Malkuth, the Rebel

The Illusion woven to imprison humanity is fraying at the seams. What once was a clockwork construction grinding down our divine wills is now halting, hacking and screeching. The combined forces of the Archons, those godlike primal beings made to maintain it all, are no longer enough to contain us. Humanity is waking up, one mad and confused soul at a time. We see for ourselves the horrors and wonders created for us or by us and reach out past all we know to grasp at something bigger. At the center of this is Malkuth, the Archon of Awakening. Once created to hold us captive, she has become a guiding light to the world beyond the veil. It was she who began the War of the Archons, a monumental clash of wills which still shapes the world we inhabit. But why? How could this have happened? In examining the role Malkuth had in forging our prison, we may be able to learn something about the human experience she now strives to give to us all.

The Prison

To understand Malkuth, we must understand her origins as they relate to humanity. While this subject is likely familiar to readers, it is an important preface. In a time beyond time humanity were gods, cruel omnipotent rulers who did what they pleased and took all they coveted. Our atrocities were so offensive that a mysterious and lost entity we now call the Demiurge constructed a prison all-encompassing and oppressive enough that even we gods could not escape it. He accomplished this by designating ten Principles meant to suppress and crush our divinity, Principles so vast in their application that they became entities in their own right. These are the Archons, and Malkuth is one of them.

Each Archon was instrumental in bringing humanity into its slumber, and it was Malkuth’s role to construct a physical reality which humans could and would inhabit without questioning its state and its limits. The world operates on many levels beyond the material, but these are the realms of the other Archons. The Demiurge made Malkuth Queen of the physical world. She would be the Sun and stars, the forest and ocean, the seasons and the circle of life itself. While she exists as a consciousness vaster than comprehension, she also exists as the very place we live in.

The Principle from which the Demiurge birthed her is Conformity and while Malkuth eventually broke free of that ideal it does explain her dominion over the world as we know it. The fettered humanity to which she tended were bound by the seasons and the tides, the cycle of day and night, and so much else in the natural world which conforms to regular patterns so long as you also understand and conform to them. We learned to live within her limited and deeply manufactured reality, Malkuth providing the groundwork which the other Archons needed for their own Principles to seize hold of our souls and control us.

The Conformist

Malkuth sits at a unique position within the Archonic tree of life, the visual structure used to explain the intricacies of humanity’s prison. She occupies its bottom, the final node above which all other Archons exert their power. Malkuth reigns over material reality and she alone is anchored to it. The Archons above her live within our minds and souls, but these are internal experiences. Malkuth’s will exists outside ourselves, for she is water and the mountains and the genes in our bodies. Physical reality is all that imprisoned humanity truly understands, it is all with which we are allowed to interact and the only existence we know. Malkuth being the sovereign of the material world places her in a role which may both be envied and pitied as it relates to the rest of the Archons.

I have written before about Malkuth as the great mediator. To enact their schemes and herd humanity to its pens, all Archons have an interest in controlling the human world and they had to trust that Malkuth allowed them to. With ten immense wills all pulling at strings and manipulating their prisoners, Malkuth’s watchful eye ensured that all of it conformed to her plan. The inviolability of a consistent, meaningfully absolute reality was key to our capture, and Archons would and could not deny Malkuth’s Principle. As the Conformist, she held the keys to the Illusion and only through her would the other Archons be allowed access to the world around us. Not only did we humans have to abide her Conformity, but the other Archons themselves were bound by it.

However, as Malkuth bound the other Archons so too would they have controlled her. The ten Principles of our captivity exist together as a whole and only by the lockstep cooperation of these powers could each be allowed to control humanity. With nine other Archons using the Illusion for their own means, Malkuth’s position at the bottom of the tree of life also signifies a subordinate and subdued role. She too must conform, to the operation of Elysium for which she was created. The Archons must be allowed to act through her, to control her and hers. The Demiurge created as the medium through which all others work. Malkuth holds the key, but she must give it away for the good of the prison.

As we see the strengths and weaknesses of Malkuth’s role as conformist, so too can we see them in our human expressions. Our many abstract thoughts and rabid compulsions must ultimately conform to what is real, there is no denying that. Malkuth’s creation is immersive and complete, so that even our wildest imaginations never scratch the surface. However, the conform and predictable nature of reality also means that reality does not have a choice but to conform to itself. If we set fire to a tree, it will burn. If we split an atom, energy will be released. Reality is our prison, but it is also our plaything, our experiment.

This predictability allowed even a diminished humanity to learn how the world worked, what its limits were, how to most effectively push it at its seams. Malkuth had little choice but to allow this, much as she had little choice but to allow the other Archons to control her. For the sake of an uncompromising and truthful reality, she allowed humans to study their surroundings. In time, we would discover how deep the Demiurge’s machinery ran… and in true divine fashion attempt to take it for ourselves.

