Lately, the basic nature of our perceptual apparatus as been on my mind. I keep thinking about how, generally, we see very little of what is actually in front of us, relying instead on our sophisticated sensory apparatus to fill in all the details we are not in fact attending to. I want to focus on the eyes for a moment.
As studies of witness testimony reveal, what we see is what we have learned to see and expect. It is also one of the challenges of the so-called unconscious racism that riddles much of our society; we learn through subtle presentations the habits perceiving non-white as bad, so much so that even non-white people in our society often have to unlearn that negative bias toward themselves.
Which gets me to faeries again. Faeries are most often associated with the tricks of perception, especially with tricks of the eye. Given that so much of what we already see is not what is there, the apparatus of sight is an ideal signal for hijacking.
People losing their vision (i.e., the signal containing a connection to what is really in front of us) see small people (often dressed in green) and scenes often enough, as if whatever it is we call faerie seems to like co-opting it when they have a chance. And blindness is often ascribed as a punishment for seeing faeries.
We don’t have to buy the punishment line, do we? It could happen, sure enough, but it could also be a misunderstanding. The person losing their sight might not realize what is going on at first, in part because some initial visual loss might get filled in by the same processes that fill in most of our perceptual field. They begin to see a faeries around the point wen steeper declines in vision begin. The relationship need not be strictly causal, but opportunistic, the faerie signal taking over bandwidth once given to normal vision.
(Which isn’t to say that some cases of faerie blindness might be inflicted, a takeover of the visual signal by the faerie signal, even if all they do is shut it down. But it might explain the use of sensory deprivation for spiritual purposes as giving up some bandwidth.)
That the faerie signal is a bit alien would explain some of its hallucinatory quality. The mind is making sense of it as best it can and, perhaps, the signal itself sometimes adjusts itself, clumsily or subtly, to the person receiving it.
I don’t know, but it puts me back to the iconoclasm of early Buddhism, with its attention that brings the mind back, again and again, to the narrow channel of what we actually see, rather than the constructed world around it. At least some of the illusion Buddha sought to cut through is not at all metaphorical, but the quite literal library of illusions we use to build up our sense of the world around us.
And the subsequent battles between boddhisattvas and the powers of the world, a struggle to work the faerie signal toward other ends.
We could talk about Yesod, about the lunar world, and that isn’t inappropriate, so long as we consider that thinking about the nature of our organism might transform the way we understand reality and illusion in occultism, too.