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Miguel Conner explains how Gnosticism tackles the evil question.

photo by: Skeptiko

Welcome to Skeptiko where we explore controversial science with leading researchers thinkers and their critics. As the creator and host of Aeon Byte Gnostic Radio, Miguel Conner truly is veteran of a thousand existential deep dives. Through his interviews with nearly all of the notable esoteric thinkers of our time, Miguel has become recognized as a leading voice of not just Gnosticism, which has always been his foot in the door of your mind calling card, but the leader of, I think an undeniable alternative spirituality zeitgeist that we’re in the middle of.

So, it’s great to talk to Miguel… I’ve learned so much from him… he is one of my go-to mystics. It’s  great to have you Miguel, thanks for joining me. 

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Alex Tsakiris: [00:01:21] So, I twisted Miguel’s arm to come on and help me with this project that I’m working on that listeners have kind of had to endure in my kind of stumbling through the evil question. So we’re definitely going to want to talk about that. But Miguel also has some interesting things going on over at Aeon Byte, always does, including possibly a new podcast. Maybe we’ll talk a little bit about esoteric health and addiction.

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Or how would you put that Miguel, what you’re thinking about doing?

Miguel Conner: [00:02:01] Well it’s been something at the back of my mind how there’s not that much media out there to deal specifically with the addiction and mental issues from an alternative science. I mean there’s a lot about health, podcasters and shows do it, but there’s really not much out there, and it’s something I can address from A) my experience in the Esoterica and B) as somebody who is a recovering drug addict, somebody who was told once upon a time by traditional medicine that I’m bipolar. And it seems the time is right, especially as, well we knew that the collective conscious as a humanity was breaking down but in 2020 it’s going to crumble. And I think we are in a time where people are slowly going to turn away from the traditional because the traditional keeps screwing us and finding alternative methods. Get away from the pharmaceutical industrial complex, get away from psychiatry, get away from the usual stuff and find alternatives that have worked. You know, the data tells us, like you always say, follow the data, and the data says alternative medicine, vitamins and other forgotten methods do work or can work or should be an option at the very least. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:03:22] Yeah, absolutely. Maybe we will have a chance to talk more about that because I think it’s extremely timely, and as you said, it’s just in keeping with where everything’s going, especially, like you said, two old guys. I get that all the younger people totally get this, it’s about biohacking, it’s about ice baths, which I do, but it’s about breathing, it’s about yoga and it’s about, like you said, alternative medicine in the form of supplements and that kind of stuff. So yeah, I think there’s a ton there, and I think the intersection between that and kind of this extended consciousness science that continues to get all this traction that you talk about and I talk about. So I think it’s a great great idea and I think it can really be in service to a lot of people. So we’re going to talk about that. 

Why don’t we back up? I think everybody knows you but invariably I’m just going to jump in and talk about a lot of inside baseball. So before I do that, tell people a little bit about your background and Aeon Byte and kind of who you are, run down kind of thing. 

Miguel Conner: [00:04:35] Yeah. I don’t know how much there is to say. Once upon a time, as many of your listeners, as you are, I was a seeker, sought for many years, fell into many traps, discovered many doorways that somehow ended up, for me, hitting walls. And about 13 years ago I discovered Gnosticism and I can’t say I discovered it as a religion, but more as a philosophy, an aesthetic, an attitude. And my interest immediately was not just to learn about it but to share with the world, almost in real time, what I was discovering.

And I was very fortunate to, before the golden age of podcasting, do a little podcast and was able to score a lot of great guests, the translators of the Nag Hammadi Library the Gnostic Gospels individuals like Bart Ehrman, and a whole slew of different characters to share Gnosticism,, ancient and modern from the philosophical to the religious. 

And the podcast grew and it’s sort of been my child for the last 13 years, and honestly, I’ve only really taken it seriously in the last couple of years. I think in 2018, I finally went full time with it, and it’s done very well, I can’t complain. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:05:57] Well it’s been a constant source of, really inspiration is kind of an overused term, but it has and just millions and millions of downloads and I just know from the community and the waters we swim in, you are held in the in the highest regard. You’re somebody who’s actually penetrated some, to a certain degree, the academic circles, which I think is truly amazing. And you were invited down to Rice University with the very excellent Dr. Jeffrey Kripal. Hats off to him for realizing that this kind of avant-garde journalism thing that you are doing, is really where the action is, and it’s not in these stodgy conferences that no one goes to. And I think that’s excellent, and I think it’s also going to be a trend. I think more and more people are going to realize, if you just sit back and listen to Aeon Byte, you’re getting the kind of education that you can’t get at a university or at a conference or anything like that. It’s just amazing.  

Miguel Conner: [00:07:07] Well thanks Alex. Yeah, I think, as I’ve said on my show, I do believe these are Gnostic times. This is certainly a Philip K Dick world. It’s a shit show if you pardon my language, so I think this information is more important than ever. If anything, as Gary Lachman and others have said, the Gnostics are the perennial outsiders of history, they’re the guys outside looking in, the punks and the rebels and the nerds. That’s how it’s been with history, and we live in a time where that’s the type of attitude we need to penetrate the amazing machinery that has been created over society.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:07:46] Maybe, maybe.

Miguel Conner: [00:07:49] It’s a choice, an option.

 Alex Tsakiris: [00:07:51] Skeptiko coming at you. I tell you what I want to do. Again, it’s not always a lovefest here on Skeptiko, it’s half lovefest and half hater. 

Miguel Conner: [00:08:04] I remember the drill, I know, that’s why I listen to your show religiously. I know the drill. If it didn’t happen, I would be like, I really failed.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:08:12] It’s the Dave Chappelle Haters’ Ball, kind of thing. Anyway, an excellent video I want to share with people. So you kind of said how you’re stepping into the next level. You did a video a little while back, which is next level, in terms of production quality, that I think will give people a sense for, kind of where your head is at a lot of times, and it’s also a great jumping off point, I think for this dialogue I want to drag you into about evil. So let me play this, this is you can find this on YouTube.

