Book Club Post

The Cosmic Doctrine: Influences of the Manifested Universe, Part One

This week we continue a monthly discussion of The Cosmic Doctrine by Dion Fortune, which I consider the most important work of 20th century occult philosophy. Climb in and fasten your seat belts; it’s turning out to be as wild a ride as I expected. If you’re just joining us now, please go back and read the previous commentaries, which are listed here; the material covered in these earlier posts is essential to making sense of what follows.

As noted in earlier posts, there are two widely available editions of The Cosmic Doctrine, the revised edition first published in 1956 and the Millennium Edition first published in 1995, which reprints the original privately printed edition of 1949. You can use either one for the discussions that follow. The text varies somewhat between the two editions, but the concepts and images are the same, and I’ll be referring to both.

Assigned Reading:

Revised Edition:  Chapter 20, “The Logoidal Relationship to the Manifested Universe,” pp. 92 to the second to last paragraph on p. 94, ending “…are produced in this way.”

Millennium Edition: Chapter 21, “The Logoidal Relationship to the Manifested Universe,” from the third paragraph on p. 124, beginning with “The teaching of the last two lectures…” to the end of the chapter on p. 127.


This is an extremely dense chapter full of information relevant to practical magic; in the Revised Edition, it’s also twice as long as most of the other chapters, and so we’ll be spreading out our discussion over two months. Pay close attention as we go—many of the details covered here have direct practical application not only to magical practice but to everyday life and to the wider realms of politics and society.

Fortune begins her discussion by talking about the influences from outside the solar system that were the subject of previous chapters. (She calls these influences “extra-universal,” remember, because the word “universe” in her day was still sometimes used as a label for the solar system rather than the entire cosmos.)  For the sake of clarity, she distinguishes two phases in this process: first there are the Cosmic influences that act on the Logos, and then there are the influences of the Logos on the solar system that result from these Cosmic factors.

While the theological mainstream in her time and ours sees God as incapable of change and growth, Fortune’s theology has no place for any form of static perfection. Everything in her great cosmic metaphor is perpetually changing, reacting to variations in its environment, and growing into greater richness and complexity over time. Interestingly, this same point was made by the philosopher Alfred North Whitehead, whose process philosophy also rejected the idea of static divine perfection in favor of a vision of the Cosmos in which God and the Cosmos were both developing over time.

The possibility that Fortune read Whitehead’s work is not a detail her biographers seem to have discussed, but the dates work. Whitehead’s famous Tarner lectures of 1919, which set out the principles of process philosophy, were published in book form in 1920 as The Concept of Nature and saw some discussion in the literate end of the press and the general public, and the first version of The Cosmic Doctrine was written in 1922. Whether or not Fortune was influenced by Whitehead directly, her ideas drew on the same trends in the intellectual life of the time as his, and one direction in which work with The Cosmic Doctrine might proceed in years to come would involve a close comparison of Fortune’s ideas with Whitehead’s.

The transformations of the Solar Logos, the god of this solar system, are of course not all caused by influences streaming in from the Cosmos.  There are also the influences that come out of the evolution of the solar system, mediated by the swarms of Divine Sparks that journey down the planes and then return. Like the influences of the Cosmos, the influences of the solar system’s evolution also shape the way the Logos acts on its solar system, and so both these sets of influences become part of the environment in which you and I, dear reader, lead our lives and pursue the work of spiritual evolution.

There are other influences that shape our evolutionary environment, and these other influences are the main subject of this chapter.

The concept of “tracks in space,” which was introduced at the beginning of The Cosmic Doctrine, is essential to recall as a basis for what follows. Any repeated action or reaction inscribes a “track in space,” and so tends to become stereotyped.  Seen from within Fortune’s metaphor, the entire solar system—and indeed the entire Cosmos—is simply a pattern of tracks in space through which atoms and atomic composites (themselves made up of tracks in space) live and move and have their being. That pattern, which Fortune calls an abstract mould, has been built up over time by the Solar Logos, using the swarms of Divine Sparks as its instrument. This abstract mould includes all the laws of nature studied by scientists, and a great many other laws of which scientists are completely ignorant at present.

These laws were not all laid down at the beginning of time. Some of them came into being with the evolution of the Lords of Flame, others with that of the Lords of Form, still others through the epigenetic play of the Lords of Mind, and we ourselves, as members of a swarm, are laying down tracks in space that will someday be laws of nature for the beings that come after us. Think of these tracks in space as being stacked like the levels of a building; the ground floor consists of the laws of physics and astronomy, which were laid down by the Lords of Flame; the first floor, which requires the support of the ground floor, consists of the laws of chemistry and biology, which were laid down by the Lords of Form; the second floor, which requires the support of the previous two floors, consists of the laws of ethology (animal behavior) and psychology, which were laid down by the Lords of Mind, and so on. Each depends on the ones before it.

Thus each kingdom of manifested existence in the solar system—radiant, mineral, vegetable, animal, and human—rises on a foundation consisting of tracks in space, which Fortune calls the elemental essence of the kingdom.  Understand the laws that govern each kingdom and you have the capacity to work with those laws and make things happen in that kingdom. As Fortune points out, this is the basis of practical magic. Notice that magic as Fortune describes it is thus the opposite of supernatural, unless we take the “super” in supernatural to mean “extremely,” as in “supercharged” or “supercooled”; magic is extremely, wholly, utterly natural, the use of natural patterns to bring about natural results in accordance with the natural human faculty of will.

Of course the difficulty creeps in here because the established sciences of the modern Western world consider only the material world to be natural; everything else is supernatural, or unnatural, or simply nonexistent. As our text says, this is a strange fruit of epigenesis!  To the occult philosopher, the material world is the lower three-sevenths of the densest and (metaphorically) lowest of the planes, the physical plane, which is one of seven subdivisions of the seventh and densest Cosmic plane; the modern sciences are thus limiting themselves to 3/343rds of the whole Cosmos, or 3/49ths of this solar system—which seems a little restrictive.

An equal but opposite mistake is made by those religious philosophies that insist that the material world is pure illusion and that only the higher planes are real. Dion Fortune was raised in one of these—the Christian Science church—and she encountered many others in her time, ranging from the more extreme end of New Thought to westernized versions of certain Asian spiritual traditions. To Fortune, both these views are mistaken. The material world has its own laws and principles, which have been studied intensively by modern science.  When we are dealing with the behavior of matter and the denser sorts of energy, those laws need to be recognized and taken into account, but there are other modes and manifestations and planes of being which have their own laws, and which have powerful influences on human life.

Now comes a point of crucial importance. “The forces of each plane,” our text explains, “are supreme upon their own plane, controllers of the plane below, and, when in contact with the plane above, are in their turn controlled.”

Let’s take this a step at a time. The planes are not simply arbitrary divisions of an unbroken continuum; each plane is a reality unto itself, and under at least some circumstances, the forces of each plane govern that plane.  In the case of the physical plane, for example, the forces known to modern science generally rule what happens on their plane.  The same is true of every other plane. Occultists have summed up this insight in a convenient phrase:  “The planes are discrete and not continuous.”

Under certain circumstances, however, the forces of one plane can spill over into a plane below it, and control what happens in that lower plane. When that happens, the forces of one plane can control the activity of certain phenomena on the next lower plane. There’s nothing supernatural or miraculous about this; it happens every time you decide to reach for something, and your hand moves:  certain forces of the upper astral plane—those belonging to the personality—control the activity of your material body, which is part of the physical plane.

Notice that this control is limited by the nature of the plane below—your hand remains a hand, and can only do those things that hands are capable of doing—and it is also limited by the nature of the connection between the planes—you can move your hand, but you can’t move a coffee cup unless you use your hand to do it. At the same time, the hand guided by the personality can do things that the hand cannot do when the personality is not guiding it—say, in a state of sleep or unconsciousness.

The same relationship, finally, can extend above the lower mind as well as below it. The personality can reach upward to make contact with the Individuality and take direction from it. The personality remains itself, and does not stop being a personality; it continues to exercise all its usual functions on its own plane—but the influence of the Individuality guides its actions and makes it capable of doing things that a personality cannot do by itself. Many people have had the experience of receiving a sudden flash of intuition that enables them to find their way through a difficult situation successfully; this is an example of the upward contact we’re discussing.

The next paragraph of our text is just as complex, and requires equally careful unpacking. “For example, the laws of logic are supreme in the realm of mind. The images of mind control the forms of the emotions, but the images of mind are themselves controlled by the spiritual forces.” Here again, let’s take this a step at a time.

The laws of logic are the laws of that portion of the mental realm human beings can experience at this stage of our evolution; in Fortune’s taxonomy, they belong to the lower mental plane, and on that plane they are absolute. Where they make contact with the planes below, they also have power there—for example, the application of logic to the phenomena of the physical plane is the basis of modern science. At the same time, just as the control of the hand by the personality only goes so far, so does the control of matter by logic. There have, after all, been plenty of perfectly logical deductions about the world by qualified scientists that have turned out to be dead wrong.

Less obvious but in many ways more significant is the role of the mind in controlling the emotions. As a trained psychotherapist, Dion Fortune had plenty of direct experience with the myriad ways that garbled ideas held in the mind can misshape the emotional life.  Since her time, that linkage became the focus of several schools of psychotherapy, such as the Transactional Analysis of Dr. Eric Berne and the Rational-Emotive Therapy of Dr. Albert Ellis; both these, and many other modes of therapy as well, focus on teaching patients to untangle counterproductive thought processes so that the corresponding tangles of the emotional life will unravel in turn.

The same process, again, works upwards as well as down, and back before psychotherapy was taken over by the pharmaceutical industry, some of the most innovative and promising ventures in the field focused on finding ways to make that connection between the personality and the Individuality, so that inner guidance from the spiritual plane can sort out the tangles of the mental plane and allow the emotional life to right itself. That was also a central theme of Fortune’s own work with healing, as described in books such as The Circuit of Force and, on another plane, her Rites of Isis and of Pan.

That act of reaching upward is of critical importance, and not just when your emotional life is a mess. The next four paragraphs of our text explain why. Chapter 18 of The Cosmic Doctrine discussed the Left-Hand Path in an abstract manner; here Fortune begins a more detailed analysis of that Path. (The term “Left-Hand Path” has been used in many different ways over the last two centuries or so; in Fortune’s terminology, remember, the Left-Hand Path is the path of regression, of falling back into an earlier phase of evolution.)

To understand what follows, it’s necessary to remember that to Fortune, every act of creation descends through the planes of being to the physical plane, the plane of effects, and then cycles back up the planes to its source. When all goes as it should, the impetus that sets the act of creation in motion begins on the first or upper spiritual plane and descends all the way to the seventh or physical plane, and then rises all the way back up, as shown in the diagram to the left.

At our present stage of evolution, the proper completion of the circuit depends on the actions of the personality, which functions on the upper astral and lower mental planes. If the personality reaches upwards to connect with the descending influence from the Individuality, the result is a complete circuit, and the personality is energized and empowered with the forces of the higher planes. If the personality closes itself against the contact with the Individuality, on the other hand, the higher planes never come into play.  In the absence of occult training or certain other influences, the result is the starved, empty state of the psyche so often encountered today, which leads so many people to try to fill the void at the center of their beings with the chatter of the mass media or the false certainties of ideology.

Bring occult training into play, however, and things become considerably more serious. The disciplines of any form of occult training link up the levels of the self from the personality on down, and the result is a half-circuit in which force flows down from the lower mental or upper astral plane to the physical plane and back up to where it started. Inevitably a short circuit occurs, and the force flows across at the level of the lower mental or upper astral planes, as shown in the diagram to the right. The force is guided, not by the higher planes, but by the patterns laid down in the subjective mind during our species’ descent through the planes; it is therefore subconscious rather than conscious.

Thus the forces that come through to the conscious mind are shaped by subconscious drives and automatisms rather than the expanded awareness of the upper mental and spiritual planes.  The result is a debasement of the personality, in which complex mental abilities end up being used for crude and unthinking ends. I suspect many of us have met people like this, who display a surface patina of intellectual brilliance or personal charisma that conceals a complete inability to think reflectively and an equally complete unwillingness to take responsibility for their actions.

If Fortune’s correct—and her comments here are supported by those of many other occult authors—those who follow this path are not simply left to their own karma. Because their actions can affect the broader life-wave of which we are all parts, those greater beings who have responsibility for overseeing human evolution can intervene and send the corrupted soul back down the ladder of evolution to try again. Notes Fortune, “Certain types of mischievous malicious idiots are produced in this way”—and “idiot” was in Fortune’s time a specific medical diagnosis, equivalent to profound mental retardation.

The moral to this story is that there’s a point to the injunction in the Golden Dawn rituals to begin every working with an invocation of the Higher. Reach up the planes through prayer, contemplation, and meditation, and you’ll stay on the track of evolution.

Notes for Study:

As already noted, The Cosmic Doctrine is heavy going, especially for those who don’t have any previous exposure to occult philosophy. It’s useful to read through the assigned chapter once or twice, trying to get an overview, but after that take it a bit at a time. The best option for most people seems to be to set aside five or ten minutes a day during the month you spend on this chapter. During that daily session, take one short paragraph or half of a long one, read it closely, and think about what you’ve read, while picturing in your mind’s eye the image you’ve been given for that passage of text.

As you proceed through the chapter and its images, you’re likely to find yourself facing questions that the text doesn’t answer. Some of those are questions Fortune wants you to ask yourself, either because they’ll be answered later in the book or because they will encourage you to think in ways that will help you learn what the text has to say. It can be helpful to keep a notebook in which to write down such questions, as well as whatever thoughts and insights might come to you as you study the text.

Questions and comments can also be posted here for discussion. (I’d like to ask that only questions and comments relevant to The Cosmic Doctrine be posted here, to help keep things on topic.) We’ll go on to the next piece of the text on April 8, 2020.  Until then, have at it!


  1. The concept of “idiot” in Dion Fortune’s time also included severe autism, as note her wood-carving “idiot” son of the contractor remodeling the seaside building in The Sea Priestess. And that she thought it was good riddance, and even his father thought – with regret – that he was better off that way, although his carving talent brought in a good part of the man’s business.

    Another, later example is found very early in Theodore Sturgeon’s novel More Than Human. That’s it’s autism, not retardation, is shown by the fact that when the “idiot” was found, badly beaten, by a local farmer, he acquired language and gives himself the name Lone – because the farmer, thinking the beating had left him brain-damaged, treated him accordingly. Sturgeon notes that even after this breakthrough, Lone was still “a moron”, but he had – and kept – a savant talent for mechanics. And Sturgeon had no concept of what he was seeing, or he wouldn’t have taken 2 pages out of a 200 page novel to explain, right off the bat, that Lone “was an idiot, but not your usual sort of idiot.” Who, as a Depression-era throwaway child (that’s established equally early) had never had any human contact other than panhandling and arrests.

  2. Dear JMG

    This hits very close to home — a friend of many years got involved with debased spiritual techniques of some variants of yoga and seemed to somehow stop being a person, I’m not sure how else to describe it. She very blandly and slowly made herself into some who displays, as you wrote, a surface patina of intellectual brilliance and personal charisma while having underneath a complete inability to think reflectively and an equally complete unwillingness to take responsibility for her actions. It was odd — she wasn’t always like that but once she did a certain circuit for awhile — boom — it was as if she became a different person. She wasn’t born that way — she made herself that way.

    She, at least, seemed pretty harmless. I’ve known some of this variety of folk — also dabblers in cacomagia — who became very, very dangerous people. Interestingly, my ex-friend abstained from drugs entirely as well as booze and all animal products. It seems those that get heavy into the drugs rather than the smugs become very frightening humans to their fellows. Not sure how that quite works out, but it’s been my consistent observation. Perhaps drug use causes people to short-circuit more dramatically?

    It’s interesting to note that with the people I’ve been the closest to who’ve gotten into this sort of stuff an exaggerated concern for the well-being of animals seems to be extremely prominent. This strikes me as salient, as this sort of work — if I’m understanding this correctly — reduces one to the level of an animal. Of course, I’ve known people who love animals and/or are vegan who don’t get into this sort of thing and are lovely people, but I’ve noticed a certain madness around animals — that far exceeds concern for human animals! — with the folks I’ve known who follow this pattern it seems worth mentioning.

