The rise of neo-Gnostic psychobabble

Recently I’ve encountered some new spiritual movements that embody a particular kind of world-abnegating solipsism derived from what is likely a form of Gnostic philosophy, though obviously in a new and particularized form not explicitly wedded to Gnostic Christianity. I am not talking, this time, about the Chaos Gnostics found within such movements as the Temple of Black Light, although they would certainly qualify in a 2edgy4me sort of way. Instead we’re talking about a disparate collection of ideas that, to some extent, could broadly be described as “New Age”, at least for the lack of a better cohesive label. Unlike Chaos Gnostics, whose solipsitic worldview is defined by militant nihilism and outward embrace of total darkness and maleficence, these are movements that wrap themselves up in a kind of New Age or post-New Age milieu and bill themselves as positive, salvific doctrines. You will find such neo-Gnostic tripe in many corners of the internet, at least if you know where to look for it.

One movement in particular centers around the concepts of “organic portals” and “soulless people” – the latter concept in particular should prove awfully familiar for reasons that will become clear as you read this post. The concept of “organic portals” is very much connected to the concept of “soulless people”, and in fact it seems as thought the former springs out of the latter. According to this belief system, about half of the world’s population are people who are born into this world without souls, without the ability to see past the Matrix and perceive the true reality (as opposed to this one, presumably). These people are the “organic portals”, who serve the purpose of keeping the rest of humanity unaware of the truth of reality by preoccupying them with the mundane aspects of life, and are hence an integral part of “the Matrix”. They are described as essentially puppets, cardboard cutouts, possessing artificial consciousness, commanded by demonic beings from other dimensions, and lacking a higher self, a soul. In fact, the more read about the subject the more you find that the terms “organic portal” and “soulless beings” are basically interchangeable and refer to the same concept.

It’s hard for me to ascertain just where these ideas got their start and it’s unclear if there is necessarily a cohesive movement around them as opposed to just a scattered network of blogs, but it seems that people have been talking about them for the last decade, though they seem to have gotten somewhat more attention within the last four years. However, it strikes me that this idea is awfully similar that theory on 4chan about how a large continent of the world’s population are “NPCs”.

The main connection to Gnosticism seems to be outlined in an article from a website entitled “Piercing the Veil of Reality”, in which it is stated:

According to “Gnosis”, as transmitted by Boris Mouravieff, there exist two kind of humans: adamic man and pre-adamic man. One type with soul potential, the other has no individual soul. Only the former has the inherent capacity to evolve esoterically and build the magnetic center by fusing the lower with the higher centers. The latter does not have the possibility in his current evolutionary cycle to bridge to the higher centers and no access to higher knowing/awareness/love. 
Looking at the Indian chakra model, one could say that pre-adamic man only exists on the lower three chakras without any access to the higher ones, while adamic man also mostly exists on the lower centers, but has the ability to activate and bridge the higher centers through conscious esoteric work.

These “pre-adamic” people seem to line up with the rest of the mythos surrounding the “soulless ones” and “organic portals”, leading me to think that Boris Mouravieff, who was a Russian mystic philosopher whose trade was largely in esoteric Christianity, might be a primary source for these ideas. Mouravieff’s ideas are also echoed by the writings of a self-described “PalaeoChristian Shaman” named Laura Knight Jadczyk, who considers Mouravieff’s theology to be the closest thing to the truth. Jadczyk ties the idea of “organic portals” to psychopathy, citing it as the reason why some people are psychopathic, and of course ties it to gnosticism by citing what is apparently Gnostic doctrine.

