FREEDOM IS A TWO-EDGED SWORD
by Fra. Belarion, O.T.O. (Jack Parsons)1
© The Seventh Ray 1976 – C.R. Runyon – Editor
Editor’s note: Jack Parsons died in a laboratory accident in 1952.
Since I first wrote this essay in 1946, some of the more ominous predictions have been fulfilled. Public employees have been subjected to the indignity of “loyalty” oaths and the ignominy of loyalty purges. Members of the United States Senate, moving under the cloak of immunity and the excuse of emergency, have made a joke of justice and a mockery of privacy. Constitutional immunity and legal procedure have been consistently violated and that which once would have been an outrage in America is today refused even a review by the Supreme Court.
The golden voice of social security, of socialized “this” and socialized “that”, with its attendant confiscatory taxation and intrusion on individual liberty, is everywhere raised and everywhere heeded. England has crept under the aegis of a regime synonymous with total regimentation. Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia have fallen victims to communism while the United States makes deals with the corrupt dictatorships of Argentina and Spain.
As I write, the United States Senate is pursuing a burlesque investigation into the sphere of private sexual morals, which will accomplish nothing except to bring pain and sorrow to many innocent persons.
The inertia and acquiescence which allows the suspension of our liberties would once have been unthinkable. The present ignorance and indifference is appalling. The little that is worthwhile in our civilization and culture is made possible by the few who are capable of creative thinking and independent action, grudgingly assisted by the rest. When the majority of men surrender their freedom, barbarism is near but when the creative minority surrender it, the Dark Age has arrived. Even the word liberalism has now become a front for a new social form of Christian morality. Science, that was going to save the world back in H.G. Wells’ time, is regimented, strait-jacketed and scared; its universal language is diminished to one word, security.
In this 1950 view some of my more hopeful utterances may appear almost naive. However, I was never so naive as to believe that freedom in any full sense of the word is possible for more than a few. But I have believed and do still hold that these few, by self-sacrifice, wisdom, courage and continuous effort, can achieve and maintain a free world. The labor is heroic but it can be done by example and by education. Such was the faith that built America, a faith that America has surrendered. I call upon America to renew this faith before she perishes.
We are one nation but we are also one world. The soul of the slums looks out of the eyes of Wall Street and the fate of a Chinese coolie determines the destiny of America. We cannot suppress our brother’s liberty without suppressing our own and we cannot murder our brothers without murdering ourselves. We stand together as men for human freedom and human dignity or we will fall together, as animals, back into the jungle.
In this very late hour it is with solutions that we must be primarily concerned. We seem to be living in a nation that simply does not know what we are told we have and that we tell each other we have. Indeed, it is far more than that. It is to the definition of freedom, to its understanding, in order that it may be attained and defended, that this essay is devoted. I need not add that freedom is dangerous — but it is hardly possible that we are all cowards.
For numberless centuries society accepted the proposition that certain men were created to be slaves. Their natural function was to serve priests, kings and nobles, men of substance and property who were appointed slave-masters by almighty God. This system was reinforced by the established doctrine that all men and women were owned ‘in mind’ by the church and ‘in body’ by the state. This convenient situation was supported by the authority of social morality, religion and even philosophy.
Against this doctrine, some two hundred years ago, rose the most astonishing heresy the world has yet seen; the principle of liberalism. In essence this principle stated that all men are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights which belong to every man as his birthright. This idea appealed to certain intractable spirits — heretics, atheists and revolutionaries — and has since made some headway in spite of the opposition of the majority of organized society. As a slogan, however, it has become so popular that it is rendered unwilling lip-service by all the major states and yet it is still so distasteful to persons in authority that it is nowhere embodied as a fundamental law and is continually violated in letter and in spirit by every trick of bigotry and reaction. Further, absolutist and totalitarian groups of the most vicious nature use liberalism as a cloak under which they move to re-establish tyrannies and to extinguish the liberty of all who oppose them.
Thus religious groups seek to abrogate freedom of art, speech and the press; reactionaries move to suppress labor, communists to establish dictatorships — and all in the name of ‘freedom’. Because of the peculiar definitions of freedom used by some of these camouflaged tyrants, it seems necessary to redefine Freedom in the terms understood by Voltaire, Paine, Washington, Jefferson and Emerson.
Freedom is a two-edged sword of which one edge is liberty and the other, responsibility. Both edges are exceedingly sharp and the weapon is not suited to casual, cowardly or treacherous hands
Since all tyrannies are based on dogma and since all dogmas are based on lies, it behooves us to look beyond them for truth and freedom will both be far away. And yet the Truth is that we know nothing…
…Objectively, we know nothing at all. Any system of intellectual thought, whether it be science, logic, religion or philosophy, is based on certain fundamental ideas or axioms which are assumed but which cannot be proven. This is the grave of all positivism. We assume but we do not know that there is a real and objective world outside our own mind. Ultimately we do not know what we are or what the world is. Further, if there is a real world apart from ourselves we cannot know what it really is; all we know is what we perceive it to be. All that we perceive is conveyed by our senses and interpreted by our brain. However fine, exact or delicate our scientific instruments may be, their data is still filtered through our senses and interpreted by our brain. However useful, spectacular or necessary our ideas and experiments may be, they still have little to do with absolute truth. Such a thing can only exist for the individual according to his whim or his inner perception of his own truth-in-being.
The witches and devils of the middle ages were real by our own standards; reputable and responsible persons believed in them. They were seen, their effects observed and they accounted for a large body of otherwise inexplicable phenomenon. Their existence was accepted without question by the majority of men, great and humble. From this majority there was not and still is not any appeal. Yet we do not believe in these things today. We believe in other things similarly explaining the same phenomenon. Tomorrow we will believe in still other things We believe but we do not know.
All of our deductions, for example the theory of gravitation, are based on observed statistics, on tendencies observed to occur in a certain way. Even if our observations are correct, we still do not know why these things happen. Our theories are only assumptions, however reasonable they may seem.
