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Apocalypse Redux-Parts 1 & 2



I've decided to reproduce both transcripts in one post. I don't expect anyone to read both or listen to both recordings in one session. The topics are too vast and very intense. What I will add to this is that the rumors of a possible Red Cow sacrifice possibly coming up sometime this April are apparently based on something true.


As a ritualist and student of occultism, I cannot stress enough how serious such an act might be. Indeed, it might be considered, by some, a ritual of black magic--not because it is Jewish, or even because it would involve animal sacrifice, but due to the intention behind it, for surely anyone performing the rite would understand the implications and possible consequences.


In such a circumstance, intention is everything.


So, here is Part 1


Note: This transcript does not contain everything spoken of--but will provide a means by which to follow along.


Recently I participated in an online discussion about the British occultist Dion Fortune. In order to prep for the talk I revisited some of Fortune’s best known writings—Mystical Qabala, Psychic Self Defense, Sane Occultism, etc.

 

I also decided to read through the latest edition, edited and with an introduction by Gareth Knight, of her letters and articles composed during the so-called Magical Battle of Britain—since I hadn’t really availed myself of them before.

 

The entries in Magical Battle are each labeled with the date for which they were intended and a note detailing what was going on in the war, along with a commentary about the personal/social context and/or disposition of Fortune’s occult Society at the time.

 

It’s really a fascinating read, insofar as she is often less formal in these letters/articles than in her normal writing. Further, one can see that she is attempting to construct an applied, practical occultism, rather than something more theoretical.

 

As I read through Fortune’s letters, I realized that I’d recently read several other first-hand accounts of that conflict. Among these accounts is the only known record of a concentration camp inmate who kept a diary while in the camp where both the individual and the diary survived.


Then there are the prison letters and essays written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer prior to his execution by the SS for his knowledge and support of one of the late attempts to assassinate Hitler toward the end of the war.

 

So, here are several accounts of the World War that has never really ended, whose long, ghostly, poisonous strands are still finding their way into our lives, our dreams, our political endeavors.

 

I thought that perhaps, through the writings and experiences of these three individuals, I could frame my own thoughts about what is happening, what we are facing, as a country, as a world, especially since the commencement of horror on Oct 7, 2023.

 

Part 2 to this vlog was done hastily, only days after HAMAS attacked, and so reflects the immediate mood and circumstance of my own responses to that catastrophe and the predictable, but equally horrific acts of vengeance which have followed. There is much that is interesting and valuable in that recording, so I have decided to share it as an addendum to Part 1.

 

First, the account written by Hanna Levy-Hass, of her time in the concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen, from 1944-1945, as translated and published by her daughter, the well-known Israeli journalist and essayist, Amira Hass.

 

Hanna Levy was a secular Yugoslavian Jew who was had been raised in an atmosphere sympathetic to Marxism and the Soviet Union. She was also in the resistance, and was not captured until quite late in the war. Resistance fighters like Hanna knew about the camps and knew what their fate would be if they ended up in one.

 

To that end, when Hanna was finally captured, she determined that she would try, to the best of her ability to keep a record of her experiences, and because she and her diary survived, it is possible to get an insider’s glimpse into how Bergen-Belsen was organized and operated.

 

Bergen-Belsen wasn’t a “death camp” as such. It has started out as a training camp for early Nazi recruits and then was transformed into a POW camp. Several other POW facilities were built on to it, and eventually it became first a detention center for political prisoners, who were then joined by Jews who were permitted to work, and finally into a labor camp.

 

Many concentration camps started out similarly and were “built out” as the needs of the fascist state expanded.

 

At the time of liberation, Bergen-Belsen was swollen beyond capacity several times over as inmates from other labor camps, such as Auschwitz-Birkenau were relocated. There were at least 3 POW camps, or staligs, as they were called, associated with Bergen-Belsen, one of which held my paternal grandfather who had been captured during the Battle of the Bulge and spent the rest of the war suffering along with concentration camp inmates, albeit behind a different fence.

 

As the allies pushed into Germany from East and West, the remaining camps, like Bergen-Belsen, were just abandoned by Nazi personnel, with often just a skeleton crew to “mind the shop,” so to speak. Water was turned off, food deliveries were ceased. The camp population was literally left to succumb to typhus or starve to death.

 

Since Bergen-Belen wasn’t a “death camp,” there wasn’t a huge crematoria, as in Auschwitz, so the dead were either buried in pits, stacked in piles, which were manned by the living, or in the end, just left where they died.

 

Hanna’s account details all of this, although she tends to really concentrate on the living, on the daily struggles for food, community, humanity.

 

She wasn’t a religious person, so she makes no real distinction between Jews and other inmates, except to notice that the Nazi overlords permitted members of the Polish underground to manage a kind of black market within the camp, which viciously punished anyone who got in their way or tried to do things differently.

 

Hanna often occupied herself with the camp children, at one point organizing daily lessons for them with singing, writing and other activities. Eventually, this became too difficult, as starvation and disease set in.

 

When new inmates are brought in from Auschwitz, or other camps, it was sometimes possible to get news about how the war was actually going for Germany—and it became clear at a certain point that it wasn’t going well. However, that fact didn’t really help the situation in the camp—in fact, it made it worse.

 

When she had first come to the camp in 1944, the SS permitted Jews to provisionally “rule themselves,” or at least organize themselves when it came to food distribution. Once the main part of German leadership departed, they permitted, actually introduced, the “kapo” system into the camp, in order to subordinate Jewish agency entirely.

 

Bergen-Belsen was liberated on April 15, 1945 by the British. One day in February, 1945, towards the end of her diary, Hanna could only remember the approximate month by this time, no longer the specific day, she writes about how the only way to get any food at all was to capitulate to the “kapos,” this criminal element that, like any syndicate, controlled access to it. Every day was spend trying to determine how much of yourself you would give away for a tiny piece of moldy bread, or something worse.