Gnostics divide humanity into HYLICS, PSYCHICS, and PNEUMATICS. HYLICS (from Greek uAq (hyle) “matter”) are earthly, hidebound, ignorant, uninitiated. The lowest level of human thought – the fleshly, instinctive level of thinking. They are the opposite of Psychics (from Greek i]mX T ] (psyche) “soul”). So humanity comprised matter- bound beings, matter-dwelling spirits and the matter-free or immaterial souls. Hylics are also called Somatics (from greek oxopa (soma) “body”) or Sarkics (“Fleshly” from greek sarkikos). “The Book of Thomas the Contender” quotes Jesus as saying some men are beasts. „Hylic” seems to be the gnostic term for “Organic Portal” or “Pre-Adamic Man”. “Hylic” can be thought of as a level of thinking and dealing with the lowest portion of human nature. It is considered living by instinctual drives with no sublimation. They were deemed completely bound to matter. Matter, the material world, was considered evil by the gnostics. The material world was created by a demiurge, in some instances a blind, mad God, in others an army of rebellious angels as a trap for the spiritual Ennoia. The duty of (spiritual) man was to escape the material world by the aid of the hidden knowledge (gnosis). Hylics were human in form, but since their entire focus was on the material world, such as eating, sleeping, mating or creature comforts, they were seen as doomed. The pneumatic saw himself as escaping the doom of the material world via the secret knowledge. Hylics were thought to be incapable of understanding. For consideration of these dynamics, see for example the Gospel of Judas, believed to be a gnostic text, where Jesus is posited as a pneumatic and the other disciples, non-gnostics, as somatics.

These ideas are also undergirded throughout the New Age conspiracy theorist blogosphere by statements made by many spiritualist thinkers, such as the occultist G.I. Gurdjieff, who describes a certain type of people as “actually already dead” Rudolf Steiner, the Austrian spiritualist who created the doctrine of Anthroposophy, who described cases “in which children are born with a human form, but are not really human beings in relation to their highest I” and in which people were born as “natural demons” who did not reincarnate, and Sri Aurobindo, who describes these sorts of people as “like vampires”. Aurobindo’s inclusion strikes me as somewhat conspicuous because, apparently, he was a nationalist, and in particular one who based his nationalism on religion (which, given what we know about Hindutva, doesn’t fill me with confidence). In fact a simple Google search will yield quite a few videos on YouTube that discuss “organic portals” and “NPCs” interchangeably. And given this plus the obvious similarity between the idea of “organic portals” and the idea of “NPCs” (really they’re the same idea but presently differently) that makes me wonder if the spectre of nationalism is driving some of this neo-Gnostic stuff. Then again, given that the “organic portals” discussion goes at least as far back as 2011, predating the NPC theories that emerged on 4chan, it makes me think the 4chanites have simply adopted spiritualism as a vehicle for their worldview.

There’s another form of neo-Gnostic pop mysticism afoot lately in the cult of Bentinho Massaro, a self-styled spiritual guru who also happens to think that 9/11 was an inside job and that we can communicate with aliens. Here’s one thing he said in one of his lectures (as featured in a VICE mini-documentary) that, for me, kind of gives away the scent of neo-Gnosticism:

“So one of the most important things to make this whole life sustainable, especially when you start waking up, spiritually speaking, and you start seeing through the illusions of the matrix, both the matrix as well as the grand matrix, the grand illusion, a form of matter, of that which changes, which comes and goes…”

It’s worth keeping in mind that I’ve paraphrased this slightly, due to the actual speech being rather jittery and not so well articulated, but I believe we can grasp his central claim nonetheless. His essential claim is the material world is an illusion, that in fact the material world is comparable to the matrix from the Matrix films, a claim that you can also find among believers in “organic portals” (in fact it’s central to the premise). This is in many ways a form of the Gnostic premise repackaged in a vague New Age language, one that perhaps seems more palatable or more “Zen” for a broader audience. To be honest, however, even this comes across as a possible opportunism of sorts, because his belief system appears to be a mish-mash of random spiritual and religious concepts, most likely drawing especially from Hinduism and/or some bastardization of Buddhism, mixed in of course with wacky InfoWars-lite beliefs about aliens.

