[NB] Kabbalah and Spiritualism: Light and Attention

I quite like this description of righting the world from Hermetic Lessons:

In Kabbalah we speak of Tikkun ha Olam – the rectification of the worlds – the idea being that in the Shevirat Ha Kelim, the Shattering of the Vessels, the world became broken and overwhelmed by evil. The Ari used the partzufim (personifications, countenanves) in order to complete this reparation – for while the kelim could not contain the light and so shattered, the partzufim, by being able to enter dialogue with each other, could both give and recieve the light**.   We could speak of our task on Earth being Tikkun ha Partzuf, the repair of the face.

The language is virtually identical to that of the espiritistas: identify your spirits [i.e., partzufim] and give them light. It’s worth pointing out what those asterisks in the quote specify, too: that ‘light’ is here synonymous with attention. In other words, to give and receive light is to give and receive attention, and it is through attention that the rifts in creation are bridged.

The similarity between the two is, of course, not accidental. Spiritism emerges from a soil that has been throroughly saturated with Kabbalism, sometimes so much so that it has become all-but invisible.

Knowing Spirits

When I talk about getting to know a spirit, I am usually talking about a lengthy ritual process through which the spirit becomes manifest, divination performed upon it, and a personal connection established. The personal connection part of the process is absolutely essential but difficult to describe. Even after a lengthy ritual manifestation and divination, the nature of the spirit is often opaque. It is only after weeks and months of living with it that the spirit’s place in my broader spiritual court becomes manifest.

Continue reading “Knowing Spirits”

Other Souls inside this Skin

One of the things that I like about Dina Katz’s work on the Sumerian netherworld is that she chips away at the notion that the Sumerians had a rich notion of multiple souls. Reading the material we have on their afterlife closely, we seem to see quite a bit of variance about what exactly the afterlife consisted in and, even, if there was an afterlife to speak of. That kind of minimalist reading is so useful when you’re trying to have a dialogue, however broken and one-sided, with people of another era.

Continue reading “Other Souls inside this Skin”

Telling Stories

I was going to sit down and write about history and evolution, but instead the ancestral shrine tugged at me. Have I told you that story? Probably not. A few years ago now, I had the opportunity to participate in an ancestralization ceremony for my maternal grandparents with one of Malidoma Some’s students, Emenike La. It opened many doors to me spiritually. The elevation of my ancestors was like nothing so much as lifting the lintels on a door I didn’t even know was there; a whole world opened up to me.

Hard to talk about some of that stuff, though, because it’s, well, family business. Even if it’s weird family business. Maybe because it is weird family business?

Continue reading “Telling Stories”

[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.

Continue reading “[NB] Computers, Consciousness, and Dark Corners”

Exit Strategies

One of the things I like about an account that distinguishes different sorts of klippoth is that it provides me with a simple but well-structured model of the ‘physics’ of the gnostic fall and the sorts of existence it made possible. I am not big on ‘results centered’ magic, but I do like my models to be as actionable as possible. Here, when I say ‘actionable,’ I mean it to refer to action in its rich, ethical dimensions, not just to its practical, ‘can I do it?’ sense.

Continue reading “Exit Strategies”

The Naming of Kinds

Categories are dangerous things. The separation of one kind of thing from another at the conceptual level leads us toward deeper knowledge and deeper ignorance simultaneously. Once we separate one kind from another at the level of concept, we prepare the way for forms of action that treat them as separate in actuality.

Continue reading “The Naming of Kinds”

Working a Dream

Way, way back in the early days of my time on the internet (ca. 1994-95), I had the good luck to stumble into a dream interpretation community. It was a simple affair. Every cycle (I can’t recall how long that was, maybe a month or so?), everyone in the group would send in a dream they wanted to work on. The organizer would choose one or two (at random or by design, I can’t recall), and then the whole group would go at the dreams.

Continue reading “Working a Dream”

The Gathering of the Departing

“…their Covens and Fleets have rhythm and pattern. This running together and running of all to a centre and yet without loss of identity, has been prepared for by their exploration of their moral life, of its beneficiaries and its victims, and even of all its untrodden paths, and all their thoughts have moulded the vehicle and become event and circumstance.”—W. B. Yeats, Per Amica Silentia Lunae (75)

This is beautiful, isn’t it? Yeats has such a graceful pen, knows how to turn poetry to the service of spiritual truth. The image of the dead of a people, gathered up beneath the spirit that guarded their religious life, whirling through the spirit of the world…I hope for such a fate. But let us not get too caught up in the beauty to notice the center toward which they are traveling. What is that journey about?

Continue reading “The Gathering of the Departing”

Syncretism

Continuing the trend of writing about a book I haven’t read, let me talk a little around this, quoted by Gordon from Epoch:

All gods and all religions and all magical traditions get cobbled together out of bits and pieces of previous traditions. All theology and all revelation look suspiciously like syncretism, and scholarship confirms this. Chaos magic adopts it as a guiding principle without apology or evasion.

This sort of thing strikes me as somewhat banal these days, true in a breezy sort of way that doesn’t mean a lot. I can agree wholeheartedly with the statement without necessarily agreeing with Carroll or anyone else who affirms it. I’ll probably have to actually read this book at some point, but for the sake of a post, I’m just going to talk about how I would cash out the statement. Continue reading “Syncretism”