[00:08:50] Video clip:

I do not know whether the gods are faces that we give to that which is faceless, in order to comprehend it and be close to it as human beings. If they are manifestations of distinct powers arising from an unknowable immensity or supreme reality or a oneness. If they are mediators or messengers between us and the God who is beyond comprehension. If they are aspects of nature and the world personified. If they are archetypes are forces of consciousness both within and without man. Or if they are at the highest human expression of being beyond mortality. Perhaps they are a combination of all of the above. What I do know is that the gods are mysteries and that we as human beings are ultimately drawn to them, and I know that they respond if one calls out to them.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:09:57] I might pause it right there because I love that line as a jumping off point for this nature of evil thing. “What I do know is that the gods…” and I think when you say “gods” we could also substitute, kind of the dark side there, “are mysteries that we as humans are ultimately drawn to.”

Tell me about that and tell me if that does relate also to maybe some of the, what I’m calling evil. We’re going to have to define that. Maybe you want to define that, it’s all wrapped into a lot of the things you’re saying there. 

Miguel Conner: [00:10:42] Well, I mean, it’s no secret that our minds are wired to have mystic experience and to want to know God. The science has proven that and it’s interesting how even chimpanzees will build temples. So there is something with us, that wants to, as you say, go into the extended consciousness, into the metaphysical. Of course, we both know our mutual friend Gordon White’s book Star.Ships, that society started with man looking at the stars, and you might say the stars do represent the gods or maybe the gods came from the stars, as a you’ve had many shows and I’ve had many shows. 

So I think we are wired to try to find out what is the mystery beyond us. And again quoting Gordon, he does say that 98% of myths across the world have evil spirits or an evil character in it. I guess we live in a society where perennialism has sort of taken over. You know that idea that there’s one ancient wisdom in a golden age and evil is the prevatio boni of Augustine. It’s a lack of God. Even new age and esoteric spirituality, even the pagan dispensation, it’s taken it over.

I remember you talked about the Gnostic conference that I went to with Jeff Kripal, but Erik Davis, one of the editors of Philip K Dick’s The Exegesis, and he just came out with his great book High Weirdness , very astutely said that the difference between Gnosticism and perennialism, basically talking about occultism, are the Archons. That’s what separates the Gnostics from everything else, because the Gnostics saw an opposition, a darkness, what not to be, these negative agents who are very real. And again, like most of the myths of the ancients, they’re in line with these ancient myths and these ancient people. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:12:48] So where does that place us? And I’m hoping in a lot of ways here I can kind of scratch beyond, “Oh, I killed an animal in the forest,” or, “Chimpanzees kill each other.” It’s like, no, somebody trying to reach into the extended realm to do something especially, especially wicked in this realm, seems to be of a different ilk.  

Miguel Conner: [00:13:14] Yeah, I would certainly say so. And the worst is when people go in some sort of state of denial, “Well, there’s some greater purpose for it.” I used to get into arguments with Gnostic groups, “There’s some greater purpose,” and have what I call my Kitty Porn rule. I said, “There is no greater purpose. There’s nothing that’s ever going to match the immense pain and damage that you have done to a child. Maybe a few children could do well, but most is just broken, sold broken psyches. It’s evil, you can’t call it anything else. 

So I understand that but again, a lot of our society we’ve, just gotten used to turning a blind eye and it can go in many dimensions. I know from a Gnostic perspective at least classical, ignorance is the greater evil. When we do not see who we are, we don’t see the universe as it is, then ignorance comes in and that’s when we can do a lot evil things; great wars, how easily cultures are manipulated, damage that we do to others, our spouses, our children, that somehow we rationalize. So ignorance, at least from the Gnostic viewpoint, is a huge one. Like what does Jesus say on the cross? Father forgive them, they do not know what they do. And then that great story obviously, they are slaughtering one of the wisest men or the son of God, the hero of the tale itself.

So ignorance is one way, but at the same time, sometimes it has to stop short that there is something out there that simply wishes destruction that is pure darkness. 

Going back to perennialism and the Gospel of John, the Gospel of John starts with that beautiful, “In the beginning was the word and the word was God.” But towards the end what does it say? “And the darkness knows it not, the darkness did not know the logos. So even the Gospel of John presupposes an incredible darkness that does not like this logos coming into the world or creating what is good. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:15:28] I’m wondering, from a personal level, how does that shadow work for you with your practice in Gnosticism, and more broadly, because we always talk about Gnosticism, because that’s your brand stuff like that. But when I hear you talk, I hear a broader kind of mysticism that I love, because as I said in the intro, I so respect that you have had all these battles, and I know what it’s like to prepare for those battles every week. And whether they’re battles, friendly battles or not, they’re an intellectual exercise and you go to so many different places. So how is that fitting in with your understanding of that darkness, your own personal shadow and projected out? 

Miguel Conner: [00:16:18] Well yeah. I mean that’s a good point about the shadow. What did Jung say, “A shadow is everything I do not wish to be.” But what I do not wish to be means it’s inside me. I mean all of us have a dark, we are both a mixture of darkness and light and we have the ability to commit great atrocities. I mean history shows it over and over. Germans who turned their faces away from the Jews and so many other places. So we do have a shadow and if we don’t watch that shadow, if we don’t entertain the darkness inside of us or at least understand it, it will project itself in terrible ways.

Some movements even like A Course in Miracles, everything is a projection, the good and the bad and you’re just playing a game with others of how to work things out in your brain. At the same time, this is acceptance, which is an amazing thing, of the darkness within me, the heaven and hell, I myself am heaven and hell, as Omar Khayyam the Persian poet said, has also taught me that even beyond the darkness with me that can do so much damage to myself, to the world and to others. 