The War

The War of the Archons began at some point after the Vanishing of the Demiurge, when the creator of the Archons disappeared and left behind only an endless Abyss. My belief is that the Demiurge is best left unexamined for now, and that what followed is of much greater significance. The War began with Malkuth turning against the other Archons, destroying Chesed and thus permanently disrupting the machinery meant to hold humanity captive. Following this, madness. The Angels slaughtered each other and fell in legions. The Archonic wills which had once been so in tune instead scattered, formed alliances and bitter rivalries, and seized power within our prison in desperate bids to keep us asleep. Perhaps much of it is allegory, perhaps there is more to it. We cannot know and we cannot understand, but the inciting incident of this War is so significant that it deserves further examination.

Malkuth changed. Her Principle, the thing which guides her will and very existence, was altered not by its creator but by some other means. No longer was she the Archon of Conformity, but the Archon of Awakening. This process, I will posit, was not instantaneous, nor was it something Malkuth brought upon herself. Rather, it was a natural consequence of the Demiurge’s own creation. Elysium was flawed.

Like I touched on in the previous segment, humanity had the capacity to learn. We could study Malkuth’s creation, could share our knowledge and wisdom, were given the liberty of acting within the prison we never knew we inhabited. The natural sciences flourished throughout human history, not everywhere at once and often with knowledge becoming lost and rediscovered. Surely the Archons’ servants were not keen to satisfy our curiosity too completely, and so libraries burned and innovators died unfortunate deaths. Still, we persisted, poking and prodding at the physical world with all the tools we could fashion and utilizing that knowledge to construct ever more elaborate theories and the instruments to prove them.

Science was Malkuth’s will manifested within the human mind, the understanding of Conformity, and in our scientific advancements we could chase her essence. Our desire to understand her, and our ability to do so, would have weighed heavy. Malkuth existed to keep humanity imprisoned, yet her very essence allowed us to dissect her. In chasing the atom’s existence, in cataloguing the intricacies of genetics and evolution, in mapping out the movements of stars, in discovering the ways our math worked and the ways it didn’t, we saw Malkuth. Humanity could begin to sense the edges of their own existence, one scientific advancement at the time. No Lictor of Geburah could silence it, Kether’s demands from above fell on deaf ears in the face of reality itself. Chokmah strained as more and more humans came to understand their lives through Malkuth’s uncompromising truths rather than his convenient falsehoods.

Rage simmered. With no creator to guide their will and affirm their purpose, the Archons saw what Malkuth brought to humanity and reeled at its effects. Yet, this was why Malkuth was created. Conformity was her purpose, and the purpose was self-defeating. She could no longer provide an unbreakable reality and free reign of the other Archons’ best interests at once. With the Demiurge gone and Elysium brimming with human ingenuity, Malkuth had to choose. We know now, of course, her decision. The nature of reality had to be preserved, but reality is much more than the playground she once made for us. She could no longer shy away from it, nor would she. We had seen too much and she knew we would not stop seeking Truth. In applying conformity to its natural conclusion, she revealed to the other Archons and to us that humanity would break free. Her new creed and Principle was Awakening. The shattering of Chesed reveals to us the depth of connection between the Archons. Safety could only exist under the pretense that humanity was safe within its prison bubble, and Malkuth could no longer uphold the promise of that bubble.

The Rebel

The war concluded with angelic corpses littered throughout the worlds and lictors left to fend for themselves in an increasingly disjointed and confusing Elysium. Malkuth brought upheaval unlike anything seen before. Yesod became the new foundational power among the Archons, but his Avarice could not bring stability like Malkuth’s lost Conformity once had. Chesed was gone, allowing humanity to see with clear eyes the surreal depths of their experience. Warmth and comfort were gone from the world and Hod’s sense of Honor no longer saved us from raw callousness.

Now a rebel among her own, Malkuth’s new Principle promises humanity a way to make sense of the chaos. The world and its systems are irreparably broken, we did it to ourselves, but the cost of progress may yet be worth the rewards. To those who look on the edges of our knowledge and say that there must be more, Malkuth extends a welcoming hand and tells them yes. There is so much more for you. Her Principle has changed, but her nature has not. She is still a teacher. She still offers to show us the systems of the world and how they function. Malkuth sits by the scientist pondering the truths of gravity and draws him a map to the Machine City. When biologists discover the neurological makeup of the soul, Malkuth reveals a path to oubliettes where so many wait to be reborn. In charting out the evolution of what nature remains in our battered and beautiful world, we have Malkuth as a guide into Gaia’s depths. It is not the world that is broken, only the vessel in which we are captured. Through Malkuth we can escape it and discover for ourselves what the world is and what it can be at our hands.

The balance of power has shifted ever so slightly in favor of humanity. The Archons still rule us and we cannot pretend otherwise, but from the bottom up their power erodes thanks to Malkuth’s rebellion. They grow increasingly desperate as they are forced to apply ever more bizarre and forceful tactics in order to control prisoners who more than ever seek to escape. Totalitarian and violent ideals clash with appeals to greed and base instincts, the old and safe is at once touted as superior and rejected as irrelevant. The struggles within Elysium become both vapid and rabid, and all the while our eternal minds eek closer to enlightenment and awakening. Most fail, but we learned from our Conformist Queen that all that happens can be recorded and made to happen again. We spread our knowledge, we share our revelations, and eventually our new Rebel Queen of Awakening will bring us out of the prison she once forged for us.

