Image Source: Spiritual Unite.
Western culture is undergoing a shift. New Age circles have been buzzing about it for the past few years, especially since the recession and 2012. Their chatter is now reaching a dull roar. For skeptics who want the TL;DR version, here is the
Several online movements are currently combining hermeticism and gnosticism to realign western values.
What this means.
Hermeticism combines monotheistic arcane traditions to inspire blind leaps in how we understand the world. Its early triad of alchemy, astrology and theurgy were termed as the 'three parts of the wisdom of the whole universe.' These translate in our terms into three aspects: first, science and rationalism of the mind; second, politics and emotions in the physical, the choices made to change the "life of matter and material existence"; and third, spirituality, our grasp of the relationship between the soul and what we define as divine. Sometimes associated with old Arab mysticism and the Kabbalah, sometimes with the occult, the Tarot and astrology, sometimes with Freemasonry, hermeticism is prevalent in popular culture today. This syncretic practice is being applied to gnostic philosophical unions of masculine and feminine principles to enable a shift in western perspectives. Much of this combination is due to the aftermath and reappraisal of 1960s' social revolutions, playing out during the Technological and Communications revolutions of the 2000s and 2010s. The philosophical synthesis also shows the next level of western engagement with virtual reality. Surging in the latter half of 2015, the trend may constitute a Fifth Great Awakening in America, but it is also evident in other western countries.
From September 2015. Image Source: Power of Consciousness.
September 2015: "Life changing lessons about conscious alertness." Image Source: Power of Consciousness.
In the broad scope of things, this is not news. Hermeticism and gnosticism have overlapped for two millennia. But an urgent consensus combines them now. Through the late summer and autumn of 2015, talk exploded on American New Age Internet forums, on Website after Website, youtube video after youtube video, that suddenly, the stars had aligned, and the 'time is now.' Now, now, now! NOW. Pack your bags, Dorothy, grab Toto, reserve your seat, the train is leaving, all aboard. If you are running along the platform and unsure where to cast your lot, hop on that train, because this is your last chance to change the way you understand the world for the next thirty years. The alternative is to stick with old ways of thinking. That is the message.
The train departing now is on a journey to Christian and post-Christian existence in the Millennial age. In America, the message is mainly gnostic and spiritual. America was built on spiritual awakenings, coinciding with historic levels of development. The First Great Awakening (1730-1755) paved the way for the American Revolution (1765-1783). The Second (1790-1840) and Third Great Awakenings (1850-1900) reflected the stresses of the faithful during the Industrial Revolution and the American Civil War (1861-1865).
This is not a message presented under noisy labels, in the way the Baby Boomers presented their explorations of spirituality in the '60s and '70s, which has been called the Third Great Awakening and the Fourth Great Awakening, an umbrella term for western counter-culture movements and the Sexual Revolution in the American experience. I argue here that the autumn of 2015 marks the onset of a Fifth Great Awakening, an awakening for the Technological Revolution. It departs from Boomer gender politics and bypasses feminist theories. Some online spiritualists conclude that the Boomers did not herald the Age of Aquarius. They were iconoclasts who destroyed the Judeo-Christian Age of Pisces. In the post-Boomer aftermath, the current quest for renewed spirituality suits a plugged-in Aquarian consciousness. It is a born of incessant talk on the Web, which suddenly chimed in shrill agreement that a new vision of the world had and has arrived. The synthesis is also appearing in Europe, Britain and the British Commonwealth, primarily in self-help, crypto-anarchic, hacker and eco-tech circles.
A caveat: from the point of view of the mainstream which regards itself as the bastion of sanity and measured assessment, it is difficult to analyze this phenomenon. The mainstream rejects the Internet's wilderness as a source of anything serious. Web discussions are unhinged, raw and marginal. But access to information is now democratized, so that culture, science and technology are understood by the global masses in any way they see fit. Online subcultures absorb snippets of information from research in physics, genetics, cognitive science, medicine and computer programming. They build pseudo-formal arguments to combine cartoon versions of dark matter, genetic manipulation and virtual reality with much older superstitions and equally-poorly-understood esoteric traditions. The Internet enables instantaneous mix-ups and mash-ups and thereby hatches new beliefs and value systems. The gnostic-hermetic synthesis is emerging, day by day, in online communities, where material can be ahistorically treated and randomly combined in any manner, by what the old system would dismiss as speculative, weird amateurs. It is all (or seems), far from the mainstream.