 

Hanna gave away as little as possible, refusing to play the “kapos’” game, and for that, she starved, living mostly on the kindness of others who took pity on her circumstance (there remained some who did that for each other).

 

At the end of this February 1945 entry, Hanna writes:

 

“Hunger crushes the spirit. I feel my physical and intellectual strength diminishing. Things escape me, I can’t think properly, can’t grasp events, can’t realize the full horror of the situation. Only once in a while, in moments as brief as a flash of lightning, a clear and precise thought crosses my mind and I wonder: what is this dark, perverse, underhanded force that succeeds in hurling humanity as a whole into such absurd and abominable conditions?”

 

It would be another 2 months before liberation came. At a certain point Hanna quits writing, but she managed to hide and keep the diary.

 

Amira Hass places her mother’s diary within several larger contexts in her lengthy Introduction and Afterward. At the outset she tells the historical-political story of her mother’s childhood (such as it was shared with her), her family (most of whom died during the war) political activities and capture by the Nazis.

 

The Afterward explores Hanna’s relationship with Abraham Hass, the Auschwitz survivor whom she met and married in the post-War rush to exit Europe. The two ended up in Israel, as new citizens of the new state, and gave birth to Amira. But neither were happy there.

 

Abraham refused the settlement house offered to him by the Israeli government as it had been taken from a Palestinian family. He would not accept a home stolen from the hands of another.

 

In the late 1980’s, at a meeting in Tel Aviv where a liberal Zionist politician, running for the Knesset, argued for the necessity to ‘transfer’ more Palestinians out of occupied territories, Abraham interrupted the gathering of intellectuals and political hopefuls, “I must address the protocol…..Whoever told you it is legitimate to speak about transfer? This is not a legitimate topic. You are discussing a forbidden subject…….I’ve already experienced fascism once. I do not have the strength to go through it again.”

 

Abraham loved the land, the local politics, the language—but never in a Zionist fashion. He referred to himself as a guest, a tourist in Israel, never a citizen.

 

Hanna frequently left Israel to travel abroad, both before and after Abraham’s death as she felt no peace there, even though she understood the emotional reasons why many Jews liked the idea of a Zionist state where Jews could rule themselves and chart their own destinies.

 

Hanna never accepted those emotional reasons.

 

As Amira describes it, neither of her parents were comfortable as Israelis. And neither of them really ever spoke about their experiences in the concentration camps. Their secular Marxist views of the world had failed them, and they didn’t want, or believe, the so-called “resurrection” that the Zionists offered.

 

Abraham died of a stroke. After his death, Hanna decided to revisit Belgrade, the city of her youth. But it had changed beyond recognition. At other times she lived in Paris for a while, traveled to the UK and other places, trying to fit in. She would always return to Israel, but that’s because her daughter was there and there was no other place to go.

 

Amira remembers two jokes her mother would tell about herself and her inability to stay in one place:

 

“A Jew—Romanian say (Abraham was Romanian)-wants to emigrate from Romania, so he goes to a travel agency. ‘To Israel?’ ‘No. Too many wars (or Jews).’ ‘The United States?’ ‘Too capitalistic.’ ‘The USSR?’ ‘Are you out of your mind?’ ‘South Africa?’ ‘Racism over there is a bit much.’ Finally the Jew asks the travel agent. ‘Say, haven’t you got another globe?’”

 

Another joke,

 

“A Jew—another Romanian—immigrates to Israel. After a few months he misses Romania and goes back. This happens again and again. Somebody asks him, ‘Can’t you make up your mind? Where do you feel best?’ And he answers, ‘En route.’”

 

Amira Hass is the only Israeli journalist who has taken up permanent residence with Palestinians in the Occupied West Bank where she bases herself out of Ramallah.

 

I was raised in a very conservative, almost cultish version, of Lutheranism. The brand is called The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, and though its membership would bridle at me referring to it as cultish, at this remove, that’s what it now feels like, but more about that in a bit.

 

With that background and my obvious adult response to it, I was surprised to find that I was, in recent months, drawn to read Letters & Papers from Prison by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (b. 1906), the provocative Lutheran pastor who was imprisoned and later executed by the Nazis for his stance against them and his support for and knowledge of (he didn’t help in the planning) one of the last, and almost successful, attempts to assassinate Adolf Hitler.

 

Bonhoeffer, though personally very conservative, was also deeply troubled by German nationalism and was among those who directly opposed the Nazi attempt to forcibly unify all Christian churches in Germany into a single nationalist entity.

 

Individuals of all denominations who opposed this became loosely bound in a movement that has been referred to as the Confessing Church. This compelled formerly unaffiliated church bodies and congregations to work together in ways they had not before, and Lutherans were at the forefront of this process.

 

The challenges and strictures of National Socialism forced some theological rethinking on the part of Lutherans like Bonhoeffer. The Nazi party demanded total obedience and submission to the state in a manner traditional Protestant/Lutheran Christianity would say could and should only be due to God.

 

Additionally, Lutherans like Bonhoeffer were repulsed by the blatant antisemitism of Nazi propaganda and the general tendency of the Nazis to engage in violent and intolerant behavior. Members of the Confessing Church saw rightly enough that the Nazi party wanted to commandeer and use the German churches for political ends, in order to have more ammunition to justify their outrages.

 

Previous to this, the Lutheran Church in Germany had been largely influenced by its Pietistic response to the Enlightenment and to the political intrigues that had roiled German territories since the mid-19th century. Essentially, religion was a private affair that had little to do with what might be going on politically. After Bonhoeffer, and the advent of German fascism, that would change.

 

Having been raised in an upper class intellectual-though religious-family (his father was a professor of Psychiatry), Bonhoeffer had been exposed to the best that academia could offer a promising young man.

 

After earning his degrees he traveled to the United States where he was exposed to several African-American congregations in Harlem, New York while contemplating attending Union Theological Seminary. He began to realize that theology could not be separated from the living experience of humanity, it had to connect with the actual concerns of everyday life, which meant it had to be willing to confront injustice.