There is probably an ontological evil outside, even beyond, there are evil spirits, there are evil forces. I think as even Jung himself admitted there is probably a dark archetype, he called it the devil. And when he was having correspondence with Bill W. the founder of AA, because Bill W. was trying to understand, how we do alcoholics, we get a little drink and we do this horrible shit to others. And Jung called it the devil, but we can call it a dark archetype, it’s a principle of destruction, and it just exists to cause pain across the universe and an incredible amount of destruction. I wouldn’t even say like, I don’t know how Hinduism works with Kali and Shiva is it a quick…? But this is kind of torturous artistic pain upon others. 

And as you’re talking about these satanic groups you wonder is this because of the dark archetype? Or I think Jason Lu, somebody who’s been on your show and you two had a wonderful conversation about the environment, but he on Twitter, he brought something out from his divine self, he said, the great choice in this century is going to be between entertainment and ecstasy. And it’s become sort of a tagline, because I look at these elite who they get addicted to a little bit of that entertainment, there’s that money, there’s that women, there’s that property, and that’s not enough. You want more of that rush, you want more of that intensity that makes you feel godlike and superior. And before you know it, you’re taking that entertainment into very addictive, very intense areas and you’re doing atrocities you couldn’t believe you were doing, beyond the whole blackmail of the elite and maybe deals and dark magic that you eventually get to do. 

I think these days, that’s kind of where I am with the whole evil shadow thing. It’s a shadow and the archetypal evil. So it’s just got more complicated and harder, but I love it.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:19:36] Well you actually said something kind of interesting, in terms of the agency of a malevolent force in the extended consciousness realm. That’s a very controversial topic in the communities that we’re in. You know is this all just a manifestation of our shadow or is there the connection with something…? We can’t say real, all the words fail us here. So you kind of come down on the side of, there are entities that are looking to commingle with us in a malevolent way?  

Miguel Conner: [00:20:15] Yes. And talking about alternative science, I recently had Jerry Marzinsky and he and Sherry Swiney have written this great book about the failure of traditional medicine has been schizophrenia, a complete failure for a hundred years. The pain and destruction of schizophrenia, it’s a pandemic, when you think about the millions that die every year. And they talk about these mind parasites who come and destroy us. And of course that aligns well with certain thinkers like David Icke, John Lamb Lash, Laurence Galian and so forth. And when you treat these, and Jung’s even said the same, when you treat them as they’re evil entities, you might not have a proof, but the proof will be that your patient will heal 10 times, 100 times faster than what traditional medicine or believing that there is no evil or believing that some God, there’s a purpose and he’s going to take care of you if you have faith. So yeah that’s it. That’s the picture right there. 

So that kind of attitude, again, is we’re shifting towards evil, that has done more good for the people suffering from schizophrenia than the pharmaceutical industrial complex has done for certain. And I think, again, that’s one way, it’s interesting.

And again, it’s almost like a shift in your thinking. I mean it was strange because I don’t know if you’ve heard of Lon Milo DuQuette, he’s a great guy. He’s really one of the leading occultists in the last 30 years, he knew Israel Regardie and I had him on the show a month ago and asked him about evil and he did not… This guy has done ceremony after ceremony from the O.T.O. to the Hermetic Golden Dawn, I mean he has been out there with the spirits, and he’s not going to accept that there is evil, he wouldn’t accept it. Of course I completely disagree with him. 

And the shift in thinking is what one blogger said very well. In our culture you always ask, how did evil come into the world? In Gnosticism you start with, how did good come into the world? You shift it to realize this is a hostile place beyond the germs and the animals and the tornadoes want to kick your ass. This is a place where there’s evil spirits walking around. And as we’ve seen by humanity in the world, at least from my perspective, this is their turf and they’ve been kicking our asses for thousands of years. Look at civilization 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:22:51] Although, in that same interview that you were  talking about with Jerry Marzinsky and Sherry Swiney, there’s the clip, and you just actually said the clip that I was going to play or the quote I was going to give, what matters are that these predators are real or should be treated as real. And it was just a classic Gnostic Miguel Conner moment for me where the universe cracks open. It’s like, no Miguel, that is the entire world of, you know, they’re real or they should be traded as real. That is to me the essential question and it’s one that we keep pounding on and you did a great job of saying that, from a healing modality standpoint, you have to treat them as real.

But at another level of just kind of a consciousness, from a scientific kind of materialism, idealism kind of thing, none of this stuff is real. From a simulation theory, none of this stuff is real. So we’re somewhere, always in this middle ground of what is real and what are we treating as real? And again, I’ve returned to the to the question of, does evil give us a different vantage point to examine that question? 

Miguel Conner: [00:24:16] Yeah, and of course, you have suffering. Suffering is part of the universe but is that really evil? That’s where it’s gets complicated. There’s the parable, the Buddhist parable that I think of, where the tadpole is born and daddy frog is talking to him and the tadpole is like, “Dad, what’s the land going to be like?” And the daddy frog is like, “You’re immersed in water. I can give you metaphors and analogies, but until you get there you won’t know.” And I think evil is real, I think Sherry Swiney, who was a schizophrenic and found these mind parasites, I think they’re real, but until she was able to get out of that water how was she going to able to describe it? And we do the best we can. 

Again, I think they’re real, but sometimes it’s almost…  I think Jung was doing it too, it’s like, “Well, try this way,” let’s try an alternative way, instead of the drugs that are killing you and robbing you of your agency and numbing your soul and all that. So I know there’s a bit of a fast, I don’t know, switch and bait, we treat them like real, but I think if we can help some schizophrenics or alcoholics or addicts who…

I’ve had a guest, like Susan Martinez who wrote The Field Guide to Spirits, she talked about how, when you look at alcoholics or serial killers and then you compare the to possessed people in Europe and Africa, they’re exactly the same behavior, exactly. The voices in the head the dysfunctional relationships, it’s right there. So you start to see this really is about spirit and demon possession and how are you going to treat it? But everybody’s so trained with the scientism and the scientific method, it’s hard to get people to try something different. I didn’t want to try something different 20 years ago when I was on meds, even though I was praying and going to Buddhist, I still thought the meds were the ultimate cure because this is Darwin’s world.  

