I’ll start with a dream. It’s as good a place as any.
I was skiing down a slope in a place not unlike Poiana Brasov in Romania, a kind of cut-price version of the Swiss Alps. It was an ecstatic, joyous, whirlwind descent, full of exhilerating energy, swishing and swooshing and swerving across the snow, with the kind of breathless excitement I’d not felt since I was a child.
There were two children on the slope, a boy and a girl holding hands, looking scared as I was sweeping passed.
“It’s all right,” I shouted, “we’re not going to buy and sell you as slaves as they used to do in Rome.”
Then there was an image of a market, of people buying and selling their wares in a bustling place of exchange, while a portentous voice resounded around the deepest heavens, like the voice of prophesy itself.
“In ancient times,” it said, “the currency of exchange was considered to be the Breath, also known as Dharma or the Dao.”
You have to listen to the voice of prophesy when it speaks to you.
So that is the starting point of our magical excursion this day: the idea that the often dry, jargon-filled and deliberately confusing terms of the economic debate can be addressed by something completely outside itself. By magic. By prophesy. By Dharma. By Dao.
And that it can encompass the buying and selling of human beings into debt slavery, as well as offering them the means to escape.
Julian Vayne said something which sparked my interest the first time I met him. He said that the meaning of the word “occult” is “hidden”.
In other words, occult practice is a means by which we can open up a dialogue with that which is presently hidden from us.
I took that to mean the hidden realms of the mind. The unconscious. In other words, magical practice is a way of opening up a space in the mind to allow hidden processes to be revealed, to encourage other possibilities into view and other forgotten or neglected thought-forms a place of entry into the circle of consciousness.
We are talking about money: what it means, what it does to us, how it affects us, how it changes us, how it rules us and how it rules our world.
It’s strange isn’t it, that this apparently man-made entity has such power over us? It controls our lives. It forces us to do things we might otherwise never dream of. We give away a portion of our lives in the endless pursuit of it. For some – the lucky ones – there is a degree of creativity in the process; but for most it is a drudge, an hour-by-hour selling of our souls for the means to pay the bills and to subsist in some half-hearted way on what remains of our time, which we fill up with distractions, with TV and supermarkets, and Friday nights down the pub.
It also does peculiar things to us emotionally and spiritually: to our sense of self, to our sense of self-worth
We internalise it as a way of understanding ourselves. We externalise it as a way of comparing ourselves to other people.
But what is it really?
Superficially it is a measure of value. It the measure of the equivalence of values. How many loaves of bread would it take to buy a lawnmower? How many lawnmowers to buy a car? It simplifies the means of exchange so you don’t need to recalculate values every time a different product comes up for exchange. It allows you to exchange what you produce in your daily work for what other people produce, without having to go through the tedious process of renegotiation every time.
It goes back to almost the beginning of history. Some of the earliest writings were promissory notes written in cuneiform script on clay tablets, used as a means of exchange in ancient Mesopotamia.
That’s exactly what our paper money represents. It’s a promissory note, an IOU. It doesn’t have value in itself. It promises the bearer value in exchange.
So it is a measure. A measure of exchange in the same way that an inch is a measure of distance, or a minute is a measure of time.
It is also, unfortunately, a measure of our value as human beings.
This is where things start to go seriously awry
Most of us live about the same number of years on this planet: three score years and ten, as the Biblical phrase has it, or just over twenty five and a half thousand days.
Some people die young, while others can live to a grand old age.
Most of us, though, live broadly similar lifespans, and there’s not a huge difference between the age of the average person when he passes away, and that of the oldest person on the planet.
Hardly anyone makes it to over a hundred, virtually no one to a hundred and ten, and the ones living longer than that are mainly creatures of myth and legend.
The difference in pay scales, on the other hand, is disproportionately large. Unimaginably large. It is beyond the capacity of the average person to properly comprehend.
So the average annual pay in the UK is about £26,500 a year.
That of the top 100 FTSE CEOs, about £4.3 million.
That’s over a hundred and sixty two times greater.
To make the comparison with people’s lifespan: that would be like some people living till they were eleven thousand years old.
Rupert Murdoch earned around £21 million in 2015 ; that’s 803 times greater than the average: 56,258 years old in age terms.
This is clearly insane.
Is Rupert Murdoch really 803 times more valuable than you and I? 803 times more valuable than the average Briton?
As a measure of wealth, money tells us who is rich and who is poor: as a measure of value it is monstrously out of proportion.
So money is something other than a measure of actual value, of true value. It is also a measure of how we value ourselves, and how the world values us.
Rupert Murdoch isn’t going to live 803 times longer than than me. But he has hundreds of thousands of people who work for him, tens of millions who are influenced by him, and maybe half the planet – around three and a half billion – who are directly affected by him in one way or the other, by things they have seen on the internet, or have watched on the TV, or read in a newspaper somewhere.
Such power has a profound affect upon a person’s psyche. The quantitative difference makes a qualitative change.
The rich are much less empathic than the rest of us. They care less about other people. If they see a poor person on the street, they are more inclined to blame that person for their predicament. So what if they are poor? It’s obviously something they have done to themselves.
They are also more inclined to view themselves as entitled to their status: to think that it is a god-given right, born from their innate nature.
So money isn’t just a measure: it is a means.
It is the means by which the ultra rich have dispossessed the Earth.
It is a dark spell cast upon the heart of all humanity.
It is the hidden process by which the human race is being enslaved.
And while the process of getting money to pay for the necessities of life is a daily drudge for most of us in the West, for large parts of the globe it teeters on the edge of survival itself.
It can mean the difference between eating and not eating that day, the difference between feeding and not feeding your kids. It means you may be forced to make unspeakable choices. If there are too many kids and not enough food, sometimes, in extreme circumstances, a parent might be forced to sell a child into bondage. This really does happen: yes, even in the modern world.
How terrifying is that? And who knows what horrors that bondage might bring?
The teeming millions of the world’s poor in their shanty towns and cardboard hovels crying out for some escape, some route out of the torture, where drugs and gangs and prostitution abound, and life is bought and sold on the cheap.
This isn’t some accidental by-product of the economic system. It is what lies at its very heart. For only by pushing life to the very edge can the system be enforced. Only by ensuring that there is always someone poorer than us can they force us to endure the pointless drudgery of their economic method. There is always someone in more difficulties than us, so some reason to hold onto our meagre income, however dreary it may be. Some reason to give up on our dreams. Some reason to buckle down and fester in our hollowed out lives. Some moment when we make the choice between what we truly want, and what we are forced to do. To bow down to the masters, to feed their insatiable lust for power, for wealth, as we sell them our devalued time, and give away our energy, our imagination, our poetry and our life’s blood.
And bit by bit by bit by bit the whole world is being sold into bondage. And bit by bit by bit by bit we are all being enslaved, while the rich luxuriate in their unimaginable wealth and expect us to serve them.
Making a world in their own image; a mirror for their insanity.