Moses Redux

Let’s get ready to ramble, shall we? This is one of those throat-clearing posts that tend to show up in the middle. I keep coming back to something Simon said in response to my last post on Moses in the medieval Jewish Kabbalistic material:

“SY is considered a text of the school of ma’aseh bereishit (work of creation), a complementary but separate school to ma’aseh merkavah (work of the chariot). The former is a school focusing on the metaphysics of creation as outlined in chapter 1 of Genesis and the latter school is based on visions of Ezekiel and Isaiah involving heavenly ascent. I would place the experience of Moses receiving the law as related to ma’aseh bereishit and the splitting of the sea of reeds as related to the school of ma’aseh bereishit.”

It was useful to have it said in these terms contrasted in just this way because it reopens a series of distinctions that has long animated my thinking (wizard/witch; the sumerian diasporas; though the diasporas posts are basically a pitch to break it out into wizard/sorcerer/witch). So, when we are talking about the early medieval fusion of the SY with an account of an ascent to heaven by Moses, we are looking at an interesting case where the two modalities have crisscrossed each other.

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[Practice] Welcoming the Signs

This is a little bit of an experiment, trying to talk about some spiritual work in a straightforward fashion without too much interpretation projected onto it. If I like it how it turns out, if it sits well with me, I might try to make it a more regular feature of what I do here.

I couldn’t tell you precisely when I started doing this, but sometime over the last year (maybe two? maybe three?) I started using my body as a screen onto which I could project geomantic figures in prayer. As I would pray, I would just extend out my right hand (fingers freshly dipped in cool, perfumed water) and let it trace out a figure spontaneously, then let the figure rise up and into me. The way in which that happened varied, because I let the figure settle into the body on its own, with minimal willful direction.

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[NB] Education, the Communal Body

So, this post is meant to be something of a response to two posts (here and here) over on Hermetic Lessons, a continuation of the discussion started on an earlier post on this blog. Reading those posts, I am starting to see that there are a few intuitions we share, as well as a few on which we diverge.  Categorized as a notebook to emphasize that this is one more contingent mask through which I’m thinking.

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[NB] Computers, Consciousness, and Dark Corners

I’m not one of those folks who likes to draw many comparisons from studies of computing processes and apply them to human behavior. I tend to think that computers mimic human consciousness more because of the human beings that structure and use them rather than them being intrinsically conscious. I may be wrong about that, but that’s my working hypothesis.

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[NB] Evolution, Time, Matter, Spirit

I have been drafting this or that post that intersects with what I have been thinking about the evolution aesthetic, but I haven’t been terribly satisfied with them. They end up going in directions that are just too technical for the bigger picture I am working toward.

I started to think about what I could do to counter that, and this is that. I am going to rattle out what I think to be some of the bigger picture consequences of an evolutionary aesthetic, with the apocalyptic and extinction aesthetics in the background.

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[NB] Reading Dreyer’s Vedic Astrology

I have been talking and thinking about sidereal astrology enough that I felt like I needed a little more knowledge about it. When I saw Ronnie Gale Dreyer’s Vedic Astrology on the shelf at my local occult shop, I picked it up. Flipping through it has been modestly illuminating from an abstract point of view, but I figured I might as well go ahead and take a look at my own chart. That provides a clear path through the material.

It brings back memories.

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Permutations: Sefer Yetzirah and Astrology

“Oh, do not be stupid, boy!” Mrs Whatsit scolded. “You know perfectly well what I am driving at!”
“You mean you’re comparing our lives to a sonnet? A strict from, but freedom within it?”
“Yes,” Mrs Whatsit said. “You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself. What you say is completely up to you.”
—Madeline L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time (192)

The Sefer Yetzirah account of permutation stood out boldly on this morning’s reading. It seems to be one of the most basic elements of the material and forms one of the keys to the operations both within the Kabbalistic material and to the broader magical techne of which it forms a part. Sheesh, it is easy to see the influence of the practice on the grimoire tradition and the Enochian practices of Dee and Kelley.

The discussion of the twelve elemental lines (the diagonals) opens so many doors. it begins with the simplest of things, the permutation of pairs. For reasons that are only partially clear to me, the permutation of Tet and Yud (shaping Leo and Virgo) gets my engines running. But the pairs are really only the training wheels of the permutations. The text proceeds to expand the practice to include the total permutation of the diagonals, the rearrangement of the constellations into all of their possible orders. That is wild! That entails working through the latent potentialities of the firmament itself.

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On Seeing and Naming Color: Blue Alienation

“Like it or not, we are slaves of the hour and its colors and forms, subjects of the sky and of the earth. Even the part of us that burrows deepest into itself, disdaining its surroundings, does not burrow along the same paths when it rains as when the sky is clear.”—Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

I’ve seen this piece from the Business Insider frustrating folks, reporting that terms for the color blue weren’t widespread in the ancient Mediterranean world. Most of that frustrations seems misplaced. We’re missing an opportunity because, while this is a puff piece, what it describes fits into a discussion that has been going on for nearly half a century within cognitive anthropology. It’s easy enough to hear the results of these studies as generally pejorative, but that’s not what I see. This sort of thing allows us to appreciate past cultures more deeply as it makes clear their differences from us, not their inferiority.

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[NB] Mediumship and Physiology

I just started reading Rebecca Seligman’s Possessing Spirits and Healing Selves. The book is based in her research on mediums in Candomble, fusing ethnographic and medical research techniques to approach an account of mediumship and possession that gives equal weight to physiology, psychology, and cultural context.

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[NB] Now and Then, Now and Again, Now or Never

“Moreover, what we say of a life may be said of several lives. Since each is a passing present, one life may replay another at a different level, as if the philosopher and the pig, the criminal and the saint, played out the same past at different levels of a gigantic cone. This is what we call metempsychosis. Each chooses his pitch or his tone, perhaps even his lyrics, but the tune remains the same, and underneath all the lyrics the same tra-la-la, in all possible tones and all pitches.”—Gilles Deleuze, Difference & Repetition (83-84)

“A historic materialist cannot do without the notion of a present which is not a transition, but in which time stands still and has come to a stop….[This present] supplies a unique experience with the past….enough to blast open the continuum of history.”—Walter Benjamin, “Theses on the Philosophy of History” in Illuminations (262)

The word ‘now’ has picked up a lot of rhetorical punch in the last few decades. Most of that derives from the increasing visibility of mindfulness meditation, both in spiritual and academic circles. It has mostly been a good thing and highlights what is implicit or just barely explicit in a lot of different spiritual practices. Still, there are some problems with the attention to now and they have bled through to discussions of embodiment and lived experience in troubling ways.

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