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Hermeticism, Democracy, and Responsibility

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Dear Friends,

It is rare that we encourage our readers to action of one kind or another, and simply prefer  to act as a clearing house for information on esoteric activities.  However, Hermeticism does not exist in a vacuum, and like everyone else, we are affected to some degree by national and world events.  In response to this, and to the correspondence we have been receiving, it is prudent for the following suggestions to be made, and address three areas of importance: esotericism and (1) politics; (2) ethics; and (3) practicality in daily life.

The current season is a political one, in that the much of the world’s attention will be increasingly concentrated, even if for only brief moments, on the upcoming Presidential elections in November.  Much will be said in favor of either candidate, as biased and vested interests, inside and outside of the media, seek to influence the outcome of the election.  This kind of psychic bombardment can create a powerful sense of confusion in the minds of many.

We encourage each American citizen to exercise their right to vote in the upcoming elections in the United States of America.  In addition, we encourage each of you, regardless of your national location, to take time to pray, meditate, visualize, or whatever is best for you, that the United States, your country, and our world, receive the best possible leadership during this time of challenge and opportunity.

For some of you this may sound old fashioned, and out of step with the prevailing attitude of a ‘world village’.  However, leadership always begins at home. Leadership is always grassroots.

The Divine Right of the Electorate
Leadership is always rule by Divine Right.

Yes, by Divine Right.  Each ruler, no matter where they are, is a representative of the collective consciousness of the people that elect, condone, or support (even by indifference or fear) their hold on authority.  Each leader in this way represents the highest ideals of an ‘electorate’ be it a borough Mayor, State Senator, Governor, President, Prime Minister, or Dictator.

The collective consciousness of a people is its highest ideal. The highest ideal of a people is its guiding vision, and as such, its god.

To elevate leadership we must elevate the collective vision, the collective consciousness.  This can only be done through a practical and concerted effort that has the genuine and true best interests at heart.  Only actions from the domain of compassion and impersonal love on the part of the people, even if it is a small yet focused minority, can give us that expression of leadership.

It is interesting to note that government, wealth, health, divine compassion, and the highest perfection of spiritual attainment in this world, are all associated with Jupiter, or the sphere of Chesed (Divine Mercy) on the Tree of Life in qabala.

It is also interesting to note, that modern esoteric movements are extremely lacking in many of these qualities.
The Age of Aquarius we are told is about Freedom, or the forces of Uranus; Aquarius however is also ruled by Saturn, or the Great Teacher.  Freedom is a responsibility, not a right; and it can only be earned by learning the lessons of self-control and discipline that Saturn teaches.  To be free, is to be free of external influences, as well as internal ones.  Freedom requires sacrifice.  In many ways, as we transition from one Age to another, and see what many say is the culmination of the Kali Yuga (Age of Iron), the vices of both planets - Saturn and Jupiter - appear to outweigh the expression of their virtues.  Silence and Obedience to ‘the still small voice within’, are drowned out in the cacophony of expressions of immature individualism, wrapping themselves in the bigotry of highly politicized self-righteous compassion.  All of it culminating in the worst of all human failings - the insidiousness of pride.

Morals, Ethics, and Esotericism
Traditionally, Freemasonry has been the outer most expression of esoteric ideals for over the last two hundred and fifty years.  Its premise of creating a ‘Brotherhood’ that crossed sectarian boundaries (mainly Christian sectarianism and the Judeo-Christian divide), while fostering the ideals of liberal democracy and human liberty, has in many ways achieved its goals, at least as far as the United States and Western Europe are concerned.

The fundamental morals and ethics of mainstream American ‘Protestantism’ have also served the country well, even if the theological and political interpretations of them have been problematic in recent times.  For in truth, the Ten Commandments, and the additional ‘commandment’ given by Jesus to ‘Love ye one another, as your Father in Heaven loves you’ are not Jewish or Christian statements of ethics and morality, but universal ones.  How can one be an adept if they do not love?  How can service be pure if it is not out of impersonal Love?

However, with the continued decline of mainstream religion we also see the decline of foundational values that have helped keep American society relatively peaceful, prosperous, and effectively democratic for 228 years.  The idea of a civil society has given way to codified biases on what is considered ‘right and wrong’ that seek official recognition and to force themselves on us through the legislative and judicial systems.  Be it a vision of a "Christian Nation" as seen by the far-right, or "Political Correctness" by the far-left, both are dangerous visions of the future, and both are a threat to democracy and the esoteric ideals of individual responsibility, liberty, and living spirituality as has been outlined in Hermeticism’s utopian texts of the last 400 years.

Unfortunately, as a social movement, esotericism which claims it seeks to fill the void created by this social and spiritual sea change, is essentially devoid of any visible and meaningful presence and fails repeatedly to address the notions of ethics and morality in any serious manner, leaving it up to vague statements about ‘Karma’, the ‘Law of Return’, or something equally ambiguous.  Rock stars and celebrities have become the temporary spokespeople for Qabala, while it is the Dali Lama who is seen in the West as the face of Buddhism, and the ‘right living’.  We must ask: where are Traditional Western Esotericisms leaders?  Why are they not seen as living and vital examples of a valid tradition?

Part of the reason is because occultism, not genuine spirituality, dominates the book shelves of major chains with prosperity consciousness, love spells, psychic self-defense, magic for the class room, office, home, bed room, necromancy, demonology, sex magic, historical and academic studies, both mainstream and revisionist, and a host of other topics, are the major players.  Unfortunately there is yet to be a major work by a modern author on Traditional Western Esotericism that deals with the fundamental relationship of ethics and morality as preliminaries to the Work, as well as guideposts along the way.

