False Masks and Spiritual Advice: Yeatsian Edition

From the Yeatsian perspective, one of the advantages of embodiment is that it provides a unique sort of opportunity for two spiritual dimensions of creation to operate on each other. This appeals to me in part because it provides another angle from which we can illumine the Yoruba aphorism about the world being a marketplace, and it also provides another point of access into grasping the specificity of an individual’s of spiritual work.

When the human being is born two souls are intertwined with each other. One operates the daemonic-objective realm, the animates the human-subjective realm. The two realms are joined in much the same way the two souls are joined such that a firm distinction cannot be firmly established even though a rough and ready division can be made.

This is all a little refresher, because one of the dangers in the spiritual work described by the Yeatsian spirits is that we misunderstand the nature of the daemon to which we are joined and that we seek instead to work with another daemon entirely. This danger is so basic to the work of a life that when W. B. Yeats attempts to articulate the spirit material systematically, he assigns a category of misunderstanding to every stage associated with a life, calling it the ‘False Mask.’

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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.

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The Body of Fate composed of people and books

“It is likely that no one ever masters anything in which he has not known impotence; and if you agree, you will also see that this impotence comes not at the beginning of or before the struggle with the subject, but in the heart of it.”—Walter Benjamin, “A Berlin Chronicle” in Reflections (4)

Finding this quote set me to flipping pleasantly through the pages of Reflections. Ah, Benjamin, such a pleasure. The double movement of Benjamin into the city and into his past, the opacity of its material forces and the opacity of his family wealth…well, if I wonder down this side street, I might never get to what I want to write about.

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Yeatsian Practice, Brief Addendum

I woke up from a somewhat lengthy and discursive dream this morning and while writing it down realized that it was speaking to my treatment of the Intellect and Mask in the last post as ancillary to the Will and Body of Fate. In truth, that is only half correct.

The crises provide a shift between two phases, one in which the individual manages to establish the communication between the Intellect and Mask and the other in which they establish the communication between the Will and Body of Fate. Deceit and Pity are, precisely, the lack of awareness that communication must be achieved rather than simply exist as a given.

During the phase in which Will and Body of Fate are central, the Intellect and Mask are ancillary. But in the other phase, the Intellect and Mask are central while Will and Body of Fate are ancillary. As-if the spirits were fluids passing moved, under pressure, between two sets of chambers.

The order in which this is worked out has a significant impact on the way in which a soul develops (being one of the key points along which souls are gendered male/female), but it seems like this is also a point along which the issue of primary-solar/antithetical-lunar would come into play. I’m not sure the material fully articulates this.

Hmm.

Yeatsian Arconology

So, it’s been a little but since I talked about the Yeatses’ spiritualist material. A large part of that has to do with how clearly it fits into the hungry ghost model. There isn’t a single trait of the hungry ghost experience that you can’t find in the Vision materials: hypnotism, talkative spirits, pseudo-historical identities, warnings about rival spirits looking to interfere with them, cosmological speculation, striking physical manifestations, draining the medium. That’s a lot of red flags.

There are some redeeming qualities, though. The spirits seem less interested in the cosmological speculation than William. While they deign to talk about such things, they often seem to do so with a certain sense of resignation (“oh for the love of…William wants to hear about the afterlife again”). While they do engage in some striking physical manifestations, they are less concerned with dramatic proofs of there power (like healing).

They show concern for their medium’s fatigue and advise the Yeatses to take it easy on channeling. Finally, they show a great deal of interest in family and children, stating one of their key works to be be securing the birth of the children and their well-being in life, and they do seem to manage that quite tidily. If the volume of material is any indication, their direct interaction with the Yeatses declines sharply after the family is established.

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