Alex Tsakiris: [00:26:25] You know, that’s really interesting. What is the fear of going the alternative route, and in particular, going the alternative spiritual route for people who are in those kinds of desperate throws? Because it almost, logically, would seem to be the opposite, would seem to be, “Well, I’ll try everything.” But that isn’t really how it feels, is it?

Miguel Conner: [00:26:48] No. No. And the worst part where the big joke is, is that these meds and these treatments block your chakras and your channel. So you can start meditating or doing yoga or what did Sherry Swiney do? She was doing reiki, and they will block your channels of communication with the higher forms of consciousness or even to expand your consciousness and it’s hard.

I remember doing some rituals with ayahuasca on meds, and now I realize I really robbed myself about 90% of that mystical experience that other people were having around me, that helped them. So that’s the destructive, and even the meds, our belief systems are so hard, that can block us out too. So it’s unfortunate, it’s iconic what they’ve done. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:27:42] I want to play another clip, one from an interview, kind of a person-person interview you did which you haven’t been too many of those, but it was with the very excellent Richard Smoley, Oxford trained bestselling authors, he’s written all these fantastic books. A Christian but a Christian critic as well. 

I wanted to talk about Christian bashing, cults and conspiracy, because I think they play into a part, and another part of this evil is the deception. And that’s right out of a comic Christian motif, but it’s true enough.

Miguel Conner: [00:28:22] [Unclear 00:28:24] or Satan?

Alex Tsakiris: [00:28:25] Hey, that is so… We’re going to talk about that because, look, for the mystic and for the Gnostic, conspiracy is like, “What do you mean? It’s all a conspiracy.” 

Miguel Conner: [00:28:41] It goes with your tea in the morning. It’s part of your daily routine. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:28:45] And you would think it would for the Christian as well, because their narrative, it’s all about conspiracy, right? 

Miguel Conner: [00:28:55] But it is today Alex. I mean, have you talked to QAnon people? Their Christianity is completely embedded with conspiracy. The child thing and Satan and the aliens. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:29:10] On so many different levels.

Miguel Conner: [00:29:12] My wife, now she’s becoming Greek Orthodox and she’s embedded in QAnon, so it’s the full Gnostic package.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:29:19] Hopping over to another thing. You were my entry drug for Joe Atwill, who I think is fantastic and I’ve had him on the show a bunch of times, including some kind of debates with religious scholars. People who don’t know, Joe Atwill wrote a very influential book called Caesar’s Messiah, that made this wild conspiratorial claim that the Bible is pro-Roman. Don’t go bother checking but every religious scholar, if you’re really read carefully, will go “Yeah, that’s kind of strange. How could the Bible be pro-Roan? They are the ones who killed Jesus, why would we have a pro-Roman Bible?” And remember, that these are the gospels before Constantine, before it becomes the state religion, why are the original gospels, according to Wikipedia, our ultimate source on everything, pro-Roman?

Well again, I’m talking inside baseball here folks, but if you go and listen to Miguel’s interviews with Joe Atwill or my interviews with Joe Atwill or Greg Carlwood just had a nice interview series with Joe Atwill. There are some historical aspects to it that are just kind of undeniable that the Romans had a hand in influencing the gospels. That is conspiratorial.

So, you want to  jump to the QAnon thing, where I was going to go is, if you just take the straight narrative right out of the Bible, it’s a conspiracy at every level, from God conspiring against him for man or man conspiring, it’s just a story of one conspiracy after another.

So it’s always remarkable to me, the fact that conspiracy seems to be a problem for the non-QAnon Christians, your kind of mainstream Christians. 

Miguel Conner: [00:31:18] And I think especially for those who are more into the Greek Orthodox, like a was it a Neon? He’s the big QAnon, he’s Greek Orthodox. Maybe not so much Jay Dyer, Jay Dyer is obviously not QAnon, he’s very anti QAnon. But if you read the work of let’s say a Greek Orthodox scholar, who’s an excellent scholar David Bentley Hart, and he basically says, everybody misunderstands Paul, here’s how you understand Paul. The Jesus in Paul is a Jesus that comes to defeat the archons who have taken over the world.

So right there you’ve got the seeds of conspiracy of the matrix, in Paul’s letters. And of course the Gnostics ran with that story 2000 years ago, but even the Greek Orthodox Church, it makes sense. I mean, what does Jesus say or what does Satan say in the Gospel of Mark? “All the kingdoms are mine.” He owns the world and Jesus is there, the little guy trying to fight Satan in the desert and trying to get away. 

So you’re right, the seeds are there because that was probably the original thing, you know, the original story, until like you said, which I agree, Rome because the powers that be always weaponized anything they can get their hands on. It’s just the way it is, nothing’s going to change. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:32:35] Again, switching gears like I’ll love to do, but I just had an interview with the very excellent Riz Virk who is this kind of, over the top genius computer gamer kind of guys, started the MIT game lab, really successful as an entrepreneur and has wrote a book on the simulation hypothesis 

Miguel Conner: [00:32:57] Yeah, I heard that interview, a great interview.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:32:59] Oh good. I’m glad you appreciated that. I appreciate a lot of things he had to say. One of the things that stuck with me is the, if they can, they will, kind of thing. He said at the core of the simulation hypothesis,  that a lot of people don’t talk about is, you say, okay we all get technology’s advancing, even if you don’t buy into the singularity thing you say, “Gee in my lifetime, it’s gone from a huge room down to a little phone and it’s going to continue, it’s going to advance.” And then the real kind of Gnostic archon thing, if they can, they will. And if we think about that from our own life experience, whether it’s human cloning and the guy in China who just got put in jail for human cloning, right? We’re not going to do any human cloning? Of course we’re going to do human cloning.

