As I have been reading about sidereal astrology, I have been trying to work out the conceptual points of contact and divergence between it, tropical astrology, and the material in the Sefer Yetzirah (SY). These last few days, reading the SY, it has begun to come into view. What I am seeing in even a summary account of India’s astrological traditions suggests that the tropical/sidereal distinction doesn’t capture the conceptual ferment in astrological antiquity I am glimpsing through the SY.
A recent Runesoup opened with a well-known quote from Clay Shirky:
“Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution.”
It isn’t just institutions, though. Organisms tend to operate on the same principle. When we talk about ecosystems, part of what makes them systemic is that the constituents of an ecosystem are acting in a way that tends to preserve the system to which they are adapted.
Otitọ de ọja, o ku ta; owo l’ọwọ li nra eke. (When truth is offered for sale in the market, it finds no buyer; but lies are bought with cash in hand.)
(Yoruba saying, quoted and translated by J. D. Y. Peel, Religious Encounter and the Making of the Yoruba)
Okay, let’s turn our attention away from the witches a little (not too far, mind you) and talk a little more about the market that is the world. We’ve talked about how unsettling this association between market, wealth, and home really is, but this quote highlights another axis of concern, truth and lies.
The completion of yesterday’s post left me a little tired, common enough when something significant is discharged, but also out of sorts, which is usually a cue to me that I had not quite brought the work to completion. While drowsing on the bus, I caught myself snapping into awareness and heard someone say ‘anagogical’ very clearly, followed by a general laughter. The context became clear enough once I focused, but it was unnecessary; I had the message. What I was talking about yesterday was anagoge.
Every once in a blue moon, because I am a nerd, I get the bug to think about putting together a reading list of books for would-be gnostics, a canon if you will. The few times I have actually started to pull that together, it’s not long before I shelve the whole mess in disgust. I am never satisfied with the list and I am never satisfied with my reasons for including material on it. I have tried to figure out why and I finally put it together when I was reading that interview with Allen Ginsberg:
Very oddly a lady saint Shri Matakrishnaji in Brindaban, whom I consulted about my spiritual problems, told me to take Blake for my guru. There’s all kinds of different gurus, there can be living and nonliving gurus—apparently whoever initiates you, and I apparently was initiated by Blake in terms of at least having an ecstatic experience from him. So that when I got here to Cambridge I had to rush over to the Fitzwilliam Museum to ﬁnd his misspellings in Songs of Innocence.
I could put together a list of books that meant something to me, that had effects on me along the scale that Ginsberg is talking about in regards to Blake (just skip through that interview using find to locate Blake references–you won’t regret it), but it wouldn’t be anything more than anemic autobiography.