The Betty Book Revisited Part 3


This last instalment centres on the theme of conscious spiritual connection by looking at the essential elements of personal aspiration.

The Excerpts

The backbone of consciousness

  • “Experiment! Experiment! And live in constant association of mind with the tremendous power of spiritual force until it becomes the backbone of your consciousness.
  • It’s life giving quality is the richest gift you can pass on.
  • It is second-hand inspiration. The main thing is to help people to get it first hand. 
  • But sometimes you can’t – it is too unaccustomed.”


The cultivation of habits of thought, and association with higher ideas and ideals, will create a strong ‘backbone’ to character. Encourage the same in others.

Spiritual stamina

  • “Now we show you the condition,” they concluded, “take hold of it. Construct your plan of action. Take hold with boldness. Fortify against yourself, your weaker self.
  •  Breathe life, determination, enthusiasm into this plan. 
  • Hold your forces clearly vibrant not enervated with diluting thoughts. The main danger is apt to be loss of stamina. 
  • Maintain your vigor. Your strength is your concentration on your spark of enlightenment. Fan it into a flame.”
  • That is what you work with. You cannot let that die, or smoulder. Keep fanning it; that spark is your spiritual energy. 
  • What’s your foredetermination, particularised foredetermination, not just hazy? Work over it carefully as you would an architect’s blueprint. that is vitalised thinking, a creative thinking.
  • There’s substance to it. Make a start of materialising to yourself, analysing, grasping, taking hold of materials at hand, and fashioning something out of them. 
  • Thought is the material, but not speculative thought, positive building. It seems to be all grasp, taking hold of a few things you’ve got, and grasping them in holding onto them, and bye and bye, you’ve shaped something.
  • Constantly uphold the strength of an unconquerable spirit.


The challenge is to be focused in the right way, to maintain the best commitment you personally can. It isn’t easy. It takes real effort.


  • “The whole thing is the matter of Attention. All sorts of things are always swarming around you as thick as can be, but less you give them your attention, they can have no point of contact with you. 
  • Anything you give your attention to is magnetically yours.
  •  So the only way to reorganise yourself is to regulate your attention. That maintains your altitude of mind.”
  • “This sort of attention is exactly the same as looking at things. It is only the things you look at that really register.”
  • “If you had to copy a thing you would look at it long and hard; a glance wouldn’t do you any good. 
  • So if you want to become anything, you must keep looking at it, not just vaguely and generally, but fixedly, so you can reproduce it. That is Attention.
  • “I wish I could find a bigger word than Attention; It is so important.”
  • In the external as well as the mental world, the same principles obtain.
  • “They’re not asking me to give up all the little dinky- drinks I have to do,” said Betty at one time. “They don’t care WHAT WE DO, IT’S HOW WE DO.”


Choosing what we spend our time on – thinking about, or doing, shapes our capacity to grow spiritually.

Intelligent cooperation

  • That brings us back to the specific instance: the development of Betty as a station.You remember the explanation of the slow and difficult progress as an attempt to get away from “spontaneous or spasmodic” phenomena to an “intelligent cooperation.”
  •  If on the basis of seventeen years’ experience I were to indulge in prophecy I would say that the future of both fluency and accuracy would depend on: 
    • (a) development of the station’s sympathetic receptivity so that he will catch the impressions as rapidly as an engine receives the two or three thousand sparks a minute that drives itself smoothly and untiringly; 
    • (b) the extension of the station’s equipment so that the translation will be both instantaneous and accurate;
    •  (c) the strengthening of the Invisible’s veto power, so that it, to, will act instantly and smoothly to depress all the words that rise to the magnitude of an idea save the one desired. Then we should have true communication. 
  • The lnvisible may then be said to control directly, in the same sense that we control directly the forming of words with a pencil. WE Do not drive the pencil: the hand does it, controlled by and obedient to ourselves


This is about the development of the ability to ‘channel’ communications. It begins with a ‘spontaneous’ contact in the first instance. It can never be something sought out. One can only makes oneself fit for purpose. This idea of intelligently cooperating with spiritual agents is difficult, yet if we wish to become conscious of deeper knowledge and insight that is not distorted it is necessary.

Genuine contact

  • Incidentally this automatic action seems to be a law that follows all effort, putting forth of volition. 
  • Whenever a thing is desired enough (and is responsive) to calls and (the) outgoing of determination automatic action begins.
  •  Thus on each act of will depend many things. 
  • That is outside the scope of our present discussion: but later in these pages the working with the law will recur many times: so its just as well to get the idea now.


The desire for spiritual, contact seems to be obedient to a law, part of which concerns the character and nature of act of will intended to bring about that contact.

Do not strain

  • This is a slow process, many times it will seem foolish to you, and the hope for any results will appear fantastic. 
  • Remember that this must be not only a gradual natural growth, but also often requires stimulation to overcome arrested development of dormant facilities. 
  • Do not anticipate results.
  • Take the rewards as they come; and there are such rewards every step.
  • One more warning repeated before going into the first effects of establishing spiritual contact. DO NOT STRAIN.
  •  “The moment you try to create, to pump up, to reach for definite things, you are in grave danger. 
  • You may get almost anything. 
  • Better to stay asleep on earth, far better. You’ll never get anywhere if you are thinking of what you’re going to get. In that case you will be just a curiosity seeker. 
  • It is deadly hopeless to try that. 
  • You’ll be led to a blind alley and left there. That is done with so many people!”
  • “Belief in the attainability of higher powers is a legitimate ambition, but they must be grown into faithfully. 
  • The amateur method of seeking growth or spiritual freedom is by terrible concentration of mind, but this must also be replaced by an expansion of the heart.”
  • “How can I bring you strongly enough to this first principle. It is to expand in spirit, not intellectually. 
  • The spirit is usually like a desiccated fruit inside the brain. Let your spirit soak up in a simple and pleasant fashion until it is a fitting mate for your brain. 
  • Lay bare your problems to the influence of the great expansion which will bring your solution. 
  • This is the only real channel which will bring permanent wholesome psychic influence.
  •  It is the safe and open highroad.”


It is by effort of heart, not brain that the object is attained – and that is not a thing that can be forced or strained at. It is a natural unfolding of love, essentially, that is required.

The Great Formula

  • “Do not forget how you do it; through strength of desire to serve, through vigorous encircling action, through overflowing faith, through vision of reality, through union with spiritual law and purpose, through understanding of temptation and resistance, through magnifying to each his own soul. 
  • Through all these you find your way to the comprehension of the divine life.”


The language is maybe hard on modern eyes, but the message clear enough. 


In my original reading of The Betty Book I found confirmation that spontaneous inducement to speak or write as a means of communicating the direct thought of non-physical agents was real. The idea itself was not alien to me. Back then my girlfriend and I had started moving within a community in which such ideas were readily accepted – but often uncritically. In fact, the content of this book would have been challenging to many of our peers. They favoured a magical, rather than a spiritual, orientation. That is to say they favoured head, rather than heart, stuff – knowledge and techniques that promised access to power. Ultimately, we abandoned that path, because it lacked a deeper moral compass.

Back then I was by no means a paragon of virtue. I had profound psychological growth to undergo – and that took a few more decades. But I had a deep sense that the knowledge/power path was not right for me. It was intellectually stimulating for a while, but then I started to ask questions about purpose and meaning that were not welcomed. 

I think that when I first read this book, I was not capable of seeing the deeper narrative. It served my immediate purpose, and that was enough. Over the ensuing 40 odd years the book has retained a hold on me. One part of me knew it had more to offer. Now I see a simple clarity, a little tangled up in language and style. It is important to forgive that and see it only as the dross of ages concealing a real enduring gem.   

I am now motivated to read the book again. As I reviewed these essays, I recalled that all they were was a sampling of the deep thoughts of the original book, not a complete exposition of the ideas offered by the Invisibles. My goal was summarising some key ideas that might excite a reader to read the whole thing.

