I often find it easier to think about time in terms of space, in terms of the way we can abstract and spatialize time for a number of broadly mathematical operations. I think that’s pretty common, because we are better suited to conceiving of space than we are to conceiving of time. We can use our better grasp of space to ‘sneak up’ on time.
I always enjoy when a post ends up being one point on a wave of posts on a topic, like there is some schooling going on in this enervated blogosphere. Alexandra’s most recent post touches sidelong at something I have wanted to talk about again, a point at which I often feel myself at odds with how people talk about magic, namely the mutability of reality.
When I first started to dig into the Vision materials, I remember looking around the occult scene a bit to see if I could find if anything had done much with them and was a little surprised to see that they hadn’t. Most of what I saw was of the “well, W. B. never really finished the work, and it is simply too incomplete to put into practice.” Which is…well, wrong, but wrong in the useful or, as Dudley Hersbach would say, interesting fashion.
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?
Okay, here is where things will start getting weirder and potential incoherencies become more pronounced. So, the Yeatsian materials distinguishes two broad types of arcons, arcons of form and arcons of wisdom. To further understand them, it is necessary to touch a little more on the lunar system that William especially uses to organize his understanding of the spirit messages.
Now that I have a rough map of the terrain, I want to fill in some of the details. I’ll recap just a little and go from there. The summary repeats, yes, but hopefully also adds by concatenation.
From the perspective of the Yeatsian system, the daimonic world conspires to educate us to distinguish desire and understanding. This is a two-pronged education that allows us to appreciate that there is a fundamental gap between what exists and the desires we have. Once we become aware of this gap, we can set about working with what exists and what we desire together. This learning leads us to both modulate our own desires and character in dialogue with our situation in the world and understanding of it.
There are other forces in the world that can interfere with this process, manipulating the daimonic reality for their own ends. This includes the frustrated dead and a range of arcons born out of the frustrated dead’s interaction with the living.
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.
Spiritualism requires discernment. This discernment tends to have both objective and subjective dimensions. Objectively, this entails discerning the influence of one spirit from another. Since spirits tend to come in groupings, working with and through each other, this can be quite a challenge. Subjectively, discernment helps us to clarify ourselves, who we are and what we are capable of achieving.
These two tasks can converge. If we examine our spiritual being closely, we encounter a network of spiritual beings composing it. The self with which we most easily identify is composite and complex.
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.