There is a type of truth that is based on experience: we know that we feel hot or hungry or in love. These feelings cannot be conveyed to anyone who has not experienced them. We can describe them in terms of similar feelings experienced by someone else, analyzing their cause-and-effect according to mutually acceptable theories but that someone else will never really know what your feeling is like.
The above may be negative considerations but within their limits we can deduce positive principles:
1. Whatever the universe is, we are either all or part of it by virtue of our consciousness but we do not know which.
2. No philosophy, scientific theory, religion or system of thought can be absolute and infallible. They are relative only. One man’s opinion is just as good as another’s.
3. There is no absolute justification for emphasizing one individual theory or way of life over another.
4. Every man has the right to his own opinion and his own way of life. There is no system of human thought which can successfully refute this thesis.
So much for positivism but other problems still remain. There is necessity, expediency and convenience. If these are illusions they are very popular and it is usual to consider them. We might say that politics is concerned with necessity and expediency whereas science is concerned with convenience. This is not intended to discredit science and reason in their proper spheres. Reason is one of our greatest gifts, the power that differentiates us from the animals, and science is our greatest tool, our best hope for building a genuine civilization. (It is curious that this modern truism appears, in this system of reasoning, as a concession.)
In spite of its inestimable value, science is a tool and has nothing to do with ultimate truth. Herein is the danger of science. As a tool it is so valuable, so useful and so irresistible that we incline to regard it as the arbiter of the absolute, giving final and irrefutable pronouncement on all things. This is exactly the position that the pedant, the dogmatist and the dialectical materialist would have us take. Then, posing as a “scientist” or propounding “Scientific” doctrines, he can persuade us to accept his values and obey his orders. Today’s science must forever be free to overthrow its yesterdays, otherwise it will degenerate into ancestor worship.
It is necessary that we defend freedom unless we all wish to be slaves. It is expedient that we achieve brotherhood unless we desire destruction and it is convenient that we grant others the right to their own opinions and life-styles in order to maintain our own.
The intelligent individual will not base his conduct on an arbitrary or absolute concept of right and wrong. It may be argued that all motives and all actions are selfish since they are intended to satisfy some requirement of the ego. Perhaps this is true of self-sacrifice, abnegation and the highest altruism. We engage in them in order to satisfy ourselves by attaining some object however intangible it may be.
The ego can be very broad. A man may include the whole world as a part of his ego and thus set out to redeem or save it for no other reason than the pleasure of personal accomplishment. Such a man, far from being unselfish, is extremely egotistical. The artist devoted to the production of pure beauty is so dedicated because of his need and his nature; at least such egotism is not petty. Motives of family-love and patriotism are rooted in bigotry. This does not necessarily detract from such actions and motives. Everything in nature is beautiful and it is no less beautiful because it is understood. However, the unenlightened man will assign arbitrary values to all things in order to protect and justify his own position. His morals are based on things he wishes were true or which someone else wishes were true. His philosophy pays no attention to relative facts or realities and yet in his life he must deal with them. He is consequently involved in a constant round of pretenses and evasions.
The enlightened liberal needs no such justification. He will realize and accept his inherent selfishness and the inherent selfishness of all men. He will understand living as a technique, the technique of getting what he wants on the terms he wants.
Such is the case with freedom. If we abrogate another’s freedom to gain our own ends, our own freedom is thereby jeopardized. That is the cost. If we wish to assure our own freedom, we must assure all mens’ freedom. That is the technique.
If a liberal were to develop two personalities and one of these personalities were to establish a benevolent dictatorship while the other continued his liberal activities it would only be a matter of time before he killed himself. The restriction of others freedom is ultimately self-enslavement and suicide. The dictator is the most abject of all slaves.
These simple considerations are the logical basis of the philosophy of liberalism. From such considerations and from many more the fundamental principles of liberalism arose as a code of rights, basic in nature and clear beyond misconception. This code must be the Law beyond the law, an ultimate expression of the dignity and inviolability of the individual. It must be above compromise by courts and lawyers, beyond the whim of the populace and the treachery of demagogues. It must be the epitome of man’s aspertion toward liberty and self-determination, a canon so sacred that its violation by a state, a group or an individual is treason and sacrilege. The Bill of Rights in the American Constitution was a step in the right direction and its study will indicate further development. In a world so threatened by positivism and paternalism this doctrine is limited in both scope and application. It permits such violations of liberty as the late National Prohibition Act, the Draft Law, the closed shop, the Mann Act, censorship laws, anti-firearms laws and racial discrimination.
It has been said, with justification, that the Constitution means what the Supreme Court says it means. A document so fundamental as a Bill of Rights cannot be jeopardized by arbitrary interpretations. It should need no interpretations. It must apply equally to the national state, the federated states, counties, municipalities, official agencies and the private citizen within their province. It must apply in such a way that the individual or minority needs no recourse to elaborate, lengthy and costly proceedings in order to protect these rights. It is the duty of the state to provide this recourse to all alike.
Freedom cannot be subject to arbitrary interpretation and misinterpretation. It must plainly include freedom from persecution on moral, political, economic, racial, social or religious grounds. No man, no group and no nation has the right to any man’s individual freedom. No matter how pure the motive, how great the emergency, how high the principle, such action is tyranny and is never justified.
The question is, are we able to face the consequences of democracy? It is not sufficient that freedom be assured by purely negative means. Freedom is meaningless where its expression is controlled by powerful groups such as the press, the radio, the motion picture industry, churches, politicians and capitalists. Freedom must be insured.
It can only be insured by the allegiance to the principle that man has certain inalienable rights; among which are the rights:
* To live his private life, insofar as it concerns only himself, as he sees fit.
* To eat and drink, to dress, live and travel as, where and he will.
* To express himself; to speak, write, print, experiment and otherwise create as he desires.
* To work as he chooses, when he chooses and where he chooses at a reasonable and commensurate wage.
* To purchase his food, shelter, deical and social needs and all other services and commodities necessary to his existence and self expression at a reasonable and commensurate price.
* To have a decent environment and upbringing during his childhood until he reaches a responsible majority.
