Book Club Post

The Cosmic Doctrine: The Building of the Atom

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 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; 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 4, “The Building of the Atom,” p. 23-26.

Millennium Edition: Chapter 3, “The Building of the Atom,” pp. 32-35, and the first two pages of the following chapter.


The material in this chapter is easy to misunderstand, so it’s probably wise to revisit two points before going on.  First, it’s essential to keep in mind the basic rule Fortune puts at the beginning of the text—“These images are not descriptive but symbolic, and are intended to train the mind, not to inform it.”  Second, this is a textbook of occult philosophy, not of physics. When Fortune discusses atoms in this chapter, she’s using the concept of the atom as a metaphor, not talking about atoms as imagined by the scientists of her time, or for that matter of ours.

Too many students of The Cosmic Doctrine lose track of this basic rule somewhere in these early chapters, and end up trying to force Fortune’s metaphor to fit current scientific notions of atomic structure, or vice versa.  This isn’t helpful at all when you’re trying to make sense of the basic concepts of occult philosophy expressed in terms of visual metaphors—which is after all what we’re doing here.

With this in mind, let’s proceed to the text. The chapter begins with a crisp summary of the nature of Fortune’s (metaphorical) atoms: they consist of two opposing movements locked into a relationship with each other, so that they spin around each other.  I suspect Fortune had the Yin-Yang symbol in mind when she wrote this; whether or not this is true, it makes a fitting visual emblem of the concept in question. While the two movements that form the atom are locked into their relationship, the vortex they form by their spinning isn’t frozen in place; it can move.

Fortune’s metaphor likens this to a waterspout drifting over the sea, but as I write this, another metaphor comes forcefully to mind.  Just as the Cosmos in The Cosmic Doctrine consists solely of movements in space, a hurricane like the one currently bearing down on the US east coast consists solely of movements in warm wet air; a hurricane is a vortex surrounding a Central Stillness; and it moves according to a complex logic of its own, veering this way and that in response to the atmospheric conditions around it. Replace atmospheric conditions with movements in space, and the same is true of the vortices Fortune describes.

Left to themselves, given the principles we’ve already covered, the atoms would probably move in circles, but they’re not left to themselves. They’re formed in the seething cauldron of energies of the Central Sun, in the angles where the Twelve Rays interpenetrate, and so as they’re born they’re jostled and shoved and flung from side to side, and so they end up moving in sudden, jerky, angular patterns. These settle out into geometric patterns—triangles, squares, pentagons, and so on up to decagons (ten-sided figures).

Just as a planet has two motions—it spins around its own axis, and it also revolves around its sun—an atom has two motions:  the two movements that form it spin around each other, and the vortex created by that spin moves through an angular pattern. Once they have settled into a stable pattern, the atoms can then begin to interact with each other. This takes time, but eventually atoms moving in parallel come into interaction and become linked together in a common pattern of movement.  The more atoms gather together in this way, the more of an attraction the resulting mass exerts on other atoms—and the more the mass is affected by the tides of the Cosmos, the great patterns of movement set in motion by the Rings, Rays, and Circles.

Our text finishes sketching this out, and then plunges straight into one of the most important concepts of The Cosmic Doctrine. Back at the beginning of the first chapter, you were asked to imagine empty space flowing, and told that since space is frictionless, once it starts flowing, it keeps flowing forever. Again, this is a metaphor, but it’s one of immense power and importance.

Every movement of space persists forever.  If you move the point of a pen an inch across a sheet of paper, that movement sets space in motion, and the motion never goes away. In the normal way of things, such a motion quickly gets absorbed in some larger pattern of movement, but the Cosmos is never quite the same as it would have been if the movement hadn’t happened. This is true of every action, every word, and every thought.

Each movement lays down what our text elsewhere calls a “track in space.”  When another movement more or less parallel to the first takes place, it will tend to be drawn into that track in space, and to the extent that it follows the track, it reinforces it. As more movements repeat the same motion, following the track left by the original movement, the track becomes more and more strongly fixed, so that any movement that even roughly approximates the original movement will be drawn into the track and follow along the original movement.

We all know this in a personal sense. Repeat the same action over and over again, and it becomes a habit; reinforce the habit often enough, and it becomes fixed. An old but still valid maxim from the New Thought movement phrases it elegantly:  “Sow a thought and reap a deed; sow a deed and reap a habit; sow a habit and reap a character; sow a character and reap a destiny.”

The same rule also applies, however, beyond the personal level. A few years back a scientist named Rupert Sheldrake ran experiments that demonstrated this effect. He showed, for example, that English schoolchildren who didn’t know a word of Japanese were able to learn a Japanese children’s song faster than they learned a sequence of nonsense syllables set to the same tune. Why?  Because generations of Japanese children, learning that song, laid down tracks in space that the English schoolchildren could follow half the world away. Sheldrake’s book A New Science of Life was duly denounced in the scientific literature—the dogma that material effects can only have material causes is deeply entrenched in scientific thought—but nobody ever proved that his experimental evidence was invalid.

To students of occult philosophy, however, Sheldrake’s book came as no surprise, not least because The Cosmic Doctrine discussed the same effect half a century in advance. It’s precisely because repetition has the effects it does that so many occultists perform a single ritual daily, and permit changes in important ceremonies only for very good reasons. Spontaneity has its own gifts to offer, but far more often than we realize, when we think we’re being spontaneous, we’re simply following a set of tracks in space laid down by others in the past.

The implications of this principle reach very far indeed. Several of the implications are discussed in the next few paragraphs of our text. First we learn that as the prime atoms come into being and organize themselves, they are drawn into patterns of movement already set in motion—the great patterns of the Rings, Rays, and Circles that form the Cosmos. Over time, as a result, each of the great composite atoms that emerge from the Central Stillness takes on the form of a miniature Cosmos. Much of the rest of The Cosmic Doctrine focuses on what happens within those smaller Cosmoi, which Fortune and the scientists of her time called Universes, and which we now call solar systems.

The same rule then applies to the things that come into being within those solar systems, including you and me. Everything that exists is conditioned by the larger system in which it exists. In the words of the Emerald Tablet, the great foundational text of ancient alchemy: “That which is above is as that which is below, and that which is below is as that which is above, to perform the miracles of the One Thing.”  That rule applies at all levels. Any pattern of movements that establishes itself as a steady rhythm becomes a foundation on which later realities must build.

The text asks us to imagine a prime atom that moves in a triangular pattern because of the influences acting on it at the time of its formation. As it interacts with other forces, the basic triangular movement becomes modified into a pattern of three interwoven spiraling movements, a little like that shown in the diagram. Behind that complex pattern lies the simple geometry of the equilateral triangle, shown by the dotted lines. Take this metaphor and apply it, and it becomes possible to see how, behind the intricately interwoven spirals of life, a scaffolding of basic patterns can be traced. Understand the patterns and you understand where the spirals are going and why.

Each prime atom, in Fortune’s metaphor, consists of just such a pattern of spirals traced around one of eight possible geometrical figures, from the triangle to the decagon. Each prime atom forms connections with other atoms that have the same geometrical basis—as our text says, “whose angles of stress are similar”—and the composite atoms that result begin to drift outward from the Central Stillness, following the lines of one of the Rays and passing from the center into the first of the Circles. There the composite atoms unite with other composite atoms of the same basic geometry to create even more complex composites, and these then drift out into the Second Circle, where the process repeats with similar results. Eventually the whole Cosmos, right out to the Ring-Pass-Not, is full of atoms, ranging from prime atoms in their pure state in the Central Stillness to unimaginably complex atoms in the Seventh Circle.

It’s when some of these extremely complex atoms take on one more level of complexity that the process of Cosmic evolution proceeds to its next phase.  We’ll discuss that next month.

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. There are a lot of images in this chapter, so take your time and try to imagine each one as clearly as you can.

As you do this, 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 October 10. Until then, have at it!


  1. This has finally helped to answer a question I’ve been pondering a lot recently since starting my Customer Service job and noticed during the day there will be a common pattern for the reasons people call during the day. That pattern may change day to day so that I wonder what sort of calls will be common for the day, but there is always a pattern. Now I’ve got an answer to why that happens, and it’s one of the occult, not materialistic! Quite exciting stuff we are covering, thank you JMG, as always!

  2. John–

    Re the laying down of tracks and tapping into tracks previously laid down

    If a ritual, prayer, practice, et cetera is of analogous form, though not precisely the same, does one tap into that which has been elsewhere established, though perhaps to a lesser degree? What came to mind as I read that portion of the post was the bit of Latin with which you helped me a few years back — my “Gaia Thea,” as it were — which is so closely modeled on, and structurally similar to, the “Ave Maria.” Am I, by reciting that prayer regularly as I do, availing myself to some degree to the centuries of previously-established ritual? (Certainly not an intent of design, but a benefit not to be discarded, if true.)

  3. “He showed, for example, that English schoolchildren who didn’t know a word of Japanese were able to learn a Japanese children’s song faster than they learned a sequence of nonsense syllables set to the same tune. Why?”

    Because languages have patterns, songs have rhymes and similar?

    You’re not the only writer I follow that’s for morphic resonance, but I don’t see how emergence, efficiency etc don’t suffice. People do the same things in the same situations because those are the easiest / most obvious / best things to do.

    From a “train the mind, not inform it” perspective, sure you can call those underlying reasons movement in space. But to me it sounds like saying things fall because things previously have fallen, and not because of gravity.

  4. I remember reading some years ago that Rosicrucians believed that the Roman Catholic Church would lose a great deal of power if it abandoned the Latin Mass because the repetition around the world of identical words built up energy. At the time I had no background to understand the reasoning, but it did make a intuitive sense. I assume that Fortune would have agreed with that idea. Especially when one considers that the mass was not just performed for public worship but also by individual monks and basically would have been being performed somewhere in the world every hour of the day. Which is still true, just not in Latin everywhere. On the other hand, growing up Protestant, I was taught to regard this sort of thing as mindless repetition of prayers and basically superstitious.

    I recently read _Aleister Crowley and Dion Fortune: the Logos of the Aeon and the Shakti of the Age_ by Alan Richardson. It was fairly interesting, although his method of working backwards through the lives of both figures was a little confusing IMO. I hadn’t realized the extent of the contacts between the two, although knowing how small and overlapping the occult world of England was it isn’t really surprising. I wouldn’t recommend this book to the top of a reading list, but it would be of interest to anyone studying this period and the personalities who shaped it.


  5. Would materialists likely consider harmonic resonance to be the modern, scientific equivalent to what Dion Fortune is explaining here?

  6. Prizm, that’s a good practical example.

    David, yes, that would follow. To extend Fortune’s metaphor a little, the tracks in space provide some momentum to anything moving in something like the same direction, and some drag on anything moving in something like the opposite direction.

    Sofie, good. Have you checked to see whether Sheldrake controlled for those variables?

    Rita, to my mind the Rosicrucians were quite correct, and the dramatic tailspin that’s been suffered by the Roman church since the Latin Mass was abandoned is evidence for this.

    Prizm, I’d encourage you to read Sofie’s comment to see how materialists respond to the concepts we’re discussing!

