One of the most painful - although, it turns-out necessary - trends through my life, has been the leaching of magic, of enchantment, from all institutions, and almost all places.
This is the familiar 'public world' of materialist assumptions: that the world is made of 'things'; that subjective mind (consciousness) is separate and thoughts are epiphenomenal; that Beings are ultimately mere artefacts of the 'laws' of physics and statistical chance...
Although the theme of modern life becoming disenchanted goes back a long way, to the first Romantics around 1800; and the sociologist Max Weber defined it as characteristic of modernity more than a century ago. And it was also Weber who also named the Iron Cage of bureaucracy, which has been the primary mechanism by which enchantment has been destroyed.
For me, the disenchantment of universities was probably the most painful of these trends; since I had grown-up the son of a 'professor' (consultant/ senior lecturer in dentistry) and known from an early age that this was a known world I felt organically a part-of. I was an insider.
Right into the 1990s, there was a residuum of magic about academia - albeit a thin and dwindling stream compared with the height of the middle ages.
But it was evident - here and there, again and again; and I valued that magic despite that hardly any of my colleagues noticed it, and even fewer liked it. Indeed, as an atheist, I depended on that enchantment at a deep level; for a sense of meaning and purpose in life, larger than myself.
The process of diminishing enchantment was partly driven by the evil destructiveness of bureaucracy (whose 'reforms' were always based upon lies and denied, unexamined false assumptions) - but also, underlying, by the long-term trend that Men were progressively less and less susceptible to enchantment.
Magic, gradually, ceased to work.
This can be seen everywhere - indeed, even in the world of magic itself: I mean the 'esoteric' societies of ritual magic that grew up from the late 19th century.
In the late 19th century people were claiming all kind of magical manifestations; the rituals seemed objectively effective, indeed potentially dangerous - hence they were kept secret. But by the 1980s or 90s nobody was even claiming this, thus there seemed no need for secrecy; and the activities of magical societies were hard to distinguish from group psychotherapy, artsy 'happenings', or ritual pageantry.
For most people, nearly all the time; Magic just doesn't work anymore.
The old systems and symbolisms (alchemy, astrology, numerology, ritual objects and actions...) - are left looking more like bureaucratic flow-charts. People can still learn about the history of magical stuff, and intended correlations; but it is clear that objects and actions no longer animate people.
The objectivity that linked magical things and doings with predictable real world effects has gone. Such correlations have become merely theoretical - or else reduced to (transient) feelings.
The human mind seems to have become more and more resistant to magic.
And not only among Westerners. The 19th century Amerindians 'needed' to introduce peyote in order to attain the mystical states that had previously arisen spontaneously. However, peyote is a mild, slow-acting psychedelic; requiring additional supportive group immersion and ritual actions.
But among Westerners the psychedelic drugs of the 1960s were relatively a 'necessary' chemical sledgehammer of ultra-potent, or mega-dose, brain impairment agents; such extreme measure needed in order to create some warped simulacrum of the 'larger consciousness' that most people could experience naturally earlier in human history.
Psychedelics are a last gasp of the idea that spiritual experience should come from outside, be objective and irresistible, should overwhelm the mind... and, of course, psychedelics have overall proved to be not merely a failure as 'entheogens', but actively counter-productive.
Cause and effect have worked together - and by now I find that the disenchantment of public life and my compelled withdrawal of reliance upon it has been an advantage - a necessity; as the whole organisational world moves ever deeper into more explicit evil.
Anyone now mentally-dependent on any kind of institution is drawn into supporting the agenda of Satanic evil which has swept the world in 2020.
Enchantment of our social world is now an illusion rather than an insight - albeit a flimsy and ineffectual illusion in a world where all institutions are permanently convulsed by externally-bureaucratic-media-imposed transformations, driven by global Establishment priorities (birdemic, climate change, antiracism, sexual revolution...).
Here and now any magic must come from within - and modern institutions have no 'within'; they are permeable and hollow; the imperatives of The System sweep through them unopposed and uncontradicted - they are mere subsections of The One System.
This is related to an increased awareness of synchronicity as a 'mechanism' of enchantment. Synchronicity as the basis of a way of life was the core message of the 1993 bestselling New Age 'novel' The Celestine Prophecy; and this is indirect evidence that there are no longer effective magical 'systems'.