* To love as he desires, where, how and with whom he chooses, in accordance only with the desires of himself and of his partner.
* To the positive opportunity to enjoy these rights as he sees fit, without obstruction on the one hand or compulsion on the other.
* Finally, in order to protect his person, his property and his rights, he should have the right to kill an aggressor if necessary. This is the purpose of the right to keep and bear arms.
These rights must be counterbalanced by certain responsibilities. The liberal accepting them must guarantee these rights to all others at all times, regardless of his personal feelings or interests. He must work to establish and protect them, live in a manner commensurate with them and be prepared to defend them with his life. He must refuse allegiance to any state or organization which denies these rights and he should aid and encourage all who, without qualification or equivocation, endorse them. He must refuse to compromise these principles on any issue or for any reason. Nothing short of such a commitment will assure the survival of liberty, or democracy of society itself. Liberalism is not only a code for individuals and their state, it is the only possible basis for a future international civilization. However, these principles will be only rhetoric unless they are revered and protected by those to whom they apply. They must be interpreted and applied with understanding and sympathy, with humor and tolerance. Pretentiousness, sentimentality or hysterics are not needed in their application or their defense. Insufferable demagogues of “high principle” are sufficiently numerous as it is.
It must also be understood that we cannot force man’s rights upon him. Man has a right to be a slave if he so desires. If he does not assert and defend his rights he deserves slavery. The person who is tyrannized by his family, his peers, by public opinion or slave morality, providing he is free to leave their influence or to challenge it, is worthy of his condition. His protestations are those of the hypocrite.
Freedom, like charity, begins at home. No man is worthy to fight in the cause of freedom unless he has conquered his internal drives. He must learn to control and discipline the disastrous passions that would lead him to folly and ruin. He must conquer inordinate vanity and anger, self deception, fear and inhibition. These are the crude ores of his being.
He must smelt these ores in the fire of life; forge his own sword, temper it and sharpen it against the hard abrasive of experience. Only then is he fit to bear arms in the larger battle. There is no substitute for courage and the victory is to the high hearted. He will have nothing to do with asceticism or the excesses of weakness. Self expression will be his watchword, a self expression tempered keen and strong. First he must know how to rule himself. Only then can he cope with the economic pressures which are employed by institutions and corporations or the political pressures employed by demagogues.
He may then find himself in a difficult predicament. If he calls himself a liberal, he discovers that he is supposedly committed to a policy of accommodation with the Russian Government. If he opposes a pro-Soviet policy he is welcome to the camp of the Catholic Church and the Manufacturer’s Association. If he eschews both camps, he is condemned for lack of principle. If he should support the rights of the workingman or minority and racial groups, he is a Red. If at the same time he believes in Constitutional Government and individual rights, he is also a Fascist.
Many liberals are familiar with this situation but few seem to have deduced the conclusion. The difficulty lies in the confusion of the rights of the individual in relation to the responsibilities of the state. It is a sad comment on our mentality that the social reformer subscribes to total regimentation while the alleged individualist propagandizes for total irresponsibility. The rights of the individual can be clearly defined. His responsibilities vis-a-vis the responsibilities of the state can be clearly defined. The individual’s rights end where the next man’s begin. It is the function of the state to ensure equal rights to all. But, in the absence of a social devotion to the true principles of liberalism, positivists have usurped its name and even its phrases in order to propagandize for their various totalitarianisms. This process has been aided by that faction of pseudo-liberalism which believes that all opinion contrary to its own must be suppressed.
As I write, allegedly liberal groups are agitating for the denial of public forums to those they call fascist. Americanism societies are striving for the suppression of communist or “red” literature and speech. Religious groups, backed by a publicity conscious press, are constantly campaigning for the prohibition of art and literature which, as if by divine prerogative, they term “indecent”, immoral or dangerous.
It would seem that all these organizations are devoted to one common purpose, the suppression of freedom. Their sincerity is no excuse. History is a bloody testament that sincerity can achieve atrocities which cynicism could hardly conceive of. Each of these groups is engaged in a frantic struggle to sell out, betray or destroy the freedom which was their birthright and which alone assured their present existence.
Freedom is a two-edged sword. He who believes that the absolute rightness of his belief is an authority to suppress the rights and opinions of his fellows cannot be a liberal. Liberalism cannot exist where it violates its own principles. It cannot exist where the emergency monger or the utopia salesman can obtain a suspension of rights, whether temporary or permanent. Liberty cannot be suppressed in order to defend liberalism.
If we are to achieve a democracy, the rights of individuals and the responsibilities of states must be openly defined and ardently defended. It is inconceivable that men who fought and died in a war against totalitarianism did not know what they fought for. It seems a fantastic joke that the institutions they believed in and defended have turned, like a nightmare, into home-grown tyrannies. A generation went down in blood and agony to make the world “safe” but the evil that makes the world “unsafe” still goes undefeated, plotting new sacrifices of misery and blood. The guilt lies not entirely with the warmongers, plutocrats and demagogues. If a people permit exploitation and regimentation in any name, they deserve their slavery. A tyrant does not make his tyranny. It is made possible by his people and not otherwise.
Much of our modern thought is characterized by pretenses and evasions, by appeals to ultimate authorities which are non- liberal, superstitious and reactionary. Often we are not aware of these thought processes. We accept ideas, authorities, catch- phrases and conditions without troubling to think or investigate and yet these things may conceal terrible traps. We accept them as right because they have a surface-level agreement with the things in which we believe. We welcome the man who is for liberalism, against communism, without troubling to inquire what else he is for or against. In our blindness we leave ourselves open to exploitation, regimentation and war.
Tumultuous developments in science and society demand a new clarity of thought, a reexamination and a restatement of principles. It is not sufficient that a principle is sacred because it is time-worn. It must be examined, tried and tested in the crucible of our present needs.
In our law, in our social and international relations, we are guilty of a myriad of barbarisms and superstitions. These injustices continue and proliferate because we have become used to them. We have lost our freedom through tolerance and inertia.
