that carries Jungian psychoanalytical philosophy and, I might say, a sort of Luciferian essence into a higher form in which, through Hellenic spiritual and philosophical influences among various other philosophical contours, it may attain a form that can assert itself in the present landscape – in other words, one where spiritual substance can be formulated in an atheistic context, outside of and in opposition to Christianity, in a manner where it attains depth, heritage and, from there, power, in the darkness of the Light of Nature. What darkness, you may ask? That is what you will find out over the course of this article.
A very lenghty and detailed exposition of the Lumen Naturae can be found in Volume 8 of Jung’s Collected Works, Alchemical Studies. It is here, in fact, that Jung lays out dichotomy between the Light of Nature and the Light of Revelation. In the process he introduces Paracelsus, the man from whom Jung gets his conception of the Lumen Naturae. For Jung, Paracelsus was a man who had two “mothers”, two substances from which he derived his thought and spirit; the Christian (specifically Catholic) church on the one hand, and Nature on the other:
To the mother in her highest form, Mater Ecclesia, he remained faithful all his life, despite the very free criticism he levelled at the ills of Christendom in that epoch. Nor did he succumb to the great temptation of that age, the Protestant schism, though he may well have had it in him to go over to the other camp. Conflict was deeply rooted in Paracelsus’s nature; indeed, it had to be so, for without a tension of opposites there is no energy, and whenever a volcano, such as he was, erupts, we shall not go wrong in supposing that water and fire have clashed together.
But although the Church remained a mother for Paracelsus all his life, he nevertheless had two mothers: the other was Mater Natura. And if the former was an absolute authority, so too was the latter. Even though he endeavoured to conceal the conflict between the two maternal spheres of influence, he was honest enough to admit its existence; indeed, he seems to have had a very good idea of what such a dilemma meant. Thus he says: “I also confess that I write like a pagan and yet am a Christian.” Accordingly he named the first five sections of his Paramirum de quinque entibus
morborum “Pagoya.” “Pagoyum” is one of his favourite neologisms, compounded of “paganum” and the Hebrew word “goyim.” He held that knowledge of the nature of diseases was pagan, since this knowledge came from the “light of nature” and not from revelation. “Magic,” he says, is “the preceptor and teacher of the physician,” who derives his knowledge from the lumen naturae. There can be no doubt the “light of nature” was a second, independent source of knowledge for Paracelsus. His closest pupil, Adam von Bodenstein, puts it like this: “The Spagyric has the things of nature not by authority, but by his own experience.” The concept of the lumen naturae may derive from the Occulta philosophia of Agrippa von Nettesheim (1533), who speaks of a luminositas sensus naturae that extends even to the four-footed beasts and enables them to foretell the future.
Paracelsus was definitely a Christian, of this there is no doubt, he even says “Christian knowledge is better than natural knowledge, and a prophet or an apostle better than an astronomer or a physician”, but he also confesses that he writes “like a pagan” and the reason for this seems to be that he considers the knowledge of the nature of diseases, essential to his practice as a physician, to be pagan in nature because it is knowledge of the world. The Light of Nature thus in the context of Paracelsus refers to knowledge of the physical universe, knowledge of nature, the knowledge held by scientists (such as astronomers) and physicians, while the Light of Revelation (which Paraselsus equated with the Holy Spirit) refers presumably to theology, or the knowledge of God, the “knowledge” held by prophets and apostles.
From Paracelsus, quoted within Alchemical Studies alongside more commentary from Jung, we get this description of the Light of Nature:
It is, therefore, also to be known that the auguries of the birds are caused by these innate spirits, as when cocks foretell future weather and peacocks the death of their master and other such things with their crowing. All this comes from the innate spirit and is the Light of Nature. Just as it is present in animals and is natural, so also it dwells within man and he brought it into the world with himself. He who is chaste is a good prophet, natural as the birds, and the prophecies of birds are not contrary to nature but are of nature. Each, then, according to his own state. These things which the birds announce can also be foretold in sleep, for it is the astral spirit which is the invisible body of nature. And it should be known that when a man prophesies, he does not speak from the Devil, not from Satan, and not from the Holy Spirit, but he speaks from the innate spirit of the invisible body which teaches Magiam and in which the Magus has his origin.
