Psychism and the Subversion of Knowledge

We never resort to psychism. However, our curriculum contains a great deal of what can be termed ‘psychic development’, through applications of Hermetic Science. Skrying, for example, properly done, involves the quite traditional concentration on a symbol, so that a ‘flow of knowledge’ (dhyana) comes about.

Psychism and Subversion of Knowledge: the Moon‘Skrying’ means ‘seeing’, and is closely related to the Sanskrit word dharana, which means ‘concentration’ in the technical sense but literally means ‘a window’ or ‘point of view’. Rising on the planes, when correctly understood, is a form of tantra-yoga, combining the activation of the Serpent Power (Shakti) with the equivalent of mantra (words and spells) and yantra (sacred image). So long as we keep the goal in sight, which is identical to that of yoga in the real sense, we should not go too far astray.[1] There is a risk, especially when a natural facility already exists, of over-developing the psychic faculty and becoming excessively reliant on it, even to the exclusion of all else—which is a real danger. It is not intended that results of the psychic order should be given objective validity. It goes without saying that neither are such results to be counted in any way as being important or significant in the scheme of things. The psychic realm has nothing to do with the spiritual realm, as by definition that which pertains to the psyche is strictly limited to the individuality and reaches no further—a matter we shall come back to.

Psychism, on the other hand, is a very different thing, and we have always spoken out against this. Psychism is a branch of the occult that has its origins as recently as the latter part of the nineteenth century. It should be noted in passing that public knowledge of this is non-existent—for opinions are guided by ‘news’ and ‘information’ that reduces everything to the most simplistic and grossly material level. While it is obvious that mediums and even ‘gurus’ in some cases have used the tricks and illusions of stagecraft to produce their manifestations, what is not so obvious to a gullible and easily deceived public is that such exposure or debunking rests on a confusion of the psychic realm with the material realm. A psychic occurrence cannot by definition, even though it exists on the most inferior of the subtle planes, exist on the material plane, where it can be subjected to all the ‘tests’ and ‘proving’ of profane science. Those who write or speak about this with total confidence in their superior understanding in fact know absolutely nothing about the subject whatsoever, for to them the psychic realm has no existence, let alone the spiritual. The irony that these same commentators are wholly deceived by the tricks and illusions of so-called ‘science’ escapes them completely.

Psychism and Subversion: SéanceWe are not then denying the existence, relative though it is, of psychic phenomena or its effects. Psychism, which has no doubt captivated the interest of many persons that are perfectly sincere—though that is no justification in itself—admits no real knowledge. It reduces everything to the psychic level and even the infra or sub-human levels of manifestation, though it knows not the real source of its ‘visions’ and ‘spirit-guides’. Psychism is the habitual and passive resort to the lowest of the subtle levels. Its advocates frequently embrace or claim to practice many elements of the Occult Science though not understanding them at all, reducing them to their most inferior level of manifestation. The use of magical correspondences, for example, which has traditionally served to train the mind, is translated into a vague search for ‘signs’ and ‘omens’, not only in what passes for a form of magick but that is also extended into every area of life so that it becomes a matter of habit. While the person cannot coherently explain the meaning of such ‘coincidences’ they nonetheless insist on treating them as if they had some profound import.

The products of psychism are completely illusory and meaningless. There are, however, even worse and more degraded forms of psychism than those described above, such as ‘channelling’. The agents of confusion and subversion that adopt this mode will even claim that the reams of quasi-mystical gibberish they produce derive from a source of ‘higher wisdom’. It is evident that such advice comes from a source much nearer to the limited imagining of the channellers than any extraterrestrial or trans-mundane source. The banal content is invariably heavy with illiterate New Age jargon, popular clichés and faux-psychology.

Quietism is really a further form of psychism of a very low order. Although the term ‘Quietism’ fell out of use long ago, the attitude it describes has persisted and increased within the field of what now passes for spirituality.[2] Quietists also admit no knowledge but pretend, by implication, belief and behaviour, to all knowledge. They take refuge in a complete distortion of the non-action doctrine of the East, refusing to do anything at all so that all comes to them ‘miraculously’, dropping into their lap as manna from heaven, not seeing in any way that this ‘manna’ consists of nothing but flattery and vain pretensions. These will often form loose alliances with professional psychics, mediums and channellers for mutual flattery and to increase the spread of their poison to the gullible and poorly educated. In fact, the so-called education of everyone by now is no more than a matter of enforced acceptance of a profane outlook on all things, for that is even a requirement to achieve ‘qualifications’, whether at school or university level.