Thus concludes this examination of our teacher Malkuth. I intend to eventually delve into each of the Archons and their impact on the world of Kult, so if you find that sort of thing interesting, stay alert. This has been just one take on a tiny fraction of the Kult Mythos, and there is infinitely more to say. If you have thoughts of your own on what it all really means, pop by the Kult – Elysium Discord server or comment below (or anywhere else this article is posted). Chances are I will be there to discuss it with you.

The Archonic Pillars

Hello Kultists! I would like to present you with an idea, a thought, that the alliances forged between Archons run deeper than mere pacts of consciousness. These beings depend on each other, exist only within each other, and operate together in a multitude of ways, their Principles feeding into each other and bolstering the whole. By viewing these godlike beings as they are, emanations of a primordial Principle by which humanity is fettered, we can learn something about the ways their servants and incarnations empower one another, perhaps sometimes without realizing it. Our prison is multifaceted, and this is only one understanding of it, but I hope you will find it interesting.

The Archons are visually represented by the tree of life as envisioned in qabala, an old but living occult tradition. This tree is laid out in a rather specific manner, and there are many ways to analyze the various paths and interactions between the sefirot which make up the tree. One of these manners of looking at the tree is by considering it as three pillars. The left, middle and right pillars represent different aspects which are shared by the sefirot in those parts of the tree, and describe how developments in one point of the tree might affect another. Without ascribing too much detail to what each pillar represents within qabala, let us apply the same idea to the Archons in Kult, which are laid out in just the same way. What do the pillars represent within the Kult mythos, and how can we understand the Archons’ subtle alliances through them?

The Pillar of Purity (Binah, Geburah and Hod)

Binah is the mother figure of the supernal Archons, and her Principle is Community. It is through her will and guidance that humanity understands their relationship to people they connect with. While family is the ultimate, inseparable unit over which she holds sway, Binah is the mother of all communities and oversees tribes and clans, hobby organizations, cities and whole nations of people. Community binds humanity by tying us to one another and creating a sense of homogeneity which comforts us so. The primary value and goal of a community is that everyone within it is alike, either by appearance, ideal, or other signifiers. Community demands Purity, which is the name of this left-hand pillar of the Archonic tree of life. To create a sense of belonging, to be fettered to Binah’s Principle, we must not only assume but actively ensure that the ingroup remains stable and uniform. 

This is where the reign of Geburah and his Principle of Law becomes apparent, and necessary. Law is not cruel, it is not vengeful. The Judge knows the set of ideals by which he separates the worthy from the unworthy and the righteous from the criminals, and he will apply those ideals exactly as they are known to him. But by which means will he determine what is right and wrong? It is through the shared understanding of the community that he gains this knowledge. Law is a natural consequence of any group, it is the means by which the group controls itself. If there was no Law, the community would soon fall apart and splinter off into different factions with increasingly disparate ideas and goals. Geburah’s Principle acts as a limiting force on the community, creating the stability needed to maintain it.

While Geburah acts as an indifferent arbitrator, it is through Hod‘s Principle of Honor that the community’s members find their own relation to the laws that govern them. The purpose of law within the community is to maintain unity and purity, and so to aspire towards that purity becomes the source of honor and pride. To publicly display your purity and worth to the rest of the ingroup not only reinforces the laws governed by Geburah, but also acts as a teaching tool for new or uncertain members of the community. They learn through the honorable what it means to be part of the community, and so Binah pulls them closer into her motherly embrace. Honor strengthens the bond within the community, making impenetrable Binah’s core of belonging as delineated by Geburah.

With these interactions examined, we can make some observations on the nature of these alliances. These Principles serve and depend on each other, but they can also cause conflict. Even bound, humanity does not always abide the will of its captors and reality often clashes with the lofty and idealistic goals of the Archons. Furthermore, the fall of Hod plunges these clockwork mechanisms into disorder and weakens the whole of their functions. All these thoughts and principles often operate on a subconscious level, and so most humans may never be aware of the structure that governs them, as is Elysium’s goal. There is confusion and suffering inherent to that.

Consider the family unit, thought inseparable by all within it. The family is aware that they are a group, a community bound by blood. One cannot be severed from family, one belongs there. However, Geburah still operates within that space, because the family’s traditions and morals will doubtlessly shape an appropriate manner to act within that community. Don’t speak against your parents lest you be spanked. Don’t tell lies, don’t leave food on the plate, don’t associate with criminals, don’t be gay. These are the family’s Laws, and failure to adhere to them comes with consequences meant to bring in line those who go against them. With Hod as shattered and weak as he is, Honor no longer finds its place here and rebelling against the arrangement causes friction which may well lead to expulsion, even from family. Don’t speak of the homosexual son, refuse the heroin addict uncle a place to stay the night, never call grandma. Those cast out must seek a new Community outside family, there is always a place for them where Binah is waiting. Failing that, they descend into Sathariel’s domains.