Miguel Conner: [00:33:57] Of course, of course.

 Alex Tsakiris: [00:33:58] It’s already been done, we know that. But if you can do it, you do it. And that really kind of hit me square in the head, like that applies everywhere. So whatever you think, is like as soon as the thought of the most vicious, evil, manipulative thing you can think of, somebody who’s going to do it. 

Miguel Conner: [00:34:21] Yeah. It’s entertaining. I think that’s it. Remember ecstasy or entertainment. Ecstasy is leaving your body and expanding your conscious and being flooded with the incredible joy that hits you, but entertainment is just, well, you can just look at society, that’s what the whole world is about. Let me entertain you, here we are, entertainers, Netflix, experiments and the elite take it way up and of course scientists want to take it one step. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:34:49] You know there’s another side to the entertainment thing. I always remember a quote from Shirley MacLaine, who I think will go down as an underappreciated kind of mystic, who was out there with astral travel and all that stuff. Talk about being on the frontier.

Miguel Conner: [00:35:10] She’s a pioneer, a huge pioneer in the 70s when it was all kind of psychedelic drugs and all that. She took it really to the holistic Blavatsky original intentions of the movement. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:35:23] I heard an interview with her, and the guy was getting on her pretty good and she goes, “Look, we’re all ultimately here to entertain each other.” And I think that takes maybe what Jason’s saying in a different direction. Why do we denigrate entertainment? Maybe that is our ultimate purpose at some level if we think multiple unlimited lives and karma, you know, to the nth degree. 

Miguel Conner: [00:35:52] But I think that’s a problem because remember in the Shirley MacLaine model there is no room for evil because it’s just a learning experience and we’re all reflections of each other. And that’s very dangerous in my view, because again, you’re turning your back on that ontological evil, those evil spirits, dark archetype and the horrible thing. And then of course, with these groups, you end up with this… This is what Mitch Horowitz said, the problem with new age as a whole victim shaming. It’s like, “Oh gee Alex, you just got cancer. I guess it’s your karma.” “Oh, you got raped by 20 bikers, you must have had a shitty life, or you have something to work out or there’s some destiny.” Instead of just calling that what it is, evil, and we need to stop it.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:36:39] That’s incredibly interesting, and we certainly need to go there a little bit.

So Rich Martini wrote a book and did a movie called Flipside, and Rich Martini is kind of this Hollywood producer type, a really cool guy. He got interested in the lives between lives, the work of Michael Newton. And then he particularly got interested in the work of these folks who do between lives. And people can not like like that research but at some point, when you get in there, there’s some really solid parts to it. I mean Michael Newton was an LA hypnotherapist who physicians would send patients to who they believe just had psychosomatic illnesses. So his original regression was a guy who had a shoulder injury and he keeps going to the doctor and says, “My shoulder, my shoulder,” and finally the doctor referred him over to Michael Newton because he doesn’t have any real shoulder problem. 

Michael Newton has passed, and I’m telling this story for the benefit of listeners who maybe haven’t heard it, I think you probably know it. But he’s helping people get over a fear of spiders, a fear of water, all the typical things, back in the 70s I think this is, or maybe 60s where Michael Newton is practicing in Los Angeles. And he stubbornly can’t fix this guy’s shoulder, and he goes, “No, I want you to go back further, further, further, to this shoulder injury.” The guy goes, “I’m on a battlefield. We’re in this trench. Oh no, I’ve been stabbed in the shoulder.” So, you get the thing and Michael Newton is somewhat of a history buff, so he gathers, he even kind of breaks protocol and gathers a lot of information from this guy. It turns out the guy, he’s able to trace down the guy’s life in World War I and verifies some of the stuff. 

A long story, fast forward ahead to Rich Martini, Flipside. He starts going to these conventions, Between Lives, he’s witnessing a regression. So here’s the punchline Miguel, had to take a long time to get there. This woman is regressed. She says, “Oh I’m in the Holocaust. I’m walking into the gas chamber. I want to resist and then I realize I’m with my people and I will just go and face my destiny. Now I’m past, I’m dead, and now I look down and I see my perpetrator. I see the Nazi guy who dropped the gas into my tank, and I realize the burden that he carries is far greater than what I’m carrying.” And I love that story and I hate that story. I hate that story for all the reasons that you’re saying, the over-simplified karmic, you’re here for reasons kind of stuff, but there’s something about that story that seems inescapably true in a way. 

Miguel Conner: [00:39:51] Yeah, I mean it’s obviously the power of forgiveness, of letting go, which is letting go your karma and of course the power of understanding. And was the Nazi really evil or was he afraid? Was he ignorant as a Gnostic would say, he was taught a bunch of propaganda that the Jews were inferior? Was he just somebody who was taught, like the Japanese bayoneting Chinese babies when they invaded, that he just thought that duty was the ultimate form of divinity, and whatever was below it was not evil as long as you were following the divine emperor of your country? 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:40:29] Well, let’s lead it back to, I want to do some Christian bashing because I’m always accused of Christian bashing.

Miguel Conner: [00:40:41] Really? 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:40:43] Well yeah, I can’t imagine. I had a guest on, and I really appreciated having this guest and I like him and respect him. His name is Russ Dizdar, and he’s an evangelical minister, but also has done some real boots on the ground investigation and helping people recovering from satanic ritual abuse. Which is a real ringer because if you’re involved in that, no one wants to hear anything beyond satanic panic and it’s like, no, it’s real. 

Miguel Conner: [00:41:12] It is real, it’s more real than we thought. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:41:14] Yeah. Whether we can pack it back into the biblical Satan is a whole other question, and I don’t think we can, but that’s the jumping off point, and that’s where it starts getting interesting and you can never get there, right? Because you have one side that’s like, “Not happening. It couldn’t happen. It can’t possibly happen because there is no evil, there is no Satan, we’re biological robots in a meaningless universe.” That is the standard kind of view. And then the Christian on the other side view is, “Oh no, I’ll tell you exactly how it happened. Let me just pull the gospel up,” and this is the limited way that they can understand it. And then you look at their thing and they say, “Well they kind of have a point. You did put Satan in there as part of the ritual abuse thing. So that’s right there.” 

