The Sacred Masculine in an Age of Chaos: Angel Millar on Reviving Timeless Principles

Introduction

In this fascinating interview, hypnotist and personal growth mentor Angel Millar shares deep insights on modern manhood, warriorhood, and the mystical life. Drawing on his expertise in esoteric traditions from Sufism to Tantra, he offers a unique take on integrating ancient wisdom into contemporary self-development. Reflecting on his experiences across multiple cultures, the origins of hypnotism, and the core qualities of the “sacred masculine,” he makes the case for nurturing wholeness and adaptability as we grow mentally, physically and spiritually. Through critiquing toxic masculinity and championing the mystic archetype, he presents a vision of manhood beyond clichés and superficiality. Whether musing on connections between martial arts and meditation or making sense of today’s chaos, his wisdom enlightens and empowers. We would like to thank Angel for taking part and sharing so much about his approach, if you would like to learn more, his website is linked to at the end of the post.

Interview

PAA: Welcome to Perseus Arcane academy. Could you please provide us with a brief introduction.

Angel: Sure. I’m probably best-known as the author of The Three Stages of Initiatic Spirituality: Craftsman, Warrior, Magician and The Path of the Warrior-Mystic: Being a Man in an Age of Chaos as well as three books on the history of Freemasonry, including one on Freemasonry and esoteric spirituality and another on Freemasonry and Islam. (To date, the latter book is the only history of that subject to have been published in the English language.)

Besides writing, I’m a hypnotist (working with clients) and I also give public talks, relatively frequently, on the subjects of spirituality, personal growth, and symbolism.

My interest in spirituality began early in my life. By seventeen, I was already very involved with it. Later, when I was in my early twenties, I used to go to stay in a Benedictine monastery and I began looking into Eastern spirituality and practicing Shaolin Kung Fu at around that time.

PAA: What made you decide to move to the USA 25 years ago? How did that transition impact your spiritual journey?

I wanted to move from England, where I grew up, but I wasn’t thinking of the US. I was thinking of Japan or somewhere in Western Europe. So the move the New York was almost accidental and was more about a trail of coincidences than planning.

Years before I came here, I remember one New Yorker in London telling me to never go to NYC because, he said, it would “ruin” me. But it’s been the opposite experience. It broadened my perspectives on life and I’ve met a lot of fascinating people here (as I had in London). There’s a lot to appreciate about New York and about the US more broadly, especially it’s energy. It’s an amazing place if you want things to happen.

PAA: What are the origins of hypnotism and is there are crossover between modern day hypnosis and transitional systems of magic?

Angel: Generally, hypnotism is believed to go back several thousand years to the “sleep temples” of ancient Egypt and the ancient Greek temples of Asclepius, the god of medicine. However, hypnotism has changed over the millennia and over the centuries. Indeed, today, hypnotists very often develop their own methods.

In regard to magic, Gerard Encausse said that, in his day, hypnotism (or “magnetism,” as it has sometimes been called) was used by “all those who pass more or less for Adepts of Magic.” Encausse was a leading medical hypnotist of the 19th century, working in a number of prestigious hospitals in Paris. Notably, he contributed to leading medical journals and wrote several books on medical hypnotism and, at the same time, he also wrote several books on magic (in which he also talks about hypnosis) under the name of Papus. He also co-founded the Kabbalistic Order of the Rose-Croix and the modern Martinist Order.

Curiously, besides Encausse, many influential figures in spirituality and magic in the West have been hypnotists. These include Phineas Quimby (the founder of the “positive thinking movement”), Louis Claude de Saint-Martin (an 18th century Christian mystic whose ideas were later given an initiatic structure in Papus’s Martinist), and G. I. Gurdjieff (founder of the Fourth Way movement). Again, Austin Spare’s practice of automatic drawing goes back to hypnotism as does his notion of sigil magic and of implanting ideas into the unconscious. Again, Carl Jung also practiced hypnotism early in his psychotherapy career. And, whether you’re interested in magic, alchemy, or Eastern religion, because of his theories of archetypes and of the anima and animus, Jung has shaped our understanding of spirituality today.

Before Eastern meditation flooded into Western alternative spirituality via Aleister Crowley and Arthur Avalon, among others, hypnotism was the transcendent consciousness practice of Europe, derived in large part from the work of Franz Anton Mesmer (from whom we get the word “mesmerized”). He was active in France during the 18th century, and some secret, initiatic societies used his techniques of hypnotism, supposedly to contact spiritual entities. In Germany, Mesmer is still an influence on esoteric spirituality though his work is largely unknown in the English-speaking world.

