I am working on a very long post about the Boston Public Library, but that work is throwing off some sparks that merit some short posts. One of those has to do with the Enneagram. I’ve mentioned before that Gurdjieff and the Fourth Way formed some of the backdrop to my youthful forays into matters mystical and magical, so I came in contact with the Enneagram a while ago. As I ws thinking about the image of the severed head, a new story on the Enneagram popped up alongside another in my news feed.
I suspect this is one of those points that I will keep returning to, again and again, as long as I care to think about geomancy. When we look closely at the way in which the signs operate in relationship to each other, we can see in Populus a richness that we can only explore by surrendering our preconceptions about what we will find and what we will become. This is going to be a little ragged around the edges and that’s part of the point, too.
I have an affection for Gurdjieff out of proportion with my estimation of him or his work. Maybe it is just that I first read about him and his work when I was young and impressionable and, well, it left an impression. If bother to move past vague affection to examine him, I am usually discomfited.
There is something decidedly cult-ish to him and at least some of that has to do with the intense loathing he directed toward the way our circumstances determine us. Gurdjieff thought that, to the extent we were determined, we were basically machines. Melodramatically, he would suggest that we were nothing more than machines unless we manage to complete the spiritual work of liberation.
If you read P. D. Ouspensky and G. I, Gurdjieff you’ll find that a chunk of the Fourth Way practices entail visualization techniques. Taken superficially, these practices resemble the sort of things going on around the Golden Dawn. However, once we pass beyond a cursory examination of them, they appear quite different. The Golden Dawn seems to have treated the visualizations as a vehicle while for the Fourth Way system it served a kind of mental calisthenics.
The differences can be seen clearly enough in the sorts of visualizations. While the Golden Dawn sorts of practices emphasized symbolic (i.e., water as a symbol of emotion and nourishment) elements, the Fourth Way emphasized abstract and geometric elements for theselves. Obviously, these two branches aren’t entirely disparate. The tree of life as the Golden Dawn portrayed it was pretty darn abstract and geometrical, though if you read Dion Fortune’s pathworkings for it, you’ll realize that the primary means of accessing those forces were through symbolic meditations.