Gnostic Writings of David Myatt

David Myatt c.1989

David Myatt c.1989

The Gnostic Writings of David Myatt

Promethean Rebel

David Myatt’s life has aptly been described as Promethean – as an original, creative, quest to discover the meaning of our existence. His life has been one of direct experience and involvement, as well as creativity. His quest began with Taoism, which he studied during his early formative years in the Far East, continued with Hinduism; then Buddhism; then Christianity, and finally, with Islam. However, he also maintained, throughout his life, an involvement with paganism (or heathenism as some of its adherents – incorrectly, in my view – describe it) – and more especially with Occultism, particularly the darker paths. Never content with theoretical study as a means to understanding, Myatt became practically involved with all these diverse religions (or Ways of Life as he calls them), for instance spending several years as a Christian monk, and nearly a decade involved with Islamic fundamentalism.

Yet religion was not the only means he used to try and discover answers to the questions he posed about life. His also sought answers from and through politics – or, rather, from involvement with political and Para-military groups, just as he was also experiencing life in many other ways, through such things as world travel, diverse occupations, and, of course, personal relationships. Not to mention two terms of imprisonment for violence, several spells as a drifter (a vagabond), being the founder and leader of several organizations (such as the neo-nazi NSM and Reichsfolk) and being the organizer, in his early twenties, of a small gang of petty criminals. During the years of his political involvement he regularly spoke at public meetings, and on several occasions harangued crowds of many hundreds of people, two of which – outside Leeds Town Hall, and Speakers Corner, London – and notoriously, end in mass brawls.

Indeed, I feel it is correct to say – as Myatt himself has written several times – that he, from the outset, did not divide the world into the various categories, such as politics and religion, that we have become accustomed to. Rather, he strove, often recklessly, to experience life in its essence. In addition, the more something was considered, by conventional society, as dangerous, outlandish, forbidden or heretical, the more Myatt sought such a thing out, studying it, experiencing it and becoming involved with it in a very practical way.

That is, he was, and perhaps still is, an original rebel. We have come to regard rebellion – particularly youthful rebellion – as the rather selfish pursuit of our own desires; that is, as a kind of anti-social flouting of what is, or was, considered the norm. Thus, the rebellion of the sixties, and seventies, has come to be regarded as a liberalization. But was this a real rebellion – a discovery of one’s unique individuality? Or was it more the case of most young people being swayed by other people, by their social milieu, by the media, by the entertainment industry and unthinkingly following some new trend, some new fashion, some new norm?

Consider Myatt at one of his criminal trials during his ultra-violent years in the mid-seventies. He was in the Dock, alongside several of his radical Communist opponents, who also faced criminal charges arising from a violent demonstration. These alleged supporters of Communism – in order to make some kind of good impression – had all attired themselves in conventional suits and ties, and all had short hair. In complete contrast, Myatt had grown a beard, had longish hair, and dressed in very casual clothes, including an ex-RAF Greatcoat. Thus, the Communists looked like conventional fascists, and Myatt like a bohemian, or some Communist revolutionary.

Consider Myatt at University in the early seventies. It was accepted then to have “left-wing views”, to dress in a rather casual way, to indulge oneself through parties, drugs and other intoxicating substances, and to like what has been called “pop and rock music”. Indeed, we might even say that this had become the norm in such places. Myatt, in complete contrast, chose to be a real rebel, a real individualist. Thus he dressed in a suit, wore a tie, often carried an umbrella, made himself very unpopular by publicly expounding Right-wing views, refrained from indulging himself, and openly dismissed all modern music, championing instead the music of Mozart, Johann Sebastian Bach, Brahms, and Beethoven. He was regarded as rather “old-fashioned” and as a fanatical “fascist” – that is, viewed by others according to some conventional label, or category, which they projected onto him. That is, they did not know – and probably did not want to know – the real person behind this outward image, an image I personally believe Myatt deliberately cultivated then, as he has continued to cultivate such outward images over the past four decades.

