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.
Within the planetary circuit, Kaf is the anchor and center for all circuits and is the interface between planets and stars. In the sequence of the week it follows Bet and precedes Tav. Upon the plane of orifices that constitute the face, Kaf defines the field of vision along with Dalet. Within the Tree of Life, it is the central element of the middle pillar, crowned with Tifaret and resting upon Yesod. In all of these assemblages, it finds expression through the geomantic figures of Fortuna Major and Fortuna Minor.
The Sefer Yetzirah makes a distinction between the different domains upon which the sacred letters (channels) exert their generative force. There are three witnesses, Universe, Cycle, and Soul. Thus according to the Saadia version, Kaf produces the Sun, Tuesday, and the right nostril. So, while the Sun, Tuesday, and the right nostril are all Kaf-ish, Tuesday isn’t ‘solar’ anymore than the Sun is ‘Tuesday-ish.’
What they share is a common tie to a generative force, and we can call one by the other only through a sort of dual deployment of synecdoche and metaphor. We can call the Sun Tuesday-ish in a manner similar to how we can call a scepter crown-ly by both the scepter and crown being proper to a queen. There is truth to such poetical affirmation, but they are truths that unfurl only as the synecdoches are either followed back to their origins (mystical contemplation) or serve to call forth the creative word (magical invocation).
We can speculate that this way of thinking sits at the root of other practices with historical relationships to this material. When we’re looking at the <i>Ghayat al-Hakim/Picatrix</i> and reading about the way in which a certain rite mixes stone, dress, and the disposition of the heavens, we can read it as the ritualist’s ideal rite, a rite in which they trust (rightly or wrongly) to have identified a common set of generative forces (channels) which each element in the ritual invokes after is own fashion. That way of approaching it also provides some lines of exploration for how a ritual might be unpacked, used in part, mingled with other elements in a sort of grand permutation. What happens when the jester wears the crown or the soldier carries a scepter?
As an aside, when we talk about the body as one of the domains through which the tree of life manifests its generative powers, I’m starting to wonder what happens when we pay attention to dress in that context. What happens when we look to costuming to invoke forces on the body by the deployment of color, texture, and so on?
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.
I just thought I would share this story. It is a thing of beauty, packed tight:
“But in Oturupon Meji Maupoil stumbled upon a most extraordinary myth: Orunmila, beset with melancholia, consulted Ifa for himself. How to renew his zest? He was told to bring a sacrifice to his mother, upon whom all joy in his life depended. She was far away. It was Eshu who volunteered to go find her. When he got there he told the woman that her son was dead and that he would lead her back to perform the funeral if she would give him a certain he-goat, which had been entrusted to her care by Oduduwa—life itself. Reluctantly she agreed to give the animal up. Eshu-Elegba promptly slaughtered it, and the blood that flowed forth, covering Eshu’s body, was fire. Having at that time none of his own, Eshu took he-goat’s indestructible head and placed it in a jar turned upside down upon his shoulders. And worn by Eshu, that jar was discovered to contain the sun. (To the king of death Orunmila’s mother gave a ripe fruit; this became his head.)”—Judith Gleason, A Recitation of Ifa (149; emphasis Gleason’s)
I know, movies, right? Not exactly my usual fare, but watching it left me with something to say. And it has much to do with my brand of gnosticism, so it fits here.
Let me begin with the caveats. I appreciate Tolkien, but his work has never sung to me like it has to some people. There is a song there, no doubt, but it isn’t for me like it is for others. I have enjoyed Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth movies, but I have been skeptical of the three movie treatment given to The Hobbit. The first installment pleased, but this one was overstuffed with action in a manner ill-suited to Tolkien’s vision.
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.
When Ibn al’Arabi talks about the imagination, he places it in the category of things that makes us a proper image of the divine. When we engage our imagination fully, we imitate the creative act through which God created the world. This mirroring is one of the reasons that we can even begin to make sense of what would otherwise be the utter ineffability of God, though it is also the source of a lot of our misunderstandings, too. Our imagination is concrete and specific, motivated by, and concerned with, other concrete and specific things. God’s creative power is total, which is something we don’t have the chops to grasp.
I have been contemplating that sense I have that the ‘ideal’ tree of life is mostly a ghost or hologram of other trees, except for its middle pillar. That pillar is dominated by Tifaret and Yesod, sefirot linked to the Sun and Moon, respectively. Here I want to explore how the use of these prominent heavenly objects to symbolize Tifaret and Yesod provide an illuatration of how these spiritual forces operate within the unfolding pattern of creation.