What is far more worrying however is that Massaro has a fairly wide audience – he has many social media accounts that have followers/subscribers in the tens of thousands, and he has his own university called Trinfinity Academy where people can pay hundreds of dollars to take courses to pursue his particular brand of woo. Perhaps a part of this attraction can be attributed to the perception that he is a relaxed and carefree spiritual leader, owing to his reputation of off-colour (though likely still inoffensive) humour and his aloof attitude to organized religion. But to be honest, I get some NXIVM-esque vibes from this guy, considering his whole schtick of “let’s make money off of my indoctrination retreats”, which from what I’ve seen seem to have a high concentration of women in them, and the fact that I’ve seen him denigrate people for their relationships for no reason (yeah, totally not cult-like at all).

These are just a few examples of what could be referred as a kind of neo-Gnostic current within various modern spiritual-religious movements, and I’m sure there are more, but these are the ones that have come under my radar as of late. I can’t help but wonder why some form of Gnosticism is proving to be so influential in alternative religious currents, and why it plays into New Age and often conspiracy theory based systems without much trouble.

“Sophia” by Alex Grey

Long live the democratization of deity

In the foreword of Karl Marx’s Difference Between the Democritean and Epicurean Philosophy of Nature, there is noticeable attention paid to the myth of Prometheus, which he seems to view as the champion and affirmation of the virtue of philosophy. He makes reference to the philosopher Epicurus as echoing the cry of philosophy against its adversaries through the following quotation from his letter to Menoeceus:

“Not the man who denies the gods worshipped by the multitude, but he who affirms of the gods what the multitude believes about them, is truly impious.”

Now it is worth noting that, in the actual letter, the context of that statement is negative. Epicurus considered the affirmation to be a literal blasphemy, because in his words “the utterances of the multitude about the gods are not true preconceptions but false assumptions”.

There is a version of that quote that reads a little differently, found in Karl Marx’s Social and Political Thought: Critical Assessments by Robert Jessop, as well as Activity in Marx’s Philosophy by Norman D. Livergood, and it reads like this:

“The blasphemous is not he who scorns the gods of the masses, but he who adheres to the idea that the masses create the gods.”

And truly this would be blasphemy indeed for the classically religious person. After all, this brings the level of the gods, God, and divinity in general down to the domain of Man, and in so doing binds them to the earthly realm, to worldliness. This would be impermissible for most religious/spiritual systems. But, it is in part that quality that makes such an idea truly revolutionary in the context of the ancient world, and perhaps still so in the modern day.

It is also from the foreword of Difference Between the Democritean and Epicurean Philosophy of Nature that we derive a very peculiar quote, one that I find should appeal to those who seek to uphold the Promethean ideal:

“Prometheus is the most eminent saint and martyr in the philosophical calendar.”

In Marx’s canon, Prometheus is the mythological and heroic champion of philosophy, and through whom philosophy rebukes the clemency of the gods in his response to Hermes:

Be sure of this, I would not change my state
Of evil fortune for your servitude.
Better to be the servant of this rock
Than to be faithful boy to Father Zeus.

This quotation is in many ways the ancestor of that famous speech given by Satan in Paradise Lost, in which he proclaims, rightfully, that it is better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven. When Hermes, a servant of Zeus, approaches Prometheus, he attempts to scare Prometheus into telling him what he knows about the eventual destroyer of Zeus, as this is one condition for Zeus to release him from his bondage to the Caucasus. Prometheus refuses to comply, and asserts that he would prefer to remain in his state of punishment and suffering then to serve as the lackey of the gods. This is how one can make sense of the Promethean interpretation of the character of Satan in Paradise Lost, assuming of course that John Milton was familiar with the story of Prometheus.

For Marx to cite him as the foremost saint of the philosophical calendar suggests that the spirit of Prometheus is very much intended to manifest in much of his worldview, and for him at least the practice of philosophy. Or, more pertinently, that the emancipatory spirit of Prometheus reminded Marx of his own overriding ideal of collective emancipation (Prometheus being the emancipator of humanity by stealing the fires of knowledge, with Marx’s .

Now, in Jessop’s book, We get an interesting analysis of the way Marx addressed the Promethean themes invoked in the foreword of Difference Between the Democritean and Epicurean Philosophy of Nature. First we address the analysis of the quotation of Epicurus.