If the reader is interested in reading the Betty Book and has difficulty in finding a copy, I do have a PDF version. If you want a copy contact me – [email protected]

The Betty Book Revisited Part 2


This second instalment focuses on the mechanisms of self in the world, leading to greater self-awareness. It considers the motive forces of desire and will, and then how they can be marshalled to lead to a balanced and harmonious life.

It also addresses the idea of an enduring self, and how it may more effectively be the guiding influence in life in the material world.

The Excerpts


  • You get nowhere at all unless you desire. You do not move your little finger unless you have a definite wish to do so; you do not swallow, look, shift position, speak, understand, perform any activity whatsoever, physical or mental, unless you have first sent out from within yourself a self-originated impulse that starts the machinery. 
  • The force used, the mechanism employed, maybe altogether an outside thing. It is possible for a child’s hand on a lever to accomplish mighty results, but the origin of it all is desire for something, on the part of one man or many. That is the thing that is born within the human being, mysteriously, out of nothing
  • Now according to this philosophy every desired, when it is a definite outgoing desire, produces an impetus. This is true whether or not that desire produces any apparent effect. 
  • Before it can result in an action it may be inhibited, or it may encounter opposing forces that nullify it. 
  • But in the substance of thought – an idea we have examined – an impetus is produced – that proceeds on In its own direction and according to its own laws until its forces exhausted or until it is destroyed or deflected by other influences.
  • It may be likened a child’s mechanical toy that runs when you place it on the floor, until the power of its mainspring is exhausted; or the ripples from a stone cast into water. 
  • The strength and vitality of that impetus depend on the intensity and vitality of the desire and the clarity of the perception.
  • That proposition, then, is simple enough in its initial statement. In its ultimate results it becomes complicated beyond present human understanding. 
  • The billions of crosscurrents that setup of impetuses, old and nearly spent or new and vigorous; feeble in their inception or powerful; solitary or united; running with or counter to one another, make for a bewildering tangle. 
  • The ultimate effect is probably under some law, but that law we did not now at present


Desire is a force – a impetus – not an abstract notion. As to whether it is finally effective depends upon the intensity and vitality of the desire and the clarity of perception. But in a world of billions of desires we are in the midst of a bewildering tangle that constitutes the foundations of much of our complex human activity.

For Buddhists, desire is the source of suffering – and if we identify with the energies of desire that we send forth, vesting our sense of meaning and worth in them, it is easy to see that that can be the case. 

However, here desire is the foundation of action, and the issue is not desire per se, but its quality (in terms of intent and execution).

Spiritual Impetus

  • Each person has his own individual spiritual impetus which he makes from whatever genuine aspirations and desires he may possess. 
  • “The will” they told us, trying to define this out-reaching desire that results in impetus, “is separate from either the mind or the brain, it is the driving force of the being, that makes you decide for or against. It is what you build with. Is the conscious part of your soul. Will is a poor name for it, but we have no better. 
  • You measure growth against it as you measure a child backed against a door. It is like a number you are labelled with, what you amount to, your measure.” 
  • By this inner and individual thing, that is yours personally and can be set in motion by no one else, you build your personal impetus.” 
  • You get yourself a certain individual power formula: it produces a certain result. That is impetus.
  • “Unless something happens to stop that impetus or deflected, it will carry you along its appointed route until the force is spent.”
  • Thus a very large percentage of your present life is made up of unspent impetus brought into being by the desires of your past life. 
  • Only a small percent is fresh impetus. 
  • In that fashion you are increasingly a slave of your past, unless by new and strong desire you create new impetus that shall override the old.
  • “But,” say they, “You can change the formula you have made for yourself. The development quality it can put forth in new impetus is exactly according to the inspiration with which you combine it.”
  • Therein lies man’s control over what he calls destiny.
  • “Destiny,” they define it,” is the spending of impetus unarrested by spiritual consciousness.”


Here a deeper spiritual impetus (will) is contrasted against desire, whose roots are shallower (driven by more facile motives?). It seems we have two sources of impetus that we must strive to fuse into one.

Spiritual contact through prayer

  • Next, as the first contribution to its meaning, assemble under it all that you have come to understand as the process of seeking spiritual contact and permeation. 
  • This process constitutes the first step in ALL constructive prayer. “In that phase,” said the Invisible, “It is an assembling and offering up of your best self for union with the Overstrength. 
  • Only when this has been made habitual are we ready to proceed further.
  • “It is only by the strength of this contact that you gain the courage for the second step; to plumb the depths and know yourself. It is the inspiration that quickens your perception. 
  • You cannot plunge all at once into a knowledge of your spiritual lacks, because that MUST come gradually.”
  • “These two levels of prayer we must learn to perceive and use before they can give us more.” Betty ended.
  • When the subject of prayer was first presented to us as such, the first step -the spiritual contact step – was re-expressed in terms which might be illuminating to quote here. In essence, they told us, it is merely a spiritual association approached with human warmth of desire; And amounts in the long run to a great lifelong companionship.
  • “I don’t understand that,” said Betty, “I’ll review it.” “I approach divine companionship in prayer as I reach for warm friendship,” she went on after a pause, ”only with greater expectation.”


The foundational idea of prayer here is first to offer your ‘best self’ in seeking companionship, and then dare the journey of self-examination and awareness. When that has been attained there is more to come.

The spiritual body

  • The spiritual body, we are assured, is indestructible. It may be, as Betty saw it, crippled, embryonic, incomplete; but such as it is, it endures.
  • Furthermore, whatever we may add to it in the way of development is an everlasting possession. 
  • We may go our ways deliberately blind, deliberately neglectful, willfully procrastinating, self centered, even antagonistic.
  • These things may form over our real selves a crust that will stop growth. They may act on us, and on others about us, in unguessed ways through long vistas of time. 
  • Their effects we will have to liquidate, with compound interest. 
  • Their iron construction we will have to dissolve before again we can expand. 
  • But they cannot destroy. 
  • Whatever of the spiritual body is in ourselves-even in crudest embryo-is ours forever, on which sometime or other, when we have resolved ourselves free, we shall build


Our true nature is indestructible, but in our developmental stage we can find ourselves with intended and unintended self-imposed limits, from which we must eventually escape.


  • “So few people have any grand plan,” said the Invisible. “they can’t make any form for you because they haven’t any. That is what character is, SHAPE.”
  • “This is like those confusing maps where they colour the water and leave the land blank. It is reversed. The intangible unfleshed things, honour, character, confidence, all such things, should be visualised with shape, a substance.”
  • “That is the way our lenses actually perceive you,” answered they, “we cannot see you, as you see yourselves, without your physical eyes. 
  • Our eyes are for the enduring different kind of body. Our eyes make real to you the intangible qualities which you call spiritual. 
  • Only strainingly do we perceive the material.”


Here character is described as Shape – something that can be perceived from ‘the other side’. It’s a useful way of thinking about character in general – since we already tend to use visual metaphors – like colourful. 


  • “You see, everybody really wants stability; and they always recognise a person who has it. If you have something they haven’t, but want, they’ll pay attention to you. 
  • And if they haven’t it and DON’T want it, but you make them feel it, then they’ll begin to want it. You make your stability by spiritual contact. Then somehow the response to that contact must be shared.”


Here I see stability as the absence of extremes -a kind of centredness – a calmness of spirit – peacefulness.