The principle we have developed herein is simple: the liberty of the individual is the foundation of civilization. No true civilization is possible without this liberty and no state, national or international, is stable in its absence. The proper relation between individual liberty on the one hand and social responsibility on the other is the balance which will assure a stable society. The only other road to social equilibrium demands the total annihilation of individuality. There is not further evasion of nature’s immemorial ultimatum: change or perish but the choice of change is ours.
Of all the strange and terrible powers among which we move unknowingly, sex is the most potent. Conceived in the orgasm of birth, we burst forth in agony and ecstasy from the Center of Creation. Time and again we return to that fountain, lose ourselves in the fires of being, unite for a moment with the eternal force and return renewed and refreshed as from a miraculous sacrament. Then, at the last, our life closes in the orgasm of death.
Sex, typified as love, is at the heart of every mystery, at the center of every secret. It is this splendid and subtle serpent that wines about the cross and coils in the bloom of the mystic rose.
The sexual perversion of Christianity becomes obvious when it is realized that “The Holy Ghost” (The Sophia) is feminine. The very Tetragrammaton, Yod He Vau He, means: Father-Mother-Son- Daughter and asserts the splendor of the biological order. How could life proceed from a strictly masculine creation? What miracle could possibly be superior to the miracle of copulation, conception and gestation? In the corrupt and demonic Jehova, the priesthood blasphemed nature in order to perpetuate a tyrannical and superstitious patriarchy. Woman was insulted and affronted with the calumny of immaculate conception — then, by this mystery mongering, a premium was placed on moral and spiritual sterility. This sublimation of the sex-urge has been the basis of the power of the church and is the source of much of the psychosis rampant in the modern world.
It has been asserted that the church has been a champion of progress and freedom; nothing could be more fallacious. Organized Christianity has been inevitably allied with tyranny, reaction and persecution. No organized dogma can contribute to progress except by occasional accident. The church’s main contribution has been to unintentionally foment revolt against its bigotry. It could hardly be otherwise with an organization founded on a double fallacy: the sin of sex and the infallibility of man. No religion can hope to benefit humanity while it preaches love and reviles the root of love. Anyone hoping to understand and cope with human relations must understand both the importance and over-emphasis of sex in society.
Sexual concepts and symbolism underlie all the world’s religions. As I mentioned above, sublimated sex has been the source of power for the Christian church. Sex and sex neurosis are fundamental factors in the attitude of modern men. These three facts give sex a place of prime importance in our liberal examination of society.
Our sex attitudes are largely characterized by pretense. The majority of people under fifty today have, at one time or another, engaged in what is termed illicit intercourse — and yet we pretend, publicly, that we have not done so. Some of us go so far as to state that we don’t do it, never would do it and disapprove of the criminal types who do. Policemen arrest and judges convict persons discovered in a pursuit which they themselves indulge in. The enjoyment of a natural urge is defined as a crime. Young persons thus enjoying the urge in the wonder of the beginning are burdened with a sense of guilt and shame. They are classed with common criminals — why?
The shameful answer is that back in the Middle Ages, under conditions of squalor, ignorance, superstition and oppression, the sex taboo became a prime instrument of power in the arsenal of a band of brigands known as the Christian church. This is the reason that young people in love are classified as criminals. Venereal disease thrives and abortionists prosper as an inevitable result. The superstition which fostered this shameful condition is no longer absolutely dominant but the institution that promoted the belief that the human body was obscene, that love was indecent and that woman was forever made foul by original sin remains to mold our thoughts and shape our laws. It is most significant that the spiritual and physical inheritors of that church, both catholic and protestant, vigorously and effectively oppose birth control, venereal disease education, divorce law reform; i.e., anything which would limit the power of their weapon.
If the Christians enforced these taboos only among their believers they would be within their rights. Man has the right to any personal stupidity however monstrous it may seem but this is not their principal concern. They seek to impose this nonsense on everybody, by every method of legislative, moral and economic intimidation at their command. The success of their efforts can be judged by the reflection of such attitudes in the press, the radio, the motion picture industry and our legal statutes. True to fascist form, the censor utilizes his moral victory to impose political and social censorship in all fields. Bigots and demagogues invoke the divine right of religion and of morality in order to gain extraordinary power. Freedom of religion and of he press should not afford a justification for giant propaganda campaigns to suppress freedom! We must not only have freedom of religion, we must have freedom from religion.
The concept that sex in art, literature and life is subject to criminal law is based entirely on this superstitious sexual taboo. The censorial power of the church, the state and established press is founded solely on this one assumption: that the taboo of a particular religion should have universal legal sanction. This sanction, once established, is then subtly extended to imply that all the other dogmas of that religion are now the “unwritten law” of the land. Such a religion, always respectable and conservative, forms alliances with fascist and capitalist cliques, thus gaining a privileged position from which to persecute liberalism in all its forms. Superstition, taboo, reaction and fascism augment one another most effectively. The fact that one type of totalitarianism persecutes another — or appears to do so — is hardly a palliative.
Modern man must recognize the source and nature of his sexual taboos and discredit them in the light of truth. Only thus can he achieve sanity in sex and a healthy outlook on life in general.
In our society early marriages are often prevented by economic considerations, therefore pre-marital sexual relations are natural and often desirable. Contraceptive techniques, available to any intelligent young person from a druggist or doctor, can minimize the problem of venereal disease and unwanted pregnancies. The development of sexual technique, the determination of the qualifications of one’s partner and the gratification of the youthful urge to experiment all assure a far more lasting and stable marriage than one begun in ignorance and prudery. In marriage itself the social contract is biding. Property acquired by the joint efforts of husband and wife belong to both jointly. Where any two persons have pledged their love together, no outsider has the right to interfere. Either party is justified in resisting such interference by force if necessary. But neither party, whether the relation be in or out of wedlock, has any right or jurisdiction over the love, affection or the sexual favors of another for longer than that person desires.
