Book Club Post

The Cosmic Doctrine: The Evolution of a Planetary Spirit

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

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

Assigned Reading:

Revised Edition:  Chapter 14, “The Evolution of a Planetary Being,” pp. 65-69.

Millennium Edition: Chapter 15, “Evolution of the First Planetary Form,” pp. 91-96.

Commentary:

This chapter continues the discussion of planetary evolution started in the previous chapter, “The Evolution of the Divine Sparks,” adding additional details to this phase of Fortune’s grand metaphor. Fortune begins by briefly recapitulating the themes of the previous chapter, and then spends several paragraphs reviewing the structure of the individual entities that have come into being at this stage of the evolutionary process. It’s worth taking the time to work through what she’s saying here, because it provides—in metaphoric terms, of course—a key to that very large branch of occult philosophy that deals with the subtle bodies of the individual human being.

Fortune sorts out the different parts of the entity as follows:

The Cosmic atom or Traveling Atom—this is the essential core of the entity, the one part that partakes of the reality of the Cosmos and does not simply belong to the dream-body of the Solar Logos—or as we call it, the solar system. Like the Solar Logos, it came into being out of the play of energies in the Central Sun of the Cosmos, but was insufficiently complex to set out as the Solar Logos did on the long journey up and down the twelve great Rays, and settled down instead on one of the seven Cosmic Planes surrounding the Central Sun. It then was gathered up by the gravitational attraction of the Great Entity as that being swept out to the Seventh Plane to become the Solar Logos of our system. The Traveling Atoms then, by their uncoordinated movements, created the patterns of movement in space that became the atomic raw material of the solar system.

As Cosmic realities, the Traveling Atoms are real in a way the atoms of the solar system are not. They are also far more primitive, because the atoms of the solar system, once the Logos begins to coordinate them, receive the imprint of the Logoidal awareness and absorb some of its complexity. The long history of the soul, in Fortune’s metaphor, is the process by which a Cosmic atom not yet prepared to make the journey through the twelve Cosmic rays is prepared for that journey through its initiation by the Solar Logos.

The Seed-Atom—this is the atom within the solar system created by the steady rhythmic movement of the Traveling Atom at rest, and therefore is most directly connected to the Traveling Atom. You can think of it as the representation of the Traveling Atom within the dream-body of the Solar Logos.  You can also think of it as the Lower Self or Personality in relation to the Traveling Atom as Higher Self or Individuality.

The Divine Spark—this is the pattern of abstract movement set in motion by the Solar Logos, which affects the Seed-Atom and functions as the first template of its mind. Each Seed-Atom has such a pattern linked with it, created by the movements of the Seed-Atom in response to the vast and complex dance of the Solar Logos. If the Seed-Atom is the Lower Self and the Traveling Atom is the Higher Self, the Divine Spark is the guardian angel, which is set to watch over the Lower Self until such time as it is able to contact and unite with its own Higher Self, and begin to act on the Cosmic level.

The Seven Shells—these are the bodies the Seed-Atom gathers around itself by its own repetitive movements, and are made of the atomic matter created by the Traveling Atoms in the early days of the solar system. Each Traveling Atom has its own ordinary rhythmic motion, which forms its associated Seed-Atom, but each Traveling Atom also makes other movements in response to the various influences impinging on it from the Logos and from other Traveling Atoms, and when these become rhythmic they create atoms. From the mass of unorganized atomic matter thus produced, each Seed-Atom gathers up a certain number of atoms in its dance, and those form its body on whatever plane it then inhabits.

As we saw in the previous chapter, the Seed-Atoms make their way outward through the seven planes of the solar system, and in each plane they evolve the capacity to build a body of the matter of that plane. Those bodies are the seven shells Fortune discusses. In her taxonomy, they belong to the physical-etheric (1st), lower astral (2nd), upper astral (3rd), lower mental (4th), upper mental (5th), lower spiritual (6th), and upper spiritual (7th) planes. Each Seed-Atom evolves the capacity to build a seventh plane body first, and then adds the others one at a time as it descends the planes to the plane of dense matter, the one we perceive with our senses.

Note the phrasing above: each Seed-Atom evolves the capacity to build a body of the matter of each plane. In terms of Fortune’s metaphor, that capacity consists of a network of tracks in space laid down by repetitive motion, into which atoms of the appropriate plane are then drawn. Exactly the same process leads to the emergence of another category of beings, the one with whom this chapter is chiefly concerned: the Planetary Spirits. (These are called Planetary Beings in the revised edition of Fortune’s text, but I prefer the original term “Planetary Spirit,” as it refers usefully to older occult traditions.)