The light of nature comes from the Astrum: “Nothing can be in man unless it has been given to him by the Light of Nature, and what is in the Light of Nature has been brought by the stars.” The pagans still possessed the light of nature, “for to act in the Light of Nature and to rejoice in it is divine despite being mortal.” Before Christ came into the world, the world was still endowed with the light of nature, but in comparison with Christ this was a “lesser light.” “Therefore we should know that we have to interpret nature according to the spirit of nature, the Word of God according to the spirit of God, and the Devil according to his spirit also.” “He who knows nothing of these things is a gorged pig and will not leave room for instruction and experience.” The light of nature is the quinta essentia, extracted by God himself from the four elements, and dwelling “in our hearts.” It is enkindled by the Holy Spirit. The light of nature is an intuitive apprehension of the facts, a kind of illumination. It has two sources: a mortal and an immortal, which Paracelsus calls “angels.” “Man,” he says, “is also an angel and has all the latter’s qualities.” He has a natural light, but also a light outside the light of nature by which he can search out supernatural things. The relationship of this supernatural light to the light of revelation remains, however, obscure. Paracelsus seems to have held a peculiar trichotomous view in this respect.
There is a noticeable dualism in Paracelsus’ thought (or more or less what we are presented of it by Jung), a dualism concerning God and Nature. Such a dualism is further established when Jung refers to his writings in Philosophia Sagax, wherein he describes Man as “one part temporal, the other part eternal, and each part takes its light from God, both the temporal and the eternal, and there is nothing that does not have its origin in God”. This itself is not too dissimilar to the sort of dualism you usually see from the average Christian, but there is an intruiging undertone to what see of Paracelsus nonetheless. In theory, he positions the Light of Nature as lesser than the Holy Spirit, because in traditional Christianity Nature is framed as less valuable than God, its creator, but despite this traditional dualistic framing the Light of Nature has a special place in Paracelsus’ ontology on the grounds that it is essential to understand the natural world in the same vein as God’s word is to be understood via the spirit of God. Despite Paracelsus’ commitment to Christianity, this Light of Nature appears to be associated with paganism because for him the pagans “still possessed the Light of Nature” because they acted in the Light of Nature in its divine. This appears to mean that, for Paraclesus, the pagan view centered around nature and activity within it as the means of engaging with the sacred. This is perhaps the interpretation given by a Christian lens as to what constitutes paganism, given that medieval Christianity drew a line of separation between the world and the spirit, with spirit outside the world being the subject of Christian teaching and spiritual knowledge, so is to be treated in the context of that lens, but what this means is that the “pagan” impetus of the Light of Nature refers to the situation and engagement of knowledge with realm of Nature. Further it seems that, according to Jung at least, the Light of Nature may well have been the strongest theme in Paracelsus’ thinking, as Jung says:
The authenticity of one’s own experience of nature against the authority of tradition is a basic theme of Paracelsan thinking. On this principle he based his attack on the medical schools, and his pupils carried the revolution even further by attacking Aristotelian philosophy. It was an attitude that opened the way for the scientific investigation of nature and helped to emancipate natural science from the authority of tradition.
If Jung’s account of Paracelsus is accurate, then the Light of Nature can be treated, at least in context, as the spark of experiential authenticity, dervied from Nature and our species-being situated within it, which leads to a scepticism of authority and tradition and their tendency to obfuscate the truth of the world we live in. Within a materialist framework, this Light of Nature is the principal Light, and from there Nature becomes the principal source of light, knowledge and Being, and cannot be situated in any secondary domain, in any realm of “revelation”. It does not answer to the pacification offered by the constructed realm of ideated truth, whether from the church or from the “woke” authorities of the modern age, only to the truth itself within Nature. Indeed, despite his faith, Jung sees this Light of Nature in juxtaposition to his faith as the most important source of his creative energy, flowing from his natural and personal temperant of discontent, for this reason Jung cites Paracelsus as a Faustian figure, a prototype of a line that goes from Faust to Nietzsche, something that was only counterveiled by the pious maxim “I under God and God under me”.
