I mentioned in my last post that I am thinking about starting up a private and presumably even lower profile blog. I feel like I am ready to talk a little more about the details of my practice and that feels like it needs just a little more privacy and intimacy. A little while back Cole mentioned he appreciated seeing the materiality of the practice, presumably because so much of what I talk about here seems a little (or a lot) immaterial. In more ways than one, the blog is the countermovement to the materiality in my practice.
I’ve been on a cosmological kick while diving a little more deeply into the Gnostic material. As I read through the divergent perspectives on salvation and the best means of attaining it (which is what the cosmologies are for, after all), I am articulating it with my own magical work. There are some potential pitfalls in this sort of work and as I navigate them I’m reminded of the old saw about the map not being the territory, except that there really isn’t a map or territory in these cosmologies.
Once a month, for the last three months, my Saturdays have looked much like this:
The Book of Revelation and Sefer Yetzirah have been intertwined for me such that at this point I tend to think of them as two elements in the life work, two blocks of the same becoming, two books in the hands of twin angels. The last three months or so I have been working through a conversation between myself and spirit about the elemental lines and as that drew to a close, I finally sat down and found my way through Book of Revelation from start to finish.
I continue to find the most compelling element to be the trajectory from the seven churches to the New Jerusalem in which twelve gates open onto a (starship) city shared in common by the redeemed. Whereas as the seven churches are separated by space and self-enclosed, the New Jerusalem gathers together the many in a single place.
The movement from the doubles to the elementals has mirrored that movement, led me back out into this place where I am feeling keenly the contingency of the boundaries that we draw in the magical community, boundaries rooted in history and reinforced by black iron prison of empire. It’s hard not to see some neo-traditionalism as a form of death wish, a love for the emperor’s boot heel. We have to begin where we are, but that toward which we reach ought to gather us together.
That seems like what the movement from the planets to the heavens is about, after all, the movement that animates the promises of Mithraic liberation, too. That there is a road beyond the boundaries of the day into a higher union with each other and the world, one organized by a recognition of our singularity and our community. I don’t know if I have a good way to talk about all this properly.
Cling to reasonableness and friendliness without compromising either, seems like a start.
It struck me while I was sitting on the floor today reading the signs, that it was precisely five years ago that I first sat down on this floor and chalked it up, on a Saturday like this one. Five years. I also realize I’m starting to get old, too, because I now find myself thinking that yoga postures were developed by yogis trying to stay limber while they spent hours contemplating the five square feet of earth they were working.
I was reading the recent post over at Hermetic Lessons and it reminded, oh, yeah, right, the Klippot, the places at which the work can take a nasty turn, and if you do the work long enough, you are going to rumble around them, risk falling into them, maybe even stumble right into them and have to make your way out (ugly scenes). That isn’t oogie-boogie scary, it’s just practical caution scary. The first time I saw them laid out neatly it was as idolatry-bloodshed–sexual perversity, but you don’t even have to squint to see Blogos’s blasphemy-insanity-sickness/death in that distinction.
The Sefer Yetzirah enjoins us to both run and return and Ari Kaplan rephrases that in a useful fashion, pointing out that to run is to swing into the mystical and visionary state while to return is to come back to our critical and analytical framework and to subject what we experienced in the visionary state to disciplined contemplation. What we extract from that disciplined contemplation is what we will use to run forth again, to push more deeply into the mystical and visionary.
So, after the talking around potential connections between the doubles and the face, I sat down and started to work through them to feel out the letters. I went straight to the letters, bypassing the planetary correspondences for now (three witnesses, separately He created them).
I had a little back and forth with Blogos and Iago over a mistake I had made in my last post and it was a good reminder about how I tend to operate. I can’t speak to how much this true for anyone else, but it seems like the sort of thing it might be useful to post about.
The ritual demands of my spiritual work unfold faster than my understanding of it, faster than my ability to give it coherent conceptual expression. Obviously, I need some conceptualization so that I am not just muddling around in the dark waiting for inspiration, but I have come to expect that most any conceptualization I am using is an error en route to something more truthful which the spiritual practice will clarify.
This is a little bit of an experiment, trying to talk about some spiritual work in a straightforward fashion without too much interpretation projected onto it. If I like it how it turns out, if it sits well with me, I might try to make it a more regular feature of what I do here.
I couldn’t tell you precisely when I started doing this, but sometime over the last year (maybe two? maybe three?) I started using my body as a screen onto which I could project geomantic figures in prayer. As I would pray, I would just extend out my right hand (fingers freshly dipped in cool, perfumed water) and let it trace out a figure spontaneously, then let the figure rise up and into me. The way in which that happened varied, because I let the figure settle into the body on its own, with minimal willful direction.