  • “The balanced proportion of life is the first thing to impress on the world,” they said. “Balance is the big thing to emphasise. 
  • The world is crippled now because it has withered spiritual faculties.
  • “That should be,” they explained further, “a certain working proportion between what we call the material and what we call the spiritual. If that proportion is overbalanced ON EITHER SIDE trouble always results.”
  • By attainment of the right proportion we shall in one way or another gain all things worthwhile in this life and the next.
  •  In fact, on the whole, the problem of successful living can be expressed in that one simple formula: attain actively the proportions of life.
  •  “The rounding out of proportion is the foundation of everything.” they told us. As a general proposition that sounds broad and simple enough.
  • But when we approach the problem in search of detail, then we find ourselves in face of the greater mysteries. how’s the proportion wrong, as to the world; how is it wrong as to me? How was the balance to be struck?


Here it can seem that our propensity for materialism has unbalanced our ways of being in the world. The solution is not the abandonment of the material, but the restoration of spiritual influences to tip the balance toward attainment of the proportions of life.

The habit of spiritual thought

  • “It is an HABITUAL SPIRITUAL CONSCIOUSNESS they are after,” Betty reported one time. “the gaining of this does not mean straining or striving; 
  • It is more a matter of how frequently you think of it, just leave it calmly and comfortably. Walk your days as a creature with folded wings, conscious of the position of another element and the ability to enter it.
  • When worries in the world annoyances come, you can rise strongly indeterminately, spend a few moments in calm, and at once descend reinforced to the object in hand
  • “The thing is not to settle down into yourself, but to be always dependent on the companionship of your spirit, that seems to be just above the surface, like a mooring, or buoy.
  • The soul has to live in the body, ordinarily; but in this way you make your body live with your soul.”


Nothing says it more clearly than the last 2 dots points – banish the illusion of self-alone and dwell in a companionship – a partnership of aspects of one’s own consciousness.


For me these excerpts focus the essential attributes of a balanced and harmonious sense self in the world – of being in the material and the spiritual dimensions at the same time. They articulate a coherent sense of self – one that endures, even beneath the distractions, suffering and delusions that can blight and individual’s life.  

Revisiting The Betty Book – Part 1

New Introduction

Back in January 2019 I posted 3 essays based on The Betty Book by Stewart Edward White. The book is a classic of communicated writing, containing ideas of great sophistication. The key character, Betty, and began communicating in company with a body of more advanced entities, called the Invisibles.

On my reread, in 2018, I was struck by the remarkable similarity with Frank DeMarco’s works – his series of Rita books. Both White and DeMarco present challenging ideas ‘from the other side’.

Unlike much ‘channelled’ writing the content is mentally taxing and often confronting. Engaging with it, in my experience, is often difficult because I have found myself reacting to the content in ways that making staying focused hard.

Quite a lot of ‘channelled’ content I have explored has been hypnotic and emotional, with no real content of value. Most of it has been admonition only – something the ‘channeller’s own psyche has either completely made up, or so interfered with an original message it has been rendered useless.

New ideas, or new takes on familiar ideas, are a different matter. In this case, as with DeMarco, there is an acknowledged difficulty in translation – putting into words ideas formed where no words, such as we know them, exist. So not just new notions, but a challenge in expression as well.

White represents a further challenge as well. The Betty Book was published in 1937. The writing style has changed a great deal since then, and it will seem a lot out of date to many readers. 

I have reformatted the original text as dot points re make reading easier.

Do I believe what is written? Not necessarily. I don’t think it is a matter of belief. It is whether the content resonates with the reader – and it resonated with me.

Some mental and emotional effort is required in engaging with the text and the ideas it contains. For some, it may be rewarding.

Original Introduction

Back in the late 1970s my then girlfriend started to channel a discarnate entity (see earlier posts for more on this). She freaked out and thought she was going mad. On the other hand, I set out to do some research on the phenomenon. That’s when I encountered Stewart Edward White’s 1937 classic, The Betty Book. It was an account of another instance of the spontaneous development of the ability to convey thoughts from ‘the other side’.

I last read The Betty Book in the mid 1990s, and recently I decided to write a post on in it, for reasons that were not clear even then, just an urge. But as I started, I paused. It had been a long time, so maybe I should have a quick look to refresh? That was a good thing to do. It was nothing like I remembered! So, I reread it in its entirety, no skimming or skipping.

It was not an easy read. White is an accomplished author – his extensive body of works endure on Kindle. Maybe part of the problem is simply that, 70 years on, writing styles have changed and I am habituated to what is, for me, a more fluid style. However, another thing seems to be commonplace with writing that introduces new ideas – the thoughts need to be chewed over, and not simply swallowed. The reader has to work at the task of consuming the book’s content.

This time I made notes. Actually, I imaged the Kindle app’s page on my iPad, and used OCR to turn the quotes into Word docs, albeit with some persistent formatting issues. What I want to do here is provide a list of the captured quotes plus some commentary.

The reason I want to do this is that The Betty Book seems to me to lay out a perfectly coherent articulation of a vision of human spirituality that confirms understanding in the deeper esoteric tradition – and contradicts many other claims. The ideas merit re-engagement.

This exercise will be undertaken over 3 posts.  There seems to me to be 3 distinct phases in the book. I encourage readers read the words of the quotes deliberately and stay reacting to them while reading. Of necessity, a lot of material, that may elaborate on what is quoted, is missing. If you want to read the who text, you can buy a copy of the book or download it from sites like

There are 3 voices in the text excerpts below – the author’s, Betty’s (as a participant in the process of communication) and “the Invisibles” (the present but unseen informants).

The excerpts

Uneven progress

  • Furthermore, the degree of our ability to deal with it is a pretty good indicator of how far we have travelled. 
  • For we have by no means come all the same distance. In evolution we do not advance in company front, but string out irregularly like a crowd going to a ball game.
  • “You all live together on earth at different levels – levels of consciousness, we mean.” the Invisible expressed this. “Certain prerogatives pertain to each level of capacity. 
  • Your voluntary capacity or the level you attain, contains certain growths, senses or prerogatives peculiar to that element, altitude, substance or level. This of yours is the level of dawning perception.”
  • In the course of our development, they went on, we progress from one level to another, like going upstairs. And each step must be lived out to the full before we can go on to the next.


It is, to me, a critical insight that our human family comprises people at different levels of development – or spiritual maturity. This has nothing to do with delineation by race or culture, but within cultures and communities. It means that some folk are motivated by high ideals and others by more fundamental imperatives, and neither is inherently better or worse than the other.

There is an implicit suggestion that each individual has to meet the challenges of their ‘level’ before moving on. This can be interpreted to mean there is an essential ethos, or morality, that guides human life.

There is no basis for judging another person as inferior – we are just at different stages on our own journeys.

The value of material experience

  • “There is so much leisure of mind and soul and time for your attitude toward people,” explained Betty, “none at all for getting things two cents cheaper at another store, and all those dinky-dinks. 
  • It’s like the difference in size between the fingers on a moving picture screen and human beings in the front row. I argue that I can’t live in the material world without doing many little things, and THEY argue that it is just what we are sent here for, to find out what things are worth doing and what are not. 
  • They have great respect for the material labour and necessities and such things; but they are only so important. 
  • They are not asking me to do what the big idealists have done, like Buddha or Confucius; throw humanity aside and walk with fixed gaze; but they ARE asking me to approximate that freedom. 
  • It’s a case of focus as near as I can come to it. 
  • You must change your focus so that all the little things near you will not look sharp and important.”


I am struck by the notion that we are sent here to find out what things are worth doing and what are not. It seems like such an innocent statement – until you think on it. Things are worth doing – but only up to a point. Where is that point? What do we invest in our material being as a priority – and when do we turn our energies inward and ‘upward’? 

Mind and body are one

  • Both mind and body are human manifestations of one reality, the human consciousness. 
  • The body is a material manifestation of the sort of consciousness that is human. 
  • The mind is a link between body and what we call spirit, or cosmic germ. 
  • Spirit or cosmic germ, the actual I AM of the individual, itself has a definite body, with weight, form count, colour, substance.