PAA: So, what’s the difference between hypnotism and Eastern meditation?

Angel: Of course, there are lots of techniques of Eastern meditation and lots of techniques of hypnotism and self-hypnotism, so it’s difficult to generalize. But in regard to awareness meditation, which most people will know, a practitioner might try to block out, or ignore, thinking, and to focus on his or her breathing instead. In hypnotism, we refine the thinking so that the individual is empowered to act in a way that is better for their lives. Indeed, although it is possible to go into a very deep trance during a session (and I practice self-hypnosis everyday partly for this reason), hypnotism connects to life, especially once you get into the work of a hypnotist, which has a lot to do with understanding the use of language. It’s influenced a lot; not just spirituality but psychoanalysis and even marketing. It’s part of our world, even though we don’t see it.

PAA: So, do you use hypnosis to engender character changes?

Good question. When I’m working with a client, we want to change perceptions, self-image, and habits, or their approach to the world. That can be life-changing. However, I don’t want to change someone’s character. Instead, I want to get them in touch with their true nature: the part of them that is more capable. In a sense, hypnotism is really a way of de-hypnotizing people from all of the false beliefs that they’ve adopted (e.g., that they are incapable of doing something they know, deep down, that they can do).

Let’s think about hypnosis versus self-hypnosis for a second. Self-hypnosis is an excellent practice to do at home following a session with a hypnotist. You can focus for a few minutes on what you are going to do, what you are going to accomplish, and how your life is going to improve.

But the real impact comes in the session, or sessions. Part of the reason is that, as a hypnotist, I pay very close attention to what someone says and the language they use. And then we discuss it and come to new insights. From that, we can begin to create a focus for the actual hypnosis part of the session. It yields some amazing results. But it’s essential to be able to dig deep before the hypnotic part of a session. So, again, it’s not about changing someone’s character. It’s about getting them in touch with who they are really are on a deep level.

PAA: How do you see hypnotism, personal growth, and symbolism relating to one another?

Angel: I think if you want to be really good hypnotist, a deep understanding of symbolism, myth, and spirituality helps. These go back before recorded history and, as such, can tell us a lot about ourselves, our nature, and our deepest motivations. I think that’s invaluable. In regard to hypnotism, yes, we are aiming for personal growth.

PAA: How applicable is hypnosis to those involved in spirituality?

Angel: It’s very applicable. You asked about magic a moment ago. In his Foundations of Practical Magic (which is really a mixture of Zen Buddhism, Hindu mantra, Kabbalah, and psychology), Israel Regardie suggests that being hypnotized several times might be “enormously valuable” to someone who is learning to meditate. While I don’t think that’s necessary, I personally, recommend at least a little self-hypnosis on a daily basis.

PAA: You mention on your website that hypnosis is not therapy, it should be used to move towards something good rather than moving away from a negative. Can you discuss this further and why this is the case?

Angel: Yes, people who have mental health needs or a psychological issue should get the help of a qualified psychotherapist, therapist or, perhaps, a hypnotherapist (whatever is best for their situation).

Hypnotists (sometimes called “consulting hypnotists”) work with people who want to improve their lives in some way or excel in some area. That might be quitting a habit or it might be gaining confidence or taking some life-changing action in their career.

We all encounter challenges as we move forward in our lives, so, from a normal baseline, I’m looking to help people excel.

Books

PAA: In your book “The Three Stages of Initiatic Spirituality,” what inspired you to examine the stages of craftsman, warrior, and magician across such diverse traditions like Kabbalah, Tantra, and Sufism? What commonalities did you find in how these traditions approach spiritual development?

Angel: Initially, it was because I see myself, or my life journey, as embodying those three archetypes (which, it has been argued, were the three castes that formed the structure early Indo-European cultures—and that’s probably the case across the globe as well). I studied painting when I was in my twenties (and I regard writing as a craft as well). I practice martial arts. And I have studied consciousness-based practices, religion, spirituality, symbolism, and so on, for over three decades. So that’s how I’ve embodied the craftsman, warrior, and magician in my life.

As you mention, in the book, I write about a lot of traditions, some of which are largely unknown in the West, such as Sufi-influenced Persian martial arts, Indian martial arts (Kalaripayattu), Islamic neoplatonism, Kabbalah, the Mind Metaphysics movement, and even Chaos Magic (which was influenced by chaos mathematics). I don’t make a judgment as to whether these are good or bad. What interests me is the attempt to discover a reality that lies beyond—or, perhaps, through—the mundane.

