– Jacopo da Pontormo, Visitation, c. 1528-1529
Wonder, Alterity, and the Immemorial as Devotional Candor in the ONA
Much like the Order of Nine Angles, the ideas that have shaped the Western tradition are characterized by what Aristotle identified as wonder. This sense of dispositional awe in the face of an incomprehensible mystery – what Rudolf Otto, in one of the most widely read German theological works of the twentieth century, famously characterized as mysterium tremendum et fascinans, “a mystery that inspires dread and fascination simultaneously” – marks an enduring response to the way we inhabit and orient ourselves in the world.
This “solitary and silent ‘residence’ of wonder” finds shelter in a wide history of Western thought. In the Theaetetus, Plato describes wonder (thaumazein) “as the beginning or archê of philosophy.” Aristotle describes this with respect to the way we begin (archontai) by wondering (thaumazein) whether things are as they seem. We find these “beginnings” reiterated powerfully in the Renaissance Platonists, who were “[h]eirs to late ancient and medieval Christianity” and stressed “the epistemological or ontological status of miracles, thus exploring the cognitive side of amazement and the metaphysical side of any sort of spiritual intervention”; in works of the early thirteenth century, such as those of the English nobleman Gervase of Tilbury, who outlined “three categories of wonderful things”; through the exploration of magic in the Middle Ages and early modern period as an “enquiry into the wonderful”; and in many other major Western figures, such as Plotinus, St. Thomas Aquinas, Descartes, Pascal, Thomas Hobbes, John Milton, Malebranche, Spinoza, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and Kant. In fact, it was Kant who famously remarked how two things fill the mind with wonder: the starry sky above and the moral law within.
All of these explorations of wonder share in common an “attitudinal change which occurred in the European history of ideas,” one in which “a radically new way of approaching reality evolved.” In a similar spirit, we are witnessing a radical new way of approaching reality in terms of the ONA’s evolution. In addition to an attitudinal change in the ideas that have shaped the tradition, one can sense a change in the climate that informs the ONA’s praxis. From the flashpoint of the “noise,” gossip, and interpersonal infighting that have occurred for decades at its outskirts, we now find reflected in its collective exoskeleton what has always remained hidden in its esoteric heart: a relationality or plurality that becomes “visible” when this sense of wonder comports one utterly beyond rational comprehension, one that is acknowledged in our fundamental relation to the other. In the ONA, this relation is embodied in transformative action through empathy; and in such a way that it cannot be reduced to the self or comprehension.
Through wonder and in the face of modernity, the ONA attempts to explore “what was lost in the destruction of our capability to be astonished and perplexed.” As Jacques Taminiaux notes, this wonder or thaumazein is enduring, driving the way the ONA’s philosophy informs its praxis and how this carries over into concrete experience. As one embarks on a journey leading to radical transformation with respect to the incomprehensible alterity or otherness of the world, one discovers what David Myatt, in reference to Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, cites as a “wordless-awareness,” which he connects to empathy in the Corpus Hermeticum. Myatt’s point regarding “a mortal apprehension that Being, and certain beings, are not or cannot be subject to, nor explainable, in terms of causality” is analogous to the fact that our fundamental relation to the other through empathy cannot be reduced to comprehension. Rather than comprehended or understood, it is acknowledged or “apprehended” through the practice of simple but difficult primordial experiences leading to transformation. Thus – and this point is sometimes overlooked – in addition to its philosophy, the ONA also requires practice.
As that which directs this wordless-awareness in relation to empathy as a fundamental relation to the other, we find that wonder is not just enduring but what Jean-Luc Nancy calls the immemorial: a kind of excess or overflowing that resists memorialization or being made into a monument. As a vital collective presence spanning a plethora of ancient and modern traditions, the ONA exceeds itself, having neither definitive leadership nor singular authority. In some respects, its enduring wonder “never commemorates” – it is not a monument to the past, nor does it memorialize. And yet, what Nancy says of the immemorial equally applies to the ONA from its past to present day: it is “what is infinitely ancient and thus definitively present.” In its cathartic practice and tragic revelation, the ONA speaks to something timeless and yet concretely present in the world. The mysteries it promises are systematically attainable through practical action. And while they remain intimately hidden and out of reach as an irreducible opacity – something ungraspable, even to the self – they are nevertheless not beyond the world but “present right here.” In the value of what it reveals, in its timeless mystery, and in its solemn yet enduring visitation, the ONA is “what is never to be seen or said, but toward which one does not cease to move – and that is the immemorial.” In much the same way that the immemorial frees itself from memorialization through its own excess, so too does wonder free the ONA from becoming yet another internet relic, one crystalized in history as a blueprint for what could have been, lost to future generations as a curious irrelevance. With the changing seasons and as we look from earth to sky for guidance, I remain optimistic that what Nancy says of the immemorial may serve as a kind of ongoing augury for the future of the ONA: “[that it is] always to come again like the return of a past more ancient than any past, its visitation always reprised in a movement in which the surface itself rises up, billowing and leaping out.” Whether this “billowing and leaping out” will prove to be a hex or a haruspex remains to be seen.
