Sunday, 24 April 2011

The Trivium Cult

Arts of the Trivium, Grammar, Hall of the Liberal Arts

I found out about The Trivium from a guy called Jan Irvin who, like me, is very interested in the history and mythology of entheogens, but unlike me has written quite a few books, such as The Pharmacratic Inquisition, The Holy Mushroom, etc. His friend, Richard Grove and others began a movement under the title Tragedy and Hope (T&H), inspired by Gene Odening, all about a classical form of learning which they claimed has been suppressed from the masses by the very elite who are learned in it. So the T&H team take it upon themselves to introduce as many people to this lost learning, The Trivium, in order--they say--so that we will know the tricks being pulled by the elite and their puppets, politicians, media and so on, but also so that we too can use this classical form of education to be able to see through all the propaganda coming from the very system this elite has created.

The Three Laws of Learning

The word “trivium” comes from the Latin prefix “tri” meaning “three,” and the Latin root “via” meaning “way,” or “road.” The word literally means “the three-fold way or road.” The trivium refers to the three stages, or ways, of learning that coincide with a child’s cognitive development as he matures. We should begin an in-depth look at the trivium--the three stages of learning--by reminding ourselves that the trivium is not some arbitrary theory of teaching methodology or new fad of learning philosophy. Rather, the trivium was developed by long trial and error, through the observation of the ancients in the way children learn during the whole course of their instruction from young child to young adult. They realized that time after time, they followed three stages in the learning process. They simply pointed out what was obviously there; what God had designed: that there are three stages, which they named Grammar, Dialectic, and Rhetoric; and they progress in that order. Think of Sir Isaac Newton. He didn’t invent the three laws of motion (God did that when He created the universe), but after careful observation, he defined them by stating what was already there. So it is with the trivium. We might even call the trivium the three laws of learning.

So there above is a summary of the Trivium. But the hidden premise of what is being said, to my ears, at least, goes like this: 'We 'the peasants' are shortchanged because our 'superior masters' have withheld the most important ways to learn from us, and thus we are basically dumb; and in order to be as clever as them we need to learn what has been suppressed from our education, the Trivium, but not fall into the trap many of them have, which was to lose their hearts in the process', and take pleasure in feeling superior, and oppressing those they felt superior to.' Something like that.

Now, as I said, Richard Grove, one of the founders of T&H created a website and forum there for debate, and I joined, and my first question was titled 'My Critique of the Trivium'. It was my right to question it, if, as these people claim, we must excercise our critical thinking....right? So I was doing, and I was a member there for a few months, debating about my question with some of the other members who wished to participate in the inquiry.

The other day Jan Irvin posted a video link to my thread of of talk he had done on the Trivium and I viewed it, and I took many notes, and spent a great deal of effort critiquing elements of what I felt needed challenging.

In my critique, I happened to say that the Trivium promotion seemed to me like a cult. After I posted this Richard Grove quickly replied (he had never responded in my thread till this time), saying that he was the one responsible for the words Jan was reading from a projected computer screen in the video, and I should talk with him about it and not "attack" Jan. I said I wasn't attacking Jan, and asked him to reveal where I had. He couldn't, because I had just been responding to some of the points Jan was making.

Richard then told me off for my use of the term 'cult', and asked me why I said it. I told him that what he said, and his tone, further led me to sense T&H as being like a cult. Cult leaders and followers rarely like any questioning of their beliefs. Next thing he banned me which meant I could not even view the message boards, I also could not gain access to my own text which if I did, I could then past to my own documents, and present in my blog. I privately emailed him to ask if I could save my efforts I had typed in my thread, but got no reply. So there you go. Censored, and thrown out of their cult, and I cannot present my own efforts there, here in my blog, as I am not allowed. This is typical cultist behaviour. Once ejected you must have no contact with other members, or even your own property.

