Modern Man Believes in Nothing: Modernity in Contemporary Satanism and the Order of Nine Angles

Posted: May 4th, 2022 | Author: | Filed under: Church of Satan, Culture, Fenrir, Inner ONA, Michael Aquino, Nihilism, O9A, Occultism, Order of Nine Angles, Temple of Set, The Sinister Tradition | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Modern Man Believes in Nothing: Modernity in Contemporary Satanism and the Order of Nine Angles

Cole_Dream_med

– Thomas Cole, The Architect’s Dream, 1840[1]

Reposted from Lux Lycaonis:

https://luxlycaonis.com/index.php/2022/05/04/modern-man-believes-in-nothing/

Modern Man Believes in Nothing:

Modernity in Contemporary Satanism and the Order of Nine Angles[2]

by Nameless Therein

Many years ago, I had the pleasure of studying with a former and well-respected Harvard professor, a man who later became a mentor to me and shaped my spiritual and intellectual worldview. Armed with Strunk and White’s Elements of Style, Richard Tarnas’ The Passion of the Western Mind, and some of the most important texts in the Western tradition, we critically examined the relationship between faith and reason in Western thought over the last two thousand years of intellectual and religious history. In clarifying the context of our modern perspective through the clash between faith and reason, we came to a deeper understanding of how that relationship shaped our entire worldview. Contrary to my own view at the time, I learned that faith was not a belief in something without good reasons, nor was it a euphemism for “religion” or the opposite of reason. Rather, as Wilfred Cantwell Smith notes, faith is not belief but the essential human quality, one “constitutive of man as human,” where “that personality is constituted by our universal ability, or invitation, to live in terms of a transcendent dimension, and in response to it.”[3] Van Austin Harvey elaborates on this distinction as follows:

In the history of Christian thought, two general tendencies concerning the concept of [faith] may be observed: (1) [faith] is regarded more nearly as belief or as mental assent (assensus) to some truth, whether about the nature of God (supernatural truth) or about the past (historical truth). (2) [Faith] is understood to be the basic orientation of the total person that may include belief but is best described as trust (fiducia), confidence, or loyalty.[4]

Faith in this sense is not a fideistic blind belief, but a dynamic mode of knowledge as a descriptive relation of being. It is what bridges the gap between the known and unknown, the rational and the empirical, the idealistic and the materialistic. In one sense, it involves a form of mental assent; but it also involves the total orientation of a person toward the transcendent.

Contrary to the modern tendency to reduce faith to a religious worldview, modernity itself embodies a powerful kind of faith in its belief in nothing. Our post-Enlightenment faith in reason as a talisman for “real” knowledge, in the relativity of meaning, in empirical science as a dogmatic means to objective truth, and in the conviction that religion is an anachronistic and outdated mode of thinking all point to our uncritical confidence in a myth that has now become modern canon. David B. Hart describes this in the following way:

As modern men and women – to the degree that we are modern – we believe in nothing. This is not to say, I hasted to add, that we do not believe in anything; I mean, rather, that we hold an unshakable, if often unconscious, faith in the nothing, or in nothingness as such. It is this in which we place our trust, upon which we venture our souls, and onto which we project the values by which we measure the meaningfulness of our lives. Or, to phrase the matter more simply and starkly, our religion is one of very comfortable nihilism.[5]

As modern individuals, many of us are unaware what this “nihilism” actually entails, given our lack of understanding regarding the historical, cultural, and intellectual roots that comprise our modern perspective. This lack of awareness is reflected in the superficiality of nearly every so-called contemporary “Satanic” or left-hand path tradition, and is additionally operative in the Order of Nine Angles. David Hart elaborates on what this entails in a powerful way:

We live in an age whose chief moral value has been determined, by overwhelming consensus, to be the absolute liberty of personal volition, the power of each of us to choose what he or she believes, wants, needs, or must possess; our culturally most persuasive models of human freedom are unambiguously voluntarist and, in a rather debased and degraded way Promethean; the will, we believe, is sovereign because unpromised, free because spontaneous, and this is the highest good. And a society that believes this must, at least implicitly, embrace and subtly advocate a particular moral metaphysics: the unreality of any ‘value’ higher than choice, or of any transcendent Good ordering desire towards a higher end. Desire is free to propose, seize, accept or reject, want or not want – but not to obey. Society must thus be secured against the intrusions of the Good, or of God, so that its citizens may determine their own lives by the choices they make from a universe of morally indifferent but variably desirable ends, unencumbered by any prior grammar of obligation or value … Hence the liberties that permit one to purchase lavender bed clothes, to gaze fervently at pornography, to become a Unitarian, to market popular celebrations of brutal violence, or to destroy one’s unborn child are all equally intrinsically “good” because all are expressions of an inalienable freedom of choice. But, of course, if the will determines itself only in and through such choices, free from any prevenient natural order, then it too is in itself nothing. And so, at the end of modernity, each of us who is true to the times stands facing not God, or the gods, or the Good beyond beings, but an abyss, over which presides the empty, inviolable authority of the individual will, whose impulses and decisions are their own moral index.[6]

In its emphasis on its own moral index, its advocacy of precisely this kind of “inviolable authority of the individual will,”[7] its emphasis on extremism as a substitution for meaninglessness or “nothingness,” its dogmatic weariness of all things “abstract” at the expense of long-term practical strategy, and in the erroneous substitution of brutal violence for its muliebral virtues of compassion and empathy due to an avalanche of misinterpretation on the part of its associates, the Order of Nine Angles has not just become mundane; it has become distinctively modern.