 

Bonhoeffer returned to Germany just as everything there was beginning to change.

 

While a lecturer at Berlin University, in 1933, Bonhoeffer publicly announced, over the wireless, a strong denunciation of Hitler and the Nazi party when they came formally into power. In the middle of his declaration, the power was cut, but the lines were drawn.

 

The National Socialists didn’t succeed in unifying all the German Churches, but only about 20% of them refused to expel ministers of Jewish ancestry, remove the Old Testament from their Bibles, or refuse to insert a statement about loyalty to the Fuhrer into the confession of faith.

 

The ‘intact’ churches, those that refused to submit to the state, became the backbone of the Confessing Church, resisting Hitler, secreting Jews out of the country, and eventually lending their spiritual, and sometimes material support to attempts to overthrow the Nazis, up to and including attempts to assassinate him.

 

Bonhoeffer was not openly persecuted at first. He traveled to England, and while there, the German authorities banned him from teaching in Germany and forbade him returning to Berlin.

 

At the outbreak of World War II, Bonhoeffer was offered a position in the U.S. in order to make sure of his safety. He briefly traveled there to begin a speaking tour.

 

But he soon returned to Germany because his whole family, as well as many of his colleagues in Germany were in danger. It felt to him that he had no business being safe when the whole Christian world in Germany, perhaps in all of Europe, was in terrible danger.

 

In 1937, Himmler declared members of the Confessing Church to be enemies of the state and they began to be arrested. Bonhoeffer worked for the underground, a collection of resisters from aristocratic, military, bureaucratic and professional backgrounds (Oskar Schindler was of this company) who supplied funds, paperwork, transportation and other necessities to protect pastors, Jews, and others whom the Nazis might disappear.

 

Some resisters were actually members of the Abwehr, or German Intelligence, many of whom were personally working to overthrow Hitler from within. It was while working for/with the Abwehr that Bonhoeffer learned of the true extent of Nazi atrocity and realized that Germany, indeed Christianity, which had been corrupted in Germany by the Nazi cause, might only be saved by equally heinous acts, up and to assassination of the leadership–for Germans, this was, culturally and politically, a difficult mental obstacle to process. 

 

It was during this time that Bonhoeffer wrote his famous The Cost of Discipleship. It is a modern, in the face of fascism, response to the Sermon on the Mount. In it, he recasts what it might mean to be a martyr, for there is no purity present that can be depended on, no innocence in the face of a tyranny that would extinguish all ethics in the pursuit of its glory.

 

Basically, in the end, in the name of justice, the evil must be faced, guilt must be accepted, the trigger pulled to end the rule of one who has no remorse or shame one could appeal to, and one can only hope that the grace of God will prevail. One cannot pray for salvation, for such is only up to God. This is one final conclusion of Luther’s credo ‘sola fide,’ only by faith.

 

“Civil courage can only grow out of the free responsibility of free men. Only now are we Germans beginning to discover the meaning of free responsibility. It depends upon a God who demands bold action as the free response of faith, and who promises forgiveness and consolation to the man who becomes a sinner in the process.” (from a short essay written in prison)

 

He further said in another writing "the ultimate question for a responsible man to ask is not how he is to extricate himself from this whole affair, but how the coming generation shall continue to survive and live for Truth."

 

Bonhoeffer did not justify his action but accepted that he was taking guilt upon himself as he wrote, "When a man takes guilt upon himself in responsibility, he imputes his guilt to himself and no one else. He answers for it... Before other men he is justified by dire necessity; before himself he is acquitted by his conscience, but before God he hopes only for grace.”  

 

In an earlier 1932 sermon, Bonhoeffer said, "The blood of martyrs might once again be demanded, but this blood, if we really have the courage and loyalty to shed it, will not be innocent, shining like that of the first witnesses for the faith. On our blood lies heavy with guilt, the guilt of the unprofitable servant who is cast into outer darkness." (1)

 

Bonhoeffer tirelessly worked against Hitler, behind the scenes, at every level of resistance. He was finally arrested and sent to Tegel Prison on April 5, 1943, where he spent most of the rest of the war, until the very end.

 

There are three main recipients of his letters that have been preserved in Letters & Papers from Prison: his parents, for whom he always maintains a cheerful demeanor, personal friends and a few others, colleagues and officials.

 

The personal letters are the most revealing. He talks philosophy and theology, writes about his younger college days, contemplates what he might do should he be released.

 

Bonhoeffer had just gotten engaged when he was arrested. As his fiancee was the daughter of a rich socialite, she was permitted to see him in prison. As her family was involved in the resistance (that’s how they met), she was able to smuggle letters and other materials in and out of the prison.

 

In those letters, Bonhoeffer talks about his fellow prisoners and his guards, many of whom he befriended and they also made sure to smuggle in treats and smuggle out his letters and papers. The authorities would apparently dangle hopes of release to him, only to snatch it away. He thinks of his friends, nature, changes in season.

 

Toward the latter half of 1944, word reached the prison that the war was going badly for Germany. The area around Tegel (state of Berlin) was being strafed regularly by Allied bombers and many nights the prisoners went without power, water or food.

 

After the last abortive attempt to assassinate Hitler failed, the flailing, paranoid Fuhrer ordered a top down investigation into the background of the perpetrators, most of whom had been high ranking officials.

 

When it was found that Admiral Canaris, the head of the Abwehr, was the main organizer of many attempts to kill him (it was in his diary), Hitler, in a rage, demanded the deaths of all Abwehr members, and this would include Bonhoeffer.

 

Suddenly, in early April 1945, right after Easter, Bonhoeffer was loaded into a train, along with several other prisoners. After several stops, they ended up in Buchenwald, although they were not processed into the camp with the other inmates, but remained in relatively nice cells. None of them were told what was up.

 

But Bonhoeffer seems to have known, despite his apparent hopes for a different outcome. The last Sunday that he was in the camp, he held services for some of the other prisoners, and then was summoned by the prison staff to report.

 

He asked one of the prisoners, an Englishman named Payne Best, to convey greetings to the Bishop of Chichester, who had been a special colleague in England, should Best manage to make it out alive. He did, and from him we have the last recorded words of Bonhoeffer, “This is the end—for me, the beginning of life.”

 

From Buchanwald he was remanded to Flossenburg Concentration Camp, which was used mostly for political prisoners. Bonhoeffer was hanged on the morning of April 9, 1945.

 

During the post-war period, Bonhoeffer’s life and legacy became legendary. The Anglican Church reveres him as a martyr and his work has influenced, along with the Liberation Theologians, the development of liberal, social justice understandings of what it means to be Christian, and Lutheran.

 

This brand of Lutheranism didn’t touch my family, who came from the older, German-immigrant based forms of Lutheranism that still adhered devoutly to the Book of Concord as the only correct way of understanding the Bible.

 

In reading Bonhoeffer, I remembered that my father’s interpretation of things had also come from his readings of Francis Schaeffer, an idiosyncratic Presbyterian who had eventually left the United States entirely and created his own neo-Calvinist enclave in Switzerland. Schaeffer maintained a devout hatred of secular society. As an American, he also dabbled in millenarian thinking.

 

So, my upbringing was really not just some kind of weird outdated Lutheranism, but peppered with hefty doses of a cult leader that my father admired. So, it was a cult, after a fashion. In a way, that has helped me accept my upbringing.

 

The interview/discussion about Dion Fortune and her participation in what has been called the Magical Battle of Britain can be found here–I am not going to summarize it all again except to say the following:

 

Fortune rightly intuited that the Nazis intended to tap into spiritual powers to advance their work. In this sense, their work was different from the fascist projects of Mussolini and Franco, and even from the pervasive authoritarianism of Stalin.

 

While Lenin and Stalin sought to destroy Russian churches, and Mussolini largely ignored the Vatican, Hitler, or rather Himmler in Hitler’s service, sought to bring the Churches of Germany into the fold of fascism–to remake their spiritual loyalties, to rewrite theology itself.

 

Fortune understood that this was far more dangerous because it was a form of spiritual abuse and therefore spiritual warfare, determined to create a kind of new national “soul” or, in magical terms, an egregore. This was not simply another political ideology, it was a counterbalance to both “socialism” and “capitalism,” “authoritarianism” and “democracy.” It was what the Nazis themselves referred to as “the Third Way.”

 

Still, Fortune insists that whatever power the Nazis are using, it is not more powerful than that of the power her magical network is tapping into:

 

“It is no use stigmatizing such an operation [she is referring to both Nazi occult practices and both British and German propaganda on the radio] as black magic, for this mental radio [i.e. the powers of suggestion, invocation and projection] is as impersonal as Marconi’s invention. It is this power that we ourselves make use of in our group meditations week by week, but we endeavour to use it in humility for the good of all living beings, working for national purposes because we believe in the group soul of British people to be dedicated to the service of God insofar as the group mind can conceive it….

 

…We too can evoke primordial energies from the primitive levels of the national group soul and harness them to archetypal ideas in the group mind of the race [by this she means Europeans]. “

 

Fortune then goes on to explain that the primordial forces the Germans have opened themselves up to are the same as those shared by the English/British. The difference, for her, is that these primordial forces have been linked to the powers of Light and Cosmic Law contained within Christianity, which raises their station and makes them more universal and powerful.

 

The Germans are attempting to yoke the light in Christianity to their understanding of those primordial powers–and in so doing, limit and mal-form both. For her, the solution to this problem can be found in how the stories of King Arthur, linked as they are to both the pagan past and the history of Christianity, are a better ideal to strive for than that of the German occult attempt to force the submission of Christian morals to a kind of brutal Valhalla.

 

“Let an ideal, clearly held, guard the soul of England against insidious propaganda. Let the archetypal images of the Age of Faith arise to guide us, and the primordial energies of our ancient race be loosed on a Quest.”

 

She was writing this, and doing this, during the Blitz.

 

Whether one agrees with the particulars (i.e. the whole “race” talk, and attempts to differentiate between primordial energies and the light of Christianity), it isn’t hard to understand what Fortune is getting at.

 

The important thing is not to become the evil you fear when fighting it, don’t allow those who have made you the enemy to get the upper hand of your soul.

 

This, of course, is the challenge of fascism, and the very real challenge of our time. We each will have to face the specific choices that we must make.

 

In reviewing these accounts, I found it both fascinating and unnerving how various aspects of my life are connected to these individuals and their communities–even at a distance.

 

My paternal grandfather, who was imprisoned in a POW camp connected to Bergen-Belsen at the same time Hanna Levy-Hass was an inmate there. They would have been liberated at the same time as well.

 

The world and legacy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who, by his example and death, envisioned a different way of understanding the role and purpose of Lutheranism in the world, an ideal I was shielded from by a father who could not embrace the ideal of more grace from a more loving God.

 

The ideals of Dion Fortune, understanding that the true battles of our times are not that of guns and missiles (although there are plenty of those) but a battle for the mind, for our beliefs, our ideals, our souls (in a real psychological way, if you don’t believe in eternal souls). What makes people like Hitler and Trump powerful is not even that they “believe,” but rather, they harness the beliefs of others. By themselves they are nothing-and they know it.

 

I have another connection to the story of Hanna Levy-Hass, one that I haven’t shared much due to the current political shape of things.

 

During my conversion process to Judaism in the 1990’s, I became the student of the head cantor of a major Temple in the Midwestern United States. I will not name the cantor, nor the congregation that he served because his political views have had far reaching effects for his family.

