γνῶθι σεαυτόνBy: Jay Certain snotty critics in a forum posted a criticism of my Thomism article, where I looked at the flaws in Thomism that led to, I believe, to Enlightenment scientism. That's a good segue into the next topic I'd like to expand upon, integrating the recent articles and interviews I've done on the mystical, magic mirror theme. On top of that, to make it even crazier (as opposed to attempting to placate the small-minded critics with some rationalized defense), I'm going to tack on the subject of the ancient mystery of the serpent, since I see a connection between the mirror and the serpent. How that might be is a question of the psyche and its relation to the objective world resulting from an examination of biblical, mystical, mythological and psychological notions. I propose that in order to understand the nature of man's psyche, the objective world and spacetime, rather than the modern approach of mere linguistic expression, symbology should be sought as the primary means of conveying the truth. Granted, words are symbols, but there is much more that can be contained in certain forms, especially forms such as Platonic solids, or the Monad, dyad, triad, etc., as opposed to just "words." Could deep truths about metaphysics, meaning and space-time actually be encapsulated in the basic forms of geometry? I think so, and in this article I am going to set out to make that argument. It recently occurred to me that given man's predilection for relativism, it might be possible that relativism was actually one of the epistemological effects of the Fall. Falling from objective Truth (God) and accepting the (supposed) autonomous epistemic authority of his own desired perceptions, man chose to become his own god, but rather than achieving what he sought, his mind has become a prison for his own delusions, illusions and vanity. As a result, man is trapped in a cyclical prison that I'm going to call the "mystery of the serpentine mirror." The mirror here will be man's self-perception, embodied in the being he perceives himself to be, with his accepted and desired beliefs about his origin, meaning (or lack thereof) and destination. I recall Bahnsen proposing in his PhD thesis on self-deception that there is an interesting distinction between being deceived, and believing "I am not deceived." The first involves outright deception from one person to another, while the second involves the psyche actually choosing to believe a proposition about the self that is raised to a higher level, if you will. Whereas in the first, I might be told by a suspect, "I did not steal your fanny pack and kilt," and in the second example, I choose to believe "That cool ass dude is my bro - he would never steal my fanny pack and kilt," even though all the evidence points to the latter, as I later see my buddy dancing in a kilt with a fanny pack. In the first case, I didn't know, and in the second, my desires influenced my choice to believe the erroneous proposition. Thus, Bahnsen posited, this is how self-deception works in the human psyche. That is applicable here. In the classical symbology, the psyche is drawn as a circle, sometimes with a dot in the middle, signifying the individual. The dot is the Monad, or the point of self-consciousness of the individual. It is also the universe as a whole, as well as the sun symbol, and the beginning form of the Egyptian, Pythagorean and Platonic mysteries as the basic architecture of reality (the Platonic solids). The psyche is also a feminine symbol, though the monad that emerges with a third dimensional extension is masculine (being a phallus). Eros or Cupid here represents the desire of the psyche. Desire is what moves us towards an end, and for the man deceived into the mind-prison of relativism, it is as if a mirror has been placed in front of his psyche which reflects to him a false image of what he is. In the mirror of the serpent, the image is a reflected image of an individual deluded into thinking he is God. In individuals who are full psychopaths, this has reached full actualization insofar as they have completely convinced themselves they are god. Thus, serial killers often exemplify this well-known trait.
As long as man’s eros is directed towards a false reflection in a mirror he has chosen, he will reflect back upon the world his misperception that he is the divine source of meaning. In this infinite cycle of false reflection, the world is perceived to be his creation, and his mind the source of meaning, predication and being itself. Pantheism and classical paganism are not just representations of divinity arising from the immanent causal forces of nature hypostatized, they are ultimately, especially after the Enlightenment, psychologically-projected explanations from a purely contingent, ultimately groundless finite psyche entrapped in the phantasms of its own reflection. This is well illustrated in Inception, where Cobb (DiCaprio) is led by Ariadne to see that his perception is based on an eternally-recurring, cyclical series of mirror images. This is why in symbology the mirror is often used of the psyche, and broken when there is a trauma or a death, signifying the shattering of the psyche. Indeed, the symbol of the Labyrinth is the very symbol of Inception, being based on the myth of Ariadne who leads Theseus out of the Labyrinth, where he is trapped with the minotaur. Cobb is Theseus in the film, and in a sense, our psyche is Theseus, as we are born trapped in the maze of relativism, the prison of our own psyche.