Where children are concerned a separation presents a serious problem. Broken homes are hard on children but a loveless and bitter home is worse. No state can assure a child the affection of his parents but it can guarantee his physical welfare and security, thus insuring him against many of the frustrations of childhood and adolescence which develop into unstable and maladjusted adult behavior. The laws against mutually agreeable sex expression must be repealed, together with the laws prohibiting nudism, birth control and censorship. We must emphatically deny that love is criminal and that the body is indecent. We must affirm the beauty, the dignity, and joyousness and even the humor of sex.
Indeed there are obscene things in the light and in the darkness; things that deserve destruction: — The exploitation of women for poor wages, the shameful degradation of minorities by the little lice who call themselves members of a ‘superior race’ and the deliberate machinations towards war. Nowhere among these genuine obscenities is there a place for the love shared by men and women. There are sins but love is not one of them and yet, of all the things that have been called sins, love has been the most punished and the most persecuted. Of all the beauties we know, the springtime of love is closest to paradise. And as all things pass, so love passes — too soon. This most exquisite and tender of human emotions, this little moment of eternity, should be free and unrestrained. It should not be bought and sold, chained and restricted until lovers, caught in the maelstrom of economics and laws, are hounded like criminals. What end is served and who profits by such cruelty? Only priests and lawyers. Let us adhere to a strict morality where the rights and happiness of our fellow man is concerned. Let us call our true sins by their right names and expiate them accordingly — but let our lovers go free.
If we are to achieve civilization and sanity, we must institute an educational program in love-making, birth control and disease prevention. Above all we must root out the barbaric and vicious concepts of shamefulness and indecency in sex, exposing the motives and methods of their proponents.
Happy are the parents who, as a result of sexual experimenting, are well mated, taking joy in each other’s passion, seeing beauty in their nakedness and not fearing to expose their bodies or the bodies of their children. They would never shame their children for their natural sexual curiosity.
Jesus told the “fallen woman”, “Go and sin no more” but I, who am a man, say to you who have given your body for the need of man’s body, who have given your love freely for his spirit’s sake; “Be blessed in the name of man. And if any god deny you for this, I will deny that god.”
The ancients, being simple and without original sin, saw God in the act of love and therein they saw a great mystery, a sacrament revealing the bounty and the beauty of the force that made men and the stars. Thus they worshipped. Poor ignorant old Pagans! How we have progressed. What was most sacred to them, we see as a dirty joke. From this sordid joke we have played on ourselves only Woman Herself can redeem us. She has been the ignominious butt of the joke, the target of malice and arrogance and the scapegoat for masculine inferiority and guilt. She alone can redeem us from our crucifixion and castration. Only woman, of and by herself, can strike through the foolish frustration of the advertisers’ ideal. She must elevate her strong, free and splendid image to take her place in the sun as an individual, a companion and mate fit for, and demanding no less than, true men.
Let there be an end to inhibition and an end to pretense. Let us discover what we are and be what we are, honestly and unashamedly. The rabbit has speed to recompense his fear, the panther strength to assuage his hunger. There is room for both even though the rabbit would probably prefer a world of rabbits (dull and overpopulated). All traits are useful wrath, fear, lust and even laziness — if they are balanced by strength and intelligence. If we lie about things we call our weaknesses and sins, if we say that his is “evil” and that is “wrong”, denying that such faults could be part of us, they will grow crooked in the dark. But when we have them out in the open; admitting them, facing them and accepting them, then we will be ashamed to leave any vestige of them secret to turn crippled and twisted. Fear can sharpen our wits against adversity. Anger and strength can be welded into a sword against tyrants both within and without. Lust can be trained to be the strong and subtle servant of love and art.
It is not necessary to deny anything. It is only necessary to know ourselves. Then we will naturally seek that which is needful to our being. Our significance does not lie in the extent to which we resemble others or in the extent to which we differ from them. It lies within our ability to be ourselves. This may well be the entire object of life; to discover ourselves, our meaning. This does not come in a sudden burst of illumination; it is a constant process which continues so long as we are truly alive. The process cannot continue unobstructed unless we are free to undergo all experience and willing to participate in all existence. Then the significant questions are not “is it right” or “is it good” but rather “how does it feel” and “what does it mean”. Ultimately these are the only questions that can approach truth but they cannot be asked in the absence of freedom.
There was a time when these questions were whispered in the shadow of the stake. That Christian instrument of conversion is not sanctioned at present but the will and the malice remain and will continue until the power of the superstition-mongering tyrants is finally broken. Meanwhile religious dogmatism continues to support the sexual jealousies of neurotic parents for their children and neurotic marriage partners for their mates. It is not because of economic desperation and greed that crime and war wash over the world in ever-mounting waves. It is only necessary to look back on the Middle Ages when St. Vitus’ Dance, epidemic flagellation and the Witchcraft Persecutions, all spawned out of Christian guilt and shame, swept the Western World. It was the tone set by these fearful events, reinforcing the divine right of reactionary monarchs, that produced the liberal revolutions of the 18th century. But the root, the sexual taboo, was unfortunately not destroyed. It remained to revitalize the power of religion over the new bourgeoisie.
The frenetic hatred of Jews and Negroes (symbols of illicit sexual freedom) and the lust toward the blood-and-fire baths of warfare are the very aberrations of sexual frustration. They are the nightmares of souls in a hell of guilty desire, laboring like madmen over their instruments of destruction in order to destroy the world which has denied them satisfaction. It is only in the unobstructed exercise of sexual function, by a generation trained from youth in contraception and the technique of love, that it will be possible to achieve mature social relations.
In this childish folly of sexual possession each man and each woman hates and fears every other man and woman as the potential despoiler or some joke by the ever-present specters of jealousy and suspicion. It is possible that the application of two old axioms; “that you love one another” and “that you do unto others as you would have others do unto you” might go a long way in helping us solve our sexual problems. The application of these maxims in sexual relations is easy and pleasant. If firmly established the principles might spread to other areas of human intercourse.
The sexual revolution will not produce any instantaneous paradise nor will it be accomplished without tears. The way to racial maturity is long and painful but it is at least possible to attain the maturity and richness that comes with full and satisfactory sexual expression in private life. It may be that other considerations become more important in one’s later years but I would hesitate to say at what age to set the mark. It does not seem possible to grow old gracefully unless one has known something of a graceful youth.