  3. Patricia, the entire concept of autism is of fairly recent date, so none of this surprises me — and of course both Fortune and Sturgeon were people of their own era, not of ours, so of course their attitudes won’t match modern sensibilities.

    Violet, that’s an excellent point about drugs. On first principles, I’d expect the short-circuit resulting from heavy drug use to be at the level of the lower astral or even the upper edge of the etheric, so the results would not be pretty — even the upper astral would quietly shut down, leaving someone who’s wholly a creature of mindless appetites. As for the fixation on animals, another very good point. It’s no accident that Savitri Devi, one of the main figures in the postwar revival of Nazism, was also a fanatic vegetarian who wrote diatribes about how horrible it was that people were abusing animals. The combination of over-the-top sentimentality about animals and utter disregard for human beings is a well-documented pattern. (As you note, there are vegetarians and animal lovers who don’t fall into that pattern, but the pattern still exists.)

  4. What struck me in this rereading was that bit about the exoteric idea of God as changeless vs the esoteric idea of God as evolving. This immediately brought the idea of eternality to bear – God is not Eternal, as change and evolution imply time. The Unmanifest is really all that is beyond time or change in this metaphor.

    The next thing that struck me is this idea of starting with an appeal to the highest before any working. I’m reading The Mystical Qabalah right now and in her discussion of Kether she says something to the effect that from the perspective of Kether, most magic is meaningless, “let the dirt play with the dirt.” And this has been my reaction often whenever I contemplate a magical working. I don’t really know what affect it will have, and often it is better to just invoke the highest and let Thy Will Be Done. Of course, that’s why meditation and divination before a working is important. I just find that it’s better most of the time to just focus on the Great Work of self transformation. In my meditation on the sacrificial nature of Tiphareth yesterday, I saw how any sacrifice is a transmutation. I sacrifice pleasure, comfort and social affirmation for self knowledge. That develops the will too, and the negative aspect of Tiphareth, pride. This is why service to others is important, because you can sacrifice that pride for something even higher!

  5. Salamander, that’s usually my response when it comes to practical magic, too, though that’s mostly because my life is pretty much what I want it to be these days. There was a time when I did a lot of magic, because there were things in my life that needed to change; most of them involved changing myself — but not all. It’s when change is necessary or desirable, though, that it’s essential to invoke the Higher, to keep things in balance with the greater pattern of things.

  6. Fascinating. The more intelligent medical practitioners that I know state that pharmaceuticals are a tool, and one that at best, will stop you from getting worse and stabilise the influences so that you won’t get any worse. However, according to this model, heavy use of anti-depressants, etc, would likely lead to the lower self being cut off from the higher self, and thus the negative epigenesis just cycles around and around, with no improvement.

  7. Peter, that makes a lot of sense. Pharmaceuticals are valuable in the subset of mental illnesses that are actually caused by physical dysfunction, and they can also be very useful in emergencies, but outside of those, yes, they’re a crutch, not a cure.

    Jay, thanks for this.

  8. This is a fascinating and somewhat disturbing essay. If I understand you rightly, there are four ways in which a person can relate to the higher planes and the aspects of their own self that you well there. 

    Option 1: The way of the uninitiated soul. In this case the influences of the higher planes shine through and guide the Personality, which is nevertheless, mostly oriented towards the material world and the instinctual desires.

    Option 2: The second way is what happens when you take Option 1 and remove the influences of the higher planes. Here the Personality has nothing but the instinctive drives to guide it. This is the condition you described as “starved, empty state of the psyche so often encountered today, which leads so many people to try to fill the void at the center of their beings with the chatter of the mass media or the false certainties of ideology.” 

    Option 3: This the way of the initiate. In this case the Personality deliberately opens contact with the Individuality and places itself as far as possible under the Individuality’s direct control. 

    Option 4: Option 4 is to Option 3 as Option 2 is to Option 1. Here the Personality has, again, cut itself off from influences from higher planes, including (but not limited to?) its own Individuality. But there’s an extra bit of trouble, because, like Option 3, Option 4 also involves magic. Here the practice of magic has placed the lower planes under the Personality’s control, but the Personality itself is unguided by anything Higher. Through magic, the Personality is able to use magic to manifest its desires. But, because it is unguided by the higher planes, the only remaining source for these desires is the lower faculties of the animal instincts and the urges of the Unconscious. The result is a powerful, maybe even a very intelligent, person who is completely a slave to their lower self. 

    I suspect that Option 4 here is something we see in a lot of pop occultists that focus above all else on the use of magic to gratify desires. And, following your description of the type of person who displays “a surface patina of intellectual brilliance or personal charisma that conceals a complete inability to think reflectively and an equally complete unwillingness to take responsibility for their actions,” a number of other potential examples come to mind. Jean Vanier was a Catholic layman renowned for his “holiness,” recently outed for having used his position to manipulate women into having sex with him.

    However as a practicing occultist, it was impossible for me to read this without having the fear come up– Oh God, is this me? The work that I have done has been in the Golden Dawn tradition as you know, which of course focuses on making contact with the Higher Self before practical magic– which is something which makes even more sense now after reading this. And yet I have to imagine that for the left-hand magician, cut off from the influence of the higher planes, it must seem that his own animalistic urges which he uses magic to indulge often themselves appear to be spiritual beings! 

    And so the question becomes, how to know if you’ve cut yourself off from your Individuality?

    About 2 years ago, I was struggling to complete the Bardic Grade of the Celtic Golden Dawn. Despairing of ever finishing, I invoked my higher self in meditation and prayed, “Drag me kicking and screaming through this if you have to.” Well, the year that followed was one of the most difficult and painful I have ever lived through. I did, in fact, complete the initiation. And by the time the dust settled, I had lost my job, my girlfriend, my apartment, most of my friends, one of my cats, and even my gym. And worse. But now, two years on, I have a better job and a much better living space, as well as a beautiful wife, an 8 year old stepson and a new baby girl. My life is much richer and much happier, and yet also much more challenging, than it was.

    But reading this post, I can’t help but wonder– did I follow Option 4? Did I go down the Left Hand Path by mistake, and is a regression to amoeba-hood in order? How can I know? Maybe I can’t. My only thought is that while I’ve attained many desires, I’ve also attained a whole new set of challenges, which I do my best to meet every day. And I’d like to think I’ve attained some degree of wisdom. Maybe this is the solution, then. If I was being guided only by my lower self, I think that I would have attained my desires, but without the challenges that have gone with them; I would have gained happiness or pleasure, but not gained knowledge or wisdom. 

    A final thought, if I may– I’ve been reading through Plato’s Republic, as I mentioned last week. Plato describes the rulers, warriors and workers in his imaginary city as representing the rational, the spirited and the desiring parts of the soul. In a properly ordered soul, the rational part is firmly in command, supported by the others, and each part functions just as it is supposed to. And they are bound together by knowledge of what is truly in their interest and a belief about what is truly dangerous, with the latter recalling his earlier censorship of any stories which cast doubt upon the goodness of God. That is, in the properly ordered soul, the highest part rules, and is itself guided by that which is higher still. The disordered or unjust soul, in Plato’s terms, would be that in which the desiring part has the rule of the other two. That, then, is Fortune’s Options 2 and 4. 

    On that note, it’s worth mentioning that our entire economy is based on  amplifying desire and suppressing self-control to the greatest extent possible.


  9. If the flow of information didn’t short circuit at the threshold of the lower mental plane, we human occultists would fry because we are only in the beginning stage of building a mental sheath, correct?

    I have past life flashes of starting my musical career as an “idiot”. Meaning, I was mentally disabled and in a Helen Keller situation until a patient tutor got me to do the one thing I was savant at in that incarnation. I’m not certain, but it may have been my first musical lifetime. Like I tell my music students, everyone has got to start somewhere!

  10. There are many places to try to rest the mind. In Zen, there are the dangers of the extremes. Eternalism (upper) and Nihilism (lower). I have experienced the allure of both. One solution, as recommended by the Buddha and the Christ is to focus on the center, middle, heart. These are just words though, a step on the way, a helpful map, but a map nonetheless. There are many maps and many filters. How can a map represent the unknown. How many filters can we disregard. Sometimes one is an idiot, sometimes one is mischievous. One could try to not get stuck anywhere, but free will is a whole other ball of wax. The tracks are deep. Why do I write any of this – most likely psycho-social needs. Or to make an idiot of mischief…

  11. Why does influence only flow down the planes? Is it possible that something significant enough could happen on one plane that it would send ripples up through higher levels?

    Looking at you, Konstantin Yuon. The painting The New Planet depicted the Russian Revolution as an event of such cosmic significance it sent shockwaves through the spirit world: I’ve seen some pretty spectacular cases of Bolshevik grandiosity, but this may be the greatest of them all. 🙂

  12. Quote JMG:

    “It’s no accident that Savitri Devi, one of the main figures in the postwar revival of Nazism, was also a fanatic vegetarian […]”

    So was the guy with moustache. And if I remember correctly, the founding edicts of the Church of Satan can neatly be summarized as “treat people like shale, and indulge your appetites, but be nice to animals.”

    “Thus the forces that come through to the conscious mind are shaped by subconscious drives and automatisms rather than the expanded awareness of the upper mental and spiritual planes. The result is a debasement of the personality, in which complex mental abilities end up being used for crude and unthinking ends. I suspect many of us have met people like this, who display a surface patina of intellectual brilliance or personal charisma that conceals a complete inability to think reflectively and an equally complete unwillingness to take responsibility for their actions.”

    This describes the local occult scene where I live to the letter. Though I would factor in that these type of people will ostentatiously rhapsodize about “the higher” ad nauseam while engaging the type of behaviour you have described. Having had a first row seat to this spectacle, I can tell you it’s not pretty. Of course, those who follow such a path, reliably end up as nourishment for beings no one in their right mind would want to associate with, and I have my suspicions that this may apply to a lesser extent to the non-occultists trapped in the mentioned short-circuit, as well. In addition to what Violet wrote about the exaggerated concern with the welfare of animals as result of having themselves fallen to that level, I would also suggest that neurotic preoccupation with food so prevalent among these people, come from some vague awareness that they have become food themselves.

  13. I have a near relative who has moderate to severe mental retardation from birth. He’s in his 40s and can’t live independently, but he’s very social. Nothing mischievous or malicious about him – he was fortunate in having parents who cared about him. Nonetheless I’ve often wondered what sort of karma leads to such an existence. I will continue to wonder.

  14. I have been vegan since 2010 and vegetarian before that since 1990 or so, so I’ve got a view of messed up, misanthropic vegans from the trenches. From what I have seen, many vegans long for a coherent religion, and veganism ends up being an okay substitute because like religion, it restricts certain behaviors (eating/wearing animals) in order to prove your devotion. It also creates community, because when you go vegan, you immediately have one weird thing in common with other vegans across the globe. With the benefits of a religion come the pitfalls: I can’t tell you how many times I have already seen power-hungry vegan sociopaths in a desperate bid to become the next vegan messiah, minus the pesky sacrifice-yourself-for-the-good-of-humanity detail. I was just kvetching in one of my groups about the gaggle of buffoons known as DXE who storm Democratic rallies while topless trying to prove dairy is scarier then they are and failing. I have a vegan friend I’ll call Luke who has been vegan approximately as long as I have. He certainly puts his money where his mouth is and goes to the local sanctuary about two hours away every month to help out. Before it was cancelled for lack of popularity and effectiveness, he was part of a tiny handful of protestors who would stand in public arenas showing graphic slaughterhouse footage, which is an approach I am very much against. He also tells people “cats should be vegan”, and when he did this in my group, I had no choice but to take him out of his leadership position and forbid him from bringing it the subject again. Cats cannot be “vegan”, of course, because they are obligate carnivores. I feed my cat raw meat every day and yes, I’m grossed out when I do it, but too bad for me. She needs it. Every time I see him, which is about once every few months at this rate, Luke gets markedly sadder and lonelier. He is tormented by the fact people eat animals yet cannot bear to be friendly to meat-eaters unless there is a lecture lurking behind it. He has now embraced an oil-free and mostly gluten-free diet, which has yet to diminish his health, but unfortunately, I think it’s just a matter of time before his perfect storm of toxicity filters down to his physical body. He has said to me that he’s unhappy and becoming more so. Not that I couldn’t see this already. I introduced him to the Druid tree ritual and I hope it sticks, there are few people who need it more.

    I think many animal-obsessed vegans are utterly disconnected from nature, and that doesn’t just mean wild spaces. They come to hate human nature and find themselves unable to accept it. A good example of this is Patricia MacCormack, who wrote The Ahuman Manifesto, who like the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, thinks the human race should end by volunteer effort relatively soon. They are also over-sensitive in the exact way described by that brilliant shaman article Jay posted (thank you Jay!). I know how it is to be hypersensitive and a bit of an emotional basket case from experience. I toughened up quite a bit after writing my first novel around age 30 because it helped me to analyze where my anger was coming from. Now that I’ve been doing the Sphere of Protection for about two years, it’s safe to say I’m fairly resilient with enough sensitivity to feel balanced. I’m the same age as Patricia MacCormack, and I think it’s interesting that she calls herself an atheist occultist and invokes demons as part of her queer feminist “chaos magick”. Personally, I think she’s begging for trouble. She admits the forces she is working with are dangerous and can cause madness. Does she actually believe they’re real enough to hurt her, though?

    I will be meditating on the parallels of the story of the fall of Lucifer and the CosDoc notion of idiot creation, but if anyone else has already thought this through more than I have, I’d appreciate your observations, no matter how basic.

  15. I’m getting from this section that both the material and non-material planes are important, and that it’s wise to pay attention to the influence of the upper planes on our lives – especially that of God on the 7th plane. If we’re just living for our own selfish gain ignorant of higher forces, that would be the Left-hand path. Instead Fortune seems to be advocating that our actions in life should be in service to the Logos, wherein we act as a channel through which divine influences can be made manifest on the material plane – we complete the circuit, as it were.

    I think I recently went through something in my life similar to what this section of the book describes. I was going through a bit of a tough period and I was concerned that I might have to go back to some professional work that I had been doing a number of years ago, just to make money. But it didn’t feel quite right to me to do that, and this section of the book (if I understand it correctly) seems to explain why. Through occult practices, I have been working to unravel some of the tangles of my mental and emotional life, and started to gain conscious awareness of some of the subconscious factors which had been motivating me in the past and what had likely led me into that particular type of work in the first place. Since those factors had been brought to consciousness, I noticed they were no longer influencing me in quite the same way, and that I actually had other choices besides falling back to that previous state of evolution and corresponding line of work. If I had gone back, it would have been because at that moment I had chosen to turn away from God and the influence of the upper planes, and instead look backwards at an older stage of my development. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not like I was working for the mafia or anything! But for me this choice is more subtle; it’s not just about doing blatantly evil things or exploiting people, but about giving in to fear and self-doubt. At any rate, I eventually got to the point where I chose not to go back to my old profession, and decided, with my current understanding and stage of development, to go forward into something new which is what is actually important to me right now.

    I think that as we start to gain greater self-awareness and control we are faced with an ongoing choice – will we use that power to act for our own self-interest or for service to higher forces/God? I think a choice for self-interest is often motivated by a feeling of separation from God, and ultimately by fear, which indicates a lack of understanding and/or direct experience of the nature of the universe and how it actually functions. Not to judge that – many people just don’t get to directly experience God and so live in a bit of a dark fog. A world where we are cut off from God can definitely be a scary, lonely and fearful place. It would definitely feel like a short circuit, as Fortune put it. Many people also live in much more difficult circumstances than I do, and don’t have the privilege of being able to make economic choices based on the needs of their personal spiritual journey. But in the situation where I currently find myself I do have that opportunity, at least for the moment. So I’m starting to think of my life as being not just for personal gain, but as to how I can gradually start to be of service to God and the bigger picture – to be able to regularly choose God instead of fear. It’s not the same as giving up my ego; rather about being fully and truly my best possible self. There’s definitely some blurring going on between my concept of ‘my’ self and of God which is hard to explain in a way that doesn’t sound egomaniacal! Although I suppose that is exactly what Fortune has done here in the Cosmic Doctrine. This book may be part of her personal revelation, her testimony of her direct experience of God.

  16. Steve, yes, you’ve understood what Fortune’s saying. As for your concerns, the fact that you have them is the best evidence that they’re groundless. One of the consistent features of people who are being controlled by their subconscious minds is that they can’t tolerate doubt — not in themselves, not in others.

    Kimberly, depends on the condition of the mental sheath. Some people do apparently short circuit in the lower mental plane — those are the ones who are utterly obsessed by some single idea or cluster of ideas. As for the karmic causes of mental retardation, I don’t know — that’s not a subject I’ve looked into.

    Docshibby, but not a malicious one! 😉

    Yorkshire, it’s one of the basic principles of occult philosophy that the material plane is the plane of effects, while the higher planes are the planes of causes. The Russian Revolution thus will have had nonphysical causes, however those worked out on the physical plane.

    Sven, you know, that may be the best explanation for the fad-diet mania in the alternative spirituality scene I’ve yet encountered. More broadly, yes, exactly — I’ve seen way too many of them myself. (BTW, did you get my email? If so, no prob — just wanted to make sure it didn’t get munched by the svartalfar of the internet en route.)

    Phutatorius, I wonder about that myself.

    Kimberly, many thanks for this. I know some perfectly sane, healthy, and friendly vegans; there are people for whom that really does seem to be the best diet — and in every case I’ve seen personally, the people who actually thrive on a vegan diet aren’t the ones out there pushing veganism on everyone they meet. It’s the people who get pale and gaunt and unhealthy on a vegan diet that get fanatical about it — and I saw the same thing back in my late teens and early 20s when I was into macrobiotics. Does that match your experience at all?

    Stefania, yes, exactly!

  17. Thanks to you, JMG, and to Steve T, Kimberly, and Stefania, for your comments on this chapter. I read it a week or so before this post came out, but I didn’t understand what Fortune meant. Now I’m starting to get it from what each of you wrote.

    A technical question for you, JMG: on which plane or planes does the Individuality function? I’m guessing it’s the upper mental and lower spiritual plane, in analogy to the personality functioning on the upper astral and lower mental plane.

    I had an experience something like Stefania’s over 30 years ago, when after just 8 years of work in the field I’d gotten a PhD in, I abruptly resigned from the position I held. I didn’t enjoy working in the field I’d trained in or in the company I was working for, but until I suddenly developed numbness in one leg, I was going along with the flow. Interestingly, I realized exactly what was happening at the time, despite being agnostic then: while the numbness hadn’t fully manifested physically, it was a warning to me from somewhere (I’d say now from the spiritual plane) that if I continued in the position I would be crippled. It took me close to a year to work out a resignation plan, and I left without any idea of what I might do to earn money. Fortunately, I was married and my husband was working, so in cooperation with him I began working on saving us money, which led directly to the life I now lead and the deep sense of satisfaction that tells me I’ve made appropriate choices. It’s only now that I am beginning to earn money again on my own by doing work that is in line with my values, and I am looking forward to more of that.

  18. Hi JMG & All,

    Like Kimberly I am also vegan and can chip in two cents here. I think vegans (particularly new vegans) could gain a few bits of insight from the Cos Doc. The first might be to see that changes happen quite slowly and you shouldn’t expect to see them all realized within your life time. I personally think, and hopefully Kimberly would back me up on this, that there has been a rather substantial shift in the spread of this idea since the 1990s (when I first became familiar with it). Personally I think they see that as a rather huge win, also I think people are much more conscious about the meat they do eat which is also a win (for vegans as a group). Basically, people should be glad for their effects and chill out, let everyone become accustomed to the idea rather than force a full victory where all opponents are scrubbed from the face of the earth. We should think about the track we are building in space.

    It seems to me, from a Cos Doc perspective, we vegans should focus on just being healthy and happy people that others like being around and do not feel resistance to. A lot of the tactics people are employing are offering shunt blocks for people to repel away from their influence. I think if everything about what you are doing is good then people are more likely to align their sense of good to yours, then without conflict they may come to share your views. Personally though I don’t try to influence anybody, I just eat this way for my own reasons and see it as immoral to suggest that others are somehow wrong for not doing the same. I figure at least among my friends (most of who eat meat) I temper their picture of vegans somewhat to lessen the damage done by more dogmatic folk.

    My general sense though is that veganism is often connected to apocalyptic visions of the earth – some even claiming that the original sin in the garden of eden was eating meat. I would worry about it, but it seems to me there are new strands of it that are powerful and growing and likely to eclipse the militant animal rights section which seems to me to be getting more strident as they lose control.


  19. Also, JMG,

    I wanted to say that my reading group is currently working our way through Process & Reality by Whitehead and I thought it was very similar to the Cos Doc in places, so it was cool to see you saying the same thing in your essay this week.

    The Philosophy of Organism also seems very much in line with Schopenhauer although so far Whitehead has not mentioned him, my guess is he had just not read him? I’m more into Whitehead’s positivity and desire to include, but I don’t wanna beat up on poor old Arthur S anymore than he managed to himself already.

    I thought that Whitehead’s notion of becoming, a collapsing of the branching potentials available to an entity, reminded me of the way Fortune described the Unmanifest earlier in the book. The continuum he describes seems to be related highly, except that (unless I am mistaken) he seems to be mostly interested in the way thoughts manifest in physical reality and she wants to go deeper into how thoughts themselves (etc) manifest to begin with out of an even more abstract potentiality that is just inconceivable to us.

    Thanks again for doing these essays and for all your time answering our questions here and elsewhere!


  20. SLClaire, if I understand Fortune’s way of dividing up the planes correctly, the Individuality is on the upper mental and lower spiritual planes; the Personality is on the lower mental and upper astral planes, and the instinctive or animal self is on the lower astral plane and the etheric sub-planes of the physical plane.

    Johnny, that’s very good to hear. I know people who considered a vegan diet, but decided not to try it because the strident nastiness of the vegans they knew — more than one of them said to me, “If that’s the way that eating a vegan diet makes you behave, no thank you!” Which I suppose is another way of phrasing the old proverb about catching more flies with honey than with vinegar…

    As for Whitehead, that’s very interesting to hear. I haven’t gotten to him yet — I tend to take philosophers one at a time, and I’m still processing Sartre’s Being and Nothingness. Whitehead’s very much on the list, though — I want to explore him and the American Pragmatists before I finish this incarnation.

    Ramon, you’re welcome and thank you.

  21. John–

    In your response to Steve above, you talked about how folks who do not tolerate doubt are often being driven by their subconscious. Could you elaborate on this? Doubt (and the subsequent desire for certainty) is something I have wrestled with for much of my life.

  22. Sure. Think of people who are caught up in extreme Trump Derangement Syndrome. They never doubt that they’re right, no matter how absurdly convoluted their arguments become or how sharp the whiplash might be as they switch from one media talking point to another: Orange Man is Bad and that’s all there is to it. If you push them on it, you won’t get a thoughtful response, you’ll get canned sound bites, and if you push past those, you get mindless rage. That’s a great example of how people behave when they’ve handed over control to their subconscious minds.

    Now of course the opposite of one bad idea is another bad idea, and so at the opposite end of that, you get the condition of being paralyzed by doubt, so deep in reflection that it becomes recursive and you freeze up completely — “paralysis by analysis.” In the middle, though, is the point of balance at which you can assess, question, and doubt your own ideas and your own motives, without getting so deep into it that you lose the ability to do anything at all.

  23. Okay, yeah, there’s a *lot* to be getting on with in this chapter! I haven’t caught up with all the comments yet, but a few thoughts after last night’s initial reading…

    (1) Picking up on some of Kimberly’s remarks on last month’s CosDoc post, it seems that this entire cycle is operating on many, many different levels simultaneously. This is, the entire cosmos is a great big circuit of descent and return; my own cycle of incarnation is a mesocosm, manifesting that descent and return at a smaller scale; and each individual action in my life is (or can be) a microcosm, if I’m sufficently open to the entire process that the act has its origin in the highest realities, descending fully into matter, and then returning.

    Extending that insight to this month’s discussion, it would seem to follow that, to the extent that I open up each small part of my being and of my activity to a complete circuit, I am also, to whatever small degree, making the larger patterns of my entire life, my entire series of incarnations, and of the cosmos as a whole into more of a complete and successful circuit.

    (2) I wonder whether there could be another kind of short-circuiting. Just as it’s possible (per Dion Fortune’s description and JMG’s commentary here) for the returning path to fail to make it all the way back to the top, it should be possible for the descending path to fail to make it all the way to the bottom, which would be a way of describing the failure to acknowledge or leave any place for materiality, as in certain all-too-visible world-denying spiritual and religious ideals. This kind of short circuit on the descent would have its own very different defects and pathologies, just as the short circuit on the ascent has its own.

  24. I’d like to better understand the upper and lower astral and mental planes but also right now am intrigued that the etheric is part of the physical plane. I guess that I have thought of the ether as an interpenetrating energy that carries very high vibration, the wings of the Holy Spirit, as it were. Also, carrying things like the memory, both personal and general. I had not thought of it as lower than the astral. Ether was also rejected by modern science.

    As to people closing themselves off from influences of the higher planes, I wonder if it is really as simple as it might appear. A question I have pondered, for example, is whether there is any benefit to believing in spiritual things, or is there any detriment to being an atheist? Not that I can observe. I know a few atheists and they are fine people, no less introspective than anyone else. They all do say that they get their spiritual satisfaction from nature, though. But more deeply, I wonder what it means or how one accomplishes a cutting off from one’s higher self – the individuality. To be sure, believers do often and openly pray; they pray for guidance and help and so on. But I suspect it takes more than just lack of faith to actually cut oneself off from the higher influences.

    Then too, of course, appearances can be deceiving. Just because someone goes to church does not mean they have the least inclination to work on their souls. It may be just another ego gratification.

  25. Steve T,

    This essay also spoke to me on an individual level and I believe I’ve ended up with Option 4. There’s been a lot of times in my life where I’ve devoted myself to the individuality (option 3) but it hasn’t been with the necessary rigor (as in, always choosing that path) and I’ve found myself forcing things. I’ve used a type of magic that I stumbled onto (lots of reading, lots of practice, plus it runs in the family) and ended up forcing quite a lot of things (jobs, women, money, experiences) that have nevertheless left me a slave to my lower desires. I have also definitely used people but didn’t realize it at the time, and that disturbs me.

    I would really like to get back to Option 3, as I believe that once you enter the magical path, and I believe that this is what JMG’s essay implies, you either end up working under the individuality or end up a slave to your baser desires because you learn that you can get “what you want,” even if it leaves you perpetually hungry.
    This is the first of these posts that I have read all the way through, but I’m now ready to go back and read through the texts and pick up The Cosmic Doctrine again.

    Any advice on reconnecting with the individuality and, more importantly because this is where I find myself faltering due to inconsistency, keeping that connection alive is much appreciated.

  26. Phutatorius,

    I think people err when they conclude that a difficult life is a karmic punishment. I’ve come to think that advanced souls often take on a difficult life for reasons of progress. Also, a soul might take on a life of retardation because they had been too aggressive and impatient and need to learn humility.

  27. For what it’s worth, my $0.02 on veganism (having worked with livestock in humane, regenerative agriculture and also worked as a butcher in a shop that only sold pasture-raised meats):

    Veganism is a first-world, globalist-era issue much like the transgender phenomenon. Get rid of the U.S-backed naval security apparatus that guarantees the global supply chain, insane amounts of cheap credit and low interest rates brought on by a retiring Boomer generation and there Millenial kids spending money they don’t have, and a decline in fossil fuel supply…. and well let’s just say all those hormone therapies and Impossible Burgers become, well…Impossible.

  28. Barefootwisdom, (1) yes, very much so. Fortune lived before anybody had heard of fractal mathematics, but the Cosmos as she describes it is fractal to the last degree, and so your effort to reach upwards and connect the circuit on the highest plane has implications that mirror outward on many different levels.

    (2) Excellent! Yes, and she talks about that in some of her essays — she uses the metaphor of a sailing race, where you have to round a certain buoy before you can turn back and start home to port.

    Onething, the word “ether” is used in various ways by different spiritual traditions. In occult literature it’s the level of being between the astral and the material. Fortune, and other writers like her who draw on Theosophy, see the etheric as the upper half or so of the physical plane; some other writers disagree and assign it a plane of its own. It’s all basically a matter of classification. As for closing oneself off from your Individuality, of course it’s a complex process; it usually involves rejecting your own spiritual perceptions insisting on following some pattern of behavior that you know better than to do, and doing this repeatedly over a long time.

    Dennis (if I may), that’s what the basic practices of spirituality are there for. In the occult tradition, we use ritual, meditation, and divination for that; other traditions and schools have their own toolkits, but that’s what they’re there for — and that’s why so many teachers teach their students to stay involved in spiritual practice, to keep those connection open. (Watch the people who are abusing magic; it’s very, very rare to find one that has a daily practice oriented toward connecting with the Higher — and those who do don’t keep on abusing magic. Either that, or they stop practicing.)

  29. ” One of the consistent features of people who are being controlled by their subconscious minds is that they can’t tolerate doubt — not in themselves, not in others.”

    This is interesting. It is probably most often seen in the fanatically religious but aren’t I seeing exactly this lately what with large portions of the populace seeming to have lost their minds? Whether it is Trump derangement syndrome, political correctness or even climate change, many people I know as well as reports from blogs and youtube are showing extreme intolerance and inability to engage with those who have a different viewpoint. One could say that such conversations ‘trigger’ them, and what is triggering but a descent into the subconscious mind, where such triggers lie unexamined?

  30. If there is one thing I have picked up from these CosDoc discussions, it’s the technique of abstinence from providing opposition to evil so that evil is not strengthened by my resistance. So yes, Johnny, I do co-sign with you. Normalization is always better than shouting and pouting. Eating plants is quite normal these days, and if it took faux meats to sneak it in, so be it. Faux meats were a gateway and worked far better than browbeating the public with vegan dogma, sprouts, and tofu and consequently strengthening their opposition. Personally, I love tofu so hard I should probably marry it… just tonight I had spicy Ma Po tofu take out for dinner from a Chinese restaurant that truly knows what they are doing… fermented beans, creamy tofu, pungent chilis… but most people don’t share my passion for the Asian white meat. My husband was raised vegetarian by Seventh Day Adventists and never ate tofu before marrying me. In our house, we mainly eat soup, stir fries with rice, fried rice, chili, sushi, roasted vegetables, and sandwiches because those things are cheap and easy to make. I’m the cook of the house. Normalizing that sort of basic, cheap food is easier and more effective than standing on a corner trying to shock people with children with slaughterhouse footage.

    The angry vegans I know of are fairly healthy… physically. Getting tons of fiber is great for a human body, so they generally tend to look younger than their age and are quite hale and hearty for people in their 40s and 50s, but their mental health is all over the map. They are being driven by their subconscious, and not in a good way. Like Carl Jung said of James Joyce’s schizophrenic daughter, Lucia, and her sea of turbulent emotions, “where you swim, she drowns.”

    JMG, I have a burgeoning theory that the etheric qualities of food may be of equal importance as the actual type of food one is eating where health is concerned. So it’s not just about one’s specific diet, but perhaps the care and magic that goes into the food itself that makes it nourishing, I speculate by a factor of fifty percent at least. Maybe we can discuss this on a Magic Monday in the future.

    When I say I remember being mentally disabled in a previous incarnation, I don’t believe it was because of a karmic regression. Frankly, I just don’t know at this point. It’s a fragment I remember among a collection of shards.

    Thanks everyone for your contributions here, there is much to think about.

    I have a new Orphic hymn to Aphrodite, hot of the presses:

  31. JMG–

    Thank you for that.

    I’d like to ask you about something else too, if you don’t mind. I still find myself experiencing what you described as the “starved empty state” of the person cut off from the higher, that I labelled Option 2, at times Prior to practicing magic, Option 2 was my life– I’d pass entire days playing unusually dull video games while listening to lectures on radical politics on Youtube; at no time were any of my higher faculties engaged. My main emotions on those days were craving– for more internet, for caffeine, sex, sugar or alcohol– and resentment. Literally the day I started practicing magic, this greatly abated, but it didn’t withdraw entirely.

    By the end of what I call my last incarnation– the time I described in my previous post, before my initiation into the Bardic degree– Option 2 had again expanded to take up much of my life. Not as much, but still much– I’d often have days where I’d go to work for a few hours, come home, play videogames and listen to Youtube lectures; go to the dojo and train for a few hours and feel satisfied; come home, back to the videogame; finish the day with magic and meditation. Spending at least some of the day with martial arts, magic and meditation allowed me to feel like I was still living my life– living Option 3, as I’ve called it– but the truth is, it was getting squeezed more and more to the margins. (I have to imagine that this is part of why my Higher Self intervened to kick over the tables and force me to put things back together again.)

    And the truth is that I still feel this way at times. I have more (so many more) responsibilities now, so I can’t be as self-indulgent with it, but there are whole days where it’s very hard for me to concentrate on anything and where I feel very disconnected from anything higher and very much moved by my desires and my resentments. When I’m able to pull myself together enough to meditate, I often find, when I begin the progressive relaxation of my body, that I’m extremely hungry. If I can then gather the willpower to make a good, nourishing meal– not the cup of coffee that I crave instead– I find myself far more in control of my faculties. For a time I wondered if the experience of physical hunger is just so uncomfortable for me that my consciousness becomes trapped on the Lower Astral, unable to make it all the way down to the material– hence the cravings and antagonism. Now I’m wondering if it’s something more like what I’ve called Option 2, because the feeling of calm centeredness that I have when I’m really in alignment is not there, and I can’t think through any bit of writing more complex than a tweet.

    I’ve found that if I wait a few days, this feeling passes, and I find myself back in myself again, with full command of my faculties. But it always seems to come back around. And honestly, it really sucks. Have you ever encountered anything like that? Is there anything I can do to get my Individuality to stick around full time?

  32. Dennis–

    JMG said what I would have said. The specific details depend on your own spiritual orientation. For what it’s worth, in your shoes I might consider putting any kind of practical magic as such aside, excepting only those workings meant to purify your own sphere and space, and spending some time with a more devotional orientation towards the divine. Again, what that looks like depends on you– Do you need a church, a sangha, or a 12-step fellowship? I don’t know, but I would bet one of them (or something similar, as appropriate to your beliefs) could help a great deal.

    The lost soul that returns home is an image in many traditions, for what it’s worth. There is a scene in Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur in which Sir Lancelot, bereft of arms and armor, broken and ashamed of his infidelities, finds a hermitage in the wilderness and throws himself upon the mercy of God. He is the same as the prodigal son in the Gospels, returning home to the house of his father; or the recovering heroin addict turning his will and his life over to the care of God in an NA meeting. I believe that the stories that endure across time are the ones given to us by the Gods for our instruction. If that’s so, the beings that dwell in the Higher Realms, including your own Soul, are just waiting for you to return to them, using the tools of spiritual practice that They have also given to us.

    Good luck with everything. If you’d like, I’d be happy to pray for you, to any of those deities with whom I have a relationship.

  33. I love Cos. Doc. day. Thank you everyone, but in particular Steve T – as a one time scrupulosity haver, who once had a similar question and received a similar answer from our host, I would have told you the same answer. And may I add – the fact that you may worry you continue to suffer and doubt yourself in your new life will also be because you can now feel the goad keeping you on the straight and narrow of Option 3 (if you’re a Cabala person, the Lamed) more directly now. If your misadventures led you to the occult rather than jail first, it might mean you probably had a greater awareness than average of that link to higher planes in the first place.

    When I was a teen one of the things that really fueled my anger was the way in which my peers would act out their Bad Ideas, frequently emotionally hurting each other in the process, but fail to suffer the social consequences of hurting each other – they embraced an I’m awful, you’re awful kind of being friends because they were awful to each other, but could be happy with that because they’d always forgive each other. I was given no such leeway; for example, when once getting caught up in someone else’s bad idea, and apologizing to his victim for the role I realised I’d played in hindsight, I was treated to the full Mean Girls social pariah experience. When I pointed out this hypocrisy, I was told that they didn’t give me quarter because *I* “knew better”. That happened a lot, and continued as I grew up. It enraged me at the time, because if they knew I knew better, on some level… so did they. But I think maybe when people know better or are open to knowing it – that upper link is in circuit, or stronger circuit – we can smell it, and we, as other actors in the cosmos, help give them the different types of pain required. I ended up being fortunate, in avoiding some serious physical consequences they got bashed over the head with throughout life, because I got pariahed first.

    Someone who isn’t at that stage yet is going to need the meaty lower plane wrecking balls of jobs/relationships/drugs mess, and others will get the subtler aspects of messes in our mental and physical and social health. The price of not listening to your higher self is still pain, no matter what – just the obvious wordly pain of Shin/Judgment if you first refuse or can’t admit or haven’t established yet the linkage, and glimmers of Lamed if you have.The pain remains on the higher levels, it doesn’t need to come all the way down into losing jobs and friends before you notice. Without training, when you can only perceive through the five senses of your personality, that message might need to show up as Stephania found, as strange numbness in your leg that goes away (as though “all in your head” in the first place, the doctors might say) when you start making the right choices. I wonder if some of the subtler autoimmune diseases and EMF effects, or even just a strong susceptibility to nocebo and placebo effects that are documented to exist but medical science balks at, might be due to the way we can sense imperfectly this link to higher planes, and health thereon. Your higher self is sending the ‘all is NOT well on the planes I exist and function on!’ message, but it comes garbled through the lower bodies into physical symptoms without obviously traceable physical causes. I had a (in hindsight, patheticly overdramatic) health scare just recently that sent me into a panic, and ultimately made me make a choice (several actually, but one big one) I’d been avoiding, unable to get over an indecision hump because “objectively” it looked silly to do so soon, but that now, with this “objectively” changed circumstance, could be justified as necessary. The problem immediately resolved, and with divination to help spell it out, i realised that perhaps it wasn’t a coincidence, and resolved not to force my higher self to get so shouty next time.

    And since the cosmos is fractal, and I get sick sometimes when my higher self is shouting, thus sick family or society or planetary higher selves can get shouty too. When the message is ignored long enough, or a person or society has cut themselves off from those signals long enough, the message comes down more and more forcefully onto the physical planes until….*looks through newsfeed*…yuuup. My experience may suggest that physical symptoms of ultimately sick astral situations can resolve very quickly if they are corrected on the correct level… that has certain implications for the role of magic… I assume… and also explains why someone who started an occult training who had perhaps a backlog of messages from their higher self would suddenly paradoxically have a really bad spate of physical world blowback, i.e., karmic culmination. Since the planes are linked, the forces set in motion on the astral still need to ’round the buoy’, and that will require a proportional physical mess, but it will ultimately resolve more quickly that way.

    I’m sorry, in meatspace I’m a verbal processor, I clearly need a lot of writing to circle back around to recapitulating things I’m certain JMG has explicitly written before more pithily!

  34. Hi JMG,

    I think it’s a strange thing to hang your identity around, it’s just an eating restriction. I mean I hope that nobody I know would use the word “vegan” as the first thing they would say about me (unless maybe they were a waiter or somebody and that’s how I knew them!). Taleb, in his most recent book “Skin In The Game” had an interesting section though on how a stubborn minority can cause surprisingly large changes to a whole population. I see it in play in the way that restaurants often will have vegan options nowadays but not vegetarian, since technically vegetarians will eat vegan food but not vice versa. So it’s powerful, but more as an act than as an idea.

    I will be interested to see what you have to say about Whitehead! I find him a bit confusing at times (more so than Schopenhauer) because he has all his own terminology for things (and I mean literally “things” as he does not believe in them) but then he’ll say something that just seems so great and exciting. This continuum concept of his I really loved, it stems from the idea that all subjective viewpoints are real, as in they actually exist as parts of the world, and he sees becoming (this is what constitutes being) as a process of death and birth of imagined options available to each subject. It’s a death because its potentiality is collapsed (after I hit send I can’t not send this, for instance), and a birth because it enters into history and becomes public to all other entities. Something about the idea of this being “death” immediately made me think of Fortune’s descriptions of the Unmanifest as being pure existence in the opening of the Cos Doc.

    I have only read James’ essay on Pragmatism but I really loved that too. Where I think he and Whitehead would possibly part company is that James seemed to be rooted in Hume’s uncertainty, He seemed (at least in that essay) to deny a grounding running under philosophy and to see it as more of an experimental process of trial and error. It’s more of a way of viewing philosophy as a tool. I found it lined up really well with how I tended to think about things but strengthened my sense that that was correct (or perhaps he would prefer “useful”). Whitehead is cool, in contrast, because he’s trying to synthesize all the great works of philosophy into one coherent whole. I think primarily for the purpose of grounding science in light of the new discoveries of the early 20th century, but in effect a more fleshed out and developed Heraclitus. Have you read Bergson? He seems like he might be worthy of your time too. Whitehead mentions him often and borrows a concept of “canalization” from him which seems to correspond directly with “tracks in space” or “morphic resonance” (assuming I am understanding this correctly) – also, if I am not mistaken, “Ideas” in Schopenhauer are the same thing.

    I wanted to say too that there is something very intuitively right feeling about this conception of the flow towards and from the physical plane. It seems to explain the concept of “finding yourself” and also some of the ways that can go wrong. I suspect it will take me a long time to really grasp these planes as discreet ideas that I can think about. The concept felt right to me though, in much the same way as reincarnation felt right as an interpretation about our purpose in life.

    Since this is so long already I’ll include another thought that struck me this morning, are you familiar with the film “Groundhog’s Day”? I don’t think it is worth you watching if you haven’t, but you might find it worth knowing about (if you didn’t already!). It is about a guy who keeps reliving the same day over and over until he eventually becomes a different person due to what he comes to learn and change about himself, ultimately living an ideal version of that day being freed from this loop. It is supposedly based on an Oupensky novel, “The Strange Life of Ivan Osokin”. Oupensky was a student of Gurdjieff’s. As an additional anecdote, I discovered from a friend that the film is huge in Russia and played on TV often. He said he thought it was possibly the most beloved of American movies over there and he was surprised at it’s relatively lower status in North America (where it is widely seen but not uniquely treasured).


  35. When you reach up you can contact your higher self and gods. Do you get different kinds of help from each?

  36. John
    An excellent post today and one that really resonates with me. As I’m continuing with my OBOD course I cant get into the CD too deeply, for the time being, however I am enjoying and benefiting from the analysis. This line in particular struck a chord with me:
    “Less obvious but in many ways more significant is the role of the mind in controlling the emotions. As a trained psychotherapist, Dion Fortune had plenty of direct experience with the myriad ways that garbled ideas held in the mind can misshape the emotional life…….both these, and many other modes of therapy as well, focus on teaching patients to untangle counterproductive thought processes so that the corresponding tangles of the emotional life will unravel in turn.”
    One of the key benefits of the course is connecting more directly with my ‘individuality’. The mental well being benefits have been enormous. I have to come to realise that I create what I have called “negative mental templates/constructs” and these are directly responsible for creating my anxiety, which I have suffered from for years. These mental constructs can be positive or negative; some examples of negative ones are “I’m having a bad day”, “I cant cope”, “I’m suffering a anxiety attack”, “I wish I was a better person” etc. I’ve started to notice other people create their own negative metal constructs that directly impact on their own mental well being. With this understanding one can counteract these negative mental constructs with positive ones. The use of positive affirmations is one such way of doing this. Without having taken up the OBOD course, others are available, I would never been able to connect with my individuality and unravel the ball of string that is my mind.
    Regards Averagejoe.

  37. Another vegan here. If our host will allow another comment, here’s my $.02. (If you prefer not to clutter the comments thread – this is, after all, getting off topic – I can post this during the next open post. I’m saving it on my computer.)


    “Veganism is a first-world, globalist-era issue much like the transgender phenomenon. Get rid of the U.S-backed naval security apparatus that guarantees the global supply chain, insane amounts of cheap credit and low interest rates brought on by a retiring Boomer generation and there Millenial kids spending money they don’t have, and a decline in fossil fuel supply…. and well let’s just say all those hormone therapies and Impossible Burgers become, well…Impossible.”

    Plant-based protein will certainly become more expensive (as will pretty much everything else), but animal-based protein (especially meat) is likely to be far more expensive than that. This list is instructive:

    As you can see, the per capita meat consumption correlates fairly well with the overall wealth of the country (with India – as of 2009, second lowest in the world – being a bit of an outlier, probably because of its long tradition of vegetarianism). I bet it correlates very poorly with the number of vegans and vegetarians. It seems safe to assume that the United States has many, many more vegetarians and vegans than Congo does, and yet the per capita meat consumption of the United States is (or at least was, back in 2009) more than 20 times higher than that of Congo.

    Anyway, as microbes out-evolve our cutting-edge antibiotics (thus making factory farms impossible; good riddance, I say), and as energy becomes scarce (raising the price of shipping and – especially – refrigeration), humans will essentially go back to what they used to do: feed animals what humans cannot eat (e.g. grass), and then consume those animals’ products (meat, eggs, wool, etc.), mostly locally. You say that veganism is a First World phenomenon, and I suspect you’re right. But high levels of meat consumption in densely populated areas is even more of a First World phenomenon. Give it a century, and the Old World’s meat consumption is likely to resemble that of present-day Congo a lot more than that of the present-day United States. (I know, I know, backyard chickens. I bet they have those in Congo.) Russia (with its vast territory, low population density, and cold climate, which limits the need for refrigeration) may prove to be a bit of an outlier. The UK is unlikely to be, despite its plentiful pasture land (which actually isn’t all that plentiful when divided by 66M humans, which the UK’s current population size). New Zealand (with plenty of grass and few humans) is a different story, and the Western Hemisphere will probably be somewhere in the middle.

    So, that’s my prediction: far fewer vegans than is currently the case, and far lower meat consumption overall. If I’m right, then those of you who choose to eat meat may want to show some gratitude to those of us who choose not to: it means that you get a larger share of the shrinking meat pie. Actually, if you’ll allow a personal anecdote (I know this is long already), my carnivore sister was overjoyed back when I stopped eating meat. Reason? She started getting the “best” bits of meat, which my parents had always reserved for me, since that was the only kind of meat that I’d eat, albeit rather reluctantly, whereas she would eat just about anything. (Tofu, a traditional Asian food, which I suspect will continue to be made centuries into the future – why wouldn’t it be? – tastes far better, as far as I’m concerned. At least the ordinary kind does. The stuff that’s been processed to taste and feel like meat – ugh.) So, the carnivores among you get a choice: mock us, or learn from my sister. You decide what’s in your best interest.

  38. HI John,
    I have been trying to understand what is meant by the planes of existence.
    And I think I may have found a useful analogy and wanted to see what you think.

    The analogy comes out of signal processing.
    If you imagine that the universe is a very complicated wave form (pattern) you can do a mathematical process on that waveform call a Fourier Transform. If you do that you take a very complicated wave pattern and break it up into a bunch of different simple waves with different frequencies that get added together.
    Those different frequencies that get added together are the different planes of existence. The fastest frequencies at the level of basic physics, the frequencies at the chemical level are a bit slower, the biological a bit slower than the chemical. On and on up the planes until you reach highest spiritual level in which there is only one cycle.
    Slower cycles (lower frequency) also take up more room (lower frequency = longer wavelength) so that also fits the analogy well.
    I like this analogy because it makes it easier to see how all the different planes of existence all exist at the same time and are operating at the same time. (but it does imply that the planes are continuous.)