The growth of psychism in all its forms was aided and abetted by the Theosophist movement and those influenced by it. It eventually opened the floodgates for the full onset of the anti-spiritual and anti-initiatic second level of the occult revival that took place from the 1950s and onward, replete with well publicised ‘witchcraft’ poseurs and sham Golden Dawn revivalists. The degradation was made complete by the New Age movement that emerged from the 1970s and onward. This hungrily devoured all the remnants of traditional knowledge, including various forms of Shamanism, and quickly subverted them towards wholly profane ends.

It has become increasingly difficult for our students and members—many of whom were born at a time when subversion of all previous knowledge was more or less complete—to know anything about the spiritual realm at all. It has been sealed off by the ‘plan’ that Guénon wrote of 70 years ago now.[3] By subverting all spiritual knowledge, or to put this more accurately, its symbols and doctrines, and relegating everything to the realm of the psyche, the individual and the ‘material’, a hard shell was formed across the ceiling of human intellect—and this even impacts, as Guénon has revealed in the aforementioned work, upon the cosmic and terrestrial environment. Once the sealing shut of the upper worlds is accomplished, only the psychic realm remains for refuge. Although the spiritual domain is completely out of reach of the profane—for to them it does not exist—the psychic realm can be reached and manipulated by profane governance, which is in turn controlled by the Qliphoth. The psychic plane can also be reached and manipulated by pretended ‘spiritual’ and ‘magical’ individuals and organisations.

The ways are closed off by now to most people in the world but it is still possible for an initiatic organisation to open them. So long as real initiation takes place, such an organisation is able to support further initiation. At the same time the reception of a spiritual influence makes it completely immune to the attacks made on it from the outer (or infra) darkness. However, the prospective candidates must be able to totally eradicate from their thinking all allegiance to the profane world, resisting every lure to engage in the personal, corporeal and sensual world to the exclusion of all else—for to do so only assists in closing the door to initiation ever more tightly.

Guénon’s masterwork includes a precise explanation of the incursion of the Qliphoth at the end of time. The doctrine exists in sacred traditions in most if not all cultures.[4] The incursion is made possible by fissures opening in the human artificial construct from below, whereas mankind has sealed off the ‘above’ so that no spiritual influences can neutralise the destructive power of the infernal forces. The use of the word ‘infernal’ here is meant to specifically describe the realm of the infra-corporeal or of sub-manifestation, which is to say that such agencies exist at the most inferior level possible, for any further degree would render them completely non-existent. As it is, their existence is only relative but their effect is real enough in the corporeal and psychic realms, which is the limit of their reach.

That which was implemented in our world from the spring equinox of 2020 and onward is undoubtedly the greatest deception of all time. Though it was prepared long ago, this latest phase is a vast acceleration towards the final dissolution that must come at the end of a Great Age or manvantara. Guénon is completely unique among those that have written on such matters in that he foresaw in precise detail everything that is going on in our world now, and at all levels of manifestation.[5] He was not in any way expressing a personal point of view; on the contrary, his prophetic vision was a remarkably perceptive application of initiation into traditional knowledge of a very high order.

Psychism and Subversion: Notes

1. Yoga means, in the traditional and real sense, ‘union’ and more particularly, union with God or to put it in the terms of Advaita Vedanta, realisation of Atman and Brahman.
2. ‘Spiritualism’ is another term rarely used now but which is descriptive of an anti-spiritual movement that has sought to substitute inferior forms of psychism for ‘spiritual contact’, as if there was no difference.
3. ‘Fissures in the Great Wall’ and associated chapters in The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times [Sophia Perennis].
4. The orientalist Kenneth Grant incorporated this in his writings but as with so much else he inverted the symbolism. He thus confused the spiritual with the demonic or infernal to such an extent that his followers and others influenced by the same stream have unwittingly worked on the side of self-destruction and anti-initiation.
5. See also Guénon, Crisis of the Modern World [Sophia Perennis].

