The Fossils of Angels   13 comments

Greetings wasters-of-time and mental masturbators!

Lisa's Angel Fossil

Lisa's Angel Fossil

Recently, an old essay from 2002 written by Alan Moore has been making the rounds on Facebook and the blogosphere.  It is entitled “Fossil Angels” and it focuses upon the – supposedly – sorry state of modern occultism.  You can read the essay here, if you’re stout of heart:

http://glycon.livejournal.com/13888.html

I did not actually begin by reading Moore’s essay.  Instead, I was introduced to it via an article written by Miguel Conner called “Moore Evidence for the Death of Occultism.”  It attempted to (blessedly) summarize  Moore’s essay, outlining all of the major points made in the original piece.  Frankly, I felt the article would have been better placed in the 1990s, as it seems to have missed a lot that is going on today.  Here is what I had to say about it on Facebook: 

This article reminds me of the Naked Ape. The author of that book made some great points – I highly recommend the book to anyone. Yet, at the same time, the author – writing in the late 60s – seemed *entirely* unaware that the 60s were happening. He insisted that humans had never attempted to do the things that young folks were trying at that very moment… 

Same here, folks. The article is spot-on about the shortcomings of modern occultism. Or, to be more specific, of late 20th-century occultism. However, the author seems utterly unaware that new occult movements are rising as we speak – have been on the rise since the late 90s – that address and seek to correct these shortcomings. In other words, occultists are fed up with modern occultism too – and now they are looking into the Old Magick again. The Keys of Solomon, Dee’s records, the ATRs and much much more – all of these are currently “in vogue” among occultists who know damn well that our modern culture lost something along the way. Yet, the author seems to be unaware this is happening…

After posting that, I was told by many people that I should read Moore’s “wonderful” essay before I make up my mind about it.  I was given the link to livejournal and so headed over to read the original.  Then, I posted this:

Ok, I have read about two-thirds of the way though Moore’s original essay. Frankly, I’ve given up. I’m exhausted after slogging through the over-written text, endless adjectives, pointless metephores and digressions without destination. This dude should NOT have taken writing lessons from A.E. Waite, but he sure seems to have…

As for his ideas – sorry, folks, but I have to call BULLSHIT on every last bit of it. I thought perhaps I would find an essay that was slighty outdated but still full of sound points about what the modern occult movement lacks. It wasn’t. What I found instead were concepts like: “if magick works so well, why do all pracitioners still have day jobs and lives that suck?” That alone tells me this guy is as clueless as it gets. I assume all of those ancient shamans he admires didnt’ have day jobs or troubles in their lives? For the sake of the Gods, magick arose as a method of dealing with a hostile and hard world.  If this idiot honestly thinks magick is about making your life “easier”, then he doesn’t have the first business writing on the subject. He should go join up with Randi and the other de-bunkers.

The rest of his ideas – once you mine them out of the text – are just as far away from the point. For example, he quotes Arthur Machen’s negative opinion of the Golden Dawn – but sidesteps the fact that Machen was writing long after the GD fell apart and its Temples had lost their way. Machen encountered the same GD as Regardie did, and that was NOT the GD of Mathers and Wescott. Machen met the GD and bad-mouthed it for its fallen state. Regardie saw the same things and DID something about it. Yet Moore goes with Machen…. surprised?

He almost made some good points when comparing the GD/OTO/etc with the work Dee and Kelley did – showing how Dee and Kelley were working magick as a cutting edge science, while the GD and those who followed were looking toward the past. Of course, Moore ignores all of the years Dee dedicated to gathering the oldest occult texts he could find. And, in saying the GD was just “historically re-enacting the past” he seems to forget that no magickal system had EVER taken the form it did in the GD. So these ignorant past-gazers somehow came up with something new? Well, sure, and so did Dee.  But in both cases the material was based on what had come previously.

