Nov 092011
 

The second main occasion for conscious exploration beyond the body happened during the daytime, one Saturday or Sunday afternoon, while I was sober but (if truth be told) recovering from excessive drink the night before. My fragile physical state induced me to lie very, very still, very, very quietly, on my own, on the bed. It was actually quite pleasant.

As my body slipped down as if towards sleep I absentmindedly listened to the distant and disparate sounds of a lazy afternoon, which drifted both in through the open window and down from the living room, where John was watching television. At a certain point I recognised that I had fallen into a meditative state of almost total relaxation, but had managed to retain mental consciousness.

Avid adolescent reading of Carlos Castaneda, tales of the Happy Hunting Grounds, physical transformations, the hand of God, etc, had inspired me towards achieving the zen-like state of being and awareness for many years, precisely so that I could attempt an out of body experience without dying. For this reason I already had an idea of which barriers needed to be overcome. I had come close to my aim on other occasions and recognised certain signs as being my prelude to ‘astral projection’.

One of the signs I’d come to recognise over time as a herald of impending separation from my body, was a peculiar scenario regarding my right arm. In order to let the body sleep whilst the mind remains awake I find it essential to have a focus requiring no mental effort but which stimulates sufficient interest to distract me from other physical functions, such as: Blinking, twitching, scratching, snuggling, or any other dozy activities.

In this regard, ambient sound is often more conducive than silence, which tends to bring about complete relaxation to the point of sleep. An audible focus, on the other hand, allows the mind to drift, although the noise should not be so stimulating that it actually becomes arousing.

On several occasions prior to this one I had found that this drifting of the mind was often followed by a strangely vigorous movement, a ‘waving of my arm’, which seemed to behave quite independently of my body as a whole. Even stranger was the fact that I could never quite ascertain whether my arm was physically and actually moving, or it was my dream arm flapping anxiously for no good reason that I could fathom.

At such times I tended to wonder whether people would be worried if they could see me, as I realized that if I was physically moving I might have appeared to be having a fit. Maybe I was having a fit, but whatever the case might have been, it usually ended up with me just falling asleep anyway.

This time, however, I seized the moment with a bit more determination and instead of wondering what it was all about, I concentrated on the surreal action until I was able to control it. This took quite some effort: The rest of my body was still dormant but the arm seemed to have a life of its own, as if it were strong but struggling to grasp something. After around quarter of an hour I began to see that I might be able to use it as a kind of lever in order to climb out of my physical shell.

With this in mind and with a great effort of will, I made a powerful swinging motion from my shoulder in an attempt to get out, and was able to direct the movement quite successfully. I was surprised, though, at the amount of resistance I felt, in that my dream or ‘astral’ body seemed to be attached to my physical self by a really thick and springy cord, rather like a bungee rope.

‘Getting out’ was actually more difficult than one would imagine. I had always assumed that it would be like serenely floating away, although I also had an idea that one could be ‘sucked’ out of the body forcibly by an external force.

Jan 062011
 

It was neither the straw of the crib, nor the animals that were present, which guided and enabled the mages from the East to find the Child, but rather the “star” in heaven. Similarly, in Hermeticism one will find only straw and animals if one is not guided by its “star”, which exists only for intuition. Now, it is the nineteenth Arcanum of the Tarot, which invites us to occupy  ourselves quite especially with the “star” of Hermeticism in the heaven of intuition. What is this “star?” The Zohar says:

“And God made the two great lights….originally, when the moon and sun were in intimate union, they shone with equal luminosity. The names JEHOVAH and ELOHIM were then associated as equals…and the two lights were dignified with the same name: MAZPAZ MAZPAZ….The two lights rose simultaneously and were of the same dignity. But….the moon humbled herself by diminishing her light, and renounced her place of higher rank. From that time she has had no light of her own, but derives her light from the sun.

Nevertheless, her real light is greater than that which she radiates here below; for a woman enjoys no honour save in conjunction with her husband. The great light (the sun) has the name JEHOVAH and the lesser light (the moon) has the name ELOHIM, which is the last of the degrees and the close of thought. Originally she was inscribed above among the letters of the sacred name (YHVH), which are four in number; it was only after diminishing herself that she took the name ELOHIM.

But her power is manifest in all directions….EL being “the dominion of the day,” IM” being the “dominion of the night,” and HE in the middle being the remainder of the forces (“the stars”), participating in both dominions.

It is left to us only to cite another passage from an ancient source – from the eleventh book of Apuleius’ Transformations – in order to have all the elements necessary to grapple, sufficiently equipped, with the problem of the “star” of Hermeticism and “The Sun” of the nineteenth Arcanum of the Tarot. Apuleius summarised his great vigil at the temple of Isis – the “arcana of the sacred night” (noctis sacratae arcana) in the following way:

I approached the very gates of death and set one foot on Prosperine’s threshold,  yet was permitted to return, rapt through all the elements. At midnight I saw the sun shining in its brilliant radiance; I entered the presence of the gods of the under-world and the gods of the upper-world,  stood near and worshipped them.

Let us now seek for reality, having in view the above-cited passage from the Zohar and the statement made by Apuleius.

Unknown Author, Meditations on the Tarot, Letter XIX, The Sun