 

One day, during our weekly Hebrew lessons, he revealed to me why he’d not been accepted into the rabbinic program of one of the most prominent Jewish institutions in the U.S.

 

He was not a Zionist.

 

Members of his large extended family had died in HaShoah, some had immigrated to Israel after the war. He wanted Jews to be safe, obviously, and, having been brought up like Jews everywhere in Diaspora, revered the idea of Israel as a safe haven, a homeland, liked the idea of a state of Israel.

 

At the same time, he didn’t like how that had been interpreted and deployed as a kind of pre-emptive nationalism. And he was deeply troubled by the manner in which Palestinians, as a people, had been treated.

 

It was he, over our Hebrew lessons, who told me about the Nakba, the forced expulsion of Palestinians in 1947, and a different history than the one Americans are often told about the 1967 and Yom Kippur wars. It wasn’t that he agreed with terrorism (I reminded him of the 1972 Olympic attack in Munich, Germany once)—but he understood where it came from.

 

“Jews engaged in terrorism against the Roman occupation,” he said. “Terrorism is an act of desperation—the sense that you’ve been pushed into the most egregious things.”

 

He was very uncomfortable with the idea that Jews would put themselves into the position of being the oppressor—and use the horrific example of HaShoah as a pretext for doing so.

 

“So the common Palestinian is going to pay the price for every sin done to us? Such a state cannot call itself a democracy.”

 

He summarized his views about this in one of the last things he said to me during our final lesson:

 

“We (Jews) spent so much time and energy longing for Jerusalem. We also accomplished so much in Diaspora, so much creativity and innovation, even in hardship. At this stage, I’m coming to believe Jerusalem is more an ideal that lies in the heart; that’s where I will carry it. The physical Jerusalem will ultimately be delivered to those who love her without needing to possess her.”

 

One more story, and this one is intimately connected to not only much of the above, but to the Sufi lineage of which I am now a part. Alone among these, no diary is connected to this life, however, she did write a children’s book before taking part in the events that would define her life and death.

 

The larger Inayatiyya tariqqa of which I’m a part, was founded/begun by/based in the teachings of the Indian Sufi teacher, Hazrat Inayat Khan who, after being charged by his teacher to bring Sufism to the West, gave up his career as a classical Indian musician tied to the waning Mughal courts and committed himself to this charge.

 

He witnessed the decline of British rule, the beginning of increasing turmoil between Hindu and Muslim in his home state of Gujarat, World War I and the Amritsar Massacre in 1919. It is known that he personally dealt with the hidden slings and arrows of anti-Muslim prejudice among many Westerners and when he married into the larger family of Mary Baker Eddy, he and his family had to face the often blatant racism of the times.

 

Still, he persevered. The trials, personal and professional, were not without cost, however, and he died young, in 1927 at the age of 44, with his spiritual mission only partially completed. He didn’t live to see what would happen in subsequent years, perhaps a small blessing.

 

As Nazi Germany expanded its reach into France in the beginning of WW2, Inayat Khan’s family, his widow and four children, who were living on a small estate just west of Paris in Suresnes that had been gifted to the family  by an early follower, had to flee.

 

They were offered sanctuary in England among friends. However, the three oldest children decided to take matters into their own hands. Hidayat, the younger son, found a way to sneak back to the estate so that he could collect as many of the manuscripts, notes and other personal belongings that could be stuffed into a car, and it is due to him that many of his father’s writings and teachings were preserved. This was a good thing as the buildings were turned over to SS officers who lived in them for a time.

 

Vilayat, the eldest son, volunteered to serve in the British Navy, worked on a minesweeping ship and participated in the Normandy invasion.

 

Noor-u-Nisa, Khan’s eldest daughter, chose to serve British intelligence in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force as a radio operator who was to work as an agent in occupied France passing along messages and information. Her code name was Madeliene. She returned to France with several other women.

 

Not long after they were dropped into France, the Germans discovered their network and all of the other women returned to England or were captured. She refused to return.  Noor-u-nisa managed to remain on her own, hidden, sending vital information, for three months before she too was captured by the Gestapo. The average time of survival in the field for such operators at the time was six weeks.

 

She tried to escape twice and was eventually classified as a highly dangerous prisoner. She was transferred to Pforzheim prison with three other women who had been similar operators in other locations. She was held for 10 months, after which she was transferred to Dachau on Sept 11, 1944.

There, after enduring months of brutal interrogation without disclosing anything to her captors, torture and probable sexual assault, since that was common, Noor-u-Nisa, along with the three women, were executed on September 13, 1944. Reportedly, her last utterance, said to her executioner, was the single French word, Liberte’.

 

Posthumously, Noor-u-Nisa was awarded the Croix du Guerre and the George Cross. Her life and actions have been commemorated numerous times by both the French and British governments and at least two films and a play have been created to tell her story, particularly as she was of Muslim and Indian background–so including her story of resistance to the Nazis is seen as a means by which to ironically redeem the abuses of British colonialism under the Raj.

 

As I am within the lineage of Hazrat Inayat Khan, I am connected to this family through direct initiation: Pir Zia, whom I know and have studied under, is the grandson of Inayat Khan through Vilayat, the nephew of Noor-u-Nisa.

 

Hidayat Khan initiated me as a master teacher and initiator before his death at 99 in 2016.

 

On all sides, Lutheran, Jewish, Muslim, Magician, resisters/mystics/occultists, I am surrounded by the light of those who saw clearly that the forces of darkness are principally human in origin and expression. Three of these saw the internal walls of a concentration camp, two of them died in one, one was displaced forever and the last died a year after the war ended, her energy no doubt depleted by the trauma.

 

Events like WWII, HaShoah, seem far removed from many people–indeed–in a very short time, less than a decade, it will be a century since the first concentration camp was built (it was Dachau, March of 1933, for political prisoners). Yet, the shadow of that war, those horrendous events looms ever longer, larger, and not simply because of how terrible they were. Everyone agrees with that.