  7. JMG
    Yes, I was thinking of Sheldrake before I reached that paragraph. Smile

    It might be relevant – thus when we follow the track to knowledge already ‘out there’ but not yet in our personal universe?

    Conversely, it can be strange to tread new ground. I remember inventing a simple device whose working logic appeared (and still appears) to be genuinely ‘new’. It was a very strange feeling not felt before nor since. The device seemed surprisingly difficult – given its simplicity – for others to understand even with a working example.

    Phil H

  8. I’ve noticed in conversation with many people that they often seek answers in concrete terms. Few seem to realize that even our verbiage is abstract. It seems an often mentioned metaphor that some Native American tribes have describing life as a web is a great equivalent metaphor. Every action in the web can be see across the web in it’s entirety. It’s a useful way to remind ourselves of how everything is inter-connected and how one movement can be felt far, far away. In the real world, there are no bounds whether of distance or time, or whatever other abstract unit of measurement a person decides to use to describe the measurement.

  9. How is the Japanese language ever easy and obvious, especially to a child who has never spoken it?

  10. Hey all,

    Keep coming back to complex adaptive systems theory when I read these posts, and many of your books. Is CAD the modern spin on this? The context I’ve seen CAD discussed is learning and the non-linear nature of second language learning. You try, get a bit better, you try some more, feel like your getting worse, get better, realise you don’t know what you think you did, try some more (or don’t and pack it in)etc. Are there infliction points here? Points in what were discussing? The point at which the simple becomes complex, that grain of sand that causes the pile to fall? Apologies all a bit vauge, just can’t can’t away from CAD. Another world from that lexicon is dynamic equilibrium which seems relevant to this context…..cheers

  11. Dear JMG,
    any chemical working in the development of new crystals or polymers can attest the existance of that “the track becomes more and more strongly fixed” to be followed by others. When someone sinthezysis a new compound, as soon as the process is established, it often occurs that another lab, half world away will produce the same by accident. I eard the same occurs in animal behavior…For humans many other coincidences are intriguing as the invention of coins for instance.
    In this universe of Ms Fortune the most complex structures are the closer to the ring caos, good thing that the ring pass not is there! The stilness in the centre is it as still as the inmanifested outside the ring caos? It probably doesn’t matter, the universe doesn’t go that far….

  12. @Sofie – “From a ‘train the mind, not inform it’ perspective, sure you can call those underlying reasons movement in space. But to me it sounds like saying things fall because things previously have fallen, and not because of gravity.”

    Actually, Sheldrake might actually maintain something like that – at least pertaining to the context we are discussing (since context is everything, in the end). He seems to regularly cite an experiment whereby lab rats had to perform certain actions in order to their get their reward. Over time, as the identical experiment was done at different locations globally, they saw that it became easier for the rats to go through the routine, and more quickly… to me, that sounds more like “fallen” and not merely “gravity”…

    @JMG – As for the English schoolchildren who didn’t know Japanese but were able to learn a Japanese children’s song faster than they learned a sequence of nonsense syllables set to the same tune… Sheldrake has previously cited another experiment wherein participants, who didn’t know the Hebrew language or alphabet, were to indicate which Hebrew characters were genuine or fake, as a handful were thrown into the mix which had been “designed” for the test. The resulting high number mostly favored a correct identification. So, in this case, while the genuine Hebrew characters were easier to discern, suggesting the effects of resonance, the non-genuine ones produced no intuitive recognition.

    Incidentally, Sheldrake (who self-identifies as being a skeptic) seems usually pretty astute in performing the necessary due dilligence with respect to experiment controls, etc.

  13. “Each movement lays down what our text elsewhere calls a “track in space.” When another movement more or less parallel to the first takes place, it will tend to be drawn into that track in space, and to the extent that it follows the track, it reinforces it.”

    I am way over my head with this stuff, but this calls to mind something you wrote, it may have been “the strange absence of belly bones” or similar. Once a path is set in motion in evolution, there is no going back, or so it would seem. Our ancestors developed a back bone, end of story.

    If we imagine ET’s examining life here (“higher” life forms, insects and bacteria are much more interesting), they might find Earth hopelessly boring. “They all are the same, a torso with attachments, one for observation/analysis, with the same equipment, two sensors for electromagnetic radiation, two for vibration in the atmosphere, one for chemicals in same, an opening for taking in O2 and stuff for it to oxidize, lower down for appendages used mostly for locomotion. Etc., etc. the place is hardly worth any more attention.”

  14. Phil, I bet! Genuinely new ideas are rare, and they’re also difficult to grasp.

    Prizm, it’s one of the common downsides of the maturation of a civilization that its language becomes increasingly abstract, and thus increasingly detached from the concrete realities of human experience. We start off with the concrete image of a spider’s web, and end up with an abstract concept like interconnection, which has advantages but also loses the grounding in concrete reality that lets us recognize, as the fly discovers the hard way, that too much interconnection is not an advantage…

    Kimberly, of course it isn’t. Sofie was using a rhetorical gimmick here to prop up her ad hoc argument.

    Shizen, I’m not at all familiar with complex adaptive systems theory as such — plain old ordinary systems theory was the grounding of my studies in ecology. Be careful, though, that you don’t fall into the trap of thinking that because you’ve got another set of metaphors that you can use to model the phenomenon, that those metaphors are the truth about the phenomenon…

    Elodie, that’s fascinating — I didn’t happen to know that. Yes, extreme complexity is closer to chaos than simplicity — I suspect we all know that from personal experience — and the stillness of the central sun is of a very different kind than the stillness of the Unmanifest — think of the difference between a ballet dancer perfectly still on one toe, held in exquisite balance by the perfect control of muscular motion, and the same ballet dancer sound asleep in bed the night after the performance, with every muscle limp. The former’s the central sun, the latter’s the Unmanifest.

    Petrus, oh, I know. I tend to ask that question of people who bring up ad hoc arguments to try to counter Sheldrake’s work, precisely because his experiments are by and large very capably designed, and if they go back and read what he’s written they tend to discover that they’re engaged in handwaving!

    Michael, good! Yes, that was “A Peculiar Absence of Bellybones,” which you can reread here. That’s certainly part of it. Don’t worry about being over your head with this material, by the way — it’s very complex, challenging stuff, and it takes a lot of close study to get everything it has to teach. If you keep working at it, though, you’ll learn some useful things.

  15. John–

    Re your reply to Shizen, metaphors, traps, and the truth of phenomena

    Because the truth underlying the phenomenon in question is not, in the end, attainable?

  16. Again, JMG a fascinating commentary on some really dense concepts!
    I wonder again if the tracks laid down by a ritual are not affected by the apparent direction of time. We could think of a ritual as having a lifetime– Suppose there is a hypothetical god, Ozymandius. Someone, somewhere did the first ritual honoring Ozymandius (and was blown out of her socks by the positive response). Then perhaps millenia later, the very last person did the very last ritual to Ozymandius–Perhaps the track that all of these practitioners followed does not get better with our experienced passage of time, but is more like a resonating structure of power affected by all practitioners (apparent past, apparent present, and apparent future) throughout its timeline. Any thoughts on that?
    Oh, and apologies in advance to anyone who may be worshipping Osymandius. 🙂

    I experienced something of this while growing up in a Protestant Church while singing the hymns. The verse, “Time, like a never-ending stream/ Bears all its sons away/ They fly, forgotten as a dream / Does at the break of day” always seemed to put me in the middle of a vast number of folks, singing those words in a single, transcendent place–as if everyone who ever sang it once, only EVER sang it once, all together, outside of time and space.

    That would explain why ‘Gaia Thea’ might be as powerful an experience as ‘Ave Maria.” Also could explain why AODA practitioners experienced positive results even while believing that the rituals were made up, and quite recently. What if AODA (or any other group of recent origin) turns out to be just at the beginning of a multi-millennial run, and its members are benefitting from the resonance of rituals far in our apparent future?

    Changing subjects, I continue to experience synchronicities between the text and other life experiences–
    The building of atoms in Fortune’s model reminds me very much of the fractal patterns that seem to pop up everywhere in nature. Fractals start large and the patterns repeat in smaller and smaller versions of themselves. Repetitions of the same grand theme on smaller and smaller scales ad infinitum. Sound familiar??
    I think Benoit Mandelbrot was mathematically working this stuff out in the 1980’s, and to me the parallels are just gob-smacking!
    Mandelbrot says that his fractals start as lines with one (1) dimension, but as the iterations continue, the dimensions approach two (2). A fractal can have, for example, a dimensionality of 1.7, somewhere between a line and a plane. I’ll be interested to see if that pops out of Fortune’s work as things move along. 🙂

  17. Growing up in the trades many moons ago, the old WWII vets hammered home the habits of doing things right, in the same pattern they were taught. You would embrace it because it was time honored. They embraced it to forget the horrors and move on in a positive and constructive way.. I walk, bike or drive about today…those ideals are lost, hence the ugliness and disassociation.

  18. The first question that occurred to me in regard to the “atoms” was what happened to the number two? We have one, and then three through ten. The second is in relation to the comment from Sofie regarding gravity; there’s a sort of question begging here; as if we actually understood what gravity is. Has anyone detected or measured the posited “graviton”? I remember reading in some popular physics texts speculation that the laws of physics themselves are not constant but subject to an evolution.

    I’ve read a good deal of Sheldrake’s writing. I seem to recall two names of people who preceded him in his line of thinking: C.S. Peirce and C.H. Waddington (who came up with the notion of chreodes decades earlier.)

    JMG: I find that your commentaries on CosDoc are helpful; I plowed through it on my own with little understanding a couple of years ago, but this is helping.

  19. OK, Philsharris, being an inventor (wannabe) myself, I have to ask, what is the device?
    Michael Clark

  20. I found conversing in (simple) Japanese much easier than the equivalent level in Spanish. Japanese grammar was much more logical than Spanish grammar and so it was much easier to see and follow patterns. I don’t think I’d ever have been able to memorize the 1800 kanji you need to read the paper, though. I was always getting my kanji mixed up.

  21. It occurs to me that “bundles” of these tracks would make for a powerful egregor within groups, locations or times. That seems to be supported by Sheldrakes’ results.

    Facinating read and great comments!

  22. I want to thank you in general for writing this series, and I want to thank you so much for that diagram of the triangle as three spirals. I found that incredibly helpful.

    I’m still struggling a little with the last paragraph or two… specifically with the equilibrium and what oversets it.
    “The oversetting of the balance is due to the same forces as set up the primal Rings” (which was that prime movement coming from the unmanifest?)
    “such an equilibrium being only a maintaining of position of movements relative one to another being therefore a relative stillness, must always overbalance”
    (which seems to me to imply that it was not truly an equilibrium, and just an almost equilibrium)

    Also, Since I’m spending so much time on going through this line-by-line, I thought I would start typing up my novice grappling with each part and posting it on my personal blog. Hopefully you don’t mind the outgoing link, if you do, of course, feel free not to approve the comment.

  23. I wrote the below comment last month, but it took me till Monday. So most of my comment is related to the 3rd chapter. Chapter 4 seems very straightforward, so no questions yet. I just got a new 2000 copy, because my 1988 copy fell to pieces. I am excited to see there are drawings at the end. I may rethink the Rays, since I did not imagine the spirals to be so tight, but I’ll leave my original thoughts on the Rays below. Also, since I started reading this book, my life has improved significantly.

