Organic Gnosticism and the duality of Hanns Heinz Ewers
In many ways German author Hanns Heinz Ewers helped in my early understanding of Organic Gnosticism and how to see duality in terms of male and female united in love. However, there is a fine distinction that must be noted right here at the beginning. There are two types of duality, one where both powers oppose each other (good vs. evil) and one where both forces are drawn together as an act of love and completion (male/ female; yin/yang). Hanns Heinz Ewers shows us the way out of this nightmare. It is by bringing the unconscious into conscious awareness and not reverting back to a point of no awareness at all! What does Ewers have to say on this topic?
“It is solidly established in deepest human nature that all things new and unfamiliar are uncomfortable, while persistence along all accustomed paths brings happiness! That is why fairy tales are of “The Good Old Times”; the favorite songs of every generation sing of the morals and customs of our fathers’ and we find our poetic ideal in “Golden Antiquity”!
That is also why we hear the eternal complaint by the citizen of the “Loss of morals”, especially those morals of his own time, the genuinely coarse, “What is the world coming to?” This is the ancient song of the “decadence” of modern times compared with the glorious past!
Even with the simplest recognition it can be grasped that the path of humanity, despite individual rough spots is constantly leading upward, can be grasped how much higher we stand than our ancestors and even how much higher still our descendants will stand than us!
In the end this steadfast movement again and again overcomes the costly law of human inertia. —
But the past always appears as the victor, as the highest happiness! Back to the earliest beginning of all emotions, back to the point where a living creature had no conscious awareness of itself, could not make the distinction between itself and the exterior world. The achievement of this condition is the final atavism that there is, that which the mystical ecstatic calls, “Merged in God”, yes, to rest in the “Godhead”. It is the final culmination of all wisdom. —
Therefore it is entirely logical that those who hold this condition of ecstasy as the “highest happiness” should not forget that this “highest” is in fact the origin of everything and the deepest of everything, that fairy tales of the “Good Old Times” are the most grandiose as well as the most beautiful lies that humanity knows.
I take a different position — in my book, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”, an attempt is made to follow this path of thought to it last particular.”
-Music in Images
Here is a simple statement in his belief that humanity is progressing despite its own intrinsic impulse to revert backwards to old atavisms. Here it seems that he is against this backward return to the base instincts. He takes a different position from that which most people associate with duality! For him, duality is a movement forward, an evolutionary leap, and not a regression.
“Like man himself! In the beginning man was with God and part of the indivisible All, and he tore himself loose in spite of it. From this awareness of self over the course of billions of years there developed an awareness of the contradiction, “I” — and the world! And yet a part of the All clung to this “I”, was still imprisoned in this physical body, grew with it, died with it and was inseparable from its earthly remains.
And a great desire for liberation caused this soul to seek a false path and grope in the shameful darkness. It always ran back by the way which it had come to its original awareness of the “I” instead of to the “Not — I”, and did not know that the goal was at the other end.
The soul was conscious of the contradiction between the “I” and the “Not — I”, but the soul accepted the physical body as part of the “I”, even as the “I” itself did, and did not realize that the physical body was only a part of the “Not — I”. Thus man’s physical body became the unfortunate bridge that always led the soul back to the physical world of which it was a part. And all those souls driven by desire passed over it and descended deeper and deeper until they sank into God.
Yet how comical it was when the pious cried out that one must conquer the body! Their words were so wise, yet their understanding was so wrong. They did not conquer the body — but rather strengthened its power by all they did. They conquered the soul of man and became as beasts; they conquered the beasts inside and became as God.
But the time must come for the striding forth of the liberated human being. When the knowledge becomes so deep and so firmly rooted that each one knows his body is nothing other than some tree that stands in the forest, than some bird that flies in the air: than any foreign object that lies far in the distance! When each passionately feels that his body has nothing in common with his soul — and is as alien to him as a stone in the street , when the assurance reaches each consciousness that the external world may be all-embracing, yet, it fails to hold one thing, namely, the soul — then that great day will dawn —
Then the soul of man will tend the body well, like a temple, like a good house in which one dwells. Only, it will be a stranger, something external from us, and this knowledge alone will be the great conquest of the body. Then the bridge that leads downward will be broken; then the lunacy of our forefathers will perish; then the eternal desires will laugh happily as they kiss freedom and truth amidst their tears over the dark errors of the ages.”
-The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
The false path is the one that runs in shameful darkness, the one that leads back into the physical world. It is even more plainly stated here. This is an affirmation of the soul and of the spirit, a soul and spirit that exist in all things as described below.
“ — Things have souls. All of them — just like people, flowers, animals, stones, paintings and books, houses, the table and chairs. They all have a soul — have color and aroma — the stars and the oceans, even nails, umbrellas, rings — waste paper baskets. And it often happens that the souls of these things reveal themselves in their connection with humans. Some chemical attraction brings them to us, a vapor perhaps, an aroma. Or an atmospheric resonance, a harmonic wave motion that radiates from it. There is something.
The thing doesn’t know what it is — no one knows what it is — today. But someday man will know. We will know what it is that attracts one human to another, what creates revulsion or attraction — love or hate. The thing — that man calls the soul.