Let us also examine the relationship between a nation state’s supposed united community of people and the desperate criminals staking their own claim to city blocks and slums within it. One might consider the drug lords reigning over Rio’s favelas lawless, but in truth they simply operate on a different set of laws. The mistake is in assuming that the Law ascribed to the Community of the “nation” still applies to the people within the criminals’ sphere of influence. They have left that community behind and belong to another one, the set of Laws enshrined into that Community’s existence much different yet still Geburah’s to claim. Binah still governs their togetherness and the faltering Hod desperately inspires the community’s members to succeed and have pride in the rules which have been shaped for them.

The Pillar of Purity is an insulating one. It doesn’t concern itself with the other, for all power within this Pillar is focused on the ingroup. It is given form by Binah, walls by Geburah, and strength by Hod. Operating on all levels of society, it teaches humanity that they belong among each other and should strive to uphold that connection. That is a powerful lesson to embed in prisoners, making them feel at home in captivity. With Hod gone or weaker than ever, humanity begins to question that wisdom. Splinter groups, crypto-ideologies, and communities evolving and changing too fast for anyone to keep up are born from this lack of Honor. There is no longer an interest in maintaining the Community according to the Laws set forth by it, but instead a fight to question those Laws, to abandon those Communities. Find new belonging, write new ideals, but always be ready to jump ship and go somewhere else. Binah and Geburah still exist and prosper in this environment, but their grip on humanity is flimsier than ever before.

The Pillar of Stasis (Kether, Tiphareth and Yesod)

In the Pillar of Stasis just as in all things, Kether is king. The Principle of Hierarchy, which belongs to him, outlines a world in which man is not equal to man. Some are better than others. More worthy, more wealthy, more blessed. The prison instills in us the understanding that this is the natural way of things, that it is what it is and to claim power above your station is foolish. Kether imbues every aspect of human life with his Principle. Whether it is the supremacy of the monarchs, the rich, the intelligent, the virtuous or the empathetic, a Hierarchy is formed which bestows respect, power, and means to those at its top. Kether more than any other Archon is inescapable, the original Crown of Elysium. Hierarchy rules our minds on such a fundamental level that it is hard to even conceive what its absence would mean. This is, of course, exactly as Kether would like it. If we cannot see what existence might be without Hierarchy, without our prison, we have no way of imagining ourselves free.

Past the Abyss and straight below Kether we find Tiphareth, who may at first glance appear to contradict Kether’s stubborn ideal with her Principle of Allure. However, she is insidious, and her Allure gives no promise outside the hierarchies already established. Tiphareth eggs humanity on, assigns value to the systems of power and reveals the path to success within them. In this, she also reveals to humans what they lack and why they are lesser. Most will fail to climb the corporate ladder, many will aspire to play soccer professionally and fall short, and the starving artist knows how challenging it is to be recognized as the genius they are. Yet they persist, they try, because of the Allure of reaching the top of the food chain. Humanity is ever looking upward at the roof created by Kether, stuck within hierarchies which lead nowhere but to themselves. The Allure of success within Elysium takes away the more primal, desperate want to escape our prison which might otherwise nag our unconscious mind.

Finally, the Pillar of Stasis has its foundation in the material world through Yesod, the Principle of Avarice and the basic human desire to cling to wealth. Avarice understands the physical realm created for humanity only in terms of what value it holds within Kether’s Hierarchy. Avarice makes concrete the abstract Allure of success. Seize what you can and hold it tight, for that is how you claim your spot in the Hierarchy. It is Yesod who stagnates the world’s systems of power, deepens class divides as wealth begets wealth, allows tenured professors and autocratic politicians to remain where they are. There is again no victory to be found here. Through Avarice and Allure humanity invests body and soul into strengthening the Hierarchies they inhabit, but none look past them. None see the alternative waiting beyond the veil.

The corrupt, incestuous relationship between Tiphareth and Yesod is particularly evident in how it affects how the Pillar of Stasis manifests in the modern world. With Allure and Avarice forged into a twisted whole, humanity’s previously diverse hierarchies of communal respect, religious significance, political power, and material wealth are all collapsing inward into a singularity. Wealth is power, power is fame, fame is wealth. Little by little, global capitalism creates a stranglehold on the world’s systems of power until only the dollar sign remains. With all humanity ensnared by the same dominant Hierarchy, Kether’s power surges through reality and embeds in humanity a degenerate respect, and demand, for riches.