Jung reasserts this assessment later on:
He was a well-intentioned, humble Christian. His ethics and his professed faith were Christian, but his most secret, deepest passion, his whole creative yearning, belonged to the lumen naturae, the divine spark buried in the darkness, whose sleep of death could not be vanquished even by the revelation of God’s son. The light from above made the darkness still darker; but the lumen naturae is the light of the darkness itself, which illuminates its own darkness, and this light the darkness comprehends. Therefore it turns blackness into brightness, burns away “all superfluities,” and leaves behind nothing but “faecem et scoriam et terram damnatam” (dross and scoriae and the rejected earth).
For Jung, this Light of Nature is a pagan feeling, on the grounds that it constitutes the veneration of the natural world, and its process of transformation:
Paracelsus, like all the philosophical alchemists, was seeking for something that would give him a hold on the dark, body-bound nature of man, on the soul which, intangibly interwoven with the world and with matter, appeared before itself in the terrifying form of strange, demoniacal figures and seemed to be the secret source of life-shortening diseases. The Church might exorcise demons and banish them, but that only alienated man from his own nature, which, unconscious of itself, had clothed itself in these spectral forms. Not separation of the natures but union of the natures was the goal of alchemy. From the time of Democritus its leitmotiv had been: “Nature rejoices in nature, nature conquers nature, nature rules over nature.” This principle is pagan in feeling and an expression of nature worship. Nature not only contains a process of transformation—it is itself
transformation. It strives not for isolation but for union, for the wedding feast followed by death and rebirth. Paracelsus’s “exaltation in May” is this marriage, the “gamonymus” or hierosgamos of light and darkness in the shape of Sol and Luna. Here the opposites unite what the light from
above had sternly divided.
We also notice something peculiar in that we find, according to Jung, the Light of Nature is capable of embodying spirt as well as matter, thus in some ways providing a map by which to encapsulate even the supposedly extra-natural as, in fact, entirely within the natural, and thus all falls under Nature and therefore the Light of Nature becomes the true light of all. In this light, we see the Light of Nature as, more than only the skeptical light of natural consciousness, the spark of the unconscious, a light hidden within the unconscious of mankind, which animates the collective unconscious. Jung writes:
Nature is not matter only, she is also spirit. Were that not so, the only source of spirit would be human reason. It is the great achievement of Paracelsus to have elevated the “light of nature” to a
principle and to have emphasized it in a far more fundamental way than his predecessor Agrippa. The lumen naturae is the natural spirit, whose strange and significant workings we can observe in the manifestations of the unconscious now that psychological research has come to realize that
the unconscious is not just a “subconscious” appendage or the dustbin of consciousness, but is a largely autonomous psychic system for compensating the biases and aberrations of the conscious attitude, for the most part functionally, though it sometimes corrects them by force. Consciousness can, as we know, be led astray by naturalness as easily as by spirituality, this being the logical consequence of its freedom of choice. The unconscious is not limited only to the instinctual and reflex processes of the cortical centres; it also extends beyond consciousness and, with its symbols, anticipates future conscious processes. It is therefore quite as much a “supra-consciousness.”
So the Light of Nature then becomes more than just a metaphor for skeptical and naturalistic inquiry in a standard sense, but also something that lurks within the unconscious of human beings, perhaps even analogue to that often quoted aspect of Jung’s thought relating to the descent into darkness for the pursuit of knowledge and truth. The call to go into the underworld, then, takes on the character of the ontological inquiry into Nature, Nature not just in the outer sense, but in the dark recesses of the human psychological and psychorreal sphere, in which the hidden, perhaps even “occult”, currents of the mind and the world are to be discovered, and from which meaning is to be grasped, meaning of a kind that is not typically accessible in everyday life, and yet is perhaps immanent in life itself.
