Book Club Post

The Cosmic Doctrine: Influences Which Humanity Exerts Upon Itself

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 22, “Influences Which Humanity Exerts Upon Itself,” pp. 104-107.

Millennium Edition: Chapter 24, “Influences Which Humanity Exerts Upon Itself,” pp. 141-147.

Commentary:

In this chapter we’re in the final stage of wrapping up the explication of the list of influences on human evolution that was given in Chapter 18 of the Revised Edition and Chapter 19 of the Millennium Edition. That list doesn’t include a specific heading for the influences laid down by past generations of humanity, which may simply have been a typo; perhaps a new edition might include the following:

2 (e)  Influences humanity exerts on itself.

Next month we’ll be going on to start exploring the second half of the list, in which Fortune lists some of the fundamental laws of magic. The chapters that follow are as instructive as they are evasive, and the chapter we are considering this month shares in that character, as the influences of humanity on itself that Fortune wants to talk about have to do with the religious and magical traditions of the past.

She begins with a crucial distinction that is too often overlooked.  Under ordinary circumstances, human beings at our present state of evolution are conditioned and guided by the influences of the Planetary Spirit (or, in the Revised Edition, Planetary Being) of the Earth, the great elemental consciousness that has been established by past evolutions on this planet, and will pass on the results of our experiences to the evolutions that come after us.  Those who have raised their basic level of consciousness above the physical plane, however, are conditioned and guided instead by the Planetary Spirits of the planet that corresponds to their level of consciousness, as set out in Chapter 20 of the Revised Edition and Chapter 22 of the Millennial Edition: for example, those whose consciousness has risen to the lower astral plane are guided and conditioned by the planetary spirit of Mars, those who have risen to the upper mental plane by the planetary spirit of Mercury, and so on.

This is important because this shift of conditioning influences is one of the things that initiation is intended to do.  Initiation is the process of establishing a connection of consciousness to one of the higher planes; it can take place either through a ceremony conferred by others, followed by intensive personal work, or through sustained solitary effort; when it “takes”—which does not always happen—the soul of the initiate is no longer entirely under the sway of the Planetary Spirit of the Earth, and can proceed with evolution at a faster pace than humanity in the mass.

For humanity in the mass, by contrast, the Planetary Spirit that matters is that of the Earth, the Great Mother of countless ancient theologies.  This is necessary but it’s also challenging, because the Planetary Spirit of the Earth embodies all those modes of consciousness that have been built up in the past. As Fortune comments, it’s dangerous for souls at one point along the arc of evolution to turn back toward the conditions of an earlier point along that same arc. It can be necessary to do this, if the lessons of that earlier point have been forgotten or distorted, but it’s always risky, because it can lead to retrogression and devolution, the process that Fortune describes as the Left-Hand Path.

The aftermath of Dion Fortune’s own career offers an opportunity to see both the positive and negative aspects of this kind of work in action. Later in her life, she became convinced that too much influences from an excessively narrow mode of Christianity had caused the lessons of the older Pagan dispensations to be forgotten or distorted, leaving a great many people unable to experience healthy sexuality or even inhabit their own bodies fully. Some of the major magical workings she performed in the 1930s—her Rites of Isis and of Pan, on the one hand, and her magically themed novels on the other—were intended to overcome this imbalance by exposing overcivilized English men and women to carefully measured doses of old-fashioned Pagan nature spirituality.

The sexual revolution and the revival of a robustly sexual Paganism duly followed—and in due time, significant parts of both these movements veered off into a variety of abusive and destructive dead ends. To some extent, this is simply another example of the way that the opposite of one bad idea reliably turns out to be another bad idea—excessive sexual repression, as it turned out, was no worse that excessive sexual expression—but it also shows how easily what starts as a helpful corrective to existing imbalances can lead to imbalances of its own.

The conditioning influence of the Planetary Spirit of Earth is also called the “Earth-pull,” and this is a useful turn of phrase because it expresses one of the core features of that influence. To feel the Earth-pull is to be drawn more deeply into material embodiment, to attend to the body, its passions, and its material surroundings.  When a swarm of Divine Sparks is first descending to this planet, the Earth-pull is a wholly beneficial force, because it helps the members of that swarm attune themselves to the realities of material existence and learn the lessons of incarnation in dense matter.  Once individual members of the swarm finish that process, awaken to objective consciousness on the material plane, and begin taking the first tentative steps on the Path of Return, the Earth-pull becomes an obstacle.

Three factors help these awakening souls overcome that obstacle.  The first, as already noted, is the influence of initiation, which enables those souls who receive an initiation to balance the Earth-pull with the very different influences of one or more of the other Planetary Spirits in the solar system.

The second is what Fortune describes, in the Theosophical language of her day, as “the work of the Great White Lodge.” Elsewhere in her writings, she describes this as the way of the mystics, those people who live lives of renunciation and devotion, not to seek their own redemption but to help redeem others. This plays a crucial role in the collective karma of our species, and it also makes the struggle against the Earth-pull easier: the mystic who renounces every ordinary human desire is counterbalancing the Earth-pull, and laying down a track in space that makes it easier for others to lift their consciousness away from the purely material level.

The third of these counterbalancing factors is the planetary entity or archangel of the planet, the Lord of Flame who has taken on the role of guardian of the Planetary Spirit. In Cabalistic terms, the Lord of Flame who guides the Planetary Spirit of the Earth is the Archangel Sandalphon; other traditions have their own names for this mighty being. His work includes that of modulating the Earth-pull, so that individual souls who are ready to begin the Path of Ascent are not challenged beyond their strength—though they are always challenged, of course. As with anything else worthwhile, access to the Path of Ascent must be earned.

The influence of the Planetary Spirit has its complexities, though, and it’s worth taking some time to understand those. We can start with the individual human being.  As Fortune comments, the whole range of evolutionary possibilities available to us as human beings can be sorted out into three categories. The first category comprises those that we have experienced in past lives, which have done their work and are now latent in us. The second comprises those that we are exploring in our lives right now, which are doing their work and are active presences to us. The third comprises those which have been reserved for future lives, which exist for us now only as untapped potentials.

The Planetary Spirit embodies those possibilities that, for most of humanity, belong to the first category alone. The evolution of a swarm is a slow process, to be sure, and there are human souls who are still exploring aspects of being human that most others internalized long ago, just as there are human souls who have proceeded far beyond the level most of us have reached. Fortune suggests, however, that on average, our present humanity is about two-thirds of the way through the work it has to perform on the physical plane.  Most of us, in other words, are past the stage at which the Earth-pull is drawing us in the direction of our further evolution, and into the stage at which the Earth-pull becomes a challenge to be confronted and overcome.

One of the things that makes the challenge so serious is an intriguing detail of the way that the Planetary Spirit influences human souls. Inevitably, Fortune explains this through a metaphor. She imagines the human possibilities we’ve just discussed as forming a vertical sequence—think of a stack of schoolbooks, with kindergarten primers at the very bottom and college textbooks up at the very top. This stack or sequence is then reflected in the Planetary Spirit, and like any reflection it’s reversed, so that the first thing you encounter when you contact the Planetary Spirit is the most basic and primitive possibilities that humanity explored in its earliest days—the kindergarten primers of our image.  Only by going further and deeper is it possible to reach the more complex and more nuanced possibilities explored later in humanity’s evolutionary journey.

It’s for this reason, Fortune points out, that when dealing with the influences of the Planetary Spirit it’s important to be able to do this from the standpoint of full objective consciousness.  Approach them in a state where objective consciousness has been dispersed or eclipsed—in dissociative states such as trance, for example—and the mind is swamped by them, unable to think clearly or to shake off the domination of the atavistic influence that has seized it.

From a magical perspective, that was the trap into which a large group of German occultists had fallen by the time The Cosmic Doctrine was written, and all of Germany would fall over the decade thereafter.  The primeval patterns in the Germanic group-soul that ultimately gave rise to Nazism could have been tapped in a state of full objective consciousness, using techniques such as individual meditation, and become a creative ferment in a society afflicted with too much rigidity and rationality. Instead, the occultists of the Germanenorden and the Thule-Gesellschaft used the first drafts of the ritual methods that saw their ultimate expression in the Nuremberg rallies, and they and the German nation ended up overwhelmed by the upsurge from the deeps, swept away in a flood of archaic contents that led them straight to genocide and catastrophe.

Fortune pauses at this point in her argument to insert two apparently irrelevant discussions that have a great deal to do with practical magic involving the Planetary Spirit and its influences:  one relating to time and the other to space.  She notes that the phases of the physical plane—the lunar cycle and the seasons of the Earth—are not given the importance they deserve in considering horoscopes. This is true in general, but it’s especially true when dealing with the magical influences of the Planetary Spirit. There are times and phases and seasons in which certain primal influences rise to their fullest strength.

Most people know, for example, that werewolves are supposed to show up at the time of the full moon.  Very few remember that this bit of traditional lore reaches back to primeval shamanic warrior traditions in the northern reaches of Eurasia, whose initiates used possession by animal spirits and rituals enacted at the full moon to whip themselves up into states of superhuman strength and cruelty so that they could overwhelm their enemies in battle. Nowadays we’d call such states “acute homicidal psychosis,” and even in modern warfare there’s no place for them, but the influences remain and may explain some otherwise incomprehensible crimes.

As with time, so with place. The holy place of an ancient religious cult or magical initiation will retain the power to awaken corresponding energies in people who spend time there in a receptive state, for good or ill. That can be extremely useful for people in whom such energies are underdeveloped—your typical modern intellectual, for example, who lives a life too detached from earthy influences and the power of the blood, can gain a good deal by spending time in the holy precincts of some robust old Pagan faith—but they can be extremely destructive to those who already have such energies well-developed. Human nature being what it is, the latter are the ones most likely to seek out such places.

Here Fortune inserts a note that deserves close attention.  Each religious and magical tradition of the past, she suggests, came into being to develop some specific set of human possibilities, and continues so long as there are still people who need help developing those possibilities. What makes an old religion or an old magical tradition fade out is that it has succeeded in its work—it has made the characteristics it set out to develop part of ordinary human consciousness. The school of Pythagoras, for example, had for its work the development of certain contacts on the mental plane; its initiates treated number theory and geometry as profound mysteries—as indeed they were at that time.  Centuries passed, the initiates succeeded in laying down tracks in space that any human mind could follow, geometry became an ordinary school subject rather than a religious mystery, and the capacity for abstract mentation that geometrical training was meant to develop became a normal human capacity.

Does that mean that there’s no point in “picking up the contacts,” as occultists in Fortune’s time liked to describe the process, of initiatory traditions and religious cults of the past?  Not at all—but it has to be done carefully, using methods that raise the archaic contents to the level of objective conscious awareness rather than those that submerge the mind in a flood of atavistic force. Done the right way, such work has robust possibilities. On the one hand, as already noted, it’s a fine way to clear up imbalances in the personality—a theme Fortune develops at great length in her novels, especially The Goat Foot God and The Sea Priestess.

On the other—well, here Fortune is being coy.  The levels of the Planetary Being contacted by the old cults have close connections with the elementals, she says, and therefore “the contacts of an atavistic cult may be far-reaching.” Contacts with elementals are not particularly far-reaching—but each such cult, according to material that Fortune herself has covered in earlier chapters, was brought into being by a Lord of Mind, and contacts with such a being can be far-reaching indeed.

It’s worth noting that when ancient religious traditions are successfully revived, the new version of the tradition very often involves practices and traditions distinct from the old, though clearly linked to them by common threads of meaning and purpose. In this case, from within the perspectives of Fortune’s great metaphor, what has happened is that people working with the symbols of the old cult have made contact with the Lord of Mind who created it, and have been guided by the latter to reframe the tradition in forms better suited to the current phase of human evolution.  The Druid Revival of the 18th century, the classical Greek Pagan revival of the 19th century, and the rebirth of Norse and Germanic Heathen spirituality in the 20th century are among the examples of this process at work.

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 July 8, 2020.  Until then, have at it!

120 Comments

  1. Before we begin, a brief note. As per the comment at the end of the post, I’d like to ask that conversations here this week focus only on the Cos. Doc. The last few weeks, for obvious reasons, have seen politics swamp a lot of the other discussions here, and I’d like to ask everyone to step back from that and focus for a while on something else. Thank you, and let’s proceed.

  2. @JMG and @readers
    Is there a Milarepa destiny, a bad wizzard in a previous life, I have this thought in my mind that the hardships that at some point really are on the family I was born into and into some people I keep attracting, and the fact that I keep on re-building the same things over and over again, comes from the fact I was an amoral magician in a past life. Is there such a thing, what would be the markings of that kind of karma?

  3. JMG,

    Always enjoy reading your clear analysis of this work.

    With regards to…

    “what has happened is that people working with the symbols of the old cult have made contact with the Lord of Mind who created it, and have been guided by the latter to reframe the tradition in forms better suited to the current phase of human evolution.”

    Aha! That explains the message I sent regarding a “New Aeon of Magic”.

    I’m truly enjoying how all is unfolding in “no-time” at all 🙂

    Thank you for this, and for shining your Light.

    ~ Tanya

  4. What do you think are some skills that are currently esoteric, that could one day become normal?

  5. I am not reading the Cosmic Doctrine but I’m still following along, so sorry if this a stupid question or a too-basic thought, but the thoughts about the Planetary Spirit and the Earth-pull make me wonder about how that relates to the type of Druidry outlined in the DMH.

