In the entire history of human-kind every tribe, society, culture and civilisation has been held together by belief in 1) the continuity of the spirit after the death of the physical body and 2) for want of better terms, ‘mysticism’ and ‘magic’. There have been for aeons shamans, priests, priestesses, psychics, mystics and visionaries who acted as intermediaries between this world and the Other, communicationg with and channelling spirits, entities, powers and forces that some would call gods or demons but which I would refer to as Praeternatural Beings.
It is only since the rise of Natural sciences from the Enlightenment onwards that we (generally) have begun to doubt such things and this in tandem with the printing press and an increase in literacy and education led directly to the decline of organised religion, or at least the power of mass control held by the Western Churches, Protestant and Catholic, over the majority of the population, a fundamentalist hegemony maintained by the very ‘fear of God’ instilled in an illiterate uneducated mass.
In many ways science became the ‘new’ religion explaining evolution, the nuts and bolts of a mechanistic physical Universe and psychoanalysis all but replaced Confession. Psychiatry over-ruled religion replacing demons and angels with unconscious drives, complexes, archetypes, and explained away mystical visions and numinous experiences as hallucination by means of Reductionist theories of genetics, hormones (endocrinology), neuronal imbalances in electrolytes and a malfunctioning central nervous system. The tortures of Medieaval witchfinders were replaced by electro-convulsive shock therapy, surgical intervention like pre-frontal lobotomy and the administration of a veritable pharmacopeia of, paradoxically, mind-altering drugs like tranquilisers, stimulants, anti-depressants and anti-psychotics. The first lunatic asylum ‘Bedlam’ (the Bethlem Royal Hospital) was insane, not the patients per se but the barbaric means by which the poor unfortunates were ‘treated’ both medically and socially. Medieaval tortures were replaced by modern but no less inhumane methods of dealing with ‘abnormal’ mental states. The word bedlam, meaning uproar and confusion, is derived from the hospital’s prior nickname. Although the hospital became a modern psychiatric facility, historically it was representative of the worst excesses of asylums in the era of lunacy reform.
The point of this very relevant diversion is to illustrate that Science is far from infallible and is as much subject to faith and dogma as superstition and religion. There is in essence proof of nothing, there is only evidence and the development of Scientific Method rests entirely on the concept of ‘falsifiability’ and the probability that the ‘null’ hypothesis is true yet the problem is that the methods of modern scientific enquiry developed within the milieu of a solid, mechanistic and Newtonian Universe in which every physical phenomena can be measured if we have the instruments with which to measure them. And herein lies the very crux of the problem – stated bluntly it is that Science can only measure the physical. When scientists shout out loudly that non-physical phenomena do not exist, that telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, mystical visions, numinous experience, Praeternatural entities, life after death are not possible they are basing their unproven assertions on a non-sequitur because they insist on denying the existence of such because their instruments are unable to measure these things which is rather like trying to use a wooden ruler to measure temperature or pressure. The irony here is of course that there are intractable problems reconciling Newtonian physics with contemporary theories of a Quantum or energetic Universe. Almost weekly there is a new peer-reviewed article which claims scientific support for an energetic, very un-solid Universe, which echoes in scientific terms what mystics and seers have claimed for millenia. The apparent solidity of our Universe is an illusion fostered by our very limited perceptual capacities. You don’t need a postgraduate research degree in theoretical physics to know the truth of this. An evening experiment with Mescalin, psilocybin, LsD or similar will lead one to the very same conclusion.
Mysticism and science are not mutually exclusive but are two quite distinct methods of enquiry. The problem for orthodox (mechanistic) science is that interior experience is not objectively verifiable but this in no way invalidates the veracity of the experience. The question is not ‘Do these things exist?’ but how we explain them. As an analogy consider the apparenty simple question “Do you believe in UFO’s?” Well the answer must be ‘Yes! They are exactly what they are ‘Unidentified’ so of course they exist but what is usually meant by this question is ‘Do you believe that UFO’s are interplanetary spacecraft piloted by extraterrestrial beings from a distant galaxy?’ The point here is that what is at question is how we define experiences dependant upon context and our own (limited) perceptions and a priori beliefs – psychiatric illness, Freudian complex or Jungian Archetype, demonic possession or mystical vision. UFOs, ghosts, spirits, demons, devils, angels, entities, powers must exist – the evidence is overwhelming and the hypothesis is not falsifiable. We are part of a fractal Multiverse. The Emerald Tablet is wrong … it is not “As Above, so Below” but more “As Without, so Within.’ Our disbelief in the truth does not invalidate it. How we interpret it is an entirely different question
In Nomine Serpens, In Nomine Draconis
Embrace the Darkness