Miguel Conner: [00:42:06] Yeah. It makes no sense though, because you’re still having, in the Christian dispensation, unless… Evangelicals that I’ve met, maybe this guy you talked to, they’re the honest ones because they do say, if we read the Bible literally, Satan is in charge of the kingdoms of the world. And if we read Paul, the way Paul should be read, the archons, the powers and principalities are in charge of this world. Good has to come into this world in the form of Jesus. But most say, well God is still in charge and somehow, he gives Satan this sort of sadist, this resentful angel, a little bit of free will to sort of work his way here and work his way there and then run back to hell, which makes absolutely no sense. 

And then the question I always ask is, what happens if Satan gets his hands on the Book of Revelation and says, “Holy shit, I don’t want this to end this way. This doesn’t look good for me. So whatever the Book of Revelation tells me, I’m going to do exactly the opposite.” Well he has no choice. Well that goes right back to God. Right? So Satan has no free will. He’s just a puppet like all of us, of some divine plan. I mean, now you’ve got like, let’s listen to Rush and the song Freewill. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:43:21] And let’s take it in another direction. I’m going to play this clip in a second from a Richard Smoley and I really appreciate his book. I think it’s How God Became God. I might be missing that, is that it? Okay. So you just go back back in history and it looks really tough. I mean, Satan just slips right through your fingers, right? So you go all the way back and he got Yahweh the thunder god, and there’s no Satan in these stories. And then the Zoroasters come in and the Egyptians and some other stuff comes into the culture. And all of a sudden, the same story, now there’s a Satan. Well that folks is like how we do literary analysis/archeology and you can’t get around that. You can’t put the Humpty Dumpty back on the wall on that. 

So you’ve interviewed Smoley and we’re going to talk about him, and I’m going to play this clip, in a minute, but what about that? What about the historical Satan?

Miguel Conner: [00:44:23] No, I think you hit it on the head. I mean, if you read The Book of Job and all that, Satan or even the stories of David, Satan is just God’s prosecutor. He sort of a God’s tester of human, sometimes as executioner, he’s one of the angels. In early Christian texts he’s even called the first born. He’s really the God’s right hand enforcer. 

Then you have, of course, mixing in with Zoroastrianism, Zoroaster, he’s one of the most spiritual geniuses in all of history, because he came up with the idea that there is a force of good and evil who are basically evenly matched. You’ve got our Ahriman the Lord of Darkness and Ahura Mazda the Lord of Light and they’re in this fight. Of course, now we know that Mithras is sort of the God in between, working with it. And of course, the idea of an apocalypse, the idea of a higher self or guardian angels. I mean, Zoroaster came up with so much, a genius, and he definitely affected… When the Jews were in Babylon and then the Persians came and liberated, Zoroastrianism came into their matrix, the Jewish matrix, and Satan basically got rebooted to a new figure. He became the bad guy, he became doctor evil or your Bond villain.

But again, Christians can’t make up their mind. At least in Zoroastrianism they’re evenly matched, and we’ll see who’s the smartest one at the end of the day, we assume good will be. But in a Christianity, it’s again, well Satan has no power close to God, but he still has his power to start wars and pestilences and seduce people. And then God sort of allows him to do his shit but doesn’t him. But he has no free will. So again, we get into a lot of theological acrobatics that haven’t helped the sanity of Christianity for the last 2000 years.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:46:27] Let’s close the loop on the satanic ritual abuse thing, because there’s few people I can kind of get to this level with and talk about. Like you were saying, yeah, it’s very real. So we take the realness of it, which means there are people who are actively engaged with trying to connect with this spiritual force that they feel is bringing something into their… they’re doing it for gain right? Whether it’s some kind of sadistic pleasure or whatever. But what do we think, what do we imagine is going on there in these two realms, in between our realm in that realm? And then, in kind of a tulpa co-creation of reality way, if we think that Satan slips through our fingers historically, but they are going with some kind of biblical definition of that entity, what is that telling us about that ultimate reality? 

Miguel Conner: [00:47:34] They’re naming it Satan, but I don’t think they’re even getting to the biblical Satan.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:47:39] Let me make sure you understand what I’m saying. Like, you go and talk to Russ Dizdar, and Russ, a good guy, a law enforcement guy, worked in law enforcement, was a chaplain. But also taught at law enforcement Police Academy kind of stuff, and still teaches courses on satanic ritual abuse. And he’s like, “Alex this is not in a lot of these guys matrix, their worldview, and that’s why I have to go teach it. They get to the scene and they don’t know an inverted pentagram from a wicca symbol and all the rest of this.” He was a good guy, I liked him, he was like, “We have gangs here in Ohio, gangs have different signs. If you don’t understand the gang signs, the gang graffiti, the dress, you’re going to be, kind of, on the outside looking in.”

Miguel Conner: [00:48:29] The same in Chicago.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:48:30] Chicago’s the next level, maybe. But his point is well taken. He says, “There is a reality to this that’s inescapable, and part of that reality is that they claim to be connecting with Satan and in Latin they’ll be saying Satan rituals and they’ll be doing…”

So, what do we think is going on there? Is it a tulpa co-creation? Like, if you want to manifest Satan you can get to Satan right here. 

Miguel Conner: [00:49:04] Yeah, again, that’s another wrinkle too, is the whole idea of egregores or tulpas, that if we believe something, our psychic energy will create this entity and this being to do our will. So that’s definitely another wrinkle to it, and if you have a lot of jerks doing it, then they will create everything. 

One of the biggest religions right now in North America is Santa Muerte. The goddess of death is rising. Very popular. Could we consider her evil? Is she an egregor? 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:49:35] You did an interview with a woman, who was that?

