The various materials surrounding A Vision are thick with theoretical and practical advice regarding spiritualist working. I can’t think of any set of materials I have ever come across that are so densely layered and useful. I thought it might be really useful to provide a list of concepts and methods for other spiritualists out there who might be interested. I might make this something of a running series, expanding to include material from well beyond the Yeatses’ little circle; we’ll see.
This is a step in the direction of building bridges that would more firmly connect the English-speaking strains of spiritualism with the Latin American strains (sometimes called ‘spiritist’ after the Spanish term ‘espiritismo’). While they definitely co-exist in places, I do believe they could communicate more effectively if there were better intellectual infrastructure in place. (Which reminds me, I haven’t specifically mentioned what I take to be the different strains of Spiritualist thought, have I? That is a definitely a post for another time!)
Onto the concepts, though. Most any of these could be given lengthy treatment, but here I just want to get the kernel of them out there.
Root Thought: The spirits using George Yeats as a medium spend some time describing how spirits communicate through them and indicate that similar mechanisms are at work more generally among those whose mediumistic skills are not developed. The spirits instill in mediums a root idea which the medium must then unpack or translate into language. The medium may be more or less aware of how their own understanding shapes the message, making it possible for a common root message to take different concrete expressions when different mediums transmit them.
Those concrete variations aren’t incidental to the process–they are its raison d’etre. It is through constant instantiation that the root thought develops, much like souls themselves. It isn’t too much of a surprise that I find this appealing is it? This gets fairly close to the whole coil of life, no exit ideas that got me started here.
Covens: These are groups of souls who possess their own daimon. Some of these are defined by things like blood ties, but others are defined by sharing a root thought. The daimon of these covens cultivate it through the lives of those participating in it. In other words, there may very well be a daimon of spiritualism.
These daimons tend to work in units of four, cultivating rival groups of spirits between whom the root thought passes, acquiring depth and complexity. When one coven has reached the limit of its work with the root thought, a rival coven’s daimon extracts that root thought from them, taking a good deal of the group’s vitality with them. Over time, of course, the taker’s coven, too, will decline, such that the root idea will circulate between covens over many lifetimes.
Faculties vs. Principles: They distinguish between two aspects of the human condition. There are the faculties which define the shape of our experience and desires and the principles that describe the elements of our spiritual body. The faculties tie us to the concrete world, to real people and events (though causing deliberate distortions in those perceptions) while the principles serve as the medium for those connections.
They tend to reserve the term ‘initiatory’ for those events that prepare for dramatic transformations in the relationship between ourselves and our faculties. What most magical folks consider initiations seem to be alterations to the principles, the medium through which the faculties are applied. These may make certain initiatory experiences possible, but are not themselves initiatory.
Daimon: This concept gets at something very basic in spiritualist experience, especially as it has taken root in the Latin American world. The daimon is a term used to describe a separate consciousness with whom we share our life, who communicates with us primarily through the events of our life. The concept comes into its own alongside the Yeatses’ description of the faculties, because we share a set of faculties in inverse fashion.
They are able to manipulate the ‘body of fate’ as we manipulate thoughts while our thoughts are for them as events are to us, fated things that happen to them. Think about how strange and difficult communication is across this sort of threshold and how much effort it can take to bring the two processes into proper sympathy.
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In terms of bragging rights, the Yeatses got to the notion of functional entities around 1920 and the published work in a A Vision suggests to its readers that they brush up on multidimensionality in physics to better understand how spirits relate to the more mundane dimensionality of our own.