I have this sense, somewhere between an intuition and suspicion, that most people have an affinity for this or that column as it is represented in the Tree of Life, this or that column through which they relate more easily to the divine. The talk of left- and right-handed work in some occult circles seems to be a somewhat simplified version of this. We can talk a bit, then, about the sorts of work in a similar fashion by examining some of the archetypes that attach themselves to these columns.
This is going to be a short post, but there are a couple of things that I want to point toward. This is mostly a look at cool things happening on the internet, but they form part of the seedbed that I may want to revisit.
First up, I wanted to point to Simon’s post on Da’at and speech. It is a good post, but I want to draw your attention to the comments, too. There is a great discussion going on there between Simon and Fernando that illuminates some deep issues about how to read the source material of Kabbalism. Essentials in a big way.
Second, I want to point out a recent documentary called The Nightmare which explores several people’s very personal experiences with sleep paralysis. It takes a phenomenological approach, exploring the experience from the inside and includes extended reenactments of the subjects’ reports.
It ends up being very Fortean, setting out a puzzle of related but not identical experiences which don’t quite come together, where the ‘not coming together’ seems to be integral to the phenomenon itself. There are a few points where it seems like this might be entrez into a discussion of different species of spiritual beings, while being just slippery enough to make one hesitate at the presumption. Fun!
I’ve talked a bit about my peculiar reworking of the geomantic planetary affinities based around my study of Sefer Yetzirah and the alignment of some of my personal gnosis with the Lurianic currents of Kabbalism (main post here, a correction here). While there are logical reasons for these sorts of changes, they also just better articulate the spiritual structures within which my spiritual work unfolds. When I revisited old charts taken to study spirits, they became much more intelligible once I read them in light of these assignments.
This is bone simple notebooking, but I want to keep track of this anyway. One of the things I have been trying to keep in mind as I read the Kabbalistic material is that there are going to be parts that are less intuitive for me because they reference, implicitly, daily practices and everyday concepts from Judaism.
One of the things I have been doing to rectify that a little is read through the Amidah. Besides being core liturgical material, it has likely been recited in close to its contemporary form for nearly two millenia (and probably recited in recognizable form for centuries before that).
I have to muddle through this sort of thing pretty slowly, looking at Hebrew text and some translations of them, then digging around to verify and expand upon details. I welcome the input of folks with Hebrew fluency (because I effectively have none).
“Experience, which destroys innocence, also leads one back to it.”—James Baldwin, No Name in the Street
Placing the distortions I have traced out within the broader Gnostic framework of the Fall, of the separation of self-knowledge from divine knowledge, allows for a better account of what their correction entails. The model of distortion is also a model for how to move toward clarification. Clarification requires appreciating that correction is a moving target, that the world of time does not cease within our lifetime.
Understanding this becomes part of the process of clarification. If you want to reach your goal and the goal is moving, you need to know it is moving.
It has been a while since I talked about the tree of life/coil of life, hasn’t it? It is a useful symbol and there is a mobile and vitalist aspect to it that often gets obscured in the (overly) formal habits of Neoplatonism that yielded us its most popular expression.