Ancestry and lineage are hot topics in magical circles these days, but in talking about these things we often fall into vague and romantic notions about how kinship is constituted and defined. Having talked about the very concrete connections between kinship and kalunga recently, Lucien Scubla’s Giving Life, Giving Death: Psychoanalysis, Anthropology, Philosophy has been a timely read. The way in which Scubla repositions kinship studies to emphasize the central fact of maternity (and highlight how it is often overlooked) resonates with much of my own thinking.
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 begin with Bet’s figures because Bet occupies a privileged place in all of the assemblages of double letters. It is the first letter after Alef and it gives shelter to the first letter and through its relationship to the other doubles begins the process of differentiation in creation. Carcer and Conjunctio bear witness to Bet’s character and it is from that character they arise and to which they return. In that movement of going and returning, they develop a network of affiliations which develop and modulate that character.
In the planetary circuit, Bet precedes all of the doubles but firstly Gimel. In the sequence of the week, it is the Sabbath, the bezel and treasure mounted in the series of days, between Pe and Kaf. Upon the plane of orifices that constitute the face, it is the left nostril and with Tav is the secret to the regulation of the vital breath. Within the Tree of Life, it is the highest double, crowned with Keter on the central pillar and resting upon Tifaret. Carcer and Conjunctio accompany it in all of its operations.
I have talked a little here and there about the way in which each of Jung’s core functions (Intuition, Thinking, Feeling, and Sensation) can be mapped onto traditional elemental correspondences, but lately I have been thinking that the better comparison may be the elemental lines within the tree of life diagram. Admittedly, I have been thinking about them an awful lot, but there is a logic there that carries between the two systems and encourages me to think that Jung’s psychological types might flourish better in an occult or magical account of the psyche than in an academic psychology.
I came across this discussion on the current shift in our understanding of what it is a lot of psychedelics actually do, as mind-limiters which make possible a more intimate encounter with the world as it is:
“There are likely to be analogous effects on other sensory inputs; sound, bodily sensations such as temperature, kinaesthetic awareness, proprioception, taste and smell. So psychedelics, named after the apparent mind-manifesting effects, may actually reveal instead a lack of ‘mind’ as we currently understand this terminology. The reducing valve theory of Huxley has already gained acceptance with regard to integration of brain centres. This visual phenomenon of visible colour waves could provide an easily accessible concrete example of its application. Psychedelics may well reveal the building blocks of our raw state of perception. This could explain that sense of familiarity many people have commented on, the coming home. For really, we ALWAYS see the world this way with our sensory apparatus, the non-psychedelic reality being constructed post-here&now by constant activity within our filtering brain.”
This sits well with the account of gnosis I’ve been pushing for here—a gnosis rooted in becoming as-if dead, as-if a mute thing in the world, in order to bring a portion of that worldliness back with us as we rearticulate ourselves back into our living skin. It is about becoming more embedded in the world, unless we get caught up in a reactive ego-inflation that has us blowing up scale of that process.
The as-if dead movement is what allows us to pick up more clearly on there being an other kind of life and awareness going on outside our head, one that isn’t human, one that doesn’t well map onto the anthropomorphic fantasies we often use to animate our understanding of ourselves, other people, and the world of spirits. That other-awareness is then what we work to give voice to in human terms by finding ways to link that alien voice with a humanized understanding.
When the Sefer Yetzirah summarizes the essence of the sefirot, it does so by describing them as “of nothingness.” More so than any of the channels, they are united in a common being, which is no being, or a being so full that it exceeds being as a specific beings like planets and stars and animals. This nothingness divides itself and in dividing itself sets the tree in motion.
I’m old enough to have come of age intellectually when Hardt and Negri were making a splash with their Empire. Sitting close to the heart of that book was a call for new virtue rooted in poverty. I remember more than a few folks I knew at the time feeling like this was some sort of romantic claptrap and, having been poor, I was inclined to agree with them.
I have mentioned this before, but one of the things I appreciate about George Yeats is her understanding of the medium’s role in mediumship. She makes clear that the quality of the medium shapes the quality of the message. The medium has to work at being a good medium and that includes developing their intellectual faculties so that spirits have easier access to concepts for communicating.
Once we start down an initiatory process, it becomes very difficult not to draw comparisons between what we are experiencing and what others have experienced. This can be beneficial, especially when we are comparing our experience with people who have undertaken initiation through the same set of practices as ourselves. It can also be problematic, especially when we compare our experiences with those of people using alternative practices. When beneficial, it allows us to judge our progress and better understand how to overcome the obstacles confronting us. When harmful, it leads us to use techniques ill-suited to the specific challenges of our initiatory work and potentially hinder our progress.