Of course, we can definitely find similarities between Kabbalah and Islamic neoplatonism, not least of all because Kabbalah, too, was influenced by Platonic thought. And, of course, we can find points of connection between Christian mysticism and Sufism, or, in the twentieth century, between Mind Metaphysics and Chaos Magic. But we also need to be mindful of their differences, which are sometimes very significant. And we also need to be mindful of their limits.

In regard to spirituality, of course, we all know that the religious mystic dedicates himself to the pursuit of the knowledge of God. Here, “knowledge” is generally referred to by the Greek word gnosis (which should not be confused with the Gnostics, which refers to specific sects). The Shi’ite philosopher Muhammad Husayn Tabatabai said that those seeking gnosis are at the heart of all religions including the polytheistic ones.

But I think it is important for spiritual people to develop themselves mentally, physically, and spiritually or, to put it another way, in accord with the three archetypes I focus on in the book, and that has characterized so much of the culture across the world. We see this, for example, in the philosophy of Plato, where he says that education should be through music (craftsman), wrestling (warrior), and philosophy (magician). And we see it in Sufism, where the Sufi guilds adopted the structure of the craft guilds, adopted Islam’s chivalric code (futuwwa), and yet taught knowledge of the Divine.

PAA: Why did you choose to focus on the concept of “Being a Man in an Age of Chaos” for this latest book? What unique challenges or opportunities do you see for men pursuing spirituality today?

Angel: I’ve lived in three countries—Great Britain, Canada, and the US—and I’ve traveled across America, giving talks on personal growth, symbolism, and related subjects. And nearly all of the men I meet tell me that they had no guidance as a young man. Their father wasn’t there for them. They had no support. Often, the father was a drunk, a womanizer, a workaholic, or just emotionally absent.

A lot of the problems going back to World War I and II and to Vietnam. You had 18-year-olds being thrust into situations of mass slaughter. When they came back from these wars, years later, the only thing they had to pass onto their sons was trauma. We really don’t want to acknowledge how much pain men feel. But it’s very real. Women think they can fix men but they can’t. They can only patch up a few holes. I wanted to offer some guidance, some orientation away from pain and towards becoming whole.

So, we have a lot of men in a lot of pain, who can’t articulate it, and they’re told by society that masculinity, or even just being a man, is bad. And this is the message that is being fed to boys as well—children. Some will take on board that message and develop feelings of self-loathing. Others will react against it and end up following extremists who portray women in a very ugly manner. Either way, it won’t end well.

But, we have to see the possibilities. Challenges are always what cause us to grow. So, now that there is no established path, no role models, and no encouragement, men can think for themselves and derive inspiration from different cultures, historical figures, and philosophies. They must prove the stereotyping wrong and develop themselves mentally, physically, spiritually, and culturally.

PAA: You mention that men today lack role models and guidance. In your view, what are some key qualities of the “sacred masculine” that have been lost in modern society?

Angel: Self-control is probably the biggest one. If you look at different cultures and civilizations, you see that masculinity was, to a large extent, equated with self-control. That meant not panicking in battle, not being over emotional in daily life, and not reacting to things but responding calmly and intelligently when a response was warranted.

Some time ago, I was walking home late at night. I saw a group of men in their early twenties and they were screaming at another young man about a block away. No doubt the men huddled in the group were drunk. Such behavior is often seen as “masculine” or as “toxic masculinity” (which is the only type that gets mentioned) in our confused age. It is, however, extremely effeminate behavior (and by “effeminate” I mean it in the sense of a lack of masculinity). This was not a display of bravery but of cowardice. This was not self-control; this was a total lack of self-control. This wasn’t strong; it was weak.

Getting drunk, screaming, seeking safety in numbers, threatening people who aren’t going to fight back, or taking advantage of women, and constantly chasing sex as if it’s an addiction; these all betray a lack of self-control. These are anti-masculine traits. Unfortunately, both feminists and some self-appointed masculinity gurus have presented most or all of the aforementioned as “masculine.” This is because they have no real historical understanding of what being a man means—-and that’s whether you’re looking at Europe, Islam, Japan, or to probably every other developed culture.

PAA: How do you see the warrior and mystic archetypes complementing each other? What can men today learn from the example of historical figures who cultivated both warrior prowess and spiritual development?