This is nothing new. In fact, this lack of awareness regarding the roots and pitfalls of our modern perspective is operative in nearly every contemporary “Satanic” and left-hand path tradition, rendering the majority of them inoperative. We saw this years ago in the Church of Satan, as the death throes of LaVey’s naturalistic animism substituted the mystery of Satan for hedonistic atheism in the form of a voluntarist symbol. We saw this again in the Temple of Set, who, in positing Set as an “isolate intelligence,” failed at the outset to understand or account for the significance of Edmund Husserl’s phenomenological dissolving of the traditional distinction between subject and object, both as a response to the long-standing problem of the self-contained Cartesian subject and as an important part of his theory of intersubjectivity and temporality.[8] (Far from a trivial theoretical issue, this point calls into question the entire epistemological framework of the Temple of Set.) And we see this currently in contemporary groups like the Dragon Rouge, who, despite their motivations to establish a trail along the narrative of truth, nevertheless fall victim to a hidden reductionism in their attempt to reconcile their magickal system with a modern perspective.

That so many groups, traditions, and initiatory orders get this wrong at even the most basic level points to the urgency with which we need to correct this tendency within the Order of Nine Angles. In the last decade, we have seen a shift from that tendency toward one of misunderstanding, misinterpretation, bigotry, infighting, extremism, racism, prejudice, and violence. Less and less, we see a grappling with the ideas that have shaped the modern world, let alone a critical examination of the ideas that now threaten the extermination of the ONA as a tradition that barely managed to live out the twentieth century. Nothing new or worthwhile can be offered by a tradition that is not aware of its own perspective, nor can it rightly be called a “tradition.” The Order of Nine Angles is sadly no exception.

Despite these bleak prospects, there is hope. But before we can correct the mistakes of the past, it will be necessary to first critically examine the perspective that comprises the modern world. Only then will it be possible to collectively renegotiate the direction and context of the ONA as a tradition located squarely within modernity, despite its ancient influences and claims to the contrary.

With this, I return to my discussion of the aforesaid seminar with my former Harvard professor. The lens of interpretation we used to examine modernity’s place in the context of the Western tradition involved many important texts and thinkers. The one that left the deepest impression on me, however, was Richard Tarnas’ seminal work, The Passion of the Western Mind: Understanding the Ideas That Have Shaped Our World View. This text eloquently surveys the ideas that shaped the Western tradition, beginning with the ancient Greeks and moving through post-modernity. On the cover of the 1991 Ballantine Books edition, Joseph Campbell describes the text as, “The most lucid and concise presentation I have read, of the grand lines of what every student should know about the history of Western thought. The writing is elegant and carries the reader with the momentum of a novel … It is really a noble performance.”[9]

Whether in The Passion of the Western Mind, his later work Cosmos and Psyche, or in his November 2007 lecture on The Art of Writing at the Pacifica Graduate Institute,[10] Tarnas has had a powerful influence on my own thinking and writing. Like my former professor, Tarnas was a Harvard graduate in addition to being the previous director of programs at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur. His understanding of the Western intellectual tradition is comprehensive, deep, and unrivaled in most academic circles.

Though Tarnas has nothing to do with the Order of Nine Angles (and in fact would be appalled at being mentioned in the context of the ONA), his work provides a foundation for coming to terms with modernity as a necessary lens through which to view the ONA. With that in mind, the following lectures provide an introductory overview to some of the ideas covered in his texts.

1. “The Evolution of Consciousness from the Primal to the Postmodern”

This brief lecture provides a concise overview of Tarnas’ distinction between what he terms the primal worldview and the modern worldview in Cosmos and Psyche.[11] An article that I have been recently developing concerns the way the Order of Nine Angles attempts to restore the primal worldview against modernity; though whether it can and will be successful in this largely depends on whether it can come to terms with its place within the modern perspective.

2. “A Brief History of Western Thought, part 4 of 5”

This lecture addresses the post-modern, picking up where the previous lecture leaves off. Both lectures segue into the important post-secular examination of disenchantment, which connects to my above discussion about the role of faith and reason in modernity.

On a personal level, I will say that a post-secular lens of faith illuminated more depth and meaning with respect to what Satanism really is than did my two decades of committed Satanic practice through contemporary left-hand path groups claiming that title. In my experience, the ONA touches on that deeper post-secular sense of the Satanic in its broader and beautiful spectrum of the sinister and sinister-numinous. However, much work needs to be done before the ONA will be equipped to address this. Part of that work will involve an understanding of the post-secular context of disenchantment, which is what the next lecture addresses.

3. “Disenchantment, Misenchantment, and Re-Enchantment”

Tarnas’ overview of the post-secular topic of disenchantment in the introduction of this lecture is an excellent introduction to the topic. This examination helps deepen the context of modernity in terms of the relation between the primal and modern worldviews – a relation that the ONA attempts to address.

