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OEITH #204 Depressive Hedonia

OEITH #204 Depressive Hedonia

Update: 2021-12-11


We confront some increasingly common dimensions of depression, how these can affect magical practice, and a magical antidote in the tarot, exploring along the way: the Buddha on distractions and addictions; Gabor Maté on addiction as a relationship; how anything can become addictive; torpor, ennui, apathy: words for an enemy to our practice; Mark Fisher's “depressive hedonia”; some examples; promised rather than actual fulfilment; magick itself as an impediment to practice; profit from distraction; community as a corrective; the example of education; how consumerism thrives on distraction; resistance of control as a refusal to discipline or motivate ourselves; depressive hedonia as an understandable reaction; depressive hedonism as endemic; pleasure we did not choose to seek; the ecological crisis and the COVID pandemic; "bouncing along the bottom"; magicians as possibly more prone than others; a personal example; depressive hedonia as a defence that bolsters the ego; pessimism as a form of addiction; respect for resistance; difficulty and struggle as signs of progress; results from daily tarot divination; XV The Devil as a depiction of depressive hedonia; XIV Temperance (reversed); the major arcana as an anatomy of change; a tarot sequence applied to history and COVID; XIV (reversed) as a depiction of what is needed; Meditations on the Tarot, by Anonymous; the angel and the flowing water; St Bernard on “the divine image” versus “the divine likeness”; the angel on XIV as the guardian angel; the guardian angel as ally of the divine image; why the angel does not shield us from suffering; depression as a signal that we need our angel; the angel as mother-figure; the angel as protector of the divine likeness; the contact between image and likeness as “inner weeping”; the “water” on XIV as tears; depressive hedonia as the inverse of XIV; emotional intensity as the antidote to depressive hedonia; Steiner’s spiritual faculties: imagination, inspiration, and intuition; XIV as inspiration; inspiration as paradoxical activity and passivity; the behaviour of children as a template: humility and presumption; magick as a combination of humility and hubris; “to dare, to will, and to know”; Adam Phillips on “the desire for a desire”; inspiration as “the desire of a desire”.

Support the podcast and access additional material at

Anonymous (2002). Meditations on the Tarot: A Journey into Christian Hermeticism. New York: TarcherPerigree.

Mark Fisher (2009). Capitalism Realism: Is There No Alternative? Alresford: Zero.

Gabor Maté (2018). In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction. London: Vermillion.

Adam Phillips (2017). On Kissing, Tickling, and Being Bored. London: Faber & Faber.









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OEITH #204 Depressive Hedonia

OEITH #204 Depressive Hedonia

Duncan Barford