What we call mind, as we know it, arises as a node in our consciousness that is situated in relation to our physical being – it is aware of time and space and the necessities of being in material existence. While our consciousness operates in a larger domain, our present awareness (as mind) has a particular material angle only. 

The limits of the brain

  • We over here cannot work through the brain very well because of its great educational and perceptual restrictions. 
  • Don’t be so OFFENDED in your intellect. Give us a chance.
  • We won’t do more harm than present your precious intellect something for it to work on for the rest of its natural life. 
  • Leave it in to soak and keep it flexible, and we can go on. It’s bound to be satisfied later. 
  • When this becomes the leader of your intellect, it MUST immediately react on it; it MUST, just as the blood goes through your body to nourish all the parts.
  • I thought maybe I could make you see the point; it’s always a great stickler. That’s why I came. 
  • Working only in the limited knowledge of the brain is slow business. It takes generations to develop new respectable symbols.


The brain, as a physical thing, is shaped and configured by ‘education’ and experience. That means it is either responsive to, or unresponsive to, certain information or experiences. There’s a suggestion here that in consequence to exposure to some BIG IDEAS it will take quite time before desired effects manifest. This is an argument for developing habits of exposure to fine or noble notions, as opposed to base input (like porn or violence) if you want to change your mindset.

On the other hand, we are exposed to enriching ideas that register with our non-brain-based awareness – so we may end up in a kind of inner tension – of ‘the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak’ kind. 


Heaven forbid that I should decry the human brain, but it should be proportioned. 

  • The eternal self must be developed as a fit controlling power.
  • In trying to act DIRECTLY on the highest – call it organ – possessed by man, his eternal spirit, we are constantly interfered with by the more developed, the more easily developed side of him which clamors, INSISTS on translating every instinct into its own language and limiting it to its own experience and comprehension; insists we should go no further than the facile ready-made symbols its world education sanctions. 
  • We have to ignore it as much as possible, keeping it quiet by systematically baffling its efforts at restriction.
  • Meanwhile, under this anaesthetic we work directly, stimulating the enduring part, trying to develop it. It should be the dominating part of man.
  • When this has been developed to its proper proportion, then the intelligence will have its innings again. 
  • The intelligence is an essential part of the whole, but it simply must be quieted down and made flexible in any way possible, in order that we may give insight beyond its comprehension.


It seems that efforts to stimulate us spiritually are often thwarted by our insistence on translating everything into physical terms – emotional, instinctual intellectual. You can see this as an explanation as to why religions turn out the way they do – converting high spiritual ideals into sometimes shameful brutalities, disgraceful enmities and mind numbing dogmas.

The higher faculty of perception isn’t framed in intellectual terms – and scarcely in language. If we are conditioned to internal dialogue (self-talk) as our norm it will be hard to escape the merely intellectual.

Perception beyond reason

  • An animal dwells in his equipment of instinct, sensation, emotion and habit; with fragmentary incursions into an adumbrated faculty of reason. 
  • Man uses these also; but he has moved the centre of his being more into the mental field, so that, as he develops, more and more intellect dominates his life.
  • But reason is not the end of the line. Beyond it lies perception. 
  • And, again as he develops, more and more will he transfer control, until eventually it will hold in his life the same dominant position he now accords to intellect. 
  • This thought, we are told, is not fantastic – as the ultimate possibility. 
  • Probably we, as individuals, in this present life, shall not reach any such attainment. 
  • But how many of us have got even as far as complete intellectual control? However, we can move along that path. We can increase, little by little, our use of perception in the management of our daily affairs.
  • And if we do so easily, normally, without forcing, without strain, we may astonish ourselves.
  • Mistakes? Of course! But, the invisibles pertinently remind us, what is our batting average of correct decisions of pure intellect.


I like this notion – that beyond intellect (which is a processing thing) is perception (which is awakening into knowing) – though I think there is some refinement in the definition of perception needed here.


This first instalment deals with some basic, but essential ideas:

  • We are at many different stages in our evolution as spiritual beings – so expectations and judgements must be tempered accordingly.
  • There is value in physical existence – it fosters a capacity for discrimination in action and desire.
  • Our minds are not our highest sense of awareness but are attuned to physical existence.
  • By education and experience our brains are configured in ways that can impede our ability to assimilate spiritual ideas.
  • As a result, spiritual ideas are translated into renditions that can debase and distort the intended meaning.
  • There is value developing refined habits of mind – of ‘soaking’ the brain in finer ideas so that the rigidities of education and experience will eventually soften.
  • The intellect is transcended by the capacity for perception.
  • Our goal should be to inhabit a state of perceptive awareness.

UFOs /UAPs a question of national defence? No


Over the past 12 months the USA government has been obliged to make public comment about UFOs. Its preferred term is UAP, which is even more non-specific – Unidentified Aerial Phenomena.

This necessity has a risen because of the leaking of footage of UAPs taken by US military jets using probably the most sophisticated sensing hardware and software on the planet.

The US government, while insisting it still has no idea what a UAP is, asserts they are a potential (and unresolved) threat to national security. If that is a credible assertion, we can infer a threat to all of us.

However, it is not a credible assertion. Here I want to discuss why I think this.

The Report

On 25 June 2021 the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a report titled Preliminary Assessment: Unidentified Aerial Phenomena. It was a surprisingly short document for such a monumental theme, running to only 7 pages, with 2 pages of appendices.

There was a flurry of public comment, but the report seemed to have disappointed popular media, and it soon disappeared from public consciousness. 

The essence of the report’s findings was:

  • There’s stuff happening.
  • We don’t know what it is.
  • We need more research, and more money to do it.

According to Wikipedia, “On 17 May 2022, members of the United States House Intelligence Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence and Counterproliferation held … the first public congressional hearing into UFO sightings in the US in over 50 years.”

The hearing perpetuated the national security threat theme. So, two public events in 12 months. Interesting.

The problem with this is…

UAPs have been in the public consciousness since 1947 when Kenneth Arnold introduced the term ‘flying saucer’. The US government has been involved, with some degree of public acknowledgment, in trying to figure out what UAPs are for at least 75 years.

The idea that they represent a possible threat to national security now, and more funding is required to do more research is so absurd it is either not true, or it is grossly incompetent – or a blend of both. I prefer not true.

The fog of the national security blanket

You can use the term ‘national security’ like an anaesthetic and put public opinion to sleep. It is also an excuse for saying nothing, revealing nothing and be as vague as all get out.

The inference is that UAPs constitute a potential military threat. However, that is nowhere explicitly stated. The audience is left alone to infer that – which it has done readily.

The absurdity of a military threat

The recent publicity re UAPs has come courtesy of leaked footage from military aircraft because this is compelling evidence that ‘something’ is going on. It does appear that UAPs have been intentionally engaging with US military aircraft and ships with increasing frequency in the past few decades. This may also be the case with other nations as well, but they are not saying so openly.

However, engagement with the civilian population has been reported for around 70 years as well. It isn’t unusual for an enemy to engage with an opponent’s civilian population to enlist them as allies in a possible invasion. But such action is predicated on a need to do so – as might be the case between near peer opponents. Not in this case.

The technological disparity between US military hardware and UAPs is stark. It has been over the past 75 years – and there is no evidence there has been any meaningful improvement in that difference.

It is a fair conclusion that if there was to be a ‘hot war’ between the US military and UAPs it would be short and catastrophic for the US military. This is an important consideration for two reasons:

  1. If UAPs were the product of peer, or near peer, nations like Russia or China, why would they ‘toying’ with the US for years, and not pressing their advantage in an effective geo-political manner?
  2. If the operators of the UAPs had hostile intent, why spend decades ‘toying’ with military forces while being friendly to civilians? At what stage would the plain military advantage be pressed – if that was the intent?