    I don’t know if this corresponds, but if human beings eventually ‘escape’ the Earth-pull and become influenced by other Planetary Spirits, then maybe there’s a correspondence between this metaphor and that in the DMH: The telluric current represents the Earth-pull, the spirit of the Earth, and the solar current the influence of the rest of the cosmos or simply the sun itself. If that follows, then forming the lunar current is a way of not escaping the Earth-pull (the telluric current) but in balancing it with the cosmic influence of the solar current, the person in which the lunar current is formed goes ‘into orbit’ around the Earth, not escaping it, but becoming like the moon, a creature of both Earth and cosmos.

    So in a sense, forming the lunar current is a way of helping an individual to make that first step beyond the Earth-pull. In Fortune’s terms then, this practice helps to attune the practicing Druid to other Planetary Spirits through initiation, a sort of like a gentle introduction to other Planetary Spirits but with the Earth’s blessing.

  6. It’s rather relieving to understand through this reflection that we aren’t expected to join the human existence and get it all figured out right away. A lot of great spiritual examples have abstained from a lot of the physical pleasures of life and institutions setup following them have made it a requirement that all of us must refrain those physical pleasures. Granted too much indulgence in anything can be destructive, but as has been so often noted, not allowing for any often tilts things in the other direction.

    Realizing that any work we accomplish now also helps in making paths for that work to be more successful later is a great motivator to do what we can and hopefully the next time around things will be that much easier.

  7. Just a side note, but I really do appreciate your allowing us the opportunity to veer off at times into things that have been overwhelming in the current states of affairs. Trying to release that burden has been helpful. I also am grateful for you pulling the reins to get away from those topics as well. This weeks Cos Doc content has begun a flurry of thoughts and I look forward to commenting a bit more and hearing others insights.

  8. I’ve found a new favourite example of tracks in space: Carcinization, the tendency of non-crabs to evolve into crabs. The basic crab body plan and behaviour pattern appears to have evolved a large number of times, which is a very strange example of convergent evolution.

    This has me thinking of convergent evolution in general in terms of tracks in space, which I think it a very useful way to think about it.

  9. Maybe something’s throwing me off here, but…

    How does the notion that humanity, as a collective species, is 2/3 of the way through its spiritual evolution square with the notions that (1) although individual humans progress spiritually, humanity as a whole does not, humanity being simply an evolutionary stage that is eventually passed out of, and (2) there is an unusually large proportion of people experiencing their first incarnations as humans right now?

    Is this simply a matter of the particular batch of humans alive during Fortune’s day being 2/3 of the way through, and that figure is subject to ebb and flow (and has probably gone back down since her time)? Or is it simply that some people do need to follow the Left Hand Path and “regress” back to a lower state?

  10. Eduardflo, yes, that’s a known pattern. I’d expect to see at least two repeating patterns from that kind of karma. The first is a series of temptations to make the same mistake in this life that you did in your last life. The second is a series of seemingly random misfortunes and disasters that just keep landing on you out of the blue. The first represents the tracks in space laid down by the practice of malefic magic, which you have to overcome in order to do something less self-defeating in this life. The second represents the karmic blowback from your actions in that previous life.

    Tanya, very likely, yes.

    Yorkshire, the whole range of skills involved in meditation are a good example. These days, meditation fills the kind of role in traditional Western occultism (and of course many Eastern traditions as well) that geometry and number filled in the Pythagorean school. Over the next few thousand years, as that continues, being able to clear your mind and direct your thoughts will become a normal thing most people can do.

    Anonymous, good. Yes, that’s very much what’s going on; the DMH system works by (a) balancing the Earth-pull by making contact with the spiritual energies corresponding to the Sun, and (b) using that balance to access the deeper, subtler, and less primitive manifestations of the Planetary Spirit. It’s a gentler way of working, but by no means less effective than the straight-up planetary or solar initiations used by other systems.

    Prizm, exactly! Human existence, including its physical aspects, isn’t a trap to escape but a set of lessons to learn from, and those lessons take many lives. The delights of sex, the intoxication of combat, and so on are meant to give us opportunities to develop certain qualities in our souls; our first task is to experience them fully, and then in later lives we sublimate them — but you can’t sublimate what you haven’t first embraced in its robust physicality. For a soul who’s preparing to move beyond the human level, celibacy, pacifism, and the like may be appropriate, but for souls that haven’t yet reached that stage they’re sometimes forms of cowardice — attempts to duck out of necessary experiences which will have to be faced sooner or later anyway. (You’re welcome, btw.)

    Kevin, good heavens. I hadn’t heard of that. Can you point me to some sources? That’s exactly the kind of oddity of evolutionary ecology I like to delve into.

    Brendhelm, the swarm of souls we call humanity is on average about 2/3 of the way through the human stage of its evolution. As our souls exit the human stage, the population of human bodies is likely to drop off sharply, and then pick back up as another swarm of souls moves up to that stage to take our place. I think the confusion comes because “human” right now can refer to two different things: first, the particular species of bodies that function just now as the transitional stage between animal existence and the next level up, and second, the particular swarm of souls who fill most of those bodies just now. Does that make things any clearer?

  11. JMG, I looked up what the phase of the moon was on my birthday, and was amazed to see that on that date the moon was at the totally “new” 1% visible phase. I wonder what that means?

  12. JMG, I hope my question is not off-topic, but I wonder where politics is situated in this great scheme of things – is it an Earth-pull activity?

  13. “Kevin, good heavens. I hadn’t heard of that. Can you point me to some sources? That’s exactly the kind of oddity of evolutionary ecology I like to delve into.”

    Here’s a scientific paper on the topic: https://academic.oup.com/biolinnean/article/121/1/200/3089703

    If you’d like, I can gather a few more sources and email them to you. I hope you have fun delving into the oddities of the carcinization!

    “It’s worth noting that when ancient religious traditions are successfully revived, the new version of the tradition very often involves practices and traditions distinct from the old, though clearly linked to them by common threads of meaning and purpose. In this case, from within the perspectives of Fortune’s great metaphor, what has happened is that people working with the symbols of the old cult have made contact with the Lord of Mind who created it, and have been guided by the latter to reframe the tradition in forms better suited to the current phase of human evolution.”

    This phenomena, a Lord of Mind guiding religions, looks like it might apply elsewhere as well. For example, in Judaism there’s a core which has survived intact from thousands of years ago, but many of the practices have morphed a great deal over the centuries; Second Temple Jews and Modern Jews would likely have a great many religious issues with each other; and both would most likely look at First Temple Judaism with shock.

    In Fortune’s metaphor then, it seems likely to me that Judaism is actively being guided by a Lord of Mind over the centuries, which I find to be a fascinating possibility.

  14. I was thinking of the current revivals of old traditions as I was following along your comments. We needed a connection back to nature to correct the parts of modern thought that separated us from that. But there were risks in this, and sometimes we have fallen into traps such as the “authenticity wars” that have dogged modern revival traditions. I think this was a necessary corrective and I wonder, given what we are, are some always going to fall into the risks and traps that come with a correction that needs to look backwards?

    We here on this blog working through the Cosmic Doctrine seem to be somewhere along the turning point from the involutiionary arc to the evolutionary arc, some of us still just making the turning, others further along the evolutionary arc, others just considering whether to make the turn or not. Is the danger of turning back to the Left-Hand path stronger the further we are along that arc? If our Initiation “takes” but then we later give into the Earth-Pull, it seems there is a longer way to regress, and so the consequences seem as if they would be worse. Or is it just that the flame out seems more spectacular (I’m looking at you, Aleister Crowley) followed by long hard work over material that should have been learned just to get back to the same place, along with the danger that you will just end up on the Left-Hand path?

    I found a synchronicity the discussion about knowing the phases of the physical plane including the changing tides of the earth and moon, as this seems highly relevant just now to the discussion of the recent magical workings on the other blog.

  15. One thing that has me confounded a bit about Dion Fortunes exposition of the progress of humankind is, that humankind, as a whole, does undergo cultural changes during the rise and fall of cultures, civilizations and whole generations of civilizations. But humankind as a whole doesn’t progress; have I misunderstood the details about future human abilities as progress, or is it just cultural change without any particular direction at all?

    About the Earth-pull I can say that it reminded me, that there are certain physical things which I like to do, and others, which leave me cold. Maybe the latter are things which I don’t need to do anymore, whereas the former are things which are still necessary to do for me.

    A third point: The flight from Earthly things is something which plays an important role in the bigger religions of the last 2000 years. But in the time before, such things like asceticism, monasteries and the like played only a minor role or no role at all. Could it be that Dion Fortune assumed as a matter of fact that more developed human souls will flee Earthly things, whereas most cultures of the further past, and other, contemporary native cultures simply weren’t much interested in getting away from Earthly things?

  16. @JMG

    “Nowadays we’d call such states “acute homicidal psychosis,” and even in modern warfare there’s no place for them, but the influences remain and may explain some otherwise incomprehensible crimes.”

    I would argue there is a still a place for this energy although perhaps not always a good one and perhaps i shouldnt talk about it so delete this comment if it is out of bounds.

    The linebacker position in American football comes to mind. This is a position in which those crazy adrenaline fueled energies are deemed useful and encouraged by the coaches, used by the players, and contained within the lines of the gridiron and the discipline of practise. Although there is a massive physical and psychological price to pay for wildly slamming into people all day long. This includes brain trauma, and often time in jail time for assault, or worse. When the energy is not contained properly, and the injuries pile on, violence happens outside the field.

    Fellow players called it ‘psyching yourself up’ or ‘going into a rage’. This will increase your adrenaline and so increase your physical speed and strength and take inhibitions away. To illustrate the continued rewarding by society of this type of behavior I would point to the fact that my high school football team handed out a trophy titled “Animal” to the most successful linebackers. Perhaps they more accurately could have called it the primal energy trophy. University teams didn’t hand out this trophy but the practice was certainly there as well. Canadian football is very tame compared to American football so I expect the practice is stronger on your side. I wasn’t aware the energy came from primal influences of the planetary Spirit but that certainly makes sense.

    That said this type of energy can also be used as a signal to others who are getting out of hand. Using a ‘crazy’ energy signature can help find commom ground with an unhinged mind and help with compliance. In tough situations it can be also be used for the physical benefits described above for protecting oneself and moving quickly out of the way.
    I think it can actually prevent violence. It is in the realm of possibility in situations like the one you previously mentioned in your other blog… ie. descalating violent mentally ill people in public.

    Of course it can never be ‘fully activated’ through the mix of intoxicants. We certainly have no need to clear thirty men from a ship’s deck with a battle axe for example. Such was Kveldulf’s action in Egil’s saga. He was successful but died shortly after from exertion according to the story. And perhaps an important difference lies in this use of intoxicants to enhance the energy.
    I’ve also heard it called dragon energy as I’ve previously mentioned. But perhaps not in the Druidic sense of dragon energy.

    So I guess what I’m trying to say is there are extremely dangerous niche situations where this primal influence can still be used, although I wouldn’t recommend ever consciously trying to develope or access it. Dion’s assertion that these ancient cults are only fit for specific people is I think very healthy.

    I would like to contribute something more then this to the discussion however. This is a side note.

  17. What a marvellous chapter! Fortune’s writing at this stage in the extended metaphor is, to my mind, supremely rational – without being rationalistic. I imagine that a fair number of people in the occult world would readily comprehend much of what Fortune says here; I imagine that a “CosDoc for the Common Occultist” could be produced from chapters 22 – 24 (Millennium edition) with a highly condensed version of the earlier parts of the metaphor that would be fairly easy to follow. (Please don’t get the idea that I am trashing the first 10-15 chapters of this masterpiece; however, the short-term “pain-to-learning” ratio in the first half of the book is high on the “pain” side, causing so many to give up – or perhaps it is the ultimate ‘flake filter’?)

    A few things came to mind while reading your commentary:

    Consciousness rising from the planetary spirit of Earth to other planets – one notion from Vedic astrology is that each human being is “seized” (literally: the Sanskrit word “graha” [“planet”] means “to seize”) by various planets during particular periods (called “dashas”) in their life (a “dasha” can be as few as 6 years, or as long as 20 years depending on the particular planet). My experience – and even those of my family members who would rather not believe in astrology – attest to the truth of one’s life being strongly influenced by a particular planet during its dasha (and sub-dashas). I suppose that what Fortune is referring to is the “base” or “default” planet of one’s life. Do you see any possible conflict between these “planetary influence period” of Vedic astrology and what Fortune is writing about here?

    If a person’s conscious makes a particular “breakthrough” in mid-life, would they be guided by the next planetary spirit “up” within that life?

    I appreciate your comment on the Nazi occultist getting “swept away in a flood of archaic contents” due to their reliance on subjective states of consciousness. Quite the cautionary tale! BTW, there have probably been enough books written on the occult history of the Nazis to half-fill a library – but if there is a good book (or two) that covers the topic from a perspective similar to Fortune’s, I’d like to know about it. I have avoided reading on the topic for fear that so few occultists these days really “get it”.

  18. Dear JMG:
    My attention was caught by this thought of yours:

    “… when dealing with the influences of the Planetary Spirit it’s important to be able to do this from the standpoint of full objective consciousness. Approach them in a state where objective consciousness has been dispersed or eclipsed—in dissociative states such as trance, for example—and the mind is swamped by them, unable to think clearly or to shake off the domination of the atavistic influence that has seized it.”

    I’ve had occasion lately to wonder about the role of ecstasy in genuine spiritual development: there are well-established traditions that cultivate trance/ecstasy as an opening into contact with divinity. Dance, manipulation of the breath, and all sorts of things have been done in the name of seeking contact with divinity. And I’ve had to wonder whether I should be doing something like that. But it has been my observation that although ecstasy is, in fact, associated with what may be called “divine inspiration,” it has been an after-effect rather than a portal into it.

    I would be interested your reasons for insisting that “full objective consciousness” is necessary when dealing with the influences of the Planetary Spirit, and any expansion on that idea you care to make.

