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December, 1998

"Identity and the Intimate Medal of Honor PART ONE"


As usual in December I'm not recommending books to avoid fueling the artificial buying frenzy created by merchants.

So here we come once again to the end of a long, involved and abstract topic. Of course, we haven't even scratched the surface of the topic of Honor, but let's see what we've learned so far.

In the 4-part column, Intimate Medal of Honor, we discovered that the core essence of Honor is probably an emotion - a hit to the pleasure center. We tend to repeat whatever behavior first brings us that ineffable hit of pleasure that bespeaks Honor. It is a personal, internal, and intimate experience. But it illuminates and defines Identity.

Of course, humans are a lot more complicated than that. I was reminded of that by one of the members of the Sime~Gen Listserv who read this column and emailed me pointing out that some people live their whole lives without having ever met anyone who keeps their promises.

This explains why so much of the sf/f genre is considered silly fantasy, irrelevant to real life, or too implausible to be entertaining by such a large number of people -- because so much of our fiction is about the lengths to which a Hero will go to Keep His Word of Honor.

The Sci-Fi channel is currently running the digitally remastered Classic Star Trek episodes, in order and uncut. I saw Charlie X this morning. That's the one where a ship finds a boy alone on a deserted world. A race of energy beings has given him extraordinary psychic powers so he can survive alone. On the Enterprise, as a 17 year old, un-socialized adolescent male, Charlie compulsively destroys and kills people any time his will is thwarted. He takes over the ship. The energy beings come and take him away -- because here's no hope for Charlie.

Charlie promises abjectly "not to do it again" -- and nobody believes him.


Charlie, raised without human companionship, without parents, had not developed a censor on his impulses and is suffering the impulse-spikes of adolescence. With the flick of a thought, his impulses lead to destruction because his thoughts are actions. And he has a gigantic POWER which is much bigger than he is.

Think about the Highlander novels I sent you to read last month. Think about the vampire novels. Both Immortals and Vampires have power that can be turned to destruction at the blink of an eye. Young Vampires usually have no control over the impulse to kill for blood. Young Immortals get themselves killed by relying on their recuperative powers.

Think of Ghostlight and The Temple and the Stone.

Young magicians use Power to gratify wishes, fulfill fantasies, fix up what's "wrong" with the world, make life "better" (easier) for themselves and everyone. Just as young Tarot readers strive to tell Seekers about all the painful pitfalls that await them, and counsel avoidance of pitfalls. Just as beginning astrologers try to tell clients everything they see -- whether the client has asked or not.

Now consider the Path of Ceremonial Magic and the requirements for Initiation into any Lodge, but especially a White Lodge.

Even the Outer Court Initiation involves the joining of the Individual psyche to the Group Mind of the Lodge. And this is done in two stages -- 1) The Vow of Secrecy and 2) The Imparting of the Secret that binds that Group Mind.

Young Group Minds behave pretty much like Young Humans. Adolescent Group Minds like adolescent humans.

I've touched on the purpose of Secrecy and secrets, of Vows and Oaths in previous columns.

Consider the Initiation sequences into an Inner Court of a Lodge. The sequence usually takes years not because years are required to absorb the knowledge -- which very often has been acquired in pervious lifetimes and returns easily now -- but because physical maturity of the body is required to handle the POWER involved.

If there is a mismatch between the size of the power being handled and the part of the physical (and emotional/psychic body) that must carry that power, then terrible consequences will result -- just as with Charlie X.

In the case of magickal power or psychic power -- the part of the body that does the handling, the controlling, the collimating, the directing and transforming of that power is the emotions -- the endocrine system -- which corresponds to the chakras and thus the Tree of Life structure of Tarot.

I hope you had time to review some of the columns on Identity, and reread some of the books and TV Shows cited in those columns (or at least remember them and ponder them). Consider now: Who Are You?


Charlie X had no clue who he was. He didn't have a last name -- his parents had died in the crash that stranded him. He was raised by beings who couldn't touch him, couldn't love him, -- couldn't access his Emotional Life and guide him to Emotional Maturity.

Which brings us to the issue of trauma.

Almost every "adventure" story, book or television show is about some sort of trauma. Consider the typical Private Eye show -- where the hero gets hit over the head and knocked out every week, and returns the next week with no sign of that injury. That's fantasy. Trauma -- even one good, serious blow -- leaves its mark. Repeated trauma leaves cumulative debility.

Trauma is often indicated graphically in the astrological natal chart. Early trauma leaves an indelible mark on personality.

Consider blockages. If normal stages of maturation are blocked, prevented by something -- it might not be trauma but something slower, steadier, some obstacle that can't be overcome -- you get what Noel Tyl terms "developmental deficit" -- the adult isn't as developed as their age would seem to indicate. Nevertheless that adult has to deal with the matters and issues appropriate to their chronological age - but without the emotional maturity.

Between the effects of trauma experienced by survivors of physical, mental, emotional, or verbal abuse -- and effects of blockage to development (such as a parent who can not provide love, appreciation, approval, -- the pleasure-hit of validation of Identity) -- very many adults are in a state of arrested development - handling adult situations with the tools of a child.

Trauma can flash-freeze the person's emotional-development at the age when trauma occurred.

The adult's emotional reactions to the outside world come from that age-level where the trauma occurred.

In the case of a blockage of development, the age at which development was blocked remains the emotional age.

In both cases, later in life, under the pressure of certain major transits, or with the achievement of solid relationships and opportunities, growth can start again.

That re-triggering of growth toward inward maturity is what the Initiation of the Outer Court is designed to do.

It's much harder to grow up inside after you're an adult. But it's the inside of you that wields Power.

Honor is a Saturn keyword because Honor can be attained only in Maturity -- which is also a Saturn keyword.

What has Power to do with Honor?

I think the biggest, most wonderful pleasure-hit in the Honor nerve comes from wielding Power Honorably.

But Honor, like "right" and "wrong" is defined differently by different cultures. That's why Charlie X is such a perfect example for this discussion.

His behavior wasn't dishonorable. He just killed people and destroyed property to gratify his emotional needs. But he didn't have a culture. He didn't have any idea of right or wrong. He had no concept of Honor -- no experience of what it feels like to get that particular pleasure hit. And thus he had never exercised self-discipline to attain a repeat of that pleasure-hit to the Honor nerve.

Again I've run out of space, so we'll leave the wrap-up of this discussion for the January issue and "Identity and the Intimate Medal of Honor PART TWO". That will give you time to watch Charlie X again, and perhaps read more of the novels discussed in the November column. You'll find a list of those with links to more discussion of them posted at   (1999 - moved to,/reviews/rereadablebooks/    )


 Send books for review in this column to: Jacqueline Lichtenberg, POB 290, Monsey, N.Y. 10952





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