The Personal Impersonal

By Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle 

the personal impersonalThe occultist knows the fundamental forces of creation, mediated by the gods and spirit entities, are impersonal. They embody impersonal forces, cosmic and terrestrial, but provide a way in which we can interact with them. The priest/ess from the perspective of religion knows these forces are immensely personal and develops relationships with individuals, communities, and the world. They are real, individual beings whom we love, and who can love us and care about our lives. The adept knows both and neither of these things are true.

Recently I shared a post from an astrologer author I love, Rob Brezsney. I like his realist optimism, explored in his book Pronoia (which should be far better well-known). The post’s theme illustrated this type of mystery, the paradox of the union of love and anger and how we must stop hate without becoming hateful. The admittedly challenging graphic was one of a red Devil figure hugging Trump. The post didn’t mention either. My share generated a lot of comments, almost none on the content of the posts but all on the graphic, which is a mystery teaching in itself. The union of pictures AND words is a key to the mysteries. Combinations, particularly unlikely juxtapositions, should make you think. But we live in a world of reactions, with most people thinking the world a stage rather than a classroom. In truth, the stage is just a different classroom.

Most comments were Witches saying Lucifer (not Satan) would reject Trump because of his evil, and a few who implied Trump was too virtuous for Lucifer to embrace. In essence, it was making the Devil figure conform to their own personal expectations and bias. Ironically, wouldn’t a Devil figure do the unexpected? Instead, this Devil was doing exactly what they would do based on their beliefs about Trump and their assumptions that a cosmic metaphysical entity would agree with their human view.

As a priest and a person, I understand the identification with the powers and gods, but as an occultist, I find it interesting when we project our human view onto fundamental powers. If such personal views were the view of the powers, our world would look very different than it does, yet it doesn’t.

In most magickal theologies and myths both good and bad, Lucifer is the light bearer. The function of the bearer is to bring divine light and all that entails into darkness. It’s not personal. You might have to work to find the light or find your own spark of the light, but the light is not a reward nor is the darkness a punishment for moral behavior, no matter how noble or reprehensible. The divine powers do not partake in human tribalism, but we as priest/esses and people channel them towards our human goals. The storm rains on everyone who is outside within the sphere of its influence. The garden of the virtuous doesn’t get one level of rain and the garden of the repugnant get another. The air is available to breathe by all—the liar and the wise woman and everyone in between. Night follows day. There is not a different schedule of dawn and dusk for the pious.

Yes, yes, I can hear you thinking that I’m taking comments on a hot topic meme much too seriously, that people’s comments don’t reflect their deep metaphysical reflections…and yet they do. What we say off-handed often indicates what we believe and how we operate on a deeply rooted level, where we take instinctive action when we are not asked to think deeply and reflect.

One of my greatest concerns in observing the growth of Paganism, Witchcraft, Magick, and Metaphysics is increased tribalism and othering, often rooted in divine relationship, spread through internet meme graphics. The cosmic and impersonal nature of the forces—which take on the personal ONLY when brought through humanity, be it an individual or group—is being forgotten. It’s become easy to assume the manifestation through you or your group is THE manifestation. That leads to righteousness and dogma, rather than philosophy and theology. This can lead to delusion and all manner of problems for a practitioner, group, and community. This can even lead deeper into theological ideas that if the gods agree with us and the world doesn’t reflect that, then there must be other gods and forces opposing them, and they too have their clergy serving them… is this sounding a bit familiar? Haven’t we done this familiar dance? This battle was a big theme of the Age of Pisces. How can we manifest it differently in the new aeon of Aquarius? Theologically thinking the cosmic powers are in conflict is like thinking gravity is in conflict with electromagnetism. They are both necessary for the fabric of reality and operate impersonally until you have a personal experience with them.

The occultist needs to be a priest/ess to bring the concepts into the heart, into life. The priest/ess needs to be an occultist to seek understanding of different models of the fundamental nature of consciousness and the cosmos. We all have to learn that it is personal and impersonal, simultaneously. In that paradox is where true mystery is found.

Temple of Witchcraft