Gnosis, or The Beam in the Eye

There is a big question that is difficult to get at that nonetheless needs to be addressed if I am going to talk about gnosticism. Namely: what is gnosis? I have an answer, but I also have an allusive sensibility, so please pardon me as I make some wide circuits through this question.

Continue reading “Gnosis, or The Beam in the Eye”

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[NB] Rethinking Correspondence

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?