The symbolic power of the mask is a motif that has been present throughout human history. It is found in many cultures, and it has fulfilled many different cultural functions such as in dramatic reenactment, and deeply spiritual ceremony and ritual. The common underlying psycho-cognitive expression that is at work is identity.
The mask enables the putting on of another face – and thereby assuming another identity, or at least some aspect of another identity. This is clearly seen in the animism of the shamanic traditions, where the realm of animal spirit is entered into. This is something that the western mind can only consider in abstract terms, but the raw, visceral, physicality of such an act is now almost completely outside of our psychic realm of possible experience.
Such liminal states of being are also outside of the current mental health paradigm, and would quickly find the experiencer medicated and possibly institutionalised.
Science does not consider plants and animals to be truly sentient beings that have identities or a sense of agency. Being-ness has been largely reduced to codified memories and behaviours, and their subsequent hi-tech manipulation. Discussion of these matters has been relegated to the “new age” and the trans-humanist fringes. This marginalisation of many essential aspects of our Human natures is in itself deeply problematic.
The other “face” of the mask is typified by its ability to obscure and block one’s true or real nature. This is where we find ourselves placed presently. Our true, natural, organic natures are blocked and hidden from view, even from ourselves. We have never had the opportunity to get much more than a furtive glimpse of our true selves.
Reports of these experiences have been relegated to spirituality, religion, and “non-ordinary” states of consciousness. The masks that we wear are deeply unconscious and not of our own making, we face the world with a mad array of broken and dysfunctional selves, while the true self within lies latent, hidden and unrecognised.
Promising areas of psychology, such as transpersonal psychology and Jungian descriptions of the psyche and its archetypes have been displaced by the “hard science” of physical brain studies. On a positive note there has been recent scientific interest in the so-called entheogenic plants, such as Cannabis and Ayahuasca. Sadly, the shadow of “big pharma” looms over these developments.
We are now residing within an era where “identity” defines all. Identity in the form of the behaviourally manipulated personality, the programmed self, the de-contextualised individual. The individual is rapidly approaching the state of becoming an unanchored, collectively mediated psychopathy.
Identity has become weaponised, and it is now almost impossible to discuss this topic without stepping into a socially misconstrued ideological mine field (mind field). The virtual group hallucination that is “social media” is designed to fracture and divide any sense of wholeness we have, both individually and collectively. It is a virtual mask that must be worn if one is to become an active entity within the social media milieu.
This most recent “masking” of the Human face has reduced us to cyphers within a dollar based accounting system. Our digital identity is almost wholly described, tracked, and traded, in terms of its economic value within an extractive global-corporate ledger. We have been “incorporated” into a global slave trade. Our egos might not like being confronted by this fact, but it is very apparent that we humans are the economic units of this digital trade.
The Toltec seers of ancient central Mexico were aware that something was deeply amiss within human beings, and their prognostications remain relevant today. They perceived the presence of a non-human entity that has infected us on a non-physical level, and which directs us to perform the most horrifying and injurious acts upon ourselves, each other, and the planet. The Toltecs describe this entity as the “Parasite” and/or the “Predator”, in that it feeds off of our organic, life giving energies. This entity was also identified by the early Gnostics in the form of the Archon, and by many of the shamanic traditions – Wetiko being one example.
The existence and nature of this entity is a big topic, one that is too large for the modest scope of this article.
The parasitism of, and predation upon human beings, is according to the Toltecs, achieved through the mind. Their description portrays the human mind as a “download” or a “programme” that was gifted to us with mal intent.
The physical brain can be considered to be the hardware, and the mind as the software. In this way we experience ourselves as being simultaneously anchored in the physical and the non-physical. The living organic light based mind that we could have, which is galactic, stellar and planetary in nature, was usurped by a limited set of parasitic coding, designed to achieve our control, debasement and ultimate enslavement.
And this is where the conscious examination of this issue becomes truly problematic, as we are attempting to perceive and describe this scenario with the very mind that was designed with the intent to prevent us from doing this very thing. This is also why language very quickly becomes problematic, as we attempt to use it to give our thoughts expression.
And so, we come to the Toltec mask. The Toltecs came to see these issues very clearly, and in their determination to resolve this scenario, they chose to work with the metaphor of the mask. The Toltec seers discerned the presence of the organic human in its true, un-parasitised state.
This energetically indigenous state was described as the “first face”. This is the true face of the organic Human Being (the Anthropos), before it has been programmed with the parasitic form of the mind. As the programming takes place, especially during childhood, more and more layers of enforced identity are “given” to the child – these layers can be seen metaphorically as masks.
The work of the Toltec is to enter into a process of recapitulation. This process is conceived as the removal of successive layers of programming, in the form of successive layers of masks. For example the “mask of the victim” is possibly the most powerfully operative mask, and its effects resonate incredibly powerfully through our individual and collective psyches. It is through trauma that the wounded psychic state necessary for the installation of the parasite, is created.
We can if we choose, begin to examine the current human condition in a healing way. The current mind of the human is a parasitic entity, and much of what it produces is designed to work against our own good and our own well being. The mis-identification of our real and true beings with, and as, this mind made simulacrum self, can now be seen to be an illusion, a waking hallucination.
We can see the set of programmes that are operating against us as a set of individual “masks”. And each of these masks can be examined, read, investigated and ultimately removed and/or healed. The masks are not us, they are simulacra, copies, and not very good ones at that. They do not withstand close scrutiny once we decide to begin our work of spirit. For it is our true spiritual essence and power that enables us to wipe away the masking layers of lies, deception and corruption.
We must do this work for ourselves. It is not always easy and it is certainly not always fun to be profoundly confronted by the masks that we have worn. But “worn” is the right word, because the old programmes and the old masks are getting very worn out.
The old masks are failing us now, and as this becomes more and more obvious in the world, the enforcement of the wearing of these old masks becomes more and more overtly violent. But we must remember that we did not choose these masks – they were given to us against our will. The realisation of the fact that we were innocent children, and we were given no choice, is the pivotal moment. The pivotal moment of our transformation is the choice – to continue to be identified with our victimisation – or to see that “the victim” is just another mask we were given to wear.
We are not our masks.
We are the incredibly beautiful spiritual beings that are only temporarily obscured from view.
© 2018 Murray Hill
Murray Hill is an artist and writer who produces work around spiritual themes. He is an initiate of the Toltec mystery school as taught by Don Miguel Ruiz. He is also a Seer in the Celtic tradition. In 2004 he experienced a life changing moment in the ancient Mexican Toltec capital of Teotihuacan, which brought a lifetime of spontaneous spiritual breakouts into coherent form.