There is much more that can be said about this Light of Nature, however, outside of Jung himself. Indeed, many commentaries take note of the Lumen Naturae as reference to a source of knowledge couched in the natural world as opposed to revelation from God. From Georg Nicolaus’ C.G. Jung and Nikolai Berdyaev: Individuation and the Person: A Critical Comparison, we see the following:
The lumen naturae is a ‘second, independent source of knowledge’ set against the light of revelation, which is received through faith. It is ‘the quinta essentia, extracted by God himself from the four elements and “dwelling in our hearts” …The light of nature is an intuitive apprehension of the facts, a kind of illumination’. It is the highest treasure of nature, and has a twofold source: both a ‘mortal and an immortal’ one. It is the light of the scintilla animae, ‘the divine spark buried in the darkness’. The heart, where this divine spark is hidden, is also ‘the seat of the imagination’, so that the lumen naturae is the source of the alchemical vera imaginatio, the key to the opus.
As a ‘light in the darkness’ the lumen naturae is a source of true knowledge in the unconscious. Nature, too, has spirit within itself: ‘Nature is not matter only, she is also spirit. Were that not so, the only source of spirit would be human reason’. The lumen naturae in the unconscious is responsible for the fact that the unconscious is not only nature, but also a source of genuine spirituality which ‘anticipates in its symbols future conscious processes. It [the unconscious] is therefore quite as much a “supra-consciousness”.
The lumen naturae turns out to be a second source of ‘revelation’, one which dangerously competes with the supernatural ‘light of faith’ even though, according to Paracelsus, both lights in the end have the same source: ‘the unity of God’. In fact, as the ‘Enlightenment’ and the rise of modern science late showed, this union of the two lights is anything but unproblematic: the potential conflcit of the two lights goes to the heart of the problem of the ‘death of God’ in modernity.
Then from Marilyn Nagy’s Philosophical Issues in the Psychology of C. G. Jung: Portraits, Policies, Programs, and Practices, we see thus; for starters an assessment of Paracelsus that, ironically, positions the Christian Paracelsus one of the ancestors of the ancestors of the modern atheistic naturalist impetus regarding knowledge, God notwithsdanding of course:
The second problem for Paracelsus was the doctrine of revealed knowledge. We cannot accept things on faith, he said, just because someone else has told us it is so. We must look instead to Nature and to the truth which God has put there for us to read. “Pagoyum” was a favorite neologism, made up of “paganum” and the Hebrew word “goyim”. It meant that the truth is revealed not by authority or dogmatic faith but in nature herself, which is by contrast pagan. We can find the truth for ourselves.
The path to this knowledge is through direct personal experience. That meant getting away from rationalized theories and being with people in the world, listening to a story of a strange cure told at a wayside inn, observing not only the pathology but also the life circumstances of an ill woman.
More than that, thought Paracelsus, we must adopt the attitude of the naturalist, believing that Nature does indeed reveal the signs of God. We must not be skeptical, not “drown in work, abandoning research, saying it is beyond our understanding and thus failing to kindle the torch which will enlighten us.” Even in the face of our ignorance we must be obedient servants of this task. “As the light of Nature is like crumbs from the table of the Lord, for all the heathen to grasp, and has departed from Judah, so it behoves us not to give in, but to pick up the crumbs as long as they fall.
And then, on the Light of Nature itself and the means by which to acheive its realization in humans:
The method by which we obtain this knowledge and come to the light of nature has to do with coming into contact with a deeper level of our own natures which is connected to the larger processes of nature. For example, we know that scammonea purges, but this does not help us to understand the process itself. Just as there is a kind of science in a pear which teaches it how to be a pear and not an apple, so we should try to listen through the process of the scammonea. “When you overhear (‘ablauschen’) from the scammonea the knowledge which it possesses, it will be in you just as it is in the scammonea and you have acquired the experience as well as the knowledge. We find that place in ourselves which is in sympathetic correspondence with the principle of the external object, and we know it because we know ourselves. There is thus a much more direct, internal path to knowledge than objectivized processes of the rational mind.
