by Richard Smoley
New Dawn 142
It is one of the most familiar and reassuring lines in scripture:
"The Lord is my
But when you think about
it, the metaphor is a disturbing one.
It's true that a shepherd looks after his sheep. But he also shears
them and kills them and eats them. Does the God we adore act totally
with our best interests at heart, or are we a species of livestock
that he uses for his own ends?
Voices have occasionally uttered doubt, not about the existence of
the gods, but about their beneficence. The ancient Gnostics said
that the real god of this world was the Demiurge, a second-order
being who mistook himself for the true God.
The spiritual teacher G.I.
Gurdjieff told a parable about a lazy shepherd who got tired of
having his sheep run off, so he hypnotized them into thinking they
were men or lions. Then they no longer ran off but stayed around so
that he could shear or kill them as he liked. (Again we encounter a
shepherd, this one more explicitly malevolent.)
Gurdjieff does not say who this shepherd is.
His main point is that
man, in his state of waking sleep, is at the mercy of forces that
may well not have his best interests at heart - forces that will
extract energy from him regardless of his wishes.
This parable is from an early period of Gurdjieff's teaching; in his
later period, epitomized in his magnum opus
Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson, he portrayed the universe in a
more beneficent light. But there are plenty of others who have cast
doubts on the motives of the spiritual powers that control our
One of the weirdest is found in a book called
War in Heaven by Kyle
Originally it appeared in
1988. It has never been published in a conventional sense; I first
read it years ago when I was editor of the esoteric journal
Gnosis and there was a spiral-bound copy lying around the
Comparatively little is known about Griffith himself. From my
sources, I gather that he lived in the San Francisco Bay Area in the
1980s, the time when he put his book together.
He has been featured
in an Internet interview,
and there is a discussion group devoted to his ideas at revolutionaryspiritualism.yuku.com.
From a certain point of view, War in Heaven may look mad; from
another, it is strangely compelling. I have read it three times over
the years. While I'm not prepared to take its claims at face value,
I find them both haunting and disturbing.
Griffith's vision allegedly derives from his telepathic
communication with some spirits who say they are associated with
This was the name of a seventeenth century
English coterie that was devoted to esotericism, philosophy, and the
nascent discipline of science; it is usually seen as a precursor to
the Royal Society.
Unlike the scientifically minded gentlemen of
Britain, the Invisible College of Griffith's vision consists of
disembodied spirits who claim to have inspired the Rosicrucian and
Freemasonic movements of the early modern era; more recently, they
were behind the civil-rights movement in America and the psychedelic
revolution of the same period.
All of these movements were designed with one end in mind:
the hold of the Theocrats.
The Theocrats, in the cosmology of
War in Heaven, are parasitic
astral entities who devour the souls of the recently deceased.
normal course of the soul's evolution involves repeated
reincarnations on earth. But these incarnations, as we well know,
can be extremely unpleasant at times. The Theocrats have avoided
this disagreeable option by maintaining a semi-perpetual existence on
the astral plane, fed by the souls they eat.
Their strategy is
simple. When a naïve soul has died,
they greet it on the other side
by proffering illusory welcomes into a fake heaven, populated with
familiar religious figures and loved ones. When the soul has strayed
into their trap, it is devoured.
To make this vision even more disturbing, Griffith (or his guides
from the Invisible College) contends that practically all of what we
think of as religion is nothing more than a Theocratic ruse.
The stages of this religious development, as portrayed in War in
Heaven, bear some examination.
1 - The first stage was essentially
This is a crude and primitive form of religion - from the
Theocrats' point of view, that is, not from ours.
Shamanism, we are told, fosters individual psychic development, and
as such, it is of limited value to the predatory Theocrats, who
benefit much more from the collective trance that conventional
religious worship produces.
As a result, the Theocrats had to refine
and update their methods of mind control.
Second-stage religion was a dead end. It involved large-scale human
And history shows that
civilizations that had such
practices came to a bad end soon. Ancient Carthage, the great rival
of Rome for domination of the Mediterranean, was one example.
the Romans decisively defeated Carthage, they razed the city and
sowed the ground with salt.
Salt is traditionally a substance used
for purification, and some have said the Romans did this to cleanse
the land from all the human sacrifice that had taken place there.
Aztec civilization, which in many ways was superior to its European
contemporary, was another example:
for all its might, it was
destroyed by a few hundred Spanish adventurers on horseback.
"The third stage of Theocratic religion," Griffith writes, "involves
mass animal sacrifices. Although they prefer human souls, Theocratic
spirits can nourish themselves off the astral souls of lower animals
to some extent."
If this were true, it would cast a weird but revealing light on what
I have characterized in the accompanying article as the religions of
the Age of Aries.