Moore doesn’t understand magick. He doesn’t understand what it was in the past, and he doesn’t understand what it is today. And, like many who fail to understand, he chooses to poke fun instead. Well, more power to him. Meanwhile, I’ll persist in my rituals to call down and commune with the Angels, and to work with the spirits. I’ll accept help from them anytime they want to offer it. I’ll let them save my very LIFE as they have done in the past. And we’ll all do so while we laugh at Moore and his outsider’s opinions of magick. ;)

Moore makes the common mistake of believing the BS that magick simply fell by the wayside after science came along and made everything “better.”  If he’d pick up a copy of Yate’s “Rosicrucian Enlightenment” he might learn that magick was forced underground by religious authorities and “science” arose as a result.  Or, put better, a false rift between “magick” and “science” was created at about the time of the age of enlightenment.  No one decided magick didn’t work – it was people who were convinced that it DID work that sought to eradicate it.  Science struggled to be accepted in the same environment (because it wasn’t originally a separate pursuit from magick), and it came out on top.  That says nothing about the efficacy of magick, friends…

It is very esay for Alan Moore to sit comfortably within the fantasy of the modern Western world and poo-poo all modern magick, claiming that it just isn’t relevant since we figured out all of this nifty science.  But just wait until this fantasy finally comes crashing down, and the Western nations are faced with the reality of living on Earth once more.  Just wait until it is common for Western people to be unsure from where (or when) their next meal is coming.  Wait until medicine becomes something we aren’t allowed to have at all.  Wait until we are living in tent colonies and going to the bathroom in a hole we dug out back.  THEN we shall see Mr. Moore going to his local witch or wizard, offering in hand, in the hopes the spirits can help his family in times of need.  If I were those spirits, I’d tell him to go find a scientist.

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Aaron

13 responses to “The Fossils of Angels

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  1. Moore’s writing style aside, his point is thoroughly correct. Your opinions are well founded, but they do nothing but answer his criticisms of the occult world itself. However, almost demonstrating his tone and also his writing artistry, he uses the cynicism about the occult to show one very basic and completely true point. He does however, make one very simple distinction which can easily cause confusion.

    This confusion lies in the way he talks about Science strictly in terms of ‘Scientific Domain’. This is very important to his overall thesis in the essay. Rigorous Scientific Method can (and is) applied in many domains that are not strictly ‘Scientific’. Alan is however very clear from the context that he is using the word ‘Scientific’ in this way by saying it is representative of the ‘Objective Sphere’ itself.

    The fathers of modern mechanics, including the people that matter such as Einstein, Heisenberg, Pauli, Plank, Schrodinger, and many others all were profoundly mystical (and hence magickal) and warn consistently in their writings on mysticism that Quantum Mechanics and Relativity tell us nothing about God, the Gods or Goddesses, or the Mystical Realms. On the amazing contrary, Modern Mechanics has proved not that ‘God does not exist’, but that the language of Modern Mechanics itself ‘says nothing about God or the Mystical’.

    Perhaps Alan Moore is overly cynical and takes some below the belt shots that aren’t completely well founded … but to get caught up in that is missing the point which is this: The Big 3 Platonic Domains of The Good, The True, and The Beautiful cannot be reduced down one into the other.

    Magick as Art is the Beautiful, and says nothing about what is Good and what is True. Magick and Art may disclose the Godhead in our own realization, and Magick attempts to universalize this realization in others. Religion speaks to us about the Good, what is Morally right and correct, and Science speaks to us about what is True. They don’t speak about each-other even though they all co-exist as the base tetra-mesh of arising reality.

    Your eschatological predictions may also be well founded, but again, the point Alan makes in his essay is that Magick is supposed to be alive, a living tradition. The role of Magick is to prevent the devolution and destruction of our cultural sophistication (or perhaps to move it along…). Seriously Aaron do you really want the structures of our society to break down?

    Unique evolutionary leaps have always occurred on earth. Many mutations happen spontaneously and at once, and the problems of existence are transcended. The conscious application of Magickal Arts to trigger the transformation (forward or backwards!) is a noble goal for the Bodhisattvic Mage.

  2. I agree with all that you’ve written Aaron, but I’m a bit perplexed by your last paragraph. Why should the whole edifice come crashing down any time soon. Do you predict some major catastrophe happening soon? And if there were, why do you think average Joe and Mary, who have probably never read a book in their life would turn towards science rather than magic(k) for rescue?
    As far as modern ignorant man is concerned magic is the stuff of Hollywood, like Harry Potter, comic book anthropomorphism and quack superstition, whereas science offers people the ability to have a fridge, even go live on the moon some day. Concepts like Will, Knowledge, Sacrifice, Inner discipline, control of attention are utterly alien to most.

  3. I notice that several folks (here and elsewhere) have taken a keen interest in my final thoughts, concerning the “end of the Western fantasy.” Oddly, I notice that many are assuming I’m making a Nostradamus-style prediction of the End Of The World(tm). Perhaps that is because I’m an occultist…

    However, I am also a student of social and political issues. This is where the final paragraph of my blog comes from. I’m not predicting any major catastrophe in the future, I’m pointing to the “major catastrophe” that is happening all around us as we speak. 20th Century consumerist culture was never sustainable, nor was it ever meant to be. Every futurist and economist worth his salt has predicted, since the 1950s, that this type of culture would unravel right about… now. And so far everything they’ve predicted is happening.

    I *highly* recommend watching this documentary, concerning Edward Bernays and the creation of the American consumerist culture (and why it was created):

    Century of the Self

    I also highly recommend reading the trilogy written by Alvin Toffler: ‘Future Shock’, ‘The Third Wave’ and ‘War and Anti-War.’ Toffler (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alvin_Toffler) *literally* wrote the script our politicians have been following since the 1970s. (Reading ‘War and Anti-War’ is downright eerie. After reading it, I caught several politicians all but quoting parts of the book, but acting as if what they were saying was entirely new information.)

    Now, having said all of that, the fact is that our culture is coming to a “wake-up” point. Not a grand mystical awakening, but a hard-knocks re-introduction to the reality of what it is like for *most* of the people who live on this planet. We here in the west are rich, spoiled, over-fed and over-medicated. That is not sustainable, and it is breaking down right here and right now. THIS is why the Old Magick is coming back, folks! The real world demands magick – real magick – in order to face real life struggles. We here in the West have no experience with that kind of reality at all. But we will, and soon. And when the hard-knocks hit, people turn to magick. It is instinctual, it serves a real purpose to the human organism that is timeless – regardless of how advanced your technology may be. Consider what your life would become if the power suddenly went out and never came back on. Just that, all by itself, would set our standard of living back centuries. Right back to that time when Mr. Moore thinks magick was relevant…

  4. I’m with @Timothy Paul Bielec on this. His summary is quite insightful. You seem to have missed the central point in favor of being offended by what you perceive to be an anti-occult premise. Moore was perhaps a bit too cynical or sarcastic, but don’t let that get in the way of an important idea. The only point on which I disagree is in saying that Crowley was a good poet.

    Let me also point out that I do think that practical magic works. I’m not sure if Moore really thinks there’s nothing at all to it or if he was being intentionally over-dramatic, here, but in either case that wasn’t ever the axle upon which his article turned.

    And yes, “The Century of the Self” is a fantastic documentary. More people (especially Americans) need to watch it.

  5. Anyone who thinks magic isn’t relevant anymore obviously isn’t paying attention to the community of occult bloggers who are taking magic and making it work for them. People like you, Rufus Opus, Jason Miller and the rest are living proof magic is still relevant.

  6. I can be forgiving of more by recognizing his ignorance of the movements going on today. If I’d have read his essay back when I was first getting my feet in the water and the authors he discusses were the only guys I knew of I’d have discovered a summation of feelings coagulating within myself subtly as I progressed. However, seeing as things are as viable and fruitful as they actually are now I have no problem dismissing his vicious conclusions. In Moore’s defense, I have read a recent article by him that is featured in his magazine publication, Dodgem Logic, and he seems to have a firmer grasp of the true reality of magic than you seem think based off of your strong remarks about his conception of the arte magical. I’m not saying your wrong in your reaction to that particular article, but I am personally convinced that Moore is more legit and mature in his practice that he admits publicly based off of the mature way he addresses what magic is and how it works in his Dodgem Logic article. That said, his article, the Dogdem Logic one that I have referred to, was really beginner-oriented; pretty much written in defense of the arte magical for people automatically inclined to scoff, or perhaps the curious who don’t know what to think. I agree with your assessment that his Fossil Angels article was over-written; talk about whacking-off one’s vocabulary!

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  8. Aaron,
    I think you are completely wide of the mark here. The article is a piece of polemic written in 2002: naturally it’s written in an overblown style – a common feature of Chaos/Kaos magazine – and reflects conditions at the time of writing. It seems churlish to accuse the author of being unaware of ‘movements,’ as you put it, that did not begin to manifest until after the piece was written. For example, Joe Peterson had only recently published the Lemegeton and had yet to produce his widely-available edition of Dee’s diaries; if, ten years ago, you were to ask any informed UK occultist who Jake Stratton-Kent was the reply would be ‘Thelemite. Works on the English Qabala.’ The significance of another book published in 2005 comes to mind…
    But the point remains that there is a tendency for magicians to look backwards rather than forward. A lot could be said on the issue of magic and modernity, but I tend to agree with the view that most modern magicians have not responded in a particularly creative way to the dominant paradigm. The modern, corporate, revivals of the Golden Dawn and the OTO appear to me (as an outsider) and no doubt to Moore as particularly ossified.

