Charles Manson and Shiva
Charles Manson has been described as the Satanof our generation
. If the American media is to be believed Charles Manson is a murderous, vile,
insane, manipulative monster. What is worse, he is still influencing the minds
of young people today. Manson has been equated with many figures in ancient
mythology. The most popular figure, as mentioned, is Satan. This equation
garnished Manson with all the attributes of a malevolent, cunning demon. Others
have seen similarities between Manson and the Nordic god, Wotan, war-like and
barbaric. Manson himself has claimed identification with the Gnostic,
rooster-headed god, Abraxas. Everyone has their reasons for attributing to
Manson certain archetypal characteristics.
So do I.
The god is called Shiva and similarities between this deity and Charles Manson are astonishing. What must be done before moving on to these comparisons is a thorough run down of Mansonís philosophy as Iívecome to understand it over these many years. I would like to emphasize the last sentence. Manson has warned people repeatedly of placing too much faith in oneís own projections. According to the mediaís interpretation Charles Manson is nothing but an attention-craving madman without any semblance of a coherent philosophy. This is wrong. Manson actually possesses a very coherent philosophy that can be easily understood.
Mansonís philosophy begins with the premise that Man is not separate from nature. In fact, Man is inextricably tied to all of nature and its laws. When Man created word communication, his flair for abstraction and conceptualization began a split in his nature. Man began to see himself as above natureís laws and as conqueror of all the worldís creatures. Instead of remaining content with the harmony of nature, Man had to build his kingdom. Now Manís kingdom has created a terrible imbalance on Earth that is destroying the planet. Constantly abusing the Earthís resources, Mankind has polluted its water, its air and has destroyed countless species of animals. This is a very tragic occurrence. Charlie believes that Man has much to learn from the animals. Charlie identifies with the animals and their instincts as they are more in touch with the will of nature. "Humans are pretty stupid," he says. "Humans wonít survive."
The animal instincts, deeply embedded in our psyche from centuries of evolution, can be brought back to consciousness. Charlie has said that he is "spiritually allied with the scorpion and the wolf," seeing our evolutionary heritage as divine and powerful. Not separating Heaven and Earth, Manson combines both into a Shamanistic whole. Mansonís philosophy also encompasses something of the Eastern mystic. He sees all supposedly separate, individual minds as "The One Mind." A single entity. A unity. Born into these bodies we think we have separate identities. This is an illusion. Charlie sees the "Mind" as everything. As Buddha, Christ, Satan, God, birds and trees, "The Mind" is all conscious entities.
Coming from this very religious standpoint, Charlie sees the perfection of nature and its ways. In this sense, Manson can be seen as going beyond good and evil in a very Darwinian way:
"I donít think in goods or bad, just in is, What it is. Not what I was, want or hope. Whatever life is, it is, and bad and good got nothing to do with it. A snake eats the baby squirrel. Mamma squirrel may say thatís bad, but snakes got to eat. The life cycles are and only humans got the order fucked up."
Charlieís answer to this "human, all too human" fuck up is for man to revert back to the natural way. Back to the horse and buggy. Back to the harmony that nature intended. Charlie attempted this by leaving the city of Los Angeles and entering the desert of Death Valley. He and his friends "the Family" set up a commune of sorts. An alternative to the city religion of suits, cars, consumerism and pollution. They wanted to get back to the natural ways. To learn from the land and the animals. To live according to natureís laws. Not Manís.
Manson and his friends were a part of the rebellion of the sixties. They rejected industrialism, consumerism and its poisonous society. They flaunted the use of hallucinogenic drugs and sexuality. They wanted to live their own way and not contribute to the destruction of the Earth.
As you will see, the philosophy of Manson and his friends is very similar to the Indian Shivaite philosophy. Author Alain Danielou, in his brilliant book Shiva and Dionysusdescribes Shivaism as essentially a nature religion. "Shiva, like Dionysus, represents but one of the aspects of the divine hierarchy, that which concerns terrestrial life, generally."
The God represents "the state where Man is in communion with savage life, with the beasts of the mountain and forest." Shiva is seen as "the god of the young, of the humble and of ecology. The protector of animals and trees."
Mansonís preoccupation with pollution, ecology, and the well being of all wild creatures is familiar to anybody who has read or seen one of his interviews. Manson has started an organization known as A.T.W.A., which stands for Air, Trees, Water and Animals. A.T.W.A. is committed to the protection of this Earth and its creatures.
Danielou goes onto describe Shiva as being "accompanied by bands of youthful delinquents who mock the institutions of society and rule of old men." "The Family" (as the media describes them) that Charlie lived with in the late sixties was made up primarily of teenagers and men and women in their early twenties. They mocked the institutions of society, seeing society as unnatural physically, psychologically and spiritually. Refusing to be a part of this mess they, like so many others of their generation, turned to alternative lifestyles.
Shiva is described as being "naked, libidinous, and preaches nature, love, detachment and friendship with nature." Charlieís philosophy encompasses all of these elements. "The Familyís" love fests were infamous. Many a night they would ingest large quantities of hallucinogens and engage in lusty, rapturous orgies. It is Charlieís belief that everything is love: "Love is a word we use to supplement for God." All of existence is an extension of this love. Sexuality is a perfect representation of this love, this unity of opposites.
Shiva was also a God of music and dance. Shiva used "inebriety, eroticism, music and ecstatic dancing as a means of shaking off mental or rational control." Music is something thatís been an important part of Mansonís life for many years. He learned to play guitar in prison and it has since become a great form of expression for him. Many nights at the Ranch and at parties Charlie would play and sing and everyone would join in. In this way, also, Manson and Shiva are similar. They both believed that the rational mind of words, concepts and abstractions is severely limiting, filled with confusion and illusion. Music is a way of shaking off these limitations.
