…and while our friends can see our faults, they won’t tell.

This is sort of a follow-up post to the one about how we are so blind to our own faults, the aptly named: We know all humans have some common faults, except us. After all, we can see no such faults in ourselves.

To sum up that one a bit:

We know there are common human faults and we can see them in others, but for some reason we seem to think we personally are exceptions. Since we can’t really see our own inconsistencies and faulty thinking very well, and which in some way makes us perceive ourselves as flawless.

We lie to ourselves when it adds  to our current beliefs, making the world a place which is easier to understand and more comfortable (even if our belief is that everything goes to hell, since the point is often to confirm what we already believe, in other words avoiding the unknown), and to make ourselves look better in our own eyes. Or to preserve our current view of ourselves. Others helpfully with these things, and of course we help them in return. To some degree this works, we mostly don’t try to kill each other during normal social interaction even if it does happen. We tend to feel safer when those around us agree with us (echo chambers are comfortable!), despite all incidents of being the last to know because nobody told you, and if you ask why, you are only met with excuses. Others might see us clearer than we do, but they are usually of no help since they don’t tell us.

If you remember the cognitive biases, a lot of them are about (and developed because) we are herd animals on some level. They are probably necessary, and this is a funny thought, if not a very comforting one:  The strange thing seen as normal social interaction based on little lies, misunderstandings and indifference, might actually be the best viable option. These lies have the purpose of making the world seem more consistent and comfortable, catering to the same cognitive biases which keeps fooling us, so they are very easy to make. We all know them. “Of course things are as you want to think they are”.

Comforting thought #2: Other people will help us lie to ourselves to be nice and since they will often see us more clearly than we do, they might be far better at telling us what we want to hear, than we are ourselves.

You can go in endless circles of interpreting and why somebody thinks this and reacts like that and be no closer to knowing what the other person actually meant (or why you believe this), since the whole thing is only best guess based on something which might be inaccurate in the first place. What you often know very fast is what to say to make the other person happy. Or unhappy. This is often learned the hard way at a very early age.

Your friends often want you to be happy, hence they go along with a lot of your bullshit even if they see it for what it is. Or they think you are more or less reasonable since they would have done the same in your place, ignoring that both of you might be just as unreasonable. Or you ‘probably had a good reason’. It doesn’t really make a difference if they understand your motives, are indifferent or don’t at all understand them, since it is very unlikely they will say so in either case. On the contrary, they are likely to agree to be nice, for a long list of reasons having to do with this not being their business and expecting your support in the future. Because this goes both ways, of course. They are just as blind and silly, but you overlook it because they can’t be expected to be without fault, they might have had a good reason you didn’t understand, and they supported you before. This makes friends and social groups a very effective echo chamber since in addition to this type interaction where the roles keep being changed, it has social ties which will help keep everybody in place. So nobody will break the ‘rules’ and say what is not appropriate for their role, it be agreeing with what is said or doing the speaking.

On top of this we have this charming habit of becoming more certain when contradicted and we learn at an early age that contradicting people leads to trouble and that it is best to only do this when it is worth it.

After millions of years of evolution, this is where we are. Apparently, this sort of works.

 

In the previous post I wrote something about the danger of building delusions in the direction of what makes you look better to yourself according to your ideals, but also beware of friends and groups aiding you in this task, since they will do this rather automatically and we often only notice when they don’t. (And then it is often seen as them being mean without a reason.)

In the end, just face it: We lie to ourselves and others, but this seems to be the best possible option since we aren’t good at understanding what others think anyway. I think focusing on what hampers or limits us or our interaction with what (most of us, at least) think of as the real world, should be the main concern. We are wandering collections of cognitive bias anyway. So are our friends, family and enemies. Knowing about it doesn’t seem to help, either.

Aside from becoming a hermit, maybe one just has to accept that people are a lot of things, often  irrational and prone to very outdated types of behaviour. And that this includes you.

Maybe it is time to stop worrying so much about what others would think and not, while we are at it. We can’t know, and even our friends are mostly unlikely to tell us, so why worry?

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Bird-song and Becoming

I like the winter months. I prefer cold over hot. I like the dark days of winter over the bright sunlit hours of summer. There is little more annoying to me than hearing cries of “I can’t wait for summer!” as soon as the temperature reaches about 15 degrees Celsius. The first sign of thaw means a gateway is opening to hordes of insects, hordes of screaming children, and disgusting heat and humidity. However, the thaw also brings a sense of awe to my ice encased Heart.