4. “The Great Initiation”

This final lecture provides an additional overview of some of the aforesaid modern phenomena within an initiatory context. In addition to other relevant points, Tarnas’ account of the relation between the masculine and the feminine in terms of the astrological context of the sun and moon can deepen the ONA’s explication of the masculous and the muliebral at the core of its philosophy.

In closing, two points are worth emphasizing with respect to the final lecture listed above on “The Great Initiation.” The first concerns the way in which Tarnas’ characterization of modernity equally applies to the current climate of the Order of Nine Angles; and this is no coincidence, given what I have said above. Here, Tarnas quotes Woody Allen, whose comments highlight a tension that the ONA has been facing for over a decade (and now more than ever). Tarnas says the following:

The New York Jewish philosopher Woody Allen put his finger on this with his customary Schopenhauer-like clarity … in a speech he gave to the graduates some time ago: “More than at any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other [path], to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly. I speak, by the way, not with any sense of futility, but with a panicky conviction of the absolute meaninglessness of existence which could easily be misinterpreted as pessimism. It is not. It is merely a healthy concern for the predicament of modern man.”[12]

The second point worth emphasizing is a quote Tarnas cites from Jung’s The Undiscovered Self. In addition to characterizing modernity, the following comments by Jung find a powerful voice in the current struggle of the ONA. As a meditation on what I have written in this article, I will end with this quote:

[A] mood of universal destruction and renewal … has set its mark on our age. This mood makes itself felt everywhere, politically, socially, and philosophically. We are living in what the Greeks called the καιρός – the right moment – for a “metamorphosis of the gods,” of the fundamental principles and symbols. This peculiarity of our time, which is certainly not of our conscious choosing, is the expression of the unconscious man within us who is changing. Coming generations will have to take account of this momentous transformation if humanity is not to destroy itself through the might of its own technology and science.[13]

Nameless Therein
Scothorn Nexion
May 4, 2022

NOTES

[1] For more information on the significance of this painting and why Richard Tarnas chose it for the cover of The Passion of the Western Mind, see 4:21 of the following lecture: https://youtu.be/2B3zm8R0dEo?t=261

[2] The phrase “modern man believes in nothing” was inspired by David B. Hart, “On Being Modern,” First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life (October 2003).

[3] Wilfred Cantwell Smith, Faith and Belief: The Difference between Them (Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 1998), 129.

[4] Van Austin Harvey, “Faith,” in A Handbook of Theological Terms (New York: Macmillan, 1964).

[5] Hart, “On Being Modern,” 47.

[6] Ibid.

[7] In fact, the over-emphasis on the authority of individual judgment without any critical examination of the historical and intellectual context of modernity has given rise to a democratizing of individual opinion, thereby mistaking it for knowledge. In some respects, the need to critically examine the ideas that have shaped our modern perspective are condemned as an “abstraction” rather than being recognized as an attempt to reconcile our daily mode of operation at the most practical level. This has done great harm in the ONA as the need for this critical examination has shifted to ruthless and vacant extremism in light of the substitution of opinion for knowledge, resting on a gross misunderstanding of what the ONA actually is.

[8] Interestingly, I recall Michael Aquino himself acknowledging his lack of understanding regarding Husserl’s philosophy on a 600 Club forum post many years ago. I have not since been able to locate that post since the site closed down, but it appeared to be authored by him. Nevertheless, I sensed this fatal flaw at a young age, given that much of the Temple of Set’s philosophy rests on a metaphysical distinction between subject and object – a distinction phenomenology largely did away with in the early twentieth century. In some respects, the ONA’s distinction between “acausal” and “causal” risks a similar danger; and though I will not elaborate further here, it is a topic that I may investigate in the future. Regardless, it is something to be aware of, particularly in the dogmatic and often uncritical repetition of such terms on the part of the ONA’s associates.

[9] Richard Tarnas, The Passion of the Western Mind: Understanding the Ideas that Have Shaped Our World View (New York: Ballantine Books, 1991).

[10] This all-day workshop was recorded and previously available on DVD by Depth Video. See Richard Tarans, “The Art of Writing: An All-Day Workshop Presented Nov. 17, 2007 at the Pacifica Graduate Institute” (Santa Barbara, CA: Depth Video, 2007). The description on the rear of the DVD summarizes the workshop as follows:

This landmark workshop, the fruit of 30 years of writing and teaching, was given before a sold-out audience at the Pacifica Graduate Institute in November 2007. In these lectures, Richard Tarnas provides an in-depth look at writing not just as an intellectual or artistic discipline, but as a spiritual path. Because we live in a time of extraordinary urgency, when we must contemplate the future of the Earth community, it is essential that those with relevant information speak and be heard, received, and understood. Writing in the service of such a goal involves the development of certain skills, disciplines, and knowledge, as well as other less tangible but perhaps even more important capacities. These lectures illuminate the writer’s path with both practical tips and a larger vision of the writer’s noble calling.

[11] See, for example, Richard Tarnas, “Forging the Self, Disenchanting the World,” in Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View (New York: Viking, 2006).