    I struggled to visualize the 12 Rays: Because Fortune says the Rays are circular, spiraling, and form figure 8 pairs, I was trying to imagine ways that they would be evenly spaced out to fill all the space within the sphere. I first came up with something like the swirly inside of a marble, with six rays in the upper half and 6 rays in the lower half, all meeting at the center. If I understand your description correctly, they are more like 12 orange slices or a magnetic field. In your diagram, there is a figure 8, but the ray doesn’t fill up the whole space, it stays near the disc, like bicycle spokes. It’s hard for me to imagine that the rays wouldn’t be filling up the sphere. But perhaps it’s most useful to imagine the disc divided and not worry about what’s happening in the rest of the sphere?

    I spent some time wondering why there would be 12 Rays specifically. My first thought is that each of the quadrants is divided by 3, one each for ring-cosmos, ring-chaos, and ring-pass-not. This continues to make sense since those are the 3 fundamental forces that influence everything. Another thought is related to drawing 12 sided stars with a compass, which I used to do. I still don’t understand why there are 7 Circles, perhaps just 4 + 3? I know you said 12 and 7 are to do with the Mystic Qabalah, so I will read that soon.

    There’s an interesting similarity of the 12 Rays to acupuncture Channels: there are 12 Channels and 8 Vessels. The 12 Channels are for daily energy flow, like rivers, and the 8 Vessels are reservoirs, supplying the rivers. The 8 Extraordinary Vessels are formed at the meeting of the egg (Yin) and the sperm (Yang). When they meet, the first two Vessels are generated– front and back, the polar axis) The first two cellular divisions create the other 6 Vessels. With the 1st cell division – left front, left back, right front, & right back are formed. In the 2nd division – the waist & vertical cores are formed. The 8 Vessels follow closely the original formation of the cosmos. The 8 Vessels are formed first and then it divides into 12 channels to grow the body (doubled by mirror image, so 6 for each leg and 6 for each arm). All of them are meeting in the head or torso, forming a circuit. Energy flow completes a circuit through all 12 channels each 24 hour period.

    In a Yin-Yang symbol, the ring-pass-not is the ‘S’ line dividing black and white. I do not imagine it having any space, as it is the transition between two opposites. Although Fortune says there is a space there, I don’t think that really matters because it is an impossible place. I see the ring-pass-not as connected to the concept of Metal in Chinese 5 Elements theory. Metal is halfway between solid and liquid. When you melt earth, metal seeps out, and becomes liquid. So Earth generates Metal, Metal generates Water. It only makes sense when you think of these substances as phase changes of the same substance. In Chinese medicine the skin, lungs, and intestines are considered Metal tissues. These are the body’s internal/external barriers. You can think of Metal as electrified, it is constantly oscillating between two states. Also it is like plasma. The spark of life. Only when opposing forces are engaged, does life occur.

    The cross or the two rings: I hadn’t thought of the cross as two crossing rings looked upon from above until now. Also if you looked at two orthogonal waves on end, you would also see a cross. I’m starting to understand more about the use of the cross and circle in rituals.

    When the first current begins, the time it travels in a straight line before slowing down is eons long. But since there is no frame of reference, that time could be as short as an inhalation. Then when the line slows down and returns to it’s starting point, that’s the length of an exhale. As each layer of complexity is added, time dilates, because there is a previous point of reference. That’s a way to think of the center expanding. “the whole of evolution turns upon the difference in size between the planes.”

    Ova and Sperm: a point in infinity gains awareness (Yin – a stationary point), then there is an inspiration to move (Yang – motive force), and it becomes a line that moves forward without slowing down (Yin – the line becomes unchanging). It has a second inspiration (Yang) and decides to slow down. The first line circles round as it slows and creates a circle. It’s like a line drawn on a piece of paper and you roll the paper into a tube and the end of the line meets the beginning. 2 dimensions have been invented. Those are the first 2 breaths of the cosmos.

    Now, imagine that ring is an ova. It’s Yin now (an unchanging circle). Third breath – Sperm hits the ova and sets it spinning, like a coin. The spark of life. There’s 3 dimensions now. I hear a bell ringing when it starts.

    I was really stuck on understanding why the second ring spins off in a certain direction, the “opposite” direction. Why is the opposite direction at a right angle? That didn’t make sense to me. And why does the second ring happen to be on the same axis as the first ring?

    Here’s my attempt to understand this. Before the first ring started spinning like a coin, it was floating in infinity. There were no outside currents for a point of reference. Currents were going off at right angles in all directions as the circle was formed, but all of them spun off into infinity. Infinity is the place where all things continue to exist forever and all permutations are possible. And yet nothing is possible, because there are no limits. Only one location for the second ring to begin is sustainable. That location is where the original current takes off, the beginning point. There is no axis yet, but the two unequal forces (inhale and exhale) eventually find an equilibrium and form a groove in infinity (they must be extraordinarily stable to do that). If imagining this on a wave graph, there are two waves moving in opposite directions (when one goes up, the other goes down. Ring chaos is a mirror image of the ring cosmos. It’s the shadow side or Yin.) The recurring point where the two waves meet at zero is the place where the second ring takes off. This is when the two waves, originally on the same X-Y axis, separate and form a Z axis. Since they repel each other, one of the waves will rotate to the Z axis in order to be as far away from the other wave as possible. It’s only when the second ring takes off, that the axis is formed. So it starts with orthogonal waves and when you look at them on end, you see a cross. Later, when the cross starts spinning, you see a sphere.

  24. David, that’s true, but not actually the point here. The point I wanted to make is that people these days get so caught up in equating one set of metaphors to another that they end up thinking that one set of metaphors is the reality behind some other set. Consider the way that a lot of people who read Jung — though not, I hasten to say, Jung himself — came to think of Jung’s theory of archetypes as the reality behind the metaphor of gods. Au contraire, gods and archetypes are two different sets of metaphors for a set of concrete human experiences; as Jung himself pointed out, in the end, all of Jungian psychology is just one more myth of individuation…

    Emmanuel, excellent! Yes, in fact that seems to be the case to at least some extent. Certainly people nowadays seem to have had no trouble picking up the tracks in space even from very old Pagan traditions, and it wouldn’t surprise me if some of the new but very powerful magical workings I’ve done, or seen done, got their power from people doing them in the future.

    Dennis, true enough. If someone wanted to take up those patterns again, though, the tracks in space are still there…

    Phutatorius, in magical philosophy two is always transient. You have the Ring-Cosmos and Ring-Chaos, and then they generate the Ring-Pass-Not. You have two movements coming into interaction, and then they form an atom and stop functioning as two separate things. Glad to hear that these commentaries are useful!

    Pogonip, my experience with Japanese is that the grammar is simple but the vocabulary is very subtle, loaded with connotations, and tricky…

    Gawain, good. Yes, “a bundle of tracks in space” is a good working metaphor for an egregor.

    Harry, no objection at all. As for the equilibrium, it’s a true equilibrium, but like everything else in the Cosmos, it rests on the Cosmic framework of Rings, Rays, and Circles, and when the Rings pivot around and their influences change, everything else changes. It’s as though you built a house of cards on a table, got everything stable and balanced, and then tipped the table…

    Nano, the magical cycles of the day, lunar month, solar year, and various larger cycles.

    Radha, these are excellent meditations on the themes of the text. Keep on going!

  25. Sofie: “People do the same things in the same situations because those are the easiest / most obvious / best things to do.”

    Who or what makes them easiest to do? As an example, learning a language is obviously a faculty of mind. I doubt that when comparing all the languages spoken around the world, anybody could find a common characteristic of what makes a language or alphabet “easiest / most obvious / best thing to do” – so there seems to be no “natural law” (like gravity) behind this.

    Prizm: “Would materialists likely consider harmonic resonance to be the modern, scientific equivalent to what Dion Fortune is explaining here?”

    Resonance (if you want to talk materialistic better leave the harmonic out as an adjective in this context or at least be very careful with how you use it) is to my mind very good as an analogy for a lot of things happening within and between us. (thermodynamics too, especially for large groups of people like a society… 😉 ) However, and unfortunately the true materialist seems somehow to be blocked to this insight, classic science simply do not cover consciousness (and there are a lot of scientific experiments to prove that consciousness does not simply arise from configurations of matter). (it provides us with a intricate language (!) to describe *how* things are – however it does not hand us with a single fundamental *why*)

  26. This “laying down tracks in space” chimes in my mind with the concept of “natural law” – prescriptive ideas which follow particularly deep grooves “laid down in space” by someone/something, be it God, gods, powerful cultures, or other morphically resonating forces.

  27. John–

    Re metaphors and traps

    Rather like thinking, for example, that one shadow is the form casting another shadow, when both are actually different perspectives cast by an still-unseen actuality? So, the challenge is, if I’m seeing this correctly, partly one of remaining mindful to keep one’s symbols pointing toward that unknown/unknowable reality and not get caught in a circular reference where the symbols merely point to one another.

  28. @Michael Clarke
    Honestly I wasn’t fishing! Smile
    I went through an ‘invention’ phase 35 years ago.
    Some more academic insights away from my own field did seem to make, as it turned out, anonymous contributions.

    Rather naively though I got a simple device patented i.e. spent money.
    (Patenting is about making money and I could not back that up. I got some interest but it was the ancillary non-patented stuff that got developed off existing product lines, some of which is still out there I think.)
    Anyway, it was control of gravity-fed watering of fairly evenly spread-out plants on benches in medium large greenhouses. No electrics, no pumps – adjusted itself as plants grew. I was rather fond of it. Still have some photos somewhere I guess. Lovely to hear it speed-up when the sun came out and slow down as a cloud went over.

    I decided, however, as breadwinner I needed to concentrate on some tricky molecular biology I had dumped myself in and did not know enough about.

    very best of luck
    Phil H

  29. Hi JMG, This is a very interesting and challenging pursuit. Much of this is strange and new to me, but it seems this might be an aspect, or THE aspect of “the fundamental interconnectedness of all things” made famous by Dirk Gently which is, in fact, the basic law of Ecology??

    As always, Thanks!


  30. As I thought about the atoms and their shapes, the ideas of the Platonic shapes, sacred numbers and geometry came to mind and how very fundamental they seem to me. I always feel I am brushing up against some “occult” foundation of the universe when I contemplate those numbers and shapes.

  31. @Sofie

    “But to me it sounds like saying things fall because things previously have fallen, and not because of gravity.”

    I’d say it is both. The mass of the Earth is such because so much mass already did fall (due to gravity) to create the Earth. Things fall the way they do now (with a specific acceleration rate and terminal velocity) because of all of the previous falling.

    The previous falling on the Moon determines the way in which things fall there now.


    If the spirit of the cosmos were to attempt to describe a celestial dynamo and the process by which complex systems organize themselves in the presence of large energy gradients to a talented medium (or set of mediums), this book is exactly what I would expect the end-result to look like.

    I know you caution repeatedly not to look for too much physics but I cannot HELP but find interesting parallels.

    For instance the results of the first three activities (Movement, Light, Sound) follow the evolution of the early universe.

    The first thing that happened during the big bang was an expansionary phase as the result of the force of Gravity splitting from the wholeness. – Movement.