Miguel Conner: [00:49:37] Oh my God, I forgot her name. I have her book too. Yes, I have to look, but yeah, she wrote a great book on a Santa Muerte and there are other scholars that are coming with great work, because this is a deity or an entity that’s becoming very popular. And it could be like the Neil Gaiman concept. You have these weak entities but the more we believe in them, the more power we give them. We surround them with our psychic power, with our belief, with everything else. 

I think I had a James True recently and he made a good argument that whether it’s the elite or the spirits, they feed on our belief, our very prana. When we believe in something, we’re giving them our prana and we’re giving them power.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:50:20] Interesting. So kind of winding it back to the Christian thing and the Christian bashing. We’ve already done some Christian bashing without even realizing it. See we think we’re just talking about history here and we’re actually bashing, bashing, bashing. 

Miguel Conner: [00:50:37] We’re kind of standing up for Satan in the Bible, which is weird, but whatever.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:50:41] Let me play this.

[Clip 00:50:43]

What are we supposed to believe? God got at the human race for eating a piece of fruit in Armenia 6000 years ago. He got so mad at the human race, but he condemned everybody to eternal damnation, except he kind of felt bad about this afterward. So he set a part of himself down to have it tortured to death, which somehow made it all right. Except not really, because if you don’t buy this story, you’re still going to fry forever. Does that make any sense? Of course it doesn’t. It’s phrased in, of course elaborate theologies and rituals and doxologies, but it’s still ridiculous story.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:51:35] So tell us about this interview and just as much as you’d like to tell us about him.

Miguel Conner: [00:51:38] Yeah, it was a great interview. I went down to the Theosophical Society down in Wheaton over here and Richard works there, and we grabbed one of the rooms and we did a one on one interview on his new book on A Theology of Love, which is based on A Course in Miracles and of course at the time Marianne Williamson was a candidate. She was very popular a lot of interests. 

So his book basically talks about the start of it is how Christianity has failed, traditional Christianity has failed. You and I have already made some points in this interview, and how a more different type, you could even say psychological or cerebral form of Christianity, like A Course in Miracles is more suited for the modern times. And of course, we’re talking about evil and he’s talking about the Book of Genesis. God gets mad at a couple of people, damns them for life and then he has to basically turn himself into a human and commit suicide to release us from a prison that he himself cast into us.

And it’s a great lesson of how gullible human beings are. I mean, if people bought that, and I think at one point and I’m sure you and I bought it, I know I did when I was a kid, millions of billions of people buy it. If we can buy such a story with so many holes, theological holes. People will believe anything, they’ll believe something that’s maybe even dumber or a little bit smarter. 

But again this idea of how we’re all doomed as really failed and one of the reasons traditional Christianity is going the way of the Dodo. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:53:19] I was with you right up until the end. Going the way of the Dodo. I’m not sure because what I thought was so fantastic about that is, a religious scholar of his repute just being so direct, because we just can’t get people just to talk directly so many times. You certainly do but this is an insane cosmology. This doesn’t make any sense and it’s ingrained into the fabric of our culture. You cannot get elected to any office unless you agree with this. You read the quotes of the last four presidents. Go and read the Obama quote on his belief in Jesus. You’ll think you’re at a Big Tent Revival. It’s incredibly over the top. Jesus Savior, Son of God, all the stuff. 

Miguel Conner: [00:54:10] But you want to hear something shocking? You know that Republican Congressman, I think Dan Crenshaw, he’s got the eye patch, he lost it in the Afghanistan war. And I don’t like him, I don’t like neocons very much. But he was in an interview and they asked him, “What do you think of Jesus?” He said, “Well, he’s an archetypal hero. He’s the image of a force.” I was like, that’s the first time I’ve seen a politician go Joseph Campbell, Gnostic, Jung to the mainstream media. It’s like that gives a little hope doesn’t it Alex? 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:54:41] He’ll never be elected. He’s not electable.

Miguel Conner: [00:54:44] He’s in Congress. He’s in Congress. I mean he’s a representative. But he’ll never be president. You’re right. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:54:50] He’ll never be president. 

Miguel Conner: [00:54:55] We’ve got somebody who was the Church of Norman Vincent Peale, Donald Trump. I mean Trump is not a Christian, he’s a new-ager. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:55:06] Well, not what he speaks now, right? I mean, he kind of sings a different tune now. I didn’t want to go too far on the presidential thing because I guess the little hairsplitting that I do with you on that, is I think we have to be honest about cults and how Christianity is a cult. I mean, there’s just no two ways about it.

Miguel Conner: [00:55:33] How do you define cult? 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:55:34] That’s what everyone throws up. What’s a cult, how do you define it? It’s like, I think, a certain collection of evidential points kind of pile up to the point where you see… so you start pulling it apart. You say, is Catholicism a cult at this point? Is the kind of outing of the, kind of rotten to the core institutionalized, sex trafficking, sex abuse, all the way up to the Pope, does that suggest that at some institutional level it’s completely different than what it appears to be? Is this starting to sound like a cult? Is there people who have been entrained over a period of time to kind of respond a certain way? Is this starting to sound like a cult?

So when people get triggered with the term cult, I don’t like the cult definition that I get from an academic religious studies group that doesn’t even acknowledge that consciousness exists. I mean there’s that doesn’t even fly. So that’s the conclusion I come from, from Richard Smoley. That sounds cultish. When you have a cosmology that is that absurdly insane and it’s completely absorbed into the system, there are cultish elements at play there in my opinion, but you might disagree, tell me how you disagree.

