How An Occult Metaphor Can Help Us Understand this Decaying Landscape
DURING THIS STRANGE and difficult time, I have, as a spirit worker, attempted to draw connections between the past, present, and future, connections which could shed light on how things got this way. In the process I came across the following reflections. I would like to share with you my thoughts on how occult forces can emerge in the human psyche , and how that can have political implications.
There is something eerily familiar about Donald Trump. When I watch him I feel a lot of things…fear, rage, sadness, anger….and something like déja vu.
How could he seem familiar?
I have never met him, and though I have known countless assholes in my life, there is something unique about Trump when it comes to vileness. But what is this elusive quality? There are countless blogs and rants about this vileness, and all are justified, but I feel we need to look deeper, and ask hard questions about where this vileness comes from.
The problem is that everyone already seems to know how vile Donald Trump is, even his supporters, and yet none of that stops him. He has made every error, every mistake. He has had every embarrassment, every misstep. He has every flaw a politician could have. Huge parts of the Republican Party hate him. With all this, how does this man keep going forward like an armored car?
That brings me back to why he is so familiar.
I am a 30 year old transgender Occultist who was initiated by spirits 9 years ago. My path involves Scandinavian magick, Spirit Work, Ordeal, and my devotion to the Thelemic goddess Babalon. As a result of how these currents have shaped me, apocalypse–and the behaviors its various babbling illusionists–has become a lifelong study. And throughout that journey I have encountered another being like Trump.
A creature that is fragile yet indestructible: harmless yet containing the worst venom that exists, narcissistic and yet containing no singular self. A creature that says the most offensive things, and yet makes himself seem authentic. Who makes every mistake and yet seems perfect, who disregards all wisdom and knowledge and yet seems to have some strange elusive genius. A brutal method to the madness, a terrifying mesmerizing dance of order and chaos….but with the positive parts of order and chaos neutralized, leaving only a colorless entropy that atrophies and decays everything it touches. A being that you could argue with for hours using flawless debate skills only to find you have accomplished nothing because the whole debate was a distraction.
The dweller in the abyss, Choronzon.
BUT PLEASE LET me be clear, this is not a conspiracy theory rant. This is not about the illuminati or how Trump deliberately invokes this being in secret. I do not think he is part of some vast plot involving the antichrist, or that he is a distant relative of (name of random Occultist), blah blah. Such thinking is problematic and is often based on seeing connections where none actually exist. (Douglas Rushkoff called this “fractalnoia” )
I instead prefer adopting Terrance Mckenna’s attitude: no one is in control. But if we stop there, we may be missing the point.
The biggest missing piece in this dizzying hailstorm of false flags, fake news, and misleading theories is an actual understanding of chaos itself. Chaos is not an unfortunate accident caused by bad apples of Eris thrown into congress, it is a force of nature, like any element. It is the margin of error lying slyly in the periphery of every well-made plan. Chaos is the mad tumbling out of every factor we can’t calculate. Nevertheless, there are steps a magician, or an activist, could take to revere, respect, and dance with this force. Unfortunately, many activists and magicians do not revere, respect, or dance with this force, and instead take it for granted, underestimate its power, and pretend to have mastered it.
It is exactly this kind of hubris that makes one vulnerable to infection by creatures like Choronzon.
I hope you will forgive me a personal gnosis or two, and trust that I speak from real experience, when I say the following: Choronzon is not a being that needs to be summoned in order to manifest. If we look for him only in ritual actions and ancient tomes, we will completely miss the dark carnival of his other manifestations.
He can be seen in mania, crystal meth comedowns, schizophrenic states, hallucinogenic panics, and, yes, he can very much be seen in the empty-headed blathering which fills CNN day in and day out. You can see him in monkey dust and emergency rooms, in television commercials and hear him in stupid radio jingles. To borrow some phrasing from a chaos magician I have always deeply admired…Choronzon is the ego eating out its own brains, interrogating itself endlessly in an internal monologue with no end.
Choronzon is a self-obsessed entropy which seeks to form a perfect circuit, and a perfect prison. Choronzon is a demon, yes, but dealing with him forces one to throw out the entire playbook of classic demonology, because he’s not about seals, or summoning, or glyphs, or rituals, or reductionist psychology. You may, after an entire day of preparatory rituals, finally decide to confront him, only to realize he has been watching you the entire time. It is my deep conviction that our very culture is infected with this force, and that that is what makes it monoculture.
So the question of the hour is, what makes my personal gnosis so special? What proves that I am not just another ‘guru’ cluttering up the already troubled landscape of occultism with unproved theories? Well, true to my form as a spirit worker, I can only answer this challenge with a story.
I had a psychotic break in my early 20s, due to a number of issues. Some of these were ritual cult abuse, hormone problems, initiators with hidden agendas, a recently discovered patrilineal demon, extreme stress, and high priestess disease.
