Rethinking Astrological Priority in the Sefer Yetzirah

I’ve been going through the thirty-one drafts that I had accumulated for this blog. I went through them ruthlessly and was left with nine posts that I can’t quite let go. They were composed at various points over the last few years, some reference discussions on blogs that don’t exist, and they are united in not quite fitting in with whatever I was working on at the time, oftentimes picking up a thread from an earlier post that I had left behind.

I want to shut this blog down cleanly, so before I get to the summation I am going to clear them out. That means some rewriting and, so far, that process has already resulted in one of those posts being binned, happily. Others of the nine will surely follow it into the bin, but I will probably end up posting at least a few of them. Those that do will be posted because (1) I like them, flaws and all, (2) they might be useful to someone else thinking about these things, even if only to disagree with, and (3) they are linked to some discussion that has gone on here, even if it is a very old discussion.

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Fire Walk with Me?

Rewatching the original run of Twin Peaks is an illuminating experience, especially alongside the third season. The show establishes joins the surreal and magical to an increasingly traumatic series of scenes in a way that suggests the traumatic material forms the axis of the series. More than that, it suggests that there is a kernel of suffering and cruelty at the center of the ‘mysteries’ that distract us from it.

Every time I think I have a handle on what that trauma is, it deepens and broadens itself, encompassing a wider gyre. There is a question that opens here about the nature of time that necessarily entails asking after the particular shape time takes in relationship to human consciousness. Part of the temporal patterns of repetition have their roots in an inability to confront our culpability in suffering, that we repeat certain patterns precisely because we use them as a form of distraction, a dream from which we dread waking. There is a hint of Freud in this, but in many ways Freud performs this distraction more than he is able to grasp it.

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Under the Aspect of Redemption

I came up philosophically under several phenomenologists. I was reminded of that when I spent some time in Boston where the used bookstores gather in their eddies the excess from students attending bastions of continental thinking like Boston College. It reminded me that there are lessons from that period have left an imprint on my spiritual practice today. Today, I have in mind the roots of phenomenology.

Phenomenology proper begins with Edmund Husserl’s epoche. The epoche is one of those practices that seems simple, even simple-minded, but can be brutally challenging and transformative in practice. Simply stated, the epoche is the suspension of ontological questions in order to more carefully examine the epistemological dimensions of experience. When we undertake the epoche, we stop asking after the existence of a thing and start asking after the nature of our experience of a thing.

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Time Machines: Get Down and Cut Ups

So, The Get Down. There are some subtle but persistent magical themes going on in the narrative. There are the top-hatted alien and minor characters with names like ‘Thor’*; there is the tension between ecstasy and devotion**; but right now I want to point out the way art, history, and music play out as aspects of time (magic).

Spoilers.

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From the Seven Churches to the Twelve Gates

The Book of Revelation and Sefer Yetzirah have been intertwined for me such that at this point I tend to think of them as two elements in the life work, two blocks of the same becoming, two books in the hands of twin angels. The last three months or so I have been working through a conversation between myself and spirit about the elemental lines and as that drew to a close, I finally sat down and found my way through Book of Revelation from start to finish.

I continue to find the most compelling element to be the trajectory from the seven churches to the New Jerusalem in which twelve gates open onto a (starship) city shared in common by the redeemed. Whereas as the seven churches are separated by space and self-enclosed, the New Jerusalem gathers together the many in a single place.

The movement from the doubles to the elementals has mirrored that movement, led me back out into this place where I am feeling keenly the contingency of the boundaries that we draw in the magical community, boundaries rooted in history and reinforced by black iron prison of empire. It’s hard not to see some neo-traditionalism as a form of death wish, a love for the emperor’s boot heel. We have to begin where we are, but that toward which we reach ought to gather us together.

That seems like what the movement from the planets to the heavens is about, after all, the movement that animates the promises of Mithraic liberation, too. That there is a road beyond the boundaries of the day into a higher union with each other and the world, one organized by a recognition of our singularity and our community. I don’t know if I have a good way to talk about all this properly.

Cling to reasonableness and friendliness without compromising either, seems like a start.

A Hand of Years

It struck me while I was sitting on the floor today reading the signs, that it was precisely five years ago that I first sat down on this floor and chalked it up, on a Saturday like this one. Five years. I also realize I’m starting to get old, too, because I now find myself thinking that yoga postures were developed by yogis trying to stay limber while they spent hours contemplating the five square feet of earth they were working.

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[NB] Time, Angels, Daimons, Heroes, and Gods

I often find it easier to think about time in terms of space, in terms of the way we can abstract and spatialize time for a number of broadly mathematical operations. I think that’s pretty common, because we are better suited to conceiving of space than we are to conceiving of time. We can use our better grasp of space to ‘sneak up’ on time.

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