esothemes

Reflections, revelations and proposals esoteric: Themes to elucidate the depths of human potential.

Pondering the Tao and Essence of Things

During esoteric ‘work’ (not to be confused with notions of mental and physical labor) I find myself confronting various philosophies and working the light of meditation within their conceptual labyrinths. These threads of esoteric conception are more like islands in the nebulous ocean of conception-free ‘understanding’ in which one who dives within may find themselves after much practice. I reference the islands or threads, if you will, so I may extend the formulating mind into a medium of existential clarity beyond structures of codifying intellect.

This has several advantages, such as bridging the mind to meditative states- so long as one does not confuse the conceptual finger with the direction in which it points. Another advantage is that one can organize philosophical coherence to help structure applications of esoteric representations. In common jargon, one can practice occultism without proverbial risks (a topic for another day). The following diatribe is one such example of deliberation, prompted spontaneously, but also for reasons I have implied above. It is not a work of scholarly study. It is a work of interpreting understandings within the state of esoteric immersion using conceptual building blocks offered by a profound and ancient esoteric perspective.

This writing is an examination of conceptions of Taoist existential cosmology. To begin let us clarify the fundamental concepts of yin and yang. Let’s focus on the original semantic definitions. The analogy used is a mountain in relation to the Sun. The Sun is not yang. The sunny side of the mountain is yang. The shady side of the mountain is yin. Therefore, the mountain is the object of examination, and the Tao is the “Way” of the cyclic change. In that Way, the shady side becomes bright and the bright side shady. The process is the motion of the Sun’s light upon the mountain during the course of a day, but our experience is that of the transformation of the mountain. The essence of the mountain remains the same, but its circumstances change. There are implications with lack of sunlight and implications with its presence. It is the same mountain, the same world, but in one case a fertilizing factor is added. We can see in this cycle that the conditions of the shady side are the default ones, the ones that define the mountain on its own merit.

Yang and yin are both the mountain, the latter unfertilized and in its natural state, and the former fertilized and impregnated with light. It is important to avoid conceptual pitfalls here. Because yin appears to be a needy state and yang a satiated state, we might assume yang is good and yin bad in terms of our usual reactions to those labels: to grasp the good and fight the bad. To clarify, I conceptualize yin as a state of desire, a state receptive and yielding, but also magnetizing that which it receives.

It is desire that drives the cycle. The spirit pole is drawn in, the desire or will pole draws it in. The presence of spirit, of consciousness; that which patterns identity, is immobile as a corpse when existing in isolation. It is powerless because power is desire. It is static because it is homogenous. As such it is no-thing. Yet without it, nothing can be, since it provides patterns with identity-reference and sense of self, making coherence possible.

The forces of yang and yin, on the other hand, are dynamics of the receptive matrix in its default state of desire and its impregnated state of fulfillment. Those terms are inaccurate, however, because fulfillment does not imply the end of a journey or the culmination of all motive in blissful satisfaction. The nature of manifestation is the cycling of Taiji (‘Omnipolar’ existential dynamic), as opposed to Wuji (‘Apolar’ existential dynamic).

The term ‘polar dynamic’ in this context involves interactive structures, whereas the lack of any interaction, or any structure for that matter, is described as apolar. All is dormant, nothing is going on etc. This is rather a purely non-referential state, similar in that respect to spirit and desire, when both are isolated from each other. Spirit naturally requires desire to trigger its movement, and the will requires presence of spirit to trigger the desire that triggers vibration that embraces spirit to move. It moves in three ways, the second being the most natural and ‘pure’: a) It embodies an established pattern; b) It is drawn by desire and c) It rides its own desire, or the desire extending from inherent bonding with desire, like the tip of a tongue extending from closed lips.

In the context of existential energetics, the Wuji is the ‘ground state’ and Taiji the expressive outcome of growth from existential potential to existential kinesis or being/becoming. The pole of potential is apolar and the pole of kinesis is omnipolar. It should be obvious that the word ‘pole’ is used in a very loose sense to convey the referencing from the a-polar to the polar state. Otherwise, it erroneously makes the un-structured and un-patterned appear to be part of a structure. In practice both spirit and power (will/desire) have their inherent states of non-polar potential, and their interactive polar dynamic states. The latter refer to the Taiji or kinetic omnipole of existence. This is what beings of manifestation experience for the most part.

There is a belief that existence involves mechanical cycles of creation destruction or the monotonous oscillation from omnipolar to apolar states. It’s as if existence is exhaled ‘outside’ the apolar state, which then feeds on it or just draws it in to destroy it, and bring its evolved complexity down to its entropic ground state. The idea to me appears contradictory, since breath implies kinesis and potential is the ultimate non-kinetic state. Nourishment, furthermore, implies metabolism (or its metaphysical equivalent), or some dynamic of existential kinesis to say the least even if we pull the “it’s only a metaphor” card. Even metaphors require some consistency or some form of explanation of inconsistency. They are false if they cannot represent what is allegedly beyond direct intellectual rendering.

If we observe the allegorical structure of two poles, one of which is apolar and the other omnipolar, we are encouraged to also posit a center or core dynamic that defines the allegorical references as poles in the first place. This is the state of equilibrium between existential kinesis and existential potential. Tipping toward kinesis leads to a headlong rush into an entropic ground state (death in other words). Tipping toward potential leads to denial of kinetic freedom, which is confinement and suffering. Desire itself regulates this dynamic balance but only if and when spirit is fully accessible to it for both bonding and un-bonding.

Un-bonding in an unbalanced state of limited existential resourcefulness is a process of suffering leading to death. In a balanced and resourceful state it is a process of transformation and renewal, because we experience a release to make space for a deeper of my coherent to one’s existential integrity fulfillment. The dynamic of Tao is that of ultimate balance and resourcefulness. It is the core state wherein that apolar dynamic is accessed and the omnipolar dynamic is free and naturally unconditional.

The core state is itself a state that resembles yang and has been confused with spirit. But its natural archetypal association is that of divine heart. It is both omnipolar and apolar in nature. Rather than being an impregnation of the will (feminine) aspect by spirit as the yang pole of the Taiji, it is an equilateral and intrinsic fusion state, its own basis. Rather than the light falling upon the mountain, nourishing it, it glows from within every atom of the mountain itself, at one with the mountain’s natural essence, metaphorically speaking.

This core is the existential condition where the apolar ground state and the omnipolar spiral of becoming are co-existent (even as their being apart in the first place is also a convenient conception rather than a literal truth). This inherent unity liberates existence to choose from all possibility to create its own matrix of probability upon which to build further aspiration. It sounds cliché, but the essence of it is love. [to be continued, maybe].

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The Magical Paradigm of Choice

After all these twenty years of unstructured magic study and practice- not including an additional decade and a half of other esoteric explorations- I am not quite ready with the form of magic I find is my “thing”, as it were. It appears, on the other hand, that what inner guidance I do have insists I be more systematic about things. Not for the first time, that insistence involves revisiting square one, as it were.

I notice- with some exceptions- practitioners of esoteric process (mystical, psychic, magic and of all occult varieties) abide by the notion of either/or categorization of preference. There is, for example the alleged view of magic that insists that all paradigms are tools and can be altered at will. Another notion claims that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Instead, study the “tried and true” methods and once you master those, maybe you can perhaps build on something.

We can view such categorizations in terms of intimate relationships. You have, for instance, the occult polygamists, and the polyamorists. The former sport a harem of mates through which they cycle according to need. The latter play the field and hook up with whatever is most convenient at the time. I am not quite an occult monogamist, and certainly not a purist in even a loose sense. Even so, the varieties of my approach tend to fall under the same umbrella of interconnected meaning, as it were. Innovation, furthermore, has nothing to do with anything being broken and improvement does not imply reinventing the wheel or anything else for that matter.

My understanding of the magical paradigm of choice is that it is the mythology of one’s sense of existential meaning. That kind of thing is anchored to ones very soul, although it is not immune to alteration, transformation and/or the forces of evolution. The design and practice of magic, and the comprehension and expression of mysticism and they are who I am, and perhaps what I am. As such, my understanding is rooted in my adherence to the notion of integration, integrity and liberation based on value fulfillment and existential coherence. This is expressed in and through self, the structuring of our environment and the interaction with such as the dynamics of all our relations.