[12] Tarnas appears to be referencing Woody Allen, “My Speech to the Graduates,” New York Times, August 10, 1979, https://www.nytimes.com/1979/08/10/archives/my-speech-to-the-graduates.html

[13] Carl Jung, The Undiscovered Self, trans. R.F.C. Hull, rev. ed. (1990; repr., Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010), 60.


Via Activa

Posted: March 15th, 2022 | Author: | Filed under: Next Generation | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Via Activa

I

Soon he would be back. Tristan’s friends, a face-painted Balobian and a Drecc in baggy pants, wait at the end of the block. The brutalist building where their friend lived made them feel uncomfortable. As if the ancient darkness they claimed to presence were a real, tangible thing and not just the symbol of wonder and contemplation that defined their relation to the world. A black van swerves into the street and parks right outside the entrance to the community housing project where Tristan has entered. The two onlookers observe without uttering a word.

Proceeding across the gate and down the corridor to the right, the suspicious party had just disappeared into the interior of the facility armed with mp-5s, faces masked behind black balaclavas. No message of warning came from his allies to Tristan. The Drecc played nervously with the folding knife in his pocket. “I should have gotten that beretta, those guys looked fuckin’ cool, man.” The Balobian turns to face him squarely, saying, “We must have faith. Let’s sing our song of contemplative devotion.” He pulls out a quartz crystal he always carried with him for similar occasions, and they become one with the world in a process of wonder that distracts them from the hell that awaits Tristan.

He looks on with milky eyes and pathetic sexual longing upon the lithe limbs and figures of active youth in all their sublime glory all the while his allies in the sinister quest awaited him outside. Even though he professes faith towards an ancient wonder through an equally ancient mode of contemplation, Tristan had never quite stopped obsessing over Hentai animation. Massive Heidegger and Arendt tomes lay open, their pages dog-eared and uncted by the slimy overflow of the frequent sessions in which he administered self-love to a doughy body that the opposite sex found repugnant even in its most flattering revelations. The door bursts open, his hand still on his semi-erect member. He screams and tries to run away, his pants sliding down to his ankles. Landing on his face, his fall is accentuated by the sound of exiting flatulence. “STOP, WORM!”, cries the woman in black, her raucous voice cutting through the air like a tactical knife that slices the throat of the failed sinister adherent. She is a masked woman of all-natural large round breasts and surprisingly lean muscular arms. Her voice cuts through the air, seeding the deepest fear into the lore-savvy Niner.

Tristan complies immediately, his body frozen in an evasive maneuver of sorts, never having trained or otherwise prepared himself for a situation of real-life confrontation. From the via contemplativa he had favored, he could purloin no tactic or technique to have trained and to use in the face of decisive action. The woman in black delivers a swift kick with her booted feet to Tristan’s chin. “PREPARE HIM.” She orders, and the two power-lifting women at her sides swiftly strip a crying and already mentally violated Tristam of his soiled clothes. One of the men in balaclavas remains by the door. The other moves the mp-5 to the side and takes out a sturdy black rope.  No measure of faith or wonder could have prepared him for the world, the via activa curb-stomping him like this.

He would remain in this position for quite some time until his formal processing began. Tristan recognized the particular form of treatment now administered to him as inspired by the art of Japanese bondage. His limbs are out of the way and his body is suspended at an appropriate height, and his hind parts are exposed and expanded to maximize convenience in handling. “Who are you and what have I done to you?” he asks, his anus contracting rhythmically as if already expecting what was to come. His inquisitive appellation is answered by a punch to the mouth that fills his digestive tract with iron-flavored blood. The silent male guardian tightens the ropes and stills Tristan the rocking motion induced by the punitive blow.

She would have to show him a thing or two before the re-eduction session is over. The assistants bring in a minimalist black case containing the instrument through which the magistral process of sinister inducement shall take place. It is a lean, metallic cane, designed specifically for this purpose. SWISH, SWISH, SWISH. The Mistress demonstrates her terrifying power as her formidable movements cut through the air. “I AM MISTRESS MARIANA, AND I AM HERE TO FORGE YOU ANEW INTO A SWORD OF DEATH.”

II

Somewhere, a cockerel began to crow, the unknowing herald of a bloody dawn. Hours passed, and Tristan is reawakened for the dozenth time by way of chemical stimulation. His ruined behind and bloodied genitals beyond pain and sensation from the criss-cross offensive delivered by Mistress Mariana.

A flash of purplish light could be seen shining from the face of a demoness. “ARE YOU READY TO TAKE ACTION?”, she finally asks. “WILL YOU COMPLY?”

What would go on behind those closed doors? Tritan’s allies could only speculate. They had heard the cries of despair after coming back with cups of coffee and cookies to satiate their sinister appetite. They were entranced. They could not leave and betray their friend and ally, but at the same time, uploading amateur music to Bandcamp and selling dope had in no way been training for this situation. Something else they were not aware of also held them in place. The dark grasp of an ectoplasmic claw that extended at the end of a filament originating in the mind of the Mistress envelopes them and lulls them into the sleep of prey.