The Planetary Spirits are “creations of the created,” to use a term Fortune deploys extensively in other parts of her writing. They are not, as the Solar Logos and the Cosmic atoms are, realities on the planes that transcend the solar system; they exist entirely within the solar system, and they are not created not by the Solar Logos, the god of the solar system. They are independent beings in their own right, however, and as waves of evolution pass over them, they themselves evolve, becoming vast and complex thinking beings in their own right. The Planetary Spirit of the Earth is the being that systems ecologists call Gaia, the natural philosophers of an earlier time called Nature, and the natural religions of the world describe as the goddess of the Earth. She passed through immense cycles of evolution long before you and I started on our own evolutionary journey, and our lives on Earth are conditioned by her consciousness.

As already hinted, the evolutionary process that brought her and the other Planetary Spirits of this solar system into being echoes the process by which the Seed-Atoms acquire bodies.  As we saw in the previous chapter, the Planetary Spirits are created by the activities of the swarms of Seed-Atoms guided by their Divine Sparks. Each swarm, as it forms itself into a planetary mass and goes through its evolution on the resulting planet, creates a set of tracks in space that will affect all other entities, and all atomic matter, that come into contact with it. Thus the first swarm builds the planetary forms as it proceeds on its way from the seventh to the first plane; every subsequent swarm is drawn into the form already established. Once it has finished absorbing the influences left behind by previous swarms, it elaborates the pattern of tracks in space further, taking the evolution of the Planetary Spirit further. In the process, each swarm gives the Planetary Spirit the capacity to build the same body the swarm itself is learning how to build in that phase of its evolution.

Did you catch Fortune setting another of her traps for the literal-minded here? The way the metaphor was set out in the previous chapter, each planet exists on its own plane, and each swarm comes to the planet, learns how to build new bodies of the matter of that plane, and then goes on. In the next chapter we’ll be given a different metaphor, according to which the planet of the seventh plane just has seventh-plane matter, the planet on the sixth plane has matter of the seventh and sixth planes, and so on down to the planet on the first plane, which has matter of all seven planes. In this chapter, by contrast, each planet gradually picks up the capacity to build bodies of all seven kinds of matter, until each planet has the capacity to take a swarm of Divine Sparks all the way through the process of evolution right there, on its own surface.

Fortune stresses that the Divine Sparks don’t have to go from planet to planet to gain the ability to take on an additional body, since atoms of all types are everywhere—another shift from the metaphor in the previous chapter, in which the atoms of each type form separate rings extending outward from the Solar Logos. Which of these is the truth about the way the solar system was built?  Ahem. “These images are not descriptive but symbolic, and are designed to train the mind, not to inform it.” The Cosmic Doctrine is not a textbook of astrophysics. It’s a set of metaphors meant to teach you to think in certain ways, so that you can understand the universe in a way that furthers the process of initiation.

Of the various ways to think about Planetary Spirits and the Solar Logos, for what it’s worth, the one that comes closest to the way astrophysicists currently talk about the genesis of planets and the sun is the one given in this chapter. There are, in fact, eight planets circling the sun—Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune—along with a flurry of moons, another flurry of dwarf planets such as Ceres, Pluto, and Sedna, not to mention the asteroid belt, the Kuiper belt, and the Van Oort Cloud out there at the solar system’s blurry edges. Getting all this to fit into some kind of sevenfold order would require enough stretching and chopping to put Procrustes to shame.

Thus, if you want to think about the genesis of the actual planet you’re standing on, you can think of each planet as starting out as a pattern of stresses created on the upper spiritual plane by the actions of the first of the swarms—the Lords of Flame, as we’ll be calling them shortly—and being given additional bodies by each of the subsequent swarms, until they each finally sweep up their quota of dust and gases and become physical planets. That said, thinking about the genesis of the actual planet you’re standing on is not the only thing Fortune has in mind here, and the other metaphors also have their place in the structure of ideas Fortune is building.

In terms of this chapter’s metaphor, however, we have a sequence of planets, each with its own Planetary Being. These beings are far from identical, for each one is powerfully shaped by the stage of evolution the Lords of Flame had reached when they were building the Planetary Being’s initial structure. Here we have the basis, in terms of Fortune’s metaphor, for the differing influences of the planets in astrology. On these planets, various beings go through the process of evolution, taking on forms of increasing complexity so that they can absorb the patterns of abstract movement that underlie the forms, and so develop their own capacities.

