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.
On a recent family trip to Boston, we spent some time walking through the McKim Building of the Boston Public Library. I wasn’t at all prepared for how spiritual experience it would be—my sister had suggested it because there were supposed to be some good murals to see. They were that, but the entire structure was wired for sound, built up like a temple as much, or more than, a library. By the time I got to the top floor, to the John Singer Sargent murals, my mind reeled with excitement. This was a place that anchored a peculiarly Euro-American vision in deep and old mysteries that transcend them.
I wonder if the place could be set in motion ritually, set to humming, or if it is primarily a place capable of triggering latent patterns in the person contemplating them, but either way it is an amazing structure. I overlooked the gallery dedicated to time, but hopefully there will be another opportunity. As it is, I want to talk about what I did see and start to unpack the wisdom packed into it. I do so first and foremost for someone who might go to the building and use this to intensify their experience of it. Secondarily, though, I hope that the insights will have some general application even for someone who hasn’t experienced the building.
To do that is going to take quite a long post since I will need to talk about both the exoteric and esoteric dimensions of each gallery. Please, avail yourself of the title links to look at the actual murals; the Boston Public Library has a lot of other material beyond what I’m linking, so let yourself wander a little.
The way in which fan fiction operates may serve as a case study for understanding the way in which the klippot can function, specifically as the klippot of a specific operation that can take place under the auspices of the sefirot Yesod. Let me see if I can walk you through my reasoning.
There is a big question that is difficult to get at that nonetheless needs to be addressed if I am going to talk about gnosticism. Namely: what is gnosis? I have an answer, but I also have an allusive sensibility, so please pardon me as I make some wide circuits through this question.
One of the reasons I have enjoyed evacuating the sefirot is that it so clearly allows me to see the common roots of Kabbalism and Sufism in a broadly Middle Eastern magico-mystical thinking that likely sinks its roots into prehistory (regionally and, if Gordon’s right, globally; speaking of dragons, yeah, we’re probably going to have a discussion about serpents in the near future, but that requires a detour through personal practice that I’m not quite sure how to get at for this format).
I have been dipping into Wassily Kandinsky’s Concerning the Spiritual in Art (Über das Geistige in der Kunst). It is a small volume, but I have been reading it in downright tiny portions. It is hardly complex or densely packed, but it is one of those books where the simplicity and directness of the presentation permits the material’s potency, it’s weightiness, to manifest all the more.
As I have continued to work with and study geomancy, I have noticed networks of meaning open up between signs. I’m never entirely sure where to position some of these networks. Some seem fairly personal, but others open up to much broader themes. Heck, I guess that’s the nature of things in general. The personal becomes impersonal becomes personal and so on.
The networks are rooted in all kinds of associations, but I want to write about one set that emerged for me between the two Draconises, Puella, and Puer. All of these signs share a common structural feature—they have one passive line and three active lines. As a set, they include all the geomantic signs with this feature.
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?
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?
Since the work of spirit necessarily entails a relationship to sign, symbol, and imagination, it is often conjoined to a discussion of art. Good stuff comes out of that, but I want to think about it from a different direction, approaching the relationship to art as having a more fundamental connection to culture.
Partly, this is meant to counter my own habit of over-emphasizing aesthetics. What happens if I think of the alliance of Venus and Saturn as reaching its apex in cultures rather than more singular works of art?