The officer says: ‘Bend him over the bed, so I can see what exactly this little pet is made of.’ The lean, semi-emaciated, but ridiculously strong female acolytes move Tristan into position as the balaclava-clad man proceeds to take out his throbbing member in order to deliver a lesson that promises to penetrate deeper into the Niner. Tristan has an attack of hysteria, defecating profusely once more. His assailants laugh, wondering where all this is coming from considering the quantity of effluvia already having exited from this contemplative one.

He was intimating but not telling and even so, he may have already said too much. Nevertheless, Tristan tries to reason with them by scavenging his intellectual studies to their utmost potency. “In my fallible opinion —” His own screams interrupt this empty soliloquy as his sphincters give way to this assault on his sanity, and the solid rod of meat finds its way deep into his bowels. The cultists hold him, and the rhythmic reinforcement following the compass of the thrusts begins: VIA ACTIVA, VIA ACTIVA, VIA ACTIVA. On and on to the end of the dark night of his soul.

With the hands of the genuine cultists still upon him, touching, caressing, sweetly soothing in emotional bonding and with the arcane, tonal qualities of the soft music played by others of their number in the air, praises to their goddess, Tristan finds himself drifting into a deep, deep slumber.

III

The beating lasted longer than she had premeditated. And the ritual violation that was administered as a last resort as per protocol had somewhat delayed their schedule. The team exits the facility with tactical efficiency, the engine of the black van is on before they reach it, but the Mistress and the female acolytes remain outside. The shock troops, the guardians, quickly move in and close the door of the van.

Mariana looks up at the sky, and extends her arms towards Tristan’s friends as the acolytes walk quickly towards them, showing impossible white legs under the sway of their robes. A mental prison rises around them, they are pulled by the power beyond the Moon, beyond Jupiter as they understand it. Still they salivate, and the van has come to a stop behind them. Adherents in balaclavas jump out of the nondescript vehicle, and by the time the Drecc and the Balobian are aware enough to turn their heads around, the butts of the mp-5s are already in full motion toward their skulls.

A pale moon shone above, pale and ghostly. The Mistress observes as the robed acolytes castrate the two individuals and placing the severed genitals in a portable brazier quickly produced from the van and its fire adeptly started. The shirts of the sacrificial victims are taken off and upon their flesh are carved a series of horrific sigils unknown in ONA circles, never written down in books, unexisting in digital representation, and transmitted only during live operations that were veritable ordeals of strength and commitment.

Screams erupt from the mouths of the Drecc and the Balobian. To bring to an end the swift yet intense ceremony, the still conscious yet highly traumatized victims of the contemplative way are dragged to the corner on the sidewalk. Their heads are methodically and without delay placed on the curb. The Mistress smiles, and upon a signal from her hand, the two female acolytes emit a steady screech that places the brains of the vaguely conscious awareness of the two victims into a predetermined frequency, and the boots of the armed men come down hard on their skulls, spreading grey matter, blood and bone in a mathematical projection over the concrete.

Tristan began to cackle involuntarily as he felt the dark effluvion entering his body even as it exited the maltreated cadavers where the raw energy had been wasted. An ancient evil possessed him in that moment. Tristan was no longer that pathetic husk pouring over the dusty tomes of vacuous minds intent on finding solace for their inadequacy-in-the-world. “FEED, MY CHILD. FEED AND BE REBORN”

The future manifestation, the culmination of a monstrous transformation, one that would see Tristan shed the emasculating chains of vain scholarship in favor of putting boots on the ground to carry out definitive action. His relation to the world changed. His faith was no more. There was only the nuclear goddess that now held his soul in a vice-grip so cold his anxiety, his weakness, his confusion, his need for contemplation, faith, and wonder decidedly extinguished. Now, a muscular beast prowled the world, reaching the highest peaks of attainment with single-minded enthusiasm and devotion for the single-point of darkness beyond all words. Only the way of action can lead him to the top, to the culmination of all he can be. In his cleansed mind, one message remains: VIA ACTIVA! VIA ACTIVA! VIA ACTIVA!

 

Clarice

Nexion of Ur

Patagonia

In a coded show of allegiance.


Contemplation, Logos, and Faith: The Role of the Vita Contemplativa in the Politics of the Order of Nine Angles

Posted: March 14th, 2022 | Author: | Filed under: Culture, David Myatt, Fenrir, Inner ONA, Islam, News, O9A, O9A Nine Angles, Occultism, Order of Nine Angles, Order of the Nine Angles, paganism, Politics, The Sinister Tradition, The Sinisterly Numinous Tradition | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Contemplation, Logos, and Faith: The Role of the Vita Contemplativa in the Politics of the Order of Nine Angles

What follows is a draft of an article for inclusion in the upcoming edition of Fenrir on the subject of politics and extremism in the Order of Nine Angles. While the upcoming edition explicitly moves away from politics and extremism, the article attempts to clarify what a “movement away” involves. In unveiling some of the deeper Hellenic influences at the ONA’s roots and examining the way these inform the relation between action and contemplation, it is hoped that the content presented here will impart a new perspective on a very old dialogue, in turn opening new lines of communication and inspiring a few individuals along the way.

