Date: Tue Jul 30 2002 - 20:11:29 MDT

philosophies, creeds, dogmas and beliefs that humanity has
evolved are variants of three great paradigms, the Transcendental,
the Materialist and the Magical. In no human culture has any one
of these paradigms been completely distinct from the others. For
example in our own culture at the time of writing the
Transcendental and Magical pradigms are frequently confused
together. Transcendental philosophies are basically religious and
manifest in a spectrum stretching from the fringes of primitive
spiritism through pagan polytheism to the monotheism of the
Judaeo-Christian- Islamic traditions and the theoretical non-
theistic systems of Buddhism and Taoism. In each case it is
believed that some form of consciousness or spirit created and
maintains the universe and that humans, other living organisms,
contain some fragment of this consciousness or spirit which
underlies the veil or illusion of matter. The essence of
Transcendentalism is belief in spiritual beings greater than oneself
or states of spiritual being superior to that which currently one
enjoys. Earthly life is frequently seen merely as a form of dialoque
between oneself and one's deity or deities, or perhaps some
impersonal form of higher force. The material world is a theatre
for the spirit or soul or consciousness that created it. Spirit is the
ultimate reality to the transcendentalist. In the Materialist
paradigm the universe is believed to consist fundamentally and
entirely of matter. Energy is but a form of matter and together
they subtend space and time within which all change occurs
strictly on the basis of cause and effect. Human behaviour is
reducible to biology, biology is reducible to chemistry, chemistry
is reducible to physics and physics is reducible to mathematics.
Mind and consciousness are thus merely electrochemical events in
the brain and spirit is a word without objective content. The
causes of some events are likely to remain obscure perhaps
indefinitely, but there is an underlying faith that sufficient
material cause must exist for any event. All human acts can be
categorized as serving some biological need or as expressions of
previously applied conditioning or merely as malfunction. The
goal of materialist who eschews suicide is the pursuit of personal
satisfaction including altruistic satisfactions if desired. The main
difficulty in recognizing and describing the pure Magical
Paradigm is that of insufficient vocabulary. Magical philosophy is
only recently recovering from a heavy adulteration with
transcendental theory. The word aether will be used to describe
the fundamental reality of the magical paradigm. It is more or less
equivalent to the idea of Mana used in oceanic shamanism. Aether
in materialistic descriptions is information which structures
matter and which all matter is capable of emitting and receiving.
In transcendental terms aether is a sort of "life force" present in
some degree in all things. It carries both knowledge about events
and the ability to influence similar or sympathetic events. Events
either arise sponataneously out of themselves or are encouraged to
follow certain paths by influence of patterns in the aether. As all
things have an aetheric part they can be considered to be alive in
some sense. Thus all things happen by magic, the large scale
features of the universe have a very strong aetheric pattern which
makes them fairly predictable but difficult to influence by the
aetheric patterns created by thought. Magicians see themselves as
participating in nature. Transcendentalists like to think they are
somehow above it. Materialists like to try and manipulate it. Now
this universe has the peculiarly accomodating property of tending
to provide evidence for, and confirmation of, whatever paradigm
one chooses to believe in. Presumably at some deep level there is
a hidden symmetry between those things we call Matter, Aether
and Spirit. Indeed, it is rare to find an individual or culture
operating exclusively on a single one of these paradigms and none
is ever entirely absent. Non dominant paradigms are always
present as superstitions and fears. A subsequent section on
Aeonics will attempt to untangle the influences of each of these
great world views throughout history, to see how they have
interacted with each other and to predict future trends. In the
meantime an analysis of the radically differing concepts of time
and self in each paradigm is offered to more fully distinguish the
basic ideas. Transcendentalists conceive of time in millennial and
apocalyptic terms. Time is regareded as having a definite
beginning and ending, both initiated by the activities of spiritual
beings or forces. The end of time on the personal and cosmic
scale is regarded not so much as a cessation of being but as a
change to a state of non material being. The beginning of personal
and cosmic time is similarly regarded as a creative act by spiritual
agencies. Thus reproductive activity usually becomes heavily
controlled and hedged about with taboo and restriction in
religious cultures, as it implies an usurpation of the powers of
deities. Reproduction also implies that death has in some measure
been overcome. How awesome the power of creation and how
final must earthly death subconsciously loom to a celibate and
sterile priesthood. All transcendentalisms embody elements of
apocalyptism. Typically these are used to provoke revivals when
business is slack or attention is drifting elsewhere. Thus it is
suddenly revealed that the final days are at hand or that some
earthly dispute is in fact a titanic battle against evil spiritual
agencies. Materialist time is linear but unbounded. Ideally it can
be extended arbitrarily far in either direction from the present. To
the strict materialist it is self-evidently futile to speculate about a
beginning or an end to time. Similarly the materialist is
contemptuous of any speculations about any forms of personal
existence before birth or after death. The materialist may well fear
painful or premature death but can have no fears about being
dead. The magical view is that time is cyclic and that all processes
recur. Even cycles which appear to begin or end are actually parts
of larger cycles. Thus all endings are beginnings and the end of
time is synonymous with the beginning of time in another
universe. The magical view that everything is recycled is reflected
in the doctrine of reincarnation. The attractive idea of
reincarnation has often persisted into the religious paradigm and
many pagan and even some monotheist traditions have retained it.
