Gnothi Seauton

Gnothi seauton – Know yourself – Become who you are!

Ancient man regarded this Greek saying as a challenge in two respects: on the one hand, it aimed at the realization and insight that man is a limited, imperfect, mortal and thus ultimately void of being compared to the immortal gods, on the other hand, the saying served as a warning against human ignorance, arrogance, presumption, and an inflated ego.

Our modern industrial society and our social environment demands of us every day that we pull our own weight that we assert ourselves and that we can only make ourselves heard with a so-called elbow mentality to be the first in the line at the material distribution point. Our everyday life, our existence, even our entire being today is shaped by concepts such as progress, career thinking and striving, increasing turnover, profit maximization, accumulation of material, mostly non-luxury goods, safety awareness, and workaholism, followed by a crisis of meaning: insomnia, depression, and burnout – day in, day out. For our survival, even our very existence depends on how efficiently we progress to secure a livelihood in the second half of life.

In this way, however, we develop more and more into indifferent, aggressive and ruthless people who often enrich themselves at the expense of others and exploit the “stupidity of the greedy masses.” We proudly show what we have accumulated over the years, believing that we have created tangible evidence that this way of thinking and acting has not been in vain. In the face of this restless action, most people overlook the fact that all these efforts and activities are nothing more than ego and substitute satisfactions since they show nothing of ourselves, of our innermost desires and longings.

Sooner or later – but as a rule whenever one’s pain is at its greatest, it is perceived most intensively, i.e., during a crisis of meaning or life, every person reaches a point in his life because he becomes aware of precisely these circumstances of life or asks himself the question: Who am I really? What do I want to achieve in this life? What is the greater meaning and purpose of all being? How can I lead a fulfilled, happy life? In this state, man becomes aware of his status quo in society with all its facets, and he recognizes his person as what he is in the truest sense of the word, namely a mask of functionality.1 Then this mask is recognized for what it is: an interchangeable, profane shell, which in the extreme is both an angel’s face and devil’s face.

At this point, the fundamental course is magically set that decides whether to continue living with a mask or get rid of it. In the first case, the path of the “Dark Brother” is pre-drawn, because now – only under a different sign, just with magical intention – one resembles the aforementioned, egoistic and externally determined career person. In the second case, man first gets a vague idea of the so-called “greater whole,” comparable to a wanderer who has wandered around in a forest all his life only to find a way to be able to overlook the entire valley from a mountain top and, for the first time, see rivers, other forests, and dwellings, but also other mountain peaks as well as an infinite expanse of horizon.

During this “wandering,” however, it is also a matter of searching for one’s “own center”. It is essential to accept this center – after it has been found – as it forms the future base camp of our “magical journeys,” to which we (must) return again and again after work is done, in order not to run the risk of falling ill with body, mind, and soul. This center, in turn, is comparable to the vertical axis of an elevator, which enables us to travel up or down the planes of being, quasi secured by durable steel cables.

Your magical training thus corresponds to two extremely interesting research journeys: one serves the search for your center, the other leads to the aforementioned unknown mountain peak. On both trips, you will not be left to your own devices but will be accompanied by experienced scouts who will draw your attention to exciting aspects, shortcuts, obstacles, and, of course, lurking dangers.

© 2020 Roland Gabler

1 The Latin “persona,” the Greek “prosôpon,” as well as the proper root of the word person, the Etruscan “phersu,” means “mask.”