“In this book it is spoken of the Sephiroth and the Paths; of Spirits and Conjurations; of Gods, Spheres, Planes, and many other things which may or may not exist. It is immaterial whether these exist or not. By doing certain things certain results will follow; students are most earnestly warned against attributing objective reality or philosophic validity to any of them.” — Aleister Crowley, Liber O vel Manus et Sagittae
There’s a fundamental danger in believing our own bullshit. The insurrection that brought the battle standard of the Confederate States army into the United States Capitol constitutes the ultimate proof of this caveat. The absolute unpreparedness and even complicity of the police during this insurrection and assault on the halls of government reveals the extent to which law enforcement has been infiltrated by the same or mutually non-antithetical world-views to those of the seditionist terrorists. These world-views are largely shaped by conspiracy theories among which is the so-called QAnon conspiracy. This conspiracy theory, rooted in magical thinking, holds that a cabal of Satanic pedophiles (including Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Barack Obama, and every other Democrat…naturally…) use rituals and psychedelic drugs to commune with demons, daemons, or elves. At the heart of this week’s briefly lived ochlocratic state was an overused trope, an abused cliché from the 1980s, a pseudo-scientific view of the phenomenal universe that betrays the spirit of enlightenment with its childish adherence to conceptualizing demonology as a genuine science.
The RV bomber in Nashville, Tennessee believed in alien abductions and cryptozoology. While he was careful to attempt to mitigate loss of life with his verbal warning system, Anthony Quinn Warner–the lone-wolf perpetrator of this attack–adhered to a number of interwoven conspiracy theories about extraterrestrial life and government coverups. Moreover, Warner appears to have selected the target for his attack based on the belief that 5G cellular technology could be used for some malevolent if ill-conceived purpose.
The question before us now is, “Can we disentangle acts of violence and extremist ideologies from their tangential occult conspiracies?” If we are honest, we must come to the realization that the conspiracy is the heart of the radical identity, and that the wilder and weirder the conspiracy gets, the more devoted the believer is to the mythic narrative that enables him, as hero of his own delusional story, to blow up city blocks and storm the halls of American democracy. That is, at the the very center of the maelstrom resides an unwavering alternative spirituality that pits wizards and goblins against the angry townspeople.
Is is time for occult cryptozoology and other related pseudosciences–and those charlatans, hucksters, and deviants associated with such ideas–to shutter their carnivals for good. However innocuous, however removed from the current melee, however bold their protestations to the contrary, these barkers stoke the fires of insurrection and destruction by peddling their ever-growing litany of sightings, encounters, and hokey “evidence” that many perceive to be validation of their conviction that the government is in collusion with ultraterrestrial / extraterrestrial / interterrestrial forces. That is, no matter what the above-the-line fabulists may say to disavow their own culpability in these horrors, they played their part in helping to create the rich tapestry of alternative facts and bullshit pseudo-mythology that is evoked in an effort to justify the crimes of lone-wolves and violent, antidemocratic mobs.
It’s time to put away the notions of foolish children. It’s time to close the goblin caves in Kentucky. It’s time to stop spinning counter-narratives that fuel violence. It’s time to grow the fuck up.