Myatt championed National Socialism when it was heretical to do so. More recently, he championed Islamic fundamentalism when it was, in the West, unpopular and dangerous to do so. If we are to believe the many rumors and allegations about Myatt’s Occult involvement, he also championed the Sinister, or Dark, Occult Path when it was unpopular to do so. But there is far more than this championing of the heretical, the forbidden and the unpopular. For to each and every such area, Myatt has contributed something original. There are his voluminous writings about National Socialism, which have created a revisionist, or new, version of that particular set of beliefs. There are his Islamic writings, some of which have been used by Islamic groups, such as Hamas, and many of which have inspired people. There are the voluminous writings of Anton Long, of the ONA, most of which are original (for example The Star Game; Insight Roles; Culling) and which contribute to Occult lore. There are his avowedly terrorist writings, which most certainly inspired at least one person, whose campaign of bombings resulted in three deaths, and hundreds of people being injured.

Yet – as if to counterbalance such things – there are Myatt’s volumes of poetry; his Greek translations, and, more recently, his many mystical essays and private letters which extol the virtues of empathy, reason, compassion and honor, and which express a decidedly anarchistic and compassionate outlook on life as well as an intense respect, and love, for Nature, and a rejection of the modern, urban, way of living.

The Gnostic Works of David Myatt

My view is that Myatt’s conclusions regarding life – produced by his own very diverse and Promethean experience of life spanning four decades – are evident in his recent published private letters, his poetry, and in the rather non-political anarchistic philosophy which he has called The Numinous Way, with its Cosmic Ethics. Some admirers of Myatt have gone further, and consider that Myatt has achieved, and articulated, a profound, and paganistic, wisdom.

It is, for me, particularly interesting that none of Myatt many detractors and opponents, political and otherwise – who constantly deride the man himself and who often accuse him of being “weird”, “mad” and a self-seeking publicist – have ever made any comments about his poetry, his Greek translations, and what I may call his many Gnostic letters and essays. I consider that these Myatt creations – especially his poetry and Gnostic letters and essays – are vital if we are to achieve any credible, rational, unbiased understanding of the man himself.

I call his many recent essays and private letters – some of which letters have been published (See Note 1) – Gnostic because I believe that word truly describes them. A Gnostic is someone who seeks gnosis – wisdom and knowledge; someone involved in a life-long search for understanding, and who more often than not views the world, or more especially ordinary routine life, as often mundane and often as a hindrance.

However, whatever term we may use to describe these creations of Myatt, there is no mistaking the profound respect for Nature and the emphatic rejection of modern, urban, life evident in them. There is also no mistaking their humanity. He has called upon us to embrace honor, and defined, in precise terms, what honor is. From this, he has created what can only be described as a new ethics, and logically expounded the consequences of these ethics – of what they mean for us in both personal and social terms. Thus, his rejection of such things as prison, the death penalty, and large structures such as modern nations and governments. Thus, his affirmation that we must treat all people, irrespective of their ethnic origin or culture, with courtesy and respect, seek to use our will to do what is honorable, and seek to develop empathy with all life, human and otherwise. Thus, his affirmation of such things as vegetarianism, empathy and compassion.

“Here, in the sunshine at the beginning of another English Summer, I feel the learning that has seeped deep down inside me, borne as it has been by my manifold errors of experience. I have learnt, among other things, the value and importance of personal love – far too late to avoid hurting three women who, over the past decades, I loved, but who loved me, I now know, far more. How stupid was that? To place my dreams, my ideals – abstractions and forms – above human frailty, above human love, and above honour, grounded as genuine honour is in empathy, in seeking the cessation of suffering by honourable, reasonable means.

For Empathy is one of those other things, learnt, or rather re-discovered. For years I hid a part of myself away – or rather, controlled it, believing that ideals, that goals, that abstractions and forms and even dreams borne of such abstractions should come before human feeling, before the empathy I had always felt, before the compassion that had often moved me. How stupid was that?