I have spent a few months on the unpleasant task of catching up on military hardware and method. I grew up with a passion for World War 2 war games, so I had a set notion in my head about capability and tactics. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, I have realised my understanding is utterly out of date.

What became apparent to me was that the evolution of our power to destroy continues in a disturbing fashion. If what is imagined comes to pass it will be far worse. However, looking at the disparity between our military capacity now and 75 years ago makes it apparent that the disparity between us and UAP operators is even greater. If they wanted to ‘invade’ we would be defenceless.

It is certainly not comfortable for any nation to be aware that it has no capacity to defend against a technologically advanced adversary – a situation most nations are in when considering human adversaries. It is far harder for a nation like the US, acknowledged as having the most advanced war fighting technology on the planet, to face this realisation.

Sticking to the idea of a ‘security threat’ as a military threat is convenient because it distracts attention from a far more challenging idea.

An existential threat?

We must ask what is the ‘security’ that is perceived to be under threat. It is not military or territorial so much as the conceit we are the superior beings on this planet, and we will stay that way.

In effect, our ‘normal’ is under threat. This is arguably our ‘security’.

There is no evidence I am aware of that the operators of the UAPs intend to change things any time soon. If they have an intent, it seems like a long game that appears to be about evolving attitudes and behaviours – rather than shifting them via radical disruption to our norms on a collective level. It is, however, certainly true that individuals have had their norms radically disrupted by encounters with the operators of the UAPs.


The US report mentioned above declined to talk about ET or aliens because, fair enough, there is no evidence ET operates the UAPs. This is true, so even if inferring ET operates them is on the money – and we confirm this in the future – we can’t say this is a fact now. There is no evidence peer war fighting nations operate them either. We do not know who does.

The term ET usually means beings not of this Earth, but from elsewhere in our realm of physical space – space people. But if we understand ET to mean just beings not of the Earth, without any assumptions, that can also mean elsewhere from other planes of existence as well.

Our habits are to imagine reality as an extension of the plane of existence (horizontal) we are on – unless we have cultivated an imagination that allows for other equally real planes of existence beyond our own (horizontal). The horizontal vector has been confined to religion, mysticism and shamanism, fairy tales and fantasy/sci fi. It exists in science also but hasn’t entered our shared imagination as a form of reality we can grasp. We haven’t yet developed a cultural narrative that blends science and technology with extra-dimensional realties.

ET as spacemen/women who come from elsewhere in our physical space may be a limiting idea we must abandon. However, we do not know where the UAPs come from, and so can make no firm opinion about who they are – unless we have direct knowledge.

There are claims made by people who insist they are in touch with ET. Most of the ones I have read are, I believe, delusional. The others are intriguing but without confirming content. There are tantalising hints – but nothing is being given away.

I do think people have been in contact with ET, and maybe they do know who they are and where they are from – and why they are here. But it’s not public knowledge yet.


The US government’s action over the past year seems like a watershed of some kind. There are a lot of YouTube videos exploring how real the UAPs are. They seem to have been prompted by the report. It is hard not to conclude that here are real phenomena whose nature and origin are not presently knowable – and about which we must pay attention.

The big question of intent is the problem. Takeover by force does not seem to be a goal. Nor does turning up to ‘rescue’ us or provide environment saving energy technologies. The intent is not evident, but can, I believe, inferred to some extent.

There is no concrete evidence about who operates UAPs. If the US military evidence is taken in isolation trying to imagine that peer war fighting nations may be responsible can seem plausible. But placed in a wider, and more appropriate context, we must imagine that ET is a plausible explanation as well.

I do not favour the peer war fighting nations argument because it does seem deeply implausible in the wider context. Better informed critics say the same thing. It is implausible because the technology gap is way too wide. It is deeply improbable that China or Russia would have obtained such a scientific and technological advance on the US without giving any clue. And the conduct of UAPs is not consistent with comprehensible conduct of an adversary. This conduct seems to be a lot of ‘messing with’ military assets, rather than being provocative in a military sense.

I favour the ET option because it makes the most sense.

What appears to be happening, from my perspective, is a stimulation to foster growth in awareness of what it is to be human. This isn’t always benign. ET can be a risk to us as individuals at times. Nor is there any assurance that all ET are ‘good guys’.

The theme is deeply complex, but many will try to render it as simple and concrete – ignoring it all is the easiest option. As an old sci fi devotee I am more disposed to see this in terms of potential benefit, as part of our shared evolution. As such, I do not expect it can, or will, be explained in neat and easy to digest ways. However, there may be signal events whose significance becomes apparent after the fact. I think US report and the hearing in the past 12 months are in this category.

The Politics of Experience: A Reflection on What Exposure to PSI Does


I have been trolling through a mass of fragments of writing on my psi experiences – efforts I have made at recording them, and which have been abandoned in various stages of completion.

There’s nothing spectacular to boast about. I am not ‘psychic’ in the way that term is usually understood. I can’t simply turn on a performance. My experiences can be better described as an unwitting (and sometimes unwilling) sampling of a smorgasbord of incidents and examples. It was as if Spirit was intent on keeping me modest, never cocky enough to claim expertise.

Experience matters, because it is what influences what you think and believe. If you have had no significant experiences, a proposition that might seem suss to me might seem plausible to you. And a proposition that seems plausible to me might seem like wild nonsense to you. 

It is never my intent to have you believe what I say – only to allow that it may be plausible and worthy of deeper inquiry and reflection. An explorer who returns from a distant and unfamiliar land can lie and exaggerate – as well as render faithful witness to remarkable things and places. An audience, without the means to verify his claims can only be cautiously enthusiastic. This is the peril we all face when encountering novel ideas.

I have learned to be very sceptical and cautious of claims of a paranormal nature. There are liars, pretenders and the self-deluded aplenty. Sometimes it is safer to not want a thing to be true; and test it severely. By that I don’t mean taking a position of denial and demanding proof certain be offered. That never works – and its arrogant and lazy. I mean allowing something may be true and engaging with it with care. The most dangerous situation to get into is wanting to believe. Not everything is what it seems to be.

The Point of Experience?

Sometimes things happen and years later I am still wondering what it was all about. Was it just a demonstration of power? Was it forcing me to think beyond my normal frame?

Quite a few experiences were useful in that they provided immediate real-world results. Others guided/pushed me in a certain direction that turned out to significant.

I want to make a point here. I have become attuned to the influence of spirit. Others may well have psi experiences and not see them as that. We all have theories about how the world works running in the background – and it may well ascribe a psi experience to an entirely different cause.

In the same way that learning a discipline like architecture, psychology or chemistry gives us a capacity to see some experiences in a more nuanced light, developing an animistic vision alters how we see, and interpret our engagement with our life experiences. You can do something similar through adoption of a religious belief. I am not keen on beliefs systems beyond them being an initial guide. Unfortunately, adherents to, and promoters of, belief systems tend to be deeply invested in them as a complete answer. They are not – for anybody with a hunger for unmediated engagement. This is why I prefer to think in terms of learning a discipline – and not adopting a belief.

Belief is necessary in a contingent sense. When we were growing up and at school we learned about the Periodic Table, and we had to accept this was real and valid knowledge. We had no way to evaluate it. If we didn’t ‘believe’, we’d find making progress in learning chemistry impossible. This is what derailed me with maths. When I was told that -1x-1=+1 I got stuck on the logic of the proposition. The maths teacher couldn’t explain it to me. Suddenly maths looked as irrational a belief system as religion. I regret that now. Sometimes being a smart kid can make you stupid as well.

We have to believe a bunch of things just to make life possible. But the difference between these necessary operational beliefs (the thing I called my car yesterday is still my car today) and existential beliefs about the nature of reality is vast. Existential beliefs don’t always directly impact your experience of being in the world on an operational level. Whether you believe in gods or magic does not impact day-to-day beliefs about the world at that operational level.