    At this point the universe consisted of only space and plasma and would have emitted a LOT of photons. – Light

    The next force to split from the wholeness was the Strong Force and the first act of the Strong Force was to create the first gas AKA medium though which vibrations can travel. – SOUND

    Fascinating read. Am enjoying this series quite a bit.


  32. Before we go on, I’ve fielded a small flurry of nearly identical posts by rationalist trolls, all rehashing what’s apparently the current party line over in Debunkerland about why Rupert Sheldrake’s experimental results ought to be ignored. Folks, come on. You can find a detailed discussion of the rhetorical gimmick you’re using here — look for the discussion of “ad hoc hypotheses.” If you want to challenge Sheldrake’s experimental results, saying “well, it might have been factor X” or “it must have been factor Y” emphatically does not cut it; in case you’ve forgotten, that’s exactly the kind of logic that was used by the opponents of Copernicus and Darwin back in the day. If you have a hypothesis, fine — run an experiment to test whether your hypothesis is true or not. Until you do that, you’re just shoveling smoke.

  33. At the risk of oversimplifying, I think the entire scientific materialist worldview in general can be characterized as one grand ad hoc hypothesis. You can tell that you hit a nerve when scientific materialist choose to focus on one particular example of your overall essay this week, missing the point of why that example was used in the first place, and in the process dismissing your argument out of hand.

    For me, the picture of the prime atom immediately brought to mind the triquetra, an incredibly potent personal symbol for me, on par with Mjolnir. This is where I really find the value in The Cosmic Doctrine on the first read through; exploring the symbolic meanings and implications of the things Dione Fortune is trying to discuss, how they stand on their own, how they relate and compare to other ways you already interpret the world, and how those interact together to form new ways of thinking. No doubt every read through of the work will open up new paths of thought.

    -Dan Mollo

  34. Robert, good. One of the points that Fortune is trying to make here is that natural laws are the habits of the Cosmos — thus finding, or at least seeking, a useful balance between the observed regularities of the Cosmos and the observed emergence, from time to time, of genuine novelty. I’ve thought more than once of building an argument for Burkean conservatism on the basis of The Cosmic Doctrine — political and cultural institutions and customs have their own deeply rutted “tracks in space,” and settle into an equilibrium which from time to time gets disrupted by changes in the wider cosmos.

    Eduard, exactly. That’s why I cited Sheldrake in the post.

    David, exactly — and just as in Plato’s metaphor, all we can see are the shadows.

    Mac, got it in one. That principle runs all through the Cos. Doc.

    Kay, excellent! The entire tradition of sacred geometry rests on that same insight.

    The Universe, by all means find parallels! The difficulties creep in when people try to rearrange the teachings to fit the latest modern physics, and as long as you avoid that, you’re fine.

    Dan, modern science certainly rests on a couple of unverified and unverifiable hypotheses — above all else, the insistence that every material event must have a material cause. As for Fortune’s work, though, exactly — every time I go through the Cos. Doc., and I’ve done it more than a dozen times, I find different themes to follow up.

  35. Hi JMG, I had seen it on others, but got my first “got it in one” at the beginning of your
    response. Is that as a result of something I did in submitting?



  36. The resonance experiment I’d like to see is one that begins with a population of nonsense rhymes, and splits them into three, randomly selected, groups. The first group is used as a seed for artificial evolution, using methods developed for computer simulations: mutation and cross-pollination with periodic selection of those easiest to memorize. The second would be kept precisely unchanged, but learned by rote with much greater frequency. The final, control, population would remain unchanged, and also would only be memorized as frequently as the evolving population.

    Memes adapt to our minds, after all. My guess is that nursery rhymes “from the wild” have a catchiness, viz. the human nervous system, that their long-forgotten competitors lacked, and that the catchiest parts of a rhyme are likely to inspire similar structures as new rhymes are composed.

    I admit that my experimental design would cost a lot more than the one mentioned here.

  37. Not a comment on the reading per se., but since the subject of learning languages come up I thought I would mention an article in the Sept. 3 issue of The New Yorker, “The Mystery of People who Speak Dozens of Languages” by Judith Thurman. The author interviews a hyperpolyglot and gives a short history of the phenomenon and what it may mean about the nature of language and the nature of learning languages. In case you wonder, the standard for polyglot is fluency in eleven languages.

    Meanwhile I continue to note the complete absence in the other pages of the magazine of any awareness that Trump is not universally hated and despised. A tightly sealed bubble.


  38. What I find fascinating is that if each of us is a separate ring cosmos with accompanying ring pass not, since nothing can escape the ring pass not, everything we think is occurring outside of ourselves is actually occurring inside ourselves. The concept that each of us creates our own universe whose form is dependent on our consciousness is not new, but the Cosmic Doctrine puts an interesting new meaning to it that I am still working on understanding. Thanks to everyone for your insights.

  39. I’m intrigued by the notion of these tracks or grooves in space and behavior being so impactful across time and societies. What happens when a (portion of) society decides that it no longer wants to abide by those long-standing grooves? Their existence would seem to make societal change extremely hard to enact, especially as it would take time to establish different tracks with the depth of “stickiness” as the old ones.

    I’m thinking here of the difficulty in our society (among many) to establish and maintain roles and norms of behavior between men and women or between white and black people that are truly egalitarian and not based on control or ownership or coercion.

    Is this what Fortune means by having to “hate the hate” more and then use love to make new tracks, and that causes the old tracks to get “poisoned” in some way?

    Are there means of speeding up the creation of new tracks described later in the book – of making them “go viral” ? I suppose this is the true understanding of tipping points in dynamic systems.

  40. Mac, I don’t have an algorithm for deciding how to say “that was a great comment,” so I’m not at all sure how to answer!

    Joel, no doubt, but that would be a fascinating experiment.

    Rita, fascinating. I’ll have to check it out as time permits.

    Dan, good. Are you familiar with the old metaphor of the Net of Indra? The story goes that the god Indra has a net; wherever the threads cross, there’s a pearl; in the surface of every pearl, every other pearl in the net is reflected. This, the story goes on to say, is the universe; all sentient beings are pearls, and each of us reflects, and is reflected by, all the rest of us.

    KF, excellent! Yes, that’s exactly it. If you want to establish a different set of tracks in space, you and others have to repeat the same actions over and over again. That’s why it’s so important to follow Gandhi’s advice to be the change you want to see in the world — you have to enact the change in order to lay down the tracks in space for others to follow.

  41. The motion of the atom described in this chapter, and the drawing you provided here remind me of the sephera and paths of the Tree of Life, the vorticies expanding through the Four World’s. I’ll most likely have trouble sleeping again tonight with these thoughts bouncing around. I appreciate the discussion and comments very much!

  42. “Tracks in space”, yes, it’s fascinating how this stuff makes full sense, but sometimes only after someone with the benefit of experience and insight was able to distill it down into a simple message. It also explains the experience my mate had with the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, he believed that the summoning version went clockwise, with the nanishing version going anti-clockwise. He described the experience as basically like having a bucket of cold water tipped over his head constantly.

  43. “These then are the primary influences; they may be thought of as the framework of the cosmos.”

    “But these new universes, as they are called, while they have the same laws as the Cosmos before described, are also influenced by that framework of the Cosmos which was built before they began, and you will find that this law holds good throughout all manifestation.”

    These two statements remind me of a passage from the Tao Te Ching: “Heaven’s net is vast; though its meshes are wide, nothing escapes.”

    Meditating on the Rings with the Rays emanating from the center and then cut across by the Circles, I definitely start to get the impression of a net, drawn in lines of force. This net of forces permeates every aspect of the Cosmos. It influences every plane from the spiritual right on down through to the material, in spite of what the Sheldrake-deniers might like to believe.

    And on a different note, in thinking about the atoms and different polygons, I got to thinking about how each of the vertices (corners) of the polygon is a point where it is being acted upon by one of the tangential forces. The force is pulling on it at that point and deforming it into a new shape. This made me think about various times in my life when I have felt pulled in many different directions, with so many different needs motivating me to try to take action, or preventing me from taking action. My desire for stability, food, sex, love, mental stimulation, belonging, power etc. are really just the various forces acting on me, which I mistake as ‘my’ own desires.

    I have no idea if that is what she is actually getting at here. This is a tough row to hoe.

  44. Can I use the metaphor and symbolism of an atom in this manner..

    Atoms can combine with other atoms to create molecules. Just as oxygen can combine with carbon to create CO2 or with another atom of oxygen to create O2, there are many things in life which may have similar roots, connections, and/or patterns which appear on the outside to be very different. A real life example is spirituality. Christianity and Islam are often at loggerheads today, yet they are both spiritual paths yet which had some similar roots. The same could likely be said for a great many other spiritualilities.

  45. Onething, which process did you have in mind? I’m not at all sure I understand.

    Gawain, not surprising — when Fortune wrote this, she’d been working with the Golden Dawn version of the Tree of Life for decades. Glad the commentary’s helpful!

    Peter, interesting. I do the same thing, although I may be beginning and ending from different points than your friend did, and get a very different result.

    Stefania, it seems to me that you’re doing a fine job unpacking Fortune’s metaphors. Keep at it!

    Prizm, the great thing about a metaphor is that you can use it anywhere it fits, and see how much sense it makes. What you’ve suggested sounds reasonable enough to me.

  46. Re the Net of Indra- I’d never heard of the metaphor before, but I immediately recognized the description as very closely related to the image I picture during the SoP ritual during Spirit Within, when I’m envisioning myself at the center of the world. The net I imagine is reddish, like nerve cells or veins, perhaps, and the pearls are more like pulsing nodes, but each one is intimately connected to all the others. So I see myself as the center of this infinite net, sharing vital connection with all the other nodes, uniquely myself and at the same time just another node on the network from perspective of all the other unique nodes at the center of their own universes. Another metaphor to explore- thanks!
    –Heather in CA

  47. The set track phenomenon explains why it is so much easier from a movie marketing perspective to prop up endless sequels instead of taking a chance on an original story. Audiences seem to prefer familiarity to the unknown, almost at any cost. Pop music is insufferable because it relies upon simple, formulaic dirges bleated out by a rotating array of young, interchangeable faces — the “groove” has been set, and of course pop music is more about entertainment than music. Political dynasties take a set track and apply the theory in expectation that the pundit apple does not fall far from the father or mother tree.

  48. Pursuant to our dialogue on natural law:

    you say, “I’ve thought more than once of building an argument for Burkean conservatism on the basis of The Cosmic Doctrine — political and cultural institutions and customs have their own deeply rutted “tracks in space,” and settle into an equilibrium which from time to time gets disrupted by changes in the wider cosmos.”

    Here’s a fundamental related point so obvious it may seem insulting to make it, but yet it needs to be made: a point which, if accepted (as common sense suggests it ought to be), would blow today’s pseudo-“liberalism” sky-high:

    The burden of proof should lie upon the innovator, or upon the new fashion, rather than upon the upholder of tradition.

    It’s not much to ask, and it reasonably leaves open the route to justified change. But the libberoids’ “we’re upholding the self-evident right to marry our pet gerbils” (or whatever the next thing may be), “so shut up or we’ll call you a bigot”, would no longer hold sway.