So, there was and is a learning of the meaning, of the value, of the importance of empathy, compassion, reason and honour – and thus a deep knowing of suffering. Yes, let us not forget suffering, the suffering that we – Homo Hubris – inflict and have inflicted on ourselves, on other life, human and otherwise, and on Nature, whose fragile life clings to this planet which is our home. Do not let us forget suffering – as we should not forget the smallness that is best: the local dwelling, the home, in a warm life-bringing Sun, where close by is someone loved who returns such love. There is nothing complicated, here – no abstractions; no unchecked emotion; no destroying instinct or dishonourable passion; no desire to dominate and destroy. There is no Homo Hubris, the Noise-Maker, destroyer of that quiet quietude which is the only beginning of wisdom. No Homo Hubris, bringer of suffering and dishonourable war, bane of the the living-being which is Nature. No Homo Hubris, the inventive, the cunning, who toys with honour, for a while, only to reject it. No Homo Hubris, scourge upon the Earth, and yet who in place of the suffering has sometimes, infrequently, too little, produced some beautiful things, redolent of the divine, and who – once, still? – possessed so much promise…

Homo Hubris – who values, as once did I, the abstractions, the forms, above, beyond, the human frailties, the human dreams, above the humanity of love, sowing thus the suffering. There need not be the abstractions that have come to enslave us – no nations; no States; no politics; no governments, and no power beyond the individual, finite, pleasing human power to choose our own way, our own life, guided by honour, reason, empathy, compassion, love. For all abstractions in both their essence and their effects destroy The Numen – that Life that is beauty, calm, quietness, home to the myriad connexions that join us to the matrix, beyond.

Thus, here I sit – again – venturing forth to mould the flowing ink upon the paper of a book in a field warmed by this warming Sun of one more sublime hour of one more sublime day turning past another middle-May. Would that this small learning of mine might make some difference…” Here, in the Sunshine

In addition, Myatt has recently even distanced himself from what he describes as conventional politics and conventional religion:

“Thus have I, from my pathei mathos, come to accept that conventional faith – and all dogma, be such theological or political – rather obscures the essence, The Numen, itself. Such things I now regard as abstractions which we manufacture and impose, or project, upon Reality in a somewhat vain and arrogant attempt to “understand” it, and ourselves, and others – and which, in effect, dispose us toward pre-judgement, based on such abstractions, with such pre-judgements often being inhuman in the sense that they cause suffering or harm or destroy other life.

Thus my understanding now is of how all life – sentient and otherwise – is connected, and an expression, a presencing, of that some-thing which is beyond us (and which Nature is a part of) which some-thing I have tentatively called “The Cosmic Being”. This Being is not God – but rather the Cosmos, and all life, and thus we ourselves, in-evolution: with our consciousness being a means whereby we can know this Being – and The Numinous and Beauty, which are manifestations of this connected Life, this Being. Our consciousness is also a means whereby we can change ourselves, and thus be what we have the potential to be.

For me, all Art, poetry, music, literature, and Ways of Living which capture or express (or presence) something of the numinous – which so manifest something of the beautiful, the sublime, “the primal innocence” – are or can be a means of transformation for ourselves and for others. As are – or rather as can be – some personal relationships, where love, based on loyalty and that simple sharing and trust which such personal loyalty engenders, is freely given and freely received. Indeed, I would go so far as to express the belief that it is such human love, between two human beings, which is perhaps the finest, most noble, and most beautiful expression of our humanity – and there is such a sadness in knowing how much this is not the case, now, in the world where we dwell; in knowing how so many people, knowing or unknowing, abuse and misuse such love, given to them, for their own selfish, prideful, ends.”

What is also interesting is that he seems also to have renounced the tactics of violent revolution and terrorism which he had espoused for several decades, as is indicated by some of his more recent effusions:

“Not so long ago, some politician said that “if we want peace, it has to be fought for”, by which he meant people had to suffer, be injured and be killed in the striving for this mythical peace, which he incidentally never bothered to define…

The simple compassionate, empathic, honourable truth is that to attain peace we must change ourselves; we must become empathic, compassionate human beings. We must reform, evolve, ourselves through accepting a Cosmic morality that does not depend on amoral, inhuman, abstractions and which does not claim to have been revealed by some deity. For it is the struggle for abstractions, for abstract ideals – the struggle to implement such things – which is inhuman, which always leads to suffering, however noble and fine such ideals or abstractions might seem, and our foremost, fundamental, principle must be to alleviate suffering, to cease to cause suffering to any human being, or to any living thing.

