If you read P. D. Ouspensky and G. I, Gurdjieff you’ll find that a chunk of the Fourth Way practices entail visualization techniques. Taken superficially, these practices resemble the sort of things going on around the Golden Dawn. However, once we pass beyond a cursory examination of them, they appear quite different. The Golden Dawn seems to have treated the visualizations as a vehicle while for the Fourth Way system it served a kind of mental calisthenics.
The differences can be seen clearly enough in the sorts of visualizations. While the Golden Dawn sorts of practices emphasized symbolic (i.e., water as a symbol of emotion and nourishment) elements, the Fourth Way emphasized abstract and geometric elements for theselves. Obviously, these two branches aren’t entirely disparate. The tree of life as the Golden Dawn portrayed it was pretty darn abstract and geometrical, though if you read Dion Fortune’s pathworkings for it, you’ll realize that the primary means of accessing those forces were through symbolic meditations.
I’m chattering about this because this post veers toward the abstract and geometrical which I realize may be off-putting to some. If I had a knack for computer modeling, I could probably do a reasonably good mock-up of it which would capture the sense of it, but I don’t so I will need to go the long route and ask my readers to do the same. If Ouspensky and Gurdjieff are right, maybe it’s good for you? (mmm, nice big bowl of crunchy mind wheaties.)
When I talk about the coil of life and its relationship to a fractal world, I have in mind something more than metaphorical. I lean a bit on G. W. Leibniz‘s notion of the monad though heavily emended. This may be akin to Kenneth Wilber‘s holographic universe, but I honestly have only read of his work in passing (I have not yet even read that wikipedia article I just linked!) and so won’t presume.
I have in mind a cosmological model that describes in outline structural aspects of the spiritual world. For the rest of this post, I want to walk through one model for what that might look like.
I want to focus on three different levels of that world, with it understood that each level is at ‘right angles‘ to the one below it: the level of God, the level of generative forces, and the level of creation. While we can say that the higher levels emanate the lower, but I don’t want to rely overmuch on that neoplatonic language, for reasons which will hopefully become more obvious in future posts.
To get at this, I have a crude visualization for you. Imagine a beach ball. Here’s some help:
See that implied white circle at the top? That’s God. At the opposite pole of the ball, unseen in this picture, lies another circle, creation. This ball only has six stripes, but imagine it has eight (sorry, couldn’t find an eight-striped image in the public domain).
Each of those stripes is an expression of one of the eight sefirot of the Kabbalah that reflect a potency within God becoming manifest. In turn, each stripe contains an aspect of those eight potencies within itself, arranged just like the tree of life. Where Keter would sit, the tree touches God and where Malkuth would sit the tree touches creation. At this point, you should have something in your mind’s eye that looks a little like a bucky-ball, but with less cross connections.
Stretching through the heart of your sphere, visualize another tree of life connecting creation and God. Got that? Good. As best I understand it, that central tree is what most people talk about when they talk about the Tree of Life. It is abstracted from the generative powers themselves, a sort of visual illusion created by the mutual reflections of each stripe’s tree within that of the other stripes. There is a certain reality to its middle pillar, because the sefirot of each stripe’s middle pillar are in communion with every other stripe’s corresponding middle pillar.
The centrality of the moon and sun in so much mystical occultism reflects this. If we take Daath as a feature of the middle pillar (and I tend to think this is a good idea), we can also understand the predominance of cloud of unkowing sorts of moments, too.
The influence of all of these stripes manifests within Malkuth as a coil. Remember coils? Those are all plugged into this malkuth, but in a somewhat different fashion. They are on the same level as creation, not at right angles to it. They are dependent upon it and all of the coils that are intermediate between them and the heart of the Cosmic Malkuth. This makes Malkuth seethe and bubble with life.
However, lodged within creation, at least some of the coils also contain an orientation toward the generative powers of the stripes, to a specific stripe in which their ‘temporal’ existence finds an ‘eternal’ correlate (not unlike Plato’s account in Timaeus).
I personally think the best way to model that relationship between temporal and eternal aspects is geomantically, but that is a discussion for another time.