Ethics and morality is what esotericism is all about.  Ethics and morality are the foundation of our character, the expression of the Divine nature of consciousness. Character is the only thing we carry with us into the Invisible, or future incarnations.  Character is all that matters, for it is what is judged in the Scales of Truth at the end of our days.

The same is not true of Eastern studies, where a great deal of emphasis is placed on ‘becoming more’ rather than ‘having more’.

While the reasons for this disparity are simple:  western esotericism was ‘esoteric’ or ‘occult’ (hidden) by virtue of necessity.  Political and religious intolerance forced the creation of secret societies out of the surviving remains of the ancient mystery schools and ‘heretical’ sects, who found silence, discretion, and secrecy essential for survival.  However historical references only give context, they are not a solution.  Until the last 25 years or so it was assumed for the most part that one was ethical, because the common Christian ethics would have been social norms. Even if not universally adopted in all areas of life, they were at least given token acknowledgment.  Regardless of the political situation, Sunday school ethics form a good basis for human relations and interactions.
With the march of time though, this is no longer the case, and it threatens the very existence of the Western Esoteric Tradition, as well as democracy itself.

Practicality and the Light of Day
In short, Western Esotericism through its leaders needs to begin to effectively address the basic day to day needs of people who want to learn how to live a happy, productive, and meaningful life with a deep and enriching spirituality rooted in the Tradition. Philosophy and proper attitudes towards life and living as it is perceived from the viewpoint of the 'Tradition' needs to be discussed more openly and publicly.
To do this, Hermeticism and its allied fields, need to produce stronger institutions that demonstrate high ideals in practice, as well as leaders who are role models for the students standing at the gateway. However, this will also require greater transparency on the part of those institutions and a tendency away from the sacred cow of ‘secrecy’ for the sake of ‘secrecy’.  The time for secrecy is past, and the time for demonstrating worth, practicality, and meaningfulness is at hand.

It is imperative that Western Esotericism begin to address the issue human relationships, and not just be concerned with individual enlightenment, as has been its focus for the last 100 or so years. While it is critical that the main focus of the Tradition be on Enlightenment, the ideal of Service, as a means to as well as an expression of ones personal Illumination - the vow of the adept to selflessly serve humanity until all beings are Illumined - must be brought forth and set-upon as an ideal.

To this end, it is the obligation of each student of esotericism to take into consideration the needs of their fellow human beings, the planet, and its many ‘invisible’ citizens as well, in their prayers and visualizations.

The outflow of Divine Mercy, of right thought, word, and deed, is the cornerstone of personal and collective evolution. The Path of Return is trod alone, but the imprints of each traveler are a guidepost to their companions, and those who follow behind them.

As Fragile as Cobwebs
Most of our readers live in countries that have cultures and societies that allow them enough time, freedom, and privacy to undertake their esoteric pursuits.  Few of them, unless they are over 75 years of age and remember the Second World War, or more recently, the Iron Curtain, realize that these privileges are obligations and not rights.  That is, without constant attention, freedom, privacy, and even time, they can be taken away.

In our archives we have letters from men and women who know evil first hand.  Who while active in esotericism, be it Theosophy, Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, Martinism, or as individual students, responded to the call when the full weight of evil came down upon them during the Nazi reign.  They acted both on the visible and invisible planes to help bring an end to that horrific period of human history. Despite the many problem confronting Western society, outside of  Europe and North America, democracies become a rare expression of the will of the people.  It is in democracies where esoteric studies are easiest, because the freedom to act, express, serve, and be are both democratic and esoteric values.  It is also for this very reason that esoteric, occult, and related fraternal organizations, such as Freemasonry and the Odd Fellows, (even Rotary) have been persecuted in the past, and are the current target of terrorist attacks such as in Istanbul, Turkey earlier this year.

Much of our society and the world is caught between two equally destructive and polarized camps: various forms of religious bigotry on one side, and materialistic, atheistic, secularism on the other.  The Western Esoteric Tradition, for the sake of Western culture and society, must address these issues and demonstrate that it is a viable alternative for those who seek to learn, serve, and grow.

To be patriotic is to love one’s country, to be alert to its needs, and to seek the best for it’s growth and continued evolution of its citizens.  We may be "Children of the Starry Heavens" as the Chaldean Oracles say, but our feet land on Main Street. It is the obligation, the duty, and the responsibility of each student of esotericism to take time, even if once a week, to pray for the well being of their community, county, state, and federal governments, in confidence that the best leadership will rise up to the face the problems of the day.  It is critical that this be done with an open heart, sincere desire, and without concern for the specific outcomes, that is, not to focus on a specific candidate or official, but to focus on the office or various branched of government.  These kinds of prayer were common in the religious devotions of previous generations, and even token consideration to them helped provide an astral bulwark against forces both internal and external that sought to destroy this ‘experiment in democracy’.  However, these simple affirmation have lapsed, and attention is drawn more to secular or personal matters, and the citizenry act as if democracy, or even the world, will take care of itself.

Democracy is an ideal, and an ideal can no more take care of itself than a small child left alone.  While it may stumble along and appear fine for an hour or two, by the time sunset arrives danger will be on the doorstep.  Constant care and attention, in the form of our prayers, visualizations, and sincere best hopes is the required food for this social experiment.

In the Files Section of VOXHERMES you will find a document entitled, "The Tree of Life Project" which outlines a manner in which the Tree of Life can be used to help bring health, vitality, and spiritual strength to a community, as well as our nation, or the world.

In the end, the value of an idea, philosophy, movement, or person is assessed by its positive contributions - ‘By their fruits you shall know them.’

Let us combine our strength, mercy, and light that the Tree of Hermeticism will bear beneficial fruit.

Mark Stavish
Director of Studies
Institute for Hermetic Studies

This document may be reproduced and crossposted as long as there are no changes to the text and the copyright and authorship stay intact.Copyright Mark Stavish 2004.

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