The Genesis narrative posits that man fell as a result of his taking of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil which the serpent enticed him to take, being told that it would “open his eyes,” and “make him as a god,” “knowing good and evil.” In the course of the narrative, man has not yet fallen, so it occurred to me in a conversation with a friend that the placement of evil here is a deep mystery. In classical western theology, the fall of the angels had already occurred, since the serpent was tempting man here. Evil could only have been among the angels at this point. This tree is apparently something man is not yet ready for, so God postpones his attainment of this mysterious angelic knowledge. Man is then banished by the Cherubim to wander a desolate earth, subject to death. Genesis 6, the Book of Enoch and the text of Jude in the New Testament expand on this tradition and speak of interaction with angelic beings (Watchers) that teach man hidden arts. Regardless of one’s opinion of these texts and their meaning, we see an interesting pattern of forbidden knowledge that man is not ready for due to his deception and self-imprisonment, if we take an epistemological and mystical perspective.
As one blogger notes regarding Freud’s interpretation of female narcissism, the connection to the myth of Narcissus is amazingly appropriate here:
“Freud uses the term “narcissist” to denote the self-loving individual, from the Greek myth of Narcissus who fell in love with his reflection in a pool and as a consequence drowned. The second type of individual, who overcomes narcissism by developing an attachment to the mother, Freud called “anaclitic.” However, he was careful to point out that there is not a sharp differentiation between the two groups in terms of psychological make-up: “we assume rather that a human being has originally two sexual objects – himself and the woman who nurses him – and in doing so we are postulating a primary narcissism in everyone, which may in some cases manifest itself in a dominating fashion in his object choice” (Freud, vol. 14, p. 89)
Freud is onto something here. The narcissism that everyone is deceived into adopting is a result of the fall and one of its results is the mind prison of relativism. Like Sara in the Labyrinth, she is caught in a constant maze of mirrors and deceptions that are not real, but delude her into thinking she “has it all figured out.” Every time Sara is trapped by some reflection or appearance, she falls again, over and over. This is pictured well in the ball-room scene where the clock strikes and the mirrors shatter, again evoking the imagery mentioned above. Sara is Theseus/Ariadne and must escape Bowie, the Goblin King who also takes on Minotaur appearance in the orgy/dance/Eyes Wide Shut-ish scene. Note as well that Bowie deceives Sara and wants to make her a “queen,” telling her how great she is. However, the clock strikes and Sara is reminded that she is bound by Chronos/time, and is not a god.
In regard to cyclical and serpentine imagery, we can consider Plato’s ouroboros, the serpent biting its tail, which is the image of the universe in his Timaeus, the creation myth Plato purported to bear from Egyptian hermeticism. In the formation of the universe from the One through the demiurge, it is also common in Greek mystery religion that the serpent be wrapped around an egg, symbolizing the fertility rites of the ancient world, worshipping as it did, the natural world and its cycles. Since the natural world appeared to operate on a pattern of cycles of seasons and dialectical oppositions, Greek thought deified these patterns (as did Egypt) and formulated a metaphysical picture of reality that viewed reality as purely cyclical.
Other religions like Hinduism have similar ideas, where man is caught in a “wheel of time” and endless cycles of reincarnations that must be overcome to achieve some form of transcendence or “nirvana.” In those systems, though, time and history are ontologically identified with the deception or the projection, which sets the biblical God apart as unique. Unlike those worldviews, this world is a training ground for movement into the next, and this world is essentially good. It is not an illusion to be denied or a lie to be rejected, but it is rather man’s own false conceptions projected onto reality that must be escaped. I might add as a side note that in much of the “red pill” literature and media that is geared toward setting man free from his captors, be they elites, globalists, archons, demons, etc., the missing piece in much of this is the fact that it’s all ordered around victimization. Rarely does any such information touch on man’s own deep problem of loving self-deception and lies, seeking as he often does to be a willing captive to the fantasy world of an illusory projection of himself as god onto external reality. Indeed, man needs to be cured from himself in order to be his true self.