In my years of study and application, growth and seeming reversal in magic, I have come across a wide variety of paradigms. These were practically like living beings themselves; sometimes an extension of the one holding them, and sometimes as if they were of a different origin and in possession of the holder. As in all interactions, I related to these over a broad spectrum. Once upon a time I was more aggressive in response to the paradigms found not only distasteful but downright dangerous in their unhealthy promotions.

I am in the process of consolidating my knowledge into a systemic application. That means streamlining it, and condensing what works so that I may fertilize it with the necessary attention to detail and committed practice. My process is ongoing and extended because it isn’t systematic so much as guided by punctuated inspiration, as well as need. That is on the one hand. On the other hand, I have requirements corresponding to my sense of existential meaning that cause me to take the harder road in many respects. Yet that road, to me at least, is the more meaningful one as well as healthier overall.

I do not ascribe to cynical reasoning, such as the world is random, it’s all meaningless, humans are a blight on creation etc. I do not ascribe to antagonistic dualism, although I believe creation works via polarity. I am not into absolute monism either, and do not consider manifestation “dirty” or the material plane less meaningful than the proverbial expanses of life force and spirit. I won’t treat the body as a beast of burden, just as I cannot see the layers of manifest becoming as shells to cover and adorn some idealized and idolized god center. Manifestation is an organic outgrowth of essence, and essence is the distillation of manifestations variety and meaningful potential.

In a similar vein, good and evil are contrived notions to me. Yet to say everything is relative and that one view is as good as another, is- aside from the occasional convenience of stroking ruffled feathers- just as short-sighted. Then we have this misunderstanding of the phrase “the truth shall set you free”. A disturbing “fact” that demolishes hope and the faith in human potential is swallowed against all instinct because it is “true” whether we like it or not.

That makes sense on the surface, and yet how come the only ones served by this are those who get off on others losing hope and faith and becoming compromised cynics like them? To me we often base truth on the evaluations of what we call “reason”, while rarely considering that our sense of reason can be based on assumptions, most of which have been mated to us. Incessant repetition and a liberal dose of the carrot and the stick have been the matchmakers of our mental bed chambers more often than we would like. Many react defensively, even violently, at the idea of reason so tainted. How could then consider then to put it on the back burner of cognition and reality evaluation- at least where deeper nuances of existential meaning are concerned?

Because it can be conditioned, and because founding assumptions can vary, reason is indeed relative. What is good for the goose is unreasonable for the gander, in other words, and your word is as good as mine. Yet if we seek to clean ourselves up, and dare to trust that our wishful thinking may in fact be the sense of what is healthy for us- however warped along the way- we may cultivate a sense of discernment that is both health and founded on solid existential ground. As such, I do not deny the that our deep sense of existential meaning is the touchstone of the truth that sets us free. Being in tune with that sense of meaning is my version of self-knowledge. It which includes all those dispositions assuming identity without truth, while they urge a divorcing from it.

I am not bound by that meaning, however, and even though my sense of purpose may give me a hard time, I do not consider myself bound by that either. It is simply the way of integrity for me, and integrity is the way of meaningful health and purposeful and evolving wellbeing. It is a well-being that I feel is meaningful when it vibrates the world and into the world as it can. Integrity isn’t about following rules of conduct for me. It is about being coherent and real to yourself, which is my way of saying:  “free of deep-layer conflict”. That is what I would call a strong and committed relationship with one’s being, and that is the premise of my magical paradigm.

Summing Up My Magical Menagerie

I have been going through a minor “crisis”. I place the word in quotation marks and refrain from capitalizing it because it isn’t even an apt description of what was going on. Namely, I was wondering what I should be doing with this blog, if anything. The question was one of structure vs. lack thereof; of planning vs. off-the-cuff ranting and of purpose vs. play.

Even as I was writing down the above conceptual pairs, however, I realized they too were not accurate, and that I was not experiencing a conflict between polarized concepts, but a challenge of embracing their working synthesis. The latter isn’t as simple or easy as mixing and matching or even squishing ingredients together. The conditions and of synthesis carry a lot of weight even when the scenario is one of abstract conception.

I have been writing about the various aspects and facets of my magical menagerie- at least have begun something akin to that process. The long and short of it is that it just isn’t what I want to do here. That’s fine, since the blog itself is something of an experiment in expressing these arcane interests of mine. It’s not as easy as just saying what I know. Many speak of the same things, but with different context and there is some debate regarding what this or that esoteric ideal implies and how useful it is for this that or the other.

So once again I take several steps back, add a few deep breaths and take it from the top, as it were. Assumptions can be more thoroughly discarded for one, especially the limiting ones. Worrying about getting the expression right can also be- more thoroughly- discarded. At the same time, I want to express clearly what does not come easy to translate from experience in combination with the prominent conceptual conventions about it.

For starters, instead of going on about the particular “exhibits” of my proverbial magical menagerie, it might be more economical and useful, as well as more interesting for yours truly to some it all up. In other words, let me address the query of WTF am I doing with occultism. Not so much, why am I doing it, but what I am doing. Specifically, I want to detail the options and elements of arcane application that I am bringing together while filtering, interpreting and redesigning the input. I intend, moreover, to elaborate regarding my motivation for the apparent rearranging of the deck chairs of existing esoteric approaches to come to my own conception.

Given what I expressed above, I have already summed up my magical menagerie as one that I reluctantly would label as revisionist esoteric exposition. Even with the shady reputation of all things “revisionist”, my work involves dynamics of great esoteric potential and meeting the various challenges of the times in which we find ourselves. To put it more plainly, I am forging my own system of magic via the revising of various traditional themes of arcane wisdom.

I am motivated to elaborate because misunderstanding is all too easy when encountering such claims. Those of a more traditionally inclined disposition are suspicious of any sort of revision or adaptation. On the other hand, diversified occultists might not realize how much goes into redesigning the systemics of one’s occult practice because the trend is modern and notorious for being mired in mass marketed pop culture subject matter, in the view of yours truly.

To reiterate, I am engaged in a process of redesigning some traditional elements of occultism and adapting them toward application in the world today. The process has been ongoing for the last fifteen years, whereas I have been exploring western occultism for a decade before that, in addition to eastern (Asian) metaphysics, as well as astrology, tarot, psychic phenomena and trance states for fifteen years before that.

I am currently engaged in a process of formalizing, testing and reformulating esoteric subjects of interest to condense the working principles into a map that can successfully navigate selected territories of esoteric application in a manner meaningful to the one undertaking the journey.

There are those who would reject the idea of revising or adapting perfectly functional systems of esoteric knowledge into a more modern context. Granted, many claims to the effect can be accurately deemed wanting. That does not mean the need is a fabrication.

A simple example would be that of western occult systems using astrological symbolism. Using astronomical data for esoteric applications is a tried and true practice- at least for those of an occult disposition. The planets, for example, are truly potent symbols of deeper truths when interpreted and conceptually concentrated (as archetypes) toward that purpose. The traditional Western astrological bodies known as planets include the sun, the moon and five astronomical planets of this solar system, all visible to the naked eye.

Today the face of the solar system has expanded, meaning the arcane possibilities would be best brought to useful fruition by reflecting the solar system more accurately. And yet, the old system of seven planetary principles has been a powerful map of occult possibility, coinciding with the seven vowels of the Greek alphabet, the seven days of the week as well as other iterations of that sacred number.

Existing revisions have added planets updating at least to the mid to late twentieth century. However, the astronomical face of the solar system has since undergone changes at a pace that far outstrips any occultist capacity to reliably formalize things in addition to thoroughly testing the proposed “upgrade”. Suffice it to say that simply slapping on more variables and shaving off the rough edges might only replace the tried and true (limitations notwithstanding) with a rickety construct held together with snappy jargon and a lot of wishful thinking.

My magical menagerie is, therefore, a collection of esoteric themes and potentials adapted to sustain interlocking parts, or at least mutually supportive and complementary elements. Designing and testing in this manner has been and continues to be an experience beyond measurable value to me. It has shown what works and what doesn’t work as well as what might work if one only invests more than most would be willing to give in terms of time, energy and commitment. Life, after all, is too short to waste on futility.