 

It’s more that humans have not learned sufficiently, and that there are others who have kept the hatreds and fears alive, and still more who actually believe, somehow, that the Nazis were up to a good thing.

 

There are those who believe that–In fact, one fairly well known metaphysical author who is credited with inspiring many in the current New Age movement wrote a dissertation in which he analyzed what the Nazis could have/should have done to succeed in their final project–essentially, he says, they failed due to poor management skills. Thank the gods they didn’t have a Jeff Bezos on their side–right? If you message me privately I’ll tell you who this person is–I’ve read the dissertation.

 

I don’t know about you–but I feel like I’m sleep-walking through the final days of civilization, the 1920’s as Sebastian Haffner describes Berlin in his memoir (yet another personal diary) Defying Hitler. Reading this book is like going through a prolonged process of Deja Vu–a full century later.




Apocalypse Redux: Part 2


This was recorded on October 10, 2023.


Again, this is not a full transcript, but a reasonable guide to what I discuss.



I don’t know that I can do this, but here goes.


I started reading Armageddon: What the Bible Really Says About The End, the latest by the biblical scholar Bart D Ehrman when HAMAS and Israel happened again.


Actually, if anyone’s been paying attention, Israel under Netanyahu has been  “happening” to the Palestinians even more during and since the pandemic, (look up what he permitted to happen at al Aqsa mosque last Ramadan or what Israeli settlers have been doing in Ramallah–in the West Bank–or how he’s been trying to “reform” the Israeli Judiciary into a facism rubber stamping institution as examples).


That has inspired retribution, but of course doesn’t excuse it, or atrocities. And while Israel is permitted to defend itself, the commission of atrocity for atrocity is not defense, it is feud. And so it happens again and already I digress.


Ehrman’s book and the events of the hour have collided once in my brain. How can I explain this briefly, or at least provide an outline of “items to research on one’s own,” while elucidating a context for those who are not educated in these things?


Because I am so educated: graduate degrees in religious studies, a personal background in a reactionary Lutheran cult (I can no longer call it a denomination), a father who believed the end was ever nigh (despite not being a classic millenarian), three fellowships to study American religious movements and texts that specialize in apocalyptic thinking.


Oh, I’ve got the cred, and a few opinions–but here’s what I think you might need to know.

The notion of the “eschaton” or the “end of days” can actually be traced to Zoroastrianism, the ancient Persian monotheism that predates the organization of Judaism by almost a thousand years.


Zarathustra was a religious reformer who challenged his people (they were basically the same folks who migrated/invaded northern India and called themselves Aryans in the Rig Veda) to give up their violent feuding ways and follow the good path of Ahura Mazda, the god of light.


Obviously, Zarathustra was operating under the edict of a vision and was a member of the priestly caste (the same folks that would be called Rishis in the Vedas and would go on to become the Brahmanic caste in Hinduism).


His visions were impressive and would influence the formation of the first Persian Empires–it’s a history that westerners would be advised to become familiar with if they want to actually understand the deep psychology of Iranians.


Among other things, Zarathushtra argued that there was a good force and a bad force in the universe and that at the end of time, the two forces would meet for a final battle. Interestingly, it was not preordained which force would win. Humans had been created to help tip the balance on the side of good.

 

Later interpretations of Zarathushtra’s prophecies included the idea that there would be a series of “saviors” who would come into the world in a virginal fashion that would further assist with this process.

 

(I’ve talked about all this in a video I did long ago–linked here). A book you can easily get and read that talks about the incredibly influential history of these ideas among Jews, Christians and  Muslims, as well as a few Weirdos, such as Frederick  Nietzche and John  “Ballou” Newbrough, is In Search of Zarathushtra: The First Prophet and the Ideas that Changed the World.

 

For much of early Persian history, the “end of days” thing really wasn’t that important–after all, the Persians were doing great, conquering most of the Middle and Near East and Egypt, right up to Greece. It was only after Alex the G. conquered them back (along with almost everyone else), that the “end of days” thing became more of a concern.

 

But even the Zoroastrians didn’t write apocalypses, that genre of visionary writing that is mostly associated with the end of the world.

 

Most scholars credit Jews with developing that form of literature.

 

The Persians had conquered the Israelites (before they were called Jews) by conquering the Babylonians who had conquered the land of Judah. The Persian king Cyrus permitted Jews to return to their previously held territory and even helped them begin to rebuild it.

 

But many Jews remained within the Persian Empire because it wasn’t a bad life. During this period many aspects of Persian culture influenced emergent Jewish culture and religion, including names of some months in the calendar, a festival or two (Purim is the example) and the development of a canon of religious texts (i.e. Torah and Nevi’im).

 

Developing this canon was important, because it helped maintain the distinctiveness of the Jews as a people. They entered the Empire as Israelites from Judah and exited it as Jews.

 

The books of Esther and Daniel probably are associated with this period as well–and more about the latter in a bit.

 

But of course, Alex the G conquered the Jews again. When his Empire collapsed, Jews began to fight with themselves about how Greek they should be–largely because the ruling Greek governor of the province that contained Jerusalem was trying to force them to be Greek.

 

That was the beginning of the Maccabean/Hasmonean conflict, which the Jews won, at least politically. However, Jews who had been displaced by this civil war became disenchanted (Jewish ruler-priests are no less corrupt than leaders anywhere generally) and some of them left society because they couldn’t take it.

 

One of these groups, we call them the Qumran community, who produced the Dead Sea Scrolls, produced a leader who became the blueprint for the first apocalyptic community of which there is record. All of the tropes are there, the signs of the last days, the idea of a Messiah (anointed one) who might also be divine, the final battle between good and evil (plucked whole from Persia).

 

This is why the Dead Sea Scrolls are so important–they produced the first apocalyptic literature, they set the stage.

 

Then, of course, in the middle of all this, the Romans come and conquer what is going to be called Palestine again. There is no way the Jews can fight Rome. You fight Rome and you die. And die Jews did, over and over.