The Death of Socrates

– Jacques-Louis David, The Death of Socrates, 1787

Contemplation, Logos, and Faith: The Role of the Vita Contemplativa in the Politics of the Order of Nine Angles

[Posted here: https://luxlycaonis.com/index.php/2022/03/18/contemplation-logos-faith-o9a/]

The upcoming edition of Fenrir’s movement away from extremism and politics marks a return to the ONA’s roots in esotericism and scholarship – esotericism with respect to the hidden nature of experiences attainable through this tradition, and scholarship with respect to both the Aristotelian role “for contemplation of a larger order as something divine in us” [1] and the ancient Hellenic role of the vita contemplativa[2] or the contemplative life. While the ONA has roots in extremism and politics, it may be helpful to clarify what is meant by Fenrir’s “movement away” from these in relation to the lesser-known Greco-Hellenic influences that form a large part of the ONA’s foundation.

Contemplation played an important role in the ancient Hellenic world. While many historical shifts occurred during that time, one of particular significance was the shift from the vita activa or active life to the vita contemplativa or contemplative life. Hannah Arendt, a notable student of Heidegger,[3] analyzes these in detail in her influential work, The Human Condition. She describes how the three activities of the vita activa – labor, work, and action, respectively – have specific conditions and contexts. Arendt notes that the condition of labor is nature, whose domain has to do with providing the necessities of life. The condition of work is world or worldliness, which contrasts with labor in terms of the human-made things it pertains to and carries a sense of artificiality. (Labor, by contrast, concerns the phenomena of nature.) For Arendt, labor in relation to nature illustrates our relation to other animals, whereas work in relation to worldliness is distinctively human.

Action as the third activity of the vita activa takes on a special significance. Arendt identifies action as the prerogative of the human being, where the condition of action is plurality. For Arendt, “[p]lurality is the condition of human action because we are all the same, that is, human, in such a way that nobody is ever the same as anyone else who ever lived, lives, or will live.”[4] Arendt draws our attention to the fact “that men, not Man, live on the earth and inhabit the world,”[5] where action is “the only activity that goes on directly between men without the intermediary of things or matter.”[6] Action is thus important in several respects: it “has the closest connection with the human condition of natality”[7] insofar as it pertains to the way birth brings with it the potential for what is new; natality in relation to action has some bearing on Arendt’s discussion of mortality; and – most importantly for our purposes – action is political in nature and is connected closely to the domain of the political.[8]

Through a major historical shift that marked “perhaps the most momentous of the spiritual consequences of the discoveries of the modern age,”[9] Arendt notes how action and the political were overtaken by the vita contemplativa, the contemplative life. As the highest and purest type of action, it became the highest rung of human activity, and this lasted for some time. The trial of Socrates in ancient Greece played an important role in this shift,[10] where philosophers began to distance themselves from and distrust the political following the execution of Socrates. On this point, it is important to note that the primacy of contemplation did not equate to the primacy of thought over political action, as Arendt makes a clear distinction between contemplation and thought.[11]

Arendt observes that “the enormous superiority of contemplation over activity of any kind, action not excluded, is not Christian in origin.”[12] Contemplation can be found, for example, “in Plato’s political philosophy … [and in] Aristotle’s … articulation of the different ways of life … [which is] clearly guided by the ideal of contemplation (theōria).”[13] She describes how the philosophers of the ancient Greek world added “freedom and surcease from political activity (skholē)”[14] to the “ancient freedom from the necessities of life and from the compulsion by others,”[15] whereby the “later Christian claim to be free from entanglement in worldly affairs, from all the business of this world, was preceded by and originated in the philosophic apolitia of late antiquity.”[16] Thus, “[w]hat had been demanded only by the few was now considered to be a right of all.”[17] In this, we find a close parallel to what David Myatt, in “Classical Paganism and the Christian Ethos,” refers to as an “ancient paganus spirituality,” or “paganus weltanschauung” present in the Greco-Roman worldview.[18] From Arendt’s analysis, we find a clue and possible answer to Myatt’s question, “Is the fundamental difference between such a paganus spirituality and Christianity (past and present) simply the difference between λόγος (logos) understood as ‘reason’ and λόγος understood as faith and belief and thus as the Word of God?”[19] As we have seen, the difference rests heavily on the shift from the vita activa to the vita contemplativa in the ancient Greek world, where contemplation becomes the highest human activity. Understanding this shift may thus help us better understand the complex relation between the ancient Greeks and Christianity, and thus between logos and faith.

