Woke Culture and Gnosticism

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Letters from O’Brien #26

by Winston Smith

In this brief letter I would like to shed some light on the proclivity of many of today’s esoteric groups – including those propped up by powerful world leaders – to idolise Lucifer. I have much to say, as usual, but for the sake of keeping things short and concise (I’ve been asked to keep it short), I will only touch on certain elements regarding the ‘worship’ of Lucifer within modern occult societies and traditions. I would like to touch on the roles of Hermeticism and Alchemy in the formation of the traditions which would later form modern occultism, esoteric philosophies, and secret societies, but for the time being I will touch on the (some) role played by Gnosticism.

To begin, it is painfully obvious to me that many large organisations with global influence – particularly the United Nations – are not spiritually neutral, nor atheistic, but appear to have a leaning towards the occult. The UN has a history of leaning towards the spiritual, albeit in the background. The Lucis Trust is an organisation addressed in a previous letter. Then of course there is the role of Alice Bailey, Helena Blavatsky, and even the esotericism promoted by the Nazis which carried over in to the modern era. Despite this being somewhat common knowledge, what is not so obvious is the fact that many of these ideas are interlinked, overlap with philosophical and ‘economic’ theories, and flow from the same few ancient sources.


I have written before about the German Counter Enlightenment and its influence (through Fichte, Hegel, and Fauerbach) on Marx and Engels.

Paying subscribers might like to look through the ‘guests’ tab for more from O’Brien on Marxism

To restate in summary form; Marxism is not an economic theory, it is a set of metaphysical claims about reality and the necessity for those unaware to be enlightened through the raising of a ‘consciousness’ (be it class, ‘Critical’, race, etc.). The Counter Enlightenment philosophies emerged in response to the Enlightenment claims of reason, rationality, empiricism and logic. Counter Enlightenment thinkers were primarily German, and used Lutheranism as a tool to strike back against the Enlightenment claim of reason (stating that reason is heretical, since God must be subordinated to reason, no longer making him God), before shifting towards societal claims once religion began to drop in popularity. This has been developing over the past three centuries.

Since the time of its emergence, the Counter Enlightenment philosophies has remained powerfully influential, whilst the Enlightenment philosophers who laid the foundation for modern western civilisation have since become largely ignored in favour of Nietzsche, Hegel, and Kant.

During the time of Karl Marx, the biggest philosophical icons were Hegel, Kant, Schelling, and Schopenhauer, among many others. Marx’s father was profoundly inspired by Kant, and the young Marx would carry this inspiration into his twenties, when he discovered Hegel and his radical atheist student Ludwig Feuerbach (who also inspired Charles Darwin). Practically everyone in this philosophical chain of inspiration held the Gnostic and Hermetic ideas – likely without realising it – and continued to rewrite them in more scientific terminology. Feuerbach was most blunt for his time, stating that God is essentially an invention of man, and thus man is capable of being God. But, according to Feuerbach, man has estranged himself from this potential of being God by believing in a monotheistic being who is beyond reach. If only man realised that he is the creator, he would become God! Marx would take this exact idea and use it in his own philosophies. This way of thinking is profoundly Gnostic, since it assumes that mankind has been kept in prison under his own estrangement thanks to the ‘God of the Old Testament’, and thus only enlightenment through gnosis can save him.


The origins of Gnosticism is not entirely clear. It appears to have emerged out of older traditions during the early Christian Era. The Gnostic worldview emerged simultaneously within Christian and Jewish circles. While Gnosticism is a broad term, and many (sometimes radically) different ideas fall under the label, the general theme throughout is that material reality is a ‘prison’. One can only escape from this reality through the attainment of divine knowledge (gnosis), thus making himself aware of his own circumstances and the path he must take to be unshackled from this prison. Unlike traditional Hebrew and Christian beliefs, Gnostics do not believe in redemption so much as enlightenment through divine wisdom. God also exists as an unknowable absolute, whilst a demiurgic ‘lower god’ exists who became known as the ‘God of the Old Testament’. That is, Gnostic tradition holds that the acts of God in the Old Testament – such as the creation of the material universe and the setting apart of Israel – were in fact the acts of a demiurge seeking to keep humanity trapped within a prison reality.

Through this view, the Gnostics hold that material reality is fundamentally flawed, hence why enlightenment must be achieved in order to ‘escape’. This enlightenment was alluded to by teachers who supposedly came into the material world in order to warn humanity, including Jesus and Lucifer (although some sects also consider ‘Lucifer’ to be the demiurge god of the Old Testament). This strange worldview likely emerged as most theological inaccuracies regarding the Divine often do; by misinterpreting the character of God in the Old Testament. Apart from that, it also seems likely to me that parallels were drawn between Jesus and ‘Lucifer’ (a character described in Isaiah) since both are referred to as the Morning Star. Regardless, the core idea is essentially that material reality is a prison, and man must escape.


What is noteworthy when looking over the Gnostic belief system is that it has many parallels to the ideological faiths being pushed in the modern world. The obvious parallel is Utopian socialism, and in particular the Marxist tradition. Marx’s work is profoundly similar in its undertones, despite its pseudo-economic language, and as his ideas evolved over the following century and a half, the Gnostic ideas would become increasingly evident. Critical Theory took the Marxist framework and extrapolated it to encompass all of reality, holding that utopia exists, but it cannot even be comprehended from within the current social, economic, and cultural paradigm. As such, the Critical Theorists believe that revolution is necessary, and with it the complete overturning and destruction of the existing world in order to achieve utopia. However, even these theories were not all-encompassing enough, and Marxism has continued to evolve ever since, incorporating postmodern Theory (which itself was a breakaway ideology from classical Marxism) and Intersectionality (which was a relabelling of Critical Theory). It was this combination which was responsible for ‘Woke Culture’.

