[NB] Of Planets, Trees, and Metals

I have been working my way through a translation of Diwan Malkuta Laita (Scroll of Exalted Kingship) that Jorunn Jacobsen Buckley published. The scroll is a liturgical guide to the consecration of new priests among the Mandaeans and is full of tightly-packed nuggets of their particular Gnostic cosmo-ontology. Considering it as a well-preserved piece of a dialogue with other Gnostic practices from antiquity has been very rewarding.

(I’m not saying it is just a well-preserved bit of dialogue, for it is part of a living Mandaean practice, too. I am, however, outside of that living practice, so for me it is most readily accessible as evidence rather than as testimony.)

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The Secret Structure of the Days: Letters and the Book of Baruch

The movement to the elemental lines in the witness of the body is a movement from the visible to the invisible, from the outer to the inner. There is a distinct but parallel movement in the witness of time. That isn’t immediately apparent in the ascription of the elemental letters to the months, but when you examine the way in which the day can be divided into two sets of twelve esoteric hours you can glimpse the elemental lines within the day itself.

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[NB] More Reflections on Type: Elemental Functions?

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.

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[NB] Clever and Misleading


I chuckled a little when I first saw this, because it is a charming bit of wit to play the contrasts here, but almost immediately I also noticed the titles of the book of book on the Kabbalist’s lap. They don’t reference any specific Kabbalistic texts, they are just an assortment of the sefirot names, which sort of misses the point, almost as badly as the trend-chasing fauxballah student parodied in the strip. While the fauxballist’s ideas are transparently silly, as is their ignorance of the roots of the practice, the way in which the cartoon frames the contrast diminishes Kabbalism proper, too.

(Yes, I know, it is just a cartoon. And this is just a blog post using it as a jumping off point to make some basic points.)

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[NB] Exploded Cosmologies

“Fragments of a vessel which are to be glued together must match one another in the smallest details, although they need not be like another. In the same way a translation, instead of resembling the meaning of the original, must lovingly and in detail incorporate the original’s mode of signification, thus making both the original and the translation recognizable as fragments of a greater language, just as fragments are part of a vessel.”—Walter Benjamin, “The Task of the Translator” in Illuminations (78)

I fondly recall discovering Milorad Pavić’s Dictionary of the Khazars in an airport bookshop in Atlanta, probably not long before or after I was accused by a classmate of being a “closet Jewish mystic” for the way I read Benjamin’s work. The text was a marvel of weaving together the discontinuous threads of Eastern European religious experience, juxtaposing Christian, Islamic, and Jewish conceptions of the sacred through an ablative rather than conjunctive methodology.

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