Nietzsche as well posited a cyclical view of history, all of which makes sense if the temporal realm is “eternalized,” as it is. Rather than read these images in a metaphysical way (though that may be the case somehow for those that are without God), I am interested in the psychological interpretation here. Since Kant is not correct in cutting the mind off from the objective world, we know there is a direct connection between the psyche and the external world (as I’ve argued elsewhere), meaning possibly that the individual that continues to choose the false image will continue fallen into the next life. Only as Truth is confronted, which includes the truth about man’s own being, does man become able to “get outside himself,” if you will, taking the steps toward the freedom that only comes with objective truth. As long as man willingly buys into the lies of his mirrored projection, he is a prisoner to the mirror the serpent has placed before him to deceive him.
Man thinks that if he can achieve control of temporal reality he can escape his prison and become God, and it is here that the myth of the Ring of Gyges fits. Situated as it is in the Greek mysteries as part of the Republic’s dialogue, the ring should be read as consonant with Platonic triadic and circular symbolism that often emerges in his and other ancient Greek works. The ring enables its wearer to become invisible, and the question arises as to whether any man is virtuous enough to resist the temptation to perform any act, if guilt could be escaped. Rings are circular and thus embody the symbolism of eternality, as the circle never ends. The ouroboros is also a ring that never ends, and includes serpentine imagery. The early patristic writer Athenagoras cites the Hellenic serpentine mysteries embodied in the Orphic cult as follows:
“Homer speaks of:
Old Oceanus, The sire of gods, and Tethys;
and Orpheus (who, moreover, was the first to invent their names, and recounted their births, and narrated the exploits of each, and is believed by them to treat with greater truth than others of divine things, whom Homer himself follows in most matters, especially in reference to the gods)— he, too, has fixed their first origin to be from water:—
Oceanus, the origin of all.
For, according to him, water was the beginning of all things, and from water mud was formed, and from both was produced an animal, a dragon with the head of a lion growing to it, and between the two heads there was the face of a god, named Heracles and Kronos. This Heracles generated an egg of enormous size, which, on becoming full, was, by the powerful friction of its generator, burst into two, the part at the top receiving the form of heaven (οὐρανός), and the lower part that of earth (γῆ). The goddess Gê; moreover, came forth with a body; and Ouranos, by his union with Gê;, begot females, Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos; and males, the hundred-handed Cottys, Gyges, Briareus, and the Cyclopes Brontes, and Steropes, and Argos, whom also he bound and hurled down to Tartarus, having learned that he was to be ejected from his government by his children; whereupon Gê;, being enraged, brought forth the Titans.
The godlike Gaia bore to Ouranos Sons who are by the name of Titans known, Because they vengeance took on Ouranos, Majestic, glitt’ring with his starry crown.
Scholar Hans Leisgang comments on these mysteries:
“According to mythical or mystery thinking, the gods and cosmic forces represented here are not conceived as merely existing successively or side by side: they act upon one another and within one another. All are manifestations of a single god and of one and the same cosmos, which is the god himself with all the powers which he discharges but still encompasses; and these forces are the whole world with all its creatures and forms.” (“The Mysteries of the Serpent,” Papers From the Eranos Yearbook, pg. 211)
Leisgang also treats at length the Hellenic picture of Phanes-Dionysius-Pan, the goat/serpent/hermaphrodite god that also sprang forth, which corresponds quite closely to the biblical image of Lucifer, described by Isaiah 14 as seeking to dethrone and become God. As mentioned, pantheism is evident here, as the material world, often denied and derided in Greek philosophy, is in Greek paganism a manifestation of god, as it is in Egyptian religion. As an aside, it is worth noting that Egyptian religion did not share Greek philosophy’s rejection of the human body, holding to the bodily resurrection and creation as a manifestation of Atum-Ra. In my article on Egypt and Plato, I cited Egyptologist van den Dungen:
“Hermes tells Tat (XIII), that “the tent” or “tabernacle” of the Earthly body was formed by the circle of the Zodiac (XIII.12 & Ascl.35) and dominated by fate, who’s decrees, according to the astrologers, were unbreakable. The seven planets represented the “perfect movements” of the Deities, the unalterable “will of the Gods” as expressed in predictable astral phenomena. Magicians tried to compel this will, while Hermetism did not try to resist fate, but irreversibly moved beyond it. The existence of the Deities was acknowledged (they belonged to the order of creation and were the object of sacrifices and processions and the celestial Powers ruling the astrological septet). Indeed, the Deities, Hermes and God were situated in the eighth, ninth and tenth sphere (Ogdoad, Ennead and Decad). The “eighth” involved purification, Self-knowledge and the direct “gnostic” experience of the “Nous” as “logos”, whereas in the “ninth” man was deified by assuming God’s attributes, as did the Godman Hermes, in particular His Universal Mind, the Divine Nous, Intellect or “soul of God” (XII.9). The “tenth” or Decad was God Himself for Himself.”
