There is more than one way to get to any destination. If you traveled the entirely opposite direction of anything on this planet, you would eventually round the planet and end up at your destination ( despite what a flat earther might tell you ). It is also true that three lefts make a right hand turn. It is in this way that I find it most relatable to describe the phenomenon that I find amongst many 'awakened' people in this modern / postmodern world who had themselves indoctrinated in the eye of the storm at one point of thier lives, only to acknowledge the little man hidden behind the curtain... there are sights we cannot unsee...
Coming up and out of a New York City private art college and achieving a bachelors degree there, as you could imagine, I was steeped in postmodern thought on a daily basis. It seemed to be an indistinguishable part of the very polluted air of the entire city, and more so concentrated within the walls of the art institutions. It was more than a philosophy, it was like a religion, a cult.
Both Neitzche and Crowley came into the 20th century with the observations that modern man found himself at an impasse, an awkward threshold as he entered a new aeon, a new era in human development and evolution. Both acknowledged that God was Dead, and we, humanity, had killed him. This meant that what kept God alive, as we had come to understand him as a concept, especially in the Judeo-christian sense, lived on in our collective belief in his existence. Over time man experienced a further and further downward degenerated decline of God and many of mans greatest minds saw the vacuous hole that was to come that man would need to fill. Some of the greatest and my most favorite writers and thinkers set out to answer this question of what to replace this void with, because it desperately needed to be filled. One need not look very far at all down the historical time line to find plenty of exemplary examples of anxious, frustrated atrocities committed on a global scale. Writers like Ernest Hemingway advocated sport, Henry Miller tried to rediscover God in between the theighs of a whore, Keroac advocated we take our search for God to the Road, Edward Abbey thought we might find God in what little real Nature we had left, Crowley thought we might find God in exploration of our Love and Will. Nietzsche advocated we reach for the vacant thrones of the Gods themselves, others searched the bottom of the bottle or the needle to find the God in which they needed so desperately, feeling abandoned like lost children.
But was it really God that they longed for or was it the order that he gave to life, the meaning he gave to our traditions, the justification for our insane neurotic actions as a species? Did God give us a comfortable safety blanket than guarded us from the knowledge that existence might be much more chaotic and unjust by it's very nature than we would like to admit?
Furthermore this new era had its roots started well before the industrial revolution but certainly really gained traction during this time. We later would see the rising of new art, political and philosophical movements such as Existentialism, Dada, Communism, Socialism, Marxism, Feminism, Capitalism, Consumerism, Materialism, Nihilism... ect. All seemed to be grasping at straws trying to make sense of it all.
Many of these movements started with the basic premise of life lacking any intrinsic meaning beyond whatever man or society projected upon it. They argued that most all things were social constructs, all things were subjective in nature, and traditional values were silly outdated customs intended to control and religion and mysticism we nothing but superstitions. Where has this gotten us to over the last few decades? By and large modern man is a miserly, depressed, lonely and unfulfilled worm despite ever increasing comfort, increased life expectancy and quality of life. On a microcosm level this can also be observed, and I found this to be true of myself. When you come to take this modern model as your view of the world and allow it to influence the way that you approach life you find yourself feeling sick, fat, lonely and devoid of a higher reason to stay this side of the dirt. Through my searching I began to think maybe I had thrown the baby out with the bathwater...
There is an interesting introductory concept found in Chaos magick in which a would be magician takes up any being, character ect. And chooses to devote himself entirely to that deity as a religious idol for an lengthy piece of time, often a year I believe. This can be a known but foreign deity from an exotic religion you were not brought up with, but often it is best an most effective to pick a being that the magician knows at the start does not exist, the more absurd the better! Donkey Kong might make for a great God to worship for a year, or maybe Cookie Jarvis, or Eddie from Iron Maiden, or Frankenberry, or the talking Map from the Dora kid's cartoon. For the next year of that magicians life he is to fully devote himself to the regular continued practice of worship of this 'fictional' deity of their choosing. The magician is to make regular offerings and pray to this deity. They are to perform ritual evocations and collect fetish items associated with this deity and integrate this being into any and every possible aspect of thier lives. Time and time again these magician practitioners would find themselves repeating predictable patterns in their experiences of working with their selected dieties. Forst they would feel silly for awhile, then as habits took root they would find themselves feeling less silly and more going through the motions over time. Strangely though time and time again these practitioners would find suddenly that through repeated ritual veneration and worship that strange occurrences, synchronicities, would begin to happen leading some to suspect and doubt there original assumptions about the nonexistence of this being to he untrue.
"Nothing is True. Everything is Permitted" -Peter Carol (founding father of Chaos Magick school)
While the actual mechanics of why this phenomenon might be, possibly the topic of another lengthy post, What this illustrates is that even if we do believe that many things within our human history are seemingly arbitrarily constructs, they inevitably serve as catalysts to certain core values and ways of being for us as human beings. This can be both a depressing revelation as well as a liberating one for if all traditions and systems of thinking are in fact only constructs of our own creation, then all models are equally valid and therefore should be selected on merit and objective performance and value based on empirical evidence. Basically and most pertinently, What makes us as human beings most happy or fulfilled?
Do the weakest and fattest among us live the longest most fulfilled lives? Do those with the most material wealth feel most satisfied? Do those who live in our largest metropolitan areas not feel loneliness? Do we all go to our graves to rest in peace without regrets having wasted our days in air conditioned cubicles?
In my experience I have found that men who seek to push themselves outside of thier comfort zones, who test thier limits, and live lives if risk, while adhering to older traditions and codes, honoring what came before and tending to the flames of thier cultures, sitting below fruit filled trees planted by their great grandfathers, to be much happier and fuller better men (and women for it). And I am not saying that there is no room for improvement or evolution, but we as a modern human have taken on the task of trying to reinvent the wheel, while determined to create one that has zero resemblance to the old wheel and functions the same ( or better ! ).
Associated with our traditions, religions, ect that this postmodern world view takes to be constructed, is our sense of cultural identity. Postmodernism inevitably breaks down our cultural identities and can oftentimes result in resentment of ones native culture, religious or spiritual traditions, moral values... This also typically makes a person less prone to recognizing or advocating maintaining boundaries between cultures and traditions. This is typically masqueraded as coming from a place of acceptance and love but truly comes from a place of disgust and disdain for what they conceive as constructive or non existent cultural identity for themselves. This most typically is seen in the sentiment that Anericans of European descent lack any culture at all, though this obviously a case of like a fish in water, immersion blinds our perspective. While these people may believe that they are operating from a genuine, warm hearted place of acceptance, they neglect to realize that without respect for ones own culture and traditions one cannot possibly respect anothers. It pains me to see world indigenous cultures and minority groups that refuse to see this.
Now, the reason I was promoted to write this...
In the world of tattooing there remains a well buttressed and fortified sentiment that values tradition, or at least that's what a lot of hipsters and curmudgeonly old men in the industry will parrot to you. The mainstream commoditization of tribal tattooing has never sat right to me, arguably, the real variety of 'traditional tattooing', much more so than the folk Americana designs we typically see associated with the term. Many of these images had deep and meaningful cultural significance and implications, and were woven with magickal power and meaning only known by initiates of the tradition. In this postmodern era though, this sentiment seems outdated, ridiculous and respect for such a thing seems so far beyond the comprehension of most modern men. What is this respect for tradition that these tattooers are talking about then? "...It's money! It doesn't mean anything anymore, especially to your average customer who doesn't care! Just wing it! Give him something that looks kind of like what he wants, who cares what it means...".
It's just money... there is no meaning... there is no power... there is no magick...
Is this our modern traditions? To be little more than snake oil salesman? People are out there searching for something authentic, they are searching for God, for a reason to live... to which they reply 'just take the money and run!'.
"There's a sucker born every minute."
It is from the postmodern Gehenna garbage pit that I found my way. Refuse to worship at the foot of capitalism in this empire of nothing, believing your aliegence to nike or Adidas, your favorite football team or fast food trough is some substitute for God or cultural identity or life purpose. Refuse to disrespect within and you can come to find the way to authentically respect without. Refuse to accept the blind and forced march to modern monoculture and globalism as it masks itself as anything but insidious. Think local and support your community. It was through runic study and how that study has come to influence my own artistic voice that I came to respect and revere the traditions and craft of others enough to know that their traditions deserve to be respected and are not to be treated as empty ornamentation despite the tendency for the snide, condescending, modern multicultural, postmodern tendency to want to render all things absurd and without meaning or merit once it is lacking in its unfamiliar exoticness. I am happy to know my kind, therefore know my meaning, my purpose, my identity, my culture, my Gods, my way... and maybe I'll miss out on a few dollars in my lifetime I could have made doing a mindless, half hearted, ignorant job butchering another mans sacred traditions, but I would have gained to time and purpose to study Americana, runic and Celtic designs and thier associated traditions and mythologies so that I might find myself a string foundational basis for my live and my will, so that I might grow to ascend to the seats of those Gods of yore. 92.