This unapologetically adversarial article will no doubt prove highly divisive, and Five of Swords Magazine should be aplauded for accepting a submission that larger publications would likely never touch. As for why this manifesto even exists, it is the result of witnessing decades of both stagnation and cannibalisation within the Occult and Neopagan movements. Appearing in the January 2020 issue, it offered a way to evolve for those who seek more from their practice than simply hiding in the shadows and hoping to be left to do as they wilt.
Esoteric Acceleration Manifesto
Utilising The Tools Of The Enemy To Grow The Esoteric Movement
By Gavin Fox
The following essay outlines the Esoteric Accelerationist manifesto. This document is the result of continual observation of the many problems with the modern occult movement and provides a road map of sorts for approaching the subject in a more viable way. As always the map is not the territory, and as such any variation on the below themes that is found to work should be integrated into the wider whole as required. There are no sacred cows to defend here. Accelerationism is a vital force in the current memetic landscape, and the author is happy to see others expand upon the below concepts as well as discuss options for implementing these ideas should viable methodologies become available. This worldview obviously borrows heavily from the chaos current, though has evolved far beyond that increasingly stagnant tradition to become something far more.
Modern occultism is taken to describe the various Neopagan, Neoshamanic, Heathen, Ceremonial, Eclectic and Witchcraft based traditions as birthed post the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. It is perhaps convenient to set the life and work of Aleister Crowley as the earliest point for the actual systems being discussed, as they borrow heavily from his ideas. Many of the lineages of these traditions have Crowley somewhere in the roots of their family tree, be it directly as with Thelema or in a purely figurative sense like the chaos current. In no way does the following manifesto idolise the Great Beast, not is his presence mentioned here in any context other than as a historical touchstone, a way of setting the limits of the time frame being outlined.
Magick existed long before the Golden Dawn, of course. But prior to their efforts bringing concepts such as the Kabbalah to a Western audience, albeit a small and insular club of scholars and writers, this was the preserve of grimoire conjurers and cunning folk plying their trade at the fringes of polite society. Both of these groups toiled heavily under the yolk of militant Christian concepts such as good and evil, sin and penance, creating a polluted version of the truth as toxic to the practitioner as it was the wider cultural milieu. As such they have been discarded as out of the scope of modernity for the sake of this manifesto, though many of the tools that were utilised by those groups are still widely used, for good or bad, within the boundaries of esoterica today.
Ages before this other European groups such as the Greeks, Romans, Norse and many of the Baltic nations had their own magickal systems of thought, intimately tied to the gods and goddesses they created to understand the world. While there are people who attempt to continue these traditions in a heavily referenced and formulaic form today, their overreliance on taking the sparse historical material that survives and dogmatic adherence to worldviews that are ultimately archaic also puts them in a distinct category which must be viewed as outside of modern occultism. They would likely see many of the concepts as outlined below as an affront to their priestly aspirations, and in truth they may be right.
Magick is considered in the context of this manifesto to describe any and all tools utilised by a practitioner to effect change in their internal or external reality via force of will, usually through non direct means. It can encompass popular self development skills such as meditation and neurolinguistic programming, as well as more traditional salt and summoning circle methodologies borrowed from the grimoire traditions mentioned previously. While an impassioned discussion of the many and varied techniques which could be considered to be magickal would be interesting, such scholarly discourse is outside the scope of this text. Focus is instead placed upon the underlying mechanics of cultural transmission through memetic theory and the Accelerationist concept of hyperstition as well as the role the individual practitioner plays in propagating ideas within the esoteric group mind.
Changing the nature of your reality in line with desire is not to be viewed as a special power derived from a supernatural source. It is not a divine ability, nor does it in actuality rely upon the existence of external beings to make things manifest. It is not prayer, nor should the trap of deferring ones will to fictional godforms be stumbled into as it is extremely difficult to escape from such a limiting conceptual cage once the bars are in place. Magickal currents are not actual flows of energy and instead describe the vast cultural and mythopoetic aggregation of ideas that form around a given topic. This creates an interesting situation wherein stories such as those presented in comic books and video games hold just as much weight as the ones scratched upon vellum in the museums of the world. Perhaps more, due to their immanence and memetic power within the cultural aggregate.