“True blasphemy is not contempt for the gods but advocacy of the idea that the gods are human creations, detached ideas, become independent in the mind. Philosophy or secular self-consciousness, in other words, does not reject ‘gods’, a metaphor for ideas, but sees them as reflections of man’s own self-consciousness; i.e. gods, like ideas, are products of human self-consciousness and not the absolutes of theology.”

Theistic religions, from pre-Christian religions to Christianity to Islam to Hinduism, have traditionally held their gods in absolute, being tangible beings with tangible power, through the tremendous power they were held to have over natural and spiritual forces that directly affect the survival of humans. Framed this way, however, the gods are presented as the emanations of human consciousness, from there perhaps dependent upon it. Perhaps this is not too far away from the way that the naturalists of old viewed the gods, such as Prodicus of Ceos who regarded the gods as reflections of the natural forces that provided comfort to mankind, though perhaps it could also be taken in another way.

Continuing from there:

“The point is even more clearly established by Marx when he makes ‘the confession of Prometheus: “In simple words, I hate the pack of gods”‘, into philosophy’s own self-declaration; i.e, there will be no gods other than profane ‘human self-consciousness’. The same point is made in a footnote to the Appendix of his dissertation, where he presents the ontological proof of the existence of god as being in fact a proof of the ‘existence of essential human self-consciousness’. If the ontological proof states that the concept of a thing begs a corresponding reality, then, ‘which being’ Marx asks ‘is immediate when made the subject of thought?’. The answer he asserts is ‘self-consciousness’ – not the concept of self-consciousness but real, existing self-consciousness, the immediate source of all concepts, and the subject matter of the thesis.”

To say that there will be no gods other than human self-consciousness ties in rather nicely with the statement that it is the masses that create the gods, that they are the products of consciousness. For in much the same way, to declare human self-consciousness as the realm of the divine brings the divine into the world realm and through which, crucially, into the domain of Man.

This ethos permeates what Jessop identifies much further on:

The Foreword ends with the statement: “Prometheus is the most eminent saint and martyr in the philosophical calendar.”. In other words, philosophy, as human self-consciousness, finds its symbol in Prometheus, who brought the secret of fire to man from the gods so that man might develop his own arts and remove himself from subordination to the gods. Like Prometheus, philosophy must end the separation of the sacred from the secular, it must bring ideas down from the heavens and make them the content of real human consciousness.

It is from here that I get to my main point. The true ideal at the heart of the Promethean (and from there Luciferian) archetype is the idea of the abolition of the separation between Man and the divine, from there emancipating the whole of mankind.

In that sense, I’ve also begun to consider this in relation to even Jesus and Christianity. No, Prometheus is not an analogue of Jesus Christ. I covered this in a separate blog post in February 2017 (though, having said that, the satirist Lucian of Samosata apparently related Prometheus’ punishment in terms of Jesus’ crucifixion, and ironically there may be considerable similarities between Jesus and Heracles, the rescuer of Prometheus). But there is something the two figures have in common worth noting: theoretically, at least, Jesus through his death and resurrection was supposed to abolish Man’s separation with the divine.

In this sense, the real problem with Christianity is that it never in its thousand year plus reign truly achieved the abolition of that separation between Man and God. How could it, with its embrace of the rigid hierarchy of the great chain of being? Though I suppose it does not help things that the ideal of Christianity . There’s a profound sense of cuckoldery within the Christian religion. In Jesus you have a potentially emancipatory figure, potentially even the means by which God becomes accessible and tangible to mankind (whereas, in Judaism, he could only ever be so close, indeed his very being blinds and burns whose who lay sight upon it), and even then Jesus’ salvation can only really be a thing within the very same hierarchy within which, in Judaism, God is ever so inaccessible. Indeed, despite Jesus’ best efforts, the Christian conceptions of hierarchy served only to further or sustain Man’s partition with the divine. Not to mention, have we not forgotten when Jesus said “think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets”, referring to the Judaic law of the Old Testament, “I have not come to destroy, but to fulfill”, very clearly stating that, as much as he may have established the bridge between the divine and man, he still upholds Judaic law, and from there the spirit of the hierarchy of the intangible and the tyrannical authority of the Abrahamic Logos, and very much to the letter as he says “not a single jot, not a stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished”.