    Thank you again for providing illumination on Dion Fortune’s great work, here.

  19. Re: the crucial role of the mystics (or “the Great White Lodge”) in the collective karma of humanity, I am reminded of the fact that quite a few religions across the world believe that there is always a group of sequestered mystics who devote their life to prayer for the welfare of the world and that it is these prayers that keep the world from descending into total chaos. (I know of a group of a half-dozen young Hindu men who in the 1980s were instructed to take such a path and have occupied an historically important cave very high in the Himalayas since that time) Perhaps this is where Blavatsky got the idea of the Great White Lodge? Glad to see that Fortune supports the importance of such mystics — their role is so overlooked and misunderstood in this day and age of “action”.

  20. “What do you think are some skills that are currently esoteric, that could one day become normal?”

    I’m rooting for discursive meditation! I wrote an essay collecting some of my thoughts on it:

    https://kimberlysteele.dreamwidth.org

    Saint Benedict, who I mention in my essay, seems like a textbook example of a mystic who did things to correct an imbalance of immorality in late Rome and wound up going off the deep end in the other direction. He was so tormented by his feelings of lust for a woman that accounts have him running naked into a bramble. He was also reported to be reluctant about being an abbot, often retreating from society to become a hermit at various times. Sadly, one grotesque, unforeseen side effect of his tracks in space is the modern day pedophile priest. My grandmother came from north Germany (she moved to the US in her twenties) and she left Catholicism altogether because everybody knew about the dead babies buried in secret passages under the monastery under her village.

  21. John—

    Could you elaborate on the German experience you alluded to in your commentary, what was done, why it unfolded as it did, and what might have been done differently?

  22. @Kevin was that just in xkcd? Because my husband was suddenly talking about carcination this week, too, and it seemed kind the most likely source of strange mildly funny science factoid, but I can’t find the comic strip, if so.

    @JMG thanks for helping put this in context… It saves years of reading to understand what she is referring to in occult history!

    When you say “Planetary Spirits of the planet that corresponds to their level of consciousness”, how does that interact with the planet that governs ones Higher Genius?

    I presume that someone on an initiatory path could have a single personality go through several correspondences with each rising level of consciousness obtained, but those of us in the slow lane could have several personalities slog through the same level of consciousness starting with wherever their Individuality made it so far (or needing to regress when lessons need to be re learned?). But even though say, Venus rules my Higher Genius, my Individuality still needs to get up to solar consciousness, it doesn’t stop back at abstract emotion – nor did it start there, no matter who governs our genius, we all round the same buoy… Are those just the levels that our Individually will have an easier time with learning eventually, because they resonate with the energies we’re most attuned to on a deeper level? (for some of our personalities, very very deep…)

  23. I got off track for a few months, but I have caught up again. It’s good to be following the Cos Doc at the same time as every one else.
    I had a question about what you meant by “the lessons of the older Pagan dispensations to be forgotten or distorted. ” I am tempted to think pagan dispensations simply means “things pagans dispense with” but I think there’s more?
    I was also struck by the idea of the people most drawn to ancient religious sites are the ones who are already unbalanced in that direction. I recall a college trip to Mexico, and a very grumpy and hungover bunch of friends at the Pyramid of the Sun near Mexico City. I wonder now how much of the misery of that trip to the pyramids was due to the general atmosphere of the place, versus the interactions of the group I was with. We were “just” tourists, but the whole location felt mad and desperate.

  24. I really appreciate now the use of the cosmos and physics as metaphor for this exploration. It allows for the complexities of what it means to be human, on both an individual level and as a species. I was wondering if it would be fitting to also use the stages of a human life, such as infant, child, teenager, adult, elder as with each stage we are only capable of so much whether it be from our lack of physical ability to lack of cognitive ability (ie an infant is restricted a lot both physically and mentally as those abilities are developed, a child will have difficulty understanding what it means to be a parent without even having the reproductive ability, and as an elder we may slow down physically but often have lots of experiences to relate with from life).

    You earlier response made me realize that violence has been a reoccurring theme in my life, one which I have shied away from, especially as a child, and perhaps the reason it keeps manifesting in my life is because I need to learn to deal with it in this life. And maybe even in the next! hah .. but maybe something also happened in a previous incarnation. Figuring out how to incorporate violence as a useful learning experience will be fun, and who knows, but I’m sure it’s something others deal with. This must be one of the many possible reasons martial arts has been passed on generation after generation.

  25. Danaone, to the best of my knowledge astrological research into the lunation cycle is still in its early days. Dane Rudhyar wrote a book on the subject, The Lunation Cycle, which makes some intriguing proposals, but it’s going to take many years of hard work by natal astrologers to work out exactly what function that has.

    Bruno BL, politics is our label for a very broad range of human collective activities, and so it doesn’t have a single place in the scheme — it’s influenced by the Earth-pull, of course, and by the whole range of influences of the Planetary Spirit, but it can also be influenced by any other factor capable of guiding human behavior in the mass.

    Kevin, thank you for this! Please do send me anything else that comes to mind. As for the influence of Lords of Mind over religions, yes, exactly — any religion that’s been around for a while has undergone changes to make it better suited to the needs of changing times. Judaism is a great example, of course.

    Cat, two good questions for which I don’t have firm answers. Whether it’s necessary for some to fall into the trap of regression when any backwards movement takes place, it seems to be par for the course that some always do; as for whether the pull of the Left-Hand Path is stronger as you proceed on the evolutionary arc, I suspect that depends on the personal element — Crowley in particular seems to me like someone who tried to rush ahead on the evolutionary path too far and too fast, and so crashed and burned when his unresolved issues overwhelmed him,. .

    Booklover, (1) If I understand correctly, it’s change without any particular direction. (2) That’s a common experience, and I suspect you’re right about its source. (3) Asceticism, renunciation of physical pleasures, and the like are specifically Piscean phenomena, and have to do with the influence of one of the Twelve Rays on human souls for the last 2160 years. As we move deeper into the Aquarian age, I suspect those are going to fade out of general use.

    Ian, oh, granted, there are times when a very limited expression of the old berserkergang energy is very useful indeed. Under the vast majority of circumstances, though, it’s the opposite of helpful.

    Ron, (1) the lore of planetary periods in life — dashas — is one that Vedic astrology has developed much further than Western astrology. I know there are people working now on correlating the two traditions, and it’s quite possible that in the future some version of the same thing will find its way into Western astrology. Certainly I don’t see any contradiction there. (2) It would depend on the nature of the breakthrough, and which planet govened it. (3) There’s a vast amount of really bad literature on the occult dimensions of Nazism. I considered writing a book on the subject, but shelved the project because I didn’t want to create something that could be used as a manual! Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke’s book The Occult Roots of Nazism is one of the few sane things on the subject; he was an academic rather than an occultist, and so missed quite a bit, but that’s probably just as well.

    Your Kittenship, put it down to Aspergers, but I’m still trying to parse those two emojis!

    KKA, remember that Fortune is speaking here as part of a very specific tradition, that of Western occult spirituality, and her viewpoint is shaped by that. Ecstatic trance isn’t something that’s cultivated in that tradition, as people who do that in an occult context tend to end up pretty thoroughly unhinged. What other traditions do is of course their call. I’d note, though, that seeking contact with a divinity is not the same thing as seeking contact with the Planetary Spirit; that distinction is important here.

    Ron, it was Fortune’s belief that only the presence of such people keeps the world from plunging into ruin. I tend to think that she was right!

    Kimberly, Augustine of Hippo was cut from the same cloth. He literally couldn’t live in the same house with his mother without being overwhelmed with lustful thoughts. You have to wonder what drove that kind of sexual obsessiveness!

    Brendhelm, glad to hear it.

    David BTL, that’s the theme of a book, not a post. How much do you know about 19th and very early 20th century German culture, the Wandervogel youth movement, and the rise of Ariosophy? We’d have to cover all of that, and much more, in order to begin talking about the origins of Nazi Germany.

    Pixelated, the being who guides your Higher Self is a Lord of Mind, not a Planetary Spirit — though it can be the Lord of Mind who also guides one of the Planetary Spirits. You can receive initiation into many different initiatory currents, each linked to a different Planetary Spirit, but the connection between the Higher Self and the Lord of Mind endures through all this. Yes, you tend to have an easier time with whichever set of initiations resonates most closely with your Higher Self’s contacts.

    Katsmama, the idea of “dispensations” comes from Protestant Christianity — which is of course the tradition in which Fortune had her mature religious experiences. (She was raised a Christian Scientist, but left that church for the Anglican Church in adulthood.) The idea is that in any given era, certain spiritual paths are appropriate for the people living in that era, but may not be appropriate before or afterwards.

  26. Dear JMG:
    How do one’s Higher Self and the various deities fit into the organizational diagram of Dion Fortune’s Cosmos?

    Dion Fortune writes about the Logos, the Lords of Fire, Form and Mind; the Archangels and Planetary Entities, Planetary Spirits, the Masters, and the Sparks/traveling atoms.

    Are the Olympian gods something other than the Planetary Spirits? DF does not talk (in Cos Doc, anyway) about Higher Self and Divinities. How do those concepts fit in with DF’s cosmology?

  27. Prizm, yes, you can use the same set of metaphors on various scales; each life is in miniature a reflection of the whole process of descent into matter followed by ascent from it. With regard to violence and the martial arts, yes, exactly.

    KKA, you’ve left out a couple of things that Fortune’s talked about. Remember the discussion in earlier chapters about how a seed-atom descends the planes, gathering bodies of the matter of each plane as it does so, and how it also has a Divine Spark attached to it, which is a pattern of movement imbued with the rhythm of the Solar Logos? The seed-atom is the core of the higher self — at our present stage, it’s a very complex pattern of tracks in space traced out by the original seed-atom — and the Divine Spark is the guardian angel or guardian spirit.

    As for deities, that term is a very broad one. The Solar Logos, the Star Logoi, the Lords of Flame, Form, and Mind, and the Planetary Spirits all count as deities in the expansive definition used by classical Paganism.

  28. Sorry, JMG; I was trying to indicate I’d zip it 🤐 and then added a laughie.

  29. Approach them in a state where objective consciousness has been dispersed or eclipsed—in dissociative states such as trance, for example

    Or under the influence of psychedelics, I would imagine – or perhaps psychedelics divorced from the indigenous rituals that developed to use them productively.

  30. JMG, I translate for Sonkitten all the time. He has trouble with metaphors.

    (What IS a metaphor, anyway?—To keep cows in! 😄)

  31. JMG,

    about contacts with elementals and reach of cults that have contact with them. It crossed my mind: aren’t there elementals that are are powerful and far-reaching in itself?

    Bardon call them kings and queens of their kind and warn about dangers of falling into sway of one of those being. Trying to get more than knowledge is perilous – and kings of elementals are immensely knowledgeable and quite powerful – and by even appearance they could be overwhelming for an initiate. It’s pretty good equivalent to warning not to take a Master from different spiritual evolutionary path.

    –changeling

  32. Finding joy in spiritual activities and rejecting pleasure based pursuits may indicate that the Earth Pull’s function as an obstacle has been overcome and the individual is ready to move along. But biological drives fail and organs fail as well that we get our pleasure from anyway. So it is the intention to reject certain indulgences as useless paths and the self discipline to follow through that opens new pathways, not the disenegration of the body Boredom turns to seeking, inspiration, and connection to higher realms…or something like that.

    I am still on the first part of the Dolmen Arch and I noticed the cantrefs have a representative planet that I didn’t find in previous books. I’m noting that Daear is Venus. If a spirit is ready to move and balance has been made then imaginal portal work should work as a first step back into the influences of higher planes. Dipping a toe into these planes from the position of etheric footing might eventually produce a communication with a being powerful enough to begin an initiation into the higher realms. Potentially A lord of mind might project into a human’s imaginal portal work and say a word I guess…or send the person back to the inner Grove with work to do.

  33. Then, if asceticism and the desire to escape from material things are only typical for the Piscean age, it follows that most human souls, when they begin to evolve away from humanity towards a higher state, do this in a way in which asceticism and the like don’t play much of a role. IThe implication of this is that there is no one way to complete one’s evolution as a human; the only overarching theme may be completeness of experiences.

  34. When these tracks in space are being laid down for new human abilities, is it always a spiritual practice? Or could it be another kind of intense passion for a small group?

    For example in the world of physical achievements, the first time I saw film of parkour I thought it was special effects and nobody could actually do that. Now it’s a very popular activity. In the big-wave surfing documentary Riding Giants, there was a guy who spent a decade surfing Mavericks alone, developing the techniques, before anyone else tried it. Also the tow-in technique to catch the biggest waves was invented and filmed in 1987. But then it wasn’t attempted again for years and took a long time to became widespread.

    Those examples aren’t perfect comparisons as they didn’t take hundreds or thousands of years and many lifetimes to spread their effects. But even though it wasn’t the original intent, a lot of people who do these sort of things at a high level often describe the experience as spiritual.

  35. Prizm, I’m pretty sure my last life ended with either a knife or bullet in the back. My take away from this seems to have been ‘violence works’. Can’t argue with results. 🙂

  36. It seems to me the Earth-Pull can affect people in many different ways. The urge towards paganism on the part of the over-civilized is one way. The urge to settle in a smaller community and grow roots is another. A third, as per that quote about emulating the better qualities if the elements, is to become gross and wallow in “plain piggy badness.” So the bookworm seeks Pan; the the frazzled urbanite becomes a country mouse; the repressed breaks out and goes hog-wild in debauchery?

    I keep sensing an astrological connection here as well, but can’t put my finger on it. And this may be far too simple a connection.

