26 Chapters
Medium 9781780490885

One: The Unmentionable Crisis

Greer, John Michael Karnac Books ePub


The unmentionable crisis

It is a curious and recurring reality in social history that the crises that come to define entire eras are very often those that, until they burst into the forefront of public attention, no one affected by them was willing to discuss at all. Betty Friedan's cogent description of depression and anomie among post-war American women as “the problem that has no name” (Friedan, 1963) could have been applied with equal justice to the symptoms of other imminent crises—for example, the social costs of slavery in the antebellum South. In these and many other cases, a reality that would shortly become the focus of explosive controversy and dramatic social change remained unmentioned and unmentionable among those who were in the closest contact with it.

Central to the process of inattention that kept these issues out of the sphere of public discussion was an act of reframing that transformed a collective crisis into an individual pathology. Physicians in the slave states before the Civil War, for example, argued that people of African origin suffered from a peculiar mental illness called “drapetomania”, an irrational compulsion to run away from home. This convenient theory allowed the efforts of slaves to escape to freedom in the North to be understood, not as a response to the unmentionable social realities of slavery, but, rather, as a personal pathology that could be discussed and treated without reference to its collective context.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781782200352


Greer, John Michael Karnac Books PDF




5 September 2025: the White House,

Washington, DC

“Did they get everybody out of Nairobi?” Weed asked.

“Yes,” Greg Barnett said. “I’ve talked to Miller—he was our station chief there. He’s in Kisumu now, and we’ve got a secure diplomatic line open from there.”

“Well, that’s one bit of good news, at least.” The president ran a hand back through his hair. “We could use more.”

None of the members of the National Security Council had anything to say to that. Weed glanced around the room, and his gaze caught on the portrait of Teddy Roosevelt on horseback.

Damn the man, he thought. He made it look so easy. “What about the broader picture?”

“The business in Saudi Arabia is picking up,” said Barnett.

“The Saudis say it’s just a few protests and they’ve got it under control. Our people on the ground say there have been dozens of suicide attacks on police stations and government buildings, and what looks like urban guerrilla forces active in Qatif and

See All Chapters
Medium 9781780490885

Two: The Religion of Progress

Greer, John Michael Karnac Books ePub


The religion of progress

The mere suggestion that modern industrial civilization has myths of its own risks misunderstanding, if not flat rejection. In current popular usage, the English word “myth” and its cognates in other Western languages have come to mean “a story that is not true”, and a great deal of contemporary thought uses this redefinition to ground a core distinction between modern and pre-modern societies: the latter supposedly based their worldviews on stories that are not true, while we base ours on true narratives revealed by science. One genre of social criticism has gone so far as to point to a supposed pathological lack of myths in modern societies as a cause of social and psychological problems (May, 1991; Rue, 1989).

More than a century ago, Max Muller showed considerably greater insight when he wrote, “Depend on it, there is mythology now as there was in the time of Homer, only we do not perceive it, because we ourselves live in the very shadow of it, and because we all shrink from the full meridian light of truth” (Muller, 1882, p. 353). The two obscuring factors he cited—the overshadowing influence of a living myth on the thought of those who accept it as valid, and the fear of a confrontation with truth unmediated by the familiar forms of the myth—remain as much live issues in our time as they were in his.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781904658832

Chapter Two - The Paths upon the Tree

Greer, John Michael Aeon Books ePub

So far, we have considered the Spheres on their own, as phases of the spectrum of being. This is only half of the complete picture. Each Sphere also stands at the center of a web of interactions linking it with other Spheres in certain specific ways, and these links can be used as bridges to move from one Sphere to another. There are twenty-two such links in all, and they are symbolized by the twenty-two Paths of the Tree of Life.

You will find the Paths diagramed on the picture of the Tree of Life on page 21 (opposite). Each Sphere, as you will notice, is connected by Paths to at least three other Spheres, but no Sphere contacts all of the others. The arrangement of these Paths is used to teach a number of important lessons about the Spheres and their relationships, lessons which will be covered in detail later on in this book.

In one sense, then, the Paths represent the interactions between the Spheres, the play of energies between one aspect of the universe and another. These interactions have another significance, however. Each Path also represents a shift in awareness, a movement between different states of consciousness. In this sense, the Paths stand for the routes a traveler on the Tree must take to journey from Sphere to Sphere. This second sense is the foundation of all practical work with the Cabala, and you will be using it more often than the other in this context. Both need to be kept in mind, though, and both will have their place at different times in the course of your work with this book.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781904658832

Chapter Five - The Way of Creation

Greer, John Michael Aeon Books ePub

The material we've covered so far—on the nature of symbolism, the structure of the Tree of Life, the metaphors of energy and polarity that allow the Tree to be used in practice, the reflections of the Tree in macrocosm and microcosm—have all been by way of a first look at the philosophy of the Hermetic Cabala, the governing system of ideas that underlies the system and gives it its shape and potentials.

In traditional Jewish Cabalistic texts, though, such things take up only a small amount of space. Detailed analysis of Scriptural verses, part of the quest to “decode” the Bible, takes up much more. A large part, though, goes to what can only be called the creation of a Cabalistic mythology: a vast account of the birth, history, and end of the entire universe, reaching over huge cycles of time and immensities of space, in which the myths of the Bible are used as springboards for astonishing speculations and the lives and history of human beings are part of a much greater drama of love, war, loss, and redemption among spiritual powers. While much of this drama was left behind by the magicians who adapted the Cabala to their own uses in the Renaissance and later, a significant part of the mythology of the Cabala was preserved, and plays a large role in the teachings of the Golden Dawn tradition.

See All Chapters

See All Chapters