The real meaning of magic

By Xoic · Jan 13, 2023 · ·
  1. I was plunged into this by a random statement made by Ian Crossland on the Tim Pool podcast. Ian is not the brightest bulb on the tree, and often says things that seem ridiculous to me, but this one took me up short and launched a new line of inquiry for me. He said something to the effect that

    Words were originally magic spells, that's why they're spelled
    Hey, even a broken clock is right twice a day, and even somebody who says a lot of ridiculous things also spits a lot of truth.

    I know the arts all began as magic, and both speaking and writing are arts, right? "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God." He spoke the world into being. Painting, sculpture, and all the arts have their basis in early magic rituals.

    One of the arts that played a pivotal role in creating civilization was stonemasonry. The initiated—those who had been taken into the secret society and taught the art, knew the ways of shaping, planing, and smoothing stone. The uninitiated hadn't learned the sacred geometry used to discover perfect right angles and whatever else was necessary in order to make perfect walls and structures like the world had never seen before. When ignorant peasants built things they maybe broke stones now and then or chipped away parts to get the right general shape, but they knew not the sacred arts and disciplines taught in the Lodge.

    And in those days there was no separation between the physical arts and magic. Science didn't exist, nor did philosophy except maybe in its earliest stages, all was superstition and religion. And as I've been discovering more and more, religion was the early form of many sciences and practices, including psychology and philosophy as well as just general wisdom. The same was true about sorcery, which was magic without ethics, done to increase someone's personal power. The difference is religion was bound to the highest good and shunned personal power as a deadly sin (at least Christianity did). Humbleness was espoused.

    But ritual was always included in all these practices. They would have been a strange mix of art, science, knowledge, and ritual, with no clear dividing line between any of them. We hadn't yet developed a purely rational way of understanding things.

    Today we still have the Freemasons, the descendents of those original magic-workers who were able to use the sacred geometry and the discipline of stone to create incredible works the likes of which had never been seen before. And only initiates understood it. The common populace had no idea how it was done, they were left to wonder and speculate.

    It was the priests who learned the sacred magic of reading and writing. Only they could read the Bible (which were hand written in those days). The peasants gasped in wonder at this incredible magic. How could those little black squiggles on the paper hold meaning? What outrageous magic was this?

    Understanding these things, it's easy to see how the general populace held those initiates in high esteem, and feared them at the same time. They knew how to work the magic, which the ordinary folk couldn't do.

    I think this explains the Esoteric. As I like to say now and again, there's always been an esoteric movement, and they see works like the Bible differently than the general populace does. They were the initiates, taught to read the symbolic meaning of the great holy works. I think this symbolism is what Jonathan Pageau and his brother discuss, though there may well be different interpretations and different branches. Theirs is an Orthodox interpretation. And the more I learn about it, the more I begin to understand the Bible stories in a very different way.

    There's magic, yes, but magic didn't originally mean what we think it does now. I mean, it did, but that's the view the general public has of it. A very superstitious view. When the churches were founded, there was no way the priests were going to fully educate the public in how to read the Bible!! They'd all be out of their jobs! And they'd lose the stranglehold they had on the public. Reading and interpretation of the holy Word was theirs alone to perform, through that sacred learning they had been taught.

    The general public (read: rabble, peasants, the unwashed masses, etc.) tend to take things very literally, and to believe in magic very literally. Oh, I think the esoterics did too to a large extent. The difference is they knew how to work the magic, and what it really was, they understood the practical wisdom contained in it as well as the ritualistic aspects and the showiness designed to wow and cow the public. I'd say they also believed that it really did connect to greater magic beyond the reckoning of man. To believe things of that nature don't exist is a very modern conceit, and a very arrogant one. But it seems like what they believed existed were patterns of natural rhythm and order, natural laws that with enough knowledge can be understood and predicted and harnessed. And behind those laws (the Logos)—something too great for us to conceive of.

    I've begun looking into this a bit already.
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  1. Xoic
    The magic power of the Word

    Looking into the idea of words originally being magic spells, I had to go to esotericism. Etymology doesn't run that deep, it begins at the point where we understand words strictly in a modern rational sense. Esotericism is strange stuff—there are religious branches of it and also occult/black magic branches, and when you're searching you might not be able to find exactly what you're looking for (or at least I haven't figured out the key). So it's a mixed bag, and the pages I've found online usually include some profound core truths mixed in with some strange gibberish, some real tinfoil hat stuff. Many people, especially rationalists, will be put off by this and probably write it all off, and it's hard to blame them. But often you find useful material, like say iron ore, in a raw unfinished form mixed with dirt and other contaminants, and it needs to be refined and processed before it can be used. That's one of those arts that helped build modern civilization by the way, and thus allowed us to develop purely rational ideas. It all stemmed from these kinds of beliefs where early proto-rational ideas were still contaminated with magical thinking.

