So, Leonard Cohen died. I have a hard time putting into words what that feels like. I am surprised by how little sadness plays into it, though I am sad. I am surprised, too, by how little I wanted to talk about his death. Those two are related. Cohen’s death illuminates his great dignity and sadness seems a paltry thing in the face of it. So, too, that dignity’s passing from the living to the dead merits silence, because nothing else can properly encompass it. Like one of Walter Benjamin’s storytellers, he was already far away even though he leaned so close.
I realized recently that I didn’t have a solid grasp on the historical horizon of the SY’s transmission, so I thought to do a little more digging. That is where I came across Segol’s Word and Image in Medieval Kabbalism. It is a compact work of scholarship—a fair amount of information and argument in a very brief monograph. I’ve already talked a little about what that has set me to thinking about, but I want to flag a few other details that might be useful and/or interesting in thinking about the SY.
A few months ago, I gently shifted the trajectory of this blog. I have been pleased with the direction that turn has taken, most especially by the way it has led to a rejuvenation of my appreciation of the living, vital cord of Kabbalism proper. That, in turn, refreshed my appreciation for gnosticism proper and for the gnostic currents that have been preserved and channeled in texts like Revelation.
A good ways back, I talked about the Brethren of Purity and how they helped me to move out of the ‘narrow corridor’ of the Western tradition. This has felt like a continuation of that. It has also deepened my sense that the Western tradition’s proper anchorage lies outside of Europe, even though the branches of that have extended into Europe for quite some time. In other words, it has affirmed my sense that ‘Western’ is too small a bailiwick.
That said, it feels like it is just about time to take another gentle turn and shift my trajectory again. I’m still thinking through what that should be, but I may be a little quieter here while I think that over. I’m hankering to do something a little less wordy (or, at least, less heavily conceptual), but I’ll have to think how practical that is; incorporating visual or aural elements might be nice. I partially blame Andrew for that, though the lack of non-discursive elements here has been on my radar for a while.
These last few weeks, blocks of my past keep bubbling up around my exploration of the Kabbalistic material. The brief aside about the Apocryphon of John, for example, has at its root the recollection of a short story I wrote in high school after having just discovered the Nag Hammadi Library. This is roughly contemporary with my first efforts to take a horoscope and made a tarot deck for myself with index cards, magic markers, and laminating sheets (see, memories). It seems like that is partly because these memories have a place to go, a block of becoming to which they and I both belong.
I was thinking after the last post that it might be useful to talk a little about the place of metaphors in geomancy again. The core system is strictly mechanical and mathematical, but much of its force derives from relating the mechanical-mathematical signs to a parallel system of metaphors.
This is a little bit of a sorting post. First up, I’ve updated the “About”; it’s now the “What’s Going On Here” button at the top of the page.
Next, let me see if I can summarize some of the trajectories that I have been taking around the Yeatsian and Jungian material. I know, I’m doing that a lot lately; I’m winnowing and that isn’t glorious work, but it seems necessary.
Sexiest title in the world, right? Thankfully, it’s not my scintillating wit that drives this blog. It is exactly what it says on the can, though, so that’s something.
The big distinction between the Jungian and Yeatsian material around the faculties relates to the levels at which they are pitched. The Yeatsian material is talking about souls in their extended sense, as they exceed the constraints defined by our material bodies. The Jungian typology is the inverse of that, the soul understanding itself from within the experience of the body; the Jungian typologies describe the soul in a more contracted state.
Nonetheless, the contracted soul refracts the expanded soul and in it we can divine some appreciation for the expanded soul. When we look at our psychological type, how do its various components relate to spiritual faculties?
I want to leave this series of posts with a brief consideration of the horizon against which all of this plays out. The faculties of will and intellect, mask and body of fate, are not unique to the human world. They can easily be traced into all of the corners of animal, suggested in vegetal life, and even glimpsed in the physio-chemical mechanisms that underpin them, though this is more subtle.
At this point, it should be clear that in the Yeatsian material a person is a composite being and a variety of spiritual issues develop when that composite breaks down. A person is both a daimon and a ‘human’ soul (hereafter just called ‘human’) engaged in an often awkward dialogue with each other through the medium of a person’s life. Besides the fact that these two spiritual beings co-exist in a person, what do we know about them?
This post won’t make sense without reading its predecessor. I am going to start where I left off there and dive right in to a discussion of the arconological manipulation of human life that the Yeatsian material describes.
This material provided me with the clearest examples of how William interacted with the spirits to shape the system in cooperation with them and with his wife’s mediumistic talents. While William is often an active questioner, this material sees William proposing terms, developing his own concepts, and querying after his sense of the matter with the spirits.