At the Tragedy and Hope introduction to the Trivium given by Gene Odening, he starts with this quote: Trivium and Quadrivium Cliff Notes by Gene Odening:

For if you [the rulers] suffer your people to be ill-educated, and their manners to be corrupted from their infancy, and then punish them for those crimes to which their first education disposed them, what else is to be concluded from this, but that you first make thieves [outlaws] and then punish them ~ Sir Thomas More (1478-1535), Utopia, Book 1

On the surface it looks like some kind of compassion being given, by a member of the aristocracy, to the 'lower orders' , but looking deeper into what is saying shows otherwise. It is exactly the same as the totally decimating the independent communal life of other indigenous peoples, like the Native Americans, the Australian Aboriginees, e.t.c., and forcing their children to go to western schools, the same schools people like John Taylor Gatto have shown are designed for the purpose of constricting consciousness and real learning, and then, because of this oppression, children and adults naturally lose a sense of meaning to their lives and cut off from the land and sense of community and spirituality often may turn to drugs, alcohol, 'crime' and so on. This is exactly what happened to the indigenous people of Europe, driven off land that had been privatized, and driven to 'crime, and then some big wig appeals to another higher-up big wig to show 'mercy' and let them know what they 'know'? In other words, the very same mindset that are so 'well educated' they have totally lost their fukin soul condescend to imagine that what they have 'learned' must be of help to their impoverished victims?! Hmmmm what a proposition hey?

Such as that was what I was exploring in the thread at T&H message boards, though I did it in a polite way, never using a swear word. Amongst ofther things, I was warning T&H's idealistic trust in the initiation into the 'higher learnings' of the Trivium as a way to challenge the ruling elites maintanance of oppression down the generations, which down-plays emotion and defies reason and logic, as it seems to me the very dangerous 'learning' we need to rather avoid, and not encourage for ourselves and our children--cause it aint done the super-rich much good ---the ones who have been schooled in the Trivium??

And also the very promotion of it undermines other forms of knowledge and learning that many ordinary people would naturally have had, and have, when not brutally oppressed by these 'superior learned elites'! In its promotion this implies an undermining of natural innate organic intelligence which indigenous peoples always have.

In Jan's videod talk, he was saying (or rather reading what someone else had written on a projected computer screen, having to drink copious amounts of water to keep keeping on reading) how those not schooled in the Trivium and its knowledge of grammar, and logic, and rherotic do not know how to converse in a 'sensible manner'. This reminded me of a guy, Stefan Molyneux , who makes videos on Youtube, and also has a popular podcast.
The first video of his I really liked, and so subscribed to his channel. In a later video he says he graduated in philosophy, and that in philosophy you are trained in logic, and how many of the comments he receives disagreeing with him about various things he says in videos, from people not educated in philosophy, and thefore not properly understanding logic, were known 'in philsophy' and by him--as "noise", and said scrunching up his nose, " so please dont waste yours and my time challenging the points I make until you know HOW to adequately challenge them logically? This seriously put me off him. But Jan said more or less the same in his talk!

When I was pounced on by Richard back at T&H forum, demanding I explain points I had said, which I tried to, he suddenly said that anything I say from then on he is going to see as 'spam'--yip, 'noise'. So what do you say to that? To that mindset you are a noise-spammer, and he also accused me of being too "emotional". Now, hah, this is also a classic-learning attempt to shame anyone that challenges what they have learnt is their 'superior intellect'. 'Emotions are looked down on, and those who have beared brunt of this judgement from self-acclaimed 'rational minds', particular to most patriarchal traditions, down the ages, have always been women, and the 'poor': Hare Krishna: The exam

“A woman cannot for example make decisions of her own, only a man, preferably her husband, can do that for her. This is because a woman is also considered more emotionally driven than men, and she cannot be considered to make rational decisions. The view of women is thus highly paradoxical in that women are considered weak but dangerous at the same time."

Try and question the authoritian androcentric elite, which fancies itself ever so rational, and beyond the body, nature, and emotion, and you become all they fear, and deny in themselves. This Richard guy would not admit his attack on me was in any way emotional~~~ohhh noooo.