As a result the ongoing debate within occultism regarding the reality of said information entities becomes a moot point. Their status as living beings or otherwise in the material sense does not automatically remove their agency in the wider reality, as the sway they hold over the mental space that humanity also inhabits is equally as important. In a similar way, the Esoteric Accelerationist will treat all symbol systems as cultural glosses placed upon psychological triggers that were once found valuable by others. This viewpoint is heavily couched in the language and terminology used by writers such as Grant Morrison and Alan Moore, who not only place the aggregation of meaning around a given topic as the core of its importance but also champion the concept that creation in any form is the most fundamental of magickal acts.
As beings who invest attention and meaning into the idea space that finds its most obvious expression through language, memetic theory is instrumental to the continued evolution of our culture. Memetics can be seen as the creation and dissemination of ideas through society in a similar manner to the spread of genes across a species, albeit through entertainment and glamour as opposed to sexual intercourse. These concepts are assimilated into the personality either over time or through witnessing one spectacular act, and colour the way the recipient views the world. As with the fittest and swiftest of alpha males in the animal kingdom, the more persuasive a host is, the more receptive others will be to their point of view. The rise of social media influencers attests to this obvious change of tone within our wider society.
The downside of this for magickians is the fact that very few of those who dabble in occultism could be considered social animals outside of their own kind. This actively inhibits the spread of esoterica into the wider population. An answer may lie with with embracing and indeed coopoting social media, however. Recent successes that certain Alt-Right groups have found when engaging in so-called meme warfare has proven this to be a viable method for effecting change on an interpersonal and, indeed, diasporic level. It is safe to accept with a fair degree of hindsight that Pepe the Frog, the cartoon character that saw much play on social media during the 2016 election in America, is at least partly responsible for President Donald Trump achieving such a high office.
Whether this was actual magick in the classical sense or merely the result of some extremely creative design choices leading to a mass take up by disenfranchised and politically burned out floating voters is of course up for debate. Either way, the idea itself formed the trigger, with the psyche of those observing becoming both the explosive charge that fuelled its velocity and the eventual target as well. There is obviously great power here. On a related point it is worth learning to divorce useful tools from the person or groups who originated it. Memetics was popularised by Richard Dawkins, an ardent Skeptic who would not take kindly to his literal brainchild becoming infected with the supernatural. Accelerationism, as we will see, has been popularised by an equally difficult character to support, yet the philosophy remains viable regardless.
Of course, the term manifesto is a politically charged meme all of it’s own. It shouts divisiveness and rebellion, as well as an orchestrated need for change. Despite its more common usage on the Left, in reality Centrists, Right Wing and even Anarchic groups all produce this kind of extended explanation of their core methodology. There are various examples of Neopagan groups pushing to codify their purpose, as well as numerous smaller think tanks and special interest groups releasing this kind of missive to bolster their brand. Companies that hold to a purely capitalist, and therefore ultimately reductionist, worldview produce lengthy texts describing the wants and needs of the egrigore they toil under, though these are rarely seen outside of the staff training room by the general public who purchase those products.
Esoteric Accelerationists realise that little can be gained from engaging wholesale in a political landscape that is designed to push the memetic payload of a few well financed and unscrupulous members of the upper class as they protect the interests of dystopian mega corporations on the global stage. But this nihilism is tempered by the understanding that interfacing with a damaged system remains useful in so mach as the occultist can use their own foresight to ride the cultural winds they create and make their own personal world a better place. Yet rebellion on an individual level remains pointless. Society is and always has been a numbers game. Only one huge and amorphous bundle of ideas fuelled by the many employees, investors or members has the power to absorb and ultimately kill another. In this model hostile takeover is elevated to the status of an evolutionary process, where the weaker social genes are subsumed by the stronger.
Thus the boardrooms of the world become slaughterhouses for failed thought forms. Parliaments host fragmented and blundering political tulpas that flail around in constant combat with their peers while paying little heed to the collateral damage that their need to dominate creates. Conservative and Liberal, Democrat and Republican are hyperstitions in their own right, immanent ideas and intelligent fictions that become real through engagement with the human imagination but may always have been there in liminal space waiting to be born. The stock market, with its hype cycles wherein undue value is given to virtual commodities based purely on predicted futures is often cited as a good example of this hyperstitional model of the world. The Cthulhu Mythos sees a lot of play here too, especially among chaos magickians, and indeed the enduring human need to create gods is also a prime example of this process.