The politician who made the aforementioned statement has been responsible, as head of the British government, for many tens of thousands of people being killed in various parts of the world; for the suffering of hundreds of thousands of people, for the maiming of tens upon tens of thousands of people, and directly or indirectly, for the torture and humiliation of thousands upon thousands of peoples. Yet such a person – and those who support such a person – finds and find such things acceptable; acceptable, but, they say, regrettable, and they will write and say this because they have placed some abstraction, some ideal, some mythos, before human suffering, and are prepared to inflict suffering in the name of this ideal, this abstraction, this mythos, this belief. This is fundamentally wrong. It is immoral.

For decades I myself made the same mistake, in my pursuit of some political idea, or some religious belief. As I keep writing and saying, we must at last grow-up, and become truely human: that is, empathic, compassionate. We must cease to cause suffering. All we have to do is change ourselves – and let-go of the abstractions we have brutally imposed upon Life, upon human beings. Honour, Empathy and the Question of Suffering

There is an understanding that the only way the world – people – will change in any significant and ethical way, is by the difficult change within each and every individual: through perception, through them developing empathy, and through a living based upon that empathy, and that all we, as individuals can do, is strive to live in an ethical way ourselves, trusting, hoping, that our lives, our artistic and musical emanations, can aid such a numinous transformation of others.” One Simple Numinous Answer

In addition, he is quite open, remarkably honest, and very human, about his past mistakes, a ruthless honesty which he admits derives from the suicide of a close personal friend and which led him to write such things as the following:

“Too much sadness; far too much sorrow – from the knowing, the feeling, of my mistakes; from the knowing – the feeling – of having caused so much suffering. So I listen to the Aria from Bach’s BWV 82 and I am overwhelmed. Tears of sadness, beauty, suffering, knowing: overcome with too little and yet too much: so much suffering for so little apprehension gained. So much suffering before, century upon century, for so little change, and I am left remembering as I was this morning under warming late August Sun when I wandered among the meadow-fields to sit myself upon dew-covered grass and close my eyes while the sun-warmth of an English Summer brought one small moment of an almost tragic respite. One Small Missive To A Friend

Here am I listening to JS Bach’s Erbarme Dich and weeping, weeping, weeping: such tears of sadness as if all the pain, all the suffering of the past five thousand years has come to be within me, this selfish man who caused so much suffering, who once – long ago it seems – thought he knew and understood and who thus sent forth so many words.

So many words… Now there is only the pain of knowing; only the anguish of failure; only one allegory among so many to bring that feeling, that knowing, which is far beyond any words I know.

So much failure so many times, by me, by others. Why cannot we learn? Why have we not learnt? Why has not the simple love of one such simple numinous allegory come to stay with us, day after day, decade upon decade, century after century? Why did not the simple love of my own personal leaning born from the tragedy of one beautiful woman’s death stay with me through those so recent weeks of ignorance when I turned back toward a vainful striving?

Why have we always, it seems, regressed toward the mistakes of our past? The mistakes of suffering born from striving for – from adherence to – some abstraction which leeches away that personal love, that compassion, that empathy that is the very essence of our human being?

So and yet again I am humbled by my own knowledge of myself; by that love which has lived within so many others century century and which so briefly lived within me until I became distracted again by the passion of following some stupid inhuman abstraction.

Failure upon failure; death following death; suffering upon suffering. Why have we not learnt? Why have I not learnt? Or am I by my life – by the mistakes of my life, by my own stupidity, time upon time – just one more example among so many examples these past five thousand years?

So much promise – oh how so much promise! – that lives within us, that has lived within some of us but which so many, it seems, take or leech away through their own selfish passion or through their striving for some lifeless un-numinous abstraction, just as it lived within her, him, taken from them as it was taken from them by things not even now fully understood but only felt as when I as in the moment just now past bent down, weeping, weeping, weeping such tears of sadness as if all the anguish of the centuries was seeping out from the depths below.

So, the music ends, and I am once again one man veering toward old age, looking out toward the autumnal hill where the clouds of Dusk have come to cover the setting Sun as begins again one more dark night for this forgetful fool.” So Many Tears

Hence, it is possible to conclude that we could view all Myatt’s other works, political or otherwise – and his diverse and seemingly complex life – as but steps toward these Gnostic creations, creations evident in his philosophy of The Numinous Way, which philosophy he has, in the past two years, radically revised to the extent of excising from it even its previous dependence on what he called “the folk” (See Note 2).