So, in other words, I am already seeing in their attitudes what I was originally warning about in my critique. 'Higher' learning can be a dangerous game, because it implies you gonna look down on others not privy to it!


  1. Can't my experience has been the same, but feel free to send any critiques to me personally! Also, check out the Trivium Binder site,

    It's for beginning to intermediate students and can be used as a teaching tool.

    1. I'm sorry I just came across your blog. I wish I would have earlier. Folks...this "Trivium" ain't about Jan, Grove not even Gene (which he has layed out all to get us started); its about the way the mind works when its not suppressed. Period. It's a back to nature movement or cult per se LOL. If you are not indoctrinated nor suppressed how would a child figure out the world into adulthood. I believe it would be a process very similar like the Trivium. All I get from it is we are cutting out the middle man (the status quo) who lies between nature (the natural workings of our mind) and ourselves. There is no authority and its individually based. LOL We keep looking for a fucking leader. Why? It's time to go back to nature with our thinking. That's all...I get from the tens of times I have listened to Gene Odening on this topic...not Jan or Richard. We are so caught up on collectivism we ignore our individual needs. One can't help others if we do not personally know how to think critically. You are seem to be focused outwardly more so than internally. Fix self, they we can fix or help others. Grammar - collect data on a particular subject (who, what, when and where), Logic (ask the why and free it from contradictions) and Rhetoric have such a clear and precise understanding of the subject that you can effectively explain it and possibly defend it bc you have knowledge (truth) knowledge of the subject. How do you get a cult out of that? Don't get caught up with the personalities. I had to learn that also. Go back and listen to Gene's every word and look for contradictions. That's why I think the truth lies with him on this topic. He even reprimands Jan on his approach to rolling it out before he himself has done his due diligence. Gene even humbles himself and says that he's not some guru he's a life long student. All just my opinion. I hope you can consider.

  2. Doesn't a cult want something from it's members (ie money, time)? As a member of T&H, I've never been solicited for money or time. I've given both on a completely voluntary basis.
    It sounds like your issues have more to do with Grove's response to your critiques of the trivium rather than the trivium itself (as you didn't outline any specific criticisms of the trivium in this post).
    On a personal basis, the trivium is the basis of learning and logical discourse - I see no other viable alternatives.

    1. i just came off the tragedy and hope website where i was searching for that what he keeps pointing to, the trivium. But i can't find a concise and integer course on his site and What i did find is several membership forms that give one access to more materials and other students, for a price.

  3. Hallmarks of a cult are things like:

    -- fear-based control over personal habits of its members...sleeping, eating, manner of dress, SEX lives etc.

    -- fear-based control over members social/professional lives & interactions

    -- isolating the member

    -- claiming that the group/leadership is the ONLY answer

    -- intensely pressuring members to give up what they value...a portion of their money, family, etc.

  4. Seems like you might have been onto something, The T&H community recently posted this video which exposes the liberal education as a tool of the elites to control the masses:

    1. smh. It is. and that's the entire point. they are benefiting from what we don't understand. let's call it using the trivium for evil purposes. lol its all because we despite what we think don't know how to think. let me give you an example:
      Gene Odening laid this out on his last podcast with Jan which I don't think even Jan got the message. Shit I just caught it for the first time about six months ago. Critique what I'm about to say and please tell me where its contradictory or wrong. I value opinions on this point more so than any...
      Modes of Human Thought:
      1. Mythology - the belief in things bc someone said it; tradition, authority, etc. i.e. Zeus is the king of the gods.