They were so obsessed with animal sacrifice -
which otherwise seems to be rather a pointless activity - because
the Theocrats wanted it.
"However," Griffith adds, "the astral tissues of animal souls aren't
very compatible with the astral souls of the Theocrats, so they are
not a good food source."
4 - To solve this problem, the Theocrats
invented fourth-stage religion - the religions that most of the
world knows today.
"Theocrats use religious mind control to
delude souls into deliberately putting themselves under Theocratic
control after death, thinking they are entering 'eternal bliss in
Heaven' or 'union with the Godhead'."
These religions are
essentially those of what in the accompanying article I have called
the Age of Pisces.
By this view, the gods people worship - whether they are called
Christ or Allah or Krishna - are nothing more than
parasites on the
astral plane who keep themselves nourished by souls of the innocents
they prey on.
Originally the Buddha was different; he experienced a
genuine awakening and thus showed little respect for the traditional
Vedic gods of his culture. But his later followers, who distorted
his teaching into a religion based on faith in Buddha, became
subservient to the Theocrats.
Oh, and by the way:
"The Theocrats want religious believers to feel
guilty every time they feel sexual desire or enjoy any 'pleasures of
the flesh'. The guilt literally addicts them to attending church
services that subject them to religious mind control."
There have been few more disturbing portraits of the religious
history of humanity than this.
To deliver the hapless beings of the human race from this dire
situation, certain advanced souls from other planets came to the
astral atmosphere of Earth a few centuries ago.
They, along with
some enlightened human souls who have managed to avoid the
Theocrats, constitute the Invisible College.
While the Theocrats
have been sending telepathic suggestions to their unsuspecting
followers on this plane, saying that all you have to do is believe
in the Theocratic gods and trust them, the Invisible College has
been transmitting the opposite message:
to avoid worship and above
all to think for yourself.
They inspired the Rosicrucian and
movements of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, as well as
the accompanying impulses toward,
freedom of thought
After all, it is better to
believe in no God at all than to open yourself up to a
parasitic astral deity.
According to Griffith, much of the 1960s counterculture was
stimulated by the Invisible College.
LSD, rock concerts, and similar
gatherings were designed to create a different kind of trance - one
that would telepathically open people to the idea they should think
But the story does not stop there.
5 - This effort has led to a reaction
by the adversary - "fifth-stage Theocracy," which,
mind control instead of religious mind control, and… can
enslave people who subscribe to belief systems other than those of
Some groups originally inspired by the
Invisible College are co-opted by the adversary.
"Every new rock group starts out with a few normal protest or love
Then they get swallowed by a group mind controlled by
fifth-stage Theocrats, and from that point on all their songs sound
as if they were written by the same person."
It's not possible here to go further into Griffith's bizarre but
But there are some things that keep me from
dismissing it entirely. The first is the collective madness of the
human race - its pathological desire to rage and destroy, its hatred
of its benefactors and its insane worship of its most vicious
There is a point beyond which we cannot explain this by
mere mammalian aggression - which, as a matter of fact, does not
have such destructive properties in other mammals.
sociology have no explanations for this mass insanity and show
little interest in finding them. If there were such entities on the
astral plane trying to control and manipulate us as Griffith says
they are, this behavior would at least be comprehensible.
Another is the powerful collective urge toward what Gurdjieff called
the "waking sleep" of man.
It is true that, in the West at any rate,
mass hypnosis by low-grade religion is losing its hold. But no
sooner has this happened than we see a whole new series of
mechanisms for putting people back to sleep - the "electronic mind
control" that Griffith mentions.
It is very hard to go into a public
place and see people bewitched by their laptops and smartphones
without wondering if something like this is going on.
I don't think War in Heaven offers a total explanation for the human
condition, but I suspect that it has a measure of truth. There do
seem to be invisible forces that, for reasons that are difficult to
determine, benefit from the collective waking trance of humanity.
Griffith concludes his work with a quasi-apocalyptic
vision of the End Times.
It is close enough to the
End Times as portrayed
Christianity that I have trouble taking it at face value. And while
I suspect there are low-grade spiritual entities that very much
resemble the Theocrats described here, I am not so convinced that
they explain everything about human religious aspiration.
In any case, Griffith and his invisible mentors have some advice for
keeping out of Theocratic control.
In the first place, make a
conscious effort to develop your own psychic powers during this
In the second place,
"read accounts of
experiences and learn to recognize the common tricks that the
Theocrats use to enslave the unwary after death."
In other words,
those accounts of
near-death experiences are true - but they're not
to be taken at face value.
That's probably a sound rule of thumb for
all spiritual experiences... no matter how good or bad they seem...