"#BrusselsLockdown request for social media blackout prompts flood of cat pictures" during the Brussels anti-terrorism sweep in November 2015. Image Source: BBC.
At the same time, what remains of the 20th century mainstream - the respectable, the rational, the received truth - is increasingly fragile. The Internet wilderness equally denies the validity of that mainstream. Continual coexistence in real and virtual realities has left many emotionally unmoored and created a season of discontent, and what one friend, M., calls "the yearning." The Internet transforms its users into morally-wayward, hallucinatory addicts. In response, the real world offers more dislocation. It delivers answers in the form of war, terrorism, beheadings, recessions and political stalemates. Or it tempts us to inhabit a glitzy, international über-reality, a world of global consumption, instant video chats, and hyper-travel in airport terminals.
"Someone's belief in virtue is more important than virtue itself?"
On the virtual self-help streets, enlightenment rationality has collapsed and been supplanted by spiritual enlightenment. As one youtube healer puts it, "The mind doesn't have to understand this. It's happening anyway." In this way, the first signs of the Age of Aquarius are arriving by stealth, birthed in the gnostic dreams of 2015. The Aquarian norms which arrive in the coming centuries will be alien to us, because current trends promise the long term development of a magical, eco-ritualistic worship of virtual technology, which will reconcile the loss of individual identity within global cerebral connectedness."Yes, that's in there. But what is it about? Could it be about how rational thought destroys your soul? Could it be about the triumph of irrationality and the power that's in it? You know, we spend a lot of time trying to organize the world. We build clocks and calendars and we try to predict the weather. But what part of our life is truly under our control? What if we choose to exist purely in a reality of our own making? Does that render us insane? If it does, isn't that better than a life of despair?"
October 2015: "Know your starseed awakening." Image Source: Spiritual Unite.
This revolution grew from the Internet's desperate fringes, not the Boomers' activist academy. It is not mainstream or rational. But make no mistake, these healers mean business. Their priority is to resolve an internal western crisis created by rigid social roles, outdated values, the circular reasoning of bubbled communities and counter-communities whose members are all unhappy and not finding solutions. Conventional faiths no longer fulfill broad spiritual needs and cause more problems than they solve: "God's a kid with an ant farm, Lady. He's not planning anything."
Image Source: Wiki.
New Age counsellors are not anti-religious. They borrow from several faiths and the Christian Apocrypha, New Age material, and eastern meditations to achieve a Christian and post-Christian universalism. Any surrender to the higher creative power of the universe is tempered by bootstrapping. The advice echoes the ancient phrase, "God helps those who help themselves." The spiritual underground indulges conspiracy theories about the military industrial complex up to a point, but their leaders become oddly serious about Realpolitik, based on a blend of macro-fantasy and micro-realities. The seriousness comes first from a notion - quite the opposite of current Islamic radicalism - a weariness about divine grace and blind faith in redemption. Everywhere, western rationalists battle anti-western anti-rationalists. And they are losing. But now, the Internet has spawned a new counter-offensive. If jihadists believe in divine deliverance, that Allah and the Internet are on their side, this western grassroots movement also takes an anti-rational, spiritual approach to confront them and any other sources of violence, collapse and chaos.
This is spiritualism for the post-religious masses, driven by a conviction that religion will not help us. We have to save ourselves, because God, with a capital 'G,' will not bother: 'God is perfectly OK if we destroy ourselves and the world - because he or she or it will just hit the reset button. How do we know this? Because of Atlantis, a high society that completely destroyed itself and was erased from existence.' This foreboding makes myth a reality. Atlantis is a land of fable, taken literally here; regardless, it is always depicted as the original source society of the west, the Urkultur. Fatalistic pragmatism deliberately opposes terrorism and conspiracy theories about disaster capitalism. No matter where the mass fear originates, and what it might come to mean, this is the west's nascent spiritual answer.