And the goal of this whole process? That’s the last theme Fortune develops in this chapter.

Each of the entities we’ve been discussing, as already noted, consists of a Cosmic atom linked to a series of movement-patterns within the aura or dream-body of the Solar Logos—the Seed Atom, the Divine Spark, and the seven shells forming its bodies on each plane. The Seed Atom is a creation of the Cosmic atom, the Divine Spark is a creation of the Solar Logos, and the atoms forming the seven shells were created by the Cosmic atoms collectively through their uncoordinated movements at the dawn of the solar system.

The Cosmic atom itself, though, was not created at all—not created, at least, in any sense relevant to the things of the solar system. The Cosmic atom is a younger brother or sister of the Solar Logos, born as the Logos was, out of the surging energies of the Central Sun of the Cosmos. As the Seed Atom linked with it goes through the mighty dance of evolution with the Solar Logos, the Seed Atom gradually increases in complexity and power until it can identify itself with the Cosmic atom that created it. Once this happens, the Cosmic atom has reached a level of complexity and power sufficient to become a Traveling Atom in the Cosmos, and go through the long journey up and down the twelve great Rays that will eventually prepare it to become the Logos of a solar system of its own.

“These last details have never been revealed before,” Fortune says. In making that claim, she’s prevaricating, because they may have been new to the English occult scene in 1949 but they were far from new in any other sense. A nearly identical scheme of cosmic evolution has played a central role in the theology of the Mormon church since well before the death of Joseph Smith in 1844. Where Smith came by it is an interesting question, and I’m by no means prepared to dismiss out of hand the claim that he got it from the angel Moroni—John Dee, very much to his dismay, was introduced to the concept of reincarnation by an angel named Madimi in 1586—but similar ideas can be found all through American occultism and alternative spirituality in the 19th century, and Smith was far from being the illiterate farm boy who sometimes features in both pro- and anti-Mormon literature.

How literally should this part of the metaphor be taken? Any of my readers who happen to be Mormons, or find themselves entranced by such grand visions of Cosmic evolution, are welcome to take it as literally as they wish. My own take, for whatever that’s worth, is that if evolution has some kind of goal—which is frankly an open question—and if that goal is the same for every single being in the Cosmos—which strikes me as a highly questionable claim at best—then the nature of that goal would inevitably be far beyond the reach of the very modest mental capacities possessed by human beings.

What remains to us is metaphor. Christian evangelists in the eighteenth century trying to find a way to talk about the bliss of Heaven to audiences of working class people exhausted by sixteen-hour days in the shrieking clamor and smoke-filled darkness of early industrial factories got the idea across by picturing a realm of luminous clouds and unbroken rest where the loudest sound was the soft plucking of harp strings. In much the same way, the idea of each individual soul becoming the Solar Logos of a future solar system and presiding over the process by which more souls take the same path is, among other things, a potent way to talk about the way that each initiate becomes capable of passing on initiation, whether in the formal setting of a magical lodge or in casual interactions in the course of ordinary life. What other meanings might be extracted from this aspect of the metaphor, and whether to give Fortune’s proposal any credence at all on a less metaphoric level, is up to each individual student of The Cosmic Doctrine.

Notes for Study:

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

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

Questions and comments can also be posted here for discussion. (I’d like to ask that only questions and comments relevant to The Cosmic Doctrine be posted here, to help keep things on topic.) We’ll go on to the next piece of the text on September 11.  Until then, have at it!

56 Comments

  1. I’m only just catching up on these cosmic doctrine posts so I’m a bit late to the conversation.

    In “Beyond the Wall of Sleep” H.P. Lovecraft has the main character make contact with the spirit of a distant star who says “I am an entity like that which you yourself become in the freedom of dreamless sleep. I am your brother of light, and have floated with you in the effulgent valleys. It is not permitted me to tell your waking earth-self of your real self, but we are all roamers of vast spaces and travelers in many ages.” With the ending of the story being the observation of a distant astronomical phenomenon in a newspaper that confirms that the being he encountered was in fact a Star.

    It strikes me that he may have been playing around with a similar concept of a potential kinship between humans and celestial bodies that is very similar to this idea that planetary spirits are descended from beings like us and that we could in potential pass through that phase at some point in our evolution. (He also implies in that story that the aspect of the main character that shares a relationship with the cosmic spirit in question is a transcendent part of him that exists outside of time).