  49. I have noticed the effects of the tracks in space in at least one modest way. I have a friend who is diligently working on creating a plastic free life. She has gone to great lengths to achieve this and to convince others through setting up demo tables and by her own actions of the wisdom of this path. Just recently I started thinking about how to create a take out and leftover food kit that didn’t include any plastic. My friend does this with stainless steel tiffins and I am using pyrex containers. Out of the blue, another friend, who seldom sees the first friend, started doing the same thing with wooden and ceramic containers. I was quite surprised, but now I think I can understand this a little bit better.

    In trying to reinforce this “track”, I have been making every effort to not get takeout food that isn’t put in my own non plastic containers or use single use plastic objects.

  50. JMG, Thank you!

    Without your gentle insistence that there was a lot to be found in this book, I would never have persevered on to the third attempt and moderate success.

    The key for me was in spending the time to create the mental images as close to the description in the text as I could make them. Noticing that the text constantly swaps back and forth between a 2 dimensional description to a 3 dimensional description I created the images required for each line of text. That means often having two or three mental images for the one concept, then as I read I have the exact image for the text seeing spheres where it mentions spheres or a disc and rings if that is called for.

    Reading through a chapter now I have this vibrant accompaniment of images morphing between dimensions, spinning and flowing. I can feel the pull of the opposing forces, the feeling of balance, the gentle flow of the rays and the sharp angular turns of the atoms. Now two surprises, the first one is that even with all the mental images swirling around, the meaning of the text becomes crystal clear, not the illogical mess that I first encountered. The second surprise is that when I have finished reading, I am left feeling like my brain has had a work out, but not tired, just stimulated. The wild ride just as promised!

    The idea of visualizing a concept then having it constantly change perspective as from 2D to 3D then to a negative shape, is one I first encountered in classical art training. It serves to flip you from your everyday mode of thinking into the mode of thinking you need to be able to paint and draw. That seems to be the same mode of thinking required for this book.

    Special thank you to the commentary team here, I have been reading your thoughts from the lurkers gallery. The spontaneous outburst of poetry was amazing.


  51. I guess this concept of tracks in space also explains why political revolutions always end up replicating the regimes they’ve overthrown e.g. the Bolshevik leaders acting like tsars, the enarques in France resembling an aristocracy etc.

  52. Thanks for the idea of The Net of Indra. I had not heard of it, and will give it some thought. What is also puzzling to me is the concept of the Ring Cosmos/Ring Chaos pair (Good/Evil) that is Spirit/Matter (Chapter 2). This pair of Cosmos/Chaos would mean that our Spiritual self is of the Ring Cosmos while our physical body is of the Ring Chaos. Our Spiritual self is then surrounded by the Ring Pass Not, which would not allow it to communicate with our physical being, “even in thought.” My personal experience is that my higher self can communicate with my lower, physical self. Maybe it is the consciousness of the larger Ring Cosmos that I am a part of that is doing the communication? The other concepts about the Ring Chaos, that it is the springboard from which good may jump to higher planes makes sense from the concept of evolution from life to life. Still much for me to meditate on here.

  53. JMG
    A request – OT but perhaps not entirely so: a few British and Irish readers past and present have established contact and hope to meet in London. (You will be welcome for a beer if only it can be possible in spirit!)

    The numbers have been helped by Matt who ran the London EEE course conference 2014 to whom you gave a talk when you were over here. He has established a private email list and a number of the previous EEE course attendees have come on board to join the relatively fewer number who contacted me when I previously put up a notice on this / your blog a few weeks ago.
    One person has pointed out that it was only luck she found the notice of a proposed London meeting and was able to contact me. Can we give it another try?

    We are tentatively looking at November perhaps in the first quarter of the new moon starting 7th November but would welcome anybody wanting to join the discussion on the new email list. My contact email lightly disguised is philsharris2002 followed by the usual ‘at’

    Very best
    Phil H

  54. So… movement begets movement and yet again. Spinning ring begets rings, and rings turn over. Movement generates more movement, of a different kind yet still movement. Moving rings beget moving rays beget more rings, always moving but not quite the same. Action creates swirls and whorls, ever more movement.

    Pushed and pulled by bigger forces, a movement draws a matching movement, consonance. One winds around the other because the other is there and the same. Spiraling together, leading the way, carving a track, pulling more into the choreography until one may become ten, moving in accordance with the prime movement. Attraction, followed and following, prime atoms laying down paths and trails for others to follow.

    It’s just one huge, enormous, vast dance!!

    Along those lines, I have created several movements that correspond to the various chapters of the Cosmic Doctrine. This has occurred spontaneously as I have read and attempted to understand the text. Once put together, these movements could become a dance someday. Did anyone ever choreograph a movement piece using the CosDoc as inspiration?

    As for tracks in space, new following old, and pattern correspondences, I have a couple of anecdotes:

    First, I used to do a lot of what is called ‘Authentic Movement.’ This consists of a group of people with one person functioning as the witness. All others begin somewhere in the space (a dance studio so no furniture or other encumbrances) with eyes closed. You just wait. You don’t try to do anything in particular. You don’t try to “dance.” You stay open to what wants to move, maybe it’s a finger, maybe it’s a toe, or an arm, a leg, ribs, whatever, could be anything. And you just let that happen and develop into more movement (or not). You try not to let your mind get in the way too much. It’s a very interesting, sometimes intense exploration. The odd thing is that what often happens is that the movers will frequently end up performing the same or similar movements, coordinated with each other even though they have eyes closed, are not touching or talking. It’s quite uncanny to experience, both as mover and as witness.

    Also, some of the Tibetan Buddhist teachers here insist on teaching in Tibetan and having the students learn/recite the sadhanas in Tibetan and Sanskrit. The reasoning is that the pujas (ceremonies) are more potent in these languages because those are the sounds and words that have been used for thousands of years and also because more humans have become enlightened by doing the practices in these languages than in any other language. (Sort of like Latin and the Catholic Mass as Rita Rippetoe mentioned.)

    John Michael, thank you so much for bringing the Cosmic Doctrine into my awareness. I have been a student of movement my entire life and am enjoying the text and these discussions immensely, thinking about movement now as the prime cause. Makes my heart sing,


  55. JMG,

    You say modern science insists that all material events must have a material cause. I certainly believe that, but I was not aware that science did. It seems to me that if you believe this way, you can’t really have existence without an uncaused, self-existent something. I mean, how would the first matter get started without prior matter?

    So when I say that I believe that way, I only mean once the ball is rolling. Materiality itself must have an “other” cause.

    I have a lot of trouble with the concept of nonmaterial. I prefer to divide reality up into that which has some type of existence, and that which does not (and the latter doesn’t really exist). Is it possible to exist and have no substance at all? I am skeptical.

    I believe that humanity got into the habit of describing the mysteries as spiritual and nonmaterial, (because it looks that way) but it was an error.

  56. @onething on the non-material:

    Consider, if you will, being in love. If you examine the body of someone both before and after they have fallen in love, there will definitely be material changes: in muscle tone, in posture, in patterns of blood flow, in hormonal activity, in pheromonal activity, and in many other bodily habits and processes. But these material changes will also differ from one person to another, sometimes in degree, sometimes in other ways. And that is the first step in the argument I wish to make here.

    The second step is to observe that “being in love” is not wholly a subjective, imaginary thing. One can easily notice if one’s friend has fallen in love since the last time you saw them, even if the friend has said nothing about it to you. There is no single clue; there is no invariant set of clues; and also on occasion you may be wrong about your friend’s being in love. Yet, for all that, a friend’s being in love is a thing that on can detect through the use of one’s ordinary, quite material sense-organs.

    The third step is to observe that “being in love” with a friend can–and usually will–produce some sort of emotional resonance in that friend. Your love may be reciprocated, either quickly or over time, slowly. Or the resonance may tend in the opposite direction: your being in love may strongly repel your (former?) friend.

    So “being in love” is definitely not an imaginary thing: it has real consequences in the material world that you share with other humans. In this it is unlike–for example–the imaginary world into which one enters when one reads compelling fiction by oneself, fiction that is very much to your taste, but not really to the taste of any of your friends.

    However, even if it is not an imaginary thing, “being in love” is not–in and of itself–a material thing, either. To be sure, it has material correlates, but these are not the same thing as material causes that invariably produce “being in love” as their deterministic effect. “Being in love” is not the sum of the above-mentioned material changes in the body and physiology of the person who has fallen in love. Any number and combination of those material correlates may be lacking from the body of this or that person who is in love. There is no straightforward way in which “being in love” can follow as an effect invariably caused by those changes in the body.

    Indeed, a human can even learn how to “fall out of love” by choice, though this is a rather hard skill to master–especially since many people doubt even the bare possibility of developing that skill–and it requires much practice. It is, however, quite a useful skill to cultivate, in case one falls in love with a person who does not reciprocate your love, or even (as sometimes happens) is powerfully and visceral repelled by your love.

    So … if “being in love” is neither a purely material thing nor a purely imaginary thigh, what is it exactly? It appears to be some third kind of thing, half-way between the material and the imaginary. One profound scholar, Henri Corbin, felt the need to name this third kind that we encounter in ordinary life. He categorized such things as “being in love” by the new word, imaginal. Like imaginary things, imaginal things lack any material existence; but like material things, imaginal things necessarily have effects in the world of material existence.

    This three-way distinction is (IMHO) extraordinarily useful as one comes to grips with occult, esoteric and magical teachings and practices. The “tracks” of which we have been speaking in these comments, for one example, can be understood as imaginal things, neither imaginary nor material.

    And, by the way, time and space are almost certainly the dimensions within which “matter” and “energy” (as physicists use these terms) necessarily exist; but non-material things, whether imaginal or imaginary, are not necessarily so constrained. It is only since Descartes that we have become accustomed to think that time and space are universal dimensions on which all existence can be located, not merely material existence.

    Medieval and Late Antique philosophers (and theologians) were absolutely certain that there was existence apart from time and space, and they had very many powerful arguments for their certainty. There was, in this existence outside of time and space, a sort of variability for which our best human term is in the inadequate word, “change,” but that sort of “change” did not involve any movement through either time or space.

    Does that help with some of the difficulties you mention?

  57. As for the effects of rituals carried out in the same way over centuries, in ancient sacral languages (Greek, Latin, Church Slavonic, Syriac, Ethiopic, Tibetan, Sanskrit, Avestan, etc. etc.):

    It may be of some interest that the Orthodox Churches–I speak as an outsider, of course–explicitly teach that when a priest and congregation celebrate the Eucharist [i.e., the Mass], what they do is not merely a sequence of words and deeds performed at a particular time and place on earth, but also by those same words and deeds they co-celebrate the Eucharist together with the Saints and Angels around the Throne of God in a realm wholly outside of time and space, without any confusion of tongues.

    Thus the “track” of the Eucharist in imaginal space, if we may so term it, was as deep in the 1st and 2nd centuries of the Christian Era as it now is and as it ever will be, since there is no distinction between “was” and “is” and “will be” in the sacral realm. (For all I know, the Catholic Church may well teach the same thing, and the other Eastern Churches, too.)

