Following on the last post, let me talk a bit more about what I mean when I say that the Sa’adia diagram might provide the basis for a better ontological account of what exactly is going on with the talk of qlippoth. If we look at the tree as a manifestation of the archetypal forces of creation interacting with an alien matrix that receives it (which isn’t Sa’adia’s point, but one to which his model well extends), then the alien matrix’s own being has to be taken into account. Far from a passive mirror, it responds to the archetypal forces of creation according to difficult to discern internal properties of its being.
On some level, if for no other reason than they are capable of interacting, we can grasp that there is a deep affinity between archetype and matrix. There are many dimensions to the matrix just as there are many dimensions to the archetype. Whether as a result of the interaction with the matrix, or on the basis of its own self-differentiation, the archetype manifests such that it develops multiple points of reflection on itself, the seeds of individual souls. Those seeds possess the same constituting properties of the archetype on a smaller scale.
What the gnostic model observes, though, is that even in the archetypal force, there is a potential disposition to operate according to its own powers of understanding rather than disposing itself toward a higher pattern. When this archetype encounters the alien matrix, this risk is exacerbated because this matrix responds to it, setting in motion the possibility that the archetype will react to the matrix rather than operate in accord with principles contained within itself.
As reaction, it contracts into itself as a local force and becomes entangles with the matrix as a limited entity, albeit one that still possesses some portion of the archetypal forces structuring impulse. The matrix responds in turn, setting in motion a jarring dialectic from which distorted forms arise. It may be quite apt that between Jupiter and Mars we find a band of asteroids, a remnant of what didn’t take shape.
From this perspective, the qlippoth are not so much the result of a broken vessel, but the defensive (rather than cooperative) response of the matrix in conflict with the archetype. They simultaneously reflect the contracted archetype’s limited conceptions and the resistance of the matrix to the archetype’s effort to force the matrix into that broken archetypal pattern.
The tendency for magical effort to diminish over time results in part from this qlippothic dynamic. The more the individual as archetype exerts their willful pattern, the more resistance the matrix returns. Moreover, over time, the resistance itself takes the shape of the pattern exerted against it, yielding up a vision to the soul of its desires that it might choose to embrace, thereby abandoning its efforts to more forcefully operate upon the matrix.
In short: quick magical results tend to exploit what are basically husks, shells of living forces that can be readily jarred into action with strong emotion or charged materia. While they are initially easy to jar into motion, magical work grants these husks an increasing spiritual presence, a vampiric shadow of our intentions, which cling like barnacles to us, growing heavy and less responsive.
Cleansing helps, but so, too, does cleaning, because these sorts of things are by definition embodied in the matrix, however subtly. The more untouched and undisturbed materials you have around you, the more readily they are able to find a cozy place to settle. Whether this is the stuff that we drag around our house or the preconceptions we leave undisturbed in our thoughts, our life is full of potential husk material. Much of what Freud identified as ‘unconscious drives’ are these husks, the traces of our desires animated by the leavings of our day-to-day world (that, and sometimes there are other spirits out there breeding husks we take on ourselves).
I want to riff a little around that insight, that the reason there are different sorts of husks is that there are different forms of leavings and that the more you truck with different forms of spiritual existence, the more leavings your traces have to operate upon. There is a corollary to that which we don’t often appreciate as easily as the point about cleaning. Namely, that there is an efficacy that derives from this mixture, too, because it is a shared point at which the archetype and matrix are joined; they represent an opportunity through which a more orderly relationship between archetype and matrix can be established.
They are difficult to dispel because the ones that most trouble an individual tend to the ones that operate in the same milieu as the operator. They are efficacious in slowing us down because they resemble our own desires and are formed out of them. They say things that sound like our own thoughts in a tone we are disposed to favor, because they are shaped by exactly those thoughts.
Inversely, with the right sort of transformation, they are the ones most capable of supporting the manifestation of our work. They are already entangled with both our intentions and the world we seek to manifest them within, so serve as a more substantive means for unifying the two. Moreover, they provide a clearer means of seeing into our intentions and thereby modulating them more directly.
When you start thinking like that, then things can get a little weirder. The very things that weigh you down, can become the things that lift you up. This gets us back to Freud and Jung, to analysis in general. While there are times we need a fast practice, a quick change, but more often what we need is something more subtle and durable, a slow work of calming the archetype-matrix struggle and realizing a new phase of archetype-matrix cooperation.
Thinking in this way, it is useful to keep in mind some of the basic practices of spiritism. Even the good spirits that a person has are rarely enlightened spirits. They are an admixture, the husks that gather within the white light, which can be sweet little parasites but which can also be supportive friends if we learn to work and uplift them properly. They are both us and not-us in some strange ways.
Spiritism also encourages us to cultivate cleanliness, in both home and thought. Kondo’s ‘magical art of tidying up’ is exactly that, magical. When there is so much material around us and our intentions are less than pure, we can generate new husks almost as quickly as we can clear them. Sometimes we do just need to change the materia in which we are moving and cleaning can be a big step toward breaking free of a negative cycle of struggling with our own worst self.
Other times, though, what we most need to do is change our way of relating to the husks. Sometimes, we need to take the long path of freeing our husks from our own limited conception of our archetype and seeking out a way in which we can realize a fuller conception of it with the matrical elements against which we presently struggle.
There is a meaningful discussion of ethos that can be had here. The way in which we cultivate our spiritual court is also the way in which we cultivate our self. There are many ways that can be good, just as there are many ways that it can go bad, but all of those center around getting a clear sense of our disposition. And we get that by working. We need some husks to do our work properly.
Yes, we do need to clean some out, just like we need to pull weeds out of the garden. Please, don’t take this as a justification for not cleansing. Rather, take this as a call to evaluate what it is you are trying to cultivate and applying your cleansing efforts accordingly. With an eye toward what it that you are cultivating, you may also better structure your action to avoid what it is that most contaminates your work.
As with the rest of life, there is a healthy degree of dirt in spirit work and it’s a moving target.
I also want to end on a larger cosmological note. Just as there are archetypal potencies like angels that have the capacity to intervene in the operations of more constrained souls, there are matrical potencies that have the capacity to intervene in the operations of more constrained substances. They each have their domains of efficacy and I suspect that the conflict between Inanna and Ereshkigal in the Sumerian materials is one more rubric for this tension, with Inanna the image of the archetypal force exerting itself to its utmost only to discover herself alien to the world in which she seeks to seat herself (Ereskigal’s kur synecdoche for the matrix).
When we look to the struggle taking place in our life and the lives of those around us, we have to keep in mind that these greater potencies can come into play, can rise up or descend into individual lives, requiring more dramatic forms of action altogether, ones where the risks are much greater should the potency intensify the conflict rather than serve to ameliorate it.