    You mentioned that this scheme of cosmic evolution showed up elsewhere in the American Occult scene in the 19th century. Is it likely that he’s deliberately playing with one of those other iterations of this concept in that story?

  2. So each of us has a Cosmic Atom at our core, and each Cosmic Atom has the Unmanifest at it’s core. Would the recognition of this Unmanifest by the personality be something like what “Self-Realization” as per Nisargadatta or Ramana, or “Awakening” as per the Buddha are getting at? Then this gradual evolution of the Atom towards breaking past the Logoidal Ring Pass Not and becoming it’s own Solar Logos more of what the Initiation side of ritual magic is about?

  3. Eric, he was indeed. Lovecraft actually knew quite a bit about the popular occultism of his time, as witness his repeated digs at the Theosophists, and he borrowed various elements of occult lore for his fiction — one of the reasons I’ve found his material so congenial to work with, in my own idiosyncratic way. 😉 Fantasy fiction generally was very strongly influenced by occultism during its mid-20th century Golden Age; I’ve come to think that one of the reasons that so much current fantasy is so dreary is that recent writers have lost track of those once-robust links, and so lack the sense of wonder that their predecessors had in such abundance.

    Isaac, I’m reminded of an old bit of Zen lore: “One man asked about enlightenment. Another answered him. Clearly neither of them knew anything about it at all.” Exactly what realization or enlightenment consists of is known to those who have experienced it, and their attempts to talk about the subject have not done a lot of good. We can, however, hypothesize that something of the sort may be going on here. Just remember that all of this is metaphor…

  4. JMG –

    Am I to understand then from the C.D. that Mars, for example, has its own indigenous, evolving life? Not physical life obviously, but perhaps etheric at its base, and upward ….

    If so, that’s definitely one of reasons why the notion of a human being dying on Mars really creeps me out. As coldly alien as the material Martian surface is by human reckoning, the Martian etheric and astral planes would likely be just as, if not more so, inhospitable to human habitation.

  5. Will M, certainly from within the Cos.Doc.’s metaphor, yes, every world in the solar system has its own indigenous life, which may or may not be manifested on the physical plane just now. It’s an interesting question as to whether the spiritual beings on other worlds would make some kind of arrangement for the souls of dead astronauts to find their way back where they belong, or whether they’d go, “You chose to come here, and here you stay…”

    SpiceIsNice, yes, but remember that the Planetary Spirits been built up over billions of years, where it’s a rare human egregor that’s more than a couple of millennia old. You can gauge their power and complexity accordingly.

  6. @JMG –
    While I don’t normally follow the discussions of the Cosmic Doctrine, your mention of Joseph Smith got my interest – I am a Mormon and I take cosmic evolution, or ‘eternal progression’ as we call it, as literally as he did.

    On the whole, I’ve been warming up as of late to the “traditions of rejected knowledge” which you so often defend on this blog, and getting over the simplistic “occult = bad” dogma that prevails so widely these days. Part of it came through gaining a better knowledge of Mormon history – how Joseph Smith practiced folk magic in his youth, and was influenced by the Kabbalah and other esoteric philosophies later in his life. And part of it came from studying the Bible in the original languages and seeing that “mageia” can be practiced by both good and bad men, while the harsher condemnations of sorcery are reserved for “pharmakeia.” (Just how much the latter overlaps with what the modern pharmaceutical industry does is a matter of debate; my own experience has led me to say “a lot,” but that’s a topic for another discussion.)

    So after reading your writings for a while, I’m inclined to say of the various occult movements you discussed that “there ain’t nobody here but us shoggoths” – or in other words, magic often meets a lot of the same needs, for its practitioners, that other philosophical and spiritual traditions do for theirs. I am not, of myself, anywhere close to jumping into the serious study of magic in which you’ve long been engaged, but I appreciate your willingness to buck the trend and take this part of the human experience seriously, even as most authorities, both religious and secular, prefer to wave it aside with a smug assurance of “nothing to see here.”

  7. Wesley, thanks for this! Ever since I had the chance to read some books about Joseph Smith’s background and Cabalistic studies, I’ve hoped that someday, the Latter-Day Saints will reclaim the magical dimensions of their heritage; as I’ve noted here and elsewhere more than once, the more people who get busy using effective techniques to invoke energies of healing, blessing, and purification, the better for everyone.

