[NB] Revelation and Gnosis in Context

Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation (ἀποκαλύψει; apocalypse), or by knowledge (γνώσει; gnosis), or by prophesying (προφητείᾳ), or by doctrine (διδαχῇ; didactic knowledge or instruction)?—I Corinthians 14:6

I have mentioned Revelation a bit, but I came across this more recently and realized it provides a useful model for talking about what is going on in the text and how it might meant to be received and used. I like it, too, because it helps to flesh out what the gnosis of gnosticism is supposed to be and how it relates to other forms of knowledge and communication. There is also something to be taken here about the place of knowledge derived from ecstasies and trance, which is no small thing either.

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Reflections of the Way Life Used to Be

After the last post, I dusted off a short book I put together a couple of years ago. The book was the root of this blog. After finishing it, it became clear to me that the understanding animating was still inadequate and working through those inadequacies motivated me to start the blog.

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[NB] Systematic Occultism

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.

Hmm.

[NB]: Reading Frisvold’s Obeah

I won’t bother overmuch with a review of the book here (it is good, it is short, it is worth the read for the interested)–this is, though one of his briefest, very much in the mold of books like Frisvold’s Exu and Palo Mayombe. He provides the reader with an outline of the history behind Obeah, the broad strokes of the scholarly ideas about it, and then dives wholely into the practice as he encountered it, amplifying that with his understanding of other, related, spiritual traditions. It’s good stuff and I appreciate how he uses comparisons with other practices–lightly so as not to drown out the distinctiveness of Obeah itself.

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