DisinfoCast 41: ‘Dispelling Wetiko’ with Paul Levy

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Writer Paul Levy is here to discuss ‘Wetiko’, a poisonous archetype of violence and hatred that he describes as an infection in humanity’s collective unconscious. Levy and Matt get into a discussion about Hermetic philosophy, Gnostic Christianity, alchemy, Jung and the confrontation and integration of the Shadow. For more, check out Levy’s book ‘Dispelling Wetiko: Breaking the Curse of Evil‘, available now from North Atlantic Books.

8 Comments on "DisinfoCast 41: ‘Dispelling Wetiko’ with Paul Levy"

  1. From “The Value of Nothing” by Raj Patel:

    Jean-Jacques Rousseau turned this [Hobbe’s idea of nature as a state of war] on its head. Although he shared with Hobbes the view that people were generally unsociable, he disagreed that humans were inherently machines of infinite want. It was possible, he argued, for people to feel that they’ve got ‘enough.’ Being sated is something that people can learn—and it is after they have managed to control their instincts and impulses in the best interests of themselves and society that they are truly free—precisely the opposite of Greenspan’s vision. Rousseau also went on to argue that ‘artificial people’ were, in fact, precisely possessed of the characteristics that Hobbes saw in the state of nature. Entities like corporations and governments were nasty and brutish. Worse, because they didn’t have to eat or sleep, and could never die, artificial people were more worrisome because they could never have enough.

    Rousseau wasn’t the first to worry about insatiable nonhuman creatures living among us. Almost every cultural tradition has cautionary tales of similar beings with appetites run riot. In what is now called western Canada and the United States, indigenous cultures told of Weendigoes. A giant, hungry spirit, a Weendigo had lips that were bloody from its constantly gnashing jaws, and its hunger became deeper with every drop of human blood it drank. Weendigoes were cannibals, people whose desires had so entirely become the core of their being that they were prepared to eat others in order to survive. Weendigo tales were told as a reminder that unbridled consumption in harvest months meant less food for everyone in leaner seasons, which meant that eating more than your fair share today was effectively a kind of cannibalism inflicted on the rest of the tribe in the future. Basil Johnston, an Ojibwe scholar, argues that Weendigoes are alive and well. Few people in North America have seen giant spirits, but many more people have seen their modern incarnation, giant creatures with few interests beyond the satisfaction of their immediate appetites, even if this prevents tomorrow’s hunger from being met. The modern Weendigo, Johnston suggests, is the multinational corporation.

    Other cultures also have icons of insatiable and constantly suffering beasts. Thai and Japanese Buddhists tell of hungry ghosts, once covetous people who when they die become ghosts with mouths as small as the finest needle’s eye and who are cursed with perpetual hunger. These mythic people weren’t blind to the world—they merely saw it through the optic of their own desires, desires that outweighed any care they might have had to the damage they caused. Like Asia and the Americas, Europe also has an example of a creature like this, and when Marx wrote about capitalism’s progeny, he drew on it directly. For him, capitalism bred vampires.

  2. thanks a lot for this, Paul Levy is doing important work I think.

  3. He sounds like he is talking about Opticus.

  4. Eckhart Tolle’s concept of the pain body:

    “This accumulated pain is a negative energy field that occupies your body and mind. If you look on it as an invisible entity in its own right, you are getting quite close to the truth. It’s the emotional pain body. It has two modes of being: dormant and active.

    .The pain body wants to survive, just like every other entity in existence, and it can only survive if it gets you to unconsciously identify with it. It can then rise up, take you over, “become you,” and live through you. It needs to get its “food” through you. It will feed on any experience that resonates with its own kind of energy, anything that creates further pain in whatever form: anger, destructiveness, hatred, grief, emotional drama, violence, and even illness.

    So the pain body, when it has taken you over, will create a situation in your life that reflects back its own energy frequency for it to feed on. Pain can only feed on pain. Pain cannot feed on joy. It finds it quite indigestible.

    Once the pain body has taken you over, you want more pain. You become a victim or a perpetrator. You want to inflict pain, or you want to suffer pain, or both. There isn’t really much difference between the two. You are not conscious of this, of course, and will vehemently claim that you do not want pain. But look closely and you will that your thinking and behavior are designed to keep the pain going, for yourself and others.

    If you were truly conscious of it, the pattern would dissolve, for to want more pain is insanity, and nobody is consciously insane.
    The pain body, which is the dark shadow cast by the ego, is actually afraid of the light of your consciousness. It is afraid of being found out. Its survival depends on your unconscious identification with it, as well as on your unconscious fear of facing the the pain that lives in you. But if you don’t face it, if you don’t bring the light of your consciousness into the pain, you will be forced to relive itagain and again. The pain body may seem to you like a dangerous monster that you cannot bear to look at, but I assure you that it is an insubstantial phantom that cannot prevail against the power of your presence..”


    • “The pain body consists of trapped life-energy that has split off from your total energy field and has temporarily become autonomous through the unnatural process of mind identification. It has turned in on itself and become anti-life, like an animal trying to devour its own tail. Why do you think our civilization has become so life-destructive?But even the life-destructive forces are still life-energy.”

    • For me, it seems like the more active the pain body and the less conscious someone is of it, the greater the likelihood of becoming ‘plugged in’ to the wetiko ‘virus’ – the pain body is essentially food for wetiko.

  5. Excellent interview! Nice work Paul.

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