Also, in another recent – and in my view important – essay, Myatt (See Note 3) writes:

“There was, for me, pathei mathos. Due to this pathei mathos, I have gone far beyond any and all politics, and beyond conventional religion and theology toward what I believe and feel is the essence of our humanity, manifest in empathy, compassion, personal love and personal honour. Hence, I cannot in truth be described by any political or by any religious label, or be fitted into any convenient category, just as no -ism or no -ology can correctly describe The Numinous Way itself, or even the essence of that Way.

Therefore, I believe it is incorrect to judge me by my past associations, by my past involvements, by some of my former effusions, for all such things – all the many diverse such things – were peregrinations, part of sometimes painful often difficult decades-long process of learning and change, of personal development, of interior struggle and knowing, which has enabled me to understand my many errors, my multitude of mistakes, and – hopefully – learn from them.” The Empathic Essence

Thus it is that these recent creations of his (many of which, at the time of writing, are still unpublished) could be taken to represent the man himself, as he is now, and what he himself now upholds and believes in, beliefs summarized, by him, in essays such as Our Human Problem and One Simple Numinous Answer. But whether this is indeed the case, perhaps only the passage of several more decades will reveal, for as Myatt himself admits in the latest (and still unpublished) version of his Autobiographical Notes, Part 3:

“There is a feeling of nearing the end of a four-decade long quest; a hope, within, of having at last found satisfactory, honourable, ethical, answers. A hope that such inner conflict as has occurred these past three years is honourably resolved, so that I will no longer sally forth on behalf of some abstraction, whether religious or political or whatever. But, as I have written elsewhere, I have stupidly and arrogantly believed that about myself before, and been mistaken.”

“An American in Oxford”
December 2008


(1) Selected Letters Part 1 and Selected Letters Part 2

(2) As Myatt wrote in The Development of The Numinous Way:

Q: In some of your most recent writings you have stated that you – and the The Numinous Way itself – have gone beyond even the concept of the folk. Can you explain this in more detail?

A: When I began developing what I first called “Folk Culture” and then The Numinous Way of Folk Culture, there was still some importance placed on what I described as “the folk”, which I then considered as a living-being, a nexion, which I assumed was distinct from the abstract idea of race. Indeed, I tried to make a clear distinction between “race” and “folk”, writing that a folk was essentially a clan, a tribe, of individuals – a small grouping – who shared the same ancestral heritage, the same genetic heritage, and who dwelled in the same area. I contrast this with the abstraction of “race” and regarded small, rural “folk communities” as worth conserving and nurturing, or worthy of being brought into-being.

However, the more I developed the ethics of The Numinous Way, the more I realized that, if used as a criteria of judgement, of value, this “folk” was itself divisive, an abstraction, and thus a cause of – or the potential cause of – suffering and intolerance, of judging other than by empathy and the criteria of honour. That is, to promote such a thing as as a priority, as a necessary criteria- or as the criteria – was, and is, in itself unethical. Thus I have had to abandon this concept of “the folk” as a necessary criteria, as one foundation, one basis – the basis – of The Numinous Way.”

In a more recent item – the Introduction to a collection of essays about The Numinous Way published by The Numinous Way Foundation – Myatt writes:

“For there has been, for me, a profound change of emphasis, a following of the cosmic ethic of empathy to its logical and honourable conclusion, and thus a rejection of all unethical abstractions, including those of the nation, of what is termed “race”, and what I previously, in more unempathic days, referred to as “the folk”. It is empathy, compassion and honour which are paramount – the living of an ethical way of life by individuals which is important – not some outward, causal, form, nor the classification and (unethical) judgment of individuals according to some abstraction, some stereotype, some dogma, some ideology, or some theory.”

(3) Many essays and articles about The Numinous Way, published or privately circulated or appearing on websites since 2006 AD by adherents or supporters of Myatt’s Numinous Way, are either undated or anonymous, or both. Occasionally, the initials DWM are given. It is, however, my contention (for which I have admittedly no proof), that the majority, and probably all, of these items are by Myatt, given their content and their style. Accordingly, I have often written that an article is “by Myatt” when I should probably have been pedantic and written “attributed to Myatt” instead.

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