In other words, I was unstable to begin with, thought I would explore occultism, and fell down a rabbit hole. But rather than my breakdown being the logical sum of a series of quantitative ‘bad things’, it was more like a discordant orchestra under a hailstorm. The worst thing was not the discordant noise, but the fact that something was conducting it, and how relentless and persistent the conductor was. One way of framing this is that it was the beginning of my walk onto the madness road of northern tradition shamanism. That is very true, though putting it that way, ironically, makes it sound like a heroic epic quest that made some sort of linear sense…. A sort of Oddessey.
Yes and no.
Where the conductor took me, a story would have been a luxury. Emotions, actions, meaning, boundaries, form, dreams, icons, symbols, all these things became distant luxuries in the conductor’s meaningless discordant world. During much of the 8 year ordeal that followed, politics was little more than an ambient noise. My endless desire for healing, for answers, consumed me utterly. It was only through my experiences with Madre Ayahuasca in 2011, and through the enormous generosity and wisdom of her healers, that I exist at all.
Throughout the integration of this story, I have had no choice but to build an intricate map of the Dweller in the Abyss, written in the scar tissue of my stitched-together psychic body. Written in diaries of runes, collages of mental hospital paperwork, and countless cathartic therapy sessions. Through this, I have concluded that, though Choronzon is real in every possible sense, he is also an essential component of the human psyche, and an unavoidable challenger to anyone who seeks enlightenment. I will not insult this beautiful monster with reductionist western psychology and its “archetypes,” nor will I treat him as something which sits neatly contained in some Occult ritual instructions. He is in us all, and he is out there too.
CHORONZON is a temporary personification of the raving forces that occupy the abyss. They are impossible to define because their behaviors almost completely depend on the content of the magicians mind. And we cannot remove Da’ath from ourselves anymore than we can live without throats. If a zen master encounters Choronzon, he will see Maya, the lord of illusion, but is likely to remain calm. If a meth addict sees Choronzon, he will see the most horrifying devil imagineable.
In this regard it’s important to not see Choronzon as essentially evil, because such a label would imply attachment to a static identity and thus a kind of predictable order. That being said, the vast number of experiences with him, in spite of their variation, have one common thread: he challenges. He tests. He demands payment for entrance to his realm and he demands tolls for the crossing of his bridges. And by challenging, he initiates and offers a path to enlightenment. But keep in mind, this path is the most brutal, painful and difficult way to become enlightened.
Mocking this being would not harm it, as it had no ego to defend. But as long as I had an ego it could mock me. It was not egoless, because all its poisons pushed me away from enlightenment. I could easily prove it wrong, in fact proving it wrong was the easiest thing to do, and yet every time I proved it wrong it changed the subject, snuck around and mixed up the whole paradigm. This always gave me a sense that no matter how good my argument was, I would realize halfway through that it didn’t matter. Then I realized that following its train of thought was missing the point: it wasn’t about whether it was right or wrong, it was about how I chose to interact with its babbling. Eventually I realized that all its babbling was a distraction and a device to exploit my attachments, anxieties, and fears.
Above all, this being’s strongest tendency was towards extreme, polarizing chaos. But all that chaos concealed a group of core tendencies which remained constant and strangely orderly. Those core tendencies served the purpose of driving my psyche to extremes: I would either be utterly destroyed or I would gain a power greater than I ever imagined. In Choronzon’s realm they could make anything possible, except enlightenment, healing, or freedom, because Choronzon is incapable of imagining anything outside of themselves. This is why detachment, unconditional love, and surrender always defeat them. They are not just chaos, they are entropy and negative disorder, as opposed to positive disorder which I define as healthy rebellion and creative inspiration. None of the chaos of Choronzon nourishes the creative impulse, it destroys it ( unless you win the jackpot of passing through the abyss.)
When I went from mental health peer support to Thelemic study, I found writings on Choronzon and felt chilled to the bone. Words like decay, entropy, babbling, madness, jumped out at me. I devoured every bit of info I could find and everything resonated. Its modus operandi in literature was an exact match to what I thought had been my personal schizoid tormentor.
The crucial point was that the only way to beat this thing was to focus on what was real, true, sacred, and good in yourself while knowing that whatever Ch said was just a distraction . Ch would say vile things, hoping the mage would take them personally, or engage in passionate argument, or otherwise stray from the path. eventually Ch would, like a virus, run its course, run out of energy, and disappear.
It has been said that when there is no way out, there is often a way through. Surrender was my way through. I took the approach that when choronzon started saying vile things, I would focus on what was sacred and good about myself while holding space for the vileness to just Be. I loved Choronzon unconditionally as my sacred inner monster. This healed me.
HOW THIS RELATES to Trump is tricky. I dont want to take the most painful divisive issue of the decade and apply some generic new age wisdom to it. Admittedly, there are huge ways these beings are different. The only way to overcome Choronzon is to hold space for his vileness to run its course while holding on to everything true and sacred within oneself. This is a kind of surrender. In the case of Trump, such a strategy would seem irrelevant and pointlessly sentimental. However, I dont think this is because of a lack of connection between the two. I think it’s because the Occult world and Matter based world have very different rules.
