Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The gods are anarchists

One of the old Taoist sages said that the perfect Emperor would be one who, at the beginning of his reign, seated himself facing in an auspicious direction and a never spoke another word.
That is certainly my idea of the proper use of sovereignty and I find that I believe the gods, or those gods whom I find worthy of honor, understand this wisdom, and, therefore, do not strive to rule anything.
The gods I have cultivate the acquaintance of are fundamentally anarchists. True, they may cause events to happen because it is their nature to do so, but they have no lust to control other beings. They will guide those who asked to be guided, they will teach those who ask to learn, but they do not demand that anyone follow them or do things their way.
They will visit bad luck on those who deal with them without proper manners. And the gods kill, of course, because death is part of what they are. Some gods will visit us with horrible pain, but not because they are punishing us or attempting to control us, but because to do such things is their nature.
The real gods, those who deserve our honor and devotion, are not rulers or bosses: they are masters.
“Master,” though, in the sense of a Japanese sensei, rather than in the sense of a master of slaves. This word “master” is one of many English words that betrays itself. It has been used to mean “despot” or “overlord,” but it also means one who is superbly skilled or deeply learned.
Fans of Lord of the Rings – the book, this isn’t in the movie – may recall the scene where the hobbits are in the house of Tom Bombadil. Frodo asks Goldberry “Who is Tom Bombadil?” She replies “He is Master. No one has ever caught him by field or stream.”
While Tom may seem a ridiculous figure to some with his feather hat, yellow boots and nursery-rhyme songs, but one could do worse as an image of God of Forest and Field and the Wild Free Things. The identity of Goldberry seems obvious also.
But if you want a harder-edged image of divine liberation than Tom Bombadil, consider Nietsche’s Superman.
A lot of nonsense has been written and spoken about Nietzsche and his vision of the superman, mostly because of his purported Nazi admirers. This is nonsense: Nietzsche would have despised the Nazi project, not because of its cruelty and violence, but because the Nazis necessarily devoted their lives to running the lives of weaklings, as he would have considered them.
The Superman, as conceived by Nietzsche, does not seek office, lead movements, command armies, rule nations or own slaves, because to do so would be weakness, and to control others is to be controlled by the need to maintain control.
The gods I know understand that, too.


D:ANGEL said...

You seem to know your stuff pretty well on a number of topics... maybe you can help me out. I am looking for reccomendations for occult books that deal less with the spell-casting angle (or equivalent) or history and more with the philosophy that comes directly or indirectly out of paganism. Something in the vein of John Cowper Powys' A PHILOSOPHY OF SOLITUDE. Any thoughts?

embreis said...

Thanks for the compliment, but I admit I don't know Powys. I think there's a lack of philosophical works in modern paganism, partly because the publishers don't want them, but partly because many of us -- and I mostly agree -- think philosophy should arise organically from practice. Tell me more about what you're interested in and I'll see if I can be more helpful. Are you particularly interested Welsh traditions? Blessings, Embreis

D:ANGEL said...

Well, I guess one could make the case that Nietzsche, for example, was preaching (and I use the term VERY liberally here) a pagan philosophy. Books that "personalize" a pagan, or free-thinker's philosopy are what interest me. Leslie Paul Thiele's NIETZSCHE AND THE POLITICS OF THE SOUL or Albert Camus' THE REBEL or Powys A PHILOSOPHY OF SOLITUDE all seem to be born of a practical examination of free thinking, but from a pagan-esque slant. I am not one for ritual, per se, but I am all for ideas. I would love to find substantial works that examine the idea/theory behind, say, wicca or withcraft or paganism... rather than books on rites and rituals. What fascinates me is the idea behind it, the freedom of it, not necessarily the practice.

The best example I can think of was Powys who is, I guess, considered an occult figure, but who wrote on psychology, theory, etc.

It doesn't appear to be a lot of what I am looking for out there...

embreis said...

To which I would Have to reply, it's just not that simple. From my point of view, ritual and magick are the path to liberation.
Still, Here goes:
Gerald Gardner, "The Meaning of Witchcraft"
Aleister Crowley "The Book of Lies"
Crowley, "Book 4"
Peter Carroll "Liber Null and Psychonaut"
All of Hakim Bey's work but particularly the prose poem in the first half of T.A.Z.

Phyllis Curott "Book of Shadows"
Her book the Love Spell might also be up you alley but I haven't read it myself.
Starhawk's books illustrate the dilemma in answering your question: all of them are 'how-to' books to some extent, and philosophical musing to some extent. Check out "Twelve Wild Swans" or "The Earth Path."
There's a lot of diversity in that list. Perhaps it will help you. Blessings

D:ANGEL said...

I appreciate the thought you put in to this... I did some reading on these and this is a great list!

Danny A.