This is another link-y post. Of interest to me is how often spirit work involved enclosure, as if spirits themselves have a preference for delimitation and containment. Ancient gnostics are sort of famous for their concern with breaking out of such enclosures, but what if the urge to break out is significantly less common than the urge to break in? What if it is that very movement of spirit toward matter that helps create an ‘in,’ a sense of subjectivity and differentiation?
Take a look at this outsider artist, Frank Jones, Like many outsider artists, his work has less to do with art than an effort to negotiate spirit communication. How interesting is it that the spirits become less threatening, more calm, once he lets them into the house? We can read that as him ‘capturing’ them, but we can also read it as them finally getting what they really wanted, a space of their own.
Conisder Gobekli Tepe and the discussions around it. What if the ‘sense of the sacred’ archaeologists are musing is the push of spirits on humans to build them a space they could occupy? The sorts of nagging spirits hectoring Mr. Jones might be the same sort to hector the wandering bands to sit down long enough to make some proper space for them.
What are those sand mandalas of Tibetan Buddhism really about? An important subset of them are “two-dimensional representations of what is supposed to be a three-dimensional environment” that are activated through visualization techniques. They may contain gods rather than devils, but otherwise they seem to fit into Mr. Jones territory.
Let’s pause for just a moment on visualization. Visualization is an odd thing when you think about since it seems to have spiritual consequences outside of the merely visual material it contains. My theory is that visualization, especially when combined with various kinesthetic and tonal cues, produces certain kinds of orderly patterns inside the nervous system–i.e., physio-electric circuits that delimit a real, if subtle, material space into which spirits may move and operate.
Just scroll down this page over at Esoteric Archives for a nice set of containers, including the two-dimensional summoning circle as well as the three-dimensional brass vessel.
If you get a chance, pick up a copy of Robert Lebling’s Legends of the Fire Spirits. He astutely notes that these spirits like houses and how houses that sit empty have a habit of getting chocked full of spirits. He also notes how much less ‘supersitious’ the nomadic peoples are. Perhaps the absence of permanent enclosures means that they move through an environment less hospitable to spirits and so have less encounters with them?
I’ll admit, too, to amusing myself with thoughts of the Chinese ghost towns as teeming with unseen life, though honestly I suspect the never-used provides little comfort to spirits. That said, one of the more common bits of spiritual health advice from the spiritualist angle is to keep a tidy house. The reason behind that is because a tidy house doesn’t have unused corners or, worse, bottles, for less than neighborly spirits to make a little home in. The same reason you might keep a bottle tree in the yard is exactly why you wouldn’t keep one in the house.
As a corollary, when you start thinking about your body, your nervous system, your psyche, and your soul as sorts of containers, you can appreciate why spiritualists are always encouraging people to develop a personal relationship with their friendly spirits. The more space you give over to them in your life, the fewer the spaces available for the less helpful sorts.