History – as, moreover, the life of the individual – is ‘worked’ by day and by night. It has a diurnal aspect and a nocturnal aspect. The former is exoteric, whilst the latter is esoteric. The silence and obscurity of the night is always full of events in preparation – and all that which is unconscious or superconscious in the human being belongs to the domain of ‘night’.
This is the magical side of history, the side of magical deeds and works acting behind the facade of history ‘by day’. Thus, when the Gospel was preached by the light of day in the countries around the Mediterranean, the nocturnal rays of the Gospel effected a profound transformation in Buddhism. There, the ideal of individual liberation by entering the state of nirvana gave way to the ideal of renouncing nirvana for the work of mercy towards suffering humanity. The ideal of mahayana, the great chariot, then had its resplendent ascent to the heaven of Asia’s moral values.
This is the formula of the twofold teaching – by the speech of day and by the knowledge of night; of the twofold tradition – by verbal teaching and by direct inspiration; of twofold magic – by the spoken word and by silent radiation; and lastly, of twofold history – ‘visible’ history by day and ‘invisible’ history by night.
…and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night (Genesis i, 4-5)
And the act of separation of the intelligible from the mysterious signifies at the same time the establishing of cosmic respiration, which is the analogy of ‘the Spirit of God moving above the face of the waters’. For the divine breath (ruach ‘elohim) above the profoundness of peace (‘the waters’ – it is this which is the psychological as well as the cosmic reality of nirvana) is the divine prototype of respiration.
Unknown author, Meditations on the Tarot, Letter V, The Pope