From Nu Hermetica, a work in progress.
© Oliver St. John 2021

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Karma Yoga and Three Ways of Thelemic Initiation

There are three ways of Thelemic initiation corresponding to Jnana Yoga (knowledge), Bhakti Yoga (devotion) and Karma Yoga (action). These are also called the sacerdotal way or way of the priesthood, the royal way or way of kings, and the way of the warrior. The Greek word ‘Thelema’ (Θελημα) is inclusive of all three.[1] It is put thus in the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, I: 40:

For there are therein Three Grades, the Hermit, and the Lover, and the man of Earth. Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

Karma Yoga and Three Ways: Artus Scheiner RomanceIn our time, the warrior path presents the greatest difficulties. The warrior path generally involves the Ideal expressed through exoteric religious (or other) dogma. Dogma literally means ‘what seems to be good or true’, ‘what one should think’. The shortcoming is obvious. However, religious dogma has now been replaced by universal belief in scientism. Scientism is far worse than religious dogma, for that at least had a basis in true principles, even if the basis was often lost in practice—a condition made worse in the confusion of modern times. The dogma of conventional science has no basis in any truth whatsoever. It could be said, and not without some justification, that all ways of initiation are closed in the present times—for we have reached the greatest darkness of the Kali Yuga that comes immediately before the final dissolution and regeneration of the world. However, even in times such as ours the way of initiation is open right until the last minute for the few that still have the innate possibilities.

The practices are not separate, as though having nothing to do with each other. They overlap and in some ways run concurrently. One path can also support another. The way of Bhakti, ‘devotion’, is akin to Raja Yoga, which is the way of the king or noble, yet it is also the way of the warrior or man of Earth. Karma Yoga is ‘action’, which implies immersion in time and place, names, numbers and principalities—yet that impinges on the way of the Lover, who, unless he is wholly devoted to union with God or divinity, must always be tested by the ordeals configured by the very nature of the outer world.

The three paths, as with the practices, are comparable to the three Gunas in the same tradition: Sattwas, Rajas and Tamas. This is why they are never truly separate in nature, for each one flows seamlessly into the other, and they must all partake of each other’s nature in some way. For this reason the Gunas are sometimes used in alchemical analogies. They also correspond to the Wheel of Force, the 10th Atu of the Tarot, for like the wheel they are never fixed but are a mobile force. While each manifests according to its nature they all partake of the one essence or essential Esoteric Principle.

Thus no person or being consists wholly of one or the other of these three qualities, but one or the other will be the dominant force in them. Even that is not necessarily a permanent or fixed state of affairs, for initiation can change this, and as we have said, one path can act as a support for another. It can be readily seen then that the way of Jnana Yoga suits the Sattwic disposition, while the ways of Bhakti and Karma Yoga suit the Raja disposition. The Tamas disposition, ignorant by its very nature, naturally precludes any possibility of initiation and only allows for exoteric affiliation. René Guénon has said that Tamas nonetheless has a closer relation with Rajas than with Sattwas.[2]

Those who follow the ways of Bhakti Yoga and Karma Yoga are those who must develop individual qualities. These two paths pertain to the Lesser Mysteries and the psychic sphere of the individuality. Jnana Yoga, which is the path of pure knowledge, exists for those who will leave the corporeal order permanently, and is the way of the Greater Mysteries. Yet Karma and Bhakti can provide a support to the further and full realisation that only Jnana Yoga affords. Indeed, there is no way to the pinnacle without first entering the centre of all, the omphalos at the heart of Tiphereth in our tradition.

It should be noted in respect of the three ways that the Karma Yoga path in its fullest and original sense means that each must accomplish that which accords to its proper nature, called a ‘True Will’. Unfortunately, the conditions now prevailing in the world have made that rare, almost impossible. This owes to the confusion that is now considered to be the normal state of affairs, so that every kind of deviancy is also considered to be normal. In that, it does well to bear in mind that this is so because the whole of our civilisation is deviant, not merely some parts of it or particular kinds of behaviour.

In the West, Bhakti once had its counterpart in the Graal tradition, the chivalry typified by Arthur and his knights, or in some of the ancient orders such as the Knights Templar—though we must exclude from that all modern claimants to that tradition. Karma Yoga has its counterpart with crafts, and in that we would include poetry, music and all the arts, provided these express true principles and are not merely about ‘personal expression’. In the true and also the most technical sense, Karma Yoga is ‘ritual action’, which again, owing to the general conditions of our times, is nowhere to be found in our governmental, social or domestic conventions, unless in the most degraded and meaningless forms imaginable.

The principles hold true in all traditional actions. For example, there was a time not so long ago when at the Beltane cross-quarter of the year, on or around the 1st May, a pole was firmly erected in a field and coloured ribbons were tied to its mast. Young girls, dressed in white and decorated with flowers, would then each hold on to the end of a ribbon and all would go dancing merrily about the pole. One of these would be designated ‘Queen of the May’. The Queen of the May is the ‘one chosen’ to play the part of the Daughter or Bride of the Kingdom, called Malkah or Persephone, and known by many other names in equivalent traditions around the world.

The pole is the vertical axis of the universe and of the Great Yantra. This links heaven with earth, and the spiritual order with the corporeal world. In the axis is the possibility of initiatic transmission, like lightning to the ground. The circle is the circumference of the sphere, of which the interpenetrating axis is the extended point or Esoteric Principle. It is the visible appearance of things or Nature. The maidens are the whole range of possible expressions, as the multitudinous variety of flowers, yet each retaining the purity (white colour) of the Principle itself. The coloured ribbons that connect the maidens with the axis form the rainbow of Setian manifestation, the ‘coat of many colours’ of Joseph.[3] They are the seven rays, of which the seventh is the “light higher than eyesight”, or indigo, which is an analogous term for that which is beyond the reach of the sky, or otherwise at the head of the axial column.[4]

It remains to be said  that as ‘ritual action’, various kinds of magical practice such as the making and consecration of talismans are related to Karma Yoga, though these may also, if properly done, act as a support for spiritual realisation. When talismans are made for wholly negative purposes, such as worldly ambition, material gain, persuasion of the will of others, and so forth, then the ‘karma’ of wrath and retribution is automatically evoked. This is something that many now find difficult even to believe, since our world encourages such empty ambitions as a matter of course, and even heaps honours upon those with truly abhorrent or base motives. However, this action of retribution is inevitable. It does not arise from any moral consideration, since morals, by definition, are merely completely arbitrary human conventions. The retribution arises from natural action, which is another meaning of the Sanskrit karma. If the person has invoked either deity or devil, it matters not which, in complete ignorance of the principle or true knowledge underlying the symbol, then that principle will nonetheless be present at the ritual and in the operator, but only in wholly negative form.

Karma Yoga and Three Ways Notes

1. See Babalon Unveiled, ‘The Word Thelema’, pp. 156, for a detailed exegesis of the word.
2. René Guénon, Chapter 18, Initiation and Spiritual Realisation [Sophia Perennis].
3. Genesis 37: 3: “Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours.”
4. “Purple beyond purple: it is the light higher than eyesight” (Liber AL, I: 51).

From Nu Hermetica (work in progress)
© Oliver St. John 2021

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The Great Work

The legacy of modern times tends to place the development of psychic powers as the aim or even the goal of the Great Work. Such a degraded notion of a spiritual path places personal or material improvement at its very centre. Initiation, however, is central to the Great Work and is the aim, not the goal. Yet even initiation has been reduced to the personal sphere.

Great Work: Ordo Astri SymbolThe confusion of the spiritual with the personal is very deeply ingrained; however we express the Great Work most will see it as a noble ideal and will pay it lip service only. Their real motives for doing what we call a Great Work are no more than the aspirations of ordinary men and women. They hope for magical powers that will help them gain advantage, get their own way and do what they imagine is their ‘True Will’. Or otherwise, if they do not even believe in magical powers as such, they will hope to develop latent powers of some kind, psychological or otherwise—a key of all knowledge and power that will help them effortlessly achieve what are in reality completely profane ambitions.