There is no evidence to show that man was created and accoutred to serve as God’s vice-regent upon the earth. There is no reason to believe that he is naturally good and kind, brave and wise — or that he ever was. On the contrary, there is much to show that he was a beast who took a strange turning in the jungle and blundered rather aimlessly into a mental world in which he was certainly not at home.
There is much evidence that man is by nature cruel, cowardly, lustful, avaricious and treacherous. He holds dominion over these terrible internal enemies and defends against the other predators (his fellow men) by virtue of his ferocity, his cunning and his indomitable will. This is his beauty and his significance: that out of the blind primordial forces of sex and the survival urge, he has forged reason and science and spun the splendorous web of art and love. If there is no other reason and no other significance, man himself has on occasion created reason and significance, standing as the maker of his gods in a garden made fruitful by his own creative power.
We think in terms of ourselves relative to the external universe. It cannot be shown, however, that this external universe is other than an extension of our own perception. But if we differentiate the internal from the external, we are still part of and not separate from the entire process of nature. We are made from the nova by way of the sun and built from the air, the rock and the sea, animated by the primordial fire of life. There are filaments in our consciousness that reach back to the first ancestor and extend to all other men and all other life with which we share a common creation and a common destiny.
Here is the totality that the Greeks called “Pan”; all-devourer, all-begetter — life and death, good and evil, pain and pleasure, unity, duality and multiplicity; all things and beyond all things. The Soul of Night and the Stars.
If in our folly and fear we will ascribe moral qualities to the lightning that strikes, to the star that shines, to the tiger that kills, then we will not hesitate to assign them also to the woman who gives and the man who takes. Thus we will define god and found a religion. And thus we degrade the living universe into a bewhiskered and irascible character endowed with immortal omnipotence and a hatred for our enemies, or with those nature lovers who catch cold communing with “The All” in the park at night, we sink into the platitudinous sitz baths of various ‘religious science’ systems on our way to the catalepsy of middle age.
All nature partakes of the eternal sacraments of life and death, of ebb and flow, of creation and destruction and regeneration. These are the harmonies of eternity that change forever and never change. The cry of the baby is echoed in the tumult of the nova. Men suns and seasons pass and return again. The spate of semen is one with the jet of stars men call The Milky Way.
The mind that comprehends these immortal processes in love and in worship is an immortal mind that soars beyond time and death. We are of one age with Aeschylus and Sophocles and Shakespeare, of one blood with Moses, Lao Tse and Newton. The body changes and decays while time cuckolds all shapes of desire and all transient things. But the shapes of desire, although transient, are the very vehicles of man’s adventure. He cannot attain by denying these steeds but by strengthening them — by training and bridling them with love and creative will until their wings are revealed. Sex and hunger are the raw stuff of art. Out of his passion, fury and despair the artist transmutes the shapes of terror and wonder into an eternal beauty.
All ways are the right way when will and love are the guides. The grace and bounty of life are free to all, saint and sinner alike, who desire them. The voice of the wind, the poignancy of music, the shout of thunder all cry out to man, daring him to know himself. Sunlight, sea and stars and the splendour of a naked woman are the signs and witnesses of a covenant that is forever. We know these things; we know them with the only certainty that is ever given us. This is the beautiful-pitiable knowledge of childhood and first youth — that the world denies and necessity circumvents. This is the knowledge of the poets, artists and singes who are beloved and outcast by men and of the mystics whom the world calls mad.
And man, self-castrated and self-frustrated, flees down the corridors of nightmare, pursued by monstrous machines, overwhelmed by satanic powers, haunted by vague guilts and terrors — all created out of his own imagination. He escapes into absurdity, drowns his spirit in pretense, worships brass gods of power and tin gods of success. Then, shamed by his pretenses and frustrated by his self-denial, he projects his horror on imagined enemies, seeks release in scapegoats and false issues, thereby propitiating those bestial gods who have arisen from the shattered edolons of his spirit with sacrifices of blood.
Nothing is of its nature, evil — and nothing is of its nature, good. Evil is only excess; good is simply balance. All things are subject to abuse and likewise susceptible to beneficial use. Balance does not consist in denial or excess in indulgence. Balance can only be obtained by exceeding. The elemental forces in man’s nature are so tremendous that they can only be balanced by an ultimate self-expression. To place limitations and restrictions on this nature is to build a wall of plaster around a sun. If we clip an eagles’ wings or feed carrots to a lion we will not uplift or improve either species.
The fundamental purpose of religion is to attain an identity with a power which we believe to be greater than ourselves, whose omnipotence and immortality we can share. Having achieved some sense of this identity, we then feel that we can cope with problems and attain ends with more confidence. The reliance on religion as well as the reliance on property can indicate a lack of self-reliance.
We ourselves create this ‘God of Power’. It is from our own individual ‘self’ that his power is drawn and this self is greater than any god which it creates. Therefore to know ourselves is the highest form of wisdom and to believe in ourselves is the highest form of faith. Science which seeks to know and art which seeks to interpret are two forms of love which constitute the only availing way of worship. That these two greatest expressions of the human spirit should be subservient to religion, politics, nationalism and war is the ultimate blasphemy.
We are now in the midst of a tremendous battle of forces contending for domination over the mind and spirit of man. It is not, unfortunately, a battle between good and evil, between freedom and tyranny but rather a struggle of dogma against dogma and authority vs. authority. The contenders are fascism and communism. Each is a doctrine alien and hostile to the ideal of freedom. Each says that we must choose between one or the other and each is, in reality, identical. Each demands the absolute enslavement of the individual, the abnegation of the intellect and the subjugation of the will. The authoritarian is right, absolutely right, so right that every extreme of falsehood, suppression and tyranny is justified in the accomplishment of his ‘divine’ ends. Behind his benevolent paternalism lurks the star chamber and the concentration camp; behind his morality looms the stake and the inquisition of the “Old Time Religion” so many profess to long for. All these systems are old; older than human history. Freedom and democracy are the only new things under the sun and they offend alike the slaves and the slave masters.
