esothemes

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

Month: June, 2017

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).