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A Brief Note on The Problems of "Evil" and The "Darkside"


Definitely getting tired of hearing and reading the satanic, evil, and darkside connections which are simply not there in my experience. The relationships are hard to grasp, and even more difficult to explain. I know of very few who even have tried to unravel them. Comments re Jung, re the magazine Gnosis' issue on "the Dark", and re the movie, "Forbidden Planet", shared with me by a magickian whose group was at that time working with The Shadow Tarot, via the records of their magickal workings, touched for me my own efforts to conceptualize the darkside. The following comments, then, are not based solely on the manuscript of their group workings, but also on my own intellectual efforts, and importantly on my reaction to a number of recent attempts to characterize darkside energies and associations.

Aside, for a moment. "Demons" dwell not at the gate, but in the tunnels themselves. Certainly, it may be something like being overpowered, or dismembered, if the intrepid magician launches across the abyss with personality intact. You need not rely on Grant's stuff for accounts of this; a guardian metaphor has been a popular one back into medieval times. One must keep in mind that the "door" is Dašth, in the middle of the desert of Set. A tricky Sephira, (if one at all - cf. Ben Rowe's work on the subject), but the location seems clear enough. It's a hard subject, but suffice it to say that from my experience no encounter with tunnel dwellers can occur until the magician (or what is left of hir after the personality is stripped away) is in the tunnel. Also, these tunnels, or "wormholes", don't operate in Euclidean space. There is no way to do any peering or looking down the tunnel from some point of entrance. Not only does "down" get hard to figure (and not just as opposed to "up") but these tunnels are in no way viewable like a hallway. Each twists and turns (to use Euclidean framing for convenience) in unique and obscure ways. I found, during the workings with L, that "I" was quite suddenly in a tunnel once having prepared for it, without any remembered sensation of entering.

Jung's "shadow" is perhaps the closest cognate to the darkside in the psychological literature. But, it is far too personal (regardless of Jung's "archetypes" construct), or individual to capture what I mean by the darkside ó too tied to personality. Tho' a person(ality) might travel in the tunnels of set, this is perhaps ill advised ó as mentioned above. "Forbidden Planet" (a favorite of mine) speaks about Freud's "id", a more incomplete conception than Jung's ó and harder to connect directly to the dark (even though Freud's "id" is hidden, or occult). The "Gnosis" issue had some interesting stuff, but also approached the dark with what I feel are some serious misconceptions. Disturbing to me, directly stated in a good bit of the growing "darkside" literature, is this idea of equating evil with the dark.

More serious is the developing view of the darkside as a repository or inventory (a kind of warehouse?) of all the bad shit of our humankind species: the darkside as resident by human impulses and actions to rape, murder, and whatever else we 20th century people think is nasty stuff to do or even to think about. Perhaps it's Christianity (?) mixed up with some pop psychology and magical thinking (no "k")?

For the record: for L and me there is not a thing satanic or evil in the darkside. Such constructs simply have no meaning in this realm. They are strictly dayside, strictly human, and for me strictly bullshit. Oh yes, the USA produced over 20,000 murders last year, countless rapes, and even more countless acts of senseless and sick brutality. How many were killed, and continue to die, in Iraq, S. Africa, Liberia, El Salvador, Guatemala, etc., etc.?  I could tell you how many children were abused, that 20% plus of children in this country live in poverty, but I think my point is clear. All of this horror exists in this dayside, human world. In my view, the recognition of all this is so threatening to personality integrity that few are even willing to see it, open their eyes and hearts and minds to their own stink and meanness as a race/species of the dayside world.

Why do magick? Escape is a viable answer. But not enough for us. How do the darkside and the Shadow Tarot fit into all this? If the bad shit people want to attribute to the darkside really "belongs" to the dayside/lightside, then why are they trying to assign it to the dark? As I said, all this mayhem is unacceptable at the most basic psychical level, especially to sensitive types. (Police, and others, in order to survive, must numb themselves to a point where it is acceptable.) Perhaps this is where psychological theories can help our understanding. In psychoanalytic theory, that in oneself which is unacceptable (urge to kill, for example) is "projected" onto something perceived as other, or not self. Another person, or a conceptual construct such as Satan, are likely targets of the projection. For Freud and followers this projection is preceded by "repression" of the bad stuff by the "ego defenses", back into the "subconscious" which is hidden from view.

Here, then, we can see a source of possible confusion. Both Freud's "subconscious" (as a repository) and his "id" (as a source of bad stuff) are hidden from light, or our conscious mind, just as is the darkside under normal circumstances. It may be possible to confuse the dark tunnels of Set with the Freudian "subconscious". Jung expands in a way on Freud by positing "collective unconscious", the "shadow" being in many ways the personal, particular part of the unconscious. His Analytic Psychology had as its stated aim the reintegration of the "shadow" into the whole personality. Again, this is subsumed under our conception of dayside personality. Some are more fully integrated than others, but still all the "shadow/unconscious/id/subconscious" stuff belongs to the dayside personality, or at least to the human self. Our darkside, KG's "Nightside of Eden", are distinctly not-human (naught-human?) realms of experience, and are not tied to any conception of person or personality.

However, the personal and/or species denial of these darkside realms and energies, over many years and generations, has cut us off as persons and as a species from darkside things. We, then, can't use these spaces or tunnels and their entities and energies in our personal or species lives.

The dark has many tools, lying dormant, to help us personally even though they are not "from us" or "of us" (like are Freud's "id", and Jung's "shadow"). Anais Nin, in Seduction of the Minotaur, describes how the darkside can work. The story is of a woman on a journey of self discovery which takes her to Mexico. As she returns on an airplane she has the following experience, elucidating not only how the darkside can work for us, but also something of the relationship of the personal ("the Minotaur") to the impersonal or transpersonal dark:

"Lillian was journeying homeward. The detours of the labyrinth did not expose disillusion, but unexplored dimensions. Archeologists of the soul never returned empty handed. Lillian had felt the existence of the labyrinth beneath her feet like the excavated passageways under Mexico City, but she had feared entering it and meeting the Minotaur who would devour her. Yet now that she had come face to face with it, the Minotaur resembled someone she knew. It was not a monster. It was a reflection on a mirror, a masked woman, Lillian herself, the hidden masked part of herself unknown to her, who had ruled her acts. She extended her hand toward this tyrant who could no longer harm her. It lay upon the mirror of the plane's round portholes, traveling through the clouds, a fleeting face, her own. Clear and definable only when darkness came [emphasis added]."

The collective loss of these tools, L and I believe, is largely responsible for our species' inability to deal with all that bad shit which is a part of us, from us, of us. Thus, the conception of the darkside goes well beyond anything in modern psychological theory, including ego psychologies, systems theories, physiological psychology, etc.

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All articles and art © Linda Falorio unless otherwise noted

Linda Falorio / Fred Fowler
Pittsburgh, PA 15224 USA