“Come unto me,” goes the old harlot’s song. “Come unto me you weary and heavily laden. Surrender your intolerable burden of freedom and I will fill your mouths with miracles and your bellies will be full of food. Come with me and I will confound your enemies and show you paradise. Look, you do not even have to change a name, only keep the letter and deny the spirit, for the letter giveth life.”
She is harvesting the nations now, that old whore, for an appointment in the place called Armageddon. There will be a hunting of free men in the name of freedom and there will be prisons and pogroms in the name of democracy, murder and slavery in the name of brotherhood, and all for the sake of dominion over the minds and bodies of men.
There is a choice: the choice of freedom which has no other name and no other cause. Man, freed of his demons, without the need of a dogma or the use of a creed, can, of and by himself, avail, triumph and achieve significance. This is the faith of a liberal; belief in himself and belief in man. There is no other way to the full status of manhood. It is the long way, the hard way; through trial, error, failure and heartbreak — but it is the way guided by science and inspired by art; leading at long last to the stars. This is our choice: we may believe in ourselves, believe in our fellow men and in freedom and in brotherhood. We may start to achieve here and now that paradise which has so long been relegated to the hereafter. Or, with the dogmatists, the positivists, the authoritarians we can return again to the ape-hood from which we have so late arisen.
If we wish identity with a greater power, let us seek union with ourselves — our total self, raised to its highest potential of wisdom, knowledge and experience. If we wish to unite with the universe, let us court the whole of nature, all experience, all truth and the splendour of the awesome cosmos itself. For ‘out there’ lies the great campaign that comes first and last; the ultimate adventure of the individual into himself. He must go down like Moses into his unknown self, out into the new dimension, out with Orpheus and the barque of Arthur, with Tammuz and Adonis, with Mithra and Jesus, into the labyrinths of the Dark Land. There he will meet The Mother and hear Her final question: “What is man?”. Thereafter, close by the heart of the cryptic Mother, he may find the Graal; ultimate consciousness, total remembrance, instinct made certain, reason made real. For it is he, wonderful monster, embryo god who has swum in the fish, shed the skin of the crocodile, peered from the eyes of serpents, swung with the apes and shaken the earth with tramp of the tyrannosaur’s hoof. It is he who has cried out on all crosses, ruled on all thrones, grubbed in all gutters. It is he whose face is reflected and distorted in all heavens and hells — he, the Child of the Stars, the son of the ocean; this creature of dust, this wonder and terror called MAN.
Chapter Four – The Woman Girt With the Sword
It is to you woman, beautiful redeemer of the race, whom I address this chapter. That which stirs in you now is not madness, not sin, not folly — but Life! This new life is the joy and the fire that will beget a new race; create a new heaven and new earth. When you were a child, did not the wind and the sun speak to you? Did you not hear the mountain’s voice; the voice of the river and of the storm? Have you not heard the whisper of the stars and the ineffable voice in silence? Have you not gone naked in the forest with the wind on your body and felt the caress of Pan? Your heart has swollen with Spring, blossomed with Summer and saddened with Winter. These things are the covenant and in them is the truth that is forever.
You have sought companions as high-hearted as yourself and found them not save in the elusive memories of dream and song. For you found a blight over the world; a blight of silence and sorrow. Your companions walked in guilt and shame, in fear, in hate, in sin and in the sorrow of sin. There was only nervous laughter and furtive pleasure; unsatisfying and shameful — But be no longer sad, my beloved. Be joyous and unafraid for within you is the song that shall shatter the silence, the flame that will burn away the dross.
It is you who are the redeemer from sing and sorrow, from guilt and shame. WOMAN; oh splendour incarnate! How long have you served in chains, a slave to the lust and guilt of pigs? How long have you writhed under the degradation of your Holy Name, “Whore”, or suffered silently under the degradation called, “virtue”? How well you have known the stake, the rack, the whip, the chains of imprisonment and even entombment in the service of your master.
And was the bond fear, was it weakness, was it cowardice and inferiority? Oh shame of man, it was none of these; it was love. A man was once crucified in a redemption that failed, yet if ten times ten million men were crucified, this infamy could not be redeemed. Husband, father, priest, jailer, judge, executioner, exploiter, seducer, destroyer — so has your lover mastered and defiled you. Yet pity him for he sought love… But finally there is an end and then the beginning and all the future will be with you. For you are the mother of a new race, the redeemer and lover of the new men; the men who shall be free.
I shall speak to you of men. Men desire three things of a woman: a mother greater than themselves, a wife less than themselves and a lover equal with themselves. Against the mother they are in revolt, the wife they hold in contempt and the lover ever eludes them. Consider the husband; how he throws his clothes about, eschews dirty dishes and housework and asserts himself in a loud voice. Consider the homosexual; how he hates woman and flees himself, fearing that he will slay her. Consider the great lover; how he grasps for love and his hands close on nothingness. These are bewildered, frightened children playing games against the dark. And those who wear brass and swords, who strut and slay, are they not the most frightened of all? Therefore pity them and forgive them.
In the ancient world there were men for a season, before cities arose and they turned to gilded popinjays, gracefully accepting futility. Then came Christianity, an anodyne for slaves, an enteric for barbarians whose deeds gave them indigestion — and ultimately, a whip for slave masters.
Faust was the prototype of the Middle Ages, but not the Faustus of whom Kit Marlowe tells. It was a darker Faust; Gilles de Rais, who betrays the Maid in his lust for power, then, after his fall and the failure of his prayers, he descends to horror in his cellars. This theme lasted an age until man, appalled by his nightmares, turned finally to a dream of liberty.