The Sacred

Now this is where things get interesting. The moral psychologist, Jonathan Haidt identified a sense of the sacred as a moral value often missing in progressives. Here he was talking about US politics. A lot of progressives are atheists. And many who retain some sense of religion have rendered it a background sentiment only.

The idea of the sacred includes things that are valued as well as things to be avoided. This goes beyond religion to include symbols, places and dates that are important to a sense of national identity. It also includes family, cultural and even personal domains. When religion and nationalism combine it can be a potent mixture. For example, there is a powerful persuasion in the US that the nation was founded as a Christian nation, which it was not.

Belief in the sacred does not, I think, go away among those who might deny the idea has any sensible meaning. Rather, it transforms into rational and abstract things like ‘science’ and ‘justice’. 

Our ancestors needed a strong sense of the world they lived in. They ‘felt into’ the world of their experience using senses far more acutely tuned than ours. Europeans scoffed at the ‘primitive’ and ‘savage’ (two words employed to describe indigenous people in the 19thCentury, and the early part of the 20th) for their beliefs. These people were not ‘civilized’. This distinction is interesting.

The word ‘civilized’ essentially means town dwelling. The opposite was ‘pagan’ (a country dweller). Historically, as Christianity spread out over Europe, it took root in towns first, so the more distant rural communities retained their traditional ways longer.

But there’s a more important distinction. Town/city dwellers had less direct contact with food getting and became more involved in works arising directly from denser levels of human habitation. Differences between types of sensitivity became distinct. A city dweller did not need the acute alertness to the forest dweller needed to stay safe and find food and other necessities. Their senses were tuned to the human, and the human made. As these domains came to dominate, the natural diminished.

The human domains evolved in power and importance – and became pre-eminent as expressions of reason. The intuitive was channelled into art. The human dominated environment discouraged acute sensitivity, and relative insensitivity became the norm. Reason dominated intuition and subtle awareness. It was considered superior and anything else was dismissed as weakness of mind and superstition. 

I am not suggesting our forest dwelling ancestors were all psychics, just more tuned and more sensitive to the world they lived in. Some would have been far more attuned and sensitive than others.

This is where a sense of the sacred comes in. Places in a landscape could be powerfully beneficial or detrimental because of the quality of the atmosphere of the place – its spirit. Objects can have their own potency too. But places and objects can have sanctity ascribed to them as well. A place where an important event took place might be designated sacred. An object can become symbolic – the Christian cross is a prime example.

Places can carry human induced potency – battlefields and cemeteries for example. These can become psychically dangerous places to be avoided, save at special times.

We call awareness of the subtle emanations of the sacred ‘psychic’, but perhaps it is better to say it is a subliminal awareness rendered conscious through a particular level of sensitivity. How that sensitivity is acquired is the question to answered. Whether it is of value should also be considered.

Whether and How

Let’s consider whether developing that sensitivity has any value these days. Most folk do perfectly well without it, or so it seems. But in truth there’s a huge sense of existential angst about.

There is sound evidence that humans do better where is some nature about – even a solitary plant confined to a pot. What is it in our nature that responds to the presence of plants and animals as if they are part of something essential to our wellbeing?

Perhaps being confined to the purely human shuts us off from the more than human dimensions of our reality. Cities are the very epitome of ‘civilization’. They are human creations for human needs and interests. At their worst they are a cacophony of overstimulation wreathed in a toxic atmosphere. At their best, nature is permitted in and nurtured.

But other-than-human is not just about the nature we can see. It includes the web of subliminal connections of all kinds. Research into trees shows that they are not the individuals we plant in our gardens and parks. They are knitted into webs of inter-species connection. Even our own supposedly individual bodies are, in fact, communities of unalike creatures working to the common cause of being our flesh and blood.

To be fully human, we must go beyond the homo-centric focus of what we do and think and make. We must remember we are members of a community, and our well-being depends upon the other-than-human and the greater-than-human, and their interaction. 

Being mindful of, and sensitive to, those community members is, I think, a good thing.

The how, is easy, if you accept the above proposition. Be mindful. Be open to the sense of being a member of a community – and be a good community member – and a good neighbour.

I don’t believe in doing exercises to increase sensitivity for its own sake. Engaging in efforts to be intentionally more aware of your membership of the community is a different matter. This might be a good meditation theme, or something to affirm while in the garden, or on a walk.


A lot of my ‘psi’ experiences arose from contact with ‘spirits’ of some kind. This was never something I sought out consciously. In fact, it was often unwelcome and bewildering.

The nature of those ‘spirits’ varied as well. Some were what are called ‘nature-spirits’. Others seem to have been guiding spirits who never made their nature or present apparent to me on a conscious level.

I do firmly believe that we do have a community of souls or spirits with which we are connected. But that does not mean that they will flagrantly intervene in our lives. It also does not mean that any intervention or influence is absent, but rather something of we are simply not aware of at the time.

Don’t go looking for contact with spirits with careless enthusiasm. Over the years I have come across many instances where a desire to make contact has led to misfortune. I am not saying do not seek contact, just don’t leave yourself open for whatever comes along. There’s a difference between contact with spirit being a growth experience and pandering to one’s ego. It’s not always useful thing, and generally speaking, when it is it will happen without you pushing it.

I will repost my earlier essay on the theme. Do read The Siren Call of Hungry Ghosts. It’s a fascinating story in its own right, as well as a cautionary tale. 


I will post an essay listing my experiences soon. As noted, they are not spectacular – well, a few are. The point of sharing them is their variety and their impact on my life at various times.

My purpose is to awaken a deeper thinking about the subtle levels of awareness that we can develop to become more alert to the influences upon our lives. 

Our lives are multi-dimensional in their expression. At any time, the influences of this material world interact with the influences of the subtle dimensions. Mostly we miss this interaction for two reasons:

  1. We don’t have a model of our reality that allows for the interaction.
  2. We edit out evidence for it because our self-talk is primed to materialism.

Our reality is much more subtle and multi-dimensional than we consciously experience – well most of the time.

Of the One, not as the One


I have been listening to Matthew Stewart’s Nature’s God and I am intrigued by the number of philosophers who insist that there is only one God. An interesting, and strange thing to insist upon. Why does it matter?

We have, I think, a self-limiting problem with the word ‘god’. It is used to describe a subset of divine agents as well as a supreme state of being. 

In the Christian Bible God was there in the beginning and made a list of things. Gods were not in that list. But elsewhere in Genesis God is made to speak in the plural – we. 

Now consideration of gods and God shouldn’t be confined to Christianity. I use this faith as a reference only because it is the faith tradition the philosophers were most familiar with – and so it would have been their primary source of ideas. This is despite their familiarity with the Greek philosophical tradition – grounded in polytheism. The Greeks, to be sure, were not necessarily fond of their gods in any case, so maybe didn’t inspire a lot of inquiry. 

Monotheism is confusing

The Christian Old Testament had its roots in the polytheistic traditions going back to Sumer. The early Jews were resistant against monotheism. In fact, the Old Testament contains quite a few exasperated rants against their recalcitrance. This, incidentally, is better discovered by listening to an audio version of the Old Testament. I found reading it pummeled my critical faculties into submission. I don’t think the OT is suited to being read at all.

Monotheism is an innovation which makes little rational sense and has more utility as a political device or a means of social influence. The idea disrupts tradition and sets up a distinction against other cultures.  There is certainly utility in the idea if the intent is to create a distinct community identity – which may have a perfectly good rationale – given that in polytheistic societies it was not unusual for a community to follow just one god – the god of a city for example.

Monotheism still needs sub-agents, so it has developed archangels and angels. In short, you can’t have just a single homogenous notion of deity and express complexity with any ease or clarity. The Jewish Kabbalah is an excellent instance of how a metaphysical model can be developed to deal with complexity under a monotheistic system. 