 

This is the environment Jesus and the other 3 dozen or so recorded messianic figures that we know about were born into. Almost all of them were apocalyptic in one form or another, following in the footsteps of John the Baptist (who was clearly associated with some branch of Qumran teachings) and ending, after the destruction of the Second Jewish Temple in 69 CE with the Bar Kochba Rebellion in 135 CE.

 

One of the texts most favored by the Qumran community was Daniel. Almost no academic scholar (including every Jewish scholar I’ve ever read) considers Daniel to have been a real person. He appears to be an amalgam of a prophet and a king, somewhere between Elijah and David. He can interpret dreams like Joseph and defy physics and animals like Elijah and has God’s favor like David. He foils Persian and Babylonian kings alike, and tells of the time Israel will rise again.

 

This text was gold for disaffected and disenfranchised Jewish persons who had been displaced by their elites. It inspired other apocalypses, like the Book of Enoch and of course the Revelation of John. While there are Hebrew prophets that contain some apocalyptic statements, no canonical (Hebrew/Old Testament) prophet is apocalyptic at their core.

 

This is because apocalypticism is fundamentally pessimistic, and the accepted Jewish prophets are not ultimately that. In apocalyptic writing, God has to use that battle between good and evil to wipe everything out. There is little or no hope for most of the world and most of its people.

 

Apocalyptic literature depicts a prophet who is providing a series of bizarre symbolic visions depicting the “end of days.” Only a few can understand, only a few will be saved, in the end the battle for supremacy between good and evil is the means by which God destroys all things in order to save and/or rebuild his Kingdom. A slate must be wiped clean. It’s ultimately a form of revenge more than salvation.

 

In this, what evolved is really very unlike Zarathushtra’s original version/vision.

 

If you want to look this genre up to get more of a sense of it–there are almost 30 apocalyptic texts, both Jewish and Christian, that have survived. Watch the documentary Apocalypse Later on Amazon Prime for a fun and fuller analysis of the genre. It’s relevant.

 

Daniel almost didn’t make it into the Jewish canon. It was finally admitted as an example of this kind of literature, but plays almost no liturgical or scriptural role. Occasionally, Jewish mystics would take it up, or the occasional Jewish claimants for Messiah would invoke it. After the abortive claim by Sabbatai Zevi (he would convert to Islam rather than be martyred) in the 17th century, most Jews have just refused to go there.

 

Instead, beginning in the 19th century, most Jews, other than the Hasidim, began to focus on secular solutions to survival, thus Zionism and the embrace of certain kinds of Marxism (which has moments of apocalyptic tendency itself).

 

Christian apocalypticism is more familiar to many of us, although it is the American/British version of such that we most encounter.

 

It always surprised students to find out that the book of Revelation almost didn’t make it into the Bible/New Testament at all. Many early Church fathers doubted its authenticity and took issue with the poor Greek in which it was written. The Eastern Church especially has never liked it.

 

After much debate and discussion, and after Augustine provided a way to spiritually interpret it, it was finally admitted into the canon. But nobody really paid attention to it–it’s hard to understand and preach from, so it was basically ignored until the time of the Crusades.

 

The medieval theologian Joachim of Fiore used some of the ideas in Revelation, and the tumult that was raging as a result of the Crusades (which the Christians started–and that’s a whole history one can research) to posit the idea that there were three “ages” of God’s unfolding in the world: the time of the Father (the Jews-Old Testament), the time of the Son (Christianity-New Testament) and a later time of the Holy Spirit (New Jerusalem?).

 

He wasn’t overly apocalyptic himself, but he lived in such times, and his work would be taken up by others who derived the idea of “dispensations” from it.

 

Not even Martin Luther, the great Protestant reformer, liked the book of Revelation–and his German translation of the Bible relegates the text to an appendix because he believed it to be a forgery–the Greek is so shitty and if you read the text carefully, it promises the believer that at the end of days, when everything is wiped clean, Christians will be able to live it up like, well like the Romans did, or the Pope was at the time.

 

That didn’t keep Luther from calling the Pope the Antichrist-because, that’s what a spin doctor reformer does.

 

Although Revelation was used off and on by various Protestant reformers, it really became popular fodder in the American Anglo milieu, particularly once the teachings of John Nelson Darby, (father of American dispensationalism), Dwight Moody of the Moody Institute, and Cyrus Scofield, creator of the Scofield Bible were joined with populist fundamentalism in the mid-20th century.

 

Basically, Darby’s theory placed America at the center of Christ’s return, invented the rapture from a few tag ends of scripture and supplanted the disappointments of the Millerite controversy (he was one of the first famous Americans to try to come up with an actual date of Christ’s return) with hope for the future. Moody provided the theological credentials and Scofield provided the fundamentalist template that one could place over Bible texts to see “what they really mean” in light of the coming eschaton.

 

Really–check out the documentary Apocalypse Later to get the whole scoop in a condensed form. It’s worth your 90 minutes.

 

What many don’t know is that there are also visions of apocalypse in Islamic tradition, and they are also current and fueling the present rise in violence and discontent.

 

Islamic eschatology was always implied a little. Muhammad assumed there would be an end of days, a Final Judgment of sinners, but he assumed that was far in the future. There is virtually no imminent mention of it in the Qu’ran or in most of the accepted hadith.

 

The notion of a coming Messiah (the Mahdi, who precedes the return of Jesus and helps make way for him–kind of like John the Baptist over again), began to take root after the Battle of Karbala, a terrible conflict which eventually led to the Sunni and Shi’a split.

 

It was essentially a Civil War, an inter-familial conflict about succession. Although Sunni and Shi’a authorities would come to dispute this, an outsiders observation about the available sources indicates that Muhammad really didn’t give clear instructions about who was to succeed him after he died.

