Communitas

Emphasizing the individual dimension of the sort of spiritual work to which the Yeatsian material opens onto a discussion of how to talk about what a community of individuals might look like. The sense of individuality operates in dialogue with the individuality of other people, helping to clear away the demands we unfairly place upon them to follow our spiritual progression, but also allowing us to appreciate both ourselves and others as exemplars. At its best, this sort of support is often (not always) support to go our own way.

As a spiritual undertaking, the members of the community are not just living and breathing fellows, but the less visible and subtle spirits that circulate through it. They, too, ought to be treated with in the same fashion.

Continue reading “Communitas”

A Way without a People

Recently, Andrew Watt put up a post about geomancy resources he shared with a ceremonial magic 101 Tumblr, in part in response to Gordon’s lament of the fragmentation and erasure of magical knowledge. It is a fine post for the audience, but it seems like the audience is part of the problem underlining Gordon’s lament. It is another ‘101’ affair because, well, the history of fragmentation and erasure leads us to ‘go back to basics’ constantly.

Continue reading “A Way without a People”

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.

Continue reading A Vision: Intimacy versus Secrecy”

The Virtues of Knowing Who You Are

My partner has had a copy of Alison Butler’s Victorian Occultism and the Making of Modern Magic: Invoking Tradition lying about the place for a few weeks. I’ve cracked it open and start reading at random; so far, it has always been interesting. Besides thinking that the book would have sounded sexier had the title and subtitle been transposed, it is pretty much all I could ask for from a scholarly book on the matter. It embeds the Golden Dawn in a broader historical horizon and it does so with frequent appeal to biographical detail.

Continue reading “The Virtues of Knowing Who You Are”

The Great and Holy Beach Ball

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.

Continue reading “The Great and Holy Beach Ball”

Some Preliminary Thoughts on A Vision

I have spent several evenings moving between Yeats’ A Vision and a few volume of Yeats’s Vision Papers containing the automatic writing sessions, the dreaming sessions, as well as the card file of material Yeats used while putting the published book together. It has been too long since I sat at a table with more than two books open at once, let me tell you.

Continue reading “Some Preliminary Thoughts on A Vision

Per Amica Silentia Lunae

That quotation from Yeats hasn’t ceased to needle at me;, it mirrors ideas that I keep revisiting in my notebooks. I followed the link back to the original source and tore through the text over a quiet evening (downloadable versions here). It’s…well, intriguing but also a bit infuriating. Yeats struggles mightily in the text to come to theoretical terms with his personal spiritual experiences: he’s thoughtful and sincere but the text lingers in the murky and indeterminate.

Continue reading Per Amica Silentia Lunae