It is also true, however, that just because two stones slapped together can crack a spark doesn’t guarantee one can light a fire. A certain amount of skill and the correct conditions are needed as well, a combination of nature and nurture in the proper proportions. Even so, anyone clever enough can claim success in occult matters regardless of where the truth lies. Placebo effects and the trickster nature of human consciousness are easy to manipulate even when the perpetrator and victim are one and the same person.

My current minor “crisis” has only been one of many, and quite mild compared to some prior versions. One can say that the elements of the menagerie in mention have been progressively integrating, from “crisis” to “crisis”, just as they have been mutating purposefully for that purpose. I intend to describe some of the process of my evolving understanding, to focus on something that is closer to home for me than the more speculative expressions that have dominated my writings here so far. I might even start teaching the “system” at some point. That, certainly, is a topic for another day.

I have been going through a minor “crisis”. I place the word in quotation marks and refrain from capitalizing it because it isn’t even an apt description of what was going on. Namely, I was wondering what I should be doing with this blog, if anything. The question was one of structure vs. lack thereof; of planning vs. off-the-cuff ranting and of purpose vs. play.

Even as I was writing down the above conceptual pairs, however, I realized they too were not accurate, and that I was not experiencing a conflict between polarized concepts, but a challenge of embracing their working synthesis. The latter isn’t as simple or easy as mixing and matching or even squishing ingredients together. The conditions and of synthesis carry a lot of weight even when the scenario is one of abstract conception.

I have been writing about the various aspects and facets of my magical menagerie- at least have begun something akin to that process. The long and short of it, however, is that it just isn’t what I want to do here. That’s fine, since the blog itself is something of an experiment in expressing these arcane interests of mine. It’s not as easy as just saying what I know. Many speak of the same things, but with different context and there is some debate regarding what this or that esoteric ideal implies and how useful it is for this that or the other.

So once again I take several steps back, add a few deep breaths and take it from the top, as it were. Assumptions can be more thoroughly discarded for one, especially the limiting ones. Worrying about getting the expression right can also be- more thoroughly- discarded. At the same time, I want to express clearly what does not come easy to translate from experience in combination with the prominent conceptual conventions about it.

For starters, instead of going on about the particular “exhibits” of my proverbial magical menagerie, it might be more economical and useful, as well as more interesting for yours truly to some it all up. In other words, let me address the query of WTF am I doing with occultism. Not so much, why am I doing it, but what I am doing. Specifically, I want to detail the options and elements of arcane application that I am bringing together while filtering, interpreting and redesigning the input. I intend, moreover, to elaborate regarding my motivation for the apparent rearranging of the deck chairs of existing esoteric approaches to come to my own conception.

Given what I expressed above, I have already summed up my magical menagerie as one that I reluctantly would label as revisionist esoteric exposition. Even with the shady reputation of all things “revisionist”, my work involves dynamics of great esoteric potential and meeting the various challenges of the times in which we find ourselves. To put it more plainly, I am forging my own system of magic via the revising of various traditional themes of arcane wisdom.

I am motivated to elaborate because misunderstanding is all too easy when encountering such claims. Those of a more traditionally inclined disposition are suspicious of any sort of revision or adaptation. On the other hand, diversified occultists might not realize how much goes into redesigning the systemics of one’s occult practice because the trend is modern and notorious for being mired in mass marketed pop culture subject matter, in the view of yours truly.

To reiterate, I am engaged in a process of redesigning some traditional elements of occultism and adapting them toward application in the world today. The process has been ongoing for the last fifteen years, whereas I have been exploring western occultism for a decade before that, in addition to eastern (Asian) metaphysics, as well as astrology, tarot, psychic phenomena and trance states for fifteen years before that.

I am currently engaged in a process of formalizing, testing and reformulating esoteric subjects of interest to condense the working principles into a map that can successfully navigate selected territories of esoteric application in a manner meaningful to the one undertaking the journey.

There are those who would reject the idea of revising or adapting perfectly functional systems of esoteric knowledge into a more modern context. Granted, many claims to the effect can be accurately deemed wanting. That does not mean the need is a fabrication.

A simple example would be that of western occult systems using astrological symbolism. Using astronomical data for esoteric applications is a tried and true practice- at least for those of an occult disposition. The planets, for example, are truly potent symbols of deeper truths when interpreted and conceptually concentrated (as archetypes) toward that purpose. The traditional Western astrological bodies known as planets include the sun, the moon and five astronomical planets of this solar system, all visible to the naked eye.

Today the face of the solar system has expanded, meaning the arcane possibilities would be best brought to useful fruition by reflecting the solar system more accurately. And yet, the old system of seven planetary principles has been a powerful map of occult possibility, coinciding with the seven vowels of the Greek alphabet, the seven days of the week as well as other iterations of that sacred number.

Existing revisions have added planets updating at least to the mid to late twentieth century. However, the astronomical face of the solar system has since undergone changes at a pace that far outstrips any occultist capacity to reliably formalize things in addition to thoroughly testing the proposed “upgrade”. Suffice it to say that simply slapping on more variables and shaving off the rough edges might only replace the tried and true (limitations notwithstanding) with a rickety construct held together with snappy jargon and a lot of wishful thinking.

My magical menagerie is, therefore, a collection of esoteric themes and potentials adapted to sustain interlocking parts, or at least mutually supportive and complementary elements. Designing and testing in this manner has been and continues to be an experience beyond measurable value to me. It has shown what works and what doesn’t work as well as what might work if one only invests more than most would be willing to give in terms of time, energy and commitment. Life, after all, is too short to waste on futility.

It is also true, however, that just because two stones slapped together can crack a spark doesn’t guarantee one can light a fire. A certain amount of skill and the correct conditions are needed as well, a combination of nature and nurture in the proper proportions. Even so, anyone clever enough can claim success in occult matters regardless of where the truth lies. Placebo effects and the trickster nature of human consciousness are easy to manipulate even when the perpetrator and victim are one and the same person.

My current minor “crisis” has only been one of many, and quite mild compared to some prior versions. One can say that the elements of the menagerie in mention have been progressively integrating, from “crisis” to “crisis”, just as they have been mutating purposefully for that purpose. I intend to describe some of the process of my evolving understanding, to focus on something that is closer to home for me than the more speculative expressions that have dominated my writings here so far. I might even start teaching the “system” at some point. That, certainly, is a topic for another day.

Myth, Metaphor and Magic: The Mystery

I have heard the assertion that Myth is Metaphor, and there is no shortage of commentary on the topic. It’s obvious to most how entwined folklore and magic are entwined. Even in our day the word “fantasy” as a literary genre is part and parcel with the concept of “magic”. The trend when dealing with that relationship, however, is to use the definition of myth as some sort of fictional account without referring to the importance of metaphor therein (the backbone of mythic structure and purpose in my view).

At the same time myth, metaphor and magic are very different concepts. The loose definition intended in this writing describes myth as a fictional account which embodies entities and phenomena transcending mundane experience. Metaphor is a literary device that takes a word or phrase out of its originally intended context to allude to similarities with the object it is directed to represent. Metaphor tells us that a word is very might like something beyond its literal context without using prepositions of comparison (“like”, “as” etc.).

Magic, on the other hand, is more difficult to pin down. It suffices to use a simple definition such as the following approximation of A. Crowley’s: Magic is the process by which change is manifested at any existential level in conformity with will, through an altered state of consciousness in the one causing it.

To sum up, myth is a story, metaphor is an indirect simile, and magic is making shit happen by will and non-ordinary awareness. Distinct as they are, we can observe each concept contains at least one of the other two. Metaphor is used in myth because myths often describe “supernatural” phenomena, while pointing at something deeper and more complex in nature. Magic is the expression of supernatural phenomena based precisely on the deep and complex concepts to which the metaphors of myth allude.

Metaphors address ideas, slippery in the face of logic and common sense, and give them a familiar and tangible context. We are aware that the description they offer is not “literal”, or point by point accurate. The strokes are broad and the outlines basic. We are aware that mystery is at work as a source of conceptual power that can affect us profoundly whether we can pin it down or not. Metaphor allows us to track it, follow its fluid dance of meaning and discerning some identifiable patterns therein.