The Luciferian, therefore, seeks to emancipate Man in a way that Christianity could not. His goal is to work towards ending the separation between the divine and Man, to liberate the soul from ignorance and bondage, and to generate freedom for all sentient beings. In so doing, the Luciferian rejects the order of the God of Abraham as a condition for Man’s freedom, whereas Jesus sought to uphold it. The Luciferian, in seeking to carry the mission of Prometheus, places the divine in the locus of Man, for man is the object of Luciferian liberation.

Prometheus and Hercules by Christian Griepenkerl

Nihilism sucks

I do not quite understand why, but the subject of nihilism has hung over me like a shroud in recent months. I realize this will be more deeply personal than intellectual, but I would hate for it sink into the sea of memory before I have the chance to get it off my chest.

I have, at various points, stopped to reflect on the question of why I was born, and sometimes I still do. Why was I born here, at this particular moment in time. In fact, I dare say that it is this moment in time – a period where we seem to be on the cusp of the end of an era, where we’re teetering ever closer to destruction, where some say we might be seeing the last generation of humans that won’t be almost completely immersed by the technological realm – that has made me feel this way the most. Why now, in this seemingly most chaotic of times? And I know that you might say “oh you were here because your dad fucked your mom”, and I mean, it’s not wrong, but it hardly answers anything, and if anything begs the question of why they were born too.

And often times, when I’ve reflected that, it’s accompanied by a different thought – actually, more often than that thought to be honest. The thought of entropy, of demise. Existential terror still creeps up on me. You know what that question people often ask themselves about how what’s the point of doing anything if it’s all going to be gone? I feel a lot of empathy for people who look a universe characterized predominantly by entropy, where we’re all here for a bang in the grand scheme of things and then fade out as though it were nothing, never to know the nothingness that may well await, or perhaps the truth of their fate. I say this because I sometimes feel something like that come over me, and I feel like “there has to be a reason why we go through all this shit”. The more I think about it, the more come to the conclusion that it makes no sense that there isn’t some reason for everything being the way it is is an absurd thing to contemplate, and hence I have trouble with the idea that there’s nothing about life be but born, eat, shit, get screwed over, have sex, have kids and then die for nothing.

When I say that there must be some meaning to the universe that we’re all sort of weaved into, I do not say this out of a conviction that there is a heavenly father watching over me, guiding my movements, judging me for a path that let’s be honest he’s ultimately responsible for me having taken in the first place. Instead, I say this out of the conviction that, in spite of how absurd and chaotic the universe often is, the universe we live in is in fact an ordered body of laws, that can be understood even to a limited extent by humanity through the capacity of his mind and his reason. Through the knowledge derived from this philosophical and empirical inquiry, mankind achieves liberation from bondage in a way that he does not do through faith of any kind. Of course, from an occultnik perspective, you could apply this to the idea that the spiritual realm, the “other side”, or indeed “God’s mysteries” in the sense implied by many classical forms of occultism, can be discovered, understood and systematized by humans. If you’re a nihilist, you believe in nothing and so must reject even this principle as possessing no legitimacy, for under nihilism all things are without any intrinsic meaning or value.

In fact, as I mull over the occasional feelings of existential dread and morbid questing, I feel more and more averse to nihilism. I see it as an empty framework, a childish rejection of all values and all meaning, leaving nothing to progress with, destined only either to give way to a more useful framework , as order can be said to emerge from chaos, or to be the basis of a lifelong quest of negation and perversion driven only by the will to power. The view that there’s nothing of value intrinsic within the universe strikes me as the view of one who is numb to meaning itself, one who can never access meaning, and characteristic perhaps of an existence that becomes more common as capitalism erodes all value that cannot be reduced to commodity. You might even say nihilism is reactionary in a sense, because in many instances it emerges purely in reaction to the death of God as the prime source of meaning and values.