Magic is now something that unpredictably happens-to us - our job being to recognise and understand it when it happens.
But mainly; our 'job' is to create the frame of mind (frame of Being) in which synchronicities happen more often, more powerfully and meaningfully; become 'normal', and link-together towards Good ends.
Because - although this is seldom recognised - synchronicity entails a loving creator God. Acknowledgment and understanding of synchronicity takes us most of the way to Christianity!
Thus a modern Christian - at his most Christian - would experience life as a continuous-web of synchronicity. Quite naturally so - because a life of meaning and purpose would be full of positive and striking 'coincidental' happenings; one leading onto another.
Our mortal life is sustained because of our need to learn - to learn for the resurrected life to come; and sychronicity is a kind of learning-opportunity.
Thus synchronicity is not a code - not a system of objective correlatives, like the old magical system; but a natural aspect of a Christian life in this 2020 world where all meaning must come from God and from the divine within; because pretty much all of external life has become evil, meaningless and purposeless.
2020 Magic just is Christian; not institutional.
Note: moderated commenting has returned...
"The human mind seems to have become more and more resistant to magic." I'm really interested in this topic too, and have just started this book:
"Religion and the Decline of Magic: Studies in Popular Beliefs in Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century England" - by Keith Thomas
I had no idea until very recently just how much of the "mystic" had been stripped from what modern folk think of as Christianity... Before the Birdemic, I visited Transylvania, and in the churches, rural villages and ancient places, I felt a definite shift in my mental state.
"Church" in England seems to have been largely morphed into a Powerpoint presentation...
"Church" in England seems to have been largely morphed into a Powerpoint presentation...
Yes, everything becomes A System, a Flow Chart. And this applies to all mainstream types of church; Protestantism is reduced to applied Bible scholarship, Catholicism to obedience to a bureaucracy etc.
The think is - the recommended practices just don't work anymore. Devout Church Christianity is just like following a protocol - but nothing happens (spiritually), or at least nothing strong enough to resist/ overcome the always escalating secular pressures. Hence the all-but disappearance of spiritual courage when faced with powerful Healthism, Antiracsim etc.
The spiritual (magic, enchantment) used to be present, spontaneously, as the ether within which the System was located - but less and less over the generations, and by now hardly at all.
The revival of magic in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (especially alchemy) was as a quasi-science of scholarship, objective correspondences and detailed procedures (which is why its practitioners included Royal Society luminaries like Newton, Hooke and Ashmole); and the magical aspect was spontaneously brought to it by the mind of the practitioners.
But now just the qusi-science remains - and it no longer works.
"Magic is now something that unpredictably happens-to us - our job being to recognise and understand it when it happens."
Modern magic has something to do with the consciousness. I get bursts of it when I stumble across New Conceptions. We look to the Internet to experience magic nowadays. We search relentlessly through infinite perceptional novelty and never find it, but somehow we can tell we're almost doing the right thing. The true source of magic seems to be in infinite conception, not perception. Like you say, the magic is found within - but not inside our normal thinking, only outside our little rickety pocket-universe of the personal consciousness.
One interesting exercise is to intuitively "test" different words and phrases for their magic, for their inner Conceptional Magic. Which word is more magical, "bold" or "valiant"? Which phrase is more magical, "star system" or "ocean of stars"? "Motherland" versus "country." The combining of old Conceptions into new Fused Conceptions ie. metaphor, also releases magic.
For example, while reading Beowulf I saw the term "banquet-hall," and as I am also reading the Honor Harrington sci-fi series, I Conceived of a "starship-hall," an enormous hall/spaceport filled with starships. I don't expect the magic I got from that to communicate over the Internet, but it was shocking. Barfield was onto something in his obsession with metaphor. It's funny how seriously we take the naming of ships, cars, weapons, and airplanes: HMS Victory, USS Enterprise, the F22 Raptor, the Phalanx CIWS, the Nissan Rogue etc. There's a bit of magic released into the consciousness when you come up with a good poetic name for a physical object, and sometimes, when the magic comes as a lightning-strike, you seem to have discovered the "best" name.
It seems that words, phrases, and sentences are magic spells that summon Conceptions, and creative-writing is an enchantment to weave creative-dreams, that our whole society spends enormous spare time and energy sifting through creative dreams. We're all looking for something, but we never seem to find it.