In closing, I would like to note that it is this spirit of wonder that will motivate the upcoming and future editions of Fenrir, the ONA’s journal of Satanism and the Sinister. This article will be published in slightly revised form in the upcoming edition and is meant to serve as an introduction to some of the themes that will be addressed in more detail there – themes such as alterity, empathy, and sinister magick. As editor of the journal, I should also note that I have an important announcement, which will be revealed in the very near future. I would like to conclude with an excerpt from a message I recently wrote to a friend and well-known ONA associate, one that I think will prove timely, relevant, and interesting for our best and brightest:
[…] whether running Fenrir or having a wide influence on the ONA in a public capacity, one cannot let transparent emotions inform the opaque intentions motivating what others say. The ONA is beyond personal affectation or judgment, beyond you and I, beyond even its founders. Over the last decade of involvement with the ONA and the Seven-Fold Way, I have witnessed some of the most painful and transformative experiences of my life shape something radically ineffable, melancholic, cathartic, serene. In that “something,” which is utterly intangible and yet directs everything we do, I found a presence worth dying for; and, more importantly, worth living for – authentically and with integrity. It is my hope that […] you see the value in devotional candor, in submitting to something beyond the self, something absolute and incomprehensible.
– Albrecht Dürer, The Four Witches, 1497
Moon in Gemini, March 9, 2022
2775 ab urbe condita
 Todd A. Gooch, The Numinous and Modernity: An Interpretation of Rudolf Otto’s Philosophy of Religion (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2000), 1. The text referred to here is Otto’s Das Heilige: Über das Irrationale in der Idee des Göttlichen und sein Verhältnis zum Rationalen (1917), commonly known by its shortened English title, The Idea of the Holy.
 Ibid., 2.
 David Bollert, “The Wonder of the Philosopher and the Citizen: Plato, Aristotle, and Heidegger” (PhD diss., Boston College, 2005), 2.
 Ibid., 3. The reference to wonder in Plato’s Theaetetus occurs at 155c-d.
 Ibid., 93. See Aristotle’s Metaphysics, 983a12-13.
 Elisabeth Blum and Paul Richard Blum, “Wonder and Wondering in the Renaissance,” in Philosophy Begins in Wonder: An Introduction to Early Modern Philosophy, Theology and Science, ed. by Michael Funk Deckard and Péter Losonczi (Cambridge: James Clarke & Co, 2011), 1.
 Koen Vermeir, “Wonder, Magic, and Natural Philosophy: The Disenchantment Thesis Revisited,” in Philosophy Begins in Wonder, 45. These three categories are characterized by “things we consider unheard of,” sometimes through variations in nature, “at which we marvel”; by things whose cause is unknown and thus “inscrutable to us”; and by “customary experiences” that differ from others.
 Ibid., 51. Vermeir here lists two philosophers of this period with respect to the relation between magic and wonder: the Protestant philosopher Heinrich Alsted (1588-1638), who wrote that “magic is the art which is concerned with wondrous effects [apotelesmas], commonly known as incredible”; and the Jesuit scholar Gaspar Schott (1608-1666), who defined magic as “whatever is marvellous and goes beyond the sense and comprehension of the common man.”
 Dennis J. Schmidt, “Thank Goodness for the Atmosphere: Reflections on the Starry Sky and the Moral Law,” Research in Phenomenology 50 (2020), 370.
 Péter Losonczi and Michael Funk Deckard, “Introduction,” in Philosophy Begins in Wonder, xvii.
 Despite a few interesting ideas and an appetite for vital experience, I find Crowley’s writings and way of thinking problematic on a number of grounds. That said, something he wrote in Magick without Tears is relevant here: “You ask me what is, at the present time, the greatest obstacle to human progress. I answer in one word: NOISE.” Aleister Crowley, Magick without Tears, ed. Israel Regardie (St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1973), 125. See chapter 14, “Noise.”
 Part of the mystery of this esoteric dynamic lies in the twofold sense in which the relation to the other arises from the ONA’s emphasis on the individual as a means to empathy, and how this acknowledgement actualizes itself at the level of transformative experience (which occurs individually but exceeds the individual).
 Losonczi and Deckard, “Introduction,” xxv.
 Bollert, “The Wonder of the Philosopher,” 3.
 David Myatt, “Chapter Two,” in “Classical Paganism and the Christian Ethos,” 2nd ed. (self-pub., 2017). See the section, “An Appreciation of Acausality” in addition to the subsequent section, “A Mortal Wordless-Awareness.” The reference here is specifically to “the activity of theos … [as] a wordless-awareness.” His reference to empathy in connection to this worldless-awareness pertains to tractate VIII of the Corpus Hermeticum.
 Jean-Luc Nancy, “Visitation: Of Christian Painting,” chap. 8 in The Ground of the Image, trans. Jeff Fort (New York: Fordham University Press, 2005), 108.
 Ibid., 116.
 Ibid., 109. On pp. 108-109 Nancy says: “On this side of or beyond the memorial, that is, beyond or on this side of the self and of what can be subjectivized: the hereafter or the other world (death, in that sense), not outside the world but present right here.”
 Ibid., 111.
 Ibid., 118.