    For the Orthodox Churches, see Vladimir Lossky’s “The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church” and Alexander Schmemann’s “Introduction to Liturgical Theology”–two works by Orthodox theologians which greatly enhanced my understanding of the imaginal realm.

  58. @onething – re: science and its insistence on the material…

    A Buddhist might say that rather than it being the case that consciousness appears from within the material (e.g., the brain), it is the brain — as well as the entire cosmos — which appears within consciousness. It seems that something like telepathy, for example, is made possible if this were true. This takes us right into the realm of the non-material as being foundational in a primary way.

    There may be a few cognitive turns that some minds need to make in order to access this sense of truth, but I can recommend that they look up someone like Bernardo Kastrup, who is currently one of the bright lights giving materialists a “solid” challenge. He provides a good indication of the limits in which science is currently stuck in their attempts to solve the “hard problem” of consciousness, and his own theory of a Mind-at-Large with many alters, has been carefully (he would say parsimoniously) worked out and is worth checking out.

    Recently he’s been getting published in peer-reviewed journals, and this recent article in Scientific American has been causing some stir…

  59. Hi John Michael,

    Hmm. I’m curious about one aspect of tracks. How does a person repeat and reinforce a track whilst also maintaining a level of freshness? I note that you yourself have considered this matter and I salute your efforts which were timed really well (from my perspective anyway). Did Dion Fortune ever encounter the inverted bell shape curve which I reckon we all travel?

    I mean can we as a species create a track that is ill advised, and can we shake off the effects of that? Dunno.



  60. Here’s an image that came to me in regard to currents in space that flow without friction: pushing the river. Supposedly, this is something that is impossible, but when you sit in meditation, trying to establish good habits, that’s precisely what you’re doing.

  61. This is something that I was thinking about very hard seeing the downright bizarre behaviour of so many people about social media: scrolling and refreshing through 3-4 sites for hours to no end. I can image that “track” in “space” of Facebook (2 billion people or so…) build daily for years is really irresistible to absurd degrees. A black hole in mental universe of whole generation.

    On the other hand, it might explain the range of disparate and otherwise baffling things like, for example Flynn effect: it’s not that people are getting smarter, but the tests are getting easier and easier to answer year by year.

  62. @ Robert Mathiesen on the Eucharist: most interesting. Following on: I should think it must be the Catholic as well as the Orthodox view that the totality of all celebrations of the Eucharist forms a single, eternal and unified 4-D event, perceived as different celebrations from our limited viewpoint in linear time. That does away with the Protestant objection that it’s a “re-enactment” of Christ’s sacrifice. Rather than a re-enactment, each occasion is supposed to be a faceted manifestation of the original event. (I say all this as a Protestant myself. I don’t have to believe in an idea, to appreciate that it makes sense in its own terms.)

  63. If I understand correctly, there are twelve rays, operating as six pairs going out and back across the seven circles or planes. Is there a correlation here with the rays as used in Theosophy?

  64. One last thought about the spirit/matter good/evil pair. If our physical universe, matter, is part of the Ring Chaos, the laws that apply to it, such as entropy, the tendency to dissolution,disorder, and devolution, are the opposite of those that would apply to the spiritual realm that is part of the Ring Cosmos. The spiritual part of creation, the Ring Cosmos, would have opposite tendencies towards evolution and contraction to the center. It seems that when we are observing something, we must first decide if we are looking at its Ring Cosmos or Ring Chaos aspect before we decide how to apply such laws as “As Above so Below” and “The Law of Correspondences.”

  65. Heather, excellent. By all means work with that.

    Kimberly, yes, all those are good examples. And of course the people who make movies are just as strongly affected by the tracks in space as the people who watch them…

    Robert, I’m not at all sure I’d agree to a strict assignment of the burden of proof to either side in any strict sense — how on earth could you prove in advance, say, what the consequences of Brexit would be? — but you’re certainly right to critique the way that blind faith in progress is abused by social justice activists. It’s a fine bit of absurdist comedy to watch, as they equate “I want this” to “I have a right to this” to “this is the next inevitable step on the onward march of justice, because we say so, that’s why” and finally to “if you dare to even ask questions about this, that proves that you’re personally responsible for every bad thing that ever happened to anyone anywhere.”

    Kay, that’s a great example. Thank you.

    Zebby, delighted to hear it. The images really do matter; if you just read the text, it’s pretty opaque, but if you approach it as Fortune instructs, it opens any number of doors.

    Phil K., bingo.

    Dan, where do you get the idea that the physical body is the Ring-Chaos? It’s influenced by the Ring-Chaos, which is why it changes so constantly and finally dies, but it’s within the Ring-Pass-Not.

    Yanocoches, you’re most welcome and thank you.

    Onething, fair enough. It depends very much on what you mean by “material.” In occult philosophy, everything that exists takes form in some kind of substance, but the substance we call “matter” is merely the densest, most obvious, and most recalcitrant kind of substance there is.

    Robert, that certainly fits the conception Fortune presents!

    Simo, er, about The Cosmic Doctrine? Or what?

    Chris, hmm. What do you mean by “freshness”?

    Phutatorius, good!

    Changeling, thank you — another set of good examples.

    Coboarts, I’m not at all sure how the seven rays of Theosophy would fit in Fortune’s system, which is a little odd, since she received a lot of her basic training from the Theosophists.

    Dan, and as long as you remember that all of this takes place within the Ring-Pass-Not, and is part of the Ring-Cosmos (while influenced from time to time by the Ring-Chaos), that would work.

  66. Hi John Michael,

    Ah! An introduced term with no clear definition. Apologies for that, it was not intended as a critique and perhaps I was a bit self absorbed in the question. 🙂 Nope, I was thinking about how I can keep writing for over a decade, whilst maintaining a core theme, but somehow keeping the stories ‘fresh’ i.e. Maintaining interest. I tend to write about the small events and there are plenty of those. If I wrote about the big things and currents, well I’d quickly run out of material for stories and generate a lot of opposition. Best to go with the flow…

    As for the tracks, I feel that we can benefit from those, but generally we might be well advised to direct our energies into the realms of theurgy as that would be of benefit to us as a species on the longer term. As a species we’re a bit all over the shop at the moment, but we will get there I reckon.



  67. The point about tracks in space would then apply to systems of magical timing, no? If magicians have been following “This lunar day is good for X, Y, or Z,” the repeated performance of rites related to X, Y, or Z would only be reinforced.

    That makes me wonder how much calendars of magical timing are built into the fabric of things and how much is reinforcement from repeated action, going back to some hypothetical point of a spirit or deity telling a magician in the mists of time to first perform an action at a certain point. But I suppose for it to really be stronger, you would also have to be following the actions specifically tied to that system of timing to get the most bang.

    And that means one would eventually have to settle for one form of timing to line yourself up with those tracks.

  68. Hi JMG

    It is very hard for me try to learn from this world of occultism, but anyway I like the ideas of Mr Sheldrake a lot of what he says “resonate” with my inner mind

    Talking about the materialistic worldview, in fact all the religion born in the “Axial Era” are fully drenched in the materialistic worldview in an unconscious way, as the fishes do not know they are swiming in “water”. This an example I have taken from David Graeber about this issue:

    Maurice Leenhardt, a catholic missionary who in the 20s of the last century was preaching christianity in New Caledonia, among very “backward” (“savage”) tribes, one of the times he asked one of his students, one Boesoou, how he had felt when he first heard (as he thought) “spiritual” ideas, this is how the missionary describes himself:

    “Once, anxious to assess the mental progress of the Kanaks whom I had been teaching for years, I risked the following suggestion:” In short, have we introduced the notion of spirit into your way of thinking? ” He replied: «Spirit? Bah! You did not bring us the spirit. We already knew that the spirit existed. We had always acted according to the spirit. What you brought us was the body »”

    Likewise, the rest of nature is now shown to them (to the “savages”) as “objects” separate from us and totally lacking of “spirit,” which becomes, now, merely as “things” to be used, dominated, bought….

    All the missionary teachers in fact were teaching a new set of materialistic worldview fully embedded in the concepts and notions of an (Axial) Era of markets, money abstraction and rationality, today as it was in the V century b.c.

    “Rationalism” derived from “ratio” which is, at the end, a quantitative relation between numbers; and all this worldview arise when abstract markets and money take a dominant position in society

    Pythagoras says: “things are numbers”, and Xenocrates (4th century BC), a fine observer, manages to glimpse the relationship between markets and Pythagorean thought when saying:
    “Pythagoras more than anyone seems to have honored and advanced in the study of numbers, snatching their use to merchants and equating all things to numbers” (as the merchants, in fact, do)

    Because a feature of markets and money is the capacity of converting the qualitative to quantitative, to erase the differences in the name of abstraction and defining the world in terms of “building blocks”
    For example Thomas Hobbes was one of the defenders of Atomism in the XVII century and I think caused by the impact of markets and money in the worldview of the Era that bring also Atomism in classic Greece (or classical India or China), and also was a proponent of the “algorithmic nature” of language that convinced Leibnitz to try to “decipher” the code of language, in another renewed futile attempt, as was those of Wittgenstein or today AI, or the idea of “algorithmic nature” of the mind

    The concept of “Natural Law” in my opinion was the fundamental concept that bring the development of the Modern Science; and its origin is in the “predestinationism” of the protestant faith which is something quite new and a fundamental difference with the concept used in classical Greece’s “science”

    IMHO is the protestant faith and the set of its new concepts (predestinationism, justification only by the faith, laic calling, etc…) that bring us the development and total prevalence of Modern Capitalism and Modern Science

    For example Rene Descartes’ teacher was the dutch philosopher and physicist Isaac Beeckman, who came from a family with strong calvinist convictions, and it was he who introduced Descartes to the scientific foundations of mechanics and the notion that, using mathematics, the problems of physics should be able to be solved (which presupposes a pre-determination of the events). In addition Descartes lived during the time of his youth and maturity in Holland, in the midst of a strongly calvinist social and intellectual environment that brought the “Clockwork Universe” to us

    Compare this ideas with that of the Humanists (in the catholic world) as Bernardino Telesio, Giordano Bruno, Tommaso Campanella or Giambattista della Porta that see the universe as a living entity formed by living entities in all the scales

    For example Giambattista della Porta says “… with the suffering of one part, the rest of the cosmic entity suffers …” and also says “… since the universe is a living creature, in all parts the masculine and the feminine are coupled by the reason of mutual love … ” . Or Giordano Bruno who says: “… this earth, divine motherthat has generated us and feeds us and that later it will welcome us again ”
    And thousands of other texts that see the Universe and the Earth as living creatures and with the same idea about the impact of changes in one part affect all

    May be now we are starting to “regressing” to them in this long decadence


  69. Thanks, JMG and the commentariat, for this week’s discussion and exploring the “groove” concept. And Sheldrake’s concept of (and experiments proving) Morphic Resonance certainly support this concept. I found it interesting that the “sow a thought” saying has its source in New Thought. Interestingly, CosDoc’s statement the concept of eternal tracks in space is echoed by some Hindu teachings that warn us to watch our words because “every word we speak echoes in akash (space) forever” and explains how important the recitation of the Vedas are to raise the level of our species’ consciousness as a whole because it affects everyone (and attributes our present “dark age” of spirituality to the vast reduction in Vedic recitation in recent centuries).