    So with that understanding in mind, I'll present some esoteric findings related to this idea, that words were originally spells.

    "When you are writing laws you are testing words to find their utmost power. Like spells, they have to make things happen in the real world, and like spells they only work if people believe in them".
    That's a quote I found on this page: Words Are Spells

    Here's some more, to help put it into context:

    "The first thing you learn when you go to school is how to spell. Words are spells to create a sentence of terms. Think of a jail sentence or a prison term. The Wyrd (Word) sisters in Greek mythology were Fates or witches who controlled the fates of man. In our language we use curse words and cursive writing. We cuss and dis-cuss. Words have meaning and (are) mean things especially cross words. They can be used to make a point. We use a “con” verse to converse in order to keep us off course in our dis-course as a phrase frays. We use catch words."
    See what I mean? Some of it is brilliant and undoubtedly true, but some of it sounds like somebody was just trying to be clever. Parts of it sound like a George Carlin act. But then he always provided a mix of powerful reality in ways we weren't used to seeing it, with humor.

    "Abracadabra is a Hebrew phrase meaning, “I create what I speak.” When you use the English language, you also practice the occult. Which is why we had SPELL-ing tests in school every week. Occult just means hidden knowledge which can be used for good or evil purposes."
    It's true—much of magic and the occult is about speaking words and phrases of great power to affect things in reality. People do that all the time. Some speakers are exceptionally charismatic, they have a great charm about them and are able to charm listeners into believing them. Some of them we call cult leaders or con men, some we call politicians and car salesmen. A very eloquent and persuasive speaker can alter your understanding of reality, and some people have so much charm that when you're in their presence you forget who you are, your purposes, and find yourself instead serving their purposes. After some time away from them you come back to your senses and wonder how they were able to alter your perception of reality like that.

    It's a lot more than just words of course, persuasive speakers use a whole repertoire of body language, facial expression, vocal tone, and all manner of emotional manipulation to coerce the vulnerable (and some of us are more vulnerable to manipulation than others). Think about what hypnotists are able to do to some people mostly through their words. Psychiatrists, comedians, lawyers, legislators, and the list goes on and on. Great writers, including of advertisements.

    Yes, there is definitely power in words, even in our utterly rational/materialistic times, and it holds sway over most of us, except maybe those who are adepts themselves—they can often recognize when a wordspell is being cast on them and counter it. Though there are definitely levels of adeptness. A greater or more sublte one can doubtless get past the shields of a lesser.
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  2. Xoic
    When it comes to language, we've all been initiated into how to speak and write. There was a time when the majority of the population couldn't understand writing, only the priests did. Now that magic belongs to all of us, assuming we got a decent education. All of us at times use these abilities to coerce and manipulate other people, through maybe verbal sleight-of-mouth, or maybe we're much more direct and threatening. We might find power in insults, or in false flattery. Or in convincing someone through reason and logic. Some of us are exceptionally skilled at rhetoric and debate. Verbal manipulation of someone's reality (their understanding of it anyway, which amounts to the same thing) comes in many and varied forms. And all of them are magic, when magic is properly understood.

    1. The art or practice of using charms, spells, or rituals to attempt to produce supernatural effects or control events in nature.
    2. The charms, spells, and rituals so used.
    3. The exercise of sleight of hand or conjuring, as in making something seem to disappear, for entertainment.
    4. noun A mysterious quality of enchantment.
    5. adjective Of, relating to, or invoking the supernatural.
    6. adjective Possessing distinctive qualities that produce unaccountable or baffling effects.
    7. transitive verb To produce, alter, or cause by or as if by magic.
    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition (A powerful book of majicks)
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  3. Dave The Great
    Thought provoking. Thinking about this has me recalling several people I've listened to online, who I felt persuaded me of things I knew to be untrue. Like some magical being casting a spell on me. I felt the urge to give in. How do you counter a spell without a spell of your own? A primitive and effective counter attack is physical violence, but when you're in a system that forbids it against certain groups, your only recourse is intense study of the magic itself, which is only mentored in great detail to the elite of a society. This knowledge is still esoteric, most people don't have a firm enough grasp of it to use it to their advantage.

    A great danger is a spell that isn't a spell at all, but the illusion of one. You can't fire back, because it will be striking nothing. You can only try to convince others that it is an illusion, but the illusion only works because they don't understand the language. So how do you convince them it's an illusion while using the language they don't understand? Teach them the language? My little rant here will probably be ironic.
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  4. Xoic
    "How do you counter a spell without a spell of your own?"

    Well, if you're talking about the same kind of spells I am, you learn methods of verbal self-defense. Those are your spells. Study grammar and rhetoric. Take assertiveness courses, learn where to draw your boundaries and how to respond when somebody crosses them.

    Maybe I didn't make it clear enough. I'm saying that a large part of what they called magic in ancient times is what we today call specialized skills and knowledge. How to work leather, stone, wood, and metal. The sacred mathematics and geometry, especially the parts required for practical on-the-job knowledge. Become deeply initiated into the specialized skills of speaking and writing persuasively. Each of these were once called magic, and they still carry the same practical power they always did, it's just that we've become fully accustomed to them now and see them as practical skills rather than magic. But to someone who doesn't possess the skill, it certainly can seem magical. I don't know how to fix my car if it breaks down, so I have to hire a wizard of the grease rack who does possess those skills. As far as I'm concerned, what he can do is magic. And I've had people say more or less that my ability to draw is a form of magic that they'll never possess, though I know it's really just a lot of skills I worked on for a long time to get good at. That's initiation, and when you get good enough you're an adept.

    Arthur C Clarke said "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." He was doubtless talking about alien cultures that are either advanced far beyond our level of understanding, or far behind it, but it applies as well to our ancestors. If a Hebrew of Old Testament times would see you flick a Bic, or put on sunglasses, he'd consider it magic. And that's exactly how the stunned populace felt when they'd see stonemasons create walls of perfectly squared, polished and fitted stone where you can hardly see the seams. The plebs weren't able to do it no matter how hard they tried, and the knowledge was kept strictly secret. If you wanted to learn, you had to join the Lodge, swear yourself to secrecy on fear of your life and maybe your firstborn, and start absorbing the inititation ceremonies. You'd learn a lot of rituals and incantations, many of which were probably memory tricks to help you memorize the various formulae and techniques, and you'd also apprentice to the highly skilled masons and start learning the ropes.
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  5. Xoic
    "your only recourse is intense study of the magic itself, which is only mentored in great detail to the elite of a society. This knowledge is still esoteric, most people don't have a firm enough grasp of it to use it to their advantage."

    "A great danger is a spell that isn't a spell at all, but the illusion of one. You can't fire back, because it will be striking nothing. You can only try to convince others that it is an illusion, but the illusion only works because they don't understand the language. So how do you convince them it's an illusion while using the language they don't understand? Teach them the language? My little rant here will probably be ironic."

    I'm not sure what you're saying here. Just to be clear, are you talking about actual supernatural magic? It sounds like you're talking about both—the practical stuff I'm writing about, and also real supernatural magic. If so, I don't know anything about that. I don't know whether supernatural magic is real or not, but my focus here is only on the practical skills that once came under the heading of magic but today are known as the trades and specialist job skills.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Xoic
      The best antidote I can think of to lies or untruths would be to do research (if it's something verifiable), or just remain skeptical when things don't seem right. Maybe keep asking questions and see how they react. If they get impatient or edgy, it might not be true. But of course sometimes it might not even occurr to you something might not be true. That's just something we all deal with.
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    3. Xoic
      All this symbolic stuff I'm studying about the Bible could fall under that banner—it may or may not be true. Meaning the Bible may or may not have been intended to get these symbolic ideas across. That's definitely something I've been considering carefully as I go. I tend to be pretty skeptical, about certain kinds of things anyway, and the reason I've decided to keep following these ideas is because so far they seem to check out in every way I can test them. If the Pageaus or somebody else just made it all up it wouldn't fit so many parts of the Bible so perfectly.

      Also they're true in reality. So weather or not they were deliberately put in by the people who developed the ideas in the first place, the symbols and ideas they repesent are very real. Peterson checks them rigorously against what he knows about pyschology and life itself (as do I, though admittedly he knows a bit more about psychology), and they check out. Those ancients knew things that we've forgotten, and in some cases that we're re-discovering.
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    4. Xoic
      But admittedly, I haven't done a lot of research into the stuff I'm posting now. I have seen much of it before, I've read somewhat into this kind of material, and it all seems to fit quite well with the Pageau/Peterson approach to the Bible, which retains the possibility that it could be true in the supernatural sense, while also being obviously true in the material/physical sense. And personally I just lean toward what I understand as a rational/esoteric approach to it.
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  6. Xoic
    The letters of the Hebrew alphabet are also words and carry profound spiritual meaning

    I'm taking a quick detour into the Kaballah for a moment here, which is not directly associated with the Torah or the Bible, in order to show something rather astonishing about the Hebrew alphabet. You already know that because you read the title of this post. :p This is fascinating and seems to lend a great deal of extra depth and meaning to every word in the Hebrew language. You can break each word down letter by letter and each letter is a symbol filled with meaning of a spiritual nature. As a quick example, one closely related to the subject of this entire thread:

    Peh – 17th Letter of the Hebrew Alphabet
    The Hebrew letter Peh means mouth and refers to the power of speech. In Kabbalah, speech is actually considered to be a spiritual power, which can cause good or evil depending on how it is used. In a certain way, what one thinks is how one is, and what one speaks has the power to become. Violent words lead to violent actions. The quality of the speech is considered to be the quality of the life’s essence and creative existence. The Peh teaches us to view our words as precious as gold, not to be spilled haphazardly.
    Anyone interested can read more here: Spiritual Meanings of the Hebrew Alphabet Letters

  7. Xoic
    This thread relates directly to my ongoing investigation into what Christianity is, at least according to the Pageau-ian model of symbolism. One thing people bring up is the idea that in order to really be religion, it must include the supernatural—aka magic. Well, what exactly does that mean? It's a term we take for granted. We think we understand it, but most people know very little about its actual origins or what it meant in ancient times, such as the time in which the Bible was written. I'm not claiming to know a lot about it myself—this is another subject I'm fascinated by and learning as I go, just like with Christianity and most of the other things I keep bringing up on my blog. What's really interesting is the way these subjects keep connecting with each other in strange ways. Well, probably not so strange really, it's just that it isn't what we modern types expect.

    I used to buy into all the strawman arguments about what Christianity and religion in general referred to—magical invisible beings, or in some cases completely visible and even physical, who have great magical power and can do things completely impossible for mere mortals. Miracles for instance, and raining hellfire and brimstone down on people and places.

    And of course there are branches of religion that claim it's exactly like this. But there are also the more esoteric branches (might be the wrong term, symbolic might be better) that say it's more about, as the Pageaus call it, the structure of reality seen as patterns and symbolized in the stories of the Bible and in the painted and sculpted icons.

    By this account God at the very least isn't a man in a white robe with a long beard sitting on a cloud. That's just the way he's depicted in paintings because, how else do you depict him? He needs some kind of symbolic form, and a human one, that of a great patriarch in fact, is the ideal one.

    There's symbolism that works visually and symbolism that works in stories. And some works for both. The symbolism used in the Bible, according to the Pageaus and their very Orthodox ideas, works for both, because it uses patterns and forms that can be depicted either visually or in words, like the triangular shape of a mountain, the base of which is the ground of physical reality (the World), and the apex of which touches heaven. In fact more to the point and less specific, the directions Up and Down. Higher things, in stories or paintings, are closer to God and Heaven, and lower things are closer to the earth, the ground, and this physical world of manifestation. As humans, our feet rest on that ground and our head—the thinking part—is lifted up toward heaven. This doesn't mean that heaven is physically above us, it's just represented that way symbolically. As Jesus clearly stated, the kingdom of heaven is within you.

    Well, this is hardly a supernatural set of ideas! Heaven is the realm of patterns, which means ideas and feelings etc—the spiritual part of us, the invisible and intangible part. The part that isn't material or physical. It works with the non-material parts of Creation, those big external patterns. They aren't mere abstractions, they're real symbols, meaning they stand for something absolutely real. It just doesn't have a physical form, and isn't made of any physical material. The highest ideals, the most powerful concepts that shape our lives, are absolutely real, as are all of the other concepts and ideals, all the way down to the lowest or most vile. And it's absolutely true that if you orient yourself toward the greatest or highest ideals it turns your life around, makes it better in very tangible ways. But if you instead orient yourself toward the lowest ideals, toward selfish gain at the expense of others for instance, or toward the heartless aquisition of money no matter what the spiritual cost, then you will suffer. It might not be right away, but it will happen, because you ignore your spiritual aspect at your peril.

    Wow, I wasn't intending to write so much here!! Got carried away, sorry. My point was that the Christianity I'm learning about from the Pageaus and Jordan Peterson, while it may or may not include a supernatural element, definitely includes a whole lot of very sound practical advice that today would come under the headings of philosophy and psychology and doubtless several more. Advice being one of them. So it makes sense that magic, as conceived in the same spirit, also consists largely of the practical. Maybe it was also meant to include the supernatural, as we conceive of it today, and maybe it wasn't. The thing is, it works either way.
  8. Xoic
    Dream a little dream with me

    I'm going to just riff for a while about magic and how it relates to what we today would call psychology.

    Imagine an earlier time, how about the Salem witch trials? There's some magic for ya! Paranoia is big magic. People at the time were very ignorant of science or anything approximating materialism or rationality. They lived through the Bible alone, and in Salem a very puritanical Hellfire interpretation of it. People living in pre-modern times, knowing nothing of rationality, are very much like children in the sense that they don't have a rational framework to see the world through, and they tend to let their imaginations run away with them. And clearly at the time the clergy were harsh and unforgiving and expected unrealistic levels of discipline and sinlessness. Nobody human is capable of living like that, so people felt like miserable sinners and thought criminals. They knew they weren't living up to what was expected of them, and also that there were horrible torments waiting for them because of it. This is a hell of a lot of pressure to live under all the time.

    In times like these people are very prone to things like paranoia and projection. You know you're guilty of all kinds of thought crimes and sins of the flesh and of desires that you have no control over. And you know if you're discovered to be such a miserable sinner it's all over. You'll be pilloried (I mean that metaphorically, that you'll be publicly humiliated and made an example of, but yeah, you might actually be locked in a real pillory in the town square too). So they'll do just about anything to get attention off themselves and their own sins, like accuse someone else of something far worse. That'll get public attention off you and your problems!

    "No parson, it weren't me! I had no control, I was magicked into the vile desire by that devilspawn woman next door ta me, and I can prove it! I seen 'er yer worship—seen 'er I did! Last Thursday, at the midnight hour, she came in through my window and flew around the house on her broom castin' her evil spells on me and my pure, God-fearin' family!"
    And the thing is, some of them were doubtless making it up just to get the spotlight off themselves, but many of them had very overworked imaginations and were incapable to a large extent of separating physical reality from some of their own overpowering fantasies and visions. By visions I mean things like daydreams or sudden flash images we see at times that resemble waking dreams. These things tend to happen when we're under a lot of stress or when we're going through something really harrowing. The unconscious kicks in and creates fantasies of relief or of horror. An old, God-fearing, possibly alcoholic peasant under extreme pressure of being found guilty of Unclean Thoughts about the neighbor woman, would be in desperation to find a way out. In situations like that we tend to project our own sense of guilt out onto other people. No, it ain't me who's guilty, it's YOU! Or him, or her. Anybody but me. And our unconscious mind, the very mind that creates dreams for us every night, works a little of its magic and creates one when you need some relief, or when you're suffering unendurable terror. You have something very much like a waking dream, complete with translucent imagery and a full range of emotions and feelings and ideas. Like some dreams, it can feel incredibly real and be overpowering.

    He probably actually did see her flying around his house on a broom. It might have been in a dream that felt incredibly real, or in one of those daydreams that can suddenly take over. But he didn't have the understanding of psychology we have today, and lived in very superstitious times, and to him it was absolutely real. Experientially it WAS real, just as real as that radish he's eating. Meaning that's the way he experienced it, as a reality. Children have a hard time telling waking reality and dream apart, and so do primitives who don't live in a rationalist framework. They have no solid ground of understanding to separate the two, they're both equally real. Someone in that situation would likely believe he actually saw the witch's spirit-self come in and work her evil. And everyone else in the society would believe it too. They've all experienced it, just as we all have. They just didn't know about dreams and visions and the way the unconscious works (or what it even was).

    That's why the entire society accepted the idea of witches. They're just as real as gods and angels, right? And no-one at the time would deny the reality of those. They all believed in them in a very material sense I think, at least many of them. Or at least they didn't separate a more metaphorical or metaphysical reality from the physical reality the way we do today.
  9. Xoic
    I've stumbled onto some good stuff now:

    "Considering the supernatural as not just ‘other than nature’ we can see that this is defined as: “of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe…departing from what is usual or normal” (Mirriam-Webster) Also: “not existing in nature or subject to explanation according to natural laws; not physical or material” ("
    Well, this is those patterns Pageau keeps talking about, such as for instance the orbits of planets. A planet's orbit is not a physical object, you can't touch it or weigh it. It's invisible, you just have to observe the movement of the planet in order to discover the pattern at all. It isn't even energy, it's simply movement, a pattern that contains meaning. A rhythmical, repeating pattern. There are many such in nature inside our bodies as well as outside, such as the tides, movements of waves, the waving of branches in a gentle breeze, of dancing flames in a fire. Life cycles, generations, movement through stages of maturation, and on and on. Once you become aware of this basic invisible pattern—the fact that some things in nature move rhythmically and repeat—it can help you predict things. You can observe that many things have similar patterns, and once you know that, the movement of that thing becomes more predictable. Then you;ve gained some understanding and possibly some control over parts of the world that previously were mysterious and unpredictable. This is powerful magic, or call it wisdom or science if you'd rather. They all cover much the same territory, each with some differences.

    These are the kinds of patterns discovered by ancient Hebrews and recorded in the Bible, and throughout the spectrum of occult and magical writings. So once again, much of what today's materialists consider silly superstition actually is deep wisdom of the same type that eventually became various branches of science, philosophy, psychology, and etc. They've simply straw-manned it and the real origins of it become lost in the miasma of disrespect and misinformation surrounding it all.

    THIS is what I'm interested in—re-discovering the more practical and useful ideas underlying ancient wisdom that are now widely ridiculed. It's a range of wisdom that modern science doesn't touch, because science is completely amoral. It's a tool for discovering facts about the natural physical world, and that's all it can do. It has nothing whatsoever to do with how to live your life wisely and morally. We really don't have anything that teaches that, beyond the children's level where it's taught in nursery rhymes and fables and the like, as well as in movies and song etc. But much of that is very simplistic and basic, or in the case of fairy tales and myths deeply misunderstood. Only the surface level is seen today, and the real wisdom of all of it lies deeper, since they were all creations of the unconscious not clearly understood by their writers. The unconscious is a teacher, but you must remain open to it and humble, not smug and arrogant. It teaches not through axioms and formulae, but through dreamlike stories and images that have a hidden level of meaning, and that secret level is where the real wisdom is. That level isn't seen through scientific or purely rational eyes.
  10. Xoic
    Early practical philosophy was secularized religious wisdom

    Not really about magic except it factors in peripherally, but I don't want to make a new thread for it. This just hit me like a revelation.

    Early philosophy split off from religion and rapidly became the secularized form of it. Religion isn't what most of us today have been told it is, it's mostly life wisdom presented in the form of stories with figures (gods, angels, demons etc) representing certain things. This is the way dreams work, and it's the way the mind works when it's mostly dominated by unconscious thinking, as all minds were in those early days before we developed structured rational left-brain systems of thought.

    If you look into the early pre-socratic modes of philosophy, they're still very mythological/religious. Socrates was the dividing line. He didn't talk much about Zeus or the rest of the gods, and when he did you get the feeling he did it mostly because that was the guiding paradigm of the times, most people thought in those terms. His method was to ask questions, to dialogue. But he seemed to be mostly naturalistic in his orientation. And those who followed—Plato, Aristotle, and the rest, split completely from religious thought.

    I've often said that Stoicism includes much of the same wisdom Christianity does, just in secularized form. In fact the Stoics were a lot like monks, wearing threadbare rough cloaks and living in voluntary poverty (many of them). The Cynics were even more ascetic. If you'd see a group of monks and a group of Stoics or Cynics walking down the street, you'd be hard pressed to tell them apart.

    And the wisdom they espoused was the same as much of the religious wisdom. That's what early philosophy was—life wisdom. Practical wisdom to help people live a better life free of many of the problems that beset those unaware of the wisdom (or unwilling to conform their lives to it).

    Now I can see it clearly—the ideas, the wisdom, rose up originally at a time when we hadn't yet developed conscious thought to a very high degree, so we thought in those typical right-brain dreamlike ways, which tend to include humanistic figures, often with a great deal of power and wisdom, helping, guiding or tempting us. As the left-brain thinking developed, we became more able to reason without need of those dreamlike scenarios and figures of the unconscious.
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