There is a doctrine which says that after our nature fell into sin, God did not disregard our fall and withhold his providence. No, on the one hand, he appointed an angel with an incorporeal nature to help in the life of each person and, on the other hand, he also appointed the corruptor who, by an evil and maleficent demon, afflicts the life of man and contrives against our nature. ~ Gregory of Nyssa, The Life of Moses
I have seen that every man receives at his birth two spirits, one good, the other evil. The good one is heavenly by nature and belongs to the lowest hierarchy; the evil one is not a devil, not yet in torments, though deprived of the vision of God. ~ Anne Catherine Emmerich
the whole secret of certain campaigns, very significant in view of the character of the present period, conducted either against esoterism in general or against any one initiatic form in particular, with the unconscious help of people who would be very astonished, and even appalled, if they could become aware of the use that is being made of them; unfortunately however it sometimes so happens that people who imagine that they are fighting the devil, whatever their particular notion of the devil may be, are thus turned, without the least suspicion of the fact on their part, into his best servants! ~ Rene Guenon
In The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times, Rene Guenon identified two stages of counter-traditional action:
Human agency is required both for traditional as well as counter-traditional action. The influences, however, are quite opposite. Tradition is supra-human, i.e., it is grounded in higher spiritual forces.
The counter-tradition begins with rationalism and humanism, the notion that there is nothing above or beyond the human. Then, without any interest in transcendence, attention naturally turns to external and sensible things. This encloses man in the corporeal world, obscuring higher, and even infernal, forces. Materialisation and quantification complete the first stage.
With communication with superior domains eliminated, the “dissolving and destructive forces of the inferior subtle domain penetrates” into the corporeal world. This is the second phase of dissolution.
There are those human agents who consciously and intentionally promote the counter-tradition. However, as Guenon pointed out, there are many more who are unconscious agents of the counter-tradition. In either case, the results are the same.
Compact and Differentiated Consciousness
The philosopher Eric Voegelin identified two structures of consciousness as ordering principles in various cultures. These are compact and differentiated consciousness:
Compact simply means that consciousness contains aspects which could be, but have not yet been, distinguished. Self-reflection reveals aspects which we had not previously recognized. Examples: “myth” is a compact symbolization of truths later differentiated as “philosophy”. “Common sense” is a compact form of reason which can be differentiated into logic and virtues of prudence, experience, etc. “Compact” is not more primitive than “differentiated”; symbols of each sort can be evaluated as to their adequacy in representing truth. ~ Advice for those who want to read Eric Voegelin
In other words, compact consciousness consists of the myths, legends, symbols, fairy tales, customs, prejudices, etc. of a society. These are accepted without question and form the basis of social order. In our time, however, this social foundation has lost its hold on many people. This is obviously the result of the processes of solidification and dissolution, rather than to any superior intellectual acuity. No intelligent man should want to overthrow the social order in favour of some fantasised glorious future. Au contraire, the cultured despisers cannot discern the higher influences behind those aspects of compact consciousness. Unfortunately, they are considered to be the intellectual elite of our time.
Those content to live with compact consciousness should be left in peace. There are always a few, however, who are compelled to unpack the compact consciousness, while being careful not to overturn the order and stability of the social order. Often, the compact consciousness does not understand the differentiated consciousness and misinterprets the latter as a threat or heretical.
I’ll use Western Christianity for examples, since most readers will be familiar with it. First of all, the notion that there four legitimate levels for interpreting a sacred text used to be the norm. Only with the process of solidification, emphasized for example by Protestant fundamentalism, has the “literal” interpretation become the only acceptable one. Even the enemies of Christianity believe the same thing. Hence, we need to reinterpret things in a new process of differentiation.
Auguste Comte, in the 19th century, was appalled by the chaos resulting from the French Revolution, which had overturned the social order of 1000 years of Catholic French kings. Unable to accept the theological support for Throne and Altar, Comte developed his system of Positivism, the goal of which was to justify the Ancien Régime on purely scientific grounds. His system did have some influence throughout that century. That can be called the first wave of neo-paganism, which was not antithetical to the compact social order, unlike current versions of neo-paganism which are, for the most part, opposed to it.
Pagan and Post-pagan Consciousness
With a little thought experiment, we can show how compact consciousness becomes differentiated. Through imagination, it is first necessary to entire into the mind of compact consciousness. For example, Greek mythology postulated the three Fates which controlled men’s, and even the gods’, destinies. The gods of Mount Olympus were indifferent, but not always, to human affairs. Although they might love certain privileged individuals, they did not love mankind in general. Sometimes one god would bless a man’s undertaking, while another might, at the same time, hinder him. He needs to resort to various rites in an attempt to appease the gods.
So for someone who believes and lives by these myths, the world is fundamentally unintelligible: there is no cosmic order, since he is subjected to the inscrutable, arbitrary, and often immoral, acts of the gods. Moreover, he is subject to the unknown, and unknowable, actions of the Fates. Those are the principles uncovered by the differentiated consciousness: the world is unintelligible, the cosmos is indifferent to man, man is subject to unknowable forces.