 

One of the successors was contested and not all members of Muhammad’s family would agree to follow him. Armed conflict ensued, and the prophet’s grandson, Husayn, who was one of the claimants for succession, was killed in an ambush after being promised safe passage and an audience. According to the story, his son, an infant on his lap, was also killed. Husayn was also mutilated by decapitation, a clear violation of his stature as a descendant of the prophet.

 

Even Sunni sources admit that killing Husayn was a grave mistake, they just say, “Whoops, sorry.” Obviously, this is not enough and eventually the family stain grew into the split that remains today.

 

There isn’t enough room here to discuss how Shi’a Islam folded these events into a narrative of religious significance, but by the time of the Crusades, the schism over succession had grown into a reinterpretation of who the Mahdi was and what the signs of his coming might be.

 

Obviously, the experience of the Crusades brought ideas about the “end of times” into sharper focus, and it’s during this period that Islamic scholars, such as Ibn Khaldun, al Ghazali and Ibn Arabi, first begin to try to understand what apocalypse might mean from an Islamic perspective. Still, there no Islamic apocalyptic literature as such developed.

 

Only the Assassin guild with its unique cult and interpretation of Nizari Ismailism, violence and mysticism, cultivated an eschatology of any influence, particularly the ideas of martyrdom and instant salvation. And they mostly went after other Muslims.

 

Those ideas wouldn’t come into fruition until later, but they would be tinged with different realities. Scholars have traced the origins of what the West refers to as Islamic Fundamentalism to the 17th century Arabian teacher al Wahhab, who preached a return to “original Islam” in order to defend against Western Colonialism.

 

Shah Ismail I had already reunified Iran under a Twelver Shi’a doctrine in response to a vision he had had that only by driving Arabs out and returning to a Persian version of Islam could the West be kept at bay.

 

As Muslim and Western powers continued to contend with one another, the eschatology and apocalypticism of the former continued to be influenced somewhat by the latter–even if mainly by response.

 

It wasn’t until the 20th century when Islamic thinkers such as Sayyid Qutb, founder of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and later Mullah Omar, founder of the Taliban, began to link Islamic eschatology to apocalyptic visions.

 

Both had dreams and visions befitting their experiences. Qutb used his western education to link Marxist ideals to Islamic visions of paradise. His reinterpretations of the Qur’an are best sellers and have been translated into English–I recommend you read him.

 

Among his innovations is a reinterpretation of Jihad which includes pre-emptive violent, terroristic acts, if they are considered necessary to achieving the objective of destabilizing colonial forces.

 

This call to arms, which is quite different from the Jihad enjoined by traditional Islamic jurists, has been taken up and elaborated on by subsequent Islamic groups, terrorists, militias.

 

Omar joined his visions of paradise to his dream of unifying his ethnic tribes.  If violence is necessary to accomplish this, then so be it. All was in service of liberating Muslim peoples from the yoke of Western oppression.

 

So, the current set of happenings see visions of apocalypse contending. Jews/Israelis are attempting to fend off what they fear might be their annihilation, coming on the heels of The Shoah and many of them are willing to do whatever they must to survive.

 

They will accept the help of Christian apocalypticists who only support Israel because of their own beliefs that they hold the signs needed for the Messiah’s return, even though those same Christians believe most Jews are going to go straight to hell for all their trouble.

 

For some Christians, the Muslims, represented by the Palestinians are part of the Anti-Christ, whereas for apocalyptic Muslims, many Westerners (or the West generally) is an aspect of al Dajjal (anti-Christ) who portends the coming of the Mahdi, the herald of Jesus, who will wipe the enemies of Islam from the face of the Earth.

 

And I’m not even going to talk about how the idea of the end of the world has infested our entertainment industries from surviving natural disasters, aliens and zombies.

 

Which End of the World is going to actually get us?

 

Some final notes to take home. Please use these to get past the stupid reporting in the mainstream media:    

 

Eschatology: Study of the End of Days (end of the world)

Apocalypse-literally Greek for Revelation–they are synonyms in English–however, the term has come to mean matters pertaining to the end of the world and is used to describe both a literary genre and a stance about the world.


Generally, it’s a form of literature that uses complex and often violent symbolic language and images to express dissatisfaction with the present world and predict, through visions that purport to come through a seer, how the old world is going to be wiped out and a new world created. In its modern form, it’s essentially nihilistic with very little hope for the world and humankind.

 

Palestinians are not all ethnic Arabs and almost a third of them are Eastern Christians.

Iranians are not Arabs.


Almost 20% of Arabs worldwide are Christian, although this number has fallen in recent years in the Middle East due to Western colonialism.


Many Egyptians are not ethnic Arabs and do not consider themselves to be–about 15% are Christian.

 

To be Jewish is to belong to a civilization and culture that may or may not be religious but is held to represent a distinct history and identity.


Judaism, of which there are numerous forms, can be converted to as the religious element connected to this history and identity. There are numerous ethnicities represented.

 

Israelites were what members of the Kingdom of Israel, under David and Solomon were called. There are no Israelites (ethnically) now.

 

Israeli is a nationality. There are Palestinian or Arab Israelis.

 

Is the Norse story of Ragnorak an Apocalypse? Sort of–there is a visionary person in the text that is telling a highly symbolic story about the origin of the world and how the present world will come to an end. There are implications in the text about why–although the criteria of what constitutes good and evil are quite different. In the text it’s not so much the forces of good and evil that contend, but the forces of order and chaos–or more specifically the forces of the gods and the forces of nature. Essentially, nature wins, but, unlike the book of Revelation, what is most powerful about nature survives and replants itself anew. So, there isn’t a complete clean slate–and humans have nothing to do with it, so it’s not about at all.

Some scholars have opined that this text probably was a response to certain Christian ideas, within a pagan framework–others maintain that the story is similar to other mythologies of death and renewal that one can find across the globe–just as nature seasonally dies and renews every year, so does the realm of the gods. That’s quite different from the classic apocalyptic view.



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