Myth can therefore be taken as a weaving of metaphor to describe a mystery in an easy and pleasant to absorb manner. The depth of meaning implied by the mystery embedded in metaphor, however, remains concealed even in the most elaborate mythic tale. If one is to master the esoteric application inherent in myth, one must transcend the obvious and not just embrace, but embody the mystery to translate it into a process of activating the possibilities of magic regarding its impending revelation.

The distillation of effective esoteric practice, be it for purposes corporeal or existentially abstract, is itself tied to a mystery wrapped in an enigma, and hence not readily available to be spelled out in a comprehensive manner. Those who are interested in magical practice, and those who crave corporeal rewards for their efforts, can however be impatient with the details of unfolding esoteric patterning. They can insist on adhering to a point by point recipe for a swift harvest of results. I can’t fault a newbie for this attitude. It was, after all, my own stance for years.

That changed for the simple reason of live and learn. Namely, it is not the most constructive approach. The bottom line is not the point by point process of arcane operation. It isn’t the myth or the web of metaphors that comprise its often-entertaining structure either. It is the mystery embedded within it all. That mystery is nothing less than the power of the deep and abiding dynamic of existence in all its manifestations, as well as the underlying essence at the core of each.

Where the mystery is concerned, however, approaches can be simplified (even when they look complicated). Simplification, as I express it here, is just another description for diving into the most available relationship with said mystery. The relationship can come from the direction of theoretical emphasis or insistence on pragmatic deliberation, depending on a number factors beyond the scope of this discussion.

To get meaningful outcomes, however, both theoretical digestion and real-world action are indispensable. Education, or absorbing intellectual knowledge, is often preferred even when the more challenging path of balancing theory and practice is appreciated and open to the aspirant. Repeated application of occult methods, lead the aspirant into awareness of patterns linking cause to effect. By, furthermore, referencing sources of both theory and the practices of others, they can be inspired to explain those patterns, and hence apply them beyond their original context. Mystery itself, for all its empowering of our resourcefulness, is beyond intellect to comprehend on its own steam.

Mystery is, therefore, beyond the mappings of theory- even as it includes them- and beyond the strategic and tactical meanderings of practice, including them as well. Frustrating as this may be, the defining myth, metaphor and magic can help make sense of the challenge of relating to this thing called “mystery”. Remember that the definition of magic involves extra-ordinary states of awareness. These states of awareness are the fulcrum of practice as well as theory. Mystery is mystery because conventional awareness is not equipped to forge identity with it. Indeed, it is identity with the mystery that powers magic, not rote practice or memorizing its metaphors.

Suffice it to say that mundane existence is as much the mystery as anything out of the ordinary or beyond conventional comprehension. It is, therefore, in how we relate to the proverbial ordinary world that matters. That is why the consistent cultivation of non-ordinary states of awareness is a primary ingredient in stimulating awareness and access to the mystery in all our relations. This is not to be confused with the extremes of “arm-chair” or “rules and tools” occultism. Legends speak of those who could make shit happen without elaborate ritual or much theoretical fanfare. Such individuals were more likely to have mastered non-ordinary states. I am not denying ritual or even ceremony, and intellectual understanding is still a great boon to practice. But the latter becomes comparatively potent when done within the domain of esoterically cultivated awareness.

I have heard it said that magic is supposed to make life easier. I would say its power to make life more meaningful is more important. If magic is just a means to an end, then one misses out, because the mystery at its foundation will be replaced by second hand maps. They may navigate rudimentary territories, but in the end practitioners will probably be disappointed when the free ride doesn’t come.

The depth of the mystery out of which all magic springs and which myth upon myth has touched upon in all its infinite facets is not easily trivialized. Exploring it may not be the only way to make shit happen. In this author’s view, however, it is the most coherent way toward mastery free of intellectual tail chasing and rules and tools dependency. Instead, one might discover horizons of creative potential to express an art that amounts to the embracing of one’s very own truth as a seed of existential possibility and more.

My Magical Menagerie: Hermetic Musings

 

Anyone interested in Western esoteric traditions and with an attention span of more than three minutes has probably heard of the word “hermetic” used in that context. If not, they are probably aware of the word in the context of air-tight containment. Those are, in fact, the two main interpretations of the word one would find in the Oxford Dictionary. There is the definition of “relating to an occult tradition encompassing alchemy, astrology and theosophy”, and there is the idea of something sealed “air-tight” in a container. From the definitions, one can surmise that “hermetic” refers to something protected and/or insulated- occulted- from outside influences.

It is noteworthy that the mundane context arises from the esoteric one. To shed light on the esoteric context we need to go back into ancient Greek prehistory and the traditions surrounding the god Hermes and the pile of stones said to be the origin of his name*. The pile could be found at crossroads and boundaries, including graves where the world of the living and that of the dead were side by side. From the same name “Hermes” thus came words for mediation, negotiation and interpretation.

The piles themselves literally grew, stone by stone, at crossroads as markers. Each passer-by would simply throw a stone at the designated spot and the pile would form over time and then be maintained. There were also piles marking boundaries between settlements, where representatives would meet and negotiate. The piles were testimony of agreement, marking the meeting place as hallowed ground, thus protecting each side from treachery.

Goods would be bartered at boundary markers, and eventually market places would emerge there. The Roman version of Hermes known as Mercury, was also the patron of merchants and exchanges of money, goods and services. His name is, furthermore, linked to the Indo-European root word for “boundary/border”. Eventually, the pile was replaced with a single marker, and later with a stone pillar topped with a bust of the god and his trademark phallus sticking out.

Personally, I disagree with the view that the phallus was emphasized due to the god’s fertility status. Hermes was not usually associated with masculine genital prowess and/or fertility in any case. Instead the issue reminds me of the controversy surrounding the Sanskrit word lingam, used for phallus, but properly meaning “pillar/column”, and often expressed in an esoteric context.

Lingam, literally means “mark”, and was identified with the Indian god Shiva (essentially the male or active existential principle). While most gods were depicted in human form, Shiva (among the males) was an exception. It is widely accepted that the lingam was not an object of phallic worship. On the other hand, rather than thinking that someone is calling a cock a column, we are probably dealing with the reverse: a pillar being allegorically compared to a phallus.

The pillar is associated with the phallus to emphasize its power. Otherwise a pillar is just a pillar, but a phallus represents the male side of the potency of procreation. This power doesn’t just mark boundaries as a notation device. It authorizes them as places of power, where distinct elements are kept apart, but also allowed to come together under controlled conditions. This is precisely what goes on in alchemy, another interesting word to explore. Alchemy is probably the area of occult knowledge and practice that comes uppermost to mind when identifying the specifics Hermetic wisdom. It is a word said to come from the ancient Egyptian word khem, meaning “black”. It is also the native name for Egypt.

Personally, I am partial to the interpretation as “The Work of the Sun” (chamah = “sun” in Hebrew). The designation is expressed in the famous Emerald Tablet of Hermes the Thrice Great. Notice that chemi is also the Hebrew word for “hot”. Here the proverbial “Work of the Sun” is associated with the sacred pillar of power that marks and negotiates boundaries (including those of life and death), with the power being that of a sacred heat associated with a/the divine pillar. Kundalini anyone?

In the understanding of yours truly, Hermetic Wisdom is all about the application of knowledge toward esoteric cultivation. It isn’t so much about secrets, or the notion that the nature of esoteric wisdom is “occult” (concealed). Instead, this wisdom is all about the power of boundary conditions, transitions and transformations as well as exchange and circulation of the power/force of life itself.

Hermetic Wisdom can be but isn’t exclusively about the performance of magical feats. However, one of the results of esoteric cultivation or alchemy, is the awakening of capacities through which feats of magic can be accomplished. I want to be careful, however, when throwing words such as “feats” around.  The latter term tends to summon forth images of crowds gathered in expectance of something that will knock their socks off and probably solve all their problems in the process. When that doesn’t happen, the crowd turns into a mob and the smell of barbequed human is likely to waft through the air.