  8. I am finding this paragraph very difficult to follow:

    “As Cosmic realities, the Traveling Atoms are real in a way the atoms of the solar system are not. They are also far more primitive, because the atoms of the solar system, once the Logos begins to coordinate them, receive the imprint of the Logoidal awareness and absorb some of its complexity. The long history of the soul, in Fortune’s metaphor, is the process by which a Cosmic atom not yet prepared to make the journey through the twelve Cosmic rays is prepared for that journey through its initiation by the Solar Logos.”

    What is meant by atoms of the solar system?
    Which is more primitive? It would seem that the Traveling Atoms are more primitive, yet these are to become the higher self. So if they are more real than the atoms of the solar system why does it seem to say that the atoms of the solar system will then be imprinted with Logoidal awareness?

  9. Hi JMG,

    As usual for me, I can’t really comment or ask intelligent questions about this point in the Cos Doc, it is just too advanced for me, but I’ve made some more headway I think with thought as movement that I wanted to run by you.

    One thing that I like about this idea is that it connects action and thinking, so now I can see a way to consider the difference between idle thinking, intentions, simple actions and sustained physical activity. Having a metaphor is useful, especially movement, because moving objects is something that we learn very early in life, and there are a lot of laws to how things move that I can relate to in a way that I cannot see as clearly with thoughts. With my thinking I tend to be caught up in the content of the thought, but relating it to trying to roll a ball, for instance helps some of the problems become more clear.

    One thing it helped me to see is that a lot of thoughts in different directions, especially when thinking about plans for the future, things I might want to see manifest, can cancel each other out, you can’t move simultaneously in different directions. It’s a bit like a shopping cart when the wheels are misaligned, it’s harder to get it to go anywhere you want. “Man cannot serve two masters” might be another way to see this. Rather than thinking of goals as separate solutions for separate wants, if you can find a way to combine them into one greater goal, if you can find an alignment through them you can move towards it with enough force to manifest changes.

    Part of what got me here is thinking about space moving, it started to seem a bit like big wheel that could roll forward, and I thought about what might stop that. Anyway, hopefully it’s not too annoying for you to hear me talking about these basics still. I’ve found the above has been useful for me in understanding how to consider what I want and it has been causing me to act differently and to think about problems differently.

    Thanks,
    Johnny

  10. I should say too that the other aspects of this are that thinking this way has helped me to evaluate my goals along this same idea of alignment, “across how many aspects of my life that I care about is this good?” Sometimes something is good only in a narrow sense and is bad to many others. Jordan Peterson (sorry all!) described a useful ethical notion somewhat related, that perhaps the object was not just to win, but to win in such a way that everyone else wins through your win.

    The other important thing is that there are huge movements that are far greater than any force I can generate, but if I can figure out how to make use of their movement I can take advantage of them and perhaps guide them towards what I would like to see manifest. At least I can better tell what my humble movement might actually be able to accomplish.

    Thanks,
    Johnny

  11. The discussion about planetary spirits begun by Will M. leaves open the intriguing question if there is something like a habitable zone for spiritual beings. Even the normal habitable zone for physical beings has shown to me much more complex than originally thought – it depends on many things, for example, the mass of the planet, its atmosphere, its individual history, and other factors. The satellites Europa and Enceladus currently are seen as the best candidates for extraterrestrial microbial life in the ocean under their ice shells.

  12. @JMG

    What’s your thoughts on the end of the universe. On heat death when everything ceases to change when the universe dies?

    Is oblivion the end of all things?

  13. Still following along with CosDoc & pretty perplexed. However, I must say that Wesley’s comment did more to warm me toward Mormonism than any number of missionaries coming to my front door.

  14. Onething, no problem; let’s take it a bit at a time.

    “As Cosmic realities, the Traveling Atoms are real in a way the atoms of the solar system are not.” Remember that the solar system and everything in it is a secondary creation — the primary creation is the Cosmos, and the solar system is created by the Logos as a reflection of the Cosmos. The “atoms of the solar system” are the new atoms created by the movements of the Cosmic atoms — they’re part of the secondary creation, while the Cosmic atoms are part of the original creation.