BTW, is The Celestine Prophecy worth reading? I first became aware of it in 1998 when I was at the Missionary Training Center working at a call center for people calling to request a free Book of Mormon. One of the callers took it upon himself to tell me all about it, piquing my interest enough to jot the title down and remember it.
I never followed that up. I actually ran into the book at a used bookstore in Taiwan a few years ago, but it just looked way too New Agey for me, so I gave it a miss. Perhaps your mentioning it now is the work of the sync fairies?
@WmJas - I don't like to recommend books! But I read it (and a couple of the related follow up volumes) the year before I became a Christian - and it helped me on the path; although it indeed has a New Age, not Christian, perspective.
The book was originally self-published, by a non-professional writer - and it has a sincere, naive, earnest tone that I find pleasing - although it is not skilfully written, indeed clunky.
I also like the basic idea of a chap going on a spiritual quest but without any plans or ideas of where it will end-up - just following one synchronicity-lead after another.
In particular - I think Redfield deserves credit for taking synchronicity seriously as a potential way of living; the idea of putting it 'first', then trying to dramatise how this might work-out. To me, then, this made the spiritual life seem more appealing.
I just did a bit of searching about The Celestine Prophecy and found this comment:
“It's been a long time since I've read it, but I think the point the author makes is that "mainstream" Christianity teaches of an "unbridgable gap" between God and humans - that we are so different in nature that it is blasphemous to speak of becoming like God. It teaches that such an idea "lessens" or "diminishes" God and is nothing more than human conceit. Therefore, Mormonism's teaching that we all can become gods and actually become like God, since we all are literally children of God (as in the same basic species with common potential), is blasphemous to pretty much all other Christians (THE fundamental blasphemy, really). So is the literal interpretation of the "joint-heirs with Christ" verse and the concept of being "saviors on Mount Zion" through the performance of vicarious ordinances. The author aruges, if I remember correctly, that it is this idea of an unbridgable gap that is so wrong and constitutes repression of the truth. (Fwiw, I believe "the Bible God" is consistent with the "Mormon God" - but it's understandable that the author equates the unbridgable gap God with the Bible God.)”
The relevance to your other recent post is obvious.
It's funny you don't like to recommend books, Dr. Charlton! Upon your recommendation of worthwhile anthroposophic thinkers I recently bought "In the Shadow of the Machine" by Jeremy Naydler. A gripping week it was, snatching time to read it before the children awoke. I've recommended it to several Catholics who struggle with these issues and they're excited about it as well.
I mention it here particularly because it seems Naydler's book particularly touches upon how electricity and the ratio way of thinking have destroyed the ability to perceive the upper boundary. And the churches, perhaps particularly the Catholic Church, have been so gripped by the mystery of iniquity that they cared more about their identity as Catholics than the devil who began tunneling from far away, attacking the very concept of the numinous. Now if I mention Steiner it's treated as being an occultist, but I am watching the Church in my own diocese be dismantled by its bishops and bureaucrats. What will be left for my children? And yet the local Waldorf community is completely and utterly pagan, and not in a good way, but a globalist technocrat way.
I've brought it up posting here before, but what does one do? I'd like to hear more about what David sensed in Transylvania. At this point I feel like an elf watching the world collapse, and I'm not sure what to even think about it anymore. Children are good and I'm glad we say yes to life, but trying to be a Romantic Christian as a parent surrounded by a sea of depravity is the loneliest task. Any recommendations are always picked up with gratitude.
@B - I enjoy sharing the books etc I enjoy and have learned-from - but this doesn't mean I expect other people to appreciate them as well. Books have to come at the right time in a person's life, and 'synchronicity trails' (one book leading to another) are the best way to know what is best to read - rather than reading what someone else advises!
I would like to ask the same question as Bardsey. Being a Romantic Christian can be indeed lonely, and children can be exposed to so many things nowadays that I feel we lack the 'safety net' that organized religion would have provided in the past.
@B & CH - What does one do? Nobody could possibly answer that question for you. You are an unqiue person in an unique situation. This is where each individual needs to seek divine guidance: http://charltonteaching.blogspot.com/2020/12/god-creator-god-within-holy-ghost-three.html
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