I must stress that for me this has little in practice to do with the God question. An atheist need not be a nihilist, and indeed some theists can be very nihilistic (I’ve seen some young Christians defend the existence of God by insisting that nothing is actually real, not realizing of course that this should mean God isn’t real either). Indeed, for a non-theist seeking to combat nihilism, the mission is invariably to craft the world after God. In fact I believe it to be possible to render nihilism an infantile disorder by dealing with morality as an evolutionary concept, a tool subject to natural selection through its adaptability for the utility of large scale societies in response to emergent conditions.

All in all, the more time I spend alone on the subject, the more I just seem to feel like nihilism in a loose sense comes across pretty absurd, even if you believe the point of life is to get as much pleasure out of it as possible (for surely with nihilism the pleasure itself is meaningless).

The latest smear against Satanism

The media has a new line of attack against Satanism in its efforts to tarnish its status within the public consciousness. This line of attack is different from the old days in that it doesn’t seek out to smear Satanists as psychotic, anti-social, criminal elements in society, but instead to smear them as basically pussies who act tough but are scared to death of Christians. Predictably, this smear centers on The Satanic Temple.

Numerous news outlets, ranging from liberal outlets like The Hill to conservative ones like The Daily Caller, reported that Lucien Greaves, co-founder of The Satanic Temple, said that Mike Pence “really scares” him, with The Daily Caller in particular running with the ludicrous title of “Co-Founder Of Satanic Temple Lives In Mortal Terror Of Pence“. Russia Today even joined in for some bizarre reason with the article “What keeps Satanists awake at night? That would be… US VP Mike Pence“.

What is the subject of these articles you might ask? While promoting a new film entitled Hail Satan?, which this week premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, Lucien Greaves gave an interview with The Daily Beast in which he describes his views on Donald Trump and Mike Pence. The main story seems to be this statement:

“Trump is too stupid to predict; the guy has no concept of his own limitations. The thing that makes me most comfortable with Trump is the fact that he has no vision. Mike Pence really scares me: Pence has a clear, theocratic vision for the United States.”

I think this is an entirely reasonable statement, and Greaves is ultimately correct on this point. Donald Trump, while an ally of evangelical conservative interests, is inconsistent on almost every issue, religion being one of them. While he clearly is a Christian (he even said that the Bible was his favorite book), he is not an active member of his church and doesn’t know if he ever asked God for forgiveness. Also, during his campaign he often deviated from conservative tradition by billing himself as a protector of LGBT rights (a point that would find itself incredibly hollow as his administration dragged on considering its attempts to legally erase trans people, rolling out “religious freedom” laws and appointing arch-conservative judges to the Supreme Court). While Trump’s beliefs are often ill-defined and sentimental, Pence is far more consistent and clear about his intentions. He calls himself a Christian above all else, literally does not believe in evolution, is a consistent friend of Christian fundamentalists and can be trusted to act upon their interests, as well as numerous other conservative interests (let’s just say I think the push for war in Iran or with Russia might go faster under Pence than under Trump).

The reason why I think the articles from the likes of The Daily Caller and Russia Today among other outlets constitute a smear of Satanism is that they try to paint Greaves’ obvious concerns as irrational and from there based on irrational fear of ordinary Christians, overlooking the fact that Mike Pence, if he were to become President of the United States, would have much more control over social policy than he presently does and the fact that the possibility of him taking over from Trump remains a possible contingency.

Russia Today even tries to slyly compare The Satanic Temple to the witches who attempted to hex Brett Kavanaugh, asking “Maybe Pence will be next?”. Actually, come to think of it, why is Russia Today wading in on this development? I seem to see them chime in from time to time on Western culture war bullshit, with a fairly recent example being them publishing an article written by Slavoj Zizek about the errors of liberal thinking concerning “toxic masculinity”. It is at least understandable why American outlets join in on the story, but Russia Today seems like it doesn’t have any real connection to any of this.

The main takeaway I guess is that the subject of Greaves’ views on Pence hardly qualifies as a news story, or at any rate a development worthy of being treated as such. Which only really begs the question of why it is.