We get a peculiar description of the lumen naturae in the notes for Carl Becker’s Asian and Jungian Views on Ethics:
In alchemical terms, lumen naturae is the “light of nature” as opposed to the numen of spiritual revelation. It is a sol invisibilis given to the individual, accessible through and identical with the “subtle” or “astral” body (ochema pneuma). It offers each individual “sufficient predestined light that he err not”. Phenomenologically, lumen naturae is experienced as scintillaes; sparks of the world soul scattered throughout the dark sea of night, germinal luminosities which are the seedbed of worlds to come (mundi futuri seminarium). This natural force, also described as an underworld fire, an ignis mercurialis, is synonymous with the pagan cosmos and aion.
Something to be mindful of is the “pagan cosmos” and the “pagan aion”. In pre-Christian Greece (the context we can assume is being referred to in this passage) Cosmos would refer to the order of the universe, and the very word simply means “world”, though can be interpreted to mean “universe” in the sense of the order of creation itself (for lack of a better word at least), though its Indo-European root word “konsmos” or “kems” means “to put in order”, thus Cosmos signifies the natural order of the world or the universe. Aion in Greek paganism refers to a god of time, more specifically time without limit, though he could also be taken as more of an abstract representation of time itself, as was the case in the Mithraic Mysteries, and the word Aion means “eternity” or “vital force”, thus signifying Aion as the vital force of infinite time. The connection made in this passage is that the Light of Nature is to be related with Cosmos and Aion and thus it is the light of the natural order of the universe and the bright flame of infinite time, or that at least is the inferrence we are to make. This broadens the concept of the Light of Nature significantly, though its association with the natural order (Cosmos) need not stretch it too far, insofar as it may, through identification with the natural order, signify immanent spiritual and intellectual awareness of Nature and its order, and from there the enlightenment that follows. The enlightenment, therefore, consists in the awakening of Man’s knowledge of Nature, and its relationship to Nature, and from there alignment with Nature – this can be rendered, from my perspective, in two senses; the first sense is the outer Nature, referring to the natural cosmos, its environment and more importantly its inner workings, while the second sense is the inner Nature, as in the Nature of all individual human beings, for which I would use the Chinese (or more specifically Taoist and neo-Confucian) concept of Ziran as an appellation, and the sum harmony of Man in relation to Nature is judged by his relation with both the Cosmos and with Ziran. The Light of Nature, then, could possibly be the spark that lights the way in this regard, leading humans away from artifice and rigid dogmas and towards independent and authentic existential inquiry and being in harmony with Nature in a holistic sense.
True to Jung’s assessment that the Light of Nature is a “pagan feeling”, there is a certain archetypal association established by Jung between the Light of Nature and a mythical figure from the pagan realm, namely Mercurius, the Roman form of the Greek god Hermes. It is safe assume the Mercurius that Jung speaks of in Alchemical Studies has more to do with alchemy (as the title suggests) than with paganism proper. Nonetheless, let’s have a look at Jung’s Mercurius. We can begin by highlighting his connection to the Light of Nature through alchemy:
The light hidden in nature and particularly in human nature likewise belongs to the stock of ancient alchemical ideas. Thus the “Tractatus Aristotelis” says: “See therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness.” The light of nature is indeed of great importance in alchemy. Just as, according to Paracelsus, it enlightens man as to the workings of nature and gives him an understanding of natural things “by cagastric magic” (per magiam cagastricam), so it is the aim of alchemy to beget this light in the shape of the filius philosophorum. An equally ancient treatise of Arabic provenance attributed to Hermes, the “Tractatus aureus,” says (Mercurius is speaking): “My light excels all other lights, and my goods are higher than all other goods. I beget the light, but the darkness too is of my nature. Nothing better or more worthy of veneration can come to pass in the world than the union of myself with my son.” In the “Dicta Belini” (Belinus is a pseudo-Apollonius of Tyana) Mercurius says: “I enlighten all that is mine, and I make the light manifest on the journey from my father Saturn.” “I make the days of the world eternal, and I illumine all lights with my light.” Another author says of the “chymical marriage” from which arises the filius philosophorum: “They embrace and the new light is begotten of them, which is like no other light
in the whole world.”
