Terrestrial government typically exists when people with so much to lose that they are willing to give up nothing tap sufficiently into such sub natural cunning that they can win the support of people with so little to lose that they are willing to give up everything. Mysticism and magick come into use when people in the middle discover how to survive this phenomenon by supernaturally tapping into truth and creativity. Egyptian thinkers believed that this was why Ra invented hekau, or “formulas of transformation”, so that honest men would have recourse to a power that could set things right when oppression became too burdensome or unfair. Of course, there are people who use mystical and magickal ideas for their own social, economic, and political advancement without regard to the core values that most spiritual people share. Where what one is doing is more advanced witchcraft, we have a Gandalf. When what a sorcerer does is actually more of bitchcraft, we have a Saruman.
To Crowley, Fortune, Butler, Regardie, and other noted illuminati of modern Hermeticism, this sometimes forms an essential distinction between White Lodge and Black Lodge. There are always entities that tire of serving the long term good. They often chose to use what they have learned of shamanism to enhance their convenience at the expense of fellow creatures. I will not argue here in condemnation of free choice. My quest is to find priest(esse)s who are creative, expressive, conscientious, and benevolent; who produce something that challenges good people in a pure way. Temple craft can balance evolution with involution in an aspirant’s personality before insecurity makes it prey to the wiles of entrenched and aspiring tyrants. Some things may of course remain beyond the reach of our control. But, it’s good to be around people who understand the fun of trying, and that pleasure is one easily short-circuited by gratuitous recrimination of things “evil”. Even a benign leader often becomes so drunk with power that his career is a life long birthday party. One good purpose served by occultism is excusing us from answering to those whose morality prevents them from seeing deeper problems and real solutions.
The scribes of the House of Life must understand well that the machinery that makes Horus an informing genius of benign and capable administrators is not something that runs by itself. The Cannibal Hymn (Pyramid Texts 273-274) illustrates what fearsome lengths the Pharaoh is prepared to go in order to ensure his own survival, one intertwined with the state. Yet, if the officers of the kingdom well understand this, they will not fall beneath his wrath, as they have not made hindrances of themselves or obstructed the “man with the mission”. Likewise, mage priests have access to secrets of divine regnum, so that their own activities can harmonize with it and they can pursue their True Wills, as Crowley might say, or the craft of self realization.
As I wrote this, one of the loa hanging around near the altar said, “Don’t hold your breath!” Yet, if one reads Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, then (s)he discovers that (when performed correctly) this is one means of sharpening ones senses in resistance to the domination of those who live for the more coarse and materialistic things of the world, whose existence is characterized by being difficult to please and easy to displease. In ancient Egypt, the people of Ra established a theocracy in order to elevate the values of the sincere and alert above the brutal and intolerant, and find a means of renewing what was most valuable in life. They welcomed the god’s establishment of Heka as the nucleus of their civilization. Those who excelled at the sacred arts for the deity cults worked in House of Life, the laboratory of the healer and the theologian: of doctorin’ and doctrine.
Thus, when Egyptian shamans convoke in a lodge to design a better world, they possess the “proper sense of awe” that Lao-tze reminds us about. After all, if a sacred task is worth accomplishing, it deserves all necessary care: “Nu protects the gods with his shadows.” The best approach to the holy work, then, begins with esoteric methodologies. If what you are saying goes over the heads of those who reinforce the mediocre, hypocritical, and exploitive, then their negative interest flows elsewhere. If your keys of influence go deep into the psychological roots of life, then encryption becomes necessary. The more dangerous and destructive the alliance is between those at the top and those at the bottom of the status quo, the more astute good witches and wizards have to be. This is why the pyramid of spiritual influence raining down to purify the societal structures of Egypt had to be maintained by learned men who never ceased to increase their knowledge of inconspicuous things.
Diodorus Siculus explained that the daily regimen of the Pharaoh was full of auspicious activities designed to instill virtue and bestow a deep appreciation of the advantages of ma’at and the Egyptian theocracy that cyclically perpetuated the divinely inspired order of the state. This protection was not in force at all times, however. Pharaoh Amasis explained that there wasn’t room in his duty-defined day for selfish acts, but disruptive foreign regencies in other periods were not so pure. The joy and reverence one felt at the temples was not so great on a national scale during periods of upheaval. Yet, the scribes of the House of Life still trained in the abilities that subjectively empowered people to ride out the waves of adversity with spiritual care. They made themselves useful ostensibly by studying the medical arts. Beyond that, however, their practice of mythopoeic psychiatry afforded them more subtle means of guiding the Beloved Land in the ways of cosmic order. The great priest of Sais, Udjahorresunet, was instructed by the Persian monarch to revive the House of Life at Hermopolis, though sacred activities had been suspended under the new regime, because its healing benefits were obvious and sorely missed by the people. Even if we are not today blessed by the aegis of an earthly reign of Pharaoh, we can still carry on with the House of Life.
When Mao Tse-tung barged into Tibet and overran the peace loving subjects of the Dalai Lama and his rich, nurturing culture of ritualism, few people understood how to cope with this tide of destruction in any way other than to be trampled under its boots and wheels. In America, as we can see the pedestrianization of authority and erosion of old virtues and democracy happening every day, we have the benefit of history to warn us of where such trends lead. If we spend our time seeking solutions rather than the attention of nobody genuinely concerned, investigating the strategies found useful by the wise men of old, then it is not wasted. As we then encounter executives and civil servants drunk with power and unappreciative of ingenuity they can’t take credit for, we can understand how even the gods themselves must understand how to steer clear of them. If we achieve control over our own destiny with advancement in arcane skills, then we can perhaps preserve it in the face of pseudo-progress, having intelligently reinvested in the system of inner education.