    One thing from this week’s reading, however, doesn’t seem to have been discussed is the passage: “There are already worked out in the Cosmos the great lines of force which we call the Rays, and the currents of the Rays would gradually influence the great oceans of rebounding atoms to follow in their tracks” (page 34, Millennium Edition). I may have missed it in previous discussions, but I am wondering exactly what these “currents of the Rays” might be. Being 12 in number, I automatically think of the pattern of the 12 signs of the Zodiak, but there may be something else there. As a Hindu, I see the world as a pattern of the 3 basic qualities of creation (light/activity/creation, darkness/sloth/dissolution, and a balance of the two that transcends them and maintains the universe) which are embodied in the trinity Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu. Perhaps each culture perceives the “Rays” differently?

    Finally, one comment that I was too late in posting from last month’s comments for you to respond to (and therefore hope to get a response this month). I happened to be reading Hall’s “The Secret Teachings of All Ages” and near the end of the chapter “Qabbalistic Keys to the Creation of Man” (p.352 in the edition I am reading, to be exact) I came across the phrase “Ring Pass -Not”! The context is the banished Adam not being allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum due to a cherub swinging a flashing sword in a circle. Now, “The Secret Teachings of All Ages” was published in 1928 and I believe that CosDoc was accessible only to Fortune’s inner circle of students between 1924 and 1949. Would I be right in assuming that Manly P. Hall was “well connected” to Dion Fortune in the 1920s? If not, it seems to be quite a coincidence!

  70. I am not sure I agree with the idea that everything takes place “within the Ring Cosmos.” In chapter 4 we read:

    “Dances of atoms give rise to new Rings-Cosmos, and the story begins again, these new universes, as they are called, while they have the same laws as the Cosmos before described, are also influenced by that framework of the Cosmos which was built before they began, and you will find that this law holds good throughout all manifestation.”

    What this means to me is that there is a fractal nature to the Ring Cosmos/Ring Chaos picture of creation. We are constantly interacting with other Ring Cosmos/Ring Chaos universes as we go about our lives; each person is a Ring Cosmos/Ring Chaos universe. This nicely explains phenomenon such as why it is so hard to create lasting relationships. Our tendency is to start relationships based on material factors, which are part of the Ring Chaos and therefore dissipative in nature. Being dissipative, the energies are the opposite of what a long lasting, permanent relationship should be based upon. It is not until we see people from their Ring Cosmos perspective that we find what we are looking for in a relationship. Yes we all live within a greater Ring Cosmos, so from that perspective all takes place “within the Ring Cosmos.” But I find it useful to think that we are also interacting with Ring Cosmos/Ring Chaos universes that are part of greater Ring Cosmos/Ring Chaos universes as we live out our lives.

  71. An addendum to my earlier comment: it must be quite apparent that the 3 qualities (gunas) that form the bedrock of Hindu cosmology fit well within the rubric of Cosmos, Chaos, and Ring-Pass-Not; for the 12 Rays I was thinking of things as being rather fractal – i.e., these three principles being within Cosmos itself. The process of multiplicity arising from these 3 principles is described in the Hindu scripture Pradhanika Rahasya, in which each of these 3 principles (Gods) is paired with a Goddess who has a different quality and their pairings lead to all the activity of the Universe (this description is super-highly condensed because I don’t want to hijack this commentary; besides, I’m not sure how many within the commentariat are “into” Hindu cosmology. I will say in passing that I see so much Vedic wisdom in CosDoc, just using Western occult terminology.

  72. Dear Archdruid,

    “Any pattern of movements that establishes itself as a steady rhythm becomes a foundation on which later realities must build.”

    I’ve been doing a lot of reading on Shintoism again lately, and I’m astonished at the many similarities between (some lineages of) Shinto and Revival Druidry. And there are very many; from the division of Spirits Above and Below, to the Elements, to the disinclination to prosthelytize… Not to mention the similarity between the constructions of the actual Ancient Druids (or their ancestors) and very similar structures found in Japan. Shintoism might well be related.

    It’s becoming clear to me that Revival Druidry would naturally gravitate towards something close to what had been practiced in these lands before, that it would be guided into that direction by the established pattern of movements.

    It also clears up to me how how Druidry practiced elsewhere (such as in America), would ultimately take forms suitable to the patterns for nature religions that were already established there in ages past – it will probably take on something akin to Native American-esque aspects, regardless of whether this is ever the intention of the practitioners, because those established patterns will sway the development of these systems in the long run.

    Revival Druidry may have started as an eccentric Anglican-Christian fraternity movement, it was inevitable that it would absorb some of the occult history of europe, and gravitate ever more towards ‘historical’ nature religions.

    (Not to say they are the same, of course. Western Europe is not Japan, and neither is America. That is sort of the key point here.)

    Am I on the right track here?

    – Brigyn

  73. Robert Mathiesen,

    The issue is, you have argued from the position that there is a material and nonmaterial reality. I don’t know that I accept this. All that has existence exerts affects. What then can it mean to call it nonmaterial? We do not know what the mind or soul is made of, but we see more and more that there are things which exist that are very subtle. Is there a point at which something exists yet has no substance? If so, how can it exert affects? Matter must be ‘touched.’

    I agree with your analysis so far as it goes. I can certainly see that a thing in the mind’s eye has less density than a chair, but I don’t see emotion as imaginal and nonmaterial. Even thoughts have substance, and probably the soul; consciousness itself I am not sure.

  74. Re the “burden of proof” – you’re right, JMG, and I admit I was being lazy in my use of the phrase; what I should have said was, “the burden of argument”. That’s to say, it’s up to the innovator to show some reason why one should jump from one set of assumptions (A) to another set (B), and that reason cannot itself merely be justified in terms of B if it’s to be any use in justifying the transition from A. It must – if it’s to function plausibly – take some notice of the original as well as of the destined view, and thus construct an over-arching philosophy (C).

    Therefore it’s no use pretending that fashionable views are self-evident. For instance, a view that only began to prevail in the 1960s may or may not be true, but it’s far, far too late to claim that it’s self-evident.

  75. No doubt someone else will have mentioned this before I post, so please excuse my duplicating ideas.

    It occurred to me that if you were to swap out the word “atom” in your essay this week for the word “archetype”, everything you said about the atom rings true of archetypes in my mind.

    An archetype is not a lone movement, it necessarily occurs along with something else (I may be wrong but I can’t think of an example.) Each movement must have something else that defines it: the nurturer needs something to nurture or it is not a nurturer, the consumer needs something to consume, the changer needs to change something, the lover and the beloved, the leader and the follower, the reformer and the situation/person needing reformation, the joker and the victim, and so on.

    This necessary duality sets up a vortex that can move like a water spout through a society, some playing the one, others playing the other, but always spinning around each other, dependent on the other for its play in the archetype, and together creating a vortex. This vortex then attracts others that move in a similar way, and becoming stronger, flows throughout society in waves.

    Moreover, in order to play out the archetype, it may be necessary to bring in yet another “atom”. For example, in order for the protector to play the part to the vulnerable, there must be something that threatens the vulnerable. Other factors brought in to the picture would increase the shape from triangle to square, and so on, and away they spin.

    As the archetype moves from the centre to the ring-pass-not, under the influence of the ring-chaos, it can also become more and more evil, then come back to good as it flips and flows back towards the centre. Love may become possessive and jealous, nurturing becomes smothering, etc. Because like the atoms in this chapter, the archetypes are subject to other forces, cultural norms, environments, personal factors, and so on. Love is played out in a culture where men dominate women and fight each other, poverty limits time and resources, and so on. And as it moves through the circles, it becomes more and more complex.

    I could go on with my comparisons, but you get the idea.

  76. @Mac, the phrase “got it in one” literally means “you got the correct answer in only one try.” It’s often said by teachers in classroom settings (and in situations analogous to that) to mean a student’s answer to a question was correct. There’s an additional implication that the question was of a difficult or tricky nature such that the students might have been expected to make some wrong guesses first. In more general usage it means “you made a very good point” or “your observation or conclusion is valid.”

    Does that help clear things up?

  77. I don’t think our bodies or the universe are either of the ring cosmos or chaos. Rather, the ring cosmos represents the Organizational Force – that which takes the void of potential and turns it into concrete things with numbers and elements and mathematics. The ring chaos is the dissipative force, or entropy. The ring chaos is context within which the ring cosmos creates content (order).

  78. I’m starting to wonder if something like heroin addiction is an example of following a track in space set by other addicts. The process of shooting up is very ritualistic after all. I remember Raymond Chandler discussing his alcoholism, and describing how the best moment for him was surveying the bar before ordering his first drink, and looking at all the shiny bottles and mirrored glass. This seems to have been the habit he had fallen into, rather than the alcohol itself.

    Addiction I would guess is simply a harmful habit that is “sticky” because that particular track in space (rut in space?) is very comfortable while you are in it. Is one of the implications of Fortune’s idea that almost everything is a mild form of addiction? We are nothing if not habit-forming creatures.

  79. @onething wrote:

    “I don’t see emotion as imaginal and non-material.”

    Indeed, emotions are not imaginal and non-material. But what reasons do you have for thinking that “being in love” is an emotion? This view strikes me as really odd. (It is a view that lots of people hold?)

    To me, “being in love” hardly seems like an emotion at all, or even much like a biological drive such as lust.

    “Being in love” seems to me to be an overwhelming change-of-state in how one relates to — in how one “knows” — other people, and things that aren’t people, too. (I use the plural here, but it can be a change-of-state on how one relates to one or a very few such people or things.)

    Sure, there are emotions that usually come along with “being in love” with another human, but if one’s “love” is primarily or only a matter of one’s emotions, then one is not “being in love,” at all, but merely swamped with waves of emotions. The two things are almost wholly different. They have very little to do with one another. As a rule, emotions fade away over time. Knowing and being-wise, however, do not fade away over time, but become deeper and stronger as the years roll by toward the end of one’s life.

    And when I spoke of learning “how to fall out of love by choice,” I was speaking loosely about the emotions that usually accompany “being in love,” particularly in its early stages. You do that the same way you deliberately “fall out of” anger or rage or any passion. It’s never easy to do this, of course; otherwise more people would do it.

    Basically, you start with something simpler, some particular thwarted desire. You observe yourself with focussed attention and with the intention of learning how your own emotional life works. As some emotional response develops in you, divide yourself into parts and make one of those parts dispassionately observe how emotion takes form and develops from one second to the next. There will be stages in the process, and the emotion picks up strength as it develops until it is stronger than your own self. Remember what you have observed.

    These stages have physiological correlates, and you can notice them, too. (You don’t need names for them to notice them. Wordless noticing works better. “Words get in the way” here, as they do in almost every aspect of human life that matters deeply.) Eventually, you will recognize the first tiny physiological changes that lead, say, to lust or to rage a little further down the road. Just as you can breather slower or faster by choice, or even hold your breath for a while, play with these tiny physiological changes and try hastening or retarding them, or even refusing them altogether.

    Then the next time some desire of yours is thwarted and you start down the same road, in the very first seconds of the process, before it picks up too much strength, find a way to turn aside. It can be as simple as refusing to go further down that road, since you know where it leads. It can be a little more complex: I didn’t really want that cookie all that badly after all, did I. It can even be a struggle: I can already see clearly where my desire for that other person’s sexy body will lead, if I don’t let lust blind me, so I refuse to spend any of my mental energy imagining what that desired body looks like underneath its clothes–no matter how much pleasure it brings to imagine that.