Later on, Jung expands the connection between Mercurius and the Light of Nature through the connection between Mercurius and fire:
Many treatises define Mercurius simply as fire. He is ignis elementaris noster naturalis ignis certissimus, which again indicates his “philosophic” nature. The aqua mercurialis is even a divine fire. This fire is “highly vaporous” (vaporosus). Indeed, Mercurius is really the only fire in the whole procedure. He is an “invisible fire, working in secret.” One text says that the “heart” of Mercurius is at the North Pole and that he is like a fire (northern lights). He is, in fact, as another text says, “the universal and scintillating fire of the light of nature, which carries the heavenly spirit within it.” This passage is particularly important as it relates Mercurius to the lumen naturae, the source of mystical knowledge second only to the holy revelation of the Scriptures. Once more we catch a glimpse of the ancient role of Hermes as the god of revelation. Although the lumen naturae, as originally bestowed by God upon his creatures, is not by nature ungodly, its essence was nevertheless felt to be abysmal, since the ignis mercurialis was also connected with the fires of hell. It seems, however, that the alchemists did not understand hell, or its fire, as absolutely outside of God or opposed to him, but rather as an internal component of the deity, which must indeed be so if God is held to be a coincidentia oppositorum. The concept of an all-encompassing God must necessarily include his opposite. The coincidentia, of course, must not be
too radical or too extreme, otherwise God would cancel himself out. The principle of the coincidence of opposites must therefore be completed by that of absolute opposition in order to attain full paradoxicality and hence psychological validity.
The mercurial fire is found in the “centre of the earth,” or dragon’s belly, in fluid form. Benedictus Figulus writes: “Visit the centre of the earth, there you will find the global fire.” Another treatise says that this fire is the “secret, infernal fire, the wonder of the world, the system of the higher powers in the lower.” Mercurius, the revelatory light of nature, is also hell-fire, which in some miraculous way is none other than a rearrangement of the heavenly, spiritual powers in the lower, chthonic world of matter, thought already in St. Paul’s time to be ruled by the devil. Hell-fire, the true energic principle of evil, appears here as the manifest counterpart of the spiritual and the good, and as essentially identical with it in substance. After that, it can surely cause no offence when another treatise says that the mercurial fire is the “fire in which God himself burns in divine love.” We are not deceiving ourselves if we feel in scattered remarks of this kind the breath of true mysticism.
Thus, Mercurius is directly identified with the Light of Nature as the light which not only contained within itself spirit associated with the divine but also a certain abysmal quality associated with the fire of Hell, thus in some ways containing spiritual light as well as darkness within itself, but is more importantly associated with some sort of spiritual revelation. The association with the chthonic realm beneath the earth is, in my view, rather consistent with the association of Hermes with the underworld. Chthonios was one of the epithets affixed to Hermes within the Greek cults, and as Hermes Chthonios the god was invoked in private rituals inteded for casting curses, binding spells and raising the spirits of the earth, as well as being honored in festivals of the dead. Hermes in general was often associated with the underworld due to his role as the guide of souls in the underworld, and was always worshipped as a chthonic deity for aspects relating to fertility (hence why he was often venerated in the form of a phallus). And indeed, that role of Hermes containing both heavenly light and infernal darkness is consistent with how Hermes was seen both as an infernal god of necromancy and a benevolent protector and shepherd of souls. Not to mention, for his connections to revelation, look no further than the Orphic Hymn to Chthonic Hermes, which calls him “divine revealer”. In this sense, Hermes, or rather Mercurius, becomes an emblem of chthonic revelation, the revelation of Nature, whose light comes not from above but from within itself, through its own darkness, its murky mist which is illuminated by Man, through its negative foundation in which we see the mutual and often contradictory struggle that turns the wheels of freedom and fate.
