I enjoy research too much and I’m a shameless critic. Weird & Güd is the conjoining of those misanthropic qualities into something useful: recommendations and fascinations neatly packaged together for you every week, no hermeticism [edit: hermit-ism?].
This week’s Weird & Güd is special — it’s the first-ever official correction. A milestone!
In the last edition I spoke about a secret society called the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. I penned jokes about hermits. In my mind, this was essentially a club for 19th-century goths. In a way it still is, but the hermeticism relevant here is not the kind I partake in but one that is even more deviant.
Hermeticism and hermit-ism are unrelated (though I suspect some natural overlap between practitioners). Hermeticism is a kind of lost philosophy; it’s the space between the cold rationality of science and the blind faith of religion. Hermeticists wanted to understand rather than believe or know. That perspective lent itself to figures who were doing much more than just trying to make gold out of rocks with their DIY alchemy set. Isaac Newton and William Butler Yeats both found the hermetic principles resonated with their desires to understand the parts of the world that could not be explained away.
By Josef Bsharah
The philosophy is less woo-woo than you might think and was pushed to the fringes not by its own mysticism but by the Enlightenment and Christianity’s desire to control the narrative surrounding the metaphysical. Yet, hermeticism is the quiet foundation of our culture — you can see it in quick glimmers, from the use of the Rod of Asclepius and caduceus in medical icons to the well-known phrase “As above, so below.” If you ever went through a Jefferson Airplane phase, you’ll be more familiar with hermeticism than you think.
As this poor underfunded editor at the academic journal Cauda Pavonis: Studies in Hermeticism conveys, “It's hard; this stuff is hard. You have to read. My brain is like an attic. It's like an airplane hangar. That's why people ignore hermetic studies. You can't read only the books from the last five years." This stuff is hard. Sometimes it’s so hard you can’t even tell the difference between hermit-ism and hermeticism, but hey, I’m a fool so you don’t have to be and that’s what Weird & Güd is all about.
Real footage of me trying to condense the unruly philosophy of hermeticism into a 3 paragraph newsletter.
“When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence. So a man who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial system; he is concerned with the total understanding of mankind.” ―Jiddu Krishnamurti
When I read this quote I immediately saw the opposite of what Krishnamurti intended; maybe my brain is broken from being Too Online, but I could hear the tolerant beads of sweat forming on every leftist encountering an Indian man telling them a focus on identity was violent.
Did he miss the new management who told us not centering everything we do and say around identity is violence via erasure? Sure, Martin Luther King also argued for a focus on commonality versus separation but let’s be honest, their pictures are in black and white — that was then.
It’s clear for all to see that as liberalism shifts into a new model that worships the worship of identity and creates new power hierarchies based on who can say what because of who suffers more that we’re all much better off and getting along just great. If that means people like the leader of the civil rights movement and an esteemed philosopher are now problematic, so be it. Right?
Anybody who isn’t white-knuckling their ideology can feel how foreboding the contradiction between our current political mindset and the teachings of brilliant thought-leaders is becoming. Glaringly absent from our politics is the self. The individual who first looks internally before pointing a finger externally. There is always a role for finger-pointing but nothing can be fixed in another that you won’t fix in yourself. How strange is it that we ask our governments to make laws to force us to do what we could do today? If you want a compassionate government, be a compassionate citizen.
Elections bring out our strongest tendencies to see people not as individuals but as representatives of their groups. It’s a human tendency to separate from some and group with others, but it’s an instinct born of ancient survival needs. Whether it’s praise or denigration, when we separate ourselves by the external, we avoid the work of focusing on the internal and drift farther into separate, polarized worlds.
Try to live in one world.
I hope this makes your week a little weirder and a little güder. Now go forth, be weird, and above all, be güd.
I sit alone at a desk biting my nails to bring you every edition of Spiritual Soap. Is it worth it? Don’t tell me, show me.