That is why Christianity took hold of the Roman Empire. Leaving aside the stories, which are unbelievable to many today, this is the differentiated worldview: the world is indeed intelligible because it was created by the Logos; there is but one God, not multiple gods with competing interests; the God is Good and is interested in human flourishing. I could go on, but it is not necessary to repeat earlier posts. For example, the story of the Fall of Adam can be understood in a differentiated way, beyond the literal meaning.
The bridge between the two worldviews is Plato, although he drew on a more ancient Tradition. Plato rejected the mythologies of the poets since the gods were often immoral. For him, the highest reality was the form of the Good. It is an easy step from Plato to Christianity, which will be covered in a future post.
The Guardian Angel
We have the testimonies of St Gregory and Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich that an angel and a demon are assigned to each person, although through practice you can learn to see this for yourself. To understand the role of the angel, it is necessary to understand the Divine Prototypes:
God contained within himself before the creation of the world the divine prototypes, the destinies of all creatures, so that the world bears within it the image and the reflection of the divine prototype. ~ Sergei Bulgakov, Sophia: The Wisdom of God
In other words, there is a prototype of each person in the divine mind. The guardian angel, then, actually shares the same prototype as the human being. This means, in a sense, that the Guardian Angel is a higher, disembodied state of the human being.
In a similar, but much different way, the demon is one’s double, or doppelganger. Etymologically, the devil or diable refers to this double. So if the angel is the higher prototype, the demon is the lower double of man.
Psychologically, this is similar to Jung’s understanding of the Shadow, which is the dark side of the personality. As an adversary, the demon may serve a useful function. The Jungian James Kaufman claimed:
in spite of its function as a reservoir for human darkness—or perhaps because of this—the shadow is the seat of creativity; so that for some, the dark side of his being, his sinister shadow… represents the true spirit of life as against the arid scholar.
Rudolf Steiner carried the idea of the double one step further. He identified two such doubles: the Ahrimanic and the Luciferic. These match up nicely with Guenon’s two phases of counter-traditional action. The Ahrimanic double is associated with the materialisation and solidification phase, and the Luciferic with the spiritual dissolution phase.
As another example, we can look at the idea of sexual perversion. You can interpret what follows in a compact or differentiated way.
Slavoj Zizek, in a recent article makes a rather odd claim, considering that he is a student of psychoanalysis:
If psychoanalysis taught us anything, it is that human sexuality is immanently perverted, traversed by sadomasochist spins and power games, that in it, pleasure is inextricably interlinked with pain.
However, that is quite opposite to what Sigmund Freud himself actually asserted:
The common characteristic of all perversions is that they have abandoned reproduction as their aim. We term sexual activity perverse when it has renounced the aim of reproduction and follows the pursuit of pleasure as an independent goal.
Freud does not use the word perversion in a moral sense, but in its neutral objective meaning of turning away from the natural purpose of sexual activity. From a strictly biological perspective, the purpose of sex is solely reproduction, and pleasure associated with it is incidental. Zizek goes on:
if sexuality is not distorted by patriarchal or binary pressure, it becomes a happy space of authentic expression of our true selves.
That is not new with him, since it is the essential theme of Eros and Civilization by Herbert Marcuse. In a biological reversal, pleasure becomes the sole purpose of sex, and reproduction is regarded as an undesirable side effect. A Supreme Court justice recently astoundingly denied the connection between pregnancy and motherhood. This explains the hysteria about abortion restrictions, which are attributed to the “patriarchy”.
Even it is part of the counter-initiation, the Thelema system offers some insights into this. Curiously, in The Magical Revival, Kenneth Grant warns against “perverted” sex, in Freud’s sense:
Objurations against masturbation, onanism, coitus interruptus, karezza and other apparently sterile methods of using sexual energy, follow logically upon awareness of the sacramental nature. … none of the energy is lost, though it fails to find a field of operation in the matrix which nature has provided for it. It breeds, instead of physical offspring, phantoms composed of tenuous matter. Through the deliberate and persistent practice of such abuses, qliphotic entities are engendered; they prey upon the mind and feed upon the nervous fluid.
To summarize: with perverted sex, even though the natural effect is annulled, the sexual energy is diverted to the creation of subtle evil entities. Grant continues:
the discharge of energy is not lost, it forms a subtle or astral image of the idea dominant in the mind at the climax of coitus. Ordinarily this idea is one of lust, and because of this a tendency or habit is set up in the mind, which consequently becomes increasingly difficult to control. This tendency must therefore be destroyed.
Hence, due to the increased promotion of non-reproductive sex in the modern world, this world is being inundated with demons, which are the psychic offspring of those acts. Once let loose, the tendency of lust is difficult to control; the adverse social consequences are enormous. H P Lovecraft can be understood as a prophet in his depictions of the devastation wrought by these qliphotic entities set loose on the world.
The world process cannot descend fully into solidification. Instead there are cracks or fissures into what appears to be a closed system. Evil entities can then enter into the world process through these fissures. Guenon describes this action:
cyclical manifestation is not yet complete, and the ‘fissures’ can only be produced from below; in other words, that which ‘interferes’ with the sensible world through those ‘fissures’ can be nothing but an inferior ‘cosmic psychism’ in its most destructive and disorganizing forms, and it is moreover clear that influences of this kind are the only ones that are really suited for action having dissolution as its objective.