The weather has been warm over the past few days. The accumulation of snow and ice has mostly melted. The birds (that is to say those birds who aren’t badassed enough to stay out during the winter months) have started to sing again. Even though this process of thaw happens every year there is something liminal and numinous in the experience. Underlying the reawakening of spring life is an underlying expression of newness and of rebirth. Obviously I’m not stating new insights; spring is often seen as a time of rebirth.

However, most discussions of such renewal are focused on the external world. I mentioned warmth, snow, and bird-song above. These are all descriptions of external phenomena. We can limit our experience and expression of spring to those external phenomena but there is more to it. As Black Magicians we can take these experiences and apply them to our own Initiation in subjectively meaningful ways. For example, when I opened the kitchen window recently I heard a bird singing (a spring bird not one of the awesome all-year-round birds). I stopped what I was doing. I closed my eyes and I listened. I didn’t simply think “Ah yes, a bird is singing…spring is here.” The bird’s song was a signal and reminder for me to be present. Each moment of being present is a potential moment of awe as we come to experience our Self. After months of dark winter silence, the bird-song resonated through me as a reminder to take a new look at my Self. It was a song just for me and I was thankful for it. I’m still not looking forward to the inevitable idiocy of summer but I am happy that the bird-song is back to remind me to be present and to Become.

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(Original image: https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/en/view-image.php?image=58433&picture=bird)

KonMari like the Devil: how to find True Indulgence

Anyone who fancies themselves more authentic than the masses will concur that many people go through life never even knowing what they like. It’s banally true for the masses of guys on Tinder or Grindr who, when asked what they’re looking for, respond along the lines of “I’m open to a lot of things”. But let’s face it, “I’m open to a lot of things”, if not prefaced by “well, I’m especially keen on foot massages and movie dates, but”, is code for “I have no idea, please don’t reject me”.

But this reality becomes less of a banality when we admit that many of these people who are clueless about their own desires and dislikes are Initiates. This ignorance of desires is a reality for many people who genuinely seek after the mysteries of their own inner selves, including some for whom that search occurs within the Temple of Set.

Sometimes our desires and dislikes are hidden to us because we lack the confidence to state what our own preferences are. We maintain a cautious impartiality, as if looking at options — soup or salad? Suit or sweater? — from the sidelines… and withering away. At other times, our desires and dislikes are concealed by the norms of the society, including its subcultures. This is as true for the married evangelical Christian unable to admit to her own homosexual desires as it is for the jazz lover whose sense of self-worth is so hung up on his lofty musical tastes that he denies his love for Taylor Swift. The theme is present on all levels of likes and dislikes. “This sweater is almost new and the colour is a fashionable green” conceals “I hate it, that’s why I never wore it”. This level of likes and dislikes may seem trivial, but how do you profess to know something about your core Being if you can’t even tell if you like the sweater or not?

I offer a relatively simple antidote for this. Like all antidotes, it can only begin the process of reversing ignorance about our likes and dislikes. Like most, it involves a task that sounds tedious and is surprisingly fun. It draws from two major inspiring figures: Anton LaVey of Church of Satan fame, and queen of neat Marie Kondo.

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We know all humans have some common faults, except us. After all, we can see no such faults in ourselves.

The headline is how we often appear to think, since it is how the world might look like. We have this insane blind spot concerning ourselves and even if we know this in theory, it seems to make little change. This is the first of two connected blog posts, this first about why we can’t trust ourselves and the next will be about why we can’t trust our friends, either.

One of the more useful(?) things one can use facebook for, is finding out what or who provokes you, and then analyse why you react to this specific thing. The provocation part often happens all on its own, so this could be said as ‘when something pisses you off, try to understand why’. The theory behind it, which is not wrong in itself, is that we will know our own faults intimately and so be able to see these same ones in others very quickly, since we know all about it.

The more you ‘speak the same language’ as somebody, the more subtle insults you will be able to pull off.. on the other end of the scale is punching somebody in the nose, which is pretty universally understood across different cultures.

 

The ‘if this annoys me, I’m guilty of it’-way of thinking can create some strange loops and questions about what sort of horrible person you really are, because the above theory is only true to some extent. If the fault you perceive in others is something most would react to because it is illegal, harmful to others or at least completely unethical by most standards, you don’t need to do this a lot yourself to object to it. At some point the reason you get provoked will be about something more than projection, but the line can be blurry.