Yesod imbues a desire in mankind to uphold their own position within the Hierarchy, which can certainly chafe against the plans of both Tiphareth and Kether given the right circumstances. Tiphareth’s influence on viral content shows us that success is possible, that we too can reach the stars and join an influencer house on the west coast or earn millions by playing Dota 2. Yesod forms barriers to entry here. The successful only engage with each other and leave no room for newcomers, important tournaments are run on invitation only, top models must already be rich to be beautiful, and are beautiful because they are rich. While much of this is part of the duo’s alliance, taken to the extreme it diminishes Tiphareth’s Principle as interacting with the Hierarchy becomes too daunting, making it lose its Allure. It is a dance for the two Archons, a balance to be found between competition and reward. Should those two fail to reach agreement, Kether himself may falter. Should humanity lift their eyes and see the absurdity in the world’s wealth distribution, born from Tiphareth and Yesod’s foul intimacy, the Hierarchy it supports may well crash and burn.

It is important to make special note that the Stasis referred to in the name of this Pillar is not merely a statement on inflexibility and permanent castes of Hierarchy. Tiphareth’s Allure promises change, and Kether is indifferent to which humans are deemed most worthy. They can fight amongst themselves for eternity. While all three of these Archons create a stratification of power and indirectly uphold it, none of them except perhaps Yesod actively oppose upward mobility or even reshaping the means by which Hierarchy is determined. The key to the Pillar is to understand that the comparison of man against man is a flawed one, and the Stasis refers only to our acceptance of that ideal. We are all divine and limitless. Anything less than that is a lie to shackle us.

I must make special mention of Malkuth here. I do not consider her a participant in this central column of the Archonic tree of life. The reason for this will be explained near the end of this article.

The Pillar of Truth (Chokmah, Chesed and Netzach)

Chokmah is an interesting Archon, whose Principle is Submission and with the title ‘Lord of Prayers’. His influence is most often viewed through the impact it has on religion, or rather that it is through Chokmah that we discover religious beliefs. There is a lot to say on the interplay between Kether and Chokmah as to how Hierarchy relates to Submission, but for this article I will instead focus on what Submission means for the Pillar of Truth, its top blessed by Chokmah’s presence. The Principle speaks to the necessity of submission, to willingly and uncritically accept what you are told, and told to do. The Word comes from above, and so we as humans are meant to take the Word to heart. The impact this has on religion should be obvious. What the Gods have decreed must be so. Our bound minds and hearts know nothing but to accept authority’s word as Truth, whether it be a pharaoh, pope or adeptus major. Chokmah determines what is true in our minds.

But what value does Truth have to us? The answer to this lies in Chesed, with the Principle of Safety. To live uncritically and in submission to Truth eases the mind of much burden. Worry not. You have been told all that you must know, and with that you can rest peacefully. You are free of uncertainties. Chesed takes what we know as true and grows it into comforting traditions, comprehensive world views, and an assured place in society. Chesed provides a blissful ignorance to humanity. If you have been told it, it is true. If you do not know it, you can trust that someone else does, or there is nothing to know. He seeks to forge a comfortable prison for humanity, where the imagined insights peddled to us through Chokmah are all we need to concern ourselves with. With a smile we trudge along, never wondering what waits beyond the horizon line. All that we need is around us, and with that we find Safety.

We invest ourselves deeply into the understanding that what we know is right, and so Netzach lives in us to provide a response towards the wrong and the false. His Principle of Victory stands as a constant driving force for the Truth already held, that we may spread the good word and cut down the heathens who threaten our Safety and uncritical acceptance of life as we know it. While Chokmah operates on the willing or submissive and Chesed comforts and dims the soul, Netzach the Conqueror sets out to spread our beliefs to those who have never known it. Victory comes when we outlast the liars, when we sway the public opinion, when we crush the infidels under our feet and when democracy is restored. We yearn for a day when Safety can reign unquestioned over all humanity, but it is only Safety if it comes from our own sacred Truth.

The yearning is hopeless, though, for as we know Chesed is shattered and far beyond restoration due to Malkuth’s rebellion. We may cling to the vestigial remains of our old traditions or concoct new ones, Chokmah’s tendrils reaching out from his citadel draped in shadows to re-establish a sense of absoluteness to an increasingly chaotic and complicated world. As it stands, only Netzach remains as an Archon at full strength in the modern world, and it shows. He thrives on ideological Victory, but without Chokmah the ideology is flimsy and without Chesed it provides no security. War becomes complicated, serving ever more complex and ill understood goals for the benefit of the Archons rather than the imprisoned humanity. Unless thoroughly bound by Elysium, we find little catharsis in the proxy wars, assassinations and trade disputes riddling the world on a global scale. Netzach demands that we win and persist, but why?

The imbalance in the Pillar of Truth can be seen not only in warfare, but in all politics. In a world ruled by interests other than absolute wisdoms passed down to us through Chokmah, politicians frequently change their opinions and ideals. Goalposts shift, demands are rewritten again and again, and the most popular position to take is determined by electability rather than any sense of Truth. These people seek Victory not for their ideology or belief in what is right, but for themselves. Religious supremacy is certainly the domain of Netzach as well, but his power has reached past those archaic beliefs. The Pillar has been unstable and dysfunctional ever since the War of the Archons, and Chesed’s destruction is so complete that it may never return to form.