If Choronzon somehow incarnated in a physical body, the practice of surrender would have to be re-evaluated and physical self defense would be a vital concern. That being said…there are many martial arts which take spiritual disciplines such as surrender and give them kinetic form. Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, for example, often counsels yielding to the opponent’s momentum in order to throw them off balance, almost as if they are harming themselves. The form taught to me focused on conflict resolution, de-escalation, and using an opponent’s aggression against them. Japanese jiu-jitsu uses leverage, physics, and a strong understanding of human anatomy to neutralize an opponent’s rage. All of this is done without sacrificing any component of effective self defense.
It is a complex issue. We should be angry, should engage in argument, should fight Trump with everything we have. On the other hand, Trump rallies are like an abyss…and like Choronzon, he stands as a temporary personification of its raving forces. It is thus important to keep in mind that defeating Trump would not slay the monster, as it is much larger than him. In order to kill the hydra we must go for its heart. We must understand on a deep level who and what he is and where his power is coming from. When he speaks he is legion, and that legion is an ocean of ignorance, desperation, reaction, and fear. It has all of the markers of a cult…but its not a conspiracy. its far more simple, and far more awful.
Choronzon gives shape and form to the ugliest, most poisonous side of the human psyche. Choronzon babbles endlessly but never says anything, values nothing but is always wealthy, commits atrocities and perversions but makes himself appear traditional and honest. The ultimate shapeshifter, a paradox. Those infected by him rapidly lose sight of what is real, truth begins to seem relative and all that is left is helplessness, desperation, and empty reaction.
This is not an argument for pacifism. Trump is racist scum and if he died tomorrow the world would be a better place. That being said…the body of humanity is poisoned and Trump is just the most obvious symbol of that sickness…just as Choronzon is just a name in a book describing an ocean of monsters whispering in the dark.
I theorize that Trump and Choronzon are similar and different because they both are central characters in two different abysses. Terrance Mckenna believed that there were four abysses within a fifth. The four are:
- the biological abyss, represented by death
- The historical abyss, represented by the apocalypse and ‘end of history’
- the psychological abyss, represented by visionary experience
- the physical abyss of outer space.
- The above four are within a fifth abyss, which Mckenna described as “unspeakable.”
In other words, Trump is a kind of Choronzon of the historical abyss, and whereas surrender is an extraordinarily effective technique in dealing with the psychological abyss, the historical abyss requires a different approach. At this stage though, it is very hard to be sure what that approach would be. Every act of violence against racism is always necessary and always sacred.
But I would also say that that sacred battle could be made stronger by way of a deeper understanding of what this monster is and how it can be destroyed on a deeper level.
Choronzon and Trump, these “conductors of discord” …rule over realms with very different rules, thus a weapon used against one may not work against the other. But there is a link between them and understanding that link may, perhaps, shed some light on how we are to defeat Trump.
Just as a individual soul is in crisis when crossing the psychological abyss while being tortured by Choronzon, this country’s soul is in crisis trying to come to terms with what has been done and what must be done. Trump appears as a Choronzonic figure because in a perverse way he has mastered the divisive, polarizing language of the historical abyss. (Thus it is no accident that he is often seen as a despotic figure). I theorize that this is why those politicians who debate him based on an outdated playbook end up frustrated and confused.
We must recognize that we are not dealing with a politician. We are dealing with a warlord, and we are at war. The historical abyss is also a very hard thing to accept, and scapegoating and denial are much easier routes for the morally irresponsible. Those who are in denial want to stay in denial and like Choronzon block the country’s (in this case, metaphorically, the magician or fool’s) journey toward healing, accountability and reconciliation. America’s institutions and privileged groups have committed horrible crimes and are slowly collectively realizing they must show accountability in order to heal.
Like death, the first stage is denial, and many want to stay there. My suspicion, however, is that most of that group are of the older generation who are deeply set in their ways. Choronzon’s job is always that of blocking enlightenment and healing…so that the soul can be driven back in terror. As a Lord in the historical abyss, Trump seems to be taking the same role.
Thus it becomes clear where America’s soul finds itself: on a perilous rickety bridge over a vast abyss. An abyss filled with fracked gas, racist murdering cops, ecological collapse, and economic devastation. Can this country find its way to the other side, or are we doomed to fall into the void where Choronzon, or Trump, will rule?
I have never had much of a sense of where I belong in this landscape, but I know that I cannot allow that to happen anymore than Icould allow the abyss to destroy me for good so many years ago. Something had to change, and it did.
GG Irkalla is a 30 year old transgender spirit worker who is devoted to the goddess Babalon. She founded the collective “oly witch crew” and manages the zine “Up the Witchpunx.” She lives with her girlfriend in Olympia Washington. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org & through www.upthewitchpunx.com
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