But there are other methods for seeing our own faults and little illusions, which does not serve as an excuse for even more time wasted on social media. Discussing this lead to this blog post about why we can’t be trusted to observe ourselves, and also a follow up one about why we can’t trust our friends either. If it was easy, the world might have looked a bit different. Maybe not better, just different. Anyway!

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The God-box

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There is often talk on the LHP about self deification and/or becoming a god. When I hear that I immediately want to ask “what is that based on?” Is it something you read about, heard from someone, or an experience that you are exploring? Any one of them is ok, just be clear about where it’s coming from. If it came from a book, then how is this version different than any other religious dogma that’s been written down? If you heard it from someone, are they a reliable source? If an experience, was it a waking vision, a dream or drugs? Why are you giving it any credence?

Most people who are not initiates, when they even bother to think about God, go to what I call the God box to come up with a platitude for what it might be. The God box is also a concept I use to remind myself that if I want to become a god, then I need to define for myself what it actually means? Is there even such a thing as a god?

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In League with the Devil

Smalltown Finland, mid-90’s. Evangelical Christians had imported the American Satanic Panic wholesale to the otherwise pretty secular Scandi mindscape Finns had. The idea that evil forces were in play in the hidden margins of society fit in surprisingly well with the general cultural background: while in the 90’s, the Finnish population was predominantly composed of secularized Protestants, the old ways weren’t that far into the past. Anthropologists had been able to track down wise men and women, who knew the words of creation and destruction as the last representatives of an oral tradition probably dating back to prehistoric times, up until the 1940’s. Everyone had a great-grandmother or great-great-granduncle rumoured to be a powerful witch (for photos, see here). In this folkloric tradition, nature spirits of great age and wisdom yet often malignant motives abounded, and devils of various sorts danced with outcast humans in the night, leaving changelings in the cradles of unsuspecting women, and seduced newlyweds on their wedding night like some primeval Dr. Frank’n’Furter…

Whether it was a result of the recentness of our folklore traditions or of the adamancy of the Evangelicals, otherwise nonreligious Finns found themselves fearful of tombstone-kicking Devil worshippers, and the curiosity of many a 90’s teen, myself included, was irrevocably piqued. Those in league with the Devil were described simultaneously as misinformed teens in want of better things to do, and as a fearsome force to be reckoned with. Most teens who wondered if there’s something to those rumors carried on as before. I wondered if there was something real that lie beyond the rumors spread by the Evangelicals. After all, the Evangelicals were busy tossing around exaggerated condemnations of all the other stuff I was into, from the Tarot to masturbation. I wished to research the topic, and did so with any materials even distantly related I could find at the local library, from the materials peddled by the Evangelicals (in which I hoped, in vain, to find nuggets of truth), to Nietzsche (which provided them). With great difficulty, I procured a copy of the Satanic Bible, which opened to me the vistas I had been looking for: a rational, deeply ethical approach to a quest for individual strength, indulgence, and recognition. The Satanic Bible was a big “I thought so!” moment for me: there was something real, heartfelt and profoundly rational behind all the far-fledged rumours.

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The “Initiatory Version of Shining a Turd”.

The story behind this blogpost was that I was making notes about working hard yet going in circles, got the idea for a metaphor what seemed funny and then forgot all about it. When I opened the document where I put the ideas for blog posts, the first thing I see is the headline:

“Initiatory version of shining a turd”. This concerned me for a bit until I remembered what it was about. By then I had told others, received a video about polishing turds (freezing them first is the trick, apparently), and the post had to be written. 

I’ll try to not mention turds too often.

 

What I wanted to write about was the changes we spend a lot of time and effort on, but without results. We can work for years and not be a step closer to anything else than knowing more of what we want to achieve.

I’ll start with the very mundane version of.. useless shining. Since it is work, you’ll get your hands dirty, and since the material is sort of unfitting, it will change a lot. I doubt many would think the result was great.

One mistake is to put the effort into something which is relevant to learning more about the solution, but never actually using this information. If you want to spend less money, you have to spend less money, not read about how to do it. Nor does it help to make a change which is only good in theory. If you follow a ‘get rich in 30 days’-plan, you have probably made some changes to your life, but let’s face it, if it was that simple as buying the right book and following the advice for a month, almost nobody would be poor.

As for doing this with your Initiation, it is exactly the same but can be less tangible and so harder to see. “Armchair Magician” is a well-known term, but one which usually used about others. You only study a lot, and the right books, and when you have finished this, that and these books, you will be ready to put everything into use and THEN! Or you didn’t quite understand things well enough yet. But soon!

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