Drama aside, my point with this rant was to continue my elaboration of my own conceptual collection of esoteric themes, to further tie them together so that a hint of implications regarding dynamics of application could be discerned. My premise, which I plan to continue developing, is that magic is successfully applied through preparation, preparation and preparation, a word that conceals unfathomable depth of possibility. To me that is not scouring the market place for the right incense to burn, although I highly respect such proclivities.

It is more about cultivating the latent dynamics of our very humanity that we have erroneous associated with miracles and the supernatural. Even Augustine of Hippo said: “Miracles are not contrary to nature but only contrary to what we know about nature.” Magic, therefore, is only natural. Whether it’s scientific or not, however, is another story, and one that may be addressed in these pages…someday.

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* Google Translator works surprisingly well for converting Greek text to English.

 

My Magical Menagerie: Intermission Rant

It’s been many months since my last entry. When expressing thoughts around topics I take seriously I may not be the most motivated to post references and quote others. On the other hand, I want my thoughts to be clear, to represent where I stand- at least at the moment- and to be the products of conviction rather than uncertainty. That’s why I prefer to say: “in my view” rather than “in my opinion”. However honest an opinion is, it still amounts to being unreliable. An opinion can be factual, but its source isn’t as carefully worked out as a conviction, even though the latter may also undergo revision.

The phrase “in my view” is not as substantial as “I am convinced”, but for me reflects a more thorough process of vetting than just throwing concepts around until something comes out the other end of the mental conveyor belt. We tend, furthermore, to express something as “just” an opinion, which is another way of devaluing the process- along with certain memes such as the saying that opinions are like assholes.

What does that have to do with my magical menagerie? Plenty. One reason I take time off a blog about my views on esoteric theory and practice is because I want the expression to be more than speculative. I want to reliably express information as a product of experience as well as insight. It’s always been that way, but these days with so much occultist role play, especially the kind where the players take themselves seriously, people demand references and even though out the two words “prove it” with a sneer and a slam waiting right behind them if the target doesn’t comply, which they won’t because they can’t.

My magical menagerie does not include proof to be shared. That, thankfully, is not the nature of occultism or we would be in a world of hurt. Just think of religions declaring practice as evil, of innocents tortured and killed, of mass hysteria. Think of power-hungry control freaks wanting to regulate as much as they can of human behavior. The neurotics we encounter in our every-day lives are one thing, but the ones with social influence, praying on fear and ignorance are the real danger.

The greatest boon of the modern occult attitude is the mainstream conviction that it’s all bullshit. Thus, I come full circle. I want to speak with certainty and from experience, but I don’t do this because I desire to be convincing or a fountain of proof of what I say. I just want to be clear so if, and when someone disagrees, the strength of my conviction can be real and not a prop of blusterous intellect.

Regarding this rant, moreover, I am still “on topic”. My menagerie is held together with conviction, which I experience as a specific state of being; an “energy” if you will. Conviction as an energy or felt experience is a power in esoteric cultivation and practice. Uncertainty, however, can also be a power, for that too can be a felt state rather than an abstract mental conception. Felt states are part of my magical menagerie. Some are toxic and need to be either sent way, put down or transformed. Some are highly prized to be nurtured so their strength can be a vehicle of occult accomplishment, which is more than just making shit happen.

Another thing that can account for stepping back from online expression to work things out is this tendency of mine to bring up arguments I have either experienced or observed and play them out against my own views. It’s not so much a masochistic habit as it is a daring to test what already has me convinced in the face of what often amounts to psychic aggression. Being honest with one’s self is important in esoteric work. Being honest with others maybe not so much. That being said; my intention in communicating here is both honesty, as well as clarity, else there’s no point in the record. On with the rant.

I refuse to argue points, for obvious reasons. Too many chips on too many shoulders for one, including my own. There is too much status involved in discussion. Too much of a winner/loser dynamic regardless of whether it is consciously intended or not. Perhaps in a private discussion mutual respect and maturity come easier, but when there is disagreement and debate in front of an audience, its instinctive to experience a sense of competitive display. Some would act as if they are “above it”, just as some would use guilt as a weapon in promoting their “underdog status”.

The drive for status in humans can be promoted by a strategy based on the denial of the drive to assume the position of a superior who has transcended it or of a victim who is outraged at the assumed superiority of others. These strategies can be so instinctive in some people that the individual sporting them has convinced themselves they do not apply to them.  Matters are even more complicated because sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and appearances are what is going on.

I would say, in the face of such complication, that it’s more constructive to be honest and admit that the issue saving and losing face has at least some influence- and to accept that its impact varies from individual to individual. We don’t have to play along, of course. In fact, I want to affirm that my ranting about it is motivated by the desire to emphasize we don’t have to play along. If I feel a sense of satisfaction at winning an argument, I realize it for what it is: a natural instinct. I feel sick in losing an argument. Again, it’s natural.

Simply put, fuck the winning or losing. Losing teaches you and winning reinforces you. They are both useful. What sucks is realizing your interests are simply a means for others to compete for status, social points, attention or any form of self-marketing. What suck is this situation being prevalent enough so everyone has to balance a chip on their shoulder. It is tempting to say I would rather stay silent, but if we all did so the dynamics of engagement would be nothing more than attack and defense dressed in all manner of bullshit. Make no mistake. This rant is not about being butt-hurt. It is about the healthiest attitude for esoteric cultivation and occult accomplishment. It’s about being real, something important for the human experience overall. All this has a cliche sound to it, but it doesn’t make it any less important or relevant.

I chose to title this essay “Rant Intermission” because it has indeed been so long since I posted. Continuity has been frayed and I want to energize my choice to post regularly from now on. There have been events beyond my control that contributed fundamentally to distancing myself from this expression, so it’s not all deliberate. But then again, one reason I practice esoteric methodology is to minimize the factor known as “events beyond my control” in my life. I am ok with having them, so long as they don’t fuck with me beyond the point that keeps things interesting.

Next time I will keep the same title (Magical Menagerie) so as to build on what Magic means to me in terms of my views, experiences and personal preferences, as well as my sense of purpose. Yes, I have a sense of purpose. It is my own and doesn’t really have a single label. It isn’t even the desire to fulfill specific goals. Just to move in the direction that most represents me. Hence it is a path of self-discovery as well as self-cultivation. And that to me is meaningful, which is really all I ask of existence. Believe it or not it is quite a lot to ask; but nothing less will do. Why not share some of the journey?

My Magical Menagerie: Part I

This esoteric blog would not be complete without at least some attention to the topic of magick. I, therefore, desire to take a walk through my magical menagerie. That’s just a fancy way of expressing what’s on my mind regarding this topic, from exposure to its conceptual cornucopia and in terms of working with its themes myself.

Before I begin my little stroll, I want to set the stage with a working definition of the word that I find useful: Magick is the system of operations through which changes are made in reality via the application of one’s awareness of non-physical influences.

The definition is limited and can certainly be disputed, but at least it gives some frame of reference to the presentation. Before I move on to the main topic, there is one more detail. It is a trivial detail and I am annoyed at my attention being drawn to it, but like a pesky speck of dust in the eye, minuscule as it is, it obstructs vision.

It’s the damn spelling of the word. There is no such word as magick any more than America is spelled Americka outside of a cheesy Hollywood version of old Soviet propaganda. Simply put, that admirable art of prestidigitation is not magic. If “prestidigitation” is too much of a tongue twister, we can use the word “illusionism”.

Whatever term we choose, in my view, calling this art magic misrepresents and undermines the true meaning of the word. Making up another word that just sounds the same doesn’t correct that. It just gives the slander license by tolerating a spelling that just looks and feels wrong. Alright…enough of the mini-rant. It was prompted more from poking at the keyboard on a hot muggy day anyway, than sprouting from any real gripe with occult semantics.

Moving on, I want to focus on modern magic. I do not, however, want to limit myself to purist sensibilities. Make no mistake. I greatly respect and value the perspectives that are true to tradition. I am simply turned off when the perspectives express as dictates over what I can and cannot do and still call it magic.