As a more substantive response to Myatt, I will note that Pope Benedict XVI addressed this very question – the relation between logos and faith – in his September 2006 address at the University of Regensburg, entitled “Faith, Reason and the University: Memories and Reflections.”[20] The Pope states that “[t]he encounter between the Biblical message and Greek thought did not happen by chance.”[21] From the vision of Saint Paul, for example, “who saw the roads to Asia barred and in a dream saw a Macedonian man plead with him: ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us!’,”[22] we find a line of interpretation that points to the necessity of a “rapprochement between Biblical faith and Greek inquiry.”[23] Though in the late Middle Ages there is evidence of certain theological trends “which would sunder this synthesis between the Greek spirit and the Christian spirit,”[24] the dialogue between the ancient Greeks and the early Christians – and thus between faith and reason – was more than a conversation: it took place as a kind of communion, one that has had a lasting influence on the modern world.[25] In fact, the “dehellenization” of the Christian worldview did not emerge until the sixteenth century with the “postulates of the Reformation,”[26] where Reformers were responding to a system of scholastic theology that appeared as “an alien system of thought” – one where “faith no longer appeared as a living historical Word but as one element of an overarching philosophical system.”[27] This was in contrast to the principle of sola scriptura, which “sought faith in its pure, primordial form, as originally found in the biblical Word.”[28] Even after the dehellenization of the Reformation, we find the convergence between the ancient Greeks and Christianity carried through the Enlightenment and into the modern world as a powerful impulse. Immanuel Kant, one of the most important thinkers in Western history, “stated that he needed to set thinking aside in order to make room for faith,” where he “anchored faith exclusively in practical reason, denying it access to reality as a whole.”[29]

In response to Myatt’s question then, we find that the complex relation between faith and reason has a similarly complex history with respect to the ancient Greek worldview and Christianity. In that history, the demarcation between logos as reason and logos as faith becomes blurred, which undermines its role in distinguishing the ancient Greek worldview from its Christian counterpart. On this point, Pope Benedict XVI says the following:

[D]espite the bitter conflict with those Hellenistic rulers who sought to accommodate it forcibly to the customs and idolatrous cult of the Greeks, biblical faith, in the Hellenistic period, encountered the best of Greek thought at a deep level, resulting in a mutual enrichment evident especially in the later wisdom literature. Today we know that the Greek translation of the Old Testament produced at Alexandria – the Septuagint – is more than a simple (and in that sense really less than satisfactory) translation of the Hebrew text: it is an independent textual witness and a distinct and important step in the history of revelation, one which brought about this encounter in a way that was decisive for the birth and spread of Christianity. A profound encounter of faith and reason is taking place here, an encounter between genuine enlightenment and religion. From the very heart of Christian faith and, at the same time, the heart of Greek thought now joined to faith, Manuel II [Paleologus] was able to say: Not to act “with logos” is contrary to God’s nature.[30]

Thus, in many respects the ONA is a response to a very old and long-standing dialogue between faith and reason, directed through the ancient Hellenic role of the vita contemplativa as the highest human activity, one that directly informs action. To return to the aforesaid question concerning a “movement away” from the ONA’s roots in extremism and politics with respect to Fenrir, it should be noted that this emphasis on contemplation is not meant to replace the three activities of the vita activa; it is meant to inform them by restoring a direct line of communication between how the transformative and ecstatic experiences of the ONA – such as those catalyzed by the Grade Rituals of the Seven-Fold Way – shape the way we inhabit and interact with the world.[31] With respect to the ONA, contemplation is specifically meant to inform plurality as the condition of action, where plurality and action also inform contemplation. Attempting to exclude one over the other is to misunderstand this relation, which sadly continues to occur both within the ONA and by its opponents. Insofar as action as the condition for plurality is political, so too are the ONA and Fenrir in this respect. However, Fenrir’s “movement away” from politics concerns a movement away from the substitution of action for contemplation, which involves a breakdown of the relation between the vita activa and the vita contemplativa. We find this breakdown in almost every major socio-political outlet in the world, which fail to take this complex historical shift into account – a shift that has made possible various developments in the modern world.

With respect to Fenrir’s movement away from extremism, Pope Benedict XVI’s comments regarding the topic of violent religious conversion ring true here. In a dialogue between “the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam,”[32] the Pope recounts how:

The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. “God,” he says, “is not pleased by blood – and not acting reasonably (σὺν λόγω) is contrary to God’s nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats… To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death…”[33]

In closing, one should recall that Fenrir remains – and will remain for the foreseeable future – a journal of Satanism and the Sinister; and this should, at the very least, give one pause in considering how to interpret what has been said here: that the outer boundaries demarcating the true nature of the Order of Nine Angles are deeply hidden, complex, and discoverable only through years of difficult ordeals, careful navigation, and – most importantly – contemplation informed by plurality and action. The upcoming edition’s underlying themes of alterity, empathy, and practical sinister magick speak to this in a powerful way.

Home! and with them are gone
The hues they gazed on and the tones they heard;
Life’s beauty and life’s melody: — alone
Broods o’er the desolate void, the lifeless word;
Yet rescued from time’s deluge, still they throng
Unseen the Pindus they were wont to cherish:
All, that which gains immortal life in song,
To mortal life must perish!
– Friedrich Schiller, “The Gods of Greece”

Nameless Therein
Scothorn Nexion
Sun in Pisces, March 13, 2022
2775 ab urbe condita
 

NOTES

[1] Charles Taylor, A Secular Age (Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007), 27.

[2] Hannah Arendt identifies the vita contemplativa with the ancient Greek bios theōrētikos. See Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition, 2nd ed. (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1958), 14. Regarding the role of contemplation in the ancient Greek world, Arendt characterizes it as follows: “and the life of the philosopher devoted to inquiry into, and contemplation of, things eternal, whose everlasting beauty can neither be brought about through the producing interference of man nor be changed through his consumption of them.” Arendt, Human Condition, 13.

