Spinoza and the Spiritual Labyrinth

Spinoza’s philosophical monism structures a lot of how I think about our interactions with the world of spirits. The specifics of his work, his way of thinking and arguing as well as his assertions, are worth some attention in and of themselves, but this really isn’t the vest venue for that. Heck, I may not even be the best person for that anyway. Behind those specifics there is a monist sensibility (I’m big on that notion, aren’t I?) that is even more useful to me. That can be usefully described here, so let me see if I can get at that.

I’m going to do that by breaking the sensibility down into some grounding intuitions, that sense of how the world is ordered and how that order ought to shape how we think about it. I’m going to play a little loosely with Spinoza’s logic in order to get at this sensibility, in part because I draw different conclusions from it. Continue reading “Spinoza and the Spiritual Labyrinth”

Don’t Make a Prison of Tradition

In the early days of anthropology, there was a lot of interest in exotic cosmologies. Part of the anthropologist’s job was to get at the model of the universe their informants had. That tendency had its roots in the philological habits of the ‘Enlightened’ European world and it produced a fair amount of scholarship that equated understanding a people with understanding their cosmology. This eventually gave way to a richer notion of culture that emphasized conceptual frameworks and sensibilities within anthropology, but it has had a lingering and stifling impact on occultism and occult-inflected new relgious movements.

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A Vision: Intimacy versus Secrecy

The history of civilization is a river on whose waters soldiers and politicians are fighting and shedding ballots and blood; but on the banks of the river, people are raising children, building homes, making scientific inventions, puzzling about the universe, writing music and literature.–Will Durant

One of the charms of W. B. Yeats’s first effort to publish A Vision is its framing narrative, a work of fiction equal to the magical realists who would follow after him. The origin of that frame, though, derives from an injunction imparted by the spirits that the work as a whole was to remain secret. While George herself was opposed to the publication in general, the spirits made some allowances.

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More Modernity and Spiritualism

I don’t read as much as I used to, but over this holiday season I have been taking pleasure in the translation of Walter Benjamin’s work on Baudelaire, The Writer of Modern Life, and acquainting myself with Les Fleurs du Mal (I know, embarrassing that I haven’t done so before this, right?). I’m glad to have a bilingual edition of the latter–while Robert Howard’s English translation is poetically appealing, it elides Baudelaire’s singular and discomfiting French.

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A Brief Addendum

Two things have occupied my mind since the last post and I want to throw them up in a short post to put them on the radar here.

First, solar and lunar modalities are good exemplars for a discussion of spiritual communication, but I wish that I had more clear that they were just that, exemplary. In general, I think we focus overmuch on those modalities to the detriment of other forms of communication, the more subtle and less conceptual ones that we might, following the astrological model, call mercurial, venusian, saturniand, and so one.

Second, reading the Randolph quote again reminds me that we need to make some distinction between the way in which a spirit manifests and the nature of the spirit itself. While it is probably useful to think of some spirits as hotter than others, we also want to keep in mind that some forms of engagement with spirit are hotter than others. This throws up some suggestive ideas about the way ritual practices may play a prominent role in the forms that spirits use to manifest.

A World of Experiences

The principle that I am adopting is that consciousness presupposes experience, and not experience consciousness.

Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality (Corrected Edition, 53)

Whitehead and spiritualism seem a bit like peanut butter and chocolate to me, so I thought I would throw up a post about this quote. I’ll unpack the two key terms in it before diving into the spiritualist angle.

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Breathing Out

I have spent some time thinking about what I need to be doing with this blog going forward. Some of it will follow the pattern already established: talking in fairly broad gnostic terms about this or that topic. I am also going to start writing about my specific practice and work, most especially about the spirits underpinning it.

I don’t expect that will be easy. The spirits that I work with don’t seem to have much historical precedence and to the extent that they do, they give me the sense that it has been through syncretic relationships with other spirits. They do have a penumbra of stories, but they aren’t ones that have been passed down and polished through generations of retelling. I don’t think of myself as a good storyteller or theologian, but that seems to be where the next phase requires me to go.

I don’t have a clear idea of what this will look like, except a bit clumsy and hopefully earnest.

Okay, that’s the news for now. I’ll be picking back up regular posting shortly.

Three Tones and a Fractal Spiritual Cosmos

I don’t know if this is just a quality of spiritualist work or of the spiritual world more generally, but every time I discover a set of domains into which spirits may be organized and understood, those domains multiply by a process of reflection and internalization. I can, for example, sort spirits according to their affinity for certain sefirotic patterns, but then I find within each of those sefirotic patterns the entire sefirotic pattern replicated. I have glimpsed a parallel pattern in the Enochian material, but I can’t speak too deeply on that and, well, I wonder how much of the Enochian material might fall into the spiritualist framework.

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Geomantic Spiritualism: Some Basics

The last post dealt with some basic techniques; this post deals with some of the conceptual underpinnings of them. The emphasis I made in my last post about this being my personal blend applies even more aptly here. I have taken a geomantic approach to describing my spiritualist work and, as far as I can tell, that isn’t too common.

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