Any statement of the Ideal of the Great Work often involves ‘service’. Primarily, such service, given freely without hope of reward, is the service to truth. And before truth can be served, we must place the seeking of truth as central to our aims, over and above any personal considerations whatsoever. However, there is a personal and a cosmic side to the Great Work but these can never be truly separate things. On the personal level, there is a need to know Reality. This entirely evades the average person, for they will imagine they already know what ‘reality’ is. No one can ever know Reality in its entirety, but we can extend our knowledge so that whatever we knew before is revealed as merely contingent or incidental. When such an extension reaches to the supra-human level then it is part of what initiation is in the true sense of the word. This involves development of the highest intellectual faculties—though it must be noted that ‘intellect’ here must not be thought of as involving the acquisition of ordinary knowledge. It would be useless then to try and describe what Reality is, as no words can convey it, nor any symbol—though symbols, if we approach them in the right way can convey knowledge more directly than language, which is also symbolism of a kind, but indirect.

Great Work: Immortal Stone

The immortal stone is one such symbol. It is called a ‘stone’ for good reasons. This can be actual or physical, as incorporated into sacred architecture, or otherwise built into the rites of initiation and the sphere of the practitioner. The Sri Yantra is an example of such a ‘stone’ symbolised geometrically, and the omphalos symbolises the true world centre or heart of all. The stone is also considered to be ‘substance’, which is frequently confused with matter (materia) in the conventional sense of that word. Technically, substance is emanation from the principal, which corresponds to the true state of affairs. In the words of St. John, I: 1, in the Latin version:

In principio erat verbum.

This is translated in the King James and other English Bibles as, “In the beginning was the Word”. However, this is not correct. The Word is the principle, or in the Greek, arche. In other words, the translation has degraded the meaning so that it implies a causal ‘beginning’, whereas a beginning can at best be an analogous term for that which has neither beginning nor end, because it is with spirit. The verse continues to say that the Word (Greek logos) “was with God” and “the Word was God”. The Greek version gives theos or ‘divine’, which is translated as the noun ‘God’. The translation also places this in a past tense, again implying a state of affairs that existed, whereas the true state of affairs always exists. Similarly, among the obfuscations of modern magick, the Greek word aeon is frequently misconstrued as a period of time, whereas its proper meaning is that of ‘eternity’. Thus all spiritual conveyances of old languages such as Greek, Hebrew, Latin, Arabic and indeed to an even worse extent, ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, have been reduced to the phantom of ‘matter’ and considerations of corporeal time and space subject to the confusion of numerical measures and assignments.[1]

In order to comprehend anything of the Great Work of initiation, a person must cleanse their mind of all materialistic preconceptions. They must be prepared to learn a new language that involves a contemplative apprach to symbolism. This means learning to think in a different way from that which we have learned through the conditioning of culture, environment and so-called education. This will not be acquired effortlessly through some vague ‘intuition’.

Great Work: Eternity

We obtain a better sense of the value of eternity or immortality when we grow older. If we have given enough time to contemplation then we will also certainly grow at least a little wiser. While in our youth we live in a kind of blissful ignorance concerning the true state of affairs. We cannot help having a delusionary sense that we are already immortal, or as immortal as we want to be. The question of soul survival is nonetheless quite simple. Do we want to be extinguished after mortal death, to suffer the dispersion and oblivion that is called the ‘second death’, or do we want to continue, perhaps forever? Curiously, if we believe that only oblivion awaits the end of our short-lived mortal existence then that negates any meaning or purpose to the life we are having; everything will be cancelled and be as nothing.[2] However, that is what most people now believe and so from the initiated point of view the thoughts, actions and aspirations of most human beings are useless and saddening, for they are only possible where there is more or less total ignorance of spiritual realities.

The cosmic aspect of the Great Work is that initiates of the present time, now very few in number, play a part in preparing what will come after the decline and fall of the present race, which is now well in progress. In terms of time we are referring to a future age, but there are possibilities that reach far beyond any such terrestrial concerns; such concerns are modified by the restrictive conditions of the human state at the present time, which is very degenerate. Time, in any case, only exists in the corporeal state. There are infinite modes of being and of existence in the supra-human realm.


1. This is explained in depth by René Guénon in Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times, and other of the collected works [Sophia Perennis].
2. This is especially true of deeds or actions that have no substance, as we have defined that word.

From Nu Hermetica (work in progress)
© Oliver St. John 2021

Books by Oliver St John
Subscribe to The 93 Current monthly Journal
Temple of Babalon YouTube Channel (podcast)
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