  37. Dear JMG,

    what a fascinating post! If I may, since it comes up so often, the inner research that I’ve done indicates that the Olympians associated with various planets are Lords of Mind who work with the Planetary Spirits, rather than the Planetary Spirits themselves. This feels “right” to me: I would find it astounding if deities associated with a specific culture, and have earthly birthplaces, also were the Planetary Spirits that are, if I understand correctly, _universal_. This would be, to my perspective at least, as astounding as if the Abrahamic God were simultaneously the impersonal ground of all being, as well as a regional deity with sacred lands, cities, and a chosen people.

  38. I would suggest that the over-intellectual and over-abstraction of the modern West is presently discovering its challenge or antithesis in becoming entirely emotional and ir-rational. And it seems the more intellectual the person, the more emotional and illogical they have become, in the “Madness of Crowds.” This is the pitfall of becoming unbalanced and over-aligned with any aspect of life. At the moment also, their lack of awareness leads them to believe all others are like themselves, have the same issues, challenges, and solutions, so all other experiences are seen in the same light, and there is only the “Uni-Solution”™ of the “Uni-Future”™ of one-size, one-way fits all.

    Oddly the dumber, more earthy, more grounded, or even less western-abstract-intellectual are not having this problem and are wondering what the heck has gone wrong around here. Having put a modicum into being practical and well-balanced over the years, I’m one of them. I hear words that “we” need to act as “we” are all like this, and I’m like “Who are you talking about? Or to?” It’s like having a friend with a psychotic break. The philosophers have demonstrated, mostly with their terrible lives, that insanity can be just the over-focus on narrow things. Relax. Broaden. Or in this case, don’t align entirely with one galactic force while removing the counterweight of others.

    Banning the “other”? Making them/it your “Shadow Self”? So is over-aligning a form of possession?

    Obviously WE all think we’re super-evolved and almost ascending, while the OTHER guy is an ignorant melonhead. Doesn’t thinking so just ooze “maturity”?

    For an add, what would being in a classroom where for 100,000 years we are battered by tests we didn’t know we had and cannot possibly pass, but are punished for, where we suffer not only for wrongs we did, but those we cannot remember doing, where we didn’t ask to come but cannot leave, possibly be anything but the undying pale-fires of heck? I wouldn’t wish it on my enemies, yet the resulting outlook of this worldview is “Wonderful. May I have another?” As you will. Playing the 100,000 manifestations on the roulette wheel on Samsara, failing as odds require day after day, year after year, may not be an engaging dissipation for all personalities. Burning down crooked casinos in a fit of injustice, boredom and pique sounds much more productive. But perhaps others find the service satisfactory.

  39. Patricia, in these occurrings might be, too, involved one of the Hermetic Laws, the Law of Balance, where a thing that has gone too far in one direction causes a backlash in the other direction.

    The comparison by Prizm of the evolution of a human soul with the course from childhood to old age seems to indicate that the evolution of a human soul from its first to the last incarnation as a human may have fractal properties, that is, the big arc of an evolution of a soul repeats itself in similar ways in smaller cycles. But the correspondences are merely similar, not necessarily exact.

  40. Pixelated,

    I didn’t get it from XKCD! I haven’t checked it out in a while, but it does seem like the sort of thing that would be there.

    JMG,

    For a modern intellectual who’s too detached from Earth, would martial arts be another way to achieve balance? I ask since I’m most definitely an intellectual, and I’d already come up with martial arts as a way to balance out certain traits I have in excess. I never thought of it in terms of adding earth, but it seems that would fit too.

  41. Your Kittenship, duly noted!

    Changeling, the elemental kings are real, but Bardon’s warning applies. In the Golden Dawn tradition you make contact with them only after you’ve invoked the name of God corresponding to the element, brought yourself into harmony with that divine energy, and then aligned yourself in sequence with the archangel, the angel, and the ruler (intelligence) of the element. (For what it’s worth, I identify the archangel as a Lord of Flame, the angel as a Lord of Form, and the ruler as a Lord of Mind.)

    Ian, excellent! Yes, and that’s one of the reasons why scrying and other kinds of imaginal work are so important in occult training.

    Booklover, exactly. There are twelve very broad ways to complete one’s evolution, and each of those ways admits of countless variations. It’s very likely true that no two souls ever complete their work on the human plane by exactly the same method.

    Yorkshire, any repeated movement creates a track in space; it doesn’t have to be motivated by spirituality at all. So, yes, parkour is a good example.

    Patricia, of course! The personal factor is paramount — and part of meeting the challenge of the Earth-pull is finding a way to deal with it that doesn’t stop your further growth.

    Violet, that seems reasonable. My guess, for what it’s worth, is that in the case of any deity defined by tradition, what we’ve got is a composite in which beings of various levels are more or less muddled together. The example of Jesus comes to mind here — I remain convinced that there are a range of entities addressed by that name, some of whom are wise and loving, and some of whom are emphatically nothing of the kind.

    Jasper, the old Taoists remind us that things run to extremes just before they collapse. That’s what I see going on around us just now. As for your classroom metaphor, do you think that that’s what Dion Fortune is talking about? If so, I suggest you’re quite mistaken.

    Kevin, that’s a classic way to do it. Nothing brings your attention back to the physical plane like a good solid punch in the face!

  42. Is there any stage that the Nazi “contacts” will blow out of town? Because I think I can safely say that it’s a continuing problem that’s likely to keep bubbling up in odd places especially with those with genetic link, its popped up in my town and turned very dark and deadly very quickly just from the sheer force of the entities behind it (dealt with now), I think it has the potential to do an enormous amount of harm in a society in downturn.

    Amazing book btw, making a lot of things click and slide into place in my head :).

  43. Since the chapter is titled Influences which Humanity Exerts Upon Itself, I gather that a significant portion of the accumulated consciousness making up the Planetary Spirit is human consciousness, and that portion is a significant aspect of the Earth-pull as experienced by humans. Is that correct?

    If so, it suggests that Earth-pull doesn’t only involve direct aspects of material embodiment (sex, violence, food) but also a range of abstractions generated by (past and present) human culture. Isn’t gluttony for, say, Facebook likes just as much an aspect of Earth-pull as traditional gustatory gluttony? In our present culture of abundance and abstraction, an item with a designer label is, for many, a greater attraction than a materially superior (but unbranded) alternative; isn’t that nonetheless Earth-pull? (It certainly doesn’t seem to be any attraction toward any higher stage of evolution.)

    If that’s still safe ground, then it makes me wonder about other kinds of attraction, those related to familiarity and symmetry of pattern. Even a young child will howl in protest when a story doesn’t proceed and end “the way it’s supposed to,” such as if a familiar story is altered, or even if an unfamiliar story fails to follow certain “rules.” Nearly every Westerner experiences the tension of anticipating a return to the tonic in a piece of music. Though it takes some training, it’s not unusual for people to find perfection and transcendent beauty in mathematics.

    Two world-views diverge from there. If those familiar symmetries derive entirely from human custom and usage, then they’re aspects of the Planetary Spirit and our attraction to them is Earth-pull. The contention of the contemporary architect that aesthetic harmony in structural forms is an atavism that must be rejected for the art to evolve toward more advanced visions would be… shudder… correct! On the other hand if those harmonious forms in music, art, mathematics, narrative, and other endeavors appertain to us from higher influences, the Planetary Entity or Lords of Mind, then they’re signposts of and toward evolved consciousness. Hence, e.g., Sacred Geometry.

  44. Yorkshire, the twelve signs of the zodiac each lay out a path. I can highly recommend meditating on them.

    Roseloveschocolate, they’ll remain fixed in place as long as Nazi Germany remains the go-to image for generic political evil in modern popular culture. The way that our cultures obsess about Hitler and his regime feeds those contacts, and also gives them a great deal of attractiveness to anyone who feels rejected by society as it exists.

    Walt, good. It’s been a basic principle of occult philosophy since ancient times that those basic harmonies are not human creations — they are reflections of what Fortune would call the rhythms of the Solar Logos and a more orthodox turn of phrase would call the mind of God. That’s why ugly buildings lead to ugly societies and ugly behavior: discord begets discord.

  45. @Prizm and Darkest Yorskhire,

    I haven’t the faintest idea how any of my previous lives ended, but all my life, whenever I enter a room, I immediately take note of all the exits and potential escape routes. A few days ago, a random path through local woods went past one end of a culvert under a major highway with a trickle of water flowing through a four foot diameter pipe. My wife was with me, and I immediately pointed out to her, “This could be a good escape route to the north, if the highway were being watched.” Such things just come to mind automatically. In this life I’ve never been hunted or persecuted, nor led bandits or guerrillas, nor been in law enforcement or the military, nor even gone hunting for sport. I do wonder sometimes what my previous selves have been up to.

  46. In this section, Fortune is cautioning against the dangers of imbalance. She warns that only through full self-consciousness is it possible to know the Middle Pillar and remain in the center; otherwise we’re just swinging between two extremes – matter and spirit, form and force. That thought led me down several different rabbit holes.

    In the past the Horned God was worshipped in many forms – Cernunnos, Pan, and others, but dualistic Christianity viewed him as the Devil, symbol of the sins of the material world. The modern industrial world is also dualistic – technology would seek to separate us from our body and the earth into a quasi-religious techno-spiritual state. Fortune said in another book that people who are very intellectually-bent are often guided to pursue a more physical/material path to correct their imbalances, and here she points out that many modern people are drawn to what seems missing – the Earth Pull – a sense of being in the body, a connection with nature, with primal ways of moving. I don’t think those are bad in themselves, but as Fortune points out, when taken too far they lead to imbalance. The material world is only part of the total, but we are prone to making the mistake of thinking it’s everything (or the opposite mistake of rejecting it entirely.)

    Repressing sexual desire is probably not a good thing, but neither is being a slave to one’s desires. Escaping the body through technology or the intellect is likely not the way to go either, but neither is being a slave to one’s individual material needs – that’s sorcery. The work would be to find balance – accept our desires as part of us, but remain in control of them.

    Talk of a possible post on Steppenwolf got me thinking about that story again – Harry being the quintessential intellectual who tries to pretend he has transcended the material world. He collides head first with the sensual yet introspective Hermine, and realizes he has only been repressing everything that she embraces and embodies.

    Fortune seeks to remind us of the monistic worldview, which would lead us to the Middle Pillar where we can bring spiritual forces into manifestation on the material plane. The material world isn’t inherently bad or sinful, but it has to be understood in its proper place – in the context of the Tree of Life where it is the inflection point of the Divine Power’s expression. It’s problematic to see the material world as an end in itself, to do things to attempt to preserve the separate self, the Lower Self or Personality, or generally speaking acting out our fears; in that mode we have no awareness of the Higher Self or spiritual planes of being where things are more unified.

    From the Tao: “Everything under heaven has a beginning which may be thought of as the mother of all under heaven. Having realized the mother, you thereby know her children. Knowing her children, go back to abide with the mother. To the end of your life, you will not be imperiled.”

  47. @JGM: On your response to Walt you said: “ugly buildings lead to ugly societies and ugly behavior…”

    This is a question I meant to ask on Magic Monday, so feel free to not post if it’s too far from this week subject.

    Buildings are physical realities, how is it that they change social behavior? (which, if I grasp the meaning correctly, are mostly astral phenomena).

    The same could be said about the topic Mens sana in corpore sano. New Age doctrine (I know, I know…) says that the mind should control the body, and the more evolved the mind, the higher degree of control. However, there are lots of traditional teachings that claim that in order to bring balance to the mind it is paramount to order the material (and etheric) environment where such mind is incarnated. Most energy healing techniques claim to be able to cure not only bodily ills (lower) but emotional and mental (higher) as well.

    How is it that the lower reality moves the higher reality or, to put it in a more colorful way, the tail wags the dog? Is this the same Earth-pull Ms. Fortune talks about in this chapter? Are there beneficent Earth-pulls as well as debasing ones?

  48. RE: 12 Paths

    Recognizing that the one suggestion of twelve paths was the zodiac quickly brought to mind there is the Western zodiac and Chinese zodiac, both fairly common today, amongst a great many other zodiacs which have been developed amongst other cultures and civilizations. That realization leads to recognizing there are infinite ways of human influence, and evolution being evolution, we never really get to a best way, just one that works well right now. The fact that pagan traditions worked once upon a time and were later evolved upon to the now more common monotheist ideologies doesn’t mean we’ve stopped or found the best paths. Who knows what is yet to come. Current trends, reconnect many with older pagan faiths and gods with more modernized monotheist faiths present some opportunities for lots more evolution! From that perspective, we really are living in exciting times!

  49. Hi Walt,

    Have you lived most of your life in a city? City dwellers learn to keep an eye out.

  50. If there are twelve broad rays of development, of which every Individuality follows one of them, then the sign of the zodiac, respective the planet corresponding to it, should be prominent in one or the other way in the birth horoscope of the current Personality of that Individuality, so that that Personality can work with the characteristics of that peculiar path.

  51. Stefania, a fine meditation on Fortune’s themes! Thank you.

    CR, a building starts out as an act of the imagination, and it embodies that act in material form. It isn’t just matter, and so it conditions the lives that are lived. The entire process of incarnation in matter is the same thing on a larger scale; because we’re incarnate, the material things around us condition our lives and force us to grow, because they aren’t just material. A lump of rock began as a concept in the mind of a Lord of Form, and by having to deal with that rock, we contend with that concept and learn to think the same thought.

    Prizm, we are indeed! The era of changeover from one astrological age to another is always full of new possibilities.

    Booklover, only if you’ve cleared away enough karma that you can get to work on your ray of advancement. Otherwise, other planets more closely related to the karma you’re tackling in this life may be more prominent.

  52. RE: imbalances

    This thought was going my mind as well earlier. If one has infinite pleasure, there is an infinite displeasure, infinite gluttony then infinite starvation, and so on. In the environment there’s even such a thing as infinite balance, being homeostasis. If we are too centered, then we’ll miss out on a great many experiences. Yet we don’t want to be stuck in the rut of living only for experiences. Fortune definitely leaves us pondering here of the many seeming contradictions. Lest we forget, there are a great many rays, leaving one to conclude, as I alluded to earlier, there is a suggestion that there are infinite paths.

  53. Another way just to help illustrate the nuances of humanity…

    My wife loves to paint, especially oils, but in talking with her about doing my first painting she advised that there are a variety of different techniques she’d like me to try. Some people use their oils using brushes, some apply with the pallet knife, some a combination of both, some use rags, and there’s even one woman who has become well renown for using her fingers!

    That just illustrates the potentials with oils. There are loads of other mediums out there, like acrylics and watercolors to name other well knowns, along with mixing just about anything else out there.

    I forget what post it was you wrote, it may have been related to the arts, but we have endless possibilities but it is all about learning to work within our limits and pushing those boundaries yet still being within them.

    I imagine then there are paths that are leftward, or towards the evil chaos side of things, yet which still allow room for opportunity without becoming completely negative evil.

    Prior to following this and the Archdruid Blog, I was biased against the USA and I had been afraid to acknowledge the idea that reincarnation was even a possibility. It’s been since 2007-2008 that I started following these weekly essays, and it was a good 10 years before I realized how proud I was to be a part of a culture which allowed so much freedom, independence, and liberty. It has taken until the past few months following the Cos Doc before I was willing to consider reincarnation as being possible. I am grateful now for those ideas, but it’s important to realize that we all come from different backgrounds which make accepting different ideas very difficult. My being on the transition from one of those paths to perhaps another allows others more opportunity to consider other ideas. That means a lot to me.

  54. Walt F, I have to make myself notice the exits, I don’t have the compulsion but know people who do. I don’t think it’s always to do with violence. Dying or nearly dying in a fire or other disaster because you couldn’t escape would create the same effect.

  55. JMG,

    I am not doubting existence of elementals and their kings, my apologies if I put it as clumsily as to make you think that.

    Continuing thinking about this month chapter and the discussion about each sign being a broad way of to complete one’s evolution… so are also the religion of each astrological period. Implications for how that reflect future religions taking on Air and Uranus aspects of Aquarius (and next ~2000 years) signify that the way people relate to invisible world will be more intellectual and occult.

    Sigmund Freud was already aware that what he referred to clinically as the danger of “transference” and is not limited to ordinary emotional entanglement between the therapist and the client, but is a process
    that can involve “thought transference” and dream telepathy. This remains one of the “dirty secrets” of the practice of psychoanalysis, and is goes without saying, even more prevalent in Jungian psychotherapy on account of Carl Jung’s open admission and embrace of such occurrences between the analyst and the client.

    Parapsychology appear to be a Pandora’s box crossed with time bomb waiting to explode into collective consciousness as “small proofs” will continue to accumulate for few next centuries. Like Christianity taking over Rome over 2-3 centuries, sooner or later the accumulation of “liminal” or “non-physical” experiments will simply be too much for materialist paradigm of modern science to handle. So the intellectual life will be as remade by this as Rome philosophy and religious life was remade by Christianity.

    Jeffrey Kripal, scholar of mysterious and occult and disturbing is probably far more eloquent that I ever be discussing those things.. I know that you are familiar with his writings and if other readers here are interested I honestly recommend his works and his ideas about “evolutionary” meaning of occult and religious experiances.

    I am not sure if I am on the good road here, but that are the things that come to mind when I sit and think about the influences mankind will be exerting on itself in the future.

    -changeling

  56. While souls are learning what they need to learn, to what extent can they be helped, channeled into something positive, or at least kept safer? Relatively simple things like comprehensive sex education and financial literacy do keep a lot of people out of trouble. At a more extreme level, providing a gladiatorial arena for those who like that sort of thing might stop them causing problems elsewhere. But even in the best circumstances, how much will they still flail around and cause chaos anyway?

  57. Huh, my first Cos Doc comment even though I’ve not read the book.

    Just to say re “berserker energy” – it’s not rare at all. It’s still extremely common all over the world.

    Many different names for it, but any policeman you ask will be very familiar with the occasional man who basically cannot be stopped, skinny men who will throw off multiple cops jumping on them like flies, ignore tasers fired at them, cannot be reasoned with or even really speak, cause enormous violence and damage when they go on a rampage, do not really feel pain, and are orders of magnitude stronger than they should be judging by their physique.

    Typically, they will collapse once they hit their energy wall and after that often need to be taken to hospital because they could even burn themselves out and die.

    Unsurprisingly, the state is often triggered by drugs now in the 21st century, albeit by accident (I am not aware of anyone in the modern world who has figured out how to trigger that state reliably and by design – plus there probably wouldn’t be too many volunteers willing to risk their life by going into a berserker rage).

  58. Walt – You look for escape routes. I try to find out the important secrets about the way the world works that the adults think little children shouldn’t be exposed to. Generational, to be sure (childhood 1939-1960, consider the mores of those times) plus a degree of social ineptness that left me out of the loop a *lot* -girl geeks don’t get to hear the gossip! – but also, pretty well astrologically indicated, with Mars, Venus, and my Midheaven all in Scorpio. So maybe your chart might add some information?

    Pat, who took up the occult from following the hints that there was a wider and more wonderful world than the one around me – and so it proved!

  59. Hi John Michael,

    Is it just me or do I sense a certain ‘progression’ (I really do hate to use that word with you, but it fits here) in this Cos. Doc. chapter which may be lost on the many recently formed groups which you have discussed that now make claims regarding ancient lineage (a truly dubious claim to my mind)?

    You know, that might be those new groups challenge to overcome that comforting aspect of their lives?

    ” The holy place of an ancient religious cult or magical initiation will retain the power to awaken corresponding energies in people who spend time there in a receptive state, for good or ill.

    Fascinating. Yes, sounds right. Such places can be found in odd out of the way locations.

    Cheers

    Chris

  60. @JMG

    JMG Said: David BTL, that’s the theme of a book, not a post. How much do you know about 19th and very early 20th century German culture, the Wandervogel youth movement, and the rise of Ariosophy? We’d have to cover all of that, and much more, in order to begin talking about the origins of Nazi Germany.

    PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE!!! Write that book!!! OMG I would LOVE this. I daresay it might well take a year of posts to cover it all and I bet it would be popular to boot. I know I’d snap up the resulting book right away. Please consider turning this into a serious blog and book project. Anybody else out there with me on being interested in the above subject for the Ecosophia blog and hopefully subsequent book?

    And before I forget…I am still voting for a JMG book on descent and ascent back up the Planes. I also hope you’ll consider reading Meher Baba’s God Speaks as part of any research you might be doing for such a book. 🙂

  61. @Cos.Doc. readers

    Ron M said: Re: the crucial role of the mystics (or “the Great White Lodge”) in the collective karma of humanity, I am reminded of the fact that quite a few religions across the world believe that there is always a group of sequestered mystics who devote their life to prayer for the welfare of the world and that it is these prayers that keep the world from descending into total chaos. (I know of a group of a half-dozen young Hindu men who in the 1980s were instructed to take such a path and have occupied an historically important cave very high in the Himalayas since that time) Perhaps this is where Blavatsky got the idea of the Great White Lodge?

    I’ve seen a documentary about whole lineages doing exactly the kind of training you mention. The problem in my opinion is that a lot of those lineages good intent has been turned into New Age Pop Practices (example: Tonglen) but it is done by people whom don’t have the requisite minimum number of awakened chakras to bear the blowback these practices are designed to take on. Their noobie good intent will not shield them from the blowback – especially if they do it correctly. Kind of like how well-intentioned people doing Michael M. Hughes workings will find out good intentions won’t shield them from the full force of blowback either.

    There are 16 aspects in Tantric traditions to Body-Mind. In fact, Tantra doesn’t bother using the framework of mind at all. Everything in the Tantric tradition is framed in terms of Body. If you train for a certain kind of yogic body, because of the sacred geometry being opened up inside you you will get the corresponding higher mind along with it. So they don’t bother talking about mind and use the framing device of various kinds of bodies instead. Sadhguru says that’s what’s really being meant when someone is saying something is well-engineered. It means that that geometry has reached its peak potential for nearly friction-free flow of energy. A higher level of Mind naturally comes with it.

    One important aspect of Mind in Dharma traditions is called Citta. Sadhguru says “if your Citta becomes even mildly conscious” then the kinds of miraculous things you can do become phenomenal. Yes, up to and including things like what you read in Harry Potter novels or read that Jesus did. Yes, that kind of magic. You’ve rebirthed enough and practiced enough over millions of lifetimes (84 laks according to Meher Baba) to awaken and build a huge number of friction-free operating chakras (how many people have you met today who can do Harry Potter style magic or raise the dead like Jesus, eh? that should give an idea of how far the majority of humanity has yet to go). 64 is an important number in India’s Dharma traditions because it means that human “has crossed many, many barriers” (Sadhguru’s words) of humanity. He says that’s why there are so many ancient temples in southern India that have stone masonry celebrating the number 64. Example: 64 Dyana Siddhas (lineage super-yogis) lining the entry halls to several temples.

    The above possibilities is the result if one doesn’t fall backward – like those who do practices for tapping into their “inner werewolf” DIY. If you do it, according to Tantric Yoga, you’re training for that kind of inner geometry and body and I doubt most people who take up that kind of DIY training are capable of taking on all the results of that kind of body and mind.

  62. Would a question about an earlier section of the CosDoc be more appropriate here or on a Magic Monday post?

  63. Greetings to all:
    Panda’s reference to Tonglen—or any practice of taking the suffering of the world into oneself with the intent of relieving others of it—brought a question to mind:

    My admittedly limited experience of Tonglen left me negatively impressed. I was in a meditation group that met periodically for shamatta practice; I was among the newbies who did shamatta all day (basically, disengaging from discursive thought and watching the breath ); there was a group of more experienced practitioners who went into a separate room in the latter part of the day to do Tonglen.
    Every time, it was unmistakable to me: when they were doing Tonglen, I felt TERRIBLE.

    If they thought they were doing the world a favor, from what I could see, they were accomplishing the reverse of what they intended.

    I came away skeptical about the practice; seeing it as another example of do-gooders just mucking things up further.

    Does anyone have substantial experience that such practices actually have the intended effect? And why it works for those practitioners, when it does not for others who have genuine intent to do good?

  64. @ JMG, @ Happy Panda

    Re books not blogs

    John—

    Your comment above re our old friend Aleister (pushing too far, too fast) and the German experience I asked about got me to thinking that in addition to books on how to “do occultism” well (respecting limits, working within one’s capabilities), it would also be useful for someone who knew whereof he spoke (*cough* oh wise archdruid *cough*) to pen a book on how “not to do occultism” and why, highlighting the various dangers of ignoring said limits, the various pitfalls and their consequences etc., especially using actual historical examples. I suspect that I’d not be the only one here who’d be interested in such a book. Fortune spends a fair amount of time in Cos Doc warning of dangers (LHP, qliphoth, etc.) but without a whole lot of detail on the why/what/how and few if any illustrative examples (granted, its not that kind of text, either).

  65. Without going into too much detail, this post was very helpful and very timely.

  66. To CR: “Are there beneficent Earth-pulls as well as debasing ones?”

    I’m writing a book right now called Sacred Housekeeping that will do its level best to answer that question. The book is at its core about recognizing the spirit of place in one’s immediate surroundings and improving it. A harmonious home is a foundation for development of all sorts: physical, mental, and spiritual. As the Druid prayer goes, “in protection, strength”. Invoking the spirit of place means conversation with objects, for instance oddities like thanking one’s car, desk, or pots and pans for the services they provide, and a general buildup of good practices that reverberate through the living space. I suppose Shintoists and Algonquians will recognize familiar animism in its passages.

  67. 2nd the idea of a how-not-to section in JMG’s how-to book. (We’re going to keep him busy typing for the rest of his life! 😄)

  68. Hi John Michael,

    This essay was timely and I read it late last evening before going to bed. I dunno about you, but I’m noticing that we are currently in a great transition which will require consumers to become producers. My strategy is to lead by example and just be there for people who can take the first tentative steps on that track (I believe that it is a track). To be candid with you I thought that I’d feel far greater frustration that people who have the time on their hands could still not make the first few steps, but you know acceptance has lead to the feelings of equanimity. What do you? It has been said before that what is not sustainable, won’t be sustained and that is certainly the case right now. Oh well.

    Hope your summer weather is pleasant and the gardens productive!

    Cheers

    Chris

  69. JMG,

    There are a couple of points I’d like to bounce off you.

    “Three factors help these awakening souls overcome that obstacle [the Earth -pull.]”

    I think there might be a fourth which I have noticed in my life: grunt work. Or more to the point, a helpful attitude towards grunt work. Being physically engaged with the world yet detached from it.

    I have come to really value grunt work. It has a balancing effect on those who are too lost in their own lofty grandeur. The pope, for example, should be the one cleaning the toilets, like Jesus who washed feet. CEOs should be mopping floors. Business people are told to delegate because their time is too precious, but in my experience, this creates an imbalance both within the person and within an organization.

    It’s useful as a way of countering the earth pull precisely because it is mindless.

    Everyday I haul boxes of books. I find it grounds me. It has become a physical act of devotion, like a ritual almost, to Nisaba and all she represents, which I do lovingly. It allows me to watch myself engaged in the physical world but from a position outside of it since the work is mindless and my mind is free to roam elsewhere, attaching meaning to the work as I choose.

