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Edward Berge has been studying all things integral since 1998. He graduated summa cum laude with a BA in English Literature from Arizona State University and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society. By profession he has been a massage therapist and is a retired professional liability insurance underwriter. By avocation he is dancer, researcher, writer, and art and literary lover and critic. He is an active participant in the Integral Postmetaphysical Spirituality forum and blogs at Progressive Participatory Enaction.

Hermetic Qabalah meets cognitive science

Edward Berge

Relating the two domains above, magick as well as cogsci are about using language to motivate action and enact results.

For those so informed, recall Aleister Crowley's infamous injunction: "Invoke often. Inflame thyself with prayer" (1992, Ch. XV). A focused mind must engage the emotions to effect a change in consciousness to achieve dissolution of the self identity into that which one invokes. And it must be done repeatedly to inculcate the desired result. He also notes that one doesn't necessarily have to believe in the objectivity of any entity so invoked, only to proceed as if it is true by at least temporarily suspending disbelief.

Some like Israel Regardie (2002) finds interpreting such beings as aspects or archetypes of the psyche that one takes on from our cultural milieu or even from genetics. Modern cogsci sees them as pre-conscious prototypes of embodiment. In any event, following the injunction produces a desired result.

George Lakoff (2014) has also adamantly advised a similar injunction to frame our language in emotional value judgments and to repeat those frames constantly. Just framing in dry facts doesn't generate the necessary e-motivation to change people's beliefs or actions: We must be inflamed. Hence the inflammatory spin from conservatives, as they are well aware of this scientific prerequisite. Granted they do so based on our lower drives, like racism, fear etc. But progressives can use science and reason but it must be framed and inflamed in higher emotional values like love and compassion.

Then there's the issue of the first case being about magical thinking [1] in supernatural beings so therefore easily dismissed. As noted though, it can be interpreted in more modern terms as psychological aspects of one's psyche obtained via cultural inculcation. And the cogsci of rationality itself has proven to require emotion and feeling as part and parcel of its enactment. Enlightenment reason mistakenly assumes itself to be apart and above from all that to the point of detachment, hence assuming if one is presented with the right reasons then they will change. Experience has proven this result to be false, as well the false assumptions about reason itself. We can use science and real reason to frame effectively too, but must do so with passion.

Relating the two domains above, magick as well as cogsci are about using language to motivate action and enact results. In that sense cognitive framing is word magic. And magick is scientific in the sense of doing an empirical phenomenological practice to achieve a desired goal that be objectively measured. They are not so far apart as might seem apparent. And we can learn from both of them, separately or in conjunction, to engage passionately with our political and/or spiritual agendas to effect the sort of change we want to see in this earthly domain.

We do not have to modernize hermetic qabalah nor magicalize cogsci. Both have their own normative and soteriological components that make them unique and self-contained. We can contextualize different traditions with a worldview defined by integral postmetaphysics. Such a worldview is a cosmopolitan, metatheoretical and syntegrative one which can include elements from the various religions and spiritual traditions but is itself not strictly or completely any of them. [2] Hence my comparison of the two traditions above is more about my personal synical paradigm worldview (Berge, 2020) than trying to force one into the other.


My long-time internet name, theurj, is derived from theurgy, a tradition in which I was an initiate earlier in my life. Hermetics has at least two branches, deriving its name from Hermes, hermaphroditic god/dess of communication and mediation. The first is more the practice of theurgy, communion with deities. The second is hermeneutics, the study of communicative interpretation more generally. Later in life I transitioned into hermeneutics, and later more particularly the cogsci of metaphor and framing. I still remain a metaphorical hermaphrodite in communion with my muse Khora. [3]


[1] There is something similar in the New Age claim that we create our own reality. However where that claim goes wrong is, as noted above, in the magical assumption that just by thinking something that in itself changes or shapes the external or objective reality. What happens is that our thinking or worldview changes how we perceive objective reality. And based on that perception we respond and behave in ways that then shape or change objective reality. That feedback loop continues in reinforcing our worldview in that our perception limits what it accepts as feedback from the environment, filtering out anything not consistent with the frame.

Hence there is something to more coherent and consistent frames which more accurately reflect objective reality. Granted we can never know completely objective reality in itself, as it will always be filtered though our worldview lens which shapes our perception. But there is something to be said for the progressively pragmatic framing of objective reality, in that how our views best increase human and environmental well being and flourishing can be objectively measured.

[2] Speaking of worldviews, an excerpt from Berge (2019):

"And I also agree with Wilber (2000, p. 221) that worldviews are what he calls transitional structures, i.e., that development entails the replacement of outgrown worldviews with new ones. For example, in moral development one does not simultaneously hold an egocentric and worldcentric morality, and they are not balanced or integrated. The latter replaces the former. And so it is with worldviews. However basic elements are indeed included from different domains" (80).

[3] From Caputo (1997):

“But something like khora is 'indeconstructible' not because she/it is a firm foundation, like a metaphysical ground or principle... Rather her indeconstructibility arises because she is...the space in which everything constructible and deconstructible is constituted, and hence...older, prior, preoriginary. Far from being a likeness to the God of the monotheisms...[it] is better compared to...the incomparable, unmetaphorizable, desert-like place without properties or genus....which is not be to confused with the Eternal, Originary Truth...of the intelligible paradigms above” (97-8).


Berge, E. (2019). "From capitalism to the collaborative commons," Integral Review: 15:1 (January).

Berge, E. (2020). "Hier(an)archical synplexity." Integral Stage: Meta-Theories.

Caputo, J. (1997) Deconstruction in a Nutshell. Fordham UP: New York.

Crowley, A. (1992) Magick in Theory and Practice. Castle Books: New York.

Lakoff, G. (2014). Don't Think of an Elephant. Chelsea Green Publishing: White River Junction, VT.

Regardie, I. (2002). The Golden Dawn. LLewellyn Publications: Woodbury, MN

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