    “They are also far more primitive, because the atoms of the solar system, once the Logos begins to coordinate them, receive the imprint of the Logoidal awareness and absorb some of its complexity.” The traveling atoms haven’t gone up and down the twelve Rays of the Cosmos, the way the Great Entity who became the Solar Logos has done, and so they’re much less complex (thus, more primitive). The secondary atoms of the solar system haven’t gone up and down the Rays either, but they’ve been directly influenced by the Logos, who has, and so partake of the Logos’ complexity.

    “The long history of the soul, in Fortune’s metaphor, is the process by which a Cosmic atom not yet prepared to make the journey through the twelve Cosmic rays is prepared for that journey through its initiation by the Solar Logos.” Through their rapport with the Seed-Atoms, the Cosmic atoms gradually take on the additional complexity the Logos has, and so are eventually able to begin the journey up and down the Rays and become Logoi themselves.

    Is that a little clearer?

    Johnny, not annoying at all. The whole point of the metaphor is to give you tools for thinking about the world of your experience in a different way; if your reflections on space moving are helping you to do that, all the better.

    Booklover, my guess is that there are different habitable zones for the beings on each of the planes and sub-planes, and conditions on the plane and sub-plane in question — rather than purely physical considerations — determine those. Mars, for all we know, could be a paradise on the upper sub-planes of the Lower Astral Plane, and if you happen to be the kind of being who lives on those sub-planes, you might look over at Earth’s toxic Lower Astral realm and think how lucky you are not to live in so hellish an environment!

    Info, I see that as typical modern mythology. The Big Bang, the heat death of the universe — those are the metaphors our professional storytellers (we call them scientists) use to talk about something about which no human being will ever know anything worth mentioning.

    Phutatorius, it’s perplexing stuff!

  15. Dear John Michael Greer,
    I have come late to the party, only just having been tipped off about your blogs on the Cosmic Doctrine by an acquaintance. I am so glad that they did because, although I got a very basic grasp of it through studying for ‘Part One’ with the Society of the Inner Light, I had so very many questions, most of which reading your blogs so far have dealt with head on.
    However, there is one question outstanding which actually arises from a vital piece of information you gave in the blog of August 2019. You point out that the first five movements referred to by Fortune on page 31 of the revised edition could be equated with the first five Sephiroth of the Cabalah.
    This was real eye opener for me. Equating the Three Rings with Kether, and the the twelve rays and seven planes with Chockmah was straightforward, but after that I am at a loss as what to associate with the next three Sephiroth, as I’m not sure exactly what she’s referring to by ‘movement of the tangentials’, ‘movement of the vortices’ and ‘movement of the composite atoms’. At which point, for example, does the movement of the tangentials become the movement of the vortices (i.e. in relation to which Sephirah)?
    I may be making it more difficult for myself because I had assumed that the Cosmic Travelling Atom was at Tiphareth, i.e the Tiphareth of Atziluth which also becomes the Kether of Briah. There seems to be a lot going in to fit in between ‘the ‘movement of composite atoms’ at Gevurah, and the travelling atoms re-emerging from the central sun to take up positions in one of the planes at Tiphareth.
    I would be very grateful for your observations on this matter, – and on which Sephiroth represent which subsequent movements!
    I searched though all the comments attached to the August 19 blog to see if anybody else had asked that question but could find nothing. I apologise if you’ve answered such a question elsewhere, or in your book ‘Paths of Wisdom’ which I’ve just acquired. If you have, could you simply direct me as to where to look please.
    Many thanks for all of this. You also mentioned back in August 18 that you had a publisher lined up for an annotated version of the Cosmic Doctrine. Is it available yet.
    With best wishes,
    Helen

  16. Dear John Michael Greer:

    In an above comment you mentioned your hope that Latter-Day Saints would someday reclaim their magical heritage; well this might interest you, there is a “non-denominational” LDS fellowship which actively studies what they call Mormon Kabbalah, conduct temple rites in house churches, and whose temple equipment reminds me of Golden Dawn derived ritual magic: cjccf.org/tag/mormon-magic/
    For the record, I am not, nor have I ever been a Latter-Day Saint, nor is this an endoresment of the above mentioned fellowship; I just find the whole LDS movement, and its esoteric roots, fascinating to study as a uniquely North American form of Hermetic Christianity.
    Secondly, I really haven’t been following along with the Cosmic Doctrine book study series, but once I get a copy I definetly will read the whole series and follow along, albeit out of place with everyone else. In retrospect I’m surprissed at myself for not doing so in the first place, given my interest in everything Dion Fortune related.

    Sincerely,
    Christopher Kildare.