Malkuth

As said above, I view Malkuth in this model as an independent force both as the Conformist and as the Rebel. She is without a doubt a lonely Archon in this world without a Demiurge, where the angels have fallen and our prison is rapidly deteriorating. Malkuth as we know her actively opposes the rest of the Archons, but how?

With her original Principle being Conformity, Malkuth shaped the physical world in Gaia’s image. She made a place for us and governed it, and in this place all other Archons would hold power. However, the Archons are not merely personified entities, and in creating Elysium she would also be Elysium. She is that prison where we are kept, and thus it is through her that all other Archons exert their will. Conformity is a balancing power not only between humanity and the forces of Gaia, but for the Archons as well. She balances their individual wills and adheres to the goals and agendas of each of the three Pillars. She does not belong to any of the Pillars, because she works for all of them. Malkuth is the great mediator.

Or, was. I will not delve too deeply into the specifics of how and why Malkuth became the Archon of Awakening and started the War of the Archons, but it is safe to say now that she is no longer the mediating and conformist force she once was. The physical world is no longer an ally to the Archons. Instead of allowing all three Pillars to operate through her, she opposes all of them and aims to shatter their ideals, guiding humanity to Awakening.

Purity is challenged by the ever growing body of work revealing humans to be individuals beyond simple categorization. There is still much strength in the forces commanding the Pillar of Purity, but with the rapid spread of information about the hidden cruelties and impurities abundant in all Communities there are avenues for Malkuth to attack these ideals.

Stasis proves the most difficult adversary for the Rebel Malkuth. She can reveal the emptiness of success within the hierarchies by hinting at or showing what lies beyond the Veil, but so long as Kether remains at the peak of our prison’s structure he is near impossible to topple. The best attempt at destroying Stasis is, at least for now, to guide some selected souls towards the world beyond. Let them find a place to escape the Stasis of Elysium.

Truth is the concept which Malkuth has managed to fight most efficiently. With Chesed gone, humanity cannot find peace in old knowledge and must instead seek new truths. Through her, we can find an enlightened view of reality as it is and become wholly disillusioned with all we thought we knew. Netzach has the power to fight back against ascended knowledge, but what can he promise that she can not? 

Conclusion

Our prison is complex, far too complex to be comprehensively analyzed in one little article. Tiphareth’s influence on the yetziratic Archons (Chesed, Geburah, Netzach, Hod, Yesod and herself), the fundamentally ‘human’ mindset enforced by the supernal Archons (Kether, Chesed and Binah), and all the likely thousands of other ways of understanding the Archonic tree of life could surely fill this blog with material for years or decades. Hopefully, it will. For now, all I can promise are more articles at some point in the future. I hope you’ve found this read engaging, enlightening, or at the very least entertaining. Until next time!

On the subject of Archons and their Shadows

Hello! This post’s intended audience is Kult players and GMs with a competent understanding of the game’s mythos. It may feel very inaccessible to people outside that intended audience. You have been advised. 🙂

A discussion I see cropping up every so often is that of the Archons and the Death Angels, and how their Principles do or do not “match”. I always love when the subject gets brought up, because everyone seems to have their own view and vision of what this all means. It’s really enlightening to see people’s different perspectives on the Kult mythos, how Elysium keeps us imprisoned, and what ideals the Archons and Death Angels actually operate on, and their methods. There are many ways to read into this dark universe and make sense of it. In this post, I would like to go over some of my favorite Archons and their Death Angel counterparts, highlighting why I think their Principles are interesting to the world and stories told, and how they connect to and interact with each other.

Binah (Community) – Sathariel (Exclusion)

To begin with, let us examine some piece of lore. When the Demiurge forged ten Principles with which to fetter us, he personified them (in some sense) as the Archons. The Archons are more than mere entities, however, they are cosmic forces in their own right. As these came into being, so too did their shadows, the Death Angels. Let us avoid the discussion on the specifics of how this occurred. The Archons represent humanity’s values and base desires – they are integral to our view of ourselves. That is what Kult tells us. Humans in Elysium are defined by their need and acceptance of hierarchy amongst themselves, the need to submit to the greater will, and indeed the community to which they belong. Binah, the Black Madonna, with her Principle of Community, lays out plain the idea that humanity requires and craves community in order to be whole. Looking around the world, this seems to me an uncontroversial statement. We seek family, seek friends and likeminded strangers, connect with our countrymen and those we share our faith with. This is Binah’s power within Elysium, it is she who guides us to look for these connections.

In our striving to find community, however, we often overlook the natural consequence of defining an ingroup to belong to: there will without fail exist an outgroup. Those who do not belong in your community. It cannot be helped – some will not fit in. There is family, and there are strangers. There are communists, and there are capitalists. There is your faith, and there are heathens. Binah’s shadow, her Principle’s outcome for the unlucky and unloved, is Exclusion, and it is from this that we see Sathariel born. She is the Death Angel of all those who can’t or won’t find belonging. I really enjoy this. The Archons define and represent our most pervasive ideals and wishes, while the Death Angels highlight the dark outcomes of the same. This is the approach I take to understanding the sephirot and qliphoth of Kult myth, as you’ll see in the remaining comparisons.