“The One Entity or God (the “Tenth”) is known to Its creation as the One Mind or Hermes which contains the “noetic” root of every individual existing thing (cf. Plato, Spinoza). This Divine Mind (the attributes or names of the nameless God) allows all things to be sympathetic transformations (adaptations, modi) of God.”
Though Egyptian theology seems to correctly eschew the future Greek rejection of the body, it does so at the expense of making the material world divine. the false paradigms here become pantheism or gnostic dualism, or gnostic monism/pantheism. Hearkening again to the ancient Egyptian symbology of IAO, which might be conceived as Isis, Apophis, Osiris, I made a connection to time-space, since there appears to be a relation between Isis as extension, or nature/space, Apophis is the snake destroyer that brings chaos and destruction, and Osiris is the return or resurrection. This is of course viewed as a cyclical process that is itself worshipped as the manifestation of the All. The gnostics therefore read the biblical God as this same manifestation, as we read in Charles Kings’ The Gnositcs and Their Remains:
“Theodoret states that the same four letters were pronounced by the Samaritans as ΙΑΒΕ (Jave); by the Jews as ΙΑΩ. Jerome (upon Psalm viii. says, “The Name of the Lord” amongst the Hebrews is of four letters, Iod, He, Vau, He, which is properly the Name of God, and may be read as ΙΑΗΟ (Iaho) (that is in Latin characters), which is held by the Jews for unutterable. The author of the ‘Treatise on Interpretations’ says, “The Egyptians express the name of the Supreme Being by the seven Greek vowels ΙΕΗΩΟϒΑ“: which sufficiently explains the mighty potency ascribed to this formula by the inspired author of the ‘Pistis-Sophia,’ and equally so its frequent appearance upon the talismans now under consideration.”
“…the Hindoo doctrine respecting the title AUM,–itself, like the ΑΙΩ, trilateral–representing the Triad, Brahma-Vishnu-Siva: A standing for the Creator, U for the Preserver, M for the Destroyer. The connection between Indian and Egyptian mythology is certain, however difficult to account for, the names of the principal deities in the latter having the appearance of pure Sanscrit. Thus Isis signifies in that tongue the Mistress; Tat and Sat, Virtue and Power; Serapis, Sripa, the Blood-drinker; Nila, Blue-water, &c. The original identity of the two religious systems no one can doubt who has intelligently studied the monuments of each: but which country instructed the other?
The balance of probabilities is strongly in favour of India, the confinement of the peculiar system within the narrow limits of Egypt betokening an importation by a colony from some very remote source. Traces of a very ancient intercourse between the two countries are discernible, though very dimly, in history. The Periplus of the Red Sea mentions that as late as Cæsar’s time the town Endæmon on that coast was the entrepôt where the Indian and Egyptian traders used annually to meet. In prehistoric times therefore it is conceivable that Brahminical missionaries may have laboured amongst the aborigines of the Valley of the Nile. This religious analogy manifests itself in the meanest details, in the sacred titles as well as attributes. For example, as the Brahmins teach that each of the letters A, U, M envelops a great mystery, so does the Pistis-Sophia (‘Prayers of the Saviour,’ § 358) interpret the Ι, Α, Ω, as the summary of the Gnostic, or Valentinian, creed. “Ι signifies All goeth out; Α, All returneth within; Ω, There shall be an end of ends thus expressing the grand doctrines of the Emanation, the Return, and the Annihilation, or rather reabsorption, of the Universe.”
