Feb 232017
 

And when I did humbly entreat thee, at the going up the Mountain after thou hadst discoursed unto me, having a great desire, to learn this Argument of Regeneration ; because among all the rest, I am ignorant only of this thou toldst me thou wouldst impart it unto me, when I would estrange myself from the World: whereupon I made myself ready, and have vindicated the understanding that is in me, from the deceit of the World. Now then fulfill my defects, and as thou saidst instruct me of Regeneration, either by word of mouth or secretly…

Corpus Hermetica

Dec 082014
 

geeseWe cannot keep the gold of yesterday;

To-day’s dun clouds we cannot role away.

Now the long, wailing flight of geese brings autumn in its train,

So to the view-tower cup in hand to fill and drink again,

And dream of the great singers of the past,

Their fadeless lines of fire and beauty cast.

I too have felt the wild-bird thrill of song behind the bars,

but these have brushed the world aside and walked amid the stars.

In vain we cleave the torrent’s thread with steel,

In vain we drink to drown the drink we feel;

When man’s desire with fate doth war this, this avails alone –

To hoist the sail and let the gale and the waters bear us on.

Drifting, Li Po

Apr 142014
 

soulDuring the period of struggle, questions as to the purpose of life and man’s own being had formulated themselves, but when the answers come they do not answer the questions but rather obliterate them in the experience of the reality itself.

Thus, with regard to the mystery of man’s own being, the answer is not an intellectual exposition of the constitution of man, but rather an awareness of his own inner Self and as a result, the discovery of the world of that Self. When, in that world, we consider the problem of the duality which we all experience in daily life, of a higher Self on the one hand and a lower self on the other, we find a wonderful truth.

Man is essentially divine; as a son of God he partakes of the nature of his Father and shares His Godhead. Man’s own and true home is therefore the world of the Divine; there we live and move and have our own being ‘from eternity to eternity’. In his own world the Ego of man has his own activities and lives a life of joy and splendour beyond all earthly conception. There is, however, one lesson or experience which he cannot learn in his own world, but for which he has to put forth his consciousness into the worlds of outer manifestation where there is manifoldness and the antithesis of “I” and “not I”.

It is there alone that, through the medium of bodies composed of the matter of these outer worlds, the Ego can gain self-consciousness, that is to say, consciousness of himself as a separate individual. The divine world which is the true home of the Ego is a world in which there is not that distinction between Self and not-Self, but in which every part shares of the universal consciousness of the whole. That is why in this world the particular self-realisation which is necessary to the Ego cannot be gained. It is only the three-fold universe of outer manifestation, the physical world, that we find the duality of subject and object necessary for the gaining of self-consciousness.

Thus it is truly for the gaining of knowledge that the Ego puts himself forth into these outer worlds and assumes bodies of the matter of these worlds. It is this going forth of the soul into the worlds of darkness which we find symbolically described in the story of Genesis. Primitive Paradise is not a state which can last, however great its beauty and harmony. The soul must eat of the tree of good and evil, the tree of knowledge, even though at the cost of Paradise.

Having thus become conscious of the desire to know the worlds of matter, the soul is clothed in “coats of skin,” the bodies of matter, and henceforth has to live under the conditions of material existence, “labouring and bringing forth in pain.” The end of this long exile is the redemption or regeneration, which takes place when the soul regains knowledge of her own divinity, and Christ is born in the heart of man. Then Paradise is regained, but now in full self-consciousness, the Ego in his own divine world possessing the fruits yielded by the soul’s descent into the worlds of matter.

J.J van der Leeuw, God’s in Exile

Jan 112014
 

adamandeveAdam and Eve are not just two people. They are a metaphor for the primordial Vessel whose existence preceded creation. Just as all the colours of  the spectrum exist within a single beam of sunlight, the Vessel encompassed all matter, space, time and consciousness. And all the souls of humankind were also present in the Vessel.

The Vessel shattered because of a contradiction in its nature. It had been created only to receive, but, in being filled with the Creator’s Light, it had also received and taken on a degree of the Creator’s own nature: the desire to share. All of our existence now is predicated on the goal of transforming this duality into a single desire, the desire to receive for the sake of sharing, in order to be able to finally reconnect with the Creator and receive the fullness of His Light.

This can happen in only one way. The shards of the shattered Vessel – you and I – must choose to make it happen. We must choose of our own free will to transform ourselves into ‘beings of sharing,’ as the kabbalists say, first on an individual level, and ultimately as a collective transformation of all humankind. Not even God can do this for us. Transformation is the supreme expression and the only expression of free will. It is the choice we make in every thought, feeling and action. Adam and Eve faced this choice in the Garden. They chose wrongly, but, their intentions were good.

*

The allure of evil makes that choice more difficult, and therefore more worthy. Evil, in its way, therefore serves the Creator. Indeed, by understanding this we can free ourselves from its temptations. A parable in the Zohar dramtises this teaching: A king forbade his son to consort with harlots, but the he hired a harlot to test the strength of his son’s character. The son was tempted – until he realised that the harlot was acting in the service of his father. She then lost all power over him.