    Dee is a special case as he had exhausted all human knowledge: there was no-one living who could teach him, and no more books he could read, that could expose the ‘radical truths’ he sought, and so he turned to magic as a means of acquiring ‘scientiae': knowledge. As a friend suggested to me recently, if Dee were alive today he would probably be working at CERN: the computer and the supercollider are far more efficient means of penetrating the mysteries of creation than a crystal and scryer.

    BTW, Arthur Machen’s recollections were published in 1923, but he actually joined the GD in 1899, under Mathers.

    • Ged,

      I appreciate where you are coming from here. In fact, I mentioned that the piece was written in 2002 when modern occultism was still a closer match to what he describes. However, I don’t think you caught the jist of my issue with his essay. Quite early on, he makes this comment:

      “Has magic demonstrated a purpose, justified its existence in the way that art or science or agriculture justify their own? In short, does anyone have the first clue what we are doing, or precisely why we’re doing it?”

      And, from what I read, the rest of the essay was intended to answer an emphatic “No!” Sorry, but that is nothing short of asinine. It is the kind of question an outsider skeptic would ask, when he in fact has already made up his mind about the answer. It obviously has not justified itself to him, so he ridicules the rest of us. Then there was this gem, which I mentioned directly in my blog post:

      “If we want money, then why don’t we magically get off of our fat arses, magically perform some work for once in our sedentary magic lives, and see if the requested coins don’t magically turn up some time thereafter in our bank accounts?”

      This is just the kind of ignorant argument against magick I have heard again and again. It always comes from outsiders who can’t separate Hollywood from real magick – that is, fantasy from reality. If we were “real” mages, then surely we’d be out playing Quidditch and using our magick to become Princes of far away kingdoms. Right? I’m sorry, but I find that insulting – not only to my intelligence but to the intelligence of the person asking.

      So, you see, I don’t take issue with the fact that Moore felt – either in 2002 or even now – that something is lacking in modern occultism. I take issue with his juvenile attitude in which all occultists are inseparable from Harry Potter fandom. (The fact that I freaking love Harry being beside the point, of course.) ;)

  9. Quite honestly after reading it I come to the conclusion I have no idea what point he was trying ot actually make, so i will merely answer some of the points in the replies :D

    Magic is for making life easier, it was then and it is now. It doesn’t have to save your life to work, but it relies on getting others to help you and just like people they are more inclined to help if they tihnk you need it. Though I think its easy to say that magic isn’t capable of making 1,000,000 appear in your hands when you can’t do it. That does not mean that magic is not capable of it nor is it fair to say that with magic you could not be given the ability to fly and play Quiditch :D or anything else, of course you could. As most people who know me are aware I have had physical manifestation dozens of times, to a lot of people its ‘impossible’ because its all visions and other excuses why they haven’t managed it. On that note, im not going to put a limit on magic and become one of those silly people and say that you can’t do some of the other things the grimoires suggest purely because I can’t do them. Im sure you can teleport or anything else it says, I just can’t for some reason or another.

    As far as I am concerned he has a point that magic does not work as it should do in modern times even for people who follow traditional methods, however I don’t see it is in anyway helpful to point out. He seems another idiot playing pretend scientist if you ask me.

  10. I enjoyed your closing line here, Aaron. I guess I should not have been, but I was surprised to read commenters expressing puzzlement about your references to social collapse. I perhaps do not foresee such a fast or total collapse as you, but I would completely agree that science is not foreseeing anything except biz as usual because it is too busy designing weapons and new lifetime drugs. It is precisely those who work close to the earth who will be able to help the most when we can no longer rely on war and neocolonialism to provide us with cheap goods, cheap energy, cheap food, etc. (“cheap” here meaning that the real cost is farmed out somewhere else, where we can’t see it). And magic workers are often highly in tune with their physical environment. We have the opportunity now to further develop our knowledge of our surroundings and heighten our sensitivity to the forces around us. I feel certain that those skills and that knowledge will come in very handy in the not very distant future.

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