The reader will immediately see that the Platonic and Neo-platonic idea of the return of emanations to the One is in some way passed down from Egypt through Greece to the gnostics. The reason I cite this here is that we begin to see a relevance for man’s placement in temporal reality. The repeated cycle of IAO-IAO-IAO is merely a manifestation of what is present in the structure of reality itself, according to modern physics. As Brian Greene writes concerning subatomic structures:
“‘A datum that can answer a single yes-no question is called a bit—a familiar computer-age term that is short for binary digit, meaning a 0 or a 1, which you can think of as a numerical representation of yes or no….Notice that the value of the entropy and the amount of hidden information are equal. That’s no accident. The number of possible heads-tail arrangements is the number of possible answers to the 1,000 questions – (yes, yes, no, no, yes,…) or (yes, no, yes, yes, no,…)…With entropy defined as the logarithm of the number of such arrangements—1,000 in this case—entropy is the number of yes-no questions any one such sequence answers….a system’s entropy is the number of yes-no questions that its microscopic details have the capacity to answer, and so the entropy is a measure of the system’s hidden information component….[in note] Stephen Hawking showed mathematically that the entropy of a black hole equals the number of Planck-sized cells that it takes to cover its event horizon. It’s as if each cell covers one bit, one basic unit of information.’
In other words, when entropy is considered, one comes back to the traditional Greek and Egyptian dialectic of being and non-being, I and O. And reality itself, when considered at the level of energy itself displays this same binary structure.”
I speculate that the Egyptian and gnostic identification of the IAO “name” with the process of entropy and space-time means nothing more than that they transferred the Name of God to matter and time. Many esoterists and hermeticists have sought to identify the biblical God with any one of various Egyptian and Greek ideas, as if Jews borrowed this. But as with Egyptian belief in bodily resurrection, if the account in Genesis is accurate, the opposite is true: Egypt borrowed this mystery about the actual structure of reality itself and ascribed to it divinity according to their pantheistic scheme. In so doing, man continues to accept the lie of the mystery of the serpentine mirror as he reads reality itself in the relativistic, nihilistic, cyclical structure of endless meaninglessness. He does this precisely because he projects the lie the mirror of his psyche has presented to him, like Narcissus, and (he thinks) if he can control this process of generation, destruction, and rebirth, he can alchemically master the universe and become the divine. Indeed, this is exactly the analysis James Kelley has given of western dialectics and Trinitarian alchemy, based on its theological presuppositions (which became philosophical/technological presuppositions seeking godhood in transhumanism).
That is how I read the mystery of the serpentine mirror: man’s own cyclical love of his false, time-bound and temporally determined reflection. Man has put on the Ring of Gyges and gazed into its tiny mirror, seeing himself, and becoming entranced and spellbound by myths about himself that he and his serpentine overlord have concocted. Man’s problem is not the external world that Adam, the Greeks and the gnostics sought to blame, but man’s acceptance of a false paradigm of interpretation of himself and the world – an interpretation that he is deceived into wanting, thinking his eros can be satiated with his own maya. In contrast to this, renowned Eastern theologian Dr. Philip Sherrard comments on the regaining of the knowledge of God lost to man’s Nous, in which man sees his true self, his logoi, in a mirror.
“This ‘intellectual sense’ (αίσθησιs νοερά) is not, therefore, the consequence of any theoretical and abstract speculation; it is, οn the contrary, the consequence of a long process of purification and prayer in which God is revealed in the heart. The intellect (νους) is not in this context the equivalent of the mind or of any mental or rational faculty; it is of another order altogether, being, indeed, precisely the spiritual image of God in man and naturally deiform, and having its seat not in the mind but in the heart. It is the heart which is the intellectual, or spiritual, centre of the whole psychophysical nature of man, and the intellectual sense spoken of above, and the spiritual discernment and enlightenment which go with it, can οnly be achieved through a bringing of the mind itself into the heart; for it is οnly in this ‘treasury of thought’ that the intellect ‘purified and illuminated, having manifestly entered into the possession of the grace of God and perceiving itself . . . does not contemplate only its οwn image, but the clarity formed in the image by the grace of God . . . that which accomplishes the incomprehensible union with the Supreme, through which the intellect, surpassing human capacities, sees God in the Spirit’. Μan then ‘being himself light, sees the light with the light; if he regards himself, he sees the light, and if he regards the object of his vision, he finds the light there again, and the means that he employs for seeing is the light; and it is in this that union consists, for all this is but one’. Ιn such a union, man does not merely contemplate what is outside and beyond himself; he becomes himself what he contemplates, the uncreated ground of his οwn proper being in which the whole of himself body and soul, participates, and through which he is deified, ‘not by the way of ascending from reason or from the visible world by the guesswork of analogy’, but by mingling ‘unutterably with the light which is above sense and thought’ and by seeing ‘God in himself as in α mirror’.”