610. Influence (XVII)
Aleister Crowley and René Guénon would not, in general, agree with each other: Guénon saw Crowley as a man who perpetuated the “counter-initiation” that dominates the contemporary era (a dark era) and inverts Tradition; for his part, Crowley would probably have seen Guénon as a “black brother” who makes everything terribly dull and miserable—a real prude who cannot break free and use sex and drugs creatively, a man who cannot appreciate how “the Great Beast” has ushered in, thanks to considerable sacrifices, a whole new aeon that will liberate mankind. However, the two men could agree in one regard: the current world, as Crowley observed, has became almost entirely unspiritual—so that, as Crowley puts it, people retain a formal Christian outlook and the media condemns atheism and yet, at core, it is all an affectation.
Guénon would agree with that assessment and it remains even more true today—even if atheism has become a respectable opinion in the media; more so than in Crowley’s day, anyway. The observation chimes with Nietzsche: it was Nietzsche who saw that despite formal Victorian piety, nobody believed Christianity anymore—they believed in science, technology, and money. Sure enough, as Nietzsche predicted, the last Christian pretence collapsed in the 20th century—people even dropped the formality of going to church. We are left with men like Peter Hitchens, a familiar type from my life, who adopt Christianity as a good way to moralise and bluster at people—manipulate them with their unexpressed aggression—but who in no way see the spiritual stance as a reality (if they did, they would not be journalists).
What is this lost sensibility? It is what is sometimes called “super-intelligence”, although it is in a way the opposite to intelligence—since intelligence means to solve problems, to manipulate. An example: my aunt saw four birds in her garden, four magpies—they stamped a young blackbird to death; later that evening, I read my customary Grimm fairy tale—the tale was about young birds sent out into the world, the last, the youngest, found refuge in a church from “the vicious birds” that would do him harm; and the tale concluded with a poem to the effect that you should trust God and all will be well.
Crowley and Guénon would say that this was a message to me; CG Jung, since he still clung to material science, would say it was a synchronicity with a possible relation to my psyche—perhaps a symbolic representation of an unresolved trauma. The difference is that for Crowley and Guénon what happened was a real message from another realm, whereas for Jung it was an association created in my psyche (still taken as a material operation).
The event is more significant when you understand that in the Golden Age people spoke “the language of the birds”: the idea, found in Druidic augury, that the birds are messengers—possibly angels. In the old myth, you slay the dragon and bathe in his blood—and so you gain the ability to speak the “language of the birds”. Jung or Peterson would take this idea metaphorically, whereas Crowley and Guénon would say, “No, the birds, the forces that work through them, just literally sent you a message.”
Now, I can guarantee that if I went to a priest—certainly to a Church of England vicar—and said, “The birds sent me a message to follow God and all will be well,” he might say, in a slightly patronising way, “how wonderful” and that I should pray about it; however, I am pretty sure that he would also say “don’t get too excited”, “don’t think about it too much”, and, possibly, “tell me what has been going in your life, are you suffering from stress? I know an excellent psychologist”. This is because, unlike a medieval, today’s priests think in a modern way. It is all a rational manipulative exercise, whereas really there is a semiotic of nature that has been forgotten.