Before we get into what this means, I’d like to get into what this has to do with Lucifer specifically, considering I tagged this with Luciferianism. Jung, of course, interprets Lucifer in a negative light, similar to Satan in that he’s called the father of lies. If nothing else, Jung should probably know that Jesus was also called Lucifer, within the Bible. But more to the point, in Jung’s work Lucifer and Mercurius, not just in Alchemical Studies where Lucifer is framed as effectively a shadow side for Mercurius, but in Man and His Symbols we find that Mercurius and Lucifer are linked together:
Envy, lust, sensuality, lies, and all known vices are the negative, “dark ” aspect of the unconscious, which can manifest itself in two ways. In the positive sense, it appears as a “spirit of nature,” creatively animating man, things, and the world. It is the “chthonic spirit” that has been mentioned so often in this chapter. In the negative sense, the unconscious (that same spirit) manifests itself as a spirit of evil, as a drive to destroy.
As has already been pointed out, the alchemists personified this spirit as “th e spirit Mercurius ” and called it, with good reason, Mercurius duplex (the two-faced, dual Mercurius). In the religious language of Christianity, it is called the devil. But, however improbable it may seem, the devil too has a dual aspect. In the positive sense, he appears as Lucifer—literally, the light-bringer.
What is the chthonic spirit? Jung wrote about it as the dark side of the God image, for which sexuality apparently is its most important expression (for which the connection to Mercurius makes sense given that Hermes was often worshipped as a phallus), and he often pointed to this chthonic spirit as a source of both danger and innovation – danger because of the negative aspects of the unconscious, and because of the danger of the submergence of that chthonic spirit, but also innovation because it is within the same realm that human creativity and spiritual revelation are found, not least through the archetypal journey to the underworld. Donald Kalsched, writing in The Inner World of Trauma: Archetypal Defences of the Personal Spirit, remarks that Jung, despite his commentary on the development of Yahweh into a positive archetypal through the transition from Old Testament tyrant to New Testament shepherd as mediated through Job, always complained about Christianity handing Man’s chthonic spirit over to the Devil, to the realm of evil and the ego, rendering itself incomplete by casting out the chthonic element of the psyche, which for Kalsched lies at the root of his preference for alchemy to the point that he supposedly preferred Mercurius (or Mercurius Duplex) as the mediator of the Godhead instead of Jesus on the grounds that, unlike the Jesus we know today, Mercurius represented the complete union of opposites made possible by his chthonic nature. Exactly where Kalsched gets this assessment is not clear, and even a cursory analysis of Jungian psychology does not suggest it to be anti-Christian in content, not to mention we have reason to believe he despised what he called the “anti-Christian” culture of modernity. Nevertheless, like as Marx would do for Hegel, we can take key insights from Jung’s framework and use them to build a framework outside of Christianity, just that we cannot in the process of this assume things of Jung that are not true for Jung.
In any case, is there a mythic link between Mercurius and Lucifer that can be extrapolated? In the official canon of ancient Greece and Rome, most likely not, unless you make a loose link involving Nominos (the evening star) and Azizos (the morning star) who were identified with Hermes and Ares respectively and were worshipped, in their evening/morning star capacity, as heralds of the sun god Helios. Despite this there is some identification within the tradition of Luciferianism. Ben Kadosh, the eccentric father of Luciferianism, identified Lucifer with Hermes in Lucifer-Hiram through the Snake Principle, the principle of the serpent symbol, which he said belonged to Hermes-Mercurius, and described Hermes as one of the four shapes of the Lucifer (the other three shapes being the Moon or “a Moonintelligence”, Venus, and Jupiter). At first this seems outlandish, and it does indeed speak to the general loose connections that tend to be conjured up within occultism, but there was also a curious note in Asian and Jungian Views on Ethics which, although tangential to the Lumen Naturae, does touch on the relationship between Lucifer and the other gods of Greek paganism:
In Christian myth, Lucifer (literally “light-bearer”) became a rebel archangel whose fall from heaven was referred to in Isaiah 14, 42: “How thou art fallen, oh day-star, son of the morning.” This Old Testament passage, part of a polemic against the King of Babylon, was interpreted to mean that the chief of the angels who “kept not their estate” was named Lucifer before he fell, and thereafter Satan, the Adversary. This Lucifer was identified with Phosphoros and the Phosphoroi, pagan terms which referred both to the “morning and evening star” and to a particular shining or revealing quality associated with the gods prior to the Olympian cults. Thus, Hestia’s hearthfire, Hermes’ wayfinding, Artemis’ knowledge of the wilds, Hekate’s dark wisdom, Selene’s shining, Persephone’s underworld knowing, Pan’s spontaneity, and Aphrodite’s beauty were all a quality of “Phosphoros”. It was this identification that allowed Christian apologists to maintain with Augustine, that “Omnes dii genitum daemona/all the gods of the pagans are demons” and that these demons are the devil. Thus, they turned Lucifer into Sata, the adversary of Jahweh, the Old Testament God. Another often-used passage was Genesis 6 in which the “sons of God” who were set over men “fell” by copulating with “the daughters of men,” thus producing a race of demons. Those two were identified with the pagan Gods. All of those demons were seen to occupy themselves particularly with the divination and magic which was their “light”.