However religious theories invariably contaminate the original
idea with beliefs about a personal soul. From a strictly magical
viewpoint we are an accretion rather than an unfolded unity. The
psyche has no particular centre, we are colonial beings, a rich
collage of many selves. Thus as our bodies contain fragments
from countless former beings, so does our psyche. However
certain magical traditions retain techniques which allow the adept
to transfer quite large amounts of his psyche in one piece should
he consider this more useful than dispersing himself into
humanity at large. Each of the paradigms take a different view of
the self. Transcendentalists view self as spirit inserted into matter.
As a fragment or figment of deity the self regards itself as
somehow placed in the world in a non arbitrary manner and
endowed with free will. The transcendental view of self is
relatively stable and non-problematic if shared as a consensus
with all significant others. However, transcendental theories about
the placement and purpose of self and its relationship to deities
are mutually exclusive. Conflicting transcendentalisms can rarely
co-exist for they threaten to disconform the images of self.
Encounters which are not decisive tend to be mutually negatory in
the long run. Of the three views of self the purely materialistic one
is the most problematical. If mind is an extension of matter it
must obey material laws and the resulting deterministic view
conflicts with the subjective experience of free will. On the other
hand if mind and consciousness are assumed to be qualitatively
different from matter then the self is incomprehensible to itself in
material terms. Worse still perhaps, the materialist self must
regard itself as a phenomenon of only temporary duration in
contradiction of the subjective expectation of continuity of
consciousness. Because a purely materialist view of self is so
austere few are prepared to confront such naked existentialism.
Consequently materialist cultures exhibit a frantic appetite for
sensation, identification and more or less disposable irrational
beliefs. Anything that will make the self seem less insubstantial.
The magical view of self is that it is based on the same random
capricious chaos which makes the universe exist and do what it
does. The magical self has no centre, it is not a unity but an
assemblage of parts, any number of which may temorarily club
together and call themselves "I". This accords with the
observation that our subjective experience consists of our various
selves experiencing each other. Free will arises either as an
outcome of a dispute between our various selves or as a sudden
random creation of a new idea or option. In the magical view of
self there is no spirit/matter or mind/body split and the paradoxes
of free will and determinism disappear. Some of our acts arise
from random choices between conditioned options and some from
conditional choices between randomly created options. In practice
most of our acts are based on rather complex hierarchical
sequences of all four of these mechanisms. As soon as we have
acted one of our selves proclaims "I did that!" so loudly that most
of the other selves think they did it too. Each of the three views of
self has something derogatory to say about the other two. From
the standpoint of the transcendental self the materialist self has
become prey to pride of intellect, the demon hubris, whilst the
magical view of self is considered to be entirely demonic. The
material self views the transcendentalist as obsessed with
assumptions having no basis in fact, and the magical self as being
childlike and incoherent. From the standpoint of the magical view,
the assorted selves of the transcendendatilst have ascribed a
grossly exaggerated importance to one or a few of the selves
which they call God or gods, whilst the materialist has attempted
to make all his selves subordinate to the self that does the rational
thinking. Ultimately it's a matter of faith and taste. The
transcedentalist has faith in his god self, the materialist has faith
in his reasoning self and the selves of the magician have faith in
each other. Naturally, all these forms of faith are subject to
periods of doubt.

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