But we don’t know what gods are 

The problem with the idea of polytheism is that it assumes that there is some kind of equivalence between gods and God. True, we have the shared word, but beyond that there’s the fact that the gods are represented in human form – or some human hybrid or some animal. 

But representations such as these can’t be assumed to be more than symbolism and the use of narratives to convey ideas. We do this, for example, with Justice. We don’t literally mean justice is a blindfolded woman holding a set of scales. The symbolism conveys meaning in a potent and concentrated form. 

The Egyptian Greek gods stood for complex ideas represented in symbolic and narrative form. At their foundation is an assertion that reality is grounded in spirit – what we might call consciousness these days. Our ancestors did not have available to them the notion of abstract rational ideas that described a mechanistic reality. 

So, we have 2 classes of beings who might be gods – fundamental principles or values and actual discrete volitional agents. In fact, these were often combined – like the god of war or the goddess of love. 

The question is whether such agencies could exist as objective beings. And, because we haven’t really accepted that such beings might exist, we have not explored the idea intellectually. Mostly, where these gods are accepted it is their symbolism and innate (but unexamined) reality that are affirmed.

The idea of the One

There is an important distinction between one God and the One, though the former seems to impose upon the latter. The One might be called God, or Goddess as a primary expression of all being – infinite and eternal. But that’s more a case of gilding the lily than making a useful distinction – save that Goddess fits a sound narrative and symbolic form. The One, as an idea, is beyond description and characterization on a rational level. In the shorthand of the mystic traditions, it is that it is. This has been expressed also as “I am that I am”, or more simply “I am”. Such assertions are not literal utterances. They are attributions that convey an essential idea – there is a fundamental absolute being that is beyond all conception or description.

So, the idea that there is only one God is redundant as a rational idea. It is neither useful nor necessary outside of making a political statement – a denial of polytheism. There can’t be conflicting supreme deities. But it does appear that the polytheists of old were not above promoting their local god to the top job. But that can’t be the One – because that can’t be a job.

The God of the Old Testament cannot be the One, if for no other reason than the presence of the words “In the beginning” and the description that God was separate from that which he acted upon. The God of the Old Testament is a creator god of the old polytheistic traditions – a subset of the One. He cannot be understood without the context of the polytheistic narratives as a whole story of creation – all the way down to the creation of values and principles.

Opposing monotheism means opposing the legitimacy of the god of the Abrahamic tradition. Accepting many gods legitimizes the awful faith of pagans. But supporting monotheism simply condenses the vastly complex affair of creating reality into a too simple notion. It could be said, in fact, that monotheism led to the creation of modern rational thought and science as humans struggled to find an alternative way of making sense of the complex reality they experience.

So, do we need gods?

First, let me create a definition of ‘god’ here, so we can think about the same thing. A god is a coherent volitional agency functioning at a scale greater than the human. For example, we know a human is coherent volitional agency operating within an environment that has both internal (bodily fact and subjective awareness) and external domains. We know this because we have direct experience of this being true. 

These days we assume that our solar system is only a system of interacting physical processes. We do not assume it has a character or intent. We have no direct experience of this, so we assume it not to be true.

However, our early polytheistic ancestors did not make such a presumption. The sun, moon and planets constituted a coherent system – and we see the remnants still in astrology.

The monotheistic conception of God has given no coherent sense of how that God acts in the world, in our reality. What has been produced is an incoherent cacophony of prayers, priestly intercessions, and confused conceits of being favoured. A typical problem for monotheists is that of attribution of cause and effect. What favours them is of God and what does not is of the Devil or down to sin. The one concept of the divine has to do all the work of explaining reality and how to live in it. That’s a heavy burden.

The polytheists had a far more coherent model. But was it more effective? Probably not in the long run. I’ll come back to this.

If we play with the idea of the solar system as a coherent and intentional being, we are dealing with a hugely complex thing – beyond any capacity we have to imagine its full nature. 

By the mere use of the word ‘system’ we are acknowledging coherence. But beyond a purely mechanistic conception our thinking grinds to a halt. We could dare go further, but we must cast off the shackles of materialism.

How does God work?

The standard conception of God, post creation, is influence by supernatural means. Depending on your beliefs, this supernatural influence may be exerted by God, Jesus, Mother Mary, or saints and priests.

By contrast, the gods of the polytheists are exerting intentional creative effort constantly, if capriciously at times. Unlike the monotheist’s God, humans are not the primary concern of the gods. They have their own lives and priorities. The monotheist’s God has done his work and is now chiefly concerned with how ‘His children’ behave. Little wonder the Deists found this idea unfulfilling. 

Now we are caught up in the subtleties of faith, virtue, and obedience. The monotheist’s sense of their God as a stern but loving father essentially makes it all a supernatural psychodrama.

In short, the monotheists’ God lurks around his now automatically running creation with an unhealthy passion for those he made in his image to behave as he imagined. It’s not a very edifying notion, and the extent to which this influence works it is so subtle as to seem non-existent.

On the other hand, the gods are active agents in the reality they co-creators of. Their creation was not deemed perfect at the end of a set of phases. To the extent that humans have a necessary concern about how the gods behave, to ensure that avoidable misfortune is avoided, there is no sense of dependency upon them – other than that they maintain the fabric of reality.

The problem we face as humans is the habit of assuming that the gods are inordinately interested in us. We must break that habit. We don’t assume the planets, or the Sun, are interested in us, yet by what they are, and what they are doing we exist. There are subtle and knowable physical forces that impinge upon us constantly. In fact, the same is true of our galaxy. Might it, at some vastly deeper level than we can imagine that the galaxy is also a coherent intentional agent?

If we imagine our reality governed by intentional agents rather than mechanical processes, we are doing more than merely paying lip service to the oft asserted notion that consciousness underpins all. We are allowing that that conscious may be organized as discrete agents below the level of the One True God because this model of organization fits the ‘as above, so below’ credo. Rather, as below so above. We can infer only from the small to the large.

If we reflect upon the Epicurean Nature’s God, we can imagine that if nature is the expression of the divine it may divide into discrete agents as part of the sensible organization of reality. 

Gods not only make sense, but they also seem necessary.  However, this does not mean that we understand them – neither their intent nor their nature.  We can infer that they may be real only.

It might be reasonable to ask, why then bother with the notion of gods? Well, they either exist or they do not. If you assume they do not the chances of discerning evidence of them will be greatly reduced. Allowing that they may exist at least reflects a modesty and a curiosity which may be rewarded simply because it permits the opportunity of awareness. Yes, of course, this will be also permission for self-delusion. 

Can we move on please?

We can see that over the past 3 millennia there has been a steady evolution of human consciousness in various places at various times. There is no sense of uniformity. Its more like chaotic progress. Today many millions of people live with the idea of many gods, and a great deal of others with the idea of only one god. A lesser number think there is no god, no deity of any kind at all. And there are many who do not care.

There is a growing enthusiasm for the idea that reality is underpinned by consciousness. But what does that really mean beyond asserting that matter isn’t the foundation of being. It may mean to some that ‘consciousness’ is merely a sub-material thing that is just as inert as the materialist’s matter. Ultimately it is hard to distinguish between intentionality and chance in any distinct way.

Consciousness is, I think, just as problematic a term as god/God. But these are early days in our efforts to fuse science with the precepts of the mystics and the religious. We are forced to use ill-defined terms because we are yet to achieve intellectual clarity in the way we think about non-material ideas. And even here one need only see how we employ the word ‘space’ to have meaning for both the volume of a cupboard and the universe.

We must move on from the language we are using. God and gods have so much baggage and intellectual muddiness they are less and less utility. Note, please, that it the language that’s a problem, not the underlying ideas. We can’t deal with them until we sort the language out.