  17. I am still wrapping my head around this chapter but I have a couple preliminary thoughts:

    “The Cosmic atoms are really younger brethren of the Logos—Cosmic units themselves that have
    not reached the development which the Logos has reached but are of the same type. Therefore, each atom of a Logoidal universe is,for this reason, a potential Divinity.”

    This seems to me to be opposed to how modern humans think about divine beings. We tend to think about one divine being or many divine beings already here and that there is a set number of them. But this suggests that the process of creating divine beings is still happening and that there are potential future divinities. It is something I will have to meditate on more.

    I also notice in this chapter, as in many others, that Fortune stresses that once something is made of movement, that form then also creates movement : “Abstract movement gives rise to forms in the Cosmos. Forms give rise to abstract movement in a universe, and thereby link themselves on to the Cosmos”. This speaks to constant creation, but also reminds us that our thoughts and actions have consequences–they give rise to movement, which can give rise to forms. What we do and say and think matters.

  18. “the more people who get busy using effective techniques to invoke energies of healing, blessing, and purification, the better for everyone.” Amen, to that! I can’t thank you enough for this discussion of the Cosmic Doctrine. This is the most elevated & helpful blog & discussion on the internet, IMHO. While I’m not able to entirely wrap my mind around the metaphor or reiterate the concepts the way you do, I find it illuminating to allow them to simply flow over me without straining hard to grasp & figure it all out; as if taking a shower in the flowing waters of truth. This as an opportunity to glimpse the magnificence, magic & wonder of this mysterious ungraspable thing that we call Life.

  19. “I see that as typical modern mythology. The Big Bang, the heat death of the universe — those are the metaphors our professional storytellers (we call them scientists) use to talk about something about which no human being will ever know anything worth mentioning.”

    Thank you for this. As a former rationalist/atheist I bought into the current scientific world view as The Truth because of course we’re so much smarter than those silly people 500 years ago who thought the sun revolves around the earth, right? Nowadays I find myself wondering if, 500 years hence, people will be laughing at us for believing in things like the big bang.

    As for this lecture series, I’m the dumb kid in the back of the class who just cannot wrap their brain around the material. I have trouble de-literalizing (is that a word?) and seeing the metaphor. Or maybe I’m just not ready for this level yet. Not so much the dumb kid as the 4th grader sitting in a college calculus class.

    Thanks for the work you do. Even if I never “get” what this book is trying to tell me, you’ve made a huge difference, definitely for the better, in my life.

  20. I find the frequent, unannounced switching of the metaphors makes it hard to follow the Cosmic Doctrine more than anything else. Still, it’s probably useful to learn to do it, so I’m slowly working my way through the book, but I’m several chapters behind at this point.

    With regards to habitability, there’s also another factor: paradise for a polar bear looks like a frozen white wasteland to us: and in the grand scheme of things we’re very close. Extremophiles thrive in radioactive wastelands, and temperatures close to the boiling point, well above anything we can stand.

    So it’s very likely to me that there is life that thrives in many environments we call “hellish”, and looks at Earth and wonders how anyone can possibly live here….

  21. Hello, everyone! I am sorry I am late with novena but we had a family emergency (all well now). I am submitting it here, since there aren’t many comments yet ,so our host should notice it pretty quick.

    JMG, please spruce this up however you see fit! I’m a novena-writing novice so I can use all the help I can get.

    Here it is, with a hefty dose of De Profundis. Where [Lord] is in brackets, please insert the god of your choice.

    Out of the depths we cry to you, [Lord].

    [Lord], hear our prayer.

    Let your ears be attentive to our supplications.

    If you, [Lord], kept a record of sins, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness so that we can reverently serve you.

    We plead help for our crumbling United Sates. Our rulers are corrupt, our people without hope. Darkness covers our land. Renew in us, [Lord], a spirit of hope, decency, and common humanity. Grant us the strength to stand for what is right and the strength to do it.

    Lead us back to the light and we will praise you everywhere.

  22. There is something that has worried me for some time and I wonder if Dion Fortune’s book addresses it at some point. It is a question of life energy. I see that on our plane of existence, everything eats everything. I have developed a kind of schizophrenic feeling about the natural world. Because I love it, I watch many hours of nature videos and movies. The ones I have been watching here in Mexico seem totally focused on the eating and killing. So I am overwhelmed with images of wild dogs or hyenas tearing into live flesh and eating an animal that is still alive. Of course, not all of the killing is that bad – but a lot of it is. