This is the post where I begin to move (I think) from interim phase toward whatever the next cycle is. There are a few distinct pieces that I want to highlight and talk about in that regard. This is sort of a notebook post and sort of not.
First, after I had mentioned Frater Acher’s recent article on magical tools in a recent post, a correspondent of mine asked if I knew much about him, mentioning that they had been doing some work with the Quareia material with which Frater Acher has been involved. It felt like one of those little nudges, so I went back and took a second look at his website (and Quareia’s, but that wasn’t where I found the hook). This little gem of an ebook caught my attention.
There is much in the text of value, especially regarding the trajectory taken by some of Luria’s bastard children, but what I want to note here is this, set out at the outset of the book:
“There is a curious theory on the collective memory of groups. According to Jan and Aleida Assmann – two leading German scholars on Egyptology and Cultural Studies – one has to differentiate between a ‘cultural’ and a ‘communicative memory’ of groups. While the former is vast in scope, relatively structured and embraces all archeological and written inheritance of a group, the latter is much more fluid and only contains knowledge perceived as still relevant to everyday communication by group members.”
This distinction has legs and leads to a number of useful thoughts.
- It can be sensibly related to the structuralist distinction between langue and parole.
- It fleshes out the trash heap effect noted by Philip K. Dick. Spirit seems to love laying hold of the discarded in order to communicate and with this distinction in mind, we can suggest that what it lays hold of is the fruitful excess of cultural memory to carve out an alternative, inspired communicative memory.
- It opens the door toward a cosmopolitan account of memory in which cultures blend, for if the communicative memory is what is present, it will necessarily be confronted with and adapt to the real presence of other cultures, incorporating portions of an alien communicative memory into its own cultural memory.
- It foregrounds diversity within a culture. The cultural memory is preserved not just in the total record of a people, but in the multiple expressions of a communicative memory in any given point in time. I.e., because there are many groups exploring and developing specific aspects of cultural memory in their communicative setting, a large portion of cultural memory is active at any one point in time. One group lives actively what another group excludes into their cultural horizon.
- It provides a loose model for variation, which is key to an evolutionary account.
Point 2 may be the most exciting possibility, because it once again opens the door toward the dialogue between the eternal and the temporal, as well as the differing levels within those categories. Which, in turn, gets us back to the bastard children of Luria, the Sabbatians, the Frankists, and the Asiatic Brotherhood (as well as their latter day inheritors, like Bertiaux’s Voudun Gnosis and Crowley’s Thelema and…you get the idea, right? Weird, sometimes awkward stuff).
What I am seeing most clearly in all of those movements is an appreciation for the alien embedded within spiritual practices that seem to be intended to put us in touch with a human-scale spiritual reality within the cosmic spiritual reality. For whatever reason, there is a dimension of the spiritual world that is scaled to suit the kind of beings that we are, but that entangled in that are forces that are not suited to that being, with whom we may become entangled for good or ill.
Second, in order to revisit the relationship between my spiritual practice and my changing understanding of geomancy, the planets, and the sefirot, I have started a new notebook. It is nothing fancy, but I am examining if my spirit-motivated theorizing opens deeper insights into where I have been and where I am going in my practice. That has been successful so far and seems to open the door to a consideration of the alien-ness of certain key spirits in my work in broadly gnostic-Lurianic terms.
Third, I have pulled out older journals and writing that I produced earlier in my exploration of geomancy. During that period, I received what was a fairly clear map, but was keenly aware that it was muddled by my own limited understanding and by the preconceptions that I carried with me. I seem to have broken down some of the denser blockages and hopefully approaching a new plateau of clarity.