Charlie has often expressed his contempt for book minds. He calls paper words "trash" and believes that the world is in confusion because "[y]ouíve got no thought of your own. Your heads are full of books, schools, T.V. and radio."
In order to feel natureís perfection, we have to return to the beast in ourselves. Otherwise natureís force will continue to be directed against us.
In the Shivaite religion life on Earth goes through many cycles. Inside the larger cycles there are four smaller cycles of birth, growth and death of life and civilizations. These smaller cycles are called the Krita, Treta, Dvapara and the Kali Yuga age. Each age or cycle represents a stage in the development and destruction of life on this planet.
In Alain Danielouís book Shiva and Dionysushe explains the ages this way:
"The first period, the Krita Yuga, is the age of accomplishment and wisdom. Including its dawn and twilight, it lasts (approximately) 24,000 years. Next comes the Treta age, the age of the three ritual fires. The age of rites but also of the hearth, that is, of sedentary, agriculture and urban civilization. The third age, the Dvapara Yuga or Žage of doubtí sees the birth of the anti-establishment religions and philosophies. Man loses the sense of the divine reality of the world and grows away from natural law. Lastly comes the age of Kali, the goddess of death and destruction. This is the age of conflict that will end with the total destruction of the present humanity."
The Kali Yuga is an age that occurs because Man has rejected the universal order of natural and cosmic law. By rejecting this order and living unnaturally, Man upsets the Earthís delicate balance, plunging his world into destruction. The age we live in today is obviously the Kali Yuga age.
In the Shivaite myth it is said that Man has only one chance of survival, only one way to avert this tragedy for now. It is said that toward the end of the Kali Yuga age, Shiva will manifest in a disguised form "in order to restore justice." If mankind heeds that call and invokes a balance for this Earth, then the end can be averted for the time being. If not, then the wave of death and destruction will encompass everything and bring total darkness.
In mythology, Shiva is seen as an outlaw, vagabond and criminal, as dangerous, chaotic and deviant. In the Kali Yuga age sages are condemned to death for crimes against society. In this age who is more feared, reviled and misunderstood than Charles Manson? He is seen as a dangerous, chaotic, violent, insane criminal, and for the alleged murder of the Tates and LaBiancas, condemned to death. Because of the circus of media built around Manson and his friends, the philosophy and message of this man have been completely buried and ignored as insane ramblings.
Mansonís philosophy is a philosophy of balance, ecology, living close to nature and understanding its laws; not creating unnatural lifestyles that poison and destroy the planet. It is a philosophy of breaking out of the rigid mold of society and relinquishing the ego to the natural and cosmic forces of the universe. This is Charlie Mansonís philosophy. It seems to me that Manson has been living out the archetype of this particular God. Through Mansonís philosophy, lifestyle and societyís condemnation of him, Manson seems to be the representative of the Shiva archetype for our time.
There are more similarities. Shiva is described as being the colors red and blue. The two remaining Manson Family members, Lynette Fromme and Sandra Good were given color coded names as inner circle members of the Family, respectively, Red and Blue. These two women have worked diligently to support Charlieís ecological organization A.T.W.A. (Air, Trees, Water, Animals) through the "international court of retribution." This court is dedicated to vandalizing Earth-destroying machines and sending threats to leaders of companies polluting the environment. Sandra has spent time in jail for death threats sent to polluters. Lynette is still incarcerated for attempting the assassination of President Gerald Ford.
It is said that if Shivaís words are not heeded he will massacre men by the millions, setting in motion fear and anarchy that will bring this cycle of humanity to its end. One can see this, metaphorically, in the court of retribution. This does not mean Manson has murderous agents in the world doing his bidding, but that he understands that if humanity does not go back to natural living and decrease its numbers the planet will continue to fall apart, bringing about the death of millions of people.
Manson says, "Your waterís dying. Your lifeís in that cup. Your trees are dying. Your wildlifeís locked up in zoos. Youíre in the zoo, Man. How do you feel about it?"
There is more archetypal symbolism. Manson says he has equated himself, spiritually, with the scorpion. Shiva in many forms is covered with scorpions. Shivaís friends and followers "mock the rules of ethics and social order," "personify the joys of living," and oppose the "destructive ambition of the city and the deceitful moralism that hides and expresses it." They personify "everything which is feared by and displeases bourgeois society." The essence of Shivaís teachings is for Man to "utilize his vital automatisms and instinctive powers to reintegrate him with his natural environment."
All of this is also the essence of Charlieís philosophy.
There are also the parallels between the mudras and symbols. Most Eastern religions use mudras, magical hand signs, that are used in meditation representing different mystical ideas. The Manson mudra is the pointing of the right handís index finger up and the left, down. This represents the idea that "the truth is one" combining all dualities into a unity.
Then there is the ever present swastika carved into Mansonís forehead. This has been the clincher for most people as proof of Mansonís insanity and evil intentions. But the swastika is an ancient religious symbol that has been included in many cultures for many centuries. In the Shivaite religion the swastika is the symbol of the irrational. It represents the divine principle in which opposites co-exist in all aspects of the created world. The swastika reminds us that there is no logical solution to any problem and that all simplifications lead to absurdity.
The sums up Mansonís ideas on the rational mind. The ego, "caught up in confusion."
If all of this isnít enough to make you consider that Charles Manson is perhaps the personification of the Shiva archetype on Earth, consider this: Shiva is said to start his last campaign in the Kali Yuga in his 33rd year. When Charles Manson was last released from prison, it was the year 1967. Charlie was 33.
References: Nikolas Schreckís (ed.) Manson File
Alain Danielouís Shiva and Dionysus
[Drawing at top of page by Timothy Renner; colorization by Rev. John McMahon]