Emphasizing the individual dimension of the sort of spiritual work to which the Yeatsian material opens onto a discussion of how to talk about what a community of individuals might look like. The sense of individuality operates in dialogue with the individuality of other people, helping to clear away the demands we unfairly place upon them to follow our spiritual progression, but also allowing us to appreciate both ourselves and others as exemplars. At its best, this sort of support is often (not always) support to go our own way.
As a spiritual undertaking, the members of the community are not just living and breathing fellows, but the less visible and subtle spirits that circulate through it. They, too, ought to be treated with in the same fashion.
One of the strengths of the Yeatsian material is that is makes the composition and decomposition of communities simply a part of the larger trajectory in which our lives take place. They are the zones within the Body of Fate through which our Wills and Intellects can enter into communication, providing opportunities for all concerned to further themselves as individuals.
I’m sure some of this is addressed to the Yeatses own experiences with spiritual groups. The way in which the Golden Dawn drew together and drove apart in equal measure provided both of the Yeatses with a sensibility of spiritual community to which the spirits of the working could address themselves. But it has implications for spirits, too, who may come together and split apart according to their own need, even if the time under which these needs unfold develop across a wider swath of time.
Hostile and testing spirits (not always the same thing!), the spirits that cultivate frustration and discord, have a clear place in this framework. While we can be lulled into a lazy conflation of ourselves with those spirits kindly disposed to us, with these spirits we are forced to find our footing as individuals with our own needs and desires, from which we can firmly negotiate our individuality. To use more Yeatsian terms, these spirits challenge us to find our Will and bring our Intellect to bear in crafting a sense of our own Mask.
Obviously, we don’t always need testing or hostile spirits to undertake this work. Ideally, we can undertake it through a continued commitment to our work and the community in which we find ourselves includes people whose devotion to this provides us with models for our own personal take. Still, even there, it is common enough to pass through some communities under the auspices of hostility and tension.
When we fail in this, we tend to fail by accepting an alien Mask as our own. We mistake the image someone has crafted to understand their own path through the world as a model (rather than an image) for our own undertaking. To some extent, we can work through some alien Masks toward a Mask of our own, but more often than not these Masks lead us down false paths. The alien Mask may be the Mask of a spirit, and the danger come not from people but from the depths of the daemonic world.
When we are working within a community operating according to broadly spiritualist principles, giving aid becomes a matter of giving another insight into their peculiarity, the tools through which they can develop themselves on the terms proper to that. That holds for spirits and people. The higher spirits help more than they are helped, but progress is achieved through mutual self-differentiation from other members of the community.
This kind of work orients itself in time within the present, toward the future. While the past can never be excluded, the dynamics of personal spiritual work dissolve the patterns of the past. The past is subjected to the Intellect in order to extract forms of action from it, in order to develop Mask(s) through which the Will can orient the individual.