  39. I was wondering how you would differentiate a mental illness with a physical cause vs. a non-physical cause, thereby identifying the best method of treatment.

    I had a huge decrease in anxiety/ocd symptoms after starting a certain medication, but don’t want to be on this medication forever so learning to identify other methods of treatment would be good, unless that’s not a good idea based on the illness potentially being physical in nature (as shown by my response to the medication).

    Also, re: veganism, I’m sorry many of you have had poor experience with vegans, or think that it’s a disease of “millienial affluence.” The young vegan or vegetarian folks I know eat these diets very modestly, preserve their food, cook mostly at home, and are aware of the blessings of living in a time where transportation and storage of food are remarkably easy, and mostly object to factory farming. My most recent meals have been beet soup and black eyed peas with collards. I think there’s some unhelpful generalization going on.

  40. It’s really interesting to read this chapter and the explication while I’m doing research into weird cults. One of the patterns I keep coming across is that most of these groups start going *really* bad when the leader reaches a certain point and can’t get beyond it. The most notable is the Peoples’ Temple, where Jones seemed kind of dubious in certain ways from the start, but genuinely did some good things for integration and so forth for a while, and then he found out that Father Divine had more followers and that’s when things started getting really not-okay and the “move to CA to escape prophesied nuclear war” type stuff started. Likewise, Manson was never a great person, but a lot of accounts from the Family suggest the race-war, Helter Skelter stuff really started when he couldn’t take his “music career” pro exactly the way he wanted to.

    That reminds me a lot of the “complete inability to think reflectively and an equally complete unwillingness to take responsibility for their actions” you describe–the unwillingness to sit back and think, okay, I can’t get everything I want the way I want it, but nobody does, what do I do from here that doesn’t involve barbituates and chicken entrail “tumors”/Beatles-linked apocalypse theories/etc? And the diagram also seems similar, with the ascension/insights to a certain point and then cross-link to rapid descent (a parallel to the “decompensation” often referred to in abnormal psych, maybe).

    Or maybe I’m just short on sleep lately–the Resident Dog needs a fair amount of involvement in her bathroom processes while she recovers from surgery, and she always needs to go at 1 AM. 😛

  41. Some have already commented on the sentence: “I suspect many of us have met people like this, who display a surface patina of intellectual brilliance or personal charisma that conceals a complete inability to think reflectively and an equally complete unwillingness to take responsibility for their actions.” And for good reason. I sat up bolt upright, eyes wide, when I read this. Am I the only one for whom the terms “psychopath” and “sociopath” immediately came to mind? (Kimberly – I note that you have already used the latter term in your comment)

  42. Hi Irena,

    That chart you sent is interesting, I noticed a similar trend looking at a “groceries for a week” photo series with portraits of families across different countries in the world. The ones that seemed to eat closest to a “whole foods plant based” style were always the poorest ones. After thinking about it I did think that a study of groceries naturally left out hunted animals or animals people raised themselves to eat, and I imagine that something similar might be going on with this – but still I think your point largely stands.

    It’s interesting that the numbers are falling though across many countries. I wonder if that is a result of changes in attitudes or in affluence? Or are the two intertwined?

    I kinda think people should be glad that vegans (etc) are running this experiment on themselves to determine the pitfalls vs triumphs of this approach to eating. Some of the earlier adopters discovered the importance of B12 (for instance) by essentially sacrificing themselves, and there might be other things that are learned that will benefit the general population.

    Also there is a lot of effort going into recipes and techniques for substitution that are outside of processed fake meats and likely to stick around. The one commonality I have found among vegans is that we aren’t very picky eaters (beyond the obvious) and so people’s tendency towards experimentation (and home cooking as Jess mentioned) is much higher.


  43. When Dion Fortune mentions malicious idiots, my mind immediately goes to the story of Kelli Stapleton, who was violently beaten by her violent, teenaged autistic daughter Issy until she tried to euthanize both her daughter and herself. Both survived and Kelli Stapleton went to prison for her attempt on her daughter’s life. Issy’s father was the affluent, detached type who left almost all responsibility to his wife during Issy’s upbringing and then blamed Kelli for not being able to love Issy enough to overcome violent beatings and head injuries she suffered at Issy’s hand. Like many violent children, Issy was violent almost from infancy.

    There is also the extremely creepy story of Aneska Lenardon, a seemingly bright and lovely little girl who, by her own admittance, found “comfort” in the torture and murder of baby animals at age twelve. Since being featured on the Dr. Phil show, Aneska has apparently gone on to beat one of her peers with a baseball bat and who knows what else. Another kid named Cole was so profoundly addicted to video games at age nine that he sees fit to order his mother around as a “peasant” when she leaves food at his bedroom door as not to interrupt his sessions of Grand Theft Auto and Fortnite. He has inflicted physical violence upon his parents and siblings.

    In the realm of fiction, there are two books of note that dive into the subject of children like the ones described above: Lionel Shriver’s We Need To Talk About Kevin and Delores Lessing’s The Fifth Child. In both books, a child is born into a family that is otherwise doing extremely well. The child is violent toward his parents and siblings, who rightfully fear he will kill them in their sleep, and tortures and murders domestic and wild animals, which of course is classic proto-serial-killer behavior. Our society and culture in particular has no effective way of dealing with these types. They are allowed to run amok until one or more of their siblings/pets/parents is dead or permanently damaged, not to mention care workers, therapists, and teachers who get shoved directly in the line of fire in hopes they can somehow stop a train by standing in front of it and waving.

    I don’t think there are any socially acceptable solutions for dealing with children like the ones described above and I won’t dare to suggest them. I also don’t think it is the parents’ fault, as a normal amount of molly coddling doesn’t regularly produce cunning, sociopathic aberrations like Aneska or raging behemoths like Issy. Some children are just born monsters, and CosDoc is the only document I have ever seen that offers any form of explanation as to why.

  44. Onething, yes, indeed. A lot of people seem to be falling under the influence of subconscious drives these days. To some extent it’s a function of collective stress and cognitive dissonance, but there may be more going on than that.

    Kimberly, the etheric and astral qualities of food are indeed as important as the physical qualities, and a cook who charges the food with positive energies, either instinctively (as many do) or on the basis of training, can transform so-so ingredients into a really good meal. BTW, I’m also a big fan of tofu; do you ever dredge slices or cubes in cornstarch and then fry them? Yum…

    Steve, good heavens, yes. This is normal; it takes steady work with some form of spiritual practice to get past it, and reach the point that you’re normally connected with the higher planes. That’s inescapable, because as human beings we’re evolving the part of ourselves that functions on the mental plane, and until the mental sheath becomes a fully developed mental body, making that contact is going to be a challenge.

    Johnny, that’s also one of the things I’ve noticed about veganism (and, to be fair, just about any other ideology you care to name): it’s the people who build their identity around the ideology who become jerks about it. Sartre had quite a bit to say about that, of course! I’m rather looking forward to Whitehead, though I don’t expect him to be as easy to grasp as Schopenhauer — I found S.’s take on things highly intuitive, though that’s quite possibly because his ideas were picked up and reworked by Eliphas Levi and became central to modern magical thought. Yes, I’ve read Bergson — he was cited constantly by early 20th century occultists; no, I haven’t seen Groundhog Day. (I’m not really into visual media.)

    Yorkshire, that’s certainly been my experience.

    Averagejoe, it’s not hard to tell that the OBOD course was largely written by Philip Carr-Gomm, who’s a psychotherapist! I also found it very useful, of course.

    Irena (if I may), I suspect you’re quite right about per capita meat consumption, but the US may also be a bit of an outlier, as we (like Russia) have very extensive dry plains that can’t be farmed without massive energy inputs, but work very well for cattle raising under any conditions. In the future, I expect millions of acres now used to grow corn and soybeans for export to return to grazing, and somebody’s going to eat the beef. 😉

    (I also hope tofu remains common, though; as I noted in a response to Kimberly above, I’m a major fan, having grown up with a Japanese stepmother…)

    Skyrider, good. Now consider a cubic foot of air just above ground level on an ordinary sunny day. In the same space, at the same time, you have electromagnetic energy (sunlight, radio waves, etc.); you have gravity; you have the gases of the atmosphere, with sound waves passing through them; you have dust and other particles of solid matter — all in the same place at the same time. That’s a closer model, since it preserves the discrete nature of the planes, while showing how they can interact in certain ways.

    Jess, I’d leave that to the professionals; I’m more than usually unqualified to offer psychotherapeutic advice, as I have Aspergers syndrome and therefore less of a clue than usual about what’s going on in other people’s heads. As for vegans, I’m delighted to hear that; my generally sour opinion of the vegan movement comes from too many encounters with people who fell on the opposite end of the spectrum — the kind of people who will literally start screaming at a perfect stranger in a grocery store because said stranger has meat in his grocery cart. (Yes, this has happened to me, more than once.) If that sort of thing is going out of fashion, I’m quite prepared to revise my views.

    Isabel, no, you’re not just being sleep-deprived. Very often it’s when people can’t deal with the failure of their expectations that they run off the rails — again, TDS comes to mind…

    Ron, yes, I thought someone would catch that.

    Kimberly, I encountered one of those who survived to adulthood when I worked in nursing homes, back before I got into print: a genuinely terrifying person, who’d tried to murder a sibling when they were both children. When I knew her, her body was falling apart in half a dozen ways, and that was probably the only thing that kept her from becoming a mass murderer. I’m not sure if that’s what Fortune was talking about, or if the person was an example of something else Fortune talks about — a nonhuman soul accidentally born in a human body. The term “demonic” came forcefully to mind when dealing with her.

  45. @Irena,

    Touche indeed! Thank you for pointing that out. Your comment was intelligent and well researched. I have nothing against vegans or vegetarians. What I do take exception to is some people (unlike yourself) who attempt to enforce a one-size-fits-all way of life on everyone else just because it works for them.

    Yes, meat consumption tends to be higher in more “developed” nations (I use that word in the loosest sense! lol!), but in my very limited experience the kind of religious veganism that tends to get so much airplay these days seems to be coming from, as JMG says, “The Perpetually Bored Upper-Middle Class”. I realize that is a huge over-generalization, and while I probably wouldn’t be able to provide any usable statistics, I do find it to be a curious thing that many of the same people pushing this idea (I’m looking at you Joaquin Phoenix) that milking a cow is cruelty to animals (it’s not. I’ve done it) or that ranching is contributing to climate change (it isn’t. FEEDLOTS are.) seem to be very affluent people who live in places like New York and Los Angeles. I also realize that as in so many current issues of the day the people making the most noise about it are probably in the minority, and the more sensible individuals like yourself who do it for personal reasons and aren’t out on a crusade to save the world, are in the majority but don’t get the same amount of attention because reasoned discussion like the one we are engaged in now doesn’t generate as many YouTube views.

  46. Are there commonalities between what people get from their higher self compared to what they get from gods? Or is it different for every individual?

  47. Stefania,

    Thank you so much for your reflections on the temptation to return to professional work you’d left behind. I’ve been wrestling with something very similar over the last few months, and the way you interpreted that here is something I really needed to hear. I’ll be taking what you wrote to meditation for sure!


    Thank you for sharing your experience as well. It was just last year that I resigned from the position that my own Ph.D. had gotten me, as it moved from just crushing my soul to also crushing my physical health as well. It’s so heartening to know that I’m not alone on this often-frightening journey! All the best to you!

  48. Kimberly,

    I googled “Aneska Lenardon” and couldn’t find anything. Can you double-check the spelling?

    Thank you

  49. Johnny – good attitude! My oldest daughter and her family are vegans for health, but when she feels she needs it, she’ll eat eggs and cheese and even meat. And her son is a dedicated carnivore and gets no hassle from her.

    I’m reminded of what Epictetus said about being at a Roman banquet. Paragraphed, “I don’t preach. I just eat and drink sensibly and perhaps one of the other guests will get the idea.”

  50. Tofu’s great. We’d have it more often if it weren’t so expensive around here.

    My sinus infection keeps coming back no matter what medicine they try. Does anyone have any non-prescription suggestion?

  51. “Am I the only one for whom the terms “psychopath” and “sociopath” immediately came to mind?”

    No. And I’ve been wondering a lot about psychopathy and what the problem with them is. It certainly seems like they are people who don’t have a soul, somehow. But to be cut off from the soul – I mean the higher self or Individuality – would amount to the same thing. I had been told growing up that the voice of your conscience IS your soul.
    I also think Isabel Cooper’s comment about certain leaders is very intriguing.

  52. Truly, your Cos Doc posts always feel like a divine gift to which is owed a debt of gratitude.

    Whether a gift comes from the spiritual plane of my Individuality, Dion Fortune’s Individuality, your Individuality, or perhaps all of the above; in order to avoid a short circuit & fulfill a sense of duty/responsibility, I must allow another gift to flow back.

    I view this circuit as a kind of cosmic wheel of giving & receiving. In eastern wisdom traditions we may refer to this as Karma Yoga; in Christianity, sowing & reaping, or perhaps tithing. A return gift may consist of money, a thoughtful written reply, a simple humble thank you, a renewed commitment to spiritual, yogic or magical practices. Or simply getting to work making an effort to improve one’s immediate circumstances.

    There’s likely a multitude of ways to allow a gift to return to Spiritual Source. One way or another, integrity requires taking some sort of creative uplifting action which will help to complete the ring. Without a doubt, the divine circuit always works & blesses.

    Thank you, JMG. May the sharing of your gifts of occult knowledge continue to bless us & return to you three-fold! 🙂

  53. @JMG: Yeah–like, you don’t have to be happy about a situation, it’s fine to be angry/dismayed/scared/etc, especially if you or your loved ones are in danger, and gods know I’ve had enough occasions where I drowned my sorrows in Billy Joel and Girl Scout Cookies and sulked for a couple days, or said some angry things about politicians or corporations or various people I knew. But…hm, trying to figure out how to phrase it.

    I guess it’s that most people have moments of dissatisfaction or envy and let them go–like, yes, it occasionally bugs me that I’ll never write like Tolkien and I’ll likely never sleep with Colin Firth, but enh, in the grand scheme of things life’s pretty darn good anyhow, and I didn’t have to fight in WWI–or, with more serious stuff, they go through the grief process and come out the other side. And the process includes anger, and the other side can include working for change, or wanting to help stop whatever it was from happening in the future, or fix it now, but there’s a realistic look at the world as is and the facts that the other sort seems to lack.

    My recently-deceased grandfather had a bit of the non-murderous version going on. After my grandmother died, he became *profoundly* unpleasant–some of that was impending dementia, some was the way he’d apparently been before she made him shape up at a point in the 60s, but a lot was that he had planned to die first and he was very angry at the universe for not following the rules, since he’d done everything right by his standards.

    I think it comes down to reflective thinking–taking responsibility for one’s own actions but also being willing to look clearly at the way the world and people work. There’s a meme I like about how other people aren’t vending machines–you don’t put in the proper amount of money and get sex–and I think maybe the connection to higher planes is a part of realizing that the world isn’t either, and life isn’t a matter of “do X, get Y.”

  54. (OT note: I’m currently reading a Tarot book of my sister’s, which is fairly good except that it uses the Thoth deck, so now I’m pausing every so often to address angry comments to Aleister Crowley, all “Knight=King, Prince=Knight? YES LET’S DO MAKE EVERYTHING NEEDLESSLY CONFUSING IT’S NOT LIKE WE HAD A KNIGHT RIGHT THERE OR ANYTHING,” and “Strength is Lust and Temperance is Art okay EDWARD ALEXANDER I’m going to need you to dial it WAAAAY BACK.” The term “syphilitic Edwardian nincompoop,” may have been used, startling the dog to no end.)

  55. Yorkshire, good question. I don’t think the research that would be needed to answer it has been done yet.

    Your Kittenship, have you tried a splash of hot sauce in a glass of water, 1-3 times a day? I know somebody who cured herself of debilitating sinus headaches with that.

    Shivadas, thank you. I received a great deal of help and insight from occultists of the past through their books, and from several teachers I’ve known personally, and paying it forward seems like the appropriate response.

    Isabel, exactly — you deal. Or you don’t, and become a syphilitic Edwardian nincompoop.

  56. Just a note on Autism. In the spectrum I have met incredible fishermen who can make fly fishing lures out of things they find in the forest on their walk from the road to the lake, non verbal folk that live much closer to an animal life and cannot communicate well enough to tell others they are in pain from golf ball sized kidney stones, misunderstood stubborn kids and adults that possess unusual strength and force of personaltiy that wield almost demonic energy, scholarly types that spend most of their time in study, learning and thinking. I have never met the corporate colossals that build software empires of course but I know they exist and made huge donatoins to asbergers charities at one time… Regardless none in the spectrum I have worked with are really alike or even share common personality traits except biological quirks depending on their place in the spectrum. Magically, sexually, and spiritually preoccupied is something perhaps that is a common theme among those in the spectrum that I have connected with in my work. Really very fascinating folks with connections to realms perhaps typicals really cannot understand myself included. It’s funny psychologists have put them on a spectrum because from what I have seen they manifest(?) much farther up into the higher planes on one end and farther down into the underworld on the other end then the normies do. That is to say other humans are on a shorter spectrum and I am not certain what kind of circuit certain autistic individuals i’ve worked with are running as per the planes chart shown above. Although forming connections with especially non verbal autistic types is more of an exercise in communicating with energy and sound if that makes any sense…certain types of energies can be expressed in voice tones and being very careful and training yourself to endow your voice with energy one way or another can help with connecting. With that thought if “the modern sciences are thus limiting themselves to 3/343rds of the whole Cosmos, or 3/49ths of this solar system—which seems a little restrictive” then I think we really don’t know where their spectrum stretches to and I am more inclined to believe our fate may also lie in part with how we treat them in our lives. I don’t know what kingdoms some of them are connected to or what laws they understand or are governed by and they remain to me a great mystery after much work.


    I may be of some small help..I’m not sure what your thoughts are concerning therapy but if I may put this forward:

    An interesting fact I learned is that people can be taught to do therapy on themselves.. it is just not lucrative to the the profession if you know what I mean.

    Consider the words from JMG’s post:

    “Fortune had plenty of direct experience with the myriad ways that garbled ideas held in the mind can misshape the emotional life…Rational-Emotive Therapy of Dr. Albert Ellis… and many other modes of therapy as well, focus on teaching patients to untangle counterproductive thought processes so that the corresponding tangles of the emotional life will unravel in turn.”

    In my work as a mental health counsellor I have observed that medication is important and the right mix does need to be found for purposes of managing the symptoms associated with your diagnosis. Medication can help free you from symptoms and can allow you to get on with your daily life and is important in that respect when you find the right mix. Therapy is where the healing takes place and it is perhaps unfortunate that mental health problems are never allowed to be cured in Western society but only ever allowed to be ‘go into remission’.

    The competent psychotherapist has the ability to reframe thought patterns and they do it through building new habits of thinking, or building new thought pattens to replace dysfunctional ones. Someone doing therapy on themsleves needs to be able to identify the pattens that are causing anxiety… be able to watch their own mind. This is difficult and requires insight through stepping outside yourself to look at your own mind objectively. A good amount of willpower is necessary. I would encourage you respectfully to research or revisit therapy types and find ones you like(d) or want to try if you are interested. Perhaps either find a therapist who practices a kind you resonate with or find a book that teaches this type and go from there. Otherwise I hope you didn’t mind me stepping in…

  57. Archdruid,

    Plato in his arguments on form said that what we perceive is merely a shadow of a higher truth. I think that his argument is represented here as a basic principal of magic.

    If I want to become better at specific martial arts skill, then I must move my will through each of the planes. First I develop my intent on the mental plane by thinking about the skill I want to improve, and deciding how I want to practice. Second, I must move that decision to the astral plane and visualize the process of development, and build up the desire to push myself during the session. Third, I must move the intent to the physical plane and execute the practice. The goal is to override the default reactive impulse of the etheric plane, which is less coordinated than my desired result.

    However this is still an incomplete circuit, because the realization of what I’m trying to accomplish is the perfection of the combat form. To achieve this I must meditate after the practice session, allowing my higher self access to the four planes below, allowing it to shape and develop the skill as it manifests as a shadow of perfection. Failing to do that last bit causes me to keep dropping back into my mindless reactions, and even though I can override that reaction by repeating my practice, I only gain that upper level of discipline by closing the circuit.



  58. To JMG: I haven’t tried battering tofu in cornstarch, will do! I bet cornstarch-battered tofu would make a great sushi filling.

    Your account of meeting one of these malicious children all grown up is bone chilling.

    To Jen: Here are some links about the little girl, who exhibits all the signs of demonic possession:

    Notice how these Redditors (link below) immediately try to shame the person mentioning demonic possession into silence. Aneska suffered a bad head injury at age 3 which immediately changed her personality from easygoing to brutish. Everyone on the thread is like, “Oh no, it can’t be a supernatural cause and if you say that, we will isolate you and shun you as an ignorant medieval peasant.” Ironically, they are so terrified of demons, they can’t even admit the possibility of them existing!

  59. @JMG and All

    This is a massively difficult chapter as you said and I’ve tried three meditations on it, I must be distracted or something because I don’t know I’ve uncovered much and will have to revisit it again I think. But still I found the idea of the abstract mould interesting and dwelled on the obvious connection with this concept tying into the idea that people’s spirits perhaps could be understood partially as an abstracted mould of whatever chief god or gods they are worshipping in their lives.

    I have felt the necessity of reciting some old prayers I learned in the Baha’I Faith that brought me my first conception of god recently. This started again during my practises in Druidry and I guess this is useful then in keeping connected to the higher planes for the purpose of prevention of short circuiting. There is a prayer that is very appropriate to the practise at least in translation and reads a bit like a poem from Taliesin I feel called ‘Blessed is the spot’
    This prayer seems to relate the reader to the spirituality of place that you have pointed out previously does not get much attention in our culture.

    Perhaps in better form I found the meditation on ‘initiation as condensed meditation’ more fruitful and went through a hierarchy of our earthly initiation practices. Sports teams seem to be sort of lower initiation whereby you go to training camps before the season to go through intense training to prove your self to make the team. This was followed by work and academics as a middling initiatory process. Being trained for a new job is a form of initialing for example where you are expected to evolve into your role quickly over a short or condensed period of time. Then followed that parenting as a higher form where you are initiating another human being into life on earth itself during the time when they are young and in your care. Although I’m sure other people would interchange these depending on the person.

    Then I focused on connecting these earthly initiation processes to physical, mental, emotional, and finally spiritual initiation processes going on inside the mind and body with religion or spiritual practises being the highest forms. I ended this meditation on the idea that once you have an astral body and mind developed then you can proceed to initiate yourself into this realm or others which was kind of amazing to think about!

    Finally I linked the idea of evolution being kinetic to a lecture ‘Creation Story – Conversations in Cultural Fluency Lecture Series’ on you-tube given by Indigenous Knowledge Centre at Six Nations Polytechnic . This series seemed to demonstrate the evolution of their creation story and the reflections that went into the continued evolution of the story over time and across different communities.

  60. Thanks, JMG, I’ll try it. Should the water be hot, warm, or cold for best results?

  61. JMG,

    Your commentary was especially timely to me at this time. Since posting my question about distrusting my own higher self last month, I have been musing about the relationship between various aspects of myself. If my elbow and shoulder were conscious, for example, they would be pretty pissed off with me right now because I push them hard lifting heavy boxes of books. Sometimes they scream at me, much like I feel like screaming at my higher self when it pushes me too hard, and I back off and give them rest before pushing them again.

    I also have to work elsewhere to pay the bills and am working too hard generally, so if I do that to my body, why shouldn’t my higher self also push me hard throughout my life? I sometimes think the impulse to push myself hard comes from the higher planes and just trickles all the way down, and at other times think my higher self would give me an easier time if I connected better with it. Or maybe not, considering that the impulse that pushes most of us to pursue a magical path despite all the hard work involved is much the same.

    I work to save books from the landfill and am amassing quite a collection. It seems that the end goal of what I’m doing is changing and growing in scope as I keep doing this, and I have only some dim idea where this will end up, but I just keep doing it, much like my elbow and shoulder don’t understand the point of lifting all those boxes.

    It’s possible my individuality has a clear goal in mind, to which I am not privy, or maybe my ego is pushing me to do this, in which case I am probably not doing what my individuality wants me to do. It would seem that I am a very disjointed being: my body wants one thing (to rest and be well), my personality wants another (to create a large used bookstore despite the physical and financial odds against me) and who knows, maybe my individuality wants another (perhaps to get on with the work of creating a mental sheath instead of wasting all this time on books?)

    I will keep musing…

    I also wanted to add that what has been said in other comments about psychopaths also applies to narcissists. Through close contact with narcissists (my mother and it now seems my sister) the one impression I have of them is that there is a black hole at the centre of their being, with a desperate, insatiable hunger to be fed, which leads them to suck whatever psychic energy they can from others, with complete ignorance of the damage they do to others. Point it out to them and they have a total breakdown.

  62. “My sinus infection keeps coming back no matter what medicine they try. Does anyone have any non-prescription suggestion?”

    I can tell you what I would really love you to try and give a report. I’ve been using it daily since October and have not been sick so far. You can also nebulize it or even find a small spray bottle and sniff it up your nose. For a sinus infection that would be best.

  63. JMG– Thank you again! That’s reassuring to hear. (Although, if my Individuality is listening, please do feel free to come around more often.)

    You’ve talked a lot about the “mental sheath,” and the mental level generally, and honestly I didn’t understand what you meant until recently. I think I have an idea though, and I think that it makes sense of a question I’ve been pondering on and off for a while–

    Within the context of occult philosophy, what are saints?

    “Dead humans with magical powers” is an easy and obvious answer. “People in Heaven” is the official Christian answer; “People who have attained Gwynfydd” is a Druid spin on the same. But what does it mean?

    Now I wonder if it means: “People who have bodies on the mental plane.”

    My reasoning is–

    The Mental Plane is the same as the world of Forms in classical Platonism. (When I started reading Proclus a few months ago, I was surprised to find that he uses the word “Intellect” for this plane of being, as does Plotinus… Until then I hadn’t understood at all why you called it the “Intellectual” level in the Celtic Golden Dawn.)

    Another thing that I discovered recently about Forms is that, in Platonism, they aren’t considered to be static. That is, it’s not just that, somewhere out there, there’s “form of chair” which is the model that allows for the existence of chairs. No, Forms actively work in this world, creating and preserving those souls and physical bodies which participate in them. You’ve described the beings of the Intellectual level as “living ideas,” a term you’ve also used to explain the Intelligences of the planets and so on.

    So perhaps what is going on with saints is that, having attained a body on the plane of Forms, they are able to participate in the creative work of the Forms on this plane.

    In my family, St. Therese of Lisieux was particularly popular. St. Therese is often invoked by people struggling with alcoholism (go figure). She is called the little flower; roses are sacred to her and I recall being given a handful of consecrated rose petals on her feast day when I was a child. In a book written for magical practitioners on working with the saints, I read that yellow is her devotional color; offering a yellow candle is thus appropriate when invoking her.

    Now, what do roses, recovery from alcoholism, and the color yellow have in common with one another?

    Here in the mundane world, nothing at all. But perhaps on the mental level, they function similarly to a mathematical equation, or a rule of logic. Prior to the creation of a body on the plane of Form by Therese of Lisieux, however, this equation did not exist. Now it does, which has consequences on the astral and physical planes– as when a Catholic places a rose and a yellow candle next to a statue of the saint and prays for relief from the desire to drink.

    If this is true, it also helps make sense of something else which has been confusing for me, which is how to reconcile the evolutionary cosmos of Dion Fortune and modern Occultism with classical Platonism. On this account, the world of Form remains outside of time and physical incarnation, but that world is regularly enriched by the building of mental bodies by beings lower on the planes– which in turn has consequences for the astral, etheric, and physical worlds.

    Finally, it makes sense of the idea, often repeated by Catholic and Orthodox Christians but which has always struck me as nonsensical, that saints don’t directly work upon the world, but instead “They pray to God for us.” Well, beings without hands, mouths or coordinates in space don’t “pray.” But the spiritual level is higher, and more causal, than the mental level. Thus beings at the mental level of existence are themselves drawing on power from the next level up, and on the guidance and protection from beings which exist at that level. This is understood symbolically as “praying to God on our behalf.”

  64. barefootwisdom and SLClaire,

    I’m happy my comments were helpful – thanks for sharing your stories too! I agree this journey is often downright scary, but I’m starting to think…it can work out! All the best in your endeavors 🙂

  65. Ian, this is why I specify that I have Aspergers syndrome — that’s a more precise diagnosis, and those of us who have it tend to share a lot of traits in common. The broader label “autism” covers too much ground; it would help, I think, if it were broken up into a set of more or less discrete syndromes, all of which belong to a broader category. But then people with Asperger’s syndrome tend to think that way!

    Varun, yes, exactly. Thank you for this.

    Kimberly, you don’t even have to batter it — just press the tofu slices between dry cloths or paper towels for a few minutes so it’s not dripping, put some cornstarch on a plate, flop the tofu a slice at a time into the cornstarch and turn so some sticks to every side, and then into the frying pan it goes. Fry it to a nice golden brown on both sides, and devour, with the Asian sauce of your choice. Yum!

    Ian, it sounds to me as though you’ve uncovered quite a bit.

    Your Kittenship, I’ve usually done it with room temperature water, but your mileage may vary.

    Myriam, thank you for taking my comments in the spirit in which they were meant, and pursuing the subject so constructively. As for narcissists — yeah. My biological mother would very likely qualify, and the sense of a black void at the center is one I perceived a good many times back when we were still in contact — fortunately that was a very long time ago.

    Steve, excellent! Yes, exactly — it’s when we succeed in developing our mental sheaths into mental bodies that we rise above the human level and enter the state the Druid Revival tradition calls Gwynfydd. Now of course that’s not the end of the process of spiritual evolution; the mental body first coalesces in a very rudimentary form, and it’s capable of immensely greater levels of complexity, richness, and differentiation — but once you have a body on that level, you participate in the cosmos in a very different way.

  66. Archdruid,

    There’s another way to read this:

    “but as each evolution makes use of the creations of its predecessor, the reaction types of that predecessor will be found inherent in the successors, though the analytical mind can dissect them not. They also, however, exist as independent sub-strata, and it is the knowledge of the method of manipulating these; the elemental essences of each kingdom – which is the basis of practical magic; remember that each type of manifestation has its elemental essence.”

    Here again is the argument between Plato and Aristotle. The manifestation of all forms upon any plane is too complex to be analyzed by the logical mind, there are simply too many parts and pieces in motion for a system to be understood by only its component parts. The elemental basis of each of the parts is motion, light, and sound or put another way – water, fire, and earth. The components are there on each plane manifesting in a myriad different ways.

    We cannot understand these motions only with our analytical minds, or from the perspective of our mental plane, but if we use the instinctive mind and the imaginative mind, then we can begin to see and feel the movements of the elements. By meditating on these tracks in space, literally putting ourselves as close to center (which is the central stillness) we can understand the sub-strata and manipulate them. We do not necessarily manipulate them on the physical plane, but wherever it is easiest to alter their motion with our own.



  67. To Steve:

    Thanks for your observations about building the mental sheath. Since I started a serious regime of Druid meditation, daily banishing, and divination, I have become conscious of being surrounded at all times by gods, elementals, fairies, ghosts, my Individuality, and other non-corporeal entities. My first thought when you said you wanted your Individuality to listen was an “oh honey, it’s present and accounted for” which didn’t entirely seem to come from me, if you get my drift.

    My feeling is that we are all surrounded all the time by these forces, but it is only competent religious or occult training that can filter them.

    Gotta go now, have a great day.

  68. JMG told about how British witches united to turn the Nazis away from Dunkirk. Could something similar be done to send the Coronavirus out to sea or into the cold upper atmosphere?

  69. On the topic of psychopaths and narcissists, on a superficial level they operate in very much the same manner, exploitative people with an inner void etc., but on a fundamental level they are also complete opposites, each occupying the end of a spectrum that you have referred to more than once, JMG. The psychopath’s inner landscape is one completely devoid of mental representations. Everything is “out there”, and as a result the psycho can only regulate his mental-emotional state by getting something from the outside, usually in the form of satisfying animalistic urges, using people etc. He is thus the embodiment of Ahrimanic evil. The narcissist is the complete opposite in this regard. The narc has no access to an independent outside reality, and is only ever experiencing her own mental representations. Nothing ever exists “out there” (if you have ever interacted with one, you will perhaps have picked up that they respond to the behaviour of an image of you in her mind, and not to the things you actually say and do). The narc lives in a constant fight to the death to uphold her own abstract conceptual image of herself in her own mind. She is thus the embodiment of Luciferic evil.

    You might also find it interesting to know that Prof. Sam Vaknin, considered one of the world’s foremost authorities on this pathology, has an in-depth explanation for its formation, which translated into occult jargon goes something like this: In response to extreme trauma (which always comes down to being at the mercy of parents suffering from the same pathology) which becomes just too much for the developing psyche to bear, the child (usually between the ages of 4-6) will conjure up an entity perceived to have godlike powers, who also mirrors the sadistic parent in every regard. The child then literally commits suicide on the astral level, as a sacrifice to this entity, in order to merge with it. Having died thus, the person is from that point committed to spend all their energy feeding and upholding the image of this entity in their own mind, and identifying themselves with it. If they should fail to maintain this, they will be at the receiving end of an inner onslaught consisting of all the trauma (i.e. karma) they initially made this bargain to avoid, trauma that they now, by account of no longer having an actual inner self, are not equipped to survive.

    Scary? You have no idea how much…

    (Oh, and good thing you notified me about the e-mail. The svartalfar had indeed dragged it to the dark pits of the junk mail folder. I’ll respond as soon as I can. Corona-situation has gone ballistic, and we who serve in the armed forces have been put on high alert, so things are somewhat hectic…)

  70. Lady Cutekitten: Re: Water Temp.

    I don’t imagine that temperature matters. The water is just a dilutant, so you don’t have to drink hot-sauce straight-up.

    Myriam: Re: Succubi

    What you describe in your last paragraph sound like a psychic vampire, known as a Succubus.

    Antoinetta III

  71. Hi, thanks Patricia!

    It sounds like maybe your daughter and I think largely alike. I eat eggs on occasion, perhaps a half dozen a year these days. I don’t really know why that is, I guess if the mood strikes me when I’m out somewhere, but it’s not something that I worry about too much. I still use the term vegan when I have to because it’s the closest one that applies. I actually had some meat last year for the first time in over 20 years, I was “listening to my body” as I thought perhaps I was craving it because the thought kept popping up. I didn’t want to be too dogmatic about things if possibly it was to my detriment, so I bought some and gave it a try. I found it tasted just awful, I have completely lost the taste for it I guess, and then immediately came down with the flu – I suspect I had been fighting it off without realizing it, but I ended up feeling quite off before I’d even eaten the tiny bit I managed to get down and then was quite sick for three days. It was probably just a coincidence but I thought it was quite a funny end to that experiment.

    My general thinking was actually along the lines of what Ethan was saying above, that I wasn’t sure how viable being fully vegan was outside of our modern industrial society and perhaps a “plant based” diet that was maybe 95% vegan, 5% animal products (or something) was a more natural and local way of doing much the same thing. In a “collapse now” style.


  72. @Steve T “In a book written for magical practitioners on working with the saints …” If I may ask, what is the title?

  73. Varun, good. There are many ways to read this, and that’s unquestionably one of them.

    Your Kittenship, the Nazis could be defeated by magic because they were using corrupt magic to pursue their goals without any reference to the spiritual planes. The coronavirus outbreak, by contrast, is a normal, natural phenomenon, thus much less amenable to magical manipulation. Magical and spiritual practices can help individuals and families get through this sort of thing in good shape, but trying to get the outbreak to go away altogether is like trying to use magic to make winter not happen.

    Sven, thank you for this. That makes a great deal of sense. (By all means take your time with the email — it’ll keep.)

  74. I see, JMG. (I’m a poet and didn’t know it!😄). What magical and spiritual practices can we do to improve the situation?

  75. Hi John Michael,

    You know, to my mind, a state of unyielding perfection sounds like a dead end. Not to mention how boring it would be to be caught in such a web. 🙂 So very dull!

    So, out of curiosity, I’m wondering if you reckon I’m on the right track in considering that the Arthurian cycle (of which I have just read a six book outstanding re-telling) is an act in the upper astral plane impacting upon the material plane – and thus creating a track of its own, when it was perhaps needed?



  76. Varun

    Could you please say more about the meditative process you’re talking about for martial arts? I’ve become quite serious about it in the last year or so. Progressing fast because I put a lot of effort in but very much a beginner.

    Are there any books or detailed guides on how I can apply the process you describe practically?

  77. There’s some action going on in the planes above at the moment then. Funny how entire nation’s can take stuff for granted then…boom!
    Feeling quite relaxed, finally, and really must thank the spirits of my local (very lively, recently) river and the spirit of Ashwangandha for their protection in particular.
    Namaste. Respect.

  78. I’ve been rereading your Kek Wars series and it seems that the mindless “spell-like” behavior of the elites doing mindfulness exercises detached from their spiritual connections and blundering forward ignoring real world events, is an example of the short-circuiting of the left-hand path. Is that a reasonable interpretation?

  79. Oh wow, just finished rereading Part 4 of The Kek Wars and am wondering if The Changer has chosen a new embodiment. A much more elemental one. The Changer is a North American archetype, but is it possible he’s extending his reach via the networks of ga declining global empire? Not saying the virus originated in the US of course, just that maybe Changer has taken the reins from 4chan’s chaos magicians.

  80. Kim,

    While I have no doubt that some folks have dark entities attached to them, I’m hesitant to label that girl who appeared on Dr. Phil because I have deep concerns about parents who would allow their child to appear on national television and be labeled as evil. Parents are on this earth to advocate and support their children NOT ruin their lives by public labeling.

  81. “Thus the Planetary Being is as a Group Soul of that plane on which it functions, through the planes below it to the dense physical, with which it has been supplied; but the elements of the plane above it, which serve it as Individuality, are supplied by the lives evolving in its sphere, and partake of the nature of a Group Mind of the life of that planet. This is a subtle but important distinction, for it means that the Higher Self of the Planetary Being depends upon the lives dwelling on it for its development.”

    If there is a plane denser than our material plane, and I believe there is, maybe we can hope to understand it via Fortune’s metaphors. The plane below ours would be the one where the elements uranium and plutonium live. Such a plane would be extremely dense and populated by what we call demons along with an array of other beings. Because this plane is denser than ours and is characterized by occulted and dangerous heavy metals, it makes sense to think of it as the dark, scary Underworld deep within the Earth. It’s also the plane where junk gets digested and disposed of, so it’s obviously very much a needed and regular part of our Universe, despite its weirdness.

    Maybe demons are supposed to evolve just like us humans. I would think the natural way of them doing so would be to submit themselves to the slow process of becoming mineral, vegetable, and then finally animal again over many eons. Of course, just like power and glory hungry humans, many demons would want a short cut to human incarnation and would choose the easy route of possessing a hapless human or large group of humans who invited the infestation (this might explain TDS). This hauntingly means that yes, entire groups can become demonic and devolved, putting them at risk for being dealt with by the Destroyers Fortune talks about earlier in the chapter. However, if one or more of us humans does the hard work of dragging ourselves in an upward direction, perhaps that creates a kind of non-physical suction that compels beings on denser planes to do the same.

    Yesterday was creepy and gross in my quadrant of Chicagoland. The air itself seemed oppressive. The mood was, like the weather, leaden and cold with a superficial veneer of idiotic hysteria. This was of course due to Coronavirus panic. My husband and I went to our local Thai restaurant, which of course was empty. The owner showed us photos of the yuppie grocery store down the street. Every shelf was stripped bare. The manager let one of his employees off early — the guy’s wife wanted to go to Walmart in Joliet but was advised not to go alone by the police because of the brawls in the aisles. All Walmarts in the area closed at 10:30pm so they could restock their empty shelves. On Facebook, all of my liberal acquaintances seem even more mentally ill and vicious than usual, and of course they blame Trump for everything. Today, the Ides of March, feels heavily pregnant with the astral malaise of these profoundly disturbed, unbalanced individuals and their foulness, despair, and bad intentions. This brings me full circle to Sara Duncan’s brilliant comments about people knowing better but maintaining an “I’m awful, you’re awful” approach to living. They’re more than happy to devolve by indulging their worst instincts, it seems, even if it keeps them in a state of abject misery and exhaustion, and this is rooted in laziness.

  82. BXN,

    Honestly I’m still developing the system. If I find anything worth sharing I’ll most certainly share it.



  83. @ Sven

    Thanks for that explanation on psychopath/narcissist distinction. It has confirmed a conclusion I tentatively reached a while ago but didn’t take too seriously cos it seemed quite radical.

    I had a friend who was, I now realise, a narcissist. He was in every way a benign person and often quite a lot of fun to have around. Very much an attention seeker.

    He used to constantly talk about how he was going to organise such and such a thing and he would ask people for their assistance. This would cause some mild stress because people were worried about the time commitment required but as the events in question sounded like fun nobody ever actively refused him.

    He never once delivered on any of these things and after a while I simply ignored him. So did everybody else.

    At some point I came to the conclusion that in his mind there was no difference between saying that X would happen and X actually happening.

    I now realise from your explanation that this is because for him everything is his own mental representation.

    On reflection, I think I have met a lot of narcissists and very few psychopaths. In fact, I would hypothesise that narcissism is one of the defining traits of our culture. This makes sense from Vaknin’s account because parents would pass this trait on to their children by cultural transmission.


  84. So I’m guessing that’s why civilizations tend to rise and fall in a broad esoteric sense. Given that they tend to embody a creation that hold inherent flaws on a mass level that eventually demands a crash back down to the ground to rework. I’m guessing you either need a society that is relatively static in its consciousness to stay stable for a reasonable length of time or one that allows lots of micro ego crashes to stop the whole ship from sinking (like a balloon with a hole in it so it never inflates to bursting point).

  85. Your Kittenship, using any of the standard tools — ritual, prayer, affirmation, radionic vibrations channeled through a Hieronymus machine, you name it — focus on invoking health and happiness. Building the positive is more effective than chasing off the negative!

    Chris, that’s complex, because there was a historical reality underlying the Arthurian tales. So it’s a zigzag: (original spiritual impetus) –> (historical Arthur) –> (broader spiritual influence descending into fragmentary folk memories) –> (Arthurian legend).

    Jay, exactly. This sort of thing doesn’t happen by accident. Accept your place in the broader picture and, like Arjuna on the battlefield, go forward without fear and do what you’re called to do.

    Chrysanthemum, yes, and thank you! I didn’t happen to think of that while writing this week’s post, and it’s a fine example. As for the Changer, that’s possible; a recent article in Foreign Policy, iirc, was moaning about how the CoVID-19 outbreak was causing the collapse of what’s left of economic globalization.

    Kimberly, I’m really sorry to hear that things are so ugly in your end of the country! I walked down to the local Korean grocery this afternoon to shop; it was more crowded than usual, but not excessively so, and everyone was polite and friendly. One woman wanted to know which stores still had toilet paper in stock, and I was one of the people who volunteered an answer. It was a bright, clear, pleasant day, with a little chill still in the air, but the trees are all on the verge of leafing out and there was nothing weird or creepy about the atmosphere at all.

    Rose, excellent! Yes, exactly.

  86. Sven,

    Well, what do I know but I disagree with that expert:

    ” In response to extreme trauma (which always comes down to being at the mercy of parents suffering from the same pathology) which becomes just too much for the developing psyche to bear, ”

    To me that comes from Freudian tendencies of my parents’ generation. Everything is mother’s fault, or parents fault. The problem seems deeper to me than that and likely inborn. I think if these people had severe trauma we would know about it. I do think that such severe trauma can result in split personality, but not so much psychopathy.

    I took a bit of an interest in a related phenomenon and read some biographies. The phenomenon is mother or parents fighting to save the life or freedom of a child who had committed heinous crimes. I saw a comment that of course the mother would beg the judge to somehow make an exception for her son who had raped and killed. I thought, really? Would I want undeserved mercy if my son had done such a thing? And I think that I would not, and probably most people would not. Indeed, I met the mother of one of my son’s killers in court and she seemed appropriately sheepish. The father of one of the other killers was actually defensive and aggressive. But he was a stepfather.

    We have had a couple of famous murders in the past decade or so. One of a son who took his 8.5 months pregnant wife out in a boat and drowned her. His mother very much wanted that grandchild. She nonetheless helped him evade the law as long as possible. Another famous case involved a young woman who tired of her two-year-old, even though her parents did most of the care, and killed her. Her parents adored that baby, but they spent and worked tirelessly to get her acquitted, and were successful.

    These pscyhopaths were probably born that way, but they were certainly not traumatized with extreme trauma. They were in fact coddled and indulged. I’ve also noted the tendency for parents of seriously misbehaving kids, even though they might be harsh when the kid annoys themselves, to be completely impervious to accepting any responsibility to discipline said child if, say, a teacher is asking for help. So in these cases I think there is likelihood that a parent is also a mild form of psychopath. Of course, you might say that even though they were coddled and indulged it doesn’t say that horrors never happen behind closed doors. Possible. I don’t know where that expert gets his data, and I do know that a lot of prisoners have been badly beaten or neglected, but they are not usually true psychopaths, just very messed up. But I don’t think that most of these kids were traumatized in such a way. I knew another colleague who had a nephew she was quite worried about. He was still very young but was wanting to torture kittens and such. If her sister had traumatized him, I think she would know.

  87. Lady Cutekitten,

    Thanks for asking. I feel well. Last CT scan was fairly good. I sometimes have symptoms that worry me and other things seem better. So I don’t really know how I’m doing. I keep hoping that it will become clear.

  88. Forgot to add that in the past autism was called childhood schizophrenia and it was attributed to ‘schizophrogenic’ mothers, i.e., mothers whose parenting induces schizophrenia. Now we know it is some sort of neurological damage or difference. It seems heartbreaking for those parents who had normal babies or toddlers and then gave them a vaccination that permanently changed them to then be suspecting of torturing their child.

  89. I’m sorry that things are creepy and gross in Chicago. Here in liberal Seattle, things are the opposite. I’ve actually started re-following people on Facebook because the political barking has died down very noticeably. Social incentives for dumb posturing seem mostly to have evaporated; even the usual suspects are showing a new willingness to compromise and hear. Shockingly, people are actually checking themselves from spreading baseless nonsense.

    People are busy organizing themselves both for hunkering down and for ad-hoc mutual aid. Plenty of bare shelves, sometimes some long lines, but no brawls that I’ve heard of. Many, many livestreams. Lots of people trying to figure out how small farmers and other small businesspeople can stay afloat in the next few months. (This is set to become a golden age of porch delivery.) Lots of people trying to figure out how to entertain kids at home, and others giving tips. The local hooch shop has started making ethanol-based hand sanitizer and giving it away. Poetry is becoming more meaningful to people.

    And it’s quiet, so quiet. I’ve heard perhaps one plane overhead in days. I hadn’t realized how constantly oppressive that noise was, like a lid of audial filth over the city.

    I’d been making plans to leave this city when I could. This is the sanest I’ve seen it in years, maybe decades.

  90. I’m fascinated by the different accounts of how people are doing in Chicago, Rhode Island and Seattle! I am across the border, connected by three direct ferries to Seattle and area. Of course Trudeau has suspended international ferries, so not right now 😉…

    We have only one coronavirus case on Vancouver Island, somewhere near me, but the guy basically went right home and chilled so they consider us still very low risk for community transmission, despite the fact we have, in my small town, over half of our population over 65 and nearly half of that in nursing homes. Our health care system is reasonably concerned about overwhelm, but our existing pandemic plans seem adequate. There has been no run on the stores, but assume increase in people just being ready in case the situation deteriorates. Yesterday was still busy on the street, though the aquarium said visitors were down 49%, that likely has a big link to general declining tourism as well as viral travel halts.

    With the exception of Costco, I should say actually, that store reportedly got mobbed so badly they put out a travel advisory for surrounding roads, possibly because it is located in the municipality which is the gate to Hell (the one that has actively encouraged suburban sprawl, and each more horrifying subdivision than the last is cut into the living rock and is built more cheaply than the last. Going there feels like putting on a suit of sandpaper.)

    I’ve seen both the Seattle and Chicago reaction online – the Chicago school) (I’m here all day!) are the same people who I have seen sliding downhill rapidly since Christmas re: climate alarmism and white people who jumped into the Wet’suwet’en fray with both lecturey feet. Not that both issues aren’t real, just that they have lost all nuance or sense that anyone might be worth convincing rather than shaming. I’ve been increasingly alienated from all in that social group which used to be my main home. I have one former best friend with Brexit derangement syndrome so bad that now with the UKs viral outbreak, she’s having a nervous breakdown.

    The key messaging the breakdown havers have been repeating to themselves up to now – because no one else is still listening – has been to urge greater centralization for the common good (big government make everyone do it, Green New Deal Red-painted-Green initiatives) and the one that scared me so much I wrote to my saintly MLA because I thought he would be wise enough not to follow them there – we will erase anyone who disagreed with us from history. An example is the way that MLK and the marches are invoked to tell people that “history does not remember the opposition to civil rights. No one remembers the people who thought they shouldn’t have marched.” Which is both
    1) um, fighting words – you better hope you can match with ‘an abundance of good’ to overwhelm the evil you are fighting, otherwise that’s one heck of a thrust block you just pushed up, and
    2) not remotely true. We have all seen the iconic photos of that little girl being escorted to school by a dozen federal agents because the community was so opposed to segregation. Living people still remember the uptick in cross burning and even lynching in southern communities. There was an article I saw fairly recently talking about how PTAs organized to dismantle school bus systems to ensure black kids couldn’t get to desgregated schools. And anyone who has been to New Orleans and thinks it forgot racism is in a diamond bubble. The world IS still the people who thought they shouldn’t march. And if you also think Everything is White Supremacy…. Don’t you already know that?
    So here they are, howling for the government to shut down everything faster than actual local pandemic severity requires, lauding panic buying because everyone will be sick soon. The US tried to cover up the Spanish Flu don’t trust the government! but also everyone must Listen. To. The. Science with repeated flatten the curve posts. That’s a great campaign, sensible messaging… But it’s what Canada and BC are already doing well, and explicitly what the government is saying. Few people are panicking here or spreading misinformation (the bulk buyers attempting to fleece people on hand sanitizer have been caught and shunned accordingly), they don’t need to howl. Who the eff cares about what the US did 100 years ago for a very different disease profile? But they can’t stop. Don’t ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee my old friends.

  91. My retirement village is under quarantine conditions. All gatherings have been canceled and the restaurant building closed, as are all dining halls. They will deliver lunch & dinner packages every lunch hour with instructions on (re)heating them. Outdoor venues open. Being told to keep our distance. Don’t see any residents doing it. Daughter is panicking and urging me to let her do all my shopping for me.

  92. Ergane, thanks for this — that’s the first hopeful thing I’ve heard about Seattle since I left in 2004. I hope it heralds a return to sanity in what was once a very pleasant city.

    Sara, thanks for this also! I think you’ve brought a core element of the current mass neurosis into focus — the biggest threat these people can deploy is “you’ll be forgotten.” That tells me that they’re terrified of being forgotten — that they recognize that the lives they’re living don’t matter, and so they’re acting out roles in a social-justice morality play in a frantic attempt to pretend that their lives will make some kind of difference. Meanwhile the people who will actually be remembered are not on their side…

  93. My brother in San Diego said the store shelves are even empty of staples like frozen vegetables! Here in my Florida retirement village I was just delivered a decent lunch needing only something to drink to go with it. Milk just now delivered by son-in-law, who was also able to get drugstore supplies for me with apparently no trouble. The visiting podiatrist canceled all appointments for the month “because they weren’t letting anybody in,” which Security said was plain nonsense. So responses are mixed.

  94. Oh, and blessed equinox. JMG, have forgotten what it’s called in druidry, but expecte honorarium in the snail mail cum gratia tuo.

  95. Dear Onething,

    I’m sorry to hear about what happened to your son. Please accept my deepest condolences. I should have specified that the second paragraph dealt specifically with the formation of narcissistic personality disorder, rather than psychopathy. Trauma in this context did not refer to systematic physical abuse, but to the cognitive-emotional distress that comes from being at the mercy of a primary caregiver that is for all practical purposes void within and wilfully subjects the child to contradictory demands and displays chronic self-contradictory behaviour. Such contradictory behaviour is a manifestation of a personality that has devolved into being nothing more than a collection of primitive defence mechanisms, and it is also actively deployed to ensure that the child does not get to develop into a coherent self separate from the parent. Such people also treat spouses, lovers and close relations in the same way. The behaviour of the parents you cited actually ties in well with overall pattern, as people on the cluster B spectrum, in addition to regarding their close ones as mere extensions of themselves, find the concept of accountability to be the most abhorrent thing imaginable (aside from self-reflection). I can’t attest to the Freudian influence, as I have no in-depth knowledge of his ideas, but the theory works from the same line of reasoning you can find in Gregory Bateson’s double bind theory of schizophrenia. As for people being born as such, sure, you may very well be right about that, and that does not necessarily need to be in conflict with the theory. I can easily imagine that if you spend lifetimes working up these kind of behaviours as a pattern of self, it would land you being born into an environment where you get to experience being on the receiving end of them. If in turn, the only way to cope is to manifest it to an even worse degree, then we might possibly be looking at a very frightening feedback-loop that goes a long way to describe the process by which “the corrupted soul is sent down the ladder of evolution to try again”.

  96. @ JMG, @ Sara

    Re being forgotten

    The irony is, of course, that every one of us will both be forgotten and at the same time will never be forgotten. For the first, eventually, each of us–even the most famous of us–will fade into history. Ten millennia from now, no one alive today will be remembered.

    On the other hand, from a theosophical standpoint, no one and no thing is ever forgotten, even when this Manvantara comes to a close and existence enters into the subsequent Mahapralaya. All that is and has been will be crystalized as yet another bead on the the thread of awareness and will influence in some way the nature of the next cycle as it opens. (Yes, I’m in the middle of The Divine Plan—how could you tell?) So, in that incremental manner, we will be hard-coded, as it were, into future incarnations of everything yet to come.

    Of course, neither of those things are what the folks in question are thinking of.

  97. I could report, that, in Germany, depending on place, restaurants, cafe and other public venues have closed or reduced their hours, public transit has changed its plans, and so on, but exempt for a few people who hoard toilet-paper, it is mostly calm. But more important is the question, what the political and economical consequences will be, when all is said and done.

  98. @ Sara Duncan– Thank you for your comment. I’ve re-read it a few times now, and I’m still not completely sure what to say. It’s a lot to chew on! I’m probably going to have to read it twice or three times more.

    The first thing I thought was that I think you’re very much onto something when it comes to messages from Higher Up coming through on the physical level. I had an odd experience with that last Fall. I spent several weeks lighting appropriate candles and incense and singing the Orphic hymn to the planetary deity every day. After about 3 weeks of this, i was suddenly driven to read Hesiod’s Theogony and Works and Days, which I had here but had never been able to get through. Well, this time I devoured the books in two days, and they lit a fire in my mind. It was very much like certain self-initiation rituals I’ve practiced– I saw the world differently afterward, and won’t ever go back to seeing it the way I did before.

    I assumed that my fate was to be a specifically-Hellenic pagan from now on. But then something else happened. I had a series of different health issues all explode at once. At one time I had a very bad cold (which I rarely get), eczema so bad I would lie awake all night feeling like my skin was on fire, and a brutal tooth abscess that would not respond to antibiotics. One night I was lying awake, and my tooth was at a 9 in terms of pain, and then it would drop to a 4, but when it did, my eczema would flare up to about a 9 itself, and then that would drop down and the tooth would go off again, back and forth, back and forth. I decided to go into my mind and do the Celtic Golden Dawn equivalents of the Rose Cross and Middle Pillar rituals, both of which have healing effects. (I had been avoiding ceremonial magic because my wife was pregnant then.) And it helped a great deal– my body was still in agony, but I was able to step outside of it and watch it from a distance. But then I thought– didn’t actively do anything, just thought– about doing a ritual in which I’d summon the Graeco-Roman deities. At once I was plunged back into my body, back into the pain in my mouth and the itching-burning in my arms.

    A bit of divination revealed that, contrary to my expectations, I would indeed be better off if I were to leave off working with the Orphic hymns and the Graeco-Roman deities generally. Further divination suggested that I offended them rather badly somehow, and probably in a prior incarnation. So I did so, and my health improved.

    So what was the point of going through that whole ordeal? Well, I found that, having encountered the mind and the Gods of the Greeks as directly as I did, I was suddenly able to read and at least halfway understand the books on Platonic philosophy that had been gathering dust on my shelf for years– Plotinus, Proclus, Iamblichus, and the man himself. It’s probably obvious from my posts that I don’t have a single religion, but I make use of practices and work with deities from various sources– Cabalistic, Catholic, Celtic, Taoist, and others. I’d always thought that I was, on some level, doing things wrong. You’re supposed to find one tradition and stick with it, they say. But I’ve never been able to, and every time I think I’ve found my The One Thing, it turns out that I actually need something that comes from a different source. Well, the more I understand Platonism (and I don’t pretend to understand it yet, but I’m on my way), the more I see it as an underlying ur-philosophy, in the context of which all of these “different religions” can be seen and can make sense.

    Now I’ve written a great deal and I don’t know if I’ve actually addressed anything in your post! Sorry, I also have to write my way through my thoughts in order to get them out. Actually I’m like that in real life, too. Going back to what we were talking about, I view the entire strange experience I related above as something that I was pushed to by the Boys Upstairs, my Higher Self included. It seems that the only way that I could get where I am now was to go through the initiation offered by Hesiod, but I was not to be permitted to remain there, in Greek Land, even though I wanted to. Why? Am I right in thinking that it is due to having offended them in a prior incarnation, or is it just that I need to be working on other things and the tooth abscess was the best way to get my attention, or was it both of these and more? Who knows. But it further illustrates the point that that what your mind here Below sees as best isn’t necessarily what is best from a higher perspective.

    I still don’t know if I’ve adequately responded to your earlier post. Maybe I’ll try again tomorrow.

  99. Hi John Michael,

    Yes, yes, that sounds spot on. So does the original spiritual impetus suggest that there may already have been a tentative track there, which Arthur blew wide open for future others to consider?

    Mate, things are err, progressing! In a bad way too. My business has gone down, not with a bang, but with a whimper. Mind you I had that possibility in the back of my mind. It’s not the things that Arthur considered that took him down, it was the unexpected. 😉 That story is not lost on me. Economically it is a bloodbath down here, I hope it was worth it.

    You know, it smells a lot to me like the time back in the early 1990’s when interest rates were artificially jacked up and wreacked massive havoc. From hindsight, the purpose of that act was to reorient society. This smells a lot the same to me. I look forward to reading your thoughts on the matter when you’ve had time to cogitate upon the matter. All being well, I’ll have plenty of time to get stuff done around here. Oh well, there were easier ways.



  100. Hi JMG and debaters.
    According to Fortune, Is the individuality able to reach down to affect the lower planes without the permission or cooperation of the personality?

    There are two reasons I ask. First, If the higher self is able to impact the personality and other lower realms what goes wrong in those taking and remaining on, the ‘left-hand path’?

    The second relates to my own experience of my individuality intervening in my life, basically progressively blowing it to pieces until I got with the programme (to the extent I have, I still find it a bit alarming to be guided and led by something I had not previously believed in, so I’m still struggling with this).

    With each ignoring, it seemed a new and even more unexpected and far-fetched intervention was implemented.

    I ended up seeking spiritual advice. I wondered if the (genuine) shaman I consulted would believe the outlandish events that progressively became more and more disastrous to me. I asked what next? being hit by a meteor fragment? How far can this go?

    He did believe me, had heard variations on the story before. An inside job, as they say. He said “you don’t want to know how far…”

    It wasn’t that I had been evil. I was in advanced stagnation. I hope I have at least managed to limp in the general direction of a better way now. Long way to go yet.

  101. Hello Sven,

    Thank you. Now it has been over 10 years I can speak of it.
    About narcissistic personality I have made little study and have no opinion.
    As for the double bind theory of schizophrenia, I should brush up on it, but I suspect that several diseases such as multiple sclerosis that no one knows the cause of will turn out to be infective, and there seems to be a possibility that this will be the case even for schizophrenia.
    I have a schizophrenic brother.

  102. A thought this morning: since an earlier meditation had uncovered a character flaw I have to cop to, I was feeling a bit bad despite being Told not to (Higher Self is Minerva – talk about aspirational!) when it came to me: “Flaw” is not a moral term, but a technical one. It means “the place where the rock is likeliest to break.” Which, in that case, means “see what you can do to strengthen it.” Quick & dirty stopgaps not permitted: they’ll just break earlier.

  103. ALBAN EILIR @
    Patricia Mathews
    The time of REGENERATION
    ie Spring–( GWANWYN )
    Hence ARTH (BEAR)—UR(essential/pure) and therefore MANY TRACKS to observe and follow.

  104. Addendum to above
    of the Isle of PRYDAIN( BRITAIN)

  105. @OneThing re: Sinus Infection

    You could do a Neti-Pot-style sinus rinse. This has its origins in Ayurvedic medicine. No specialist equipment needed:

    A clean coffee cup, not your favorite one.
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (non-iodized)
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    6 to 8 oz water, either distilled or previously boiled, at baby-bottle warmth.

    Using the coffee cup, stir the salt and baking soda into the lukewarm water.

    Taste it. If it tastes salty, like chicken soup, add a bit more water.
    If it tastes fresh enough to drink, add more salt and soda.
    If it tastes brackish and disgusting with possibly a slight soapy aftertaste, it is perfect.

    Lean over the bathroom sink, close one nostril and inhale the mixture into your sinuses until it hits the back of your throat. Gag the mixture into the sink. Repeat several times in both nostrils. When you are done, sinuses should be clear, and the bathroom air should smell like an ocean shore breeze. If you drop the coffee cup in the sink and it breaks, this is no problem–Because it wasn’t your favorite coffee cup anyway, right?

    If you ever went swimming in the ocean as a child, you may remember that, when a wave hit you wrong and seawater went up your nose, you gagged the water out and every booger in your head came out at the same time. This procedure is based on that same, sound principle.

    It is possible to get a commercially-made Neti-Pot(R) in stores, and pre-measured packets of salt and baking soda. This specialist equipment is an option but will not give better results than the home-brew method outlined above.

    The tabasco and water procedure also sounds interesting! If you try both of them, could you report back to us if one or both worked well, were easier to do, and/or better tolerated? Thanks!

Courteous, concise comments relevant to the topic of the current post are welcome, whether or not they agree with the views expressed here, and I try to respond to each comment as time permits. Long screeds proclaiming the infallibility of some ideology or other, however, will be deleted; so will repeated attempts to hammer on a point already addressed; so will comments containing profanity, abusive language, flamebaiting and the like -- I filled up my supply of Troll Bingo cards years ago and have no interest in adding any more to my collection; and so will sales spam and offers of "guest posts" pitching products. I'm quite aware that the concept of polite discourse is hopelessly dowdy and out of date, but then some people would say the same thing about the traditions this blog is meant to discuss. Thank you for reading Ecosophia! -- JMG

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