    Can you see this as a fourth factor?

    The other point I wanted to raise is asking for a clarification of what you wrote:

    “Each religious and magical tradition of the past… came into being to develop some specific set of human possibilities, and continues so long as there are still people who need help developing those possibilities.“

    This makes me think the religious and magical tradition of ancient Sumer might have come into being to develop (along with other things) the human possibility of reading and writing, which maybe seemed like profound mysteries at the time to the uninitiated, much like number theory and geometry later in history. Would you agree?

    Also,
    “Does that mean that there’s no point in “picking up the contacts,” as occultists in Fortune’s time liked to describe the process, of initiatory traditions and religious cults of the past?  Not at all—but it has to be done carefully, using methods that raise the archaic contents to the level of objective conscious awareness rather than those that submerge the mind in a flood of atavistic force. Done the right way, such work has robust possibilities.”

    It seems to me “picking up contacts” of ancient Sumer is the direction I am moving in, and I wanted to ask you what “done carefully” looks like vs. done badly. What methods would you recommend to make sure I don’t get myself flooded?

    It seems to me reviving ancient Sumerian religion and magical tradition could be a useful thing to do as we face a coming dark age, with the attendant loss of knowledge and written records.

    Have I missed something important?

  70. @Kimberly S, one reason why I never replaced my teflon cookware once it became worse than useless is that I became enamored of the idea of the same cookware I ate off of as a 20-something feeding my grandchildren. I don’t claim to be so moral that I gave up Teflon (new Teflon cookware is very easy to use!) because it is bad for the rain forest or something, I rejected it because I wanted a relationship with my cookware, which, in practice, means sticking to stainless steel, cast iron and copper.

  71. Twice now, when I’ve checked here and your dreamwidth, I noticed the number of comments are the same. Weird….

  72. Prizm, yes, exactly. Too much balance is also an imbalance, and some degree of retrogression is not always a mistake. As for the difficulty of these ideas, that’s an important point — they are not easy. It takes hard work to make sense of them — just as it takes hard work to grasp just how much potential for greatness there still is in this aging, flawed, troubled republic of ours.

    Changeling, I think you’ve made an important point here. Parapsychology, the paranormal dimensions of psychology, increasing study and correlation of occult traditions, increasing research into the remarkable human capacities opened up by mystical disciplines — all these are moving toward a common zone of convergence, out of which the spiritualities of the next 2160 years will unfold.

    Yorkshire, it’s possible to do quite a bit to help, though since the people doing the helping are just as entangled in the perplexities of being human as those who are being helped, it’s not that easy.

    PoliceGuy, this is fascinating. I’ve heard a few references to that phenomenon but I had no idea it was that common. Do you know of anything written on it, or is it just one of those things you learn about when you work in law enforcement?

    Chris, yes, very much so!

    Panda, the trouble with any book about the occult dimensions of Nazi Germany is finding a way to explain what happened, and discuss the magical dimensions thereof, without providing an instruction manual for people who want to try to do the same thing. I think that’s why serious occultists have by and large left the subject strictly alone, and allowed fablemongers of the Trevor Ravenscroft variety to play with it all by themselves.

    As for people playing with the Tantras — oh dear gods, yes. You can end up stone cold dead if you do that cluelessly. That’s why I consistently advise people who are interested in that to either find a qualified guru or leave the subject strictly alone. The kinds of occultism and ritual magic I teach are safe for people to do by themselves — which is why I teach those particular things! — but there’s a lot of stuff in this realm that is not safe at all.

    Temporaryreality, if it’s about the Cos. Doc., it’s on topic here. Thank you for asking!

    KKA, that’s fascinating. Many thanks for the data point.

    David BTL, hmm. I haven’t made a habit of collecting stories of people who did it wrong and got messed over thereby, and as I noted in response to Panda above, I’ve made a point of teaching things that are really hard to screw up and quietly not mentioning things that will mess you over. Still, I’ll think about that.

    Aloysius, glad to hear it. Any practitioner who learns the elements of occult philosophy Fortune teaches here will be able to avoid some very nasty pitfalls and tap into some potentials that are otherwise very hard to reach.

    Your Kittenship, I’m going to be writing for the rest of my life anyway — I expect to stop writing when they pull the keyboard out from under my cold stiff hands — so it’s not exactly a problem!

    Chris, exactly. All you can do is show the way; those who won’t follow will have to deal with things in some different and probably much less pleasant way.

    Myriam, yes, I could see grunt work having that effect, and yes, that’s certainly a plausible interpretation of Sumerian religion. As for how to pick up the contacts in a balanced way, the crucial thing is not to fixate on those aspects of the tradition that overemphasize the atavistic side of things. Thus, for example, a lot of people who’ve gotten into that tradition fixate on Inanna and Dumuzi, with their underworld connections, and neglect gods of reason and knowledge such as Enki and Ninurta. Invoke the entire pantheon, and work toward a special relationship with one of the deities of books and knowledge, and you should be fine.

    Kevin, weirdness is just one of the services I offer! 😉

  73. Thanks, JMG.

    So I’m way back toward the beginning of the book (also following the posts and conversation from those many months ago) and I’ve gotten kind of stumped by something.

    I’m trying to reconcile two statements. One from chapter 2 (I’m using the new edition) and one from chapter 3. Here are the statements and my sense of their meanings and questions raised:

    “Therefore you only oppose evil [the Ring-Chaos] when you wish to do constructive work – when you wish to make something new.”

    Would the opposing of “evil” (which is the Ring-Chaos of whatever given Ring-Cosmos is at play) be an iterative process so that now the “evil” is revealed as a Ring-Cosmos of its own system? Since it’s being opposed, it’s as though a new Ring-Chaos has been thrown up around it, allowing for the creation of a new Ring-Pass-Not – so that’s what gets created?

    This makes some intuitive sense but perhaps I’m overthinking the metaphor because DF goes on to say,

    “The Ring-Chaos can never build anything…” which I take to mean that because the Ring-Chaos is fully committed to acting from ‘response-to-Ring-Cosmos’ it isn’t creating but is merely reacting.

    I’m guessing I’m tripping myself up by seeing “opposing evil” as throwing an oppositional Ring-Chaos around the original Ring-Chaos, but ??

    If this isn’t the case, does the CosDoc offer, at some point, an image for where to place “oppose evil” or “surround evil with a vacuum” in the schematic of a Cosmos?

    In practice, I’m trying to see if I can fit one of my own (less than ideal) habits of mind into the schematic but I’m unsure if this is a useful direction. Would the habit be a Ring-Cosmos which I have the option of opposing (to build something new? Doesn’t that contradict the “Ring-Chaos cannot build” statement); or is a “natural” or unencumbered mindset (as an ideal) the Ring-Cosmos bound by the Ring-Chaos-habit (and the image of opposing or preventing-of-opposing of which hasn’t yet been revealed in the text?

    I was hoping that typing this out would clarify it for me, but it hasn’t. I hope this isn’t too circular.

  74. @changeling and @JMG

    While I don’t doubt your intentions, I had to write this as there was a mention of Jeffrey Kripal. Jeff Kripal may have written about occultism and paranormal phenomena in religion, but he has written some very insulting things about Hinduism, particularly the 19th century Hindu mystic, Ramakrishna Paramahansa.

    Kripal wrote the book ‘Kali’s Child’, in which he basically attributed sexual motives to Ramakrishna Paramahansa, this forcing the Ramakrishna Mission to issue a rebuttal. Kripal’s writings were so utterly off the mark, that even Prof. Narasingha Sil (who is not exactly fond of Ramakrishna Paramahansa) issued a rebuttal to Kripal, in which he very clearly stated that Kripal made serious mistakes in translating certain written material in Bengali to English.

    As for Kripal, you might be interested to know that he is a student of Prof. Wendy Doniger, who is supposed to be an ‘expert’ on Hinduism. Prof. Doniger’s writings on Hinduism have been called as ‘lewd, crude and very rude’ by Sanskritist Prof. Michael Witzel (who is not exactly known for his love of India and Hinduism, given the fact that his writings are gleefully quoted by the alt-right, while discussing ancient Indian history). Prof. Doniger has said things like ‘Ganesha has an Oedipus complex’, which are very insulting to practicing Hindus.

    There is nothing inherently wrong with freedom of speech, but using it to deliberately smear someone, and then using academic jargon, obfuscation, and accusations of ‘oh, you must be one of those nasty Hindu nationalists’ to those who issue factual and point-based rebuttals to such writings is just smacking of arrogance and double standards. This is not very different from those pro-Antifa academics, who write material aimed at making white people ashamed of their very existence, and then use accusations of ‘you racist white supremacist’ against those who take down their writings and expose them for the bunk that they are.

    As for paranormal phenomena, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with researching and writing about it, only that we need to be careful as to whom we’re dealing with. It’s important to not get carried away by someone, just because they’re one of those few who are willing to explore such topics.

    I apologize for this rather long post, and also for having hurt anybody’s feelings, if I indeed have. I have learnt a lot from discussions on Ecosophia, and I look forward to reading more in the future.

  75. I’ve been thinking for a while,and this post has reinfrced it, how much of existence is building things up and passing them on.

    There’s the level most people would think of. What you leave to home, family, children. If you build a business or political movement, teach students, write books, create some feat of engineering.

    At a wider level there’s enhancing the population, ensuring future generations are healthy, well fed, well educated. Also that the society has good infrastructure, nice buildings, bounitful farms. At the end of its life each civilisation can pass on as much as possible to future civilisations.

    Add in the spiritual level and you’re literally passing benefits to yourself in your next life. And when you’re done with each one, your astral stuff subtly contributes to further human development. The tracks in space you lay down can benefit all of humanity in the future. How you treat rocks, plants and animals can speed up their evolution.

    On the last one, at the end of ‘The Next Ten Billion Years’ most of the earth’s crust is made up of the remains of past civillisations. I did wonder how different that would make the experience of being a rock. 🙂

  76. A thought struck me this morning: if some souls are ready to overcome the Earth-pull, could the idea of space travel and the push to settle Mars be a sign of this urge to overcome the Earth-pull but in the wrong domain – ie, souls are taking the idea too literally?

  77. JMG

    Berserker energy is well known by police (especially any street cops), and it was part of the formal training I received a decade ago as a UK police officer. They even showed us CCTV camera video of a couple of incidents where men where throwing police officers around like children.

    I am sure there will be clips of this on Youtube, but because there is no common term used to describe, they are very hard to find – you could watch a hundred clips of street brawls with police till you (maybe) find a real one.

    It’s the same issue with finding anything written about it – I’m sure it’s out there but people use a bunch of different terms for it (in my training I think it is was called “aggravated behavioural disorder” or something like that but a google search for that term doesn’t come up with anything useful – but I vividly remember watching the clip in training and thinking “I hope I don’t run into that guy”, and also remember being warned how guys like that tend to suddenly burn out and collapse and could die and really needed medical treatment).

    Here is one news story from the UK that references it:

    https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/man-superhuman-strength-filmed-pinning-6018825

    After watching that video, I’m not sure that actually qualifies as the kind of berserker energy I am thinking about. I can’t tell for sure because I wasn’t there, but a “berserker” would probably not be standing still talking to cops in the first place, and he probably wouldn’t have the control to keep both of them carefully pinned down – he’d be a lot wilder. I could be wrong, but this just seems like a “normal” strong man with good wrestling skills (this guy does shrug off being sprayed in the face by the UK equivalent of tear gas, and that is the kind of berserkers do, BUT, – from personal experience, that spray takes a good 15 seconds to kick in, so he had plenty of time to escape and go round the corner before it took effect. Plus we were warned that about 10% of the population is naturally immune, and even more so if they were drunk or on drugs – so the CS resistance by itself doesn’t prove anything).

    But it’s an example of that kind of incident – I’ll see if I can dig up more writing on it, but it’s hard to find the right keywords.

  78. Hi JMG,

    I have gotten an enormous amount out of this study of the Cosmic Doctrine. Thanks for all of your efforts in this book club.

    The discussion of holy places and their potential for awakening energies–for good or for ill–is fascinating. I presume that Fortune was writing about sacred locations in England, such as Glastonbury and Stonehenge. Of course I am reading it with my own corner of Massachusetts in mind.

    There are two local Native American sites nearby. One is a mysterious mountaintop cairn with a lot of probably apocryphal stories about a love-struck native princess, that has become a popular hiking destination. No idea if it is really a sacred place.

    The other is a glen which is rumored to be a ceremonial site, and it has turned into a disgraceful party spot littered with broken bottles, trash, and spray paint. So folks are drawn to these places, but have absolutely no idea how to behave or to deal with the energies, and wind up getting into all sorts of mischief. I’m sure you have many similar stories about ridiculous “solstice gatherings” in various spots from the new age end of things.

    It is interesting that the spacial aspect of religion is so different in Europe and America. Neither culture really understands a place-based spirituality (druids and other oddballs excepted), but in Europe most of the historic indigenous sacred spots were co-opted into christian sites, while in America we have an incredibly messy situation where the sacred sites are either unknown, or the population has no idea how to interact with them.

  79. John–

    How can one have too much balance? I’d think that to live a harmonious life –“in the groove,” as it were — would be infinitely desirable. If I could have less disharmony and disruption (inwardly, of course; there’s no controlling externals), I’d certainly take it. And zero would be an optimum.

  80. David, the normal way in which balance expresses itself is a swinging around an ideal balancing point in several directions. That is, balance is never static, but a dynamic circling around a middle point. An example would be the rhythm of waking and sleeping, or between activity and rest.