That doesn’t mean the so called eclectic expressions of modern magic are not by and large saturated with misconceptions. It doesn’t mean that modern eclectic magic is not diluted regarding what can be accomplished. It doesn’t even preclude the denial of magical potential in favor of psychological and pseudo-scientific theorizing that reduces the mystery of magic to a series of watered down postmodern memes.

I realize I’m setting myself up to be called a two-faced hypocrite when I end up talking about the electromagnetic basis of some occult phenomena at some point. To be clear, my gripe is not with expanding occult paradigms into scientific ones or vice-versa.

It is with the ever trendy superficial scientism and parroting of oversimplified new-age cliché as opposed to really thinking things through with an understanding of both science and occultism, wherever one chooses to focus in these genres.

Be it purist or eclectic, magic is often intertwined with ceremonial drama or some form of ritual, as a series of actions that involve specifics of time, place and materials that represent the outcome one wishes to attain in some way. Although this is indeed one way to go about things, it is often idealized by advocates as the essence of what magic is or should be.

Truly, given the populist tendencies that have oversimplified much of esoteric possibility I cannot blame the purist sensibilities. My gripe here is that they can lead to extremes of blinding practitioners to creative options that are not scripted in written traditions.

Magic, for example, can be accomplished without elaborate ceremony. The primary agent in this case can be one’s own will, be it augmented by unseen sentient influences or not. The outcome may be labeled with words such as “psionic” or “psychic”, but it can still fit into the aforementioned definition.

Magic is indeed hard to pin down conceptually in any universally satisfactory manner in my view. Even so, with enough theoretical- not to mention hands on- exposure one gets an intuitive sense of what’s involved to the extent that other practitioners and arm chair advocates usually know what is meant when someone uses the word “magic”.

That being said, I have long been interested in streamlining and minimizing the ceremonial complexity in magical ritual down to bare necessities, and even less. That does not mean the process of doing so is either simpler or “less work”. The work may actually be more, but the application of the work and its ramifications of emphasis and expression are different than with ceremony-based magic.

It goes without saying views vary across the board. Mine is that disappointment comes via a chronic misunderstanding of the meaning of creative innovation in the magical arts. Disappointment festers when innovation is confused with making things easy. Disappointment can also fester when a form of magic is taken for granted just because tradition or some trendy majority says so. So the issue isn’t to “do the work”, but to know what you are doing and why every step of the way, and to be aligned with it. In other words, effective magic is an outpouring of one’s being and not a series of technical maneuvers. And there are no free rides.

In any case, the concept of modifying/innovating tradition and to what degree this is favorable has been a point of controversy in online discussions. It is not hard to notice the dividing line polarizing those who advocate purism from those who advocate liberal modification of occult ways and means (as they understand them).

Many experienced occultists do not like the way things have been watered down and oversimplified with points of emphasis that are blatantly “made up” and marketed with little forging in the fires of experience. Then again, practical occultism is not a by-the-book skill in my honest opinion. Basic principles matter, but improvisation appears to be adapted to both the individual and the circumstances in which they find themselves in the desire and necessity surrounding application procedure.

To be more specific, in my experience, magical effectiveness is strongly dependent on one’s existential stance. This is a topic that demands ample space to be given justice. Such space will be found in another installment of this series. Suffice it to say that I am speaking of how- if at all- one understands and relates to the meaning and purpose of one’s existence and perhaps existence as a whole.

This involves reaching for that potential and discovering the most coherent way to actualize it in pragmatic balance. The stance doesn’t have to be elaborate or overtly “philosophical” in outlook. One can be a nihilist or a hedonist, a materialist or transcendentalist, or some or all of the above, regardless of ethical considerations.

The reality of one’s existential stance, however, is often over-simplified in confusing it with beliefs and belief systems. The stance is more about motive in magic and the very roots of that. Thus knowing thyself, as it were, is far more empowering than faking belief in something to force a magical outcome. On the other hand, a simulation of belief convincing to one’s own critical faculties appears to induce effective outcome to an extent. Many practitioners stand behind it, and it is unlikely every one of them is fooling themselves.

A simulation of belief, however, that is convincing to one’s critical faculties amounts to conversion to that belief. In other words, holding two opposing beliefs serially or even at the same time can be magically effective. The provision is that they are connected by an underlying truth that may be paradoxical or practically impossible to verbalize, but is felt as true nevertheless.

Without the feeling/sense of truth the effectiveness of forms of simulated belief are highly limited in my view. For example if one feels the truth that the contradiction of opposing beliefs is an illusion and also feels how this is so, then their conviction fuels what their critical reasoning might otherwise undermine. There is more to this of course, and will be reserved for a future installment as well.

I would add here that getting results in magical work is not something hard to do. What is challenging and requires much commitment in time, energy and concentration is getting results of a considerable and sustainable caliber, regardless of what one’s priorities are. Not everyone is dedicated to sex, wealth and status, and out of those occultists that are, or say they are, few apparently succeed; that is unless they remain under the radar, refraining from the kiss and tell “stance” that well-known names appear to favor.

My own existential stance is built on the premise of personal transformation. I do not view magic as metaphysical mechanics or an artful expression of rules and tools as a means to fulfill desires. I also thrive on the magic energy itself, and consider it part of my very being. The internalization of the symbolism is nourishing to me. It is augmented by cultivating the principles behind that symbolism as I coax its story into light. It goes without saying, furthermore, that commitment bonded energy expended in an operation, long or short term, is an investment toward its success. When properly appropriated, that energy will return a multiple of itself.

This is another one of those topics that can run on and on. It is a personal quirk of mine to find difficulty in saying a few simple words regarding themes that are not only challenging to conceptualize with any rational clarity, but that have depth well beyond the space afforded by a few scripted pages pretending to do them justice. Thus, once again I leave the topic open-ended, to be revisited as the winds of mood and circumstance allow.

The Tree of Life and the Divine Restoration: Part IV

Let us now explore the esoteric implications of the Garden of Eden (Gan Eden) story in relation to Cabalistic philosophy, and specifically regarding the extended symbol system known as the “Tree of Life”. This symbolic mapping incorporates the biblical story of expulsion from paradise. The direct cause of expulsion was the ingestion of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge (ToK) of Tov and Raa, two Hebrew words that have most always been translated to respectively mean “good” and “evil”. The act of ingesting the fruit has been associated with “sin” and “fall” (from grace), two concepts alluding to alienation from an inherent state of divine proximity if not communion.

The concept of knowledge in the biblical and QBLH context, on the other hand, is about intimacy of experience with ramifications of existential metamorphosis. The consequence would be to stimulate evolution and existential maturation. The premise here is that the stimulus itself is not just that which is termed “good” in opposition to that which is termed “evil”, but a relationship between complementary evolutionary strategies.

Let us look at the semantic pair in mention in its original context: Tov (Tayt, Vav, Bayt- transliterated TVB) and Raa (Resh, Ayin- trasnsliterated RO). In terms of the meanings of its constituent letters Tov refers to a structure that fertilizes one’s house or presence. It is a natural state, in other words. Raa, on the other hand is the vision or way of another or “another vision”. As such, it is the artifice for better or ill. If obedience to divine authority is Tov, then one’s own initiative is Raa.

The interpretation makes sense in terms of the ToL of QBLH because the 3rd and 4th sephiroth are therein termed depths of Tov and Raa respectively. “Depth” in this case can be considered a metaphor for an arcane mystery. We have the mystery of good and the mystery of bad. Or rather the mystery of intrinsic harmony and the mystery of evolutionary challenge and initiative. It is the dramatization of the latter around which the story of the fall revolves.

The garden of delight, full of wonders as it was, did not involve evolutionary challenge nor any sense of initiative where the first humans were concerned. How could it when they could not tell between what was pleasing to them and what was not? That is not to say that the value of the tree of knowledge is the insurgency it inspires against a divine status quo. The value is in making the one imbibing its fruit aware of the meaning of Tov, Raa and the complementary and symbiotic nature of their relationship. What is so bad about that?

Religious interpreters of the story would say it is about humans being disobedient and not about being able to discern between qualities. They site that the first symptom of imbibing the fruit was to experience “modesty” or a sense of shame in being naked before the divine. Today we know that modesty is taught and that one desires to be covered and/or concealed because it makes them feel vulnerable and exposed. This only occurs when exposure is sensed as threatening. Perhaps being exposed to YHVH Elohim was not always a “good” thing, but the first humans did not have the ability to tell when they were not treated lovingly.