[3] Hannah Arendt’s history with Heidegger is complex and will not be explored here. See, for example, Antonia Grunenberg, Hannah Arendt and Martin Heidegger: History of Love, trans. Peg Birmingham, Kristina Lebedeva, and Elizabeth von Witzke Birmingham (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2017). What is important for our purposes is that in addition to having studied under him directly, Heidegger had a profound influence on Arendt’s thought. Lewis and Sandra Hinchman note, for example, that “[r]eading Arendt’s few comments on Heidegger, one would scarcely imagine what a vast, pervasive influence he had upon her.” They add that “[t]he stamp of Heideggerian thinking is especially noticeable in three elements of Arendt’s work: the status of her elaborate system of distinctions and concepts, her approach to language, and her interpretation of action as self-revelation.” Lewis P. Hinchman and Sandra K. Hinchman, “In Heidegger’s Shadow: Hannah Arendt’s Phenomenological Humanism,” The Review of Politics 46, no. 2 (April 1984): 196.

[4] Arendt, Human Condition, 8.

[5] Ibid., 7.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid., 9.

[8] This is consistent with the fact that the condition of action is plurality, since it is the plurality of human beings that constitutes the domain of the political.

[9] Arendt, Human Condition, 289. The full quote is as follows:

Perhaps the most momentous of the spiritual consequences of the discoveries of the modern age and, at the same time, the only one that could not have been avoided, since it followed closely upon the discovery of the Archimedean point and the concomitant rise of Cartesian doubt, has been the reversal of the hierarchical order between the vita contemplativa and the vita activa.

[10] See Arendt, Human Condition, 12: “The term vita activa is loaded and overloaded with tradition. It is as old as (but not older than) our tradition of political thought. And this tradition, far from comprehending and conceptualizing all the political experiences of Western mankind, grew out of a specific historical constellation: the trial of Socrates and the conflict between the philosopher and the polis.”

[11] Arendt does not address contemplation at length in The Human Condition, as she is interested in the historical shifts that have to do with labor, work, and action. However, regarding the shift from the vita activa to the vita contemplativa, in addition to the difference between contemplation and thought, the following comments may be helpful:

With the disappearance of the ancient city-state—Augustine seems to have been the last to know at least what it once meant to be a citizen—the term vita activa lost its specifically political meaning and denoted all kinds of active engagement in the things of this world. To be sure, it does not follow that work and labor had risen in the hierarchy of human activities and were now equal in dignity with a life devoted to politics. It was, rather, the other way round: action was now also reckoned among the necessities of earthly life, so that contemplation (the bios theōrētikos, translated into the vita contemplativa) was left as the only truly free way of life. (Arendt, The Human Condition, 14)

[12] Arendt, Human Condition, 14.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid., 14-15.

[17] Ibid., 15.

[18] David Myatt, “Introduction,” in “Classical Paganism and the Christian Ethos,” 2nd ed. (self-pub., 2017).

[19] Myatt, “Introduction.”

[20] See Pope Benedict XVI, “Faith, Reason and the University: Memories and Reflections” (speech, Aula Magna of the University of Regensburg, Bavaria, Germany, September 12, 2006). A transcript of the speech can be found at www.vatican.va.

[21] Pope Benedict XVI, “Faith.” Interestingly, Pope Benedict XVI also addresses faith and reason with respect to the relation between Christianity and Islam. Recalling part of a dialogue carried on “by the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam,” he notes “the truth of both,” adding that:

It was presumably the emperor himself who set down this dialogue, during the siege of Constantinople between 1394 and 1402; and this would explain why his arguments are given in greater detail than those of his Persian interlocutor. The dialogue ranges widely over the structures of faith contained in the Bible and in the Qur’an, and deals especially with the image of God and of man, while necessarily returning repeatedly to the relationship between – as they were called – three “Laws” or “rules of life”: the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Qur’an.

[22] Cf. Acts 16:6-10

[23] Pope Benedict XVI, “Faith.”

[24] Ibid.

[25] With respect to the convergence between the ancient Greek world and Christianity, Pope Benedict XVI observes the following:

This inner rapprochement between Biblical faith and Greek philosophical inquiry was an event of decisive importance, not only from the standpoint of the history of religions, but also from that of world history – it is an event which concerns us even today. Given this convergence, it is not surprising that Christianity, despite its origins and some significant developments in the East, finally took on its historically decisive character in Europe. We can also express this the other way around: this convergence [between the ancient Greek world and Christianity], with the subsequent addition of the Roman heritage, created Europe and remains the foundation of what can rightly be called Europe. (Pope Benedict XVI, “Faith”)

[26] Ibid.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Ibid.

[31] The question of how we interact with others in the world, particularly with respect to the relation between plurality, action, and community, is a theme relevant to my forthcoming article for the upcoming edition of Fenrir, which concerns alterity (our relation to the other).

[32] Pope Benedict XVI, “Faith.” The Pope notes that this dialogue may have occurred in 1391, “in the winter barracks near Ankara.”

[33] Ibid.