    With practice, it gets easier and easier to do that. You do need practice to master the skill. So find occasions for that practice: don’t flee desire altogether. Use small thwarted desires as your first exercises: refuse anger, disappointment, etc. With time you can move on to greater and stronger desires.

    If you start this as a child, you may even have an edge on your peers once the hormones of puberty strike and lust becomes a frequent visitor to your mind.

    I think this is a clumsy, somewhat incoherent explanation … I’m sorry, but I don’t see how to explain the process more clearly. It was so long ago when I started doing this, and I’ve forgotten just how I built the skill.

  80. Robert Gibson wrote:

    “I don’t have to believe in an idea, to appreciate that it makes sense in its own terms.”

    Very true. I’ve learned a lot from studying religions that I could never in a million years bring myself to adopt as my own.

    Also, one’s religion is not always a thing one gets to choose. Gods sometimes reject a person who respects them and their teaching, and wants be close to them. That’s OK, too.

    It all comes down to consent in this area of life, just as it does in one’s more intimate human relationships. No God is obliged to accept any person as an adherent, much less as a lover. Speaking somewhat hypothetically, I can even posit that there might be people whom no God or Goddess would consent to accept as a follower, perhaps for reasons wholly unfathomable by any philosophy or theology, or perhaps for no reason at all, just Divine whim. (“Like flies to wanton boys are we to the Gods; they kill us for their sport.”)

  81. @ Walt.. Thanks, Walt. No wonder I had to ask. “Got it in one,” was not something I experienced in the

  82. I’ve been thinking about the tracks in space concept, and several things occur to me.

    First, the concept as so far described is strictly a positive feedback. There must be negative feedbacks balancing it. What are they? What keeps existence from turning into Camazotz from A Wrinkle in Time? Rivers don’t usually just carve themselves deeper and deeper canyons, because phenomena such as erosion and silting force them out of their tracks. Do tracks in space silt up? Wear out? Of course, if things and beings stop following the track, the track could eventually fade away, but that kind of begs the question of why that would happen.

    That question got me thinking about opposing patterns/tracks. Let’s suppose a parasite infecting a new host establishes a track that makes it easier for that parasite species to infect that host species in the future, even without adaptive evolutionary changes in the parasite species. But the host’s immune system will fight the parasite, which should establish a track that makes it easier for that host species’ immune system to fight off that parasite species in the future, even without adaptive evolutionary changes in the host species. Would the net results be any different than the same ongoing struggle without such tracks? Especially when the evolutionary changes that do occur are put back into the model?

    Or, consider the moon orbiting the earth, establishing its pattern of movements and phases eon after eon. That pattern would become pretty well established and difficult to alter. But the earth’s lunar tides, which gradually transfer kinetic energy from the earth’s rotation to the moon’s revolution, also happen eon after eon, gradually pushing the moon to a more distant orbit, forcing change upon the first pattern. Would this perdurable dance be any different with, or without, tracks in space?

    The related question of which phenomena in nature engage in such oppositions (for which the answer appears to be, just about everything) reminded me of Schopenhauer and the primacy of Will, because of the way opposition of different wills is so fundamental to what we perceive as causality. If all is Will, then the tracks in space are really just habits of will or mind. Which I actually find a lot easier to understand and accept than the original metaphor.

    Nonetheless, I have to side with the rationalists about Sheldrake’s overall morphic theory (while not condoning any trolling). He might very well be correct about the results and validity of experiments he’s conducted, and that such results require changes in established theory. I hope his proposed study of crystallization of a novel compound gets carried out.

    But the explanation he’s offered so far appears to me to be too general and ad hoc to be accepted as a scientific theory. The problem is, it seems to predict many outcomes contrary to what we observe, which then require special pleading to exclude. For instance, the millionth run of the same pattern-generating computer program does not run any faster than the first one did. (Yes, this has actually been tested, not just dogmatically assumed.) “Of course not,” proponents say, “a computer processor’s speed is controlled by a clock.” But all natural processes occur at rates subject to time-dependent phenomena, from radioactive decay to the rate of diffusion of ions through membranes in nerve cells. There’s nothing special, physically, about a clock. Although I might have missed developments from recent years since I last read Sheldrake’s work, I haven’t seen any explanation clearly distinguishing phenomena that are responsive to morphic fields from those that, like the oscillation of a quartz crystal or the charging of a capacitor through a resistor (effects used in the clocks of computer chips) seem by all evidence not to be. By analogy, Newton’s theory of gravitation would be far less useful or important if, instead of universal gravitation, it stated that the falling of apples means there’s a field that attracts some things to some other things some of the time.

  83. Robert Mathiesen,

    I did not mean to say that being in love is just a mere emotion. But I was rather responding to the gist of your overall argument, which presupposed the reality of a material and nonmaterial realm, which is what I don’t quite accept.

  84. In re: falling out of love, in addition to what Robert Mathiesen said (and he should know, as he’s had to advise me about that a few times over the years!), in my experience it helps to sit down and consciously remember that being with this particular person is not going to solve all your problems, keep you from ever having a bad head cold or an emergency root canal again, or otherwise make life perfect. Following on, remember also that the person in question is mortal and human. Think of their flaws. (If need be, picture them sitting on a toilet after bad seafood.) Think of how what seemed like minor flaws could get really irritating in other relationships.

    In essence, unrequited love/infatuation is a matter of imbalance–both in your feelings as compared to the other person’s, or your feelings about the other person as compared to who they really are, how they would fit into your life, how many other compatible people are out there, etc. Falling out of love is a matter of restoring balance, perspective, and/or context. You don’t need to hate them (and probably shouldn’t, except in cases of abuse–not loving you back isn’t a crime or a sin) but it can be really helpful to take a moment and think that (in various of my own cases) well, yes, he’s very attractive, but he’s a total flake about plans/he talks about pro wrestling way too much/he wears white briefs on dates/he can’t wash a dish to save his life.* Nothing major, nothing that makes the other person a Bad Person, but–scrape those feet until you hit clay, and life will be easier for you.

    That said: in my experience, barring cases of serious bad treatment, you’re almost never going to be completely indifferent to the person in question. An ex of mine from high school IMed me the other day; it’s been sixteen years since we were involved, it’s unlikely to happen again for a variety of reasons, I’ve been able to follow his social media posts of family etc. for years without feeling anything other than happy for him (and sometimes impressed by how well he’s kept in shape, granted), and I’ve loved and lost at least five men since, but I still got a little thrill, and a daydream or two. In fact, while I haven’t pined for any of my exes in years, there’s only maybe two who I wouldn’t spend a night or so with, were they around and inclined.

    To tie back into the actual subject of this post, we establish these patterns between people as well. Using, if not hate, at least considerable exasperation, as a thrust-block can help a great deal, as can the methods Robert Mathiesen recommends, but the patterns are always going to be there. Even when they *do* end up negative, and you never want to see that person again, that pattern is going to be a thing that happened, and a thing that influences you going forward. The best you can do is register, mitigate, and work around it–again, in my experience.

    This has been your semi-regular Drunken Spinster Romantic Advice.

    * Actually, if you really want to get over someone, wait a couple years and then have him as a platonic roommate. Yowza.

  85. I was struck by the section of the text that reads
    “Space, when set in motion, never stops flowing because it is frictionless. A force has been generated which remains. This force may be blended with other forces, so that for all practical purposes it ceases to be a separate unit, yet it still retains its original character, and, could you analyze the unit of which it forms a part, you would find it there intact.”

    This passage instantly brought to mind the wobbly 16 mm film I had been shown in graduate school to demonstrate “Laminar Flow” (several examples now on youtube) – a frictionless movement of fluids, where blobs of brightly-colored corn syrup are added to a vat of clear corn syrup. The vat is mixed by slowing turning a paddle clockwise several rotations until all of the colored blobs appear to be blended into the surrounding syrup. Then the paddle is turned the opposite direction an equal number of turns and, lo and behold, the blobs reform, almost exactly to their original form. It’s uncanny – like watching someone unscramble an egg. The blobs appear to cease to be separate units, yet they retain their original character.

    Fortune states that this concept is the basis of much of practical occultism. What are some examples of how this concept is applied? It almost seems to have something to do with the perception of time. If you watched one of these laminar flow examples you would almost swear that after they have mixed the blobs they have simply reversed the film and are running it backwards.

  86. @ isabelcooper (& Robert M)

    re tracks in space and falling out of love

    I don’t want to stretch the topic too far, but I’d like to convey my own experience on the matter, if I may.

    The shifting of the patterns can and will take time, particularly in the case of long-established relationships. Just over a decade ago, I went through something of a gauntlet when a long-term relationship dissolved. Fortunately, near the beginning of that process, I was granted a vision by Some Higher Power that gave me an anchor for the coming emotional storm. In a moment of startling clarity, I was standing on a mountain road just as it crested a small rise. Below me was a valley, filled with a dark and threatening wood, impenetrable to my sight. The road I was on descended from where I stood and disappeared into the wood. I could see nothing of its path through that dark place. But beyond, in the distance and on the other side of the valley, I saw that same road leaving the wood and ascending the valley slope into the light. And I knew, if I could just keep moving forward on that road, I would eventually emerge. There were times when that vision quite literally kept me alive.

    Keeping things amicable is helpful. (We divorced ourselves, sans attorneys, and rather impressed the Family Court Administrator who presided over our hearing.) What helped me, too, was looking at the relationships and the labels associated with them, allowing what no longer applied to go while embracing what remained relevant. I recall the day I was able to see her and say to myself “She is not my wife.” However, “mother of my child” never goes away. We spent the next 10 years cooperatively raising our daughter. (Apparently doing a descent job of it, by the young adult she is today.)

    Again, not meaning to go all Dr. Phil here, but the process is a process and the time and effort required is somewhat proportional to the depth of the pattern being changed. I learned much from that experience; it has helped me to be a better father to my daughter and a better partner in my current relationship. And I am quite grateful for that.

  87. @David: That is an excellent way to look at it. “the process is a process and the time and effort required is somewhat proportional to the depth of the pattern being changed”–exactly. And the vision is a good one; one of the phrases I’ve said to myself at such times, and occasionally to others, is “This will hurt, until it doesn’t.” Finding the balance between dwelling on emotions and repressing them is really hard, but really helpful, IME.

  88. Archdruid,

    The paths laid down by what has come before are easier to follow. Lord Ganesh, the remover of obstacles, is called such because his earthly kin, the elephants, create elephant roads in the jungle. These paths were easy for a traveler to use. The large size of the elephants, much like the sun and moon, cleave a way through the dense foliage of existence. Follow the movement of large objects in motion to find the best path to ones destination. A properly trained mage can pick and follow the little used paths of existence. The flowering cycle of a single plant during its season can show us a hidden way, if we understand the nature of its motion.

    Ancient civilizations that go through regime changes also changed their calendars because the regimes wanted to forge a new path. Sun kingdoms, moon kingdoms, seasonal kingdoms, and etc…



Comments are closed.