It is the voice of Voltaire, jaded, cynical, weary of folly, that sounds the opening bar of a tremendous, mocking prelude. Tom Paine, one real man, broken and at last betrayed by all the wooden champions, Cagliostro, plotting the revenge of the Templars with a woman and a necklace, Will Blake, speaking uncomprehended with the tongue of angels, Shelley and his beautiful gesture; Swinburne, who almost recreated Helas before he too was broken — Byron, Pushkin, Gautier; all instruments in a prelude to a symphony that was never played. And Science — how it was to save us! That “Brave New World” of Huxley, Darwin and H.G. Wells with only the voice of Spengler in dissent. Science remaking the world; an international language, a universal brotherhood beyond nationality, prejudice or creed… A beautiful vision fallen like a house of cards. You creators of the “New Age” who dare not speak, think or move without permission from the military, you unfettered titans who will hang for speaking across one border — where is your ‘New World’? Champions, where is freedom? What treasure have we lost? We must turn to women for that answer.
The key lies back ten thousand years ago in the Age of Isis that is mistakenly called “The Matriarchy”. It was not a Matriarchy as we conceive it; a rule of club-women, of frustrated chickens, in fact it was not a rule at all; it was an equality.
The Woman was and is the Priestess. In Her reposes the Mystery. She is the Mother, brooding yet tender, the lover, at once passionate and aloof, the wife, revered and cherished. She is the witch woman. She stands co-equal with her mate who is the chieftain, the hunter, the thinker and the doer. The woman is the Priestess, guardian of the mystery, syble of the unconscious and prophetess of dreams. Togther they balanced each other until the catastrophe of the Patriarchal Age, arch-typified by the monosexual monster, Jehova. Then, under the rule of Priests, woman became an inferior animal while man became isolated in his imagined superiority and found himself at the mercy of his own merciless intelligence. It was total war between the emotions that must and the intellect that will not. Every patriarchal religion is a self-contradictory monstrosity. They are dogmatic creeds that shift like straws in the wind of the intellect. Upon this shifting structure man has failed. He knows the futility of such artificial systems but he fights for them with all the sick fury his frustration can generate. In the process he has lost his mother, his wife has failed him and his lover eludes him. The Mystery has gone out of the Temple, banished by a senile and self-sufficient council of beards.
Woman, Woman — where are you? Come back to us again. Forgive even if you cannot forget and serve once more in our Temples. Take us by the hand. Kiss us on the lips and tell us we are not alone. Witch-Woman, out of the ashes of the stake, rise again! It was in the Dianic Cult that the old way continued. Those splendid and terrible women; Messilina, Toffana, La Voisin and DeBrinvillies raised revenge to a high art. Others sought the forbidden mystery in secret rites and purchased a brief reunion at an awful price. This was the ope in the Maid of Orleans, the dream of hopeless millions that the woman who was to redeem them had come at last. Her failure and her fate teach us that innocence is no protection. Be cunning, oh woman, be wise, be subtle, be merciless. I have asked you to understand and forgive — but forget not overmuch. Trust nothing but yourself.
Now I have spoken of those great poisoners but there is a worse revenge. Know that all revenge is revenge on self and the most terrible is that taken by the frigid woman. Count her in the tens of millions. The curse lies in the failure of her mate to be a man and her failure to be true to herself but the cause is the dark guilt with which parents poison their children. There is also suppressed incestuous love and the fear of unwanted children — yet those who have known of these things should have no shame there-from. Strength is not born, it is gained by understanding and overcoming. Go free; sing the old, wild song: EVOE IO, EVOE IACCHUS IO PAN, PAN! EVOE BABALON!
Go to the mountains and the forest; go naked in the Summer that you may regain the old joy. Love gladly and freely under the stars. But you say your body is not beautiful? Here is a secret: the body is molded by the mind. If you have embraced fear, repression, hate — then you may find your body repulsive. But go free, love joyously and without restraint. Run naked then watch the cheeks flush, the breasts well and the supple contours develop from the flowing rhythms of life. Disease and deformity are bred in fear and hate, therefore be fearless lovers and ever beautiful.
The woman is the Priestess of the Irrational World! Irrational – but how enormously important, and how dangerous because it is unadmitted or denied, we do not want to be drunken, murderous, frustrated, poverty-stricken and miserable without cause. These conditions are not reasonable or ‘scientific’ and yet they do exist. We say we do not want war but war seems a psychological necessity. Wars will continue until that need is otherwise fulfilled. We do not love or hate a person because it is “reasonable”. We are moved willy-nilly, despite our reason and our will, by forces from the unconscious, irrational world. These forces speak to us in dreams, in symbols and in our own incomprehensible actions. These passions can only be redeemed by intuitive understanding in the feminine province. Only after such understanding can will and intelligence be truly effective for otherwise they are blind and powerless against the tides of emotion.
Woman, put away unworthy weapons. Put away malice and poison, frigidity and childishness. Draw the two-edged sword of freedom and call for a man to meet you in fair combat; a man fit to be your husband and a father to your eagle brood. Call upon him, test him by the sword and he will be worthy of you. Together you will be archetypes of the new race.
Somewhere in the world today there is a woman for whom the Sword is forged. Somewhere there is one who has heard the trumpets of the New Age and who will respond. She will respond, this new woman, to the high clamor of those sar-trumpets; she will come as a perilous flame and a devious song, a voice in the judgement halls, a banner before armies. She will come girt with the Sword of Freedom. Before her, kings and priests will tremble, cities and empires will fall, and she will be called BABALON, The Scarlet Woman. She will be lustful and proud, subtle and deadly forthright and invincible as a naked blade. Women will respond to her war cry, throwing off their chains, men will respond to her challenge, forsaking foolish ways. She will shine as the ruddy Evening Star in the lurid sunset of Gotterdamerung. She will shine again as a Morning Star when the night has passed and a new dawn breaks over the garden of Pan.
To you, oh unknown woman, is The Sword of Freedom pledged.
- V.H. Fra. B.R.H., B:.B:. (n.d. ). Liber Babalon Liber VI Publication in Class B An Holy Observer of the Babalon Bunch©. www.brotherblue.org. Retrieved 8 July 2010 from http://web.archive.org/web/19980424205941/www.brotherblue.org/libers/freedom.htm ↩