In a strange way, we are far more likely to encounter gods than God. This is because as we explore systems and improve our understanding of them, it will be the smaller systems we will get to know first.


I have been encountering spirits my whole life – coherent intentional agencies that have interacted with me in sometimes shocking ways. Once that interaction was so compelling, I felt I was being irradiated by an intense sunlamp that left me struggling to remain coherent and barely capable of movement. My companion was similarly affected and entered a trance. What happened next was a flooding of my mind by a consciousness that was utterly beyond human. There was no malevolence, just an intensity so great it was oppressive and disorienting.

I have also spoken with discarnate humans whose intelligence and power were beyond doubt. One asserted that the gods were real, that they were “of the One, not as the One”. They were not, he assured, human inventions.

My direct experience is that there are coherent intentional agents who primarily exist in another dimension and interact with ours. This is routine apparently. They are part of an ecosystem, and sometimes a community. They function in nature and in direct relation to humans. I have no idea how that situation scales up – planet, solar system, galaxy? How large can a coherent intentional agent get?

If our reality is as fecund and teeming with spirits as the ancient Greek thinkers affirmed, and I think it is, the conceit of ‘being alone’ seems utterly foolish. Monotheism has collapsed our vision and dulled our senses. Materialism has made us wrong-headed and dull witted. The systems of thought we loosely call polytheistic seems to me to be more in accord with my own experiences, but that does not mean their models of reality suit our needs.

There’s a lot about modernism that is refreshing and corrective. It has broken thought ways that had become moribund and brought new ways of apprehending reality. But it has its own conceits and dogmas. The west has been recovering polytheism for the past 150 years or so. This process has been enthusiastic, romantic, rational, and silly as we have struggled to rediscover that sense of animistic complexity and coherence that I think we intuit lies beyond our materialistic and religious dogmas.

I am for gods. I wish there was a better way of naming them though. Some have offered the Egyptian ‘Neter’. That works for me.

Nature’s God


This is a quick reflection on a book by the philosopher Matthew Stewart – Nature’s God: The Heretical Origins of the American Republic.

I have an interest in the political and cultural influence of Christianity in the US. In recent years the claims that the US was founded as a Christian nation have been getting louder – as Christian fundamentalism has been more enthusiastically enlisted into a growing culture war.

But going back to the 1970s I came across assertions that America’s founding fathers were Freemasons. These were defended by claims that Masonic symbolism is to be found on the US dollar bill. Certainly the ‘great seal’ image supports this assertion. 

However, I hadn’t come across as scholarly exploration of what the ‘founding fathers’ thought and believed – until now.

Deists and atheists

Stewart combines an historical account of the activity at the foundation of the split from England with a deep dive into the evolution of deistic thinking. He rescues Epicure’s philosophy from travesty of self-indulgence it had been reduced to, and traces it via Lucretius’ poem, On the Nature of Things, into the essential thought of western philosophy during the Enlightenment.

Emma Restall Orr’s The Wakeful World is the only other book I have encountered that takes a spiritual perspective on western philosophical thought.

Atheism, in this context, is not the denial of deity so much as asserting that god is not a being apart from nature – no separate creator and created. The two are one. There is a brief allusion to Epicure saying this unitary being is the goddess. Stewart also acknowledges ideas about gods in the same context but doesn’t elaborate to any useful degree. This is fine. It’s not his purpose. Nature is its own creator, its own god, so to speak.

The deists essentially acknowledged god as having made everything has no further engagement. This allows them to also insist that nature is the source of all we can know. No point in calling on a god that will not answer.

No so much anti-religionist as anti-superstition

The heroes of the book disposed of the idea of the God of the Bible being real on the logic that all descriptions of it offend against reason. That is all humanity has to work with – and to surrender it in favour of a rationally offensive fiction is an incomprehensible thing to do. They do not abandon piety, however – hence the idea of Nature’s God.

The anti-Christianity sentiments are strong. Quite apart from the faith’s superstition, its adherents’ insistence upon it being the only permissible belief system creates a tyranny. The wording of the Declaration of Independence makes it clear that not just the tyranny of England is being refuted. There is an essential reason none of the ‘founding fathers’ were Christian.

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

People must be free to make choices essentially. Religious freedom was locked into the Constitution via the First Amendment. You really can’t imagine the Christians of the time ensuring religious liberty.

The value of this book

The conception of Nature’s God, so plainly asserted in the US’s Declaration of Independence, has not been previously explored with such clarity. That alone makes the book worth reading. But in that exploration, we are treated to an examination of the foundation of philosophical thought during the Enlightenment. It was spiritual in a way not usually acknowledged.

Here I use this term loosely – as an expression of piety – a humility before the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God. The only true instrument humans have is Reason. This, in a sense, makes this “Atheistic piety” scientific. 

The focus on Reason in the common telling of the Enlightenment misses that sense of piety. It has permitted the impious atheist to evolve as the hero of our culture. 

Materialism was once predicated upon the proposition that matter was the very foundation of being – Nature. It became an assertion that all there is gross matter, and there is no subtle domain of reality. True, the original conception supposed that atoms were the primary constituents of being – a forgivable error in 5th century BCE Greece.

Read the right way Nature’s God is an extraordinary examination of the thinking that is at the foundation of our civilization. Our propensity to develop dogmas and superstitions is still evident in some expressions of Christianity today. But it is equally present in the impious materialistic atheism that has come to dominate our culture.


If I declared myself a materialistic atheist these days, I would astonish those who know me well. But, strictly speaking, that is what a believer in the Goddess is. The One – that vast eternal and unknowable foundation of all being is neatly symbolised in the idea of a Goddess – rather than a God.

It would be truer to have asserted Nature’s Goddess, but ages have their limits and there is no way that Nature’s Goddess would have survived in the Declaration of Independence. In any case it hardly matters, since such a nuance is not something to be avowed in public, and certainly not in the presence of ardent Christians.

For me, the discovery that atheistic materialism had a deeper foundation than the crass dogmatic superstition it has become was a delicious insight. I was grateful to be reminded of the inherent spirituality of Enlightenment philosophy too.

The book didn’t explore deeper metaphysical ideas. That was not its purpose. The term superstition is now often employed as an insult asserting credulity and irrationality in the formation of a belief. It is essentially the formation of a belief without evidence or sound reason. Acceptance of the Christian God can be fairly called an act of superstition – without insulting intent – if there is no defensible rational foundation (misattribution is another, complicating, matter). But the term has been employed by the impious and dogmatic atheistic materialist to dismiss all things that do not fit with in their narrow frame. 

It is just as superstitious to dismiss what does not fit with that narrow frame. Concluding without evidence or reason what does not exist is equally a folly. The better path avoids the hubris of intellectual conceit in favour of a gentler path of pious curiosity and humble intellectual discipline.

The Declaration of Independence was first published 1776. That’s 246 years ago and its not long in the scheme of things. What has driven our civilisation’s evolution since then has been Enlightenment values – not always perfectly expressed of course. What has brought us peril has been impiety, hubris, and intolerance.

I like to remind myself of John Dewey’s insight – there really isn’t such thing as Religion. There are religions and religious people. Likewise, there is no Science, only sciences and scientists. Is there is no Christianity – only sects and believers? Not all Christians can be tarred with the same brush, but the brand has become tainted. The style of Christianity that the US Founding Fathers so disliked was intolerant, hubristic and impious. It is worth wondering how the world might be now if an aversion to such a form of faith was absent in America’s founding.

The American passion for ‘Freedom’ was, in the words of the book’s title, born of a heretical determination framed by a profound commitment to Reason. That reminds me of Stephen Jay Gould’s assertion that Science and Religion are “non-overlapping magisterial”. If he means Reason and Superstition, he would be right in a way – save that superstition is mere innocence of mind and nothing else.  Sciences and religions overlap all the time, and are the yin and yang of our consciousness.