Wonderful Response to a Skeptic on r/occult

Posted: February 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

There was a heart felt appeal from a skeptic on r/occult. The skeptic has had a long standing interest in esoterica but can’t reconcile his/her scientific thinking with so much of the bullshit.

I make my reply. Many others make theirs. Nothing I found particularly impressive. Except for one response.

This response from AnimusHerb240 was beautiful and inspiring for me, and captures much of my favor for occult practice:

For me, 2010 was a year of digging awfully deep and searching rather ravenously for “answers”. This quarter-life existential crisis led me to research Eastern philosophy including zen Buddhist concepts, Taoism, and Hinduism. I have been dabbling with psychedelics, becoming exposed to personalities like Terence McKenna and Aldous Huxley in the process. I studied Western philosophy, falling in love with the ideas of Sartre, Camus, Heidegger, Nietzsche, and Foucault. I have been particularly moved by the ideas of Jiddu Krishnamurti. When my interests “evolved” from abstract philosophical questioning to practical application in the social/cultural realm, my understanding of the nature of reality and language up to this point combined with this sociology intrigue led me to studying the importance of myth and symbology in human culture. I read about the works of Joeseph Campbell, Carl Jung, Alan Moore, and Edward Bernays, all with amazing insight into human behavior and the psyche. Well, you can’t study myth/chaos/imagination, or be exposed to names like Jung, Moore, McKenna, Robert Anton Wilson, Krishnamurti, et al. without eventually coming face to face with this thing called “the occult”.

Regarding the occult…any curious soul with a healthy dose of empiricism will find themselves asking “Well…is it real?” I would respond in Laurence Fishburne’s voice asking “What *is* ‘real’? How do you define ‘real’?”

To truly accept a concept and for all intensive purposes **really take it for granted** moving forward, one has to resonate with the truth of it for them on a certain level. In the realm of the physical world, this process seems very straightforward and automatic — a person touches ice with his fingers, learns a few words from his parents, and from then on takes for granted the notion “This is ‘ice’. ‘Ice’ is ‘cold’ and ‘hard’.” It is through this process we assemble our perspective of reality.

Just as many people have concretely experienced the “reality” of the concept “ice is cold and hard” resonating with the truth of it, **I have been afforded the same concrete experience of certain concepts which are…outside the material realm of empiricism.** Here is where things get sticky, because my understanding of “how all this works” is based on a few milestone conclusions I’ve come to that I cannot assume others have also come to, nor would I expect anyone to, especially a 100% strict empiricist/materialist/skeptic.

Crowley does a great job explaining an angle of this in his introduction to *The Lesser Key of Solomon*, which is presented as essentially a glossary of celestial entities of various sorts and methods of invoking them. In this passage, he is addressing the empirical hangup, “A book about invoking demons and spirits?! Do you actually think this shit is real?!”:

> I am not concerned to deny the reality of all “magical” phenomena; if they are illusions, they are at least as real as many unquestioned facts of daily life; and … they are at least evidence of some cause.

> Now, this fact is our base. What is the cause of my illusion of seeing a spirit in the triangle of Art?
Every smatterer, every expert in psychology, will answer: “That cause lies in your brain.”

> English children are taught (pace the Education Act) that the Universe lies in infinite Space; Hindu children, in the Akaca, which is the same thing. Those Europeans who go a little deeper learn from Fichte, that the phenomenal Universe is the creation of the Ego; Hindus, or Europeans studying under Hindu Gurus, are told, that by Akaca is meant the Chitakaca. The Chitakaca is situated in the “Third Eye,” i.e., in the brain. By assuming higher dimensions of space, we can assimilate this face to Realism; **but we have no need to take so much trouble. This being true for the ordinary Universe, that all sense-impressions are dependent on changes in the brain, we must include illusions, which are after all sense-impressions as much as “realities” are, in the class of “phenomena dependent on brain-changes.” **

> Magical phenomna, however, come under a special sub-class, since they are willed, and their cause is the series of “real” phenomena called the operations of ceremonial Magic.
These consist of: **1 Sight:** the circle, square, triangle, vessels, lamps, robes, implements, etc.; **2 Sound:** the invocations; **3 Smell:** the perfumes; **4 Taste:** the sacraments; **5 Touch**; **6 Mind:** the combination of all these and reflection on their significance.

> These unusual impressions (1-5) produce unusual brain-changes; hence their summary (6) is of unusual kind. Its projection back into the apparently phenomenal world is therefore unusual.

> Herein then consists the reality of the operations and effects of ceremonial magic, and I conceive that the apology is ample, so far as the “effects” refer only to those phenomena **which appear to the
magician himself**, the appearance of the spirit, his conversation, possible shocks from imprudence, and so on, even to ecstasy on the one hand, and death or madness on the other.

> But can any of the effects described in [this book] be obtained, and if so, can you give a rational explanation of the circumstances? Say you so? I can, and will.

> The spirits of the Goetia are portions of the human brain. Their seals therefore represent … methods of stimulating or regulating those particular spots. If, then, I say, [in this book]: “The Spirit Cimieries teaches logic,” what I mean is: “Those portions of my brain which subserve the logical faculty may be stimulated and developed by following out the process called ‘The Invocation of Cimieries.’” And this is a purely materialistic rational statement; it is independent of any objective hierarchy at all. Philosophy has nothing to say; and Science can only suspend judgment, pending a proper and methodical investigation of the facts alleged.

Our meaninglessness is real. Maybe the ideas of Buddhism help people live at peace with this reality. Maybe some of the ideas behind the occult merely afford an illusion of control in the face of this reality. For me, there is no such thing as delusion — only the contradiction of different realities, sometimes between the few and the many.

My advice for any empiricist lured by the intrigue of his own imagination: **Embrace Paradox.**

Nothing is true; everything is permitted.

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