    Samurai_47, in Europe, too, there are cases of inappropriate behavior in locations like Stonehenge. In Germany there arte the Externsteine (external stones) in the Teutoburg Forest, a site where quite wild parties have occurred, so that there arose the need to regulate access and waste disposal.

  81. Temporaryreality, good to see you engaging in depth with the material! No, the process of using the Ring-Chaos as a thrust block isn’t iterative. The thrust-block remains a thrust-block, a thing that resists you and so gives your creative act the opposition it needs. You haven’t surrounded it with a new Ring-Chaos, you’ve done what the Ring-Cosmos did in the beginning and pushed yourself into motion using the influence of the Ring-Chaos as something to push against. Your creative act is the new creation here. It is a miniature Ring-Cosmos; and it will either become part of the spinning complexity of the Ring-Cosmos and of the Cosmos itself, if it’s in harmony with the Ring-Cosmos, or it will be spun out to the Ring-Pass-Not and dissolve into the void, if it’s not.

    Rajat, interesting. I wasn’t aware of Kripal’s writings about Ramakrishna or Hinduism generally. His work on parapsychology has in general been quite good, and I’m sorry to hear that he didn’t maintain that standard. I wonder what the problem was.

    Yorkshire, I wondered the same thing!

    Anonymous, you know, that makes a lot of sense. Our society has a really bad habit of overphysicalizing things, so that would follow.

  82. “A thought struck me this morning: if some souls are ready to overcome the Earth-pull, could the idea of space travel and the push to settle Mars be a sign of this urge to overcome the Earth-pull but in the wrong domain – ie, souls are taking the idea too literally?”

    This would also explain why there’s the obsession with Mars: it rules the next plane up, according to the traditional lore. I never could figure out why our culture was so obsessed with moving to that planet, but this would make sense of it.

  83. PoliceGuy, fair enough; that doesn’t surprise me. I’ll see what I can find.

    Samurai, yeah. Here in America we have a really thoroughly clueless relationship to the land generally — that’s one of the things that will have to be fixed, probably in a painful manner, before an authentically American culture starts coming together in the 26th century.

    David BTL, it looks that way when you’re going through a lot of disruptions, but perfect balance tends to get very dull very quickly. Creative movement around a center of balance is much more interesting.

    Kevin, an excellent point.

  84. We know from this post that Earth rules the physical plane, Mars is the ruler of the lower astral and Mercury rules the upper mental plane. So which planet governs each of the other planes?

  85. Thank you so much for your commentary. I am really looking forward to the book version of this material.

    Wrt the risks of turning back to revisit topics from an earlier stage in our evolution (individually or collectively) how do you see the implications of the long descent playing into this? We’ve had several generations now of modernity and industrialism, but will be returning to a simpler and more natural relationship to the earth in future generations. Are there significant implications for humanity’s spiritual evolution here, and the dynamics of the earth pull, or is the industrial misadventure just a sideshow in the bigger scheme of things?

  86. @Kimberly S

    I will be looking forward to read your book. How is it a good way to find it, when it comes out?

  87. John – re Kripal’s writing: “… His work on parapsychology has in general been quite good, and I’m sorry to hear that he didn’t maintain that standard. I wonder what the problem was.

    Jeff’s book on Ramakrishna (“Kali’s Child”) was the _first_ book he wrote (published 1995, 25 years ago), essentially his PhD dissertation, so “didn’t maintain that standard” is time-reversed.

    And while I’ll allow that a Westerner cannot know a particular Hindu sect as a native devotee can,
    claiming intentional smear (e.g. an ad hominem attack), seeking to ban the book and making death-threats seems like (those) Hindus taking (those extreme levels of) offense are far beyond “… factual and point-based rebuttals”.

    While I’m sure there are legitimate issues for honest and decent scholars to debate,
    and it is rare for one’s first work to be one’s best,
    there is this in Jeff’s words:
    “[the offended responses of many Hindus] says nothing about the historical Ramakrishna, just as the offended responses of innumerable pious Christians [to academic investigations of Jesus] tell us absolutely nothing about the historical Jesus”

    There is a decent overview of the controversy at:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kali%27s_Child
    version of 10 May 2020, at 15:54 (UTC)

    Jeff’s pages on the book controversy:
    http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~kalischi/index.html

    John – the main problem is that (many) Hindu leaders, in reaction to colonialism and being conquered,
    tried to clean up Hinduism and make it logical/respectable/rational and nearly as puritanical/proper as the British conquerors’ religion. Jeff (and others) actually look into the historical documents and find all this Tantric magic and sex and mysticism and Kali (goddess/female – eeek!) and (gasp!) bits of homo-eroticism here and there,
    and thus the very, very proper (male) Brahmins freak out.

    I have wondered if Jeff’s focus on the homo-erotic is a bit overplayed, but then again I wasn’t raised Catholic nor was I a naive Nebraska boy enrolled in a Catholic monastic seminary, nor have I been to India and studied there.
    Did you read his (semi-autobiographical) “Secret Body”?
    https://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/S/bo17677462.html

    Not all Indians were opposed to Kali’s Child, in fact he collaborated with T.G. Vaidyanathan to edit
    Vishnu on Freud’s Desk: A Reader in Psychoanalysis and Hinduism
    Scroll down a book here to read a bit more:
    https://kripal.rice.edu/written.html

  88. Galen, Fortune covered that in Chapter 20 of the revised edition:
    – Earth rules the dense physical
    – Moon rules the etheric, which in Fortune’s cosmology is the upper half of the physical plane.
    – Mars rules the lower astral plane
    – Venus rules the upper astral plane
    – Saturn rules the lower mental plane
    – Mercury rules the upper mental plane
    – Jupiter rules the lower spiritual plane
    – the Sun rules the upper spiritual plane.

    Mark, I’d suggest that industrialism — with its fixation on the purely material aspects of life — was a form of devolution, not evolution. The evolutionary path for us involves becoming more attuned to the subtler, less material planes, and industrialism has been a detour from that path. The Earth-pull governs industrialism — notice how much of industry fixates on extracting things from the earth and making material things out of them!

    Sunnnv, duly noted. I recall when it was all the rage to find homoerotic and Oedipal themes in the lives and works of spiritual leaders, and it pretty reliably worked out to poorly veiled hostility toward spirituality, traditional religion, or some particular religion. Still, I’ll reserve judgment, as I haven’t read that end of Kripal’s work, and may not — that sort of thing doesn’t greatly interest me.

  89. I remember being 20 and first consciously stepping on the spiritual path. I pretty soon hit a dead end and went deep into the Earth Pull, worked through sexuality, will, family, money issues, got deep into gardening, wild foraging, music (all passions from when I was a kid) – then I could begin magical training, and only after doing that for a while could I get back on the path I had started on years before. My mentor told me once that of the people that he knows who have broken through into Self-Realization in this lifetime, a common factor was a certain weariness of experience all together – they’ve experience everything and the only thing that will satisfy is the Higher. In that way I’m glad I went out and dated, drank, explored forests, travelled the US, played music all over and really experienced life rather than going to a monestary, meditating 10 hours a day and staying celibate for my 20s… which was an option. Now my life is full, and the yearning for the Higher isn’t drowned in divided desires and repressed regrets.

  90. JMG,

    Yes, it will be a painful process, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see it take that long or longer to get straitened out.

    What surprised me about what Fortune had to say on this point was that she seemed to be saying the people who sought out the sacred spaces might have the least need for the experiences available there. To me, this seemed really counter-intuitive. Maybe I am being naive, but I would guess that the people having naked drug trips on native american sites are doing it because they have a genuine need for some kind of authentic experience, and lacking any coherent spiritual development path, they are just winging it in a ridiculous way.

    She seems to be saying the opposite–that the people who could really benefit from place energies might be too detached even to know it, and the people unconsciously drawn to powerful sites are already brimming with the same sort of energy, so it would be bad for them. Can you help me out here? Is she only talking about telluric-type energy?

  91. Reasons that we can have too much balance:

    David by the Lake,

    This example probably goes back to the Mystery Teachings of the Earth discussion but when nature achieves a homeostasis it leads to death through decay, or providing another species an opportunity to take advantage of an ecosystem. The lack of diversity and lack of change proves harmful.

    There’s probably too much negativity suggested with the word imbalance. Ideas of disruption or lack of harmony seem against growth but if nature didn’t have disruption in the form of seasons, or hooved animals to help disturb the grass, things all get stuck in a rut.

    It’s the same with life. A perfectly balanced, harmonious life would ultimately be a 9-5 job, dinner at a set time every day, going to bed at the exact same hour, waking up at the same hour, grocery shopping at the same hour, ultimately, everything existing in monotony. Where does that allow time for growth? We’ve had the recent experience of the lockdown, helping provide many with the opportunity to just think about life differently. These disruptions and changes allow a chance for new perspectives. If we seek a perfect balance, when will we have time for adventure? A perfect balance and harmony doesn’t allow much room for risk either. Learning how to understand healthy risks versus unhealthy ones is never understood if we don’t take any.

    There’s also the fact that many in our life seek a partner who often is very different from ourselves. That in itself makes achieving a perfect balance impossible. We often make a choice of partner like that subconsciously because we are seeking something different.

    This afternoon my dad was explaining why he prefers riding his motorcycle to being in a car. The car is perfectly balanced. It has four tires that aren’t likely to make you be concerned about flipping or falling over. There’s a relatively strong structure around you giving the illusion of safety. It allows those within too much feeling of safety and that’s why too often people begin having behaviors within the vehicle which become reckless. The motorcycle on the other hand requires my dad to be constantly aware of his surroundings, which in turn makes him feel more alive.

  92. Rajat,

    the works on Hinduism and Freud didn’t interested me much. I have interest in Western traditions and how they interact with current context.

    I am also not found of how Freud ideas went from groping into dark of human unconscious, clever mythological metaphors for some very disturbing clinical patients that needed to be explained to shocked late XIX century upper classes into over-abstract dry academic dogmas that are applied without rhythm and reason or as ritualistic padding for real arguments a scholar wants to make.

    As for the controversy, it’s probably not the place to discuss that. Lives of charismatic sect leaders and saints’ are both white-washed and vilified. It’s as common as fallen trees in wake of great storm. It’s not easy to untangle and commenting on academic disputations about primary texts and commentaries I can’t read and don’t interest me much would be rather futile.

    –changeling

  93. I’ve just had an insight into something: the flow of things down from the spiritual plane. I’d like to use the United States as an example. It began with something on the spiritual plane: something in the land and colonists which made them distinct from the British in some way or other.

    Then it moved into the mental plane; the idea of separation from the British. This idea exists on the mental plane, but it quickly moved into the astral plane as people started imagining it, and started trying to work out how it would work.

    Once this started, it was a quick jump for it to reach the physical plane, in the form of the American Revolution.

  94. Hi John Michael,

    Thanks. Buildings are a favourite topic of mine, and something that I have had a lot of practical experience with, and even built this one here by my own hands. The creative task is something that I would recommend to folks who are so inclined. Anyway, you wrote:

    “That’s why ugly buildings lead to ugly societies and ugly behavior: discord begets discord.”

    I’d be curious as to your opinion, but it is possible that this thought can be extended to cover the wider environment around the buildings too? I try to keep and alter my surroundings so that they are pleasant and productive places, but it is not lost on me that this thought could be extended over a far wider area again.

    If it means anything to you, I suspect that this work will have to eventually take place sooner or later.

    Cheers

    Chris

  95. Hi JMG and everyone here,

    As interesting as ever this week.
    As regards ‘cults’ in the Cos. Doc. sense. I was contemplating a good few years ago using a controlled fire motif (with all its associations e.g. energy, burning through the trivial, light) as a brand to promote the idea of ‘deep’ interconnectedness. Not fire worship as such but certainly an appreciation of its qualities to get a deeper understanding of life and build some meaning. Anyway, was put off persuing it by several things: 1) Even controlled fire when released in many minds is easily hijacked for any passionate protest (many questionable) – only have to see the news today to fully get that. A control issue. 2) The generally negative links with fire within the major religions. A devil of an issue. 3) Every ‘cult’ loses dynamism over time and suffers from an increase in dogma. A determinism issue?
    Do keep wondering if a re-kindling is possible or worthwhile…

  96. Today’s new Oglaf web comic seems like it could have been drawn in response to this post. I won’t link to it because Oglaf often gets explicit and this one is no exception.

    In the first panel, a figure in typical “questing hero” garb is standing on a mountaintop, beseeching: “Help me Master! My enemies are strong and the path is dark.” The Master, a ghostly turbaned bearded figure, appears and says, “Trust your instincts.” The man replies, “Can do!”

    The following series of panels show the hero pigging out on a feast, running through a marsh chasing a flock of ducks with an idiotically joyous expression on his face, and engaging in licentious sex. Finally the Master appears to the hero again in an opium-den setting and says, “So, uh… nice instincts, but maybe mix in a little ‘thinking things through.'” The hero replies, “My instincts say ‘no.””

    (Roll-over text reads “I opened my mind to my gut and now my mind is full of lasagne.”)

  97. @Lady Cutekitten, Yorkshire, and Patricia M, I’ve lived in urban neighborhoods (streets of triple-decker tenements) but not in a city center. With a grid of streets, there’s not much need for alternative by-routes, except for knowing where alleys or adjacent backyards can be cut through. If I lived in a large apartment building, though, I’d want to know where all the service doors and corridors led to, how to access the roof and cellar, and how to defeat any locks in the way. In the suburbs, roads notoriously don’t connect to one another, but there are informal paths everywhere through fields and patches of woods that can make a walk from point A to point B a third the distance as driving. And my current area has a maze of marshes and waterways mixed in.