The identification of Phosphoros with countless gods from the ancient Greek world is sourced to Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher’s Lexikon der Grieschischen und Romischen Mythologie (or “Lexicon of Greek and Roman Mythology”). Sadly, however, I am unable to find a translation of it into English, so I couldn’t tell you what the German copy I did manage to find on the internet could tell you. If there’s anyone among my readership who can read and translate German, please get in touch so I can get a good look at what Roscher had to say about Phosphoros, particularly in relation to Hermes since there are no extant sources to Hermes (let alone Pan, Aphrodite, or Hestia) being given the Phosphoros epithet. One interesting lead it might present, however, is a either way of conceptualizing the Light of Nature which contains the abstract forms associated with the various gods (that is to say abstract ideas that correspond with hearthfire, wayfinding, knowledge of the wilds, dark wisdom, shining, underworld knowing, spontaneity and beauty), or just a separate conception of said abstract qualities that perhaps ties back to the Light of Nature. Either way, one can make parallels to the way Christianity sometimes took aspects of pagan mythos and, when they were not making demons of it, elevated aspects of it to the realm of abstract concepts relating to the divinity of God or the content of Christian salvation (for example, Christianity uses the Greek terms zoe and aion, which are associated with two gods from Greek myth, Dionysus and Aion respectively, to refer to their idea of eternal life in Heaven), which can be taken as way to compete with the heritage of Christianity, or just drawing lessons from it at a time where Christianity is still dominant in the Western world.
But, in totality, what have we established in regards to the Light of Nature? Admittedly, we seem to get a very broad and open-ended concept – the Light of Nature encompasses the skeptical intellect in alignment with Nature over dogma, the spark of the unconscious, the “fire of the underworld” which perhaps could be taken as the illumination of the unconscious, and even Jung’s prevailing conception of the “chthonic spirit” that underpins the unity of opposites. Jung’s analysis of Paracelsus’ intention is that the Light of Nature and the Light of God (the Lumen Dei) are to be taken as complimentary opposites, two separate means of attaining knowledge, sometimes even seen as co-existent in ideal circumstances. But, if we deal in a cosmos that is uncreated, whose order is thus self-emergent or self-arising (or Ziran), and whose basis is essentially fully materialistic in that the prima materia of the universe is matter-energy, where is the Father, where is the creator, and at that point if God is put in doubt where is the Lumen Dei? The Light of Nature is thus the Light that remains, and indeed always has been with us, whatever our illusions about ourselves would tell us otherwise, and it has been the spark by which we engage independently with and against the world around us, in alignment with Nature within and without, the source of existential authenticity once it becomes awakened. It is thus a latent relational construct that encompasses many psychorreal attributes, philosophical concepts and archetypal constructs, all of which fall back into the same theme in the end.
That is the Light in absence of any God that, I think, becomes the source of a much clearer concept of philosophical grounding than many other concepts that I have played with in the past. Indeed, it creates an anchor of spiritual engagement rooted in the premise that it is Nature and Man’s relationship to it that is the central locus of meaning rather than striving under a God in Heaven (whether it be Yahweh, Allah, Vishnu or any other), while building a meaningful, if anything, religious (if you choose such a word) base that does not require those Gods, because the Light of Nature operates on a basis that rejects their authority.