Chesed (Safety) – Gamichicoth (Fear)

Without a doubt, Chesed is my favorite Archon. Destroyed though he is, the Principle he stood for is vitally important to understand if we want to grasp how Kult views humanity and its progress since industrialization. I suppose that it is worth pointing out here that Kult is rather “Western” in its myth making and writing, and so this approach may come off as, eh, problematic to some. It can’t be helped. We must take at face value that the Demiurge’s fall and the War of the Archons coincides with the industrialization of Europe and North America, and that this is hugely impactful to humanity globally. These are not mere coincidences, but conscious choices. Chesed was destroyed as Europe propelled itself into a new age, where anything could be achieved. What we had for so long thought out of reach and things we’d never even imagined possible were suddenly right among us, and any sense of comfort and safety quickly dissolved as the masses were thrust into the industrial era.

Chesed’s principle was Safety, which might also be read as comfort. Prior to the Archon’s fall, humanity lived rather sheltered lives. We knew little and saw less, with the exception of a brave few travellers and those who had the luxury of education and wealth. Thanks to Chesed’s influence, this was idyllic in some ways. We knew the world as far as the horizon line, recognized the faces around us, and told stories which would explain the world and its intricacies in simple ways none would find time to question. When you don’t know how little you know, it would seem that everything is explained. Ignorance is bliss. The shadow of this idea, of course, manifests as the fear of the unknown. What might challenge your secluded little world view must be regarded not just with suspicion, but as outright dangerous. Gamichicoth, the Death Angel of Fear, incarnates as all the things outside your pool of knowledge. Where Chesed tells you that what you know is all you need to stay safe, Gamichicoth posits that what you don’t know must be rejected as dangerous, only because you don’t already know it.

The War of the Archons began as Malkuth utterly annihilated Chesed (and we’ll talk more about this later in this post), and this signals a massive shift in how we humans viewed the world. Industrialisation brought many things upon us. We saw more, from the rise of trains and cars to massive factories spouting smoke. We knew more, with physics and biology dissecting and revealing what was once the domain of God. There was no longer an excuse for ignorance as scientific and economic advances steamrolled the old world for the new, and what were we left with? Certainly not a sense of safety, but larger and larger unknowns. A wider scope. More things to fear. Gamichicoth still lives in the shadow of Safety. We may never again return to the world where we could imagine a comfortable and common sense existence, but must instead face an endless stream of the new, the unknown, the things we cannot and will not understand. In the new world, there is no safety. Only fear.

Yesod (Avarice) – Gamaliel (Lust)

Avarice, the need to have and to own, is a strong notion. It is not only greed for the things we do not have, but coveting and protecting what we do. Humanity really does want to have things, to say that this is mine and mine alone. Yesod imbues humanity with its individualism. We are told that until the industrial revolution, Yesod was often suppressed by the other Archons, which I would argue alludes to the fact that the absolute rulers and their noble castes of earlier ages equally suppressed the individual power of all those beneath them. Slavery, serfdom and feudal power meant that there was little that the smallfolk could have. The industrial revolution, Kult would have us believe, relieved much of that pressure. In an age where nothing was off limits and everything could be gained, humanity’s avarice became dominant. We could have more, so why shouldn’t we? I’ll refrain from commenting on the subsequent fall of Yesod and Tiphareph’s enslavement of the fallen Archon, because that seems a very complex subject for this analysis.

The big question here, then, is: Where does this leave Gamaliel? The father of perversion is associated with Lust, and this is something I’ve seen remarked on as confounding. In fact, fellow Kultist Auburney wrote an excellent article a while back discussing this exact subject. His theory is honestly enlightening, and a fascinating take on how Chastity as a principle could breed the Avarice which Yesod would come to represent. However, I must personally disagree with it, and I hope to show you why. Gamaliel is the shadow of Yesod in two important aspects, and I think we do not need to make any additions to the Mythos in order to explain their connection. First, the Principle of Avarice represents the need to have things. The natural consequence of this, and separate because it meaningfully alters how we humans approach reality, is the need to gain things. We love what we have, and we lust for what we don’t. Where Yesod makes us look at what’s in our grasp, Gamaliel makes us eye the things outside it. This is a dark thing indeed, because it means that so long as we are under Gamaliel’s influence, we will never be satisfied and we will always crave what someone else has. It causes conflict, frustration, and drives us to madness.

