Segol talks for some time aboue the golem operation which is almost always closely related to the Sefer Yetzirah in the manuscripts she studies. As she talks about the gathering of dirt, I am thinking over the long relationship my practice has had with dirt, beginning almost a decade ago when a spirit suggested that I might find the ‘church of dirt’ more suited to my work and disposition, a church that my spirits have repeatedly rooted in an ambiguously Levantine antiquity. It seems like just one more way in which the SY work seems to be one of the capstones of the practice that I already have.
A little humorous synchrony for me—I had been talking a little about the fire as the lightning in tree of life and when I went over to Hermetic Lessons, what do I find? A similar, better thought out, comparison of fire and lightning. Ha.
I wanted to return to that, though, because it is another point at which the metaphoric apparatus of the Neoplatonism-lite and Neoplatonism-heavy approaches to the sefirotic diagram overlap on the surface but diverge in substance.
I find that after i write a post like the last one, I return to the Kabbalistic material with more clarity. Writing out my current sense of the material also liberates me from that understanding and when I return to the texts, I come to them refreshed. This post pulls together threads spun in this post (on the misunderstandings that result from reading Kabbalistic material with a heavy Neoplatonic bias) and the last post (contemplating the relationship of the sefirot). It should be fairly short.
Yesterday, I had a brief exchange between Ted Hand and Cole Tucker on twitter that warrants a lengthier response for which twitter is not suited. The discussion began with a question from Ted as to whether we should identify the Kabbalistic sefirot with the Neoplatonic henads. He also posted a snippet from a related discussion in which the Porphyrian Tree was used to suggest the common roots of Kabbalah and Neoplatonism (here is a link to Wikipedia where you can see the tree more clearly).
I want to unpack my answer (that the proper units of comparison should be between the henads and the channels of the tree, the henads and the sacred alphabet) because I think that comparison helps to differentiate the Kabbalistic perspective from the Neoplatonic one. The tendency to fuse Kabbalism and Neoplatonism has obscured fundamental differences between them and I want to talk about how my practice has led me to redifferentiate them. This is primarily a conceptual discussion, though, and I touch on practical matters lightly, as illustrative tangents.
This may be something akin to neoplatonic heresy, but I am starting to wonder if the systematic properties that we often ascribe to the eternal realm only manifest in its interaction with the temporal realm. There are a few things motivating this:
(1) The way the Yeatses’ spirits described the lunar progression of an idea from a potent idea to a well-articulated conceptual actuality.
(2) Pantheons, with their organic levels of organization and hierarchy, tend to be latecomers to more disparate spiritual encounters.
(3) Some geomantic work lately in which it has become clear that the chart is ideally suited for mapping spirits of a certain size, and that spirits may be either too small or too large to be comfortably detailed by a chart. This puts me in mind of the Enochian work for a number of reasons, but approached geomantically this smaller and larger distinction lacks the well-defined structure of Enochian.
(4) Frisvold’s account of Obeah and the way it makes me rethink Zora Neale Hurston’s accounts of hoodoo initiations.
Which is a way of saying that material and temporal existence provides spiritual and eternal existence with an opportunity to develop.
That opens the door for a reconsideration of what occurs at the eternal level, perhaps not a higher kind of order but a greater degree of intensity. The order we imagine the eternal to have may be just that, imaginary, the result of our experience in the temporal world with the operations of the eternal. There may be a deeper sympathy between higher unity and lower disorder than we might imagine.
There is a question, too, as to how much systematic order is too much, whether there might be a tipping point at which the effort to describe an order becomes a vehicle for excluding the eternal. System as the limit at which point the eternal is excluded from the temporal order in favor of the temporal structures that the encounter with the eternal inspired or motivated.
System as the mark of the world.