Accelerationism, as described by Neoreactionary philosopher Nick Land, neatly illustrates the futility of attempting to fight this system from the outside and instead calls for a society wherein the mega corporation is given free reign to do what they wilt in a manner not dissimilar to the dystopian vision of early cyberpunk authors such as William Gibson. Ultimately the only way that those who adhere to the classic Accelerationist model believe that the human species will achieve its destiny as a technological hybrid is through giving businesses unfettered access to the very processes that drive social evolution. The cost to those why fall by the wayside during this march to ultra modernity is seen as a necessary sacrifice, while ideas such as occultism or religion in the classical sense are considered out of date hyperstitions whose only real use is to keep the populations of the world distracted.
Technology is instrumental to Accelerationism. Indeed, the model itself found its first codification in the early days of the internet, and it is difficult to imagine how it would have come into being without the world wide web. It obviously feeds back heavily into Technopaganism and Technoshamanism, both natural outliers in the esoteric diaspora of their time. While resurrecting these older ideas in their original sense is attractive, little to be gained from doing so. What remains is the realisation that magick must move in step with the wider culture, as well as the need to embrace the onrush of modernity instead of wishing for a return to simpler times. Earth shattering leaps such as emergent artificial intelligence and quantum computing are inevitable. It is far easier to steer those fast moving conceptual monsters towards a positive outcome if they are embraced as opposed to being ignored.
Though Land himself is an ardent supporter of the capitalist model, those on the political Left have taken his original rallying cry for corporate domination and turned it on its head. They believe in speeding up the excesses of Western culture to the point that those observing these behemoths of consumerist desire will instead become disenfranchised by the all too visible destruction that they create, and as a result ultimately rebel against them. The only way is through has become a rallying cry in some circles as a result. The shortsightedness of this attitude on a wider social level, were there is just too much damage that can be done along the way to this imagined epiphany, is obvious. Yet when specifically applied to the study of the occult and proliferation of esoteric ideas as a memetic payload, the concepts of both hyperstition and accelerationism hold much promise.
As with any other social system, the modern occult community has become bloated and obfuscated by the very weight of ideas that are slowly dragging it towards oblivion. Esoteric Accelerationists view the different magickal schools and symbol systems as hyperstitional aggregates that have been codified as a method for accessing the idea space that allows for change to occur in line with the will of the practitioner. They see no difference between orchestrating a ritual to make reality to take notice of their desire or inventing a new device in the physical world that achieves the same end result. Money is wished for as readily as it is gained through honest employment. Love spells are tempered with the effort to actually dress well and act in a desirable way. All that matters is the outcome, as any imaginative act is seen as ultimately viable regardless of whether it is conducted inside or outside of the summoning circle.
There will of course be heavily politicised traditions, such as Alt-Right Heathenry, that could be seen as something of an anathema to the wider magickal landscape. The decision to accept or deny access to those hailing from these ideologies to the rest of the esoteric diaspora will need to be undertaken on a case by case basis, as education is always a better option than exclusion. While a certain hardening of worldview towards outsiders will be an inevitable byproduct of the occult community strengthening both its identity and defences against the onrush of negativity faced in the current climate, any form of blanket hatred based on ethnicity or sexual orientation remains counterproductive to the potency of their memetic payload in what will always be an ostensibly libertarian global culture.
Equally, those in more hidebound traditions should accept that if they share their spirituality with the world they will also lose the exclusive control over it. The concept of cultural appropriation is irrelevant to the Esoteric Accelerationist. It remains an extremely old fashioned stance in light of the technological revolution that society has witnessed in the last thirty or so years, while also increasing the danger of entire symbol systems being lost to the wider occult diaspora by virtue of secrecy and taboo. While it pays to be respectful to those who hold certain ideas to be sacred this should never be viewed as a reason to dismiss the assimilation of their tools if they prove useful for a given purpose. Perhaps claiming direct lineage in a tradition should remain frowned upon unless it is proven to be true, but otherwise there is no reason to set viable methodologies aside for fear of causing offence.
Ultimately the modern magickal movement is at a crossroads. It is now that it must make plans to remain relevant as humanity faces its biggest social upheaval since the enlightenment. Not only is technology not going away, but neither is the capitalism that fuels it or the kinds of insular politics that lead to mental and virtual violence against occult groups world wide. In fact the very nature of corporate culture dictates a certain level of pandering to the dominant social bias, and as such it is not unusual to see big business and mainstream religions stand together on a given topic. Of course, the fact that those who profess alternative spiritualities, modern or otherwise, are still actively demonised by others who are willingly ensnared by the conceptual chains of the Abrahamic godform seems here nor there to those trying to make a profit from the decadence of Western culture.