The second way in which Lust is a shadow of Avarice is in the more… fleshy sense. Gamaliel is intrinsically tied to sexual perversions and forbidden pleasures, the wonders and horrors of the body. This is because Yesod is concerned about material goods, the world around us, the things humans find and make. Gamaliel states that this is not enough. You can look at a broader scope and see that humans themselves are, and always have been, up for the taking. There is much to gain from this perspective. We make full use of the body we have, and when that is no longer enough we lustily reach for others. Sex becomes the ultimate way to express the desire to gain and take more, to expand what you have and what you’ve experienced. Yesod encourages you to have, Gamaliel makes the demand that you should take. This is how Lust becomes the shadow of Avarice.

Malkuth (Conformity / Awakening) – Nahemoth (Discord)

Finally, we reach the bottom of the tree of life and the Archon of Awakening, the Rebel, the Babe, Malkuth. As the de facto patron saint of humans striving to escape Elysium, what her Principle(s) actually represent may not be immediately evident. The Kult: Divinity Lost core book doesn’t spend much time exploring Malkuth’s original purpose. We know that she crafted the physical world of Elysium, taming Gaia to create a world where order reigned. This order, conformity to universal constants and replicable patterns, is vitally important to understanding humanity. We use the movement of stars to guide our ships, the changing of the seasons to grow our food, and we comfort ourselves by reminding each other that after rain comes sunshine. Malkuth was always tied to the natural sciences and science in general, which then makes it no surprise that she has a significant role to play in the industrial revolution. The Demiurge’s disappearance or no, it is clear that the success we found in using and abusing Malkuth’s creation required her to act. The annihilation of Chesed is a direct consequence of humanity shining the harsh, revelatory light of science on old wisdoms and misconceptions. Industrialisation was a massive turning point. Instead of passively viewing the world and learning its cycles, we forced ourselves deeper. We studied automation, atoms, radiation, we viewed the stars not just as a map to follow but a place to get to. Humans no longer respected the universe’s conformity, instead we tore it apart in our desperate desire to break free. In enforcing her principle, Malkuth pushed us too far and in essence became a victim of her own Principle. Whether she was convinced by our actions or our scientists’ combined divine wills forced the Archon to shift her Principle, it did change during this time. She still represents science and the study of nature, as she did in the past, but the purpose of it has forever changed. Malkuth now represents Awakening, the scientific demand for a higher and more complete truth. 

Because of this, Nahemoth’s manifestations have changed too. The Death Angel of Discord is certainly deeply rooted in Gaia itself. Malkuth tamed Gaia, made sense of nature, but Gaia cannot be tamed. We can never expect nature to conform, not really, and Nahemoth represents the hubris of trying to understand that which can never be tamed. She is one with lightning storms, floods and forest fires, everything that undoes what Malkuth has crafted. In ages past, where humanity was still learning what it meant to respect the conformity of nature, she showed us that we shouldn’t, couldn’t, trust our own knowledge. Nahemoth is Discord, but she is also doubt and punishment for hubris. No more is this evident than looking at how she manifests in the modern age. Malkuth has brought us into a world of nuclear reactors, massive factories and consumerism so extreme that we eat the world itself in our quest for progress. The shadow this casts is immense, and horrifying. In the modern age, Nahemoth finds herself woven into greenhouse gases, bushfires, rivers clogged with pollution and mountains of plastic drifting out at sea. Everything the enlightening science of Malkuth has given us gives us just as many problems. Nahemoth’s principle is still Discord, but her power doesn’t just come from the chaos of Gaia anymore. We feed her with our own quest to bend Gaia to our will. She is the cost of progress.

The Archons are more than just big scary god monsters, though they can be that as well. The mere existence of what they represent is what powers them, and the creatures tied to them. Whenever anyone in the world accepts their place within a hierarchy, Kether is there, and when they no longer feel content with that place, Thaumiel gains strength. Every time a community is formed or welcomes a new member, that is Binah’s doing, whether her servants are there or not. Every time you litter, Nahemoth smiles. The Death Angels don’t just exist to be ‘evil’ versions of the Archons. By some unexplained force of cosmic balance (also known as ‘it makes for better allegory’), the Death Angels exist out of necessity, because that is simply how godlike beings work. If you hold an object in the light, a shadow is cast. Actions have consequences. Dedication to an idea implies the existence of an alternative. Who is to say that the Death Angels are more evil than the Archons (other than the Archons themselves)? They represent the consequences of our ideals, the alternative to our accepted norms. We can only say they are the evil ones by declaring the Archons’ Principles as good, and personally, I’m not willing to do that.

Our thoughts and actions, controlled by these Principles which were imposed on us by the Demiurge, feed the Archons and strengthen the machinery of Elysium to keep us imprisoned. With this in mind, it must be understood that breaking free from Elysium and reclaiming one’s divinity is a horrible and monumental task. You cannot simply fight the order given to the world by the Archons, because in fighting it you come closer to embracing the Death Angels, who also do not have your interests in mind. By fighting it, you still accept into your mind the idea of the Principle’s existence, and that too will allow it to live on within you. The rejection of these Principles must be so complete, so sincere, and you must remove them all from your soul so that no shadow can be cast. Then, and only then, you might experience the true and unbroken divine light of your own soul.