      2. Philosophy - inductive and deductive reasoning; based on let's say logical values from Pythagoras/Aristotle, etc. and even beyond. For the most part they attempted to surmise what is real and what isn't in opposition of the mythology much stronger class (think about Galileo and the church). Removing or attempting to remove the mythology (but many so called philosophers were contradictory in their logical thinking and strayed away from the Trivium in the things they stated for whatever reasons). Mythology for the most part wins over logic; even to this day. LOL

      3. Science - more so the scientific method of determining the truth or the consistency of the truth. A theory is 100% true until a much better one comes along to disprove it with PHYSICAL AND TESTABLE evidence. This is our modern approach to understanding what is real which little to know energy for the things that can't be proven such as Zeus is the king of the gods. LOL So with the suppression of philosophy, science goes head to head with mythology. Who is winning? Mythology! Still it wins. Why? because Science as we know it is cherry picked for the things we need. The scientific method is only important when its applied. Much of science is steered toward and agenda and heavily funded my the keepers of the Mythology which strategically keeps people believe in i.e. Zeus is the king of the gods (per se). So what is the Trivium (as I see it)? I see it as an awakening. Hey we didn't give this critical thinking thing (grammar, logical, rhetoric) the respect and energy it deserves to fight mythology. If applied correctly it will never lose. One can never argue and win if all the terms are defined, the who, what, when, where, why is outlined for all to see and the party with the irrational argument fails miserably when these rules are in place. The keepers of the mythology know they down play the importance of "the Trivium" so all can stay in the state of delusion or hero worshipping, idolizing the thinking of so called experts and lastly the outsourcing of their natural god given thinking. I use the term god very loosely. LOL That's the game...I see. (excuse any errors) it doesn't seem to allow me to go back and make corrections, but I think all will get my point...I hope. :-)

  5. It seems to me, and readily correct any errors in my logic, that the tool which is called the Trivium method of learning is antithetical to the very nature of what would be called a cult. I am just starting to get into the Trivium method of learning, (maybe I am thus biased) and from what I can tell it encourages personal empowerment and is completely void of any external control (such as from a cult). The use of the Trivium is completely at the whim of the one using it for themselves, be it good or bad. It is a tool which gives a person more clarity to cut through life's obfuscations. It encourages a person that they can think for themselves, and it has no more emotions such as fear (thus control) attached to it than does a wrench in your toolbox. Does this really sound like a cult?

  6. I don't think the Trivium is a complete education for a human being, but what it does do is train the mind in the rational faculties and provide tools for analyzing and composing ideas in the form of words and thoughts. Indigenous knowledge is not precluded by the Trivium nor included in it's structure. It's simply a different skillset or knowledge base. People get caught up in the idea of logic being truth and that is not true at all! You can be logically valid and sound but be completely wrong! False premises derive false conclusions, and how many times have we personally found something to be false that we once thought was true!?!?

    Rhetoric is the UberArt, all other forms of Art being contained within it. Any piece of Art is a sort of moment of persuasion, inspiring the audience to be moved in some way either specific or general. Almost everything we say has some intended result in mind, even if just to be goofy and make someone laugh. Rhetoric is everywhere, even if you aren't aware of it!

    The Freemasons have a system that first guides you in tempering the desires and emotions, and only after such training is one allowed to move to the next level which focuses heavily upon the liberal arts studies. I think that's a pretty good, although basic and simple, plan of study. So, the Trivium is not the end-all-be-all but it is a very important and useful skill set!

    Cultish behavior is not synonymous with Trivium learning, so if the two are found together then the blame falls upon the promoters of such behavior, not the educational system itself.

  7. As a senior learning under the Trivium myself, I could see where some of your arguments may hold some credible weight. However, I also must point out that in my studies my teachers have encouraged the use of emotion: In fact, it is a crucial point to argument and persuasion, falling under the Greek form or persuasion "pathos" in Aristotle's Rhetoric. Within it, he points out that without this use of emotional appeal in speaking to your audience, the human and most basic aspect of any appeal falls flat. I'm not sure where you're getting a quote like the one speaking about such a misogynistic culture in relation to the Trivium, but I certainly have never encountered anything like that in my studies.

  8. ” The trivium refers to the three stages, or ways, of learning that coincide with a child’s cognitive development as he matures.

    What about all the things one learns and applies before and without language? One can sort out many things without language. Image thinking, pattern discover etc. Isn't that what most animals do, for example rats and mazes. Isn't that essential?