These ideas continue to present material reality as a fundamentally flawed paradigm, and likewise present revolution as the ‘escape’ necessary for many to take. While Marx may have merely focused on economic prosperity, the Critical Theorists incorporated ‘oppression’ more broadly, and Woke Culture spreads this out to its inevitable end; biology, mindset, language. All things are inherently ‘oppressive’, since they are fundamentally different. Dostoevsky, in Brothers Karamasov, was keenly alert to such ideologies and uses his literary characters to discuss whether ‘attractive faces should be illegal’- a strikingly contemporary observation.

It is evident that within the past five centuries the Gnostic tradition became interwoven with the rapidly emerging Enlightenment idea of social and political discourse, alongside the rise of the sciences. Modern western thinking was forever changed by this particular period, which marked the transition away from purely mystical thinking and towards reason. Thanks primarily to the rise of empiricism as a legitimate method of gauging the world around oneself, the individual was able to rank-order the importance of ideas based off of their logical and empirical clarity. The emergence of the scientific method as a proven way of viewing reality meant that mystical and esoteric language was lessened in its impact. From the sixteenth century onward, the ‘religious’ utopianists would be forced to adapt to a changing world in order to rally together a following, but throughout this time the idea would remain the same at its core. Socialism emerged in strength as a serious political and social theory (although it had been around since at least the time of Plato), culminating in the penning of The Communist Manifesto. Marx and Engels successfully re-presented the Hermetic-Gnostic religious mixture as an economic theory rather than an esoteric abstraction, which is perhaps the reasons they are now consider the central figures in modern socialism.

While on the topic, it is also worth a few words to highlight how Gnostic and Hermetic ideas influenced religion as well as philosophy. As far as one can see, it does indeed seem that all major religions have had incursions by Gnostic (which morphed and then returned) and Hermetic ideas over the centuries. Christianity has seen such groups as the Cathars, who became a self destructive set of socialist agrarian communes and went on violent crusades across Germany and Italy. Judaism has been profoundly manipulated with Kabbalah, a philosophy which in essence is a combination of Gnostic and Hermetic beliefs applied to God, positing (yet again) that man must become enlightened with divine wisdom, by following Hermetic processes of understanding and self realisation. Islam has also had incursions, the most recent of which being Bahai, which takes Islam and attempts to apply it to a Principa Theologa, in which such things as Hindu philosophy are mixed in with Islamic tradition in order to achieve enlightenment. There are countless other examples of these sub-ideologies within the Abrahamic faiths, many of which were combined to form the esoteric religious ideas behind Freemasonry, which – unsurprisingly – is also about achieving enlightenment through divine understanding of the world religions. I won’t go into details, but the point is, the Gnostic faith (along with Hermeticism) has been a highly influential, morphing into many forms in order to creep back in to society through manipulated religions, philosophy, economics, and so forth.

A great example of this is Freemasonry, famous for its many well known members over the centuries. Freemasonry is essentially a modernised, ‘intellectualised’ form of Gnosticism with elements of Hermeticism. It supposedly holds that – among many other Gnostic ideas – the God of the Old Testament (YHVH) was a lower form of ‘god’ who kept humanity (Adam and Eve) prisoner within material reality, withholding knowledge and potential from them. Only the Serpent was able to enlighten Adam and Evil to the true reality of their situation; that they were being kept prisoner by a demiurge, yet were capable of being as gods. Thus, the goal of many masons is to achieve enlightenment and escape from the ever-seeing eye of YHVH. Once enlightenment is achieved, the mason can escape from his prison-reality and become a true self-governing individual, outside of the grasp of the demiurge who created material reality, and in search of the true god (a higher god who supposedly created YHVH). This is literally Gnosticism with different wording and a complexities lexicon of ideas. It possesses the same logic and goals.


This belief system – despite being almost entirely pessimistic – does offer something at the end of the rainbow; the allure of knowledge and wisdom. This can be seen in the way that woke culture has infiltrated the business world, the educational sphere, and so forth. In all cases, it enters with the Marxist presupposition of ‘divine wisdom’, which is beyond ‘existing’ understandings. For example, woke activists usually claim to possess a type of ‘complex knowledge’. They then superimpose the idea of ‘complexity’ onto a given subject, such as a field of research at a university. Then, the claim can be made that this hidden complexity can only be completely understood with the proper knowledge of the complex. This could take the form of neo-Marxist university faculty reshaping a physics department by claiming that reason and empiricism-based understandings of physics are mere ‘European’, ‘Western’ or ‘male’ constructs made to justify power within the world of physics. The faculty can then impose their own Marxist agendas under the guise of revealing the complex within the discipline, made possible thanks to their Gnostic enlightenment of the subject at hand. Of course, this is all a lie used to sneak ideological rot into foundational corners of a given society, but if society continues to take these people and their claim of divine enlightenment seriously, then the truth of it is immaterial – the agenda will have been realized.

Considering all of these things, it should no longer come as a surprise that so many strange Gnostic and Hermetic religions – such as paganism, occultism, theosophy, etc. – happen to be embraced by so many world leaders, organizations such as the UN, and other power brokers. Even public events such as the recent Commonwealth Games were rife with ritualistic imagery in plain site (the worship of Ba’al couldn’t have been more explicit). Only those who still believe that socialism is a purely economic theory would be surprised to see such religious ritualistic practices in broad daylight. The allure of an ‘unbiased’ and ‘rational’ set of ‘humanitarian’ beliefs is a shallow set of statements as best. As the saying goes, the smartest trick the devil ever played was convincing the world he doesn’t exist.