Speculation aside, the Torah explains precisely why humans were expelled, and then kept out of the enclosure of their creation. It had nothing to do with defiance. The truth is that the activation of the fruit of knowledge, aside from awakening discernment, is only fulfilled when the fruit of the tree of life is also imbibed afterward. Then, as the “Lord” mused, “They shall be as Elohim”. It is likely that later generations misunderstood the import of the statement. For a mystic the meaning is clear: consuming both fruits in the proper order (knowledge and then life) engenders a profound transformation of existential identity via the power of divine realization. Elohim ends up clarifying to its peers (and the readers of the story) that not only are the wages of consuming the fruit of the ToK the experience of death, but the subsequent redemption of rebirth only comes when tree congress comes full circle: meaning the fruit of the Tree of Life must be consumed forthwith.

Once Eve and Adam consumed the fruit of discernment, however, they were promptly banished to insure that they never even come near the Tree of Life again. Some analysts insinuate and some openly posit that if humans just did what they were told, they would have been freely given the fruits of their destiny in full…when they were ready. The first humans were thus held accountable for disobedience they could not evaluate one way or the other, under the pretext that they didn’t need to evaluate…just do as they were told. What is most problematic, however, with the story is that making a choice based on a convincing argument (the serpent’s in this case) cannot be done without the discernment necessary for arguments to make sense in the first place.

The sloppiness of this story lends one to come to conclusions about it that can dovetail in to more than one conspiracy theory about archons and aliens. Whether these have merit or not is beyond the scope of this exposition. We do not have to resort to such rationalizations, however, nor do we need to whitewash the inconsistencies with artful commentary and blind faith. We can choose to open to the understanding that many tales holding arcane wisdom utilize paradox so that their meanings cannot be extracted with day to day reasoning. Sometimes the tale is so focused on making a point that it ignores the context that is supposed to give it coherence and consistency.

In this particular story, we know there are two trees. And we know that to become as Elohim we must consume both their fruit, in the proper order. We know that we are no stranger as humanity to either of these trees, since the first humans ate of their fruit- albeit not in the proper order. The story appears to emphasize the nature of these fruits, and that when one is eaten the other is forbidden so the caterpillar human does not awaken as the butterfly Elohim equivalent.

Discernment is superficially qualified as evaluating between good and bad, pleasant and unpleasant, harmony and dissonance etc. Analyzing the words as letter strings, however, we can see how the first represents a natural and healthy state, whereas the second touted as bad actually refers to acting and thinking outside the status quo of natural harmony. This is, in fact, what humans tend to do and what separates them from the proverbial “beasts in the field”.

If humans are aware where they veer away from instinct and natural “default” instinctive inclination they can act with deliberation. Such discernment and the ability to act artfully (with artifice) is apparently necessary if the tree of life is to lead one to an Elohim-like condition.

Here is another hint: The serpent is one being connected to the story. It is cast in the bad guy role even though it facilitated consumption of the fruit that gave humanity the initiative to cultivate discernment. The other being associated with the story is cast in the good guy role, even though it is hostile to humans. This is the Kerub guarding the East Gate of Eden. One must pass this Kerub and its revolving fiery sword to access the tree of life. Perhaps this too is a mystic allusion. If so, what mysteries does it conceal or even imply?

Human experience is practically defined by the consequences of eating the first fruit, for humans not only discern between what is natural and what is artificial and dysfunctional, but have become enslaved to the latter. Yet human destiny is incomplete without the fruit of the other tree, the one that used to be permitted before the eyes of the first humans were open. This Tree of Life, is described in QBLH as an existential map.

Perhaps it is indeed an allegory of the primordial human frame itself- both cosmic and microcosmic. If so, it is the embodiment of that being which chose to veer from the dictates of its Creator in the first place even before it could tell what that meant: you, me and everyone human. At some point there will be a fifth installment. This topic is by no means exhausted, and I have yet to touch up the “divine restoration” part as I originally intended. In any case, there is more to come…(at some point).

The Tree of Life and The Divine Restoration: Part III

The Divine in its pure, original state- according to mystical understanding the world over- is the very essence of Love/Bliss. Seeds created in its image and likeness are exposed to choices inherent in fields of creation defined by polarity and multiplicity…and then meaningful shit happens. Ultimately, the path that takes the Divine through the transcendence of Its own perfection for the incomprehensible further horizon is paved with the precarious denial of its very essence.

That dynamic of existential self-denial is what the fall is all about. It is the denial of the original divine essence at odds with the status of created beings or offspring. The Tree of the Orchard of Delight, known in the Torah as Gan Eden is a multidimensional entity representing the blueprint of human incarnation. From the mystical standpoint, rather than being a “pleasure garden” as the name would imply, the enclosure of Eden is a contained state of being. It expresses and represents the existential mode underlying human creation and its first stages of growth. The state is accordingly one of mystical bliss, the natural condition for the human beings of such a formation.

There is ambiguity regarding the nature and number of trees in the center of the sacred enclosure- the contained bliss state. Suffice it to say that consuming the fruit of the Tree of Life (ToL) did not compromise the state of divine grace the primordial human couple of the story experienced. Partaking of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge (ToK), on the other hand, was an act that was said to result in death, preceded by the notorious fall from grace that ushered it.

Rather than buy into the idea that humanity suffers because they were disobedient, and its overtones of capitulation to tyranny (even if Divine), the mythical rendition and its variety of nuances challenges the seeker of esoteric wisdom. Therein the story calls us to penetratingly discern beneath its surface veneer, or fall victim to the seductive prejudices that come whenever mysteries are superficially approached. I would suggest, therefore, that we forget the names of the players in this drama; set aside the blame and the usual suspects. Then perhaps we can focus on the process of unfolding patterns of symbolism embedded therein.

As already mentioned, our story unfolds in the heart of a divine enclosure, an existential state of bliss depicted as an actual place not necessarily on the material plane of existence. We can view the enclosure in terms of a kind of paradoxical chrysalis; not even a living womb, for that might suggest the presence of a temptation to slide back into its warm embrace. The dynamic that sustains the integrity of the chrysalis as well as its function (among the many possibilities of its operation) is the ToL. The dynamic of its end is the ToK.

It is said, however, that the enclosure remains intact even after expulsion, and is guarded by a being of power in its eastern gate. The space itself is a westward dynamic, the direction often symbolic of the realm of the grateful dead, the abode of ancestors and the mythic Isles of the Blessed. The west in the esoteric sense is, in fact, where paradise the enclosed garden of bliss resides. It is not in the future where the sun rises, but in the past where the day is left behind.

It is as if the presence of the guardian forces us to refrain from trying to relive the past, however graceful it my have been. Instead we are forced to walk the earth until we come full circle. We may then perhaps enter throw the back door into a new state of grace. But I get ahead of myself. That train of thought is reserved for the concluding installment…next time.

Be that as it may, the above supposition is compatible in meaning with the following: In spite of appearances to the contrary it is quite possible the guardian is not protecting the enclosure from the humans exiled from it. It is guarding the secret that the enclosure itself  is nothing more than discarded shards (Kelipot– QLIPVTh- in Hebrew), the discarded shards of a former stage of divine evolution that may still have a role to play when the “time” is right.

The former presumption, however, is not easily convincing. Is the being from the family of entities known as Kerubim really guarding a secret, or is it actually issuing a challenge for humanity- if not isolated initiates- to earn and embody a profound mystery? After all a similar being was said in another part of the Old Testament to have descended and battled the patriarch Jacob in order for the latter to earn its blessing and gain then title of Israel.

The mystery in this case lies at the heart of the divine enclosure and depends on the understanding of the tale of the two trees growing there. As is the case for mysteries of the occult, paradox lies at their point of comprehension. That the two trees are one tree is a paradox, but it is not inconceivable. The tree, furthermore, as an esoteric mystery lies not in the midst of an abandoned pleasure garden, but in the beings around which the enclosure was manifested in the first place.