The serpent in the Garden (acting in the service of our Father) is essential to our final transformation, but he certainly doesn’t make it any easier! At the time of his fateful encounter with Adam and Eve at the Tree of Knowledge, their state of being was fundamentally different from what ours is now. They embodied the pure energy of desire, and Kabbalah teaches that desire is inherently a positive force.

While the conventional view of our first ancestors portrays them as transgressors, the kabbalists point out that their motivation was to serve God. The serpent understood this also. In fact, he used their positive intentions to manipulate them for his own ends. He fostered the transformation of their pure, undifferentiated desire into desire to receive for themselves alone.

And the serpent said to the woman, ‘You are not going to die, but God knows that as soon as you eat of [the tree] your eyes will be opened and you will be like divine beings who know good and bad’. (Genesis 3:4)

*

Because Adam and Eve were not fully constituted to receive the Light – because the Vessel had not yet earned an unmediated connection – they were overwhelmed by the moment in the same way that a weak electrical circuit will flash brightly and then burn out at the sudden infusion of a powerful current. The kabbalists literalise this principle through a startling addition to the narrative:

Adam and Even took a second bite!

In the interval, a fundamental transformation had taken place, but not the positive one that had been envisoned. Rather, their desire had lost its sharing intention and had become self-serving. They were farther than ever away from unity with the nature of God, and this is exactly what the serpent had intended. It is essential to understand, however, that the impasse is also an opportunity. By traversing it, we can truly prepare the Vessel. We can earn the Light. We can receive it and take fulfillment in it. Most important, we can share it.

*

We have spoken of Adam and Eve as a couple, but until that second bite of the fruit they were not separate at the spiritual level. This detachment took place at the same instant that the divide widened between the Vessel and the Light. Where there had been unity and equilibrium, there was no dissimilarity and fragmentation. Where there had been eternal existence in Paradise, there was now mortal life in the physical world.

*

After the Fall, immortality consciousness was gone, replaced by a consciousness – a knowledge – of death and evil that instantly expressed itself in the physical dimension of life. But despite all this, the plain fact of immortality remained untouched, but in the same way that the signal that carries a TV programme remains in the air even after the set has been turned off.

With the Fall of Adam, the bad news is that we stopped receiving the programme. But we also began the process of repairing the receiving mechanism and getting it tuned in again. This correction, this tikkun, is our task for however many years it requires and however many lifetimes. When an individual human being truly completes this process, immortality is restored.

The Essential Zohar, Rav P. S. Berg

 

Oct 042012
 

The throne on which the Empress is seated represents, as we have said, the role of sacred magic in the world. It is its place in the world and in the history of the world; it is, lastly, its basis. In other words, it is that which attends it, desires it and is always ready to receive it. What is this?

In view of the liberating function of sacred magic, it is all that which is deprived of liberty and is bound by necessity. Concerning this, St Paul says:

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it to hope; because the creation itself will be set free fro its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans viii, 19-23)

It is therefore the mineral, plant animal and human realms of Nature – in a word, Nature it its entirety – which constitutes the domain of sacred magic. The reason for the existence of sacred magic stems from the Fall and the whole domain of the Fall – comprising fallen Nature, fallen man and the fallen hierarchies. These are the beings belonging to it who hope ‘with eager longing’ to be ‘set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God.’

How does sacred magic operate towards this end? How, for example, does it deliver man?

The throne of the Empress has a back. It strongly resembles two wings, so that certain interpreters of the Tarot have seen the Empress as being winged. Others, however, see only a back. In view of the context of the card, the meaning of the coat-of-arms bearing the eagle, the sceptre surmounted by the cross, and the two-layered crown, could one not see the back here in the form of two petrified and immobilised wings, but which had once been genuine wings and which are again potentially so?

If this interpretation is accepted, not only would it reconcile the two apparently opposing points of view but also it would agree with all that the card teaches about the sphere, the aim, the power and the legitimacy of sacred magic. To give movement to the petrified wings…would this not be in accord with the liberating mission of sacred magic and with the words of St Paul?

Meditations on the Tarot, Letter III, The Empress

 

 

Dec 302011
 

Then Almitra spoke, saying, we would ask now of death. And he said:

You would  know the secret of death. But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?

The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.

If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life. For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea  are one.

In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond; and like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your  heart dreams of spring.

Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity. Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.

Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king? yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?

For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and melt into the sun? And what is it to cease breathing but free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing. And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin the climb. And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

Dec 102011
 

Merlin appears in the shape of a young squire; Nimue in the form of a little maid ‘but twelve years old’. This number is, in this context, more mystical than chronological in intent.

Together they perform an enchantment that is an evocation of the ideal society of humankind and a reconstruction of the Earthly Paradise or Garden of Eden.

For behold! Out of the forest comes a carole of ladies and knights and maidens and squires, “each holding other by the hands and dancing and singing: and made the greatest joy that ever was seen in any land”…And presently, in the midst of the wild wood, appears an orchard, wherein was all manner of fruits and all manner of flowers, that gave so great a sweetness of flavour that marvel it was to tell. (Vida Scudder, Le Morte d’Arthur of Sir Thomas Malory).

This is no mere infatuation of a magician for a fairy maid. It is a great and pre-ordained work of redemptive magic. Similarly Merlins’ disappearance from the Earth into the world behind outer nature is no falling under a false enchantment but a deliberate sacrificial sacramental act. As Vida Scudder puts it, although she does not appear consciously to realise the deeper implications:

….when she spoke to him of her longing to know how to create the magic tower of air, he bowed down to the earth and began to sigh. None the less he did her will, and on a fateful day they went out through the forest of Broceliande hand in hand, devising and disporting; and found a bush that was fair and high and of white hawthorn full of flowers, and there they sat in the shadow.

And Merlin laid his head on the damsel’s lap, and she began to caress gently till he fell on sleep, and when she felt that he was in sleep she arose softly, and made a circle of her wimple all about the bush, and all about Merlin. And when he waked he looked about him, ‘and him seemed he was in the fairest tower on the world and the most strong; and he said to the damsel; “Lady thou hast me deceived, but if ye will, abide with me, for none but ye may undo these enchantment” And in truth she stayed by him for the most part, “Ye have been my thought and my desire” says she, “for without you have I neither joy nor wealth. In you have I set all my hope, and I abide, none other joy but of you”.

Her impulse is thus love and not self-will. And, whether ‘deceived’ or not, Merlin was well aware, before and after the fact, of the implications of this profound magical union.

Gareth Knight, The Secret Tradition in Arthurian Legend

Nov 202011
 

High above the clouds, in a dimension where the sun would shine even at midnight, Zeus brought to mind the Eagles of the East and West, lords of land and sea.

Holding them in sight, he gave to them their mission, saying: “Fly now each of you in his own direction; neither is swifter than the other. The place where you meet I shall pin down forever as the centre of this world”.

The gods had come down from their clouds and assembled at this place, to mark forever the foundation of their temple on Earth. Zeus’s fair twins Apollo and Artemis, sun and moon, came down to where they had been summoned, swiftly followed by the others, each in elemental guise.

Bearing fruits of the earth and dressed in garlands of flowers, the earth mother Demeter walked hand‐in‐hand with her love‐struck daughter, queen of the Styx‐bound underworld.

Ares, Hestia and Hera, Hephestaeus, Poseidon and Athena ‐ each transpiring from their own dominion – fulfilled the summons from their central being.

A bull emerged from the forest, metamorphosising with a swagger into a shining youth, handsome as only a handsome youth can be. He walked hand in hand with the loveliest female in the land, raising to his moistened lips an earthen jar of ruby‐coloured wine.

Her love‐child laughed with his magician.

Hera gazed broodingly at the twice‐born son of his father and a cloud descended on the assembly. “I hope you will not reserve too many honours for this youth, Dionysus, husband, for he is only quite immortal, with half true blood in his blue, engorged veins”.

Zeus roared with laughter and raised a glass in toast to his progeny. “But see the ones who are with him, sister; you must admit he is in great company: The body of desire with the power of love and the herald of all ages. I see no issue here but that which is great!”

“But come forth now Apollo and shine on me son, step beyond the clouds, for I would have you build me here a house, where men from all corners of the world will
come to learn their destiny”

Jun 202011
 

Indeed the Idols I have loved so long

Have done my credit in Men’s Eye much wrong:

Have drown’d my honour in a shallow cup

And sold my reputation for a song.

Indeed, indeed, repentence oft before

I swore – but was I sober when I swore?

And then and then came spring, and rose in hand

My threadbare penitence a pieces tore.

And much as wine has play’d the Infidel,

And robb’d me of my Robe of Honour – well,

I often wonder what the Vintners buy

One half so precious as the goods they sell.

Alas, that spring should vanish with the rose!

That youth’s sweet-scented manuscript should close!

The nightingale that in the branches sang,

Ah, whence, and whither flown again, who knows!

Would but the desert of the fountain yield

One glimpse – if dimly, yet indeed, reveal’d,

To which the fainting traveller might spring,

As springs the trampled herbage of the field!

Would but some winged Angel ere too late

Arrest the yet unfolded roll of fate,

And make the stern recorder otherwise

Enregister, or quite obliterate.

Ah love!  could thou and I with fate conspire

To grasp this sorry scheme of things entire,

Would we not shatter it to bits – and then

Re-mould it closer to the Heart’s desire!

Ah, Moon of my delight who know’st no wane,

The Moon of Heav’n is rising once again:

How oft hereafter rising shall she look

Through this same garden after me – in vain!

And when thyself with shining foot shall pass

Among the guests Star-scatter’d on the grass,

And in thy joyous errand reach the spot

Where I made one turn down an empty glass!

Taman Shud (it is completed)

The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam