Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Magus Magazine: Evolution and Deities Part One

Magus Magazine: Evolution and Deities Part One: Hello everybody! Here is a portion of Evolution and Deities. I'll be adding another bit concering the falsity of Ontological Relativism ...

Evolution and Deities Part One

Hello everybody! Here is a portion of Evolution and Deities. I'll be adding another bit concering the falsity of Ontological Relativism next week before really getting into the 'economy and power relations of Deity Evolution' but here's a taste. Enjoy!





            Discussing non-humans has many more implications than just anthropomorphism. As Latour has remarked, “Non-humans have not been emerging for aeons just to serve as so many props to show the mastery, intelligence, and design capacities of humans or their divine creations. They have their own intelligence, their own design, and plenty of transcendence to go on, that is, to reproduce” (Latour, Bruno. Will Non-Humans Be Saved? 2009). Although many non-humans do have human-like qualities or tendencies, they are autonomous entities that have their own trajectory and hold their own agency. Attributing only anthropomorphism to deity production is like trying to play a three-note guitar chord with only two strings. Although there is a familiarity with the sound, something seems missing. This something in terms of non-humans is evolutionary and experiential.

Truth be told, non-humans aren’t so much ineffable or infallible as incommensurable. Much like biological organisms, there is an evolution of the supernatural. Deities that are fittest or created with a favorable evolutionary trait tends to be more successful over time. These genetic variances may mutate and shift as in the case of the Holy Tree. According to what is known as the “Golden Legend”, the true cross came from three seeds from the ‘tree of mercy’ in the Garden of Eden. These three seeds were placed in the mouth of Adam’s corpse by Seth. After many centuries, wood from the tree was used to build a bridge that was used by the Queen of Sheba on her travels to meet King Solomon. When she walked across the bridge, Sheba was struck with a portent and began to worship. After reaching Solomon, she told the king about her omen of the holy-wood that would eventually lead to a new covenant between God and his people. This terrified the king and he had the timber buried. However, fourteen generations later, it would be wood from this bridge that is fashioned to produce Christ’s cross.

The narrative shows how non-humans have an evolutionary trajectory. The tree (object) went from being a seed, to a tree, bridge, crucifixion cross, and holy relic. But its symbolization, or what it means epistemologically, also evolved as centuries passed. This non-human’s meaning changed as it was imbued with the numinous. In fact, the severity of its numinous qualities ebbed and flowed through time. It was certainly a sacred object when it was in seed form and placed in Adam’s mouth. However, it lost some of its sacred power when Solomon buried it underground. Not till it was fashioned into Christ’s cross did the object reach its evolutionary potential. As a religious determinate, the true cross underwent an epistemic trajectory wherein its power as a religious symbol changed.

Self-determining deities also show evolutionary prowess as they move through time and space. However, there is an incommensurable aspect to the trajectory that keeps us from making oblique comparisons of sacred narratives. Because of its experiential nature, interactions with deities are necessarily incommensurable and must be examined as autonomous but non-comparable events. Its like comparing an entheogenic psilocybin experience with the visitation at Fatima by the Virgin Mary. Both are numinous events but they cannot be compared in any way. The experience of psilocybin-its affective qualities and pure unmitigated surrealism cannot be compared to any other numinous experience in any way because every experience of the sacred is new. Every numinous event is different in every way from other religious events due to the subjective experience in a sacred event. After all, we’re not comparing the experience of going to a baseball game or a movie. An experience of the deity is something extra-ordinary. It can be wholly beautiful or awful and terrifying. But the interaction will be unique and the experience new. And these are the qualities that are renewed or re-embodied through religious ritual. Although the experiences are incommensurable, they can be renewed subjectively to foster a change of state.

In the work of trajectories, the re-presentation of gods are a form of ritual economy. The rite of passage involves Man and the Deity to be successful. As Chris Knight and Camilla Power have remarked, “The gods do not just appear and then replicate themselves autonomously through being ‘attention-grabbing’. Rather, the immortals need organized communal help” (Journal of Royal Anthropological Institute. 4(11) March 1988. pp 129-132. Comment). Through the rite of passage sequence, the Deity and Man exhibit a ritual exchange of goods and services. But it is Man that performs the high-cost activities of conjuration. It is Man that does the dancing, and chanting, and trance exploration. They must in order to be embodied. And every occult knows this…..