    Past-life deaths trapped in fire or other disaster is certainly a possibility. (Given the probabilities, that could have been multiple times over.) But I have to say I don’t experience claustrophobia, not even a little. I’ll cheerfully crawl into the narrowest of passageways if there’s a chance I might discover it leads somewhere. (Or, more usually, to repair a pipe or place a cable.)

    Patricia, you’re right that I should do the work of studying my birth chart. My attitude until recently was that the simple physical circumstances of my birth (twin to a developmentally and intellectually disabled brother) have been so impactful on the course of my life that subtle influences from the planets would be mere rounding error. His chart, of course, would be very similar to mine (5 minute difference). But there probably are things I could learn.

  98. @JMG, @Prizm

    Re balance

    I wonder if we aren’t to some degree speaking of something similar, just with different imagery. I can certainly understand that a perpetual static equilibrium would be less than desirable, tantamount to ossification and death. However, this does not preclude the possibility of a dynamic equilibrium, rather like the motorcycle analogy. The point, however, is that at any given point, one is in control, even if change is occurring or necessary.

    At the risk of bringing politics into the discussion, consider the state of the US and consider this nation as an entity. In an overly simplistic view of the situation, we achieved empire, reached an equilibrium for a time. Then circumstances altered, making that equilibrium unsustainable. We have a spectrum of choices: at the two extremes, we can refuse to change at all (which causes pressures to build until it all blows up) or we can blow it up ourselves. In the middle, there’s an array of other choices, including the possibility of rationally assessing the various forces at play, identifying a new equilibrium which might be sustained under the current/coming conditions, laying out a carefully considered and methodical plan for transitioning from state A to state B, and the executing said plan. This is change, but in a controlled and balanced form.

    Ideally, I’d be able to identify the vectors affecting my life from the outside and to address the resulting net force in a balanced, organized way. My internal vectors are something I ought to be able to control—thoughts, feelings—and not be subject to. We must deal with what the external world throws at us, granted, but we shouldn’t also have to navigate internal tempests as well. It’s that inward control and equilibrium that I’m really going for. How does one bend one’s inner life to one’s will? Can one not find that dynamic center so as to be unaffected by circumstances?

  99. Thank you for that nudge, JMG, that was helpful – and makes much more sense than what I was thinking. I can see that my next theme for meditation is a consideration of the two approaches (at least in this one case): the using of a thrust-block or the letting of “evil” dissipate.

    I admit to being wowed by DF’s full paragraph:

    “The Ring-Chaos can never build anything, because whatever forces it may originate diffuse, unconfined, into outer space, but the Ring-Cosmos, in conjunction with the Ring-Pass-Not conserves its forces. For the forces which the Ring-Cosmos radiated into that space within its circumference cannot pass out again because they are confined by the influences of the Ring-Pass-not. Therefore they act and interact among themselves producing ever greater and greater elaboration of influences.”

    That is so juicy!
    Thank goodness for limits, for they cause such richness of generation. Now to learn how to understand them and use them in productive and Ring-Cosmos-supporting ways…

  100. @Kenneth – marvelous illustration! I finally think I have a grasp on the spiritual-to-physical process at last. Thank you.

    Pat

  101. Isaac, that’s very often the case. Many spiritual traditions explicitly teach that the inward path is best started in middle age or later, so that the student has had the chance to learn something about life and pursue those ordinary, healthy instincts first.

    Samurai, it’s a curious detail of spiritual training — one I’ve seen countless times — that people who start on the Path immediately start trying to make whatever imbalances they have more extreme. The cerebral person wants to get more cerebral, the sensualist wants to get more sensual, etc., but they deck out this desire in the trappings of spirituality. That’s one of the reasons why the modern notion that complete beginners can come up with their own spiritual or magical system of training is so counterproductive. What’s needed instead is a movement toward balance, and that always involves doing things that don’t come naturally. So the folks who are doing naked drug trips in a sacred site are exactly the people who should be making their heads hurt by wrestling with the basic concepts of occult philosophy, while the people who naturally gravitate toward the big books are exactly the ones who should be keeping a vigil all night outdoors in a sacred site.

    Kevin, excellent. Yes, exactly.

    Chris, good heavens, yes. The vacuous state of mind you find so often in middle class people is a direct consequence of the dumbed-down landscapes of suburbia, for example.

    Jay Pine, to my mind, that’s a little like deciding you want to build a road, without first deciding where you want to get to. What spiritual powers and realities would the cultus of fire connect to? Who are you invoking by it, and in what aspects?

    Walt, funny! Yes, and that’s the usual result you get with the unbalanced trust-your-feelings kind of approach.

    David BTL, the conscious ego doesn’t have the power to do that. That’s one of Jung’s great points: much of what you’re calling “one’s inner life” is not internal to you, and it’s not something you can bend to your will — it’s external to the ego. The ego or ordinary self has to contend with the archetypes and the passions and reactions that they evoke, wrestle them into balance and be changed by the conflict, and finally come into a healthy but never static relationship with them.

    Temporaryreality, glad to hear it. That’s a very meaty paragraph — as I recall, I spent a full week on it when I was first working through the Cos. Doc., breaking it down clause by clause.

  102. Chris,

    landscape architects have talked about this for a long time (at least a few decades, if I correctly recall my library-foray into Landscape Architecture Magazine around 2010). Sociological studies, academic writings, etc. are all there and point toward “bad landscapes generate bad mindscapes.”

  103. Re sacred places, sacred times, and their intersection

    John:

    As with time, so with place. The holy place of an ancient religious cult or magical initiation will retain the power to awaken corresponding energies in people who spend time there in a receptive state, for good or ill. That can be extremely useful for people in whom such energies are underdeveloped—your typical modern intellectual, for example, who lives a life too detached from earthy influences and the power of the blood, can gain a good deal by spending time in the holy precincts of some robust old Pagan faith…

    I am a typical modern intellectual, most likely.

    I’ve been to a number of sacred places (Chaco Canyon, Palenque, Machu Picchu, Callanish, Newgrange, a grove of Bristlecone Pines in the Eastern Sierra, a grove of giant redwood trees in Northern California, and an obscure outcropping of rocks inscribed with ancient petroglyphs in the Nevada Desert, at sunrise on the Fall Equinox in 2006 (during a major lunar standstill; there will be another one in 2025).

    The places that affected me the most deeply were the places with ancient trees. Is this connected to the Earth-pull? Revisiting an earlier stage of evolution? Gaining a good deal…certainly!

    I’ve started meditating on the 12 evolutionary paths represented by the signs of the zodiac, as you suggested to Darkest Yorkshire. I noticed right away that some of the signs came clearly into focus, but some of them seem to be blurry, probably because I haven’t paid much attention to them in studying my own astrological chart over many years. Sagittarius, for example, seems to be in my blind spot. Can you recommend any books that might help with understanding the zodiac signs as evolutionary paths? Thanks.

  104. On the topic of space, there’s an emphasis in the middle class for building based on “aesthetics” (I use that term loosely! Modern homes are breathtakingly ugly to my mind), and not function. For example, the house I grew up in had a working kitchen, but my parents decided it was a good idea to renovate it a few years ago. It was unfashionable, and the bathrooms needed work, so it made sense to get the kitchen at the same time. The problem is that it no longer functions well as a kitchen.

    There are a few problems, but one example will suffice, as it’s a very big one: most of the pantry space is too high for us to reach without using step stools. The old design was a little more enclosed, but it meant that the pantry was easy to reach, and was thus far more functional.

    I wonder if the insistence on designing buildings to be “fashionable”, without worrying about the function, is either a reflection or cause (or both) of the fact so many people are so interested in having the “right ideas” without giving any thought to the consequences of adopting them….

  105. Changling–re Freud, you might find Frederick Crews biography _Freud: the Making of an Illusion_ interesting–much material from Freud’s recently released papers, diaries, etc. Suggests that the main darkness he probed was his own, projected onto the rest of the society.

    Rita

  106. Thanks for the reply JMG,
    And I think your reply to Samurai was directly relevant too. Focusing was a definite issue with the ‘fire cultus’ idea – it was quite idealistic and lacked grounding. It was sparked from the name/iconography of a regular dancing event, which was where the energy and substance came from in that incarnation. So your questions got me to think deeper into why the fire motif was attractive, and that linked for me into the idea of fire gazing and a general fascination with the flame and it’s offering. In particular, the internet has thrown up a link that seems to offer a way in to reconnect ‘modern types’ (myself included) with the flame, and is to do with the lack of guided experience many have with the raw element:
    https://www.livescience.com/19853-fire-fascination.html
    From a Cos. Doc. viewpoint, this relationship could be beneficial on an elemental and human level, and help open up the avenue of potential naturally. Am thinking it should start really small – me, then work into groups and then… 🙂
    As for higher realities to connect to, my personal drive is to help drive an appreciation that reality goes beyond the material. Always worthy of fireside discussion and analogy making.
    That sound like something? Any other advice gratefully received.

    As an aside, my partner linked me to this a couple of days ago. Didn’t expect that pleasing a visual connection between the planets – what geometry!
    https://www.cosmic-core.org/free/article-254-geometry-of-the-solar-system-part-1-geometric-patterns-of-planets/

  107. Meditation on the idea of “earth-pull”…

    I’ve been reading John Matthews’ “Song of Taliesin.” Before the Great Bard Taliesin was initiated, he was Gwion, the lowly kitchen boy who served Ceridwyn, the earth mother, and her idiot son. In brewing up a recipe intended to grant her son wisdom, Ceridwyn orders Gwion to gather the ingredients and watch the pot, by which means Gwion is accidentally initiated into worldly omniscience instead of the son. Gwion then becomes food for Ceridwyn–she consumes him and gives birth to him again as the poet Taliesin.

    Working with the concepts of the Cos Doc, this is the way the planetary spirit uses initiated humans to evolve through or past maladaptive karma (the idiot son of Ceridwyn), and achieve a new synthesis. Dion Fortune holds up the example given to us by the Christian faith, in which instead of the Great Bard, we have the Great Savior, a master initiate. For me, Siddhartha or David Bowie equally fulfill that role. As we enter more deeply into the Aquarian age we need our guidance, our good examples, and to remember that initiation is an experience of individuals.

  108. Jay Pine, thank you for sharing the link to the article about the geometry of the planets. I had wanted to remember what Plato had to say about the planets, and this is a thread leading into the labyrinth. Those fractal mandalas are wonderful!

    This blog is re-setting my feet on the path I had thought I had lost, but had only left behind.

    Thank you all.

  109. After I posted, I realized the title of my upcoming book will be Sacred Homemaking, not Sacred Housekeeping. Whoops! I’m in the thick of writing it right now; I work on it every morning after I do the Sphere of Protection. I have no idea how long it will take, unfortunately. I bought a domain name for it already, so that will be the best place to check for updates: http://sacredhomemaking.net/

    There’s a forest preserve I visit regularly that features a small, manmade lake and a hill made of the excavated material of all of the subdivisions built in the area 40 years ago. I got lost in it yesterday and found myself wading through chest-deep grass and wildflowers, a mouldering sofa, and heaps of concrete and junk. I found the place where some homeless people had tents and lean-tos and realized I was in a dangerous situation. I got out of there as fast as I could, but because I was well off the path, it was thick brush in some spots and muddy crick in others.

    I haven’t been deep in it like that since I was a teen and hiked the Sleeping Bear Dunes. I found myself much more sensitive to what the forest was saying than I was back in the 80s. I was led out by the forces who knew I was in danger, including my own holy guardian angel. They told me to climb a ridge, which I did, and I popped out onto an official path.

    I consider the trees there to be my friends. The whole forest welcomes me whenever I visit. It was frightening not because of the forest itself but because I worried about the predatory instincts of other people. Had I been relaxed enough to snap photos with my phone, I could have taken some gorgeous photos.

    The spirits of place who got me out of my latest jam in the forest, the spirits of the places we live, and the forces behind the elements we take for granted are all there, waiting to talk to us if we’re willing to do the work involved in listening. I’m not special. Weird maybe, special, no. Anyone can do the work and hear them, and there a thousand ways to Sunday of doing the work. They want us to listen.

  110. Go for it, Kimberly! Homemaking is a vocation that gets no respect these days.

    Patricia, leg- and armpit-shaving started as a scheme in WW I to sell razors to all adults instead of half of them. I always thought it was silly and would be perfectly happy to see it go away. I’ll do it if I need to, e.g. if I were on a job interview, otherwise I don’t bother.

  111. Goldenhawk, good. That is to say, you were following Fortune’s advice even before you’d heard it. 😉 As for the zodiacal paths, I don’t recall encountering anything on the subject, though for all I know there are books about it.

    Kevin, very much so. Behind that is the weird but pervasive habit of enacting a representation of life rather than actually living — your parents wanted a representation of a good kitchen, and got one, rather than actually getting a good kitchen. I may do a post on this sometime.

    Jay, my concern here is that ritual practices that don’t have an explicit contact with the divine very often develop implicit contacts with things that are far from divine. Not everything disembodied is your friend, you know…

    Dragon, that’s an intriguing interpretation! Thank you for this.

    Patricia M, I hope so. I’ve always thought that the fixation on removing all bodily hair was uncomfortably suggestive of pedophilia.

    Kimberly, delighted to see the project coming alone. I’ve had similar experiences in the woods, for what it’s worth.

  112. JMG, me too! The hairless-armpit thing has creeped me out ever since I learned what child molesting is.

  113. Lady Cutekitten — I know, right? Makes no sense. We all like to eat, so it follows that cooking is valuable and important. We all like to get a good night’s sleep and to have comfortable shelter, so it follows that homemaking is important.

  114. Re: Kitchens, et al.
    Interesting. I’ve always thought spaces that were designed to be highly functional were inherently beautiful. You can ‘prettify’ them, if you must, by choice of material…

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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