Ancestral power and the immediate family (penned August 2014)
We, as Thelemites, claim to be seeking to reach the smooth point, to become perfectly interconnected with all things through the exaltation of (as opposed to the repression of) the individual. Because of this, we often preach the primacy of the individual over and *separate from* the family or community. I propose that the family is our primary link to the universal and transcendent; That rather than trying to break from the family, we must learn to understand the family through a different lens, while still very actively engaging with them and their effect on our life. To deny our family is to deny and ignore our own genesis and a large portion of ourselves…. And self denial sounds both anti-Thelemic, and just plain unhealthy.
Traditionalism and the individual:
Modernity, at it’s essence, is Nihilism. If that is too strong for you, then we can at least agree that modernity is contra Traditionalism. This, I’m sure, can engender no *serious* debate. In it’s run from tradition, the modern condition and hence the modern man is hiding not only from his history, but from his community, his race and his family. We attempt to make everyone exist as a bubble, an “individual” which is so un-connected as to have no past, no future, and become an interchangeable asset. We can see the effects of this isolation all around us. Even our communication tools help us to isolate ourselves. This is not a healthy state of being.
Modernism; East and West:
There has been a resurgence, as of late, amongst those of us unsatisfied with the nihilism of the present day, to attempt to regain our connections, and to search for places where modernities evil isolation has not yet snuck in.
Modernity is truly a product of the West. It grew with the West, and We’ve seen it sneak in so insidiously that we didn’t even recognize how much power it had gained till it was de-rigour.
When we look at the crisis faced in the east right now, with the growing pains of China, and the bizarre social issues and mental and emotional issues faced by many in Japan, we can see that they have been broadsided with a modernity movement which was powerful when it hit them, and they are catching up to our decline VERY rapidly, and in many places diving even farther than we have. Yet, because it hit the east later, we still see a number of bastions of tradition, places where the nihilistic effects have yet to really sink their teeth in.
Qi Gong Posture and the Ancestral Connection:
In my very basic Qi Gong instruction, I was told of the Dan Tien and the Ming Men, the centers of power in the front and back of the abdomen. The Ming Men, in the back, is the ancestral, or prenatal point. The Dan Tien, in the front, is the individual, or post-natal point. Another point of instruction, is the breakdown of the body into general yin and yang polarities. The exposed, outward facing parts are considered yang, the internal facing parts, yin. So the inside of your arms, the inside of your legs, would both be Yin. But what of front and back? I was told to go back to when I was a child, crawling, the chest, front of the legs, and back of the arms all then become yin, the back becomes yang.
One of the basic instructions they give to correct posture and re-allign the spine, is to attempt to extend your spine, and actually bow the center BACKWARDS. This will sound very foreign to many in my audience. We are always told to push our chest forwards as much as we can. From here, we can see the western structure attempts to make the expansive, strong and powerful part, the individual, and the receptive, listening, passive part, the family or ancestry. A proper poster would reflect a proper balance of the individual and his family connections. This is not a sagging of the shoulders, but a pulling of the spine back to an upright, balanced position which is practically unseen in the west. (or, sadly, these days, the east)
The power of the family vs the power of the individual:
Those who have been through the OTO inits will remember learning about the power of an individual alone, as opposed to one who is able to specialize due to his support structure.
When we examine class differences, and discover that raw income is often GREATER in the high prole and high middle classes than the upper classes, we realize that the wealth of the upper classes comes from their family working together to build wealth as a unit, and to cut expensive, time consuming and unnecessary groundwork building requirements out from future generations.
A major the critique of “traditional” Chinese medicine (which was invented in the 1950s with the communist revolution, as opposed to ancient Chinese medicine) is that it only looks at qi circulation within the person, and ignores the pre-natal connection through the Ming Men which could be used as a near infinite well of power, one we see the magical Traditional Chinese Martial Arts practitioners demonstrate regularly, when they call upon the reserves of their ancestral power through linking the Ming Men to their work.
