So, second seal completed, third seal perhaps on the horizon (name and boundary form at work), and I have one of those dreams that I know I’ll need to remember when I wake up because it’s got information I will need packed into its structure. I wake up and start sketching that information out as diagrams. Pretty soon, I have what might as well be the spiritual equivalent of a dance step diagram composed of interlocking and bifurcating triangles.
I sit with that a bit and I can start to see alternative expressions of it. Instead of up and to the left, maybe back and to the right, or up and to the right, or…or…then I’m wondering after what it is that is being moved through these domains. Am I talking about an operation relating to destiny? Nope, but maybe something related to that more difficult to pin down ancestral soul/ghost self that we might really be?
Then I am wondering whether it makes sense to compare this with the Yeatses interwoven spiritual typology, with each ‘step’ being ‘proper’ to a given lifetime, with their being ‘false’ masks (easy missteps) that lead us away from that ‘proper’ work.
I find this schematization fascinating, but I’m not sure if it ‘really’ describes an ontological mechanism in spirit work. Even though it may not describe an ontological reality, I produce these sorts of things as necessary dimensions of my spirit work. They help me to realize and deepen a connection with the powers that animate my spiritual world (what you might call the spiritual court if you were a spiritualist).
This sort of thing isn’t exactly alien to people’s spiritual experiences. The Yeatses work has this diagrammatic dimension, as does that of C. G. Jung. There is something like this going on in the use of the Tree of Life in Western Esotericism generally.
These sorts of things need to be distinguished from diagrams that function as ritual instructions (e.g., a lot of sigils and seals in Western esotericism and most any ritual drawing used in African diaspora traditions). They seem to skirt the edges of the idolatrous confusion of our ideas about things and things as they are and they seem to be one of the vectors through which such confusion proliferates among newcomers to a tradition.
They have also been extremely useful means of orienting my practice. Perhaps the better model would be to think of them as ritual compasses or calibration settings (not maps, not representations). A compass can do an awful lot for you, as long as you aren’t living with your eyes glued to the compass. Glance down, then start moving. If things bog down, glance down again to see if you can get a bead on where to step next.
It makes me wonder if some of the ontological claims that rise up with the material (e.g., the Yeatsian progression through 28 lifetimes) are really just the spiritual equivalent of underlining for emphasis. What if the claims aren’t meant to be take seriously but intended to keep our attention focused on the orientations mapped out within them?
I wonder if we should read someone saying “this is how the spirit world is structured, these are its levels and its occupants” to be more akin to “these are crude formulas for the trajectories of spiritual work and the sorts of forces to which they are subject.” The one leads us to live heavily in our fantasies about the spiritual world, the other allows us to guide our fall/flight through it.