Formation and Demolition

As I am talking about the sefirah, the Sefer Yetzirah, the book of Revelation, and Pharaoh’s spiritual function, I am also becoming increasingly aware of a difference in scale between this work and the work with which I began this blog. I named it Disrupt and Repair to reflect the texture of spiritual processes with which I was engaged. Following them out to my current work, I can see a family of practices centered upon formation and demolition.

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Departures

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.

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[NB] Grimoire and Reception + Life in Death

Just some more “what I am reading from around the web” posting.

While we seem to have a much better sense of the early modern grimoire archive (e.g., Owen Davies’s Grimoires), of the history of the grimoires as commodities in circulation, I still haven’t seen a lot that gives us insight into the reception and lifeworld of those grimoires (though that could be simple ignorance on my part). Though not about grimoires proper, the role played by literacy and self-education in The Cheese and the Worms provides a useful point of departure for that line of thought.In a peculiar fashion, The Dictionary of the Khazars is another such opportunity.

This article seems like another avenue. While it does not address grimoires directly, it opens a window into the early modern publishing world in which grimoires circulated and to which both authors and publishers would have their expectations set. Positioning grimoires and grimoire spirits as part of the advancement of secularism and an early do-it-yourself sensibility…well, that fits nicely with entertaining the possibility that school networks might have facilitated the transmission of some grimoire materials and captures some of the Promethean, fire-stealing elements of the spirits.

Then there is this window into work going on around the study of the dead and what happens in the body after death. How is this for a curiosity:

“Some genetic activity, like a gene that’s responsible for embryonic development, baffled the scientists. Noble suspects that this gene becomes active because the cellular environment in dead bodies must somehow resemble those found in embryos.”

Gives new meaning to the phrase from womb to tomb.

Ten Sefirot, One Sefirot

When the Sefer Yetzirah summarizes the essence of the sefirot, it does so by describing them as “of nothingness.” More so than any of the channels, they are united in a common being, which is no being, or a being so full that it exceeds being as a specific beings like planets and stars and animals. This nothingness divides itself and in dividing itself sets the tree in motion.

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[NB] Work as Primary, Results as Secondary

Gordon’s latest post has me thinking about what it means to have goals in magical work. I often feel like a bit of an outsider to the ‘do magic for x, get x’ school of magical work. In most cases, it feels like if I really want x, there are usually more direct routes toward x than magic. I know, the get it camp tends to favor doing magic as a way of securing the route, but it’s never been a major part of my work.

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Mooncalf

Our moon is distinctive by virtue of being an extrusion of the Earth itself, a dead twin. It’s occult power derives in part from this doubling process, for it is not just a neighbor but an affine, an ancestral body. Remember Lucretius who suggested that substances formed from atoms because of an inherent tendency to swerve? Well, look to the moon and its influence on us as a constant introduction of subtle swerves, on the physical and occult planes. Consider the way the moon slowly churns the ocean and where life began.

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[NB] Symbols and Signs of Decline: Fin-de-siecle France

I’ve been thinking about the Symbolist and Decadent movements of the fin-de-siecle life more generally (which makes Gordon’s recent post timely in a sidelong way; this is the other side of France’s enshrining of Reason, the aesthetic Avignon). Obviously, there is more than a superficial resemblance between Europe on the cusp of the 20th century and the United States on the cusp of the 21st, but there is something else going on, too. Beneath the parallels in situation, there is an inheritance. We aren’t just ‘repeating’ the decline of fin-de-siecle Europe, in part because we are encountering it with the legacy of fin-de-siecle Europe available to us.

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