What Is Esoteric Activism?

What Is Esoteric Activism?

The term “esoteric activism” is likely to conjure up all sorts of images to all sorts of people; as the article “The Magical Theory of Politics by Egil Asprem illustrates, the way a practicing occultist interprets and acts upon such a term can differ greatly depending upon one’s political views, personal and social biases, and their deepest-held values. While certain images are more likely evoked than others, it would be a grave mistake to make any assumptions about a person’s particular political goals by the mere adoption of the term or practice that it implies. There are esoteric activists all across the political spectrum. So just what is “Esoteric Activism?”

To start, esoteric activism does not mean merely something like the use of magick to influence world events along some given social agenda–although that can certainly be a part of the process. That seems like the most straightforward interpretation, but it is not really the point. By all means, go ahead and try, if it really feels like the right course of action. I advise working on a smaller, local scale if you do, but at any rate, there’s more to the picture than this.

In a way, using the phrase “esoteric activism” is misleading, because it implies the taking of a specific kind of action. In reality, the heart of esoteric activism is more like an attitude, or perhaps a certain type of awareness–a type where self-awareness and world awareness converge.

As I see it, heartfelt esoteric work does not necessarily focus on imposing one’s will upon external events. It is not about the mere accumulation of power or the development of one’s abilities for the sake thereof. Rather, it’s about growing as a person in ways that challenge our innermost convictions, confronting and overcoming our innermost fears, and living in greater harmony with the world around us.

It’s almost superfluous to speak of esoteric activism at all. Why? Because if one is doing genuine esoteric work, then on the one hand, increasing awareness of how everything is interconnected is likely to automatically be reflected in the mundane ways in which we act in the world, sometimes leading us to become more engaged in causes related to the welfare of those around us; one is more inclined to become what we would traditionally call an activist by virtue of inner growth. It’s a natural result of the expansion of consciousness.

On the other hand, growing awareness of the unity underlying external appearances also seems to heighten this connection between inner and outer worlds–one finds that their perceptions and intentions begin to manifest themselves more readily even without being first overtly expressed in the form of a ritual or deliberate visualization. It is a process that is part of the package when it comes to esoteric and spiritual work. Thus, in a sense, “esoteric activism” is nothing more or less than another name for these dual and reciprocal processes.

InThelema, for example, discovering one’s “True Will” and doing it is the essence of what I am calling “esoteric activism.” Forging a connection with one’s soul or Higher Self and giving external expression to our rich inner life is esoteric activism, and many of those interested in magic, spirituality and/or meditation are already doing this.

Nonetheless, because such a development is so natural as a consequence of the work, I think it can easily go unnoticed. I firmly believe that by giving this process a name and conceptualizing it as something one “does,” holding it firm in our mind and remembering it regularly, its efficacy is intensified and one can achieve more in both the inner and outer realms by means of sanctifying it with ever-increasing degrees of intention.

Further, activism is something that is most often a communal undertaking, and by naming this process as such, I hope to infuse inner, esoteric work with a greater sense of this communal essence. Inner work, even when performed in groups, is often a lonely path, but by recognizing it in all of its manifestations and becoming more aware of how it impacts our own lives and the world around us, we can begin to extend our circles to include others–even if they aren’t particularly aware of it themselves. Coming together in this way is a very powerful thing, and it, too, serves to magnify our efforts, extending the scope of what is possible.

In this sense, then, esoteric activism is a calling; it is an appeal to remember, whenever we are focused within, that our work can directly impact the external world. Likewise, we should be more conscious, when acting in the world or performing esoteric workings, that we are transforming our inner lives as well. Finally, as we reflect more and more on the inter-relationship of our own inner and outer worlds, let us endeavor to be conscious of the ways in which this unfolding process weaves us all together and augments the work we all undertake in unison.

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