Despite the grim awareness that defeat is possible, a belief in a benevolent universe remains for those who help themselves. The gurus' seriousness derives from practical experience. They provide quiet counsel on stock markets and upcoming economic and political collapses, even on the timing of future wars. Their numbers confirm that they run flourishing online businesses with big, if hushed, client bases. No matter how weird they may appear, it is unwise to dismiss fringe healers out of hand: they are fixers, brought in to help when everyone and everything else fails, so they see where the line breaks down. They are privately hired to deal with the secret agonies of western society. For decades, they have seen the real truths behind western labels: homes and money lost to debts and financial gambles; romantic dramas, marital infidelities and family problems; health crises, addictions and mental illnesses; professional stresses and job losses; fears of the changing world; lost faith, political polarization and social alienation. They also see where the line holds. In videos for December 2015, one astrologer applauded her clients and youtube responders; for the first time in years, she claimed to have seen a sudden shift in attitudes from despair to resolution and confidence, from helplessness to resourcefulness, from confusion to understanding.
This is why, in this online Fool's Kingdom, no one cares about being respectable, in the old sense. They just want to save themselves and everyone else, and they are willing to smash their socially-dictated egos and everyday 'fabricated' realities to move closer to a more genuine, soulful life. And while this movement reflects a transhuman integration in virtual reality and online communications, it is anti-tech when technology enables voluntary enslavement and alienates users from the natural world.
November 2015: "Attachments that keep us enslaved." Image Source: Spirit Science and Metaphysics.
November 2015: "The truth of today's world." Images Source: The Power of Positivity.
Virtual spiritual enlightenment further combats the dark side of the technological revolution. This is a realm of five-dimensional spiritual awakenings and faux-scientific DNA rewrites. This is where Web crazy gets crazier: starseeds and soul groups, implants, akashic records, time shifts, higher vibrational living, new paradigms, angel guides, exiting the matrix, third eye openings, and mass global ascension. Traffic on these spiritual sites confirms a huge popular interest in these ideas, which have started to have an impact on mainstream culture.
But it all needed a direction. Then, in the second half of this year, the life coaches, health coaches, numerologists, the yogic masters, the astrologers, the tarot card readers, and the psychic fortune tellers found their silver bullet. The mess culminated with a focus on men and women. Venus went retrograde and stationary from June to October, 'relationship karma went full frontal,' and Ashley Madison was hacked. In a blink, the gurus suddenly agreed: the war between the sexes is over. It ended in a truce.
This is radical. Of course, these counsellors acknowledge that the collapse of gendered dualism has not happened everywhere or for everyone. But it has for the people who hopped on the train, who see themselves as harbingers of Millennial anti-egotism and a higher way of being. If the war between the sexes ended this autumn, there is a lot of work to do. It is time to rethink everything. What follows, according to the soothsayers and oracles, is a spiritual rebuilding after two thousand years of gender conflict. In the meantime, there is a period of coexistence between the old dual order and the new unity, and everyone is in intensive care.
October 2015: A "huge awakening" promised. Image Source: Forever Conscious.
Thus, Millennial gnostics are reimagining social roles through inner revolution. Beyond turning gender dialogue inside out, they demand an end to endless distractions; they want to depart from fake entertainment and knee-jerk media. They desire authenticity. That does not stop them from wanting to evolve and alchemically transform into Jedi seers, who honour their highest possible incarnations of the divine masculine and divine feminine, which any individual (regardless of that individual's gender) can attain. In American pop culture, the Force awakens in December 2015.
Lupita Nyong'o in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (December 2015). The tagline of the film is: "Hope is not lost today. It is found." Image Source: The Wrap.
The proclaimed truce between the sexes requires a complete reevaluation, and healing, of the world. Gnosticism furnishes the theory; hermeticism provides the practice. Believers in this Millennial shift claim that forgotten ways of thinking and living are being revived and merged in the awakening western consciousness, as though in so many amnesiacs who are recovering lost memories (Hat tip: Ghost Hunting Theories). Whether they know it or not, their proposed methods are hermetic. In the upcoming posts in this series, Awaken the Amnesiacs, I will elaborate on this western synthesis and mainstream news headlines which reflect the underground trend, starting with the basic positions of the gnostics, and the hermetics.
August 2015: "The age of spiritual awakening has really begun." Image Source: The Mind Unleashed.
See all my posts in the series, Awaken the Amnesiacs.