As mentioned in the beginning of this four-part work, the two trees are really one. Each description of a distinct tree is really a formalization of an evolutionary phase of a singular entity or potentiality at the very core of human nature. The thing to consider, and hopefully remember, is that you can take Adam and Eve out of the Garden, but you can’t take the Garden (or rather its core dendritic mystery) out of Adam and Eve. Therein, within a rather crude cliché lies profound meaning and the possibility of unfathomable revelation regarding our very human/divine evolutionary potential.

The forbidden version of the tree, whose fruit transformed the first humans into its likeness, expressed the contradiction necessary to seed the path of self-transcendence and ultimate divine purpose. Thus humanity entered the world of suffering- or rather the principle of suffering entered humanity…and so did the consequence of death.

The Tree of Knowledge (of “Good” and “Evil”- as it is commonly and perhaps erroneously translated), corresponds to a deep existential intimacy with the experiences of being broken, fragmented and in a state of existential denial. It is the knowledge of what sets a self aware being apart from its divine origin and center, and the intimate connection with all that is nourishing and all that is existentially toxic (aka “evil”). As it is more akin to the sensual intimacies of carnal knowledge rather than anything held by intellect, the knowing depicted in QBLH wisdom as daath is not just a theoretical contrivance. It is a brutishly raw experience of the extremes it covers.

Sages have harnessed the revelatory potentials of the Eden mythos and established a mapping and description of the esoteric potentials it inspired. The view was known in various cultures of the ancient Mediterranean as Hermetic Wisdom. Its basis is the understanding that the human microcosm and the universal macrocosm are reflections of each other, while both express/represent a Divine reality.

The greatest revelations in the world, however, are nothing more than a play of intellect when one is not conscious of the sacred state of being their embodiment. When this is the case, those embodied revelations of both macrocosm and microcosm complement and support the fulfillment of the nature and purpose of each; I call this fulfillment “Restoration”.

The Tree of Life in its original purity sustains grace. The Tree of the Fallen, known biblically as the tree of the knowledge of “good and evil”, ends the state of grace dependency to initiate and empower evolution through the crucible of fragmented existence.

Suffering, in this author’s view, is a collateral experience and not something with inherent purpose other than its transcendence without compromising the attainment of the third phase of the tree: The restoration as the tree of Living Meaning where grace is now revived as the core of one’s being in unconditional and unbounded relationship with one’s world.

In the next and concluding installment in this series, the nature of the Restoration and its kinship with the Fall itself will be explored at length. The key to be examined is the understanding of the deeper meaning of the words translated as “good” and “evil” in the Genesis story. The suspect conventional translation tends to act in a way similar to a guardian of the entrance to the deeper mysteries of the Eden mythos. These are nothing less than the mysteries of Divine Restoration.

The Tree of Life and The Divine Restoration: Part II

In biblical mythos (literal history to Abrahamic fundamentalists), the first human couple was created within a divine enclosure of pure delight. The enclosure was described as a garden (or more properly an orchard) where many trees pleasing to the eye bore the most refreshing and delicious of fruit. The first human couple was tasked to tend this pleasure garden, while the male who was created first was prompted to name everything he encountered therein.

This account is usually touted as a story of two trees and of disobedience to one’s Creator (and hence Master). Adam the man, was treated as a beloved slave or house pet, and Eve his mate was his Master’s gift and apparently secondary in importance. The man disobeyed the Lord, prompted by the woman, who was in turn “seduced” by the villain of the story in the form of a snake, and the rest is His-story as they say.

The tale of betraying one’s Lord makes sense if you take religious texts verbatim, i.e. with no esoteric component; if you gloss over some inconsistencies, and explain a few things away. It is easy in our world to accept that all we need to do is what we are told when the authority lording itself over us is the “right” one and not the villain. After all, we are obliged in this life to not just follow the rules, but to know which rules to follow. Fortunately for the spiritually somnambulant among us, the latter task is most often appropriated by certain religious institutions whose constituents make it their life’s work to keep the rest of us from thinking for ourselves. Those who encourage otherwise, according to the institutions, are nothing more than shills working for the villain.  

This analysis, however, represents a different track of understanding. It is one that strives to compare and correlate the trees of the biblical Orchard of Delight with two versions of the cabalistic existential mapping also known as the Tree of Life (ToL). One of these is a symmetric array of ten interconnected domains and the other, the same array with one portion gapped or fallen from the rest. I will leave the details of that form (well known to many interested in occultism and QBLH these days) for another day. Instead, the aim here is to elaborate some basic ideas relating to notions of damnation (the fall) and salvation (the restoration).

In essence the fallen tree in QBLH is defined by a gap that alters the dynamic of every relationship within the fabric of its design. Because of this gap, everything else is “off” and one must constantly adjust and experience the trials and frictions of existential compromise when moving through any domain mapped within the tree. If this gap is restored, on the other hand, the discovery and recovery of the original tree of life are actualized in synthesis with the knowledge gained by its/our fall from grace.  

QBLH certainly moves to describe the mechanics of such a fall, elaborating in great detail as to how it happened. The question of “why”, however, is more problematic in a cosmology that is purposeful and revolving around perfect divinity. This is where correlation with the biblical story may provide some insight. The fundamentalist view often takes it for granted that the primordial couple had it good and made bad choices.

Yet there is also the view that suggests the whole thing was a set up. The primordial couple were, in that sense, manipulated to taste the fruit they were ordered to avoid. Thus they would enter the earth plane- the realm beyond the orchard- as an act of defiance to divine authority instead of one ordained by it. The serpent, traditionally a symbol of wisdom and healing, in this drama is working for the “Lord”.   

I find that this view makes sense, but it requires some deeper exploration. Much confusion comes from taking spiritual teachings literally. Spiritual understanding is a paradox. It requires us to strip ourselves from conceptual burdens that overcomplicate things, but also cautions us not to oversimplify either. Spirituality, therefore, amounts to walking a razors edge of insight and intuition in a balancing act that can easily falter. If it does, we slip into misconception and misunderstanding leading to all kinds mischief. The real problem there is that we most often don’t realize slippage has occurred until well after we make a mockery out of our most meaningful revelations.  

Digressions aside, when grace is based on existential integrity, it is a state that comes from the divine core that defines the very fabric of our experience as self. Such experience unites the individual persona commonly called ego with the environment that appears through the five senses to be the “outside” world. Our fabric is then supported and interwoven with the divine truth of Being, inseparable not just from the sense of individual self, but from our intercourse with the allegedly external environment as well. This state of affairs can also be understood as grace because through it desires are attained via what is easily seen from the mundane- fallen- viewpoint as living miraculously.  

The grace of the primordial couple, however, was different because it was grace devoid of initiative, confined and defined by the condition of prohibition. More importantly, it was grace devoid of knowledge. The grace of innocence, in other words, was nothing more than divine dependency. No matter how benign it appears, such “grace” disqualifies the “beneficiaries” of the infinitude of divine possibility for a simple reason: divine dependency is incompatible with the actualization of one’s divine nature.  

One need not resort to conjuring Lucifer, Satan- or any antinomian anthropomorphism- to make comprehend and realize the meaning of the above paragraph. One need only be open to the mystical understanding that all that is created by the Divine is as divine as the Divine itself. There is no need to capitalize either because the Divine is all-permeating and nothing “special” as it were, even when transcendent and apart from the “rest” of all that is. The aforementioned mystical observation makes more sense when we consider creation as divine reproduction- as opposed to craftsmanship and artifice- and all that is created as offspring of its parental causation.  

A human being, however, cannot grow into healthy adulthood when held in the confines of parental dependency. It cannot realize its potential because it has insufficient liberty toward self-definition and discovery. According to this mystical perspective, the Divine is one essence becoming many in an evolutionary process that transforms any compromise into greater actualization potential.  

The process involves the Divine discovering itself within each point of its creation according to the nature of the intrinsic and relativistic limits of those. Such apparently down-sized actualization (or incarnation) may not be under the aegis of the original divine express that begat itself as “them”, at least not in any expressive manner or in a way that does not involve an evolutionary unfolding to a more mature state. But what exactly is the nature of the Divine Aegis? The answer, along with the conclusion to this diatribe, in the next installment.