On the one hand, occultists can fall back into line with groups such as the Golden Dawn or Wiccan initiatory traditions, put up barriers around the small parcel of memetic land that they have thus far carved out for themselves and try to make it through another day. This is pointlessly reductionist. Such a fractured and insular attitude can only result in a hostile take over of those ideas, as is slowly being witnessed with the Christian witchcraft hybrid gaining traction in the United States. There is also no mileage to be gained by supporting the draconian ceremonial orders in the vain hope that their ascendance will create a new flowering of esoteric thought. Those organisations have a long history of hoarding information that never belonged to them in the first place, and would likely prefer that the whole occult genie was placed firmly back in the bottle so they can go back to charging for mock Masonic grades in its name.
The other option lies with that misguided assertion by those on the political Left. While their rallying cry of the only way is through does not hold true in a wider cultural context, allowing as it does for an inconceivable level of damage to be done before the common man realises that perhaps Capitalism is not the answer, on a smaller scale there is millage in pushing magick towards a critical mass through modernity. Not only would a free and unfettered release of information force an internal dialogue within the numerous spiritual traditions willing to look critically at what both they and others in allied disciplines are doing, but it will also make their technology far more attractive to those on the outside. A point has been reached where the survival of the occult lies in abandoning the very secrecy that term implies, and Esoteric Accelerationists are willing to push into unknown territory to see this happen.
The hubris at the heart of most traditional organisations lies with the assertion that the huddled masses are unworthy of the secrets that their hierarchy unjustly hoards. Yet while there are those who will never accept the need for magick in their lives, many outsiders can still be seen interacting with supposedly supernatural concepts on a regular basis. Crystal therapy remains popular, while tarot readings are equally valid whether performed in a Fifteenth Century castle or filthy postmodern skyscraper. Esoteric Accelerationists recognise these unaligned seekers as the great undiscovered resource which, when successfully mined, will allow the growth of the wider occult diaspora. As with corporate culture reality is ultimately a numbers game, and only by becoming more open and attractive in their practice can the once hidden schools of thought create a safe place for their ideas.
Yet the effort to go public is not without its challenges. Esoteric groups that have long been entrenched on various points of order will have to open dialogue with others who decry those beliefs, while also becoming far more vocal in disavowing the excesses of a criminal minority claiming allegiance to occult doctrine in an effort to explain away their crimes. Much like the organised Skeptics a grass roots movement needs to be established, fostering a united front on issues that effect everyone who stands outside of the mainstream. It needs to have a media arm willing to go on record when the news, actively working for the very corporate culture that really guides the narrative in the West, screams Satanism and black magick to drive pageviews. It must fight for control of the zeitgeist, as well as push an alternative viewpoint no matter how much louder their hidebound opposition shouts them down.
In the end the solution to the inevitable dissolution of the modern occult community lies an embracing of technology going forward, as well as a far more modern attitude to tradition as a whole. In this the Technopagans were right, though unfortunately the digital architecture that they had to work with at the time was woefully inadequate. This lead to the global abandonment of the very ideas which are now required to save the magickal movement from itself. When the realisation finally dawns that that none of these symbol systems are in actuality more valid than any others their adherents will find themselves free to become franchises in the vast spiritual mega corporation that governs the human mind. There will of course be many organisations that are not strong enough to rise from the ashes of this Promethean fire, though their protestations about the heresy that Esoteric Accelerationism represents are best viewed as the last gasps of a failed experiment now thankfully fading from view.
David Bowie famously said that tomorrow belongs to those who can hear it coming. This statement is a hyperstition in and of itself, as well as a rallying cry for both the Esoteric Accelerationists and many others who uneasily stand on the bleeding edge of human evolution. Time marches on, leaving ideas and indeed even cultures languishing in the recycle bin of history. Modernity never fully arrives, yet we all unknowingly dwell in its foreshocks as it creates the correct environment to eventually be born. Some claim that the occult has had its day, that magick and the supernatural are leftovers from a less enlightened time. Perhaps, when viewed in its current state, they may even be right. But there is always hope. That which does not kill makes you stronger, while ideas which are but baggage must be discarded to proceed. As previously stated, the only way is through, so there is no time to waste.