Angel: The warrior and the mystic have always gone together. Perhaps this is because to be a warrior (rather than just someone who’s good at using brute force) you also have to be able to think and to see into the future. Notably, the god Odin was a god of poetry, mystical inspiration, and battle. In Shi’i Islam, ‘Ali is considered to be both the greatest warrior and the greatest mystic and his portrait hangs in every Zoorkhanah (the Iranian gymnasium for practicing martial arts). Again, Shaolin monks were both practicing Buddhists and famed warriors. Even among female warriors, we find this. Hence, Joan of Arc was told to go into battle and lead the French to victory by the voice of God.

PAA: The subtitle is “Being a Man in an Age of Chaos.” What is chaos and why are we in (or entering) an age of chaos?

Angel: The medieval alchemists regarded “Chaos” as the primal substance. We might think of it as pure creative potential (which is both the potential for good and ill). If we go back to the ancient Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus, he said everything is water. Water is chaos. Depending on the temperature, water turns into steam or ice, then back into water, and then into ice or steam again. It’s in a state of constant change. Chaos can’t be controlled though, like clay, it can be manipulated to a certain degree.

The chaos we are in, and will be in increasingly, comes down to several factors: creeping authoritarianism, group-think on a mass scale, education which no longer teaches people how to think but only to conform, a lack of respect for the best of our traditions and histories combined with ignorance of (and often a fetishizing of) people of other cultures, and the denial of human nature. Cultures that delude themselves will only experience a decline on the world stage and, as a result, in terms of quality of life for its citizens.

Of course, we’ve gone through pandemics and lockdowns and, consequently, the collapse of businesses and livelihoods. We’ve seen riots. And we’ve witnessed the rise of drug addiction, homelessness, and crime in many cities in the USA. Now artificial intelligence threatens to create significant unemployment over the next few years. No doubt there will be new ways of doing things. There will be winners. There may be some potential for new types of creativity. But we should anticipate it ushering in changes that we may not be ready for as a society.

PAA: What do you hope readers will take away from this book? What impact would you like it to have on views of masculinity and male self-development?

Angel: I think one of the takeaways is don’t be a cliche. Develop yourself intellectually, physically, spiritually, and culturally and defy easy categorization. We’ve all been told to specialize and find a niche. But to live a life to the full, you have to develop yourself as a whole. Moreover, in the future, creators and decision-makers are going to need to be adaptable and to know about, and draw from, different fields of expertise.

In regard to our view of masculinity, again, real masculinity isn’t a cliche. It’s the warrior and the mystic as one. Great warriors were often great poets. You have to use your brain. You have to develop self-control, respect for others, respect for your own culture and for the culture of other people. Be strong, yes. But be creative, thoughtful, calm, and intelligent.

Meditation

PAA: In your experience, what is the difference between more trance-inducing types of practice versus active visualization practices? What unique benefits and challenges does each approach offer? Do you feel one is more effective than the other or is a combination ideal?

Angel: Personally, my daily practice is focused on techniques of trance induction or, more specifically, hypnagogia. I do this for a few reasons: (1) deep relaxation, (2) inspiration, and (3) the experience of dreaming. Deep relaxation is the most basic and most dismissed but it is essential for getting rid of stress in the body. (A lot of people have emotional and even physical problems because of long-term stress.) In regard to inspiration, once we switch into a deeply relaxed state, ideas, thoughts, and images will often come to us that have evaded our rational consciousness. This is excellent for creativity and problem solving. (That’s not the point of the practices but it is a real benefit.) Lastly, with hypnagogia, one might experience flashes of dreams, which can be interesting and, sometimes, profound.

In regard to visualization practices, these are often learned before more advanced techniques but they can be useful when combined with these (for example, to clear the mind). Whatever your practice, I think you need deep relaxation to be a part of it. There’s no point in doing visualization or a breath-focused meditation if it makes you agitated.

PAA: Is there anything else you would like to share about your work, practice and publications?

Angel: Only that I can be reached me via my website, angelmillar.com, and I’m always happy to answer any questions if people want to reach out. My books are available from all major booksellers, so they’re easy to find. Thanks so much for speaking with me. I appreciate it.

If you would like to discover more about his work, please visit his website here.


Learn About Sixty Skills

SixtySkills is transforming the traditional transmission of meditative, and yogic, instruction from one of master to disciple to a modern online learning format. SixtySkills has covered the globe and over a thrity year period derived the key techniques from all the major schools of Buddhism, Hermetics, Hindu-Yogic, and Taoist practice.

Newsletter Updates

Enter your email address below and subscribe to our newsletter

5 1 vote
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x