I haven’t talked about the Yeatses’ Vision materials in a dog’s age. There isn’t much more to be said that wouldn’t involve getting over-invested in the obscurities particular to their experience. Reversing the direction somewhat, though, there is one thing worth mentioning by way of extraction and magnification. Alongside the traditionally spiritualist model in A Vision, there is also a biological model of spiritual life in play. William aligns the lunar cycle that sits at the heart of the Yeatsian model with a life cycle, most especially a plant’s life. So, by way of a somewhat late footnote:
“The decadence will descend, by perpetual moral improvement….The decadence of the Greco-Roman world with its violent soldiers and its mahogany dark young athletes was as great, but that suggested the bubbles of life turned into marbles, whereas what awaits us…may suggest bubbles in a frozen pond—mathematical Babylonian starlight.”—W. B. Yeats, A Vision (176)
Spiritualism is full of prognoses for the future of mankind, ranging from the unbelievably optimistic to the unbelievably grim. Given that I don’t entirely take the linear direction of our lives in history to be all there is and that I take the nonlinear elements to have an influence on the linear elements, I have a hard time taking any pronouncement on the future as final.
From the Yeatsian perspective, one of the advantages of embodiment is that it provides a unique sort of opportunity for two spiritual dimensions of creation to operate on each other. This appeals to me in part because it provides another angle from which we can illumine the Yoruba aphorism about the world being a marketplace, and it also provides another point of access into grasping the specificity of an individual’s of spiritual work.
When the human being is born two souls are intertwined with each other. One operates the daemonic-objective realm, the animates the human-subjective realm. The two realms are joined in much the same way the two souls are joined such that a firm distinction cannot be firmly established even though a rough and ready division can be made.
This is all a little refresher, because one of the dangers in the spiritual work described by the Yeatsian spirits is that we misunderstand the nature of the daemon to which we are joined and that we seek instead to work with another daemon entirely. This danger is so basic to the work of a life that when W. B. Yeats attempts to articulate the spirit material systematically, he assigns a category of misunderstanding to every stage associated with a life, calling it the ‘False Mask.’
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.
Before I get started with this, I want to underline one of my motivations for banging on about Jung as a complement to Yeats. It isn’t just that they are talking about the same things, but that they are talking about two aspects of the same thing. In specific, Jung’s work provides grist for getting the practical dimensions of the Yeatsian spiritual work off the ground.
It does that by providing us with the tools to prepare for the Yeatsian crises, to make the most of the chain of initiatory moments that lead toward it. If we keep The Red Book in mind, it also provides lineaments for interacting with the spiritual beings that undergird this process.
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?
There is a family of oracles in Africa known as ‘friction oracles.’ The most common of these require that the client and diviner hold a sacred object between them and wait for subtle movements between them to indicate spiritual responses. (Yes, the Ouija Board is sort of a distant relative, though I hesitate to say that lest I see even more ads for that F***in’ movie).
I woke up from a somewhat lengthy and discursive dream this morning and while writing it down realized that it was speaking to my treatment of the Intellect and Mask in the last post as ancillary to the Will and Body of Fate. In truth, that is only half correct.
The crises provide a shift between two phases, one in which the individual manages to establish the communication between the Intellect and Mask and the other in which they establish the communication between the Will and Body of Fate. Deceit and Pity are, precisely, the lack of awareness that communication must be achieved rather than simply exist as a given.
During the phase in which Will and Body of Fate are central, the Intellect and Mask are ancillary. But in the other phase, the Intellect and Mask are central while Will and Body of Fate are ancillary. As-if the spirits were fluids passing moved, under pressure, between two sets of chambers.
The order in which this is worked out has a significant impact on the way in which a soul develops (being one of the key points along which souls are gendered male/female), but it seems like this is also a point along which the issue of primary-solar/antithetical-lunar would come into play. I’m not sure the material fully articulates this.
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?