Miguel Conner: [00:57:08] No, I mean, again it’s the interpretation. Not everybody in ancient Christianity really saw it that way. The Gnostics didn’t even see that way. They had different variations of the Book of Genesis. This is something that was even later on in early Christianity the way it’s said. If you look at the texts, there’s nothing in there that says that the serpent is Satan. That’s like a later edition. The serpent was just some sort of trickster spirit or animal that was in there. And Christians had debates of what it meant and what it did. It’s, again, those who were able to weaponize Christianity and it’s almost like if they come up with the most insane or ludicrous idea, and they can get people to believe it, that shows how powerful they are, but it also shows, I think it makes them giggle that they’re able to get away with such…  And it brings cognitive dissonance to people down the road because all of us who’ve gotten out of religion or these oppressive religions or traditional religions, we were also almost in pain and we questioned and it would hurt our heads and our psyches like, the flood and killing babies. It causes damage to our psyche and maybe we’re just easily controlled by the more ludicrous ideas. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:58:30] That’s kind of an interesting idea. Here’s a quote that is right out of Aeon Byte. It’s our friend Tyler Durden. “Hitting the bottom isn’t a weekend retreat, it’s not a goddamn seminar. Stop trying to control everything and just let go.” Tell us about that quote and Tyler Durden.

Miguel Conner: [00:58:56] Fight Club, the great Gnostic saga. What else does Tyler Durden say? “It’s only after you’ve lost everything that you can do anything.” And of course, you find this saying in Buddhism and so traditions that the only way to see heaven in a wildflower infinity, in a grain of sand is just to let go of all the conditioning, the material delights of this world and just see the universe, how it is. And of course, for many of us it’s the old, the caterpillar looks like it dies, which is rock bottom, but what it is is simply the ultimate collapse of the ego and the rise of the spirit. So I think that’s what, to me Tyler Durden is saying, just let go of the wheel, the wheel of karma.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:59:44] So, where I wanted to poke is I want to explore the possibility that the occult, maybe even some of the Gnostic spin on this, and especially the magic as it’s been popularized and is coming on so strong right now, is a giant misstep, in the same way that you kind of jumped to both sides of that Tyler Durden quote. The quote is great. The movie takes us in a different direction. We don’t have to take it that way. So from a yogic, from a nondual standpoint, I am the creator of this illusion that’s going on in my consciousness, but the liberation of that isn’t to do sketchy stuff. It’s just to truly let it go and not participate in it. To not try and gain more power, but to let go in a way that seems markedly different from the way I see the occult being offered as the occult weekend retreat the magic weekend retreat.

Miguel Conner: [01:00:58] Yeah. The narrator, who we later obviously find out to be Tyler Durden, it’s a struggle with him and his higher self, is trying to get away from the consumer society and all that. And that scene that the quote is from is when they’re driving, and they decide to put on their seatbelts and Tyler says, “I’m not going to drive and wherever the car takes us, it will take us.” They crash, they survive, and Tyler says, “We just had a near-life experience,” saying that sometimes the rush of letting go and the danger of letting go in itself is a metaphor. I think it’s an incredible movie. 

Alex Tsakiris: [01:01:34] Well I think it’s an incredible movie. What I’m reaching for is something a little bit different, because I’m a big Michael Singer, Untethered Soul fan. I like the way he kind of talks about this yogic nondual transformation and that that letting go in that sense isn’t a rush isn’t a a fantastic experience, it’s an uncomfortable experience. Because what you’re letting go of is the pattern that you’ve held onto, to either hold on to something good or to push away something bad. And the process of letting go is a difficult one in a different way than I think I hear from the occultists generally, and especially the magic people who are doing this backdoor materialism thing. It’s like you are going to do magic so that you can gain more power. No fuck that. I don’t want more power. What I want is…

The Michael Singer story is this. It’s like your first girlfriend and you’re in love with her. And the next day you’re driving through town and lo and behold, you see a blue Corvette and you see her head going down on the driver’s side and you’re like, “Oh my God, she’s cheating on me with that guy in a blue Corvette.” And what happens is, from now on whenever you see a blue Corvette, even when you’re a 50 year old man, you still, you don’t even realize it, something’s going on. Well the thing is it wasn’t really your girlfriend ever. You just thought it looked like her and then the blue Corvette got in there and you don’t know how that got in there, and your entire existence, the entire me that you’ve created inside your head is just a series of these misrepresentations and misunderstandings.  

And then, when I hear the occult and the magic, it’s just adding onto that. It’s like, “Okay, we can get you out of that, we just need more power and more of this,” instead of saying, no, what we need to do is undo that, by realizing that there might be that divine spark that you talk about so often on your show, which is always there and there’s no need to do anything. It’s addition by subtraction of taking away what we’ve become, what we think we’ve become by thinking. 

Miguel Conner: [01:04:14] I think that’s well said Alex. It’s again, whether it’s the magician, most people don’t want transformation, they don’t want anything chemical, they just want to add a little bit more or make life a little bit more bearable, take away a little bit of the pain so I can make it through the day. 

Alex Tsakiris: [01:04:32] So Miguel, it’s been absolutely terrific having you on and I appreciate you spending so much time with us. Tell folks anything that might be going on at Aeon Byte that they should look out for, and anything else in your life at the moment?

Miguel Conner: [01:04:46] The show is really growing, I have incredible guests this year on topics which I hope to be addiction, mental disease with the usual Gnostic tinge. A great show.  I again, will be doing a lot of YouTube lives, increasing the podcast and making myself more available in online communities as we try to get through this crazy year. Like the Richard Smoley show which I did live, other things, videos that I did, Who are the Gods? I’m grabbing these as they come and just going for it, taking more risks.

So, look for more risks for Aeon Byte this year, including hopefully this other podcast which I would like to call it, Finding Hermes. And going right back to Richard Smoley, he’s the one who said, “Look, Hermes is both the god of the mind and the god of the tricks. The Greeks did this on purpose because the greatest trickster is the mind, greater than any Satan, your mind will play tricks. And you and I have talked about it in the show, people who have completely diluted themselves, countries, nations, religions will just blink and end up in ignorance and self-delusion.

So finding Hermes is, I think, something our society should do a little bit more. Find out the trick and the mind itself. 


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