The “Science” Substitute:
We still recognize the effects our families have on us, but we aim to use “Science” to tackle our familial problems while still refusing to tackle the actual family itself head on. DNA testing is now something you can do at home, and genetic testing allows you to find out what conditions you may be susceptible to, and how to deal with them, without so much as talking to grandma on the phone. I put “science” in quotes, not because I mean any disrespect to these modern life-saving arts, but because we now limit the term to such a narrow spectrum of it’s true range, that we refuse to admit arts like taking the time to track our own history and talk to people as part of a scientific endeavor which may provide so much more fruit in our own quest for health.
This narrow “Science” refuses to see man as anything but a physical collection of tissue and some electro-chemical reactions. Refusing to see such a thing, it can not possibly care for the soul of man. As such, while, what it does, it does very well, it is a poor substitute for actually engaging with the family in a meaningful and personal way.
The apparent anti-family bias of The Prophet:
All this is great, you say, the family has much power. Crowley acknowledged that, but called family “Public Enemy #1” He specifically said that,
“The whole strength of the family is based on the fact that it cares for the family only: therefore its magical formula thus concentrated is of necessity hostile to so exclusively individual an aim as Initiation.
Its sentiments are reciprocated.”
And so, he talks about how the problem of family is not it’s existence, but it’s influence on and specifically against the Will of the individual.
He goes on to say
“I think that ‘family’ should include any body of persons with common interests which they expect or wish you to share. One’s old school or university, the regiment, the golf club, the business, the party, the country: any of these may dislike very much your absorption in affairs alien to their own.”
So, in family, we see, from these verses, merely the most powerful of the forces which affect you. And we see that he claims that they are themselves the enemy, but the REASON they are the enemy is because precisely this, the influence they have on us.
He does not limit this to immediate family, not even to LIVING family:
“Even centuries after one of them is dead, he exercises his abominable craft; and you are only the less able to ward off the slaps of the Dead Hand, because (after all!) there is a whole lot of him in you.”
And here is where I will break from Crowley. Crowley says that,
“However you like to look at it, he is always an influence upon you; and that, good or bad, you quite rightly resent.”
In Thisarb, we are told to go back to the point of birth, and from there to multiple past lives, but it never is suggested that we travel back to conception, it is never suggested that there is a solid causal relationship between our parents relationship and ourselves. And yet, to see above, we must recognize that they have an influence on us, and are a part OF us. I came to Thelema because I was, and remain, unwilling to resent any part of myself.
New Aeon Traditionalism; the family and our community:
So where are we left?
We can certainly agree that we do not want to allow our family to block us from our Will, but I would argue that “cutting the tie” from the family, and then blindly pretending that we have succeeded in cutting out our family from our lives (and hence, cut out our own history, our own genesis) is ridiculous. We must own our family, even as we own our own bodies and minds. We must examine how they affect us in our pursuit of the divine, and we must be willing to, in the most stoic fashion, bravely face the facts, and like any part of ourselves, we must acknowledge 2 things:
1.) There is incredible power here, which we are free to draw on, if we only admit to ourselves that it is there, and face it boldly.
2.) There WILL be conflicts between our families and our individual paths, To run away from these conflicts only hides the problem it does not solve it. We must bravely face these problems in the same way we must face issues with our own body, our own discipline, and our own mind slowing us down, and we must work, gently yet without reprieve, to recognize the influences brought to bear in each particular case, to deal with them, and to, just as with Goetic demons, bring them into alignment with the Great Work.
By recognizing the power of our own genesis, which is to say both our ancestry and our immediate family, we gain great power ourselves.
The individual is not an island. Our incarnation is not an accident, and in examining the world we were born into, we free ourselves to use all of our being in achieving the smooth point.
There is a joke I see constantly about people who claim to be masters of the universe, yet are unable to make rent. By a similar token, If we are incapable of, or unwilling to deal with our immediate family, then we are certainly not capable of dealing with ancestors or previous incarnations. If we believe we can do one while we are incapable of the other, we are merely deluding ourselves.