Go big or go home, right? I’ve been having a useful discussion with Iago over on this post from a few days back and it’s getting complex enough that I want to start talking about some of the issues being raised as independent posts, some of them a bit long.
I have always found it useful to draw a line between occult and medicinal/chemical/biological/etc. properties of a material. I want to chew that over a bit here in a loosely practical fashion and highlight the importance of the person to the occult operations. I don’t think this will be saying anything groundbreaking, but I want to walk through the idea a little methodically.
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.’
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.
So, it’s been a little but since I talked about the Yeatses’ spiritualist material. A large part of that has to do with how clearly it fits into the hungry ghost model. There isn’t a single trait of the hungry ghost experience that you can’t find in the Vision materials: hypnotism, talkative spirits, pseudo-historical identities, warnings about rival spirits looking to interfere with them, cosmological speculation, striking physical manifestations, draining the medium. That’s a lot of red flags.
There are some redeeming qualities, though. The spirits seem less interested in the cosmological speculation than William. While they deign to talk about such things, they often seem to do so with a certain sense of resignation (“oh for the love of…William wants to hear about the afterlife again”). While they do engage in some striking physical manifestations, they are less concerned with dramatic proofs of there power (like healing).
They show concern for their medium’s fatigue and advise the Yeatses to take it easy on channeling. Finally, they show a great deal of interest in family and children, stating one of their key works to be be securing the birth of the children and their well-being in life, and they do seem to manage that quite tidily. If the volume of material is any indication, their direct interaction with the Yeatses declines sharply after the family is established.
I mentioned that it is all too easy to overemphasize the lunar and the solar in accord with the prominence of the sun and moon, suggesting that there is value in recalling the other forms of communication. Well, here is perhaps the essence of Saturn:
Alles ist austragen und dann gebären. Jeden Eindruck und jeden Keim eines Gefühls ganz in sich, im Dunkel, im Unsagbaren, Unbewußten, dem eigenen Verstande Unerreichbaren sich vollenden lassen und mit tiefer Demut und Geduld die Stunde der Niederkunft einer neuen Klarheit abwarten: das allein heißt künstlerisch leben: im Verstehen wie im Schaffen.
(All is gestating and then birthing. Each impression and each germ of a feeling comes to completion, wholly in itself, in the dark, in the unspeakable, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one’s own understanding, and with deep humility and patience one waits for the hour when a new clarity is born: this alone signifies the artistic life: in understanding as in creating.)
Rilke speaks so elegantly, I hesitate even to gloss it. Still, let me situate this in reference to spiritualism. We can talk about the fires we receive, the messages given to us, but we also ought to consider the messages that we are and contain in our very being.
There are forms of communication, forms of initiation if you will, that vitalize and activate what is already within us. These often entail a (painfully) slow work, one that begins with feeling and presentiment and grows to become an integral part of your being. These are not the sorts of messages from someone. Rather, in pursuing certain sorts of spiritual work, your warm and nourish the seed within so that its branches begin to grow into your own consciousness.
That sort of work is about becoming the tree, becoming the spiritual purpose that you carry.
Short answer: yes.
(But so can just about anything.)
Now for the longer answer: Spiritualist work ain’t a corny horror movie. You don’t break out the Ouija board and suddenly find your life taking a turn toward the plot of Final Destination or Serpent and the Rainbow (the movie; the book is fine). There are hazards, but they are almost always overstated by the opponents of spiritualist work. First rule? Don’t be a sucker. Second rule? Don’t be a sucker. Got that? That applies to mediums and spirits. Okay, let’s proceed to the juicier spiritual health issues.
Remember all these discussions of the daemon here? I’ll try not to repeat myself too badly for repeat readers, but the basic gist is that the daemon as the Yeatses understood it was a spirit that shapes our fate and our desire, that is bound to us for our life. As such it has a great deal to with out luck.
One of the advantages of my quirky monotheism is that I don’t tend to be bothered over-much by the tendency of spirits to blend into each other. To my way of thinking, the blurring that occurs between spirits is a necessary aspect of creation itself, of existing in dispersal but having an indelible root in God as an aboslute source of unity. Since we aren’t God, we only ever appreciate that unity in a limited fashion.