Sol Niger

a glass darkly.jpg

We see as though through a glass darkly, Paul of Tarsus proclaimed to the new little Christs at Corinthia.

How true this is. It is in that darkness, in the undefined and the swirling formlessness that The Secret lay nested, long ago banished to the Abyss by each and everyone of us.

If we take our eye away from the unfocused images within the darkness that we strain to hold and constrain, and rather we strain towards that inexplicable darkness itself, we find that it not only stares back, but that it takes on the monstrous shape of the Beast before our very eye, and it speaks forth: “They are all liars.” It speaks of Maya, the World of Illusion. Our individual false perceptions of the world and ourselves. Our self-delusion. 

And if we give ear to that voice in the Void, we find that what could not before be accounted for, on the sudden takes account of us. The only answer we can utter forth is, “And so too am I a liar”. 

What we first see within the darkness terrifies us. It is that which cannot be, but that is. There it stands before us, demanding our gaze meet its blasphemous form.  

Jung believed we all are of split natures - the conscious and unconscious. 

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
— Romans 7:15-20

Paul of Tarsus wrote to the Romans as a regenerate man, no longer known as the high Pharisee Saul of Tarsus. He was then born again in Christ. He openly admits in the epistle to the Romans his persistent conundrum. He remains a sinner, despite his knowledge of good, despite his acceptance of Christ as his savior. And so he explains himself by way of a dualism. Flesh bad. Spirit good.

Flesh, along with the Earth itself is consigned to flames in the Christian meta-narrative. Life and the world must be endured, as sinful and as horrid and as fallen as it is, in the process of sanctification, only completed upon death.

As Christopher Hitchens pointed out in his lifetime, the Abrahamic faiths are death cults, all having nightly wet dreams about the world aflame, which will finally allow their savior to come forth and set things aright.  

For the Alchemist, the one primarily in need of redemption is not man, but the deity who is lost and sleeping in matter.
— Carl Jung

We are fractured. Our problems, and so too the problems of humanity, stem from this individual separation from ourselves, this forgetfulness of who we are. In the inexplicable darkness, the Unconscious whispers truths to us, brings us visions of that which cannot fit into the restrictive forms of the material world, built upon Logos - upon a logical premise. Paul of Tarsus gave his apologetic, his logical premise, his defense of his meta-narrative to the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers at Mars Hill. How ironic, that I come to live at Mars Hill, North Carolina, after a Mars initiation.

The original Mars Hill was named for a bare marble hill in Athens, Greece, called the Hill of Ares or the Areopagus. This was the place where Ares stood trial before the other gods for the murder of Poseidon’s son Alirrothios. Mars Hill was in Paul's time the meeting place for the Areopagus Court, the highest court in Greece for civil, criminal, and religious matters. A greater irony is that upon my own Mars initiation I received a court summons and ended up seated on the 5th floor of Asheville's beautifully grand and historic courthouse. The courtrooms have no equal in North Carolina, as the judge that fine day proudly told us. In Paul's day Mars Hill was a place where philosophy, religion, and law were discussed. 



Here Paul was horrified to find a city overrun with idolatry, but what struck him, what inspired him, was the Altar to the Unknown God. 

In the epistle to his disciple Titus, Paul states the following:

For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth.
— Titus 1:10-14

The Cretan Paul quotes is named Epimenides. Epimenides erected the altar to The Unknown God. Epimenides was a 6th Century BC philosopher and religious prophet and a contemporary of Aristotle and Plato, who refer to him in their works.

The altar to The Uknown God came about because Athens was in the midst of a terrible plague. The leaders of Athens believed the city was suffering a curse because they were guilty of treachery against the followers of Cylon, who were murdered after they had been promised amnesty. It so happens I have a current picture of these poor murdered souls:


The above archaeological find was unearthed at the port city of Phalaeron, 4 miles from Athens. It is believed that they are Cylon's followers. Note the shackles and the howling grievance upon their expressions.

The Athenians had tried sacrificial offerings to purge their sinfulness in this deed, but to no avail. The plague remained. The leaders of Athens then consulted Pythia, the Priestess to Apollo at the Oracle of Delphi, just north west of Athens. The oracle told them that there was a god who remained unappeased for their treachery. Who was this unknown god? The priestess did not know but advised that they should send a ship to the island of Crete and fetch a man called Epimenides who would know how to appease the offended god.

How do you call upon a god whose name is unknown?  Epimenides set to graze a flock of black and white sheep on the grassy slope of Mars Hill. He then addressed The Unknown God, asking that the god choose the sheep that pleased him for sacrifice by causing them to lie upon the grass instead of grazing. Although it was in the morning, and the sheep were at their hungriest, some of them did stop grazing and came to lay upon the grass. These were taken to sacrifice to The Unknown God and altars were erected on each animal's resting place, each with the inscribed words, "Agnosto Theo". Within the week, the Athenians stricken by the plague recovered.

"They are all liars" is a paradox called Epimenides paradox. It has stymied logicians for centuries, and is yet unsolved. However, there is a new branch of non-traditional logic emerging in the west called dialetheism that mirrors the logic of Jainism's anekantavada—non-one-sidedness—which states that all statements are true in some sense and false in another and Buddhism's logic system, named Catuṣkoṭi, which similarly implies that a statement and its negation may possibly co-exist. 

We who are Hermeticists and Alchemists have always easily grasped such notions. It is our goal to bring into equilibrium all oppositions. Baphomet symbolizes our objective. It is where the unconscious Beast in man meets with the Nephesh and the Angel, or Spirit of Critical and Reflective Intelligence as Socrates' daimon may be referred to as.

I call all Hermeticists and Alchemists to call upon for themselves the Agnosto Theo, the Uknown God, to call upon Amun, the Invisible One. Many names in many places. One archetypal truth revealed in symbolism, in paradox which topples the idealized idol of the Logos. The drawing up of the Beast is catalyst for the drawing down of the Angel. Dualism is a lie. Flesh is spirit made manifest. You simply must awaken to this knowledge you already bear.

I highly recommend a read of Graham Priest's book on dialetheism found here.