Or its expression — it’s out flowing. The Indians have called it Shakti for many thousands of years. They give it such high regard that it was thought to be an entity in itself, the one that created everything in the seven worlds. Shiva created nothing, he was the destroyer — everything was created through the divine Durga, the Goddess Shakti.
Was it any different with Jehovah, the great monotheistic God of the Jews? He didn’t go to Mary when he wanted to give a redeemer to the world — he sent his Shakti, his soul, the Holy Spirit.
And the Greeks saw so many souls in things. There were living Shakti in the stars and the winds, in the oceans and the meadows, in the fire, the air, in stones and trees. There were dryads, nymphs, and niads — just like the elves, pixies, fairies and wood elves of Nordic mythology.
Everything was alive — breathing souls were everywhere. That was the visible world. And the great God that destroyed them, the God from Nazareth, the God of everything invisible, did not have the power to entirely exterminate them. The Christian Church did not deny the souls that were in things — it just called them demons. The spirit of evil became — the devil. The colors of the flowers were damned by Saint Hieronymus — as one of Satan’s alluring enticements.”
From this passage we see that Ewers believes in a type of pantheism where souls and spirits inhabit physical things. A high grade of spirituality is seen that moves through all of his writings.
“The Christian sciences stumbled miserably through the centuries in metaphysical lead boots, and were even more pious than the Church. They smashed everything that had life in the outer world and allowed poor humanity to grope around in a dark, deathly cold swamp. They believed that their dominion by slaughter had led them to a great victory when they finally displaced the devil — and held Luther in even higher regard.
Then it occurred to them; that must fall as well — the popular idea now was:
No light without darkness; no “yes” without a “no”; No God was possible without a Devil.
And also, No ‘I’ could exist — without an external world. No soul could exist in the ‘I’ without there being a soul in all other things as well.
Light came once more into the world. Colors grew and resounded. It was believed that souls searched for each other. Sometimes they found each other — but had become like strangers.”
Here we see even more clearly how the forces of duality need each other, work together to create the beauty that is life. They are not eternally at war with each other as described in the “Synagogue of Satan”. What is described is not “good and evil” but “light and dark”.
While little is known about the Antient and Primitive Rite, much is known about Albert Pike’s “Scottish Rite” and it does reflect the union or balance of light and dark in its higher degrees, such as the “Prince of the Sun” degree. These high degrees remind one very much of Aleister Crowley and his statement, “How can something be true if its opposite is not true as well?” In addition both Dion Fortune of the Golden Dawn and Aleister Crowley maintained that the soul must travel both paths, the path of the mystic and the path of magick. The path of the mystic goes up into the spiritual light and the path of the magician goes down into the dark powers of the earth. So once more the question is whether HHE chose a path of duality that was an integration of the light and the dark or one where they were fundamentally opposed.
Perhaps there was a little of both? In the short story “The Death of Baron Jesus Maria von Freidel” the Baron struggles between two personalities that cohabit his body. One is male and the other is female and they are both trying to kill each other. In “Fundvogel” the main character is a female and undergoes a sex change operation to become a male. The idea of having both male and female aspects within the human psyche was very prevalent in Ewers day. Alchemists called it the “Alchemical Marriage” the union of the higher self and the lower self. Carl Jung, an early student of Sigmund Freud developed his theories of the anima and animus. Magicians tried to become hermaphrodites, half male and half female. All of these viewpoints hint at integrating the dual aspects of male and female from a psychological point of view.
“It’s true; the artist has it right. Somehow we live on in our children many generations after our death. As women with emotions and sorrow we carry and give birth under miserable torment but with each birth we rise from the dead and as men later fertilize our great-grandchildren. Then once more blossoms our first thought drawn from a chorus in a distant land and we first become aware of our groping feet and once more cast our wavering seed upon the rocks.
Something lives on and perhaps the best. Many things die- and perhaps the best. Who is to know? Everything dies and what does not die is kept safely in memory. What is forgotten is entirely dead, not that which dies. People are beginning to grasp that it is not the remembering of the past that is good but the forgetting. Remembering is foolishness, an illness, and a disgusting pestilence that chokes out the new life. We do not want to constantly look back in honor of our fathers and mothers but more deeply separate from them because we are more than they are and greater than they are!
We want to tear down yesterday because we know that today we are alive and that our today is a much better one. That is our strong belief and it is so strong that we do not even think about it. We don’t consider that our great today- tomorrow will be a pathetic yesterday only fit for the rubbish heap.
It is an eternal war with eternal defeat if we do not gain victory over our ancestral memories. We are slaves to the ideas of our forefathers. We spend our lives tormenting ourselves in their chains, suffocating in the restrictive fortress that our forefathers have created. We need to build a bigger house. When we are dead it will be worn out as well and our grandchildren will lie in the chains that we have created.
But if that is the truth then what is it that I have now discovered? Am I today at the same time my father, my forefathers and myself? If what my brain carries does not die but lives on in my children and grandchildren how can the eternal revolution ever become reconciled?”
-The Blue Indians
This is a powerful statement and is there any more clear way of saying that we need to look toward the future and not to the past? To destroy existing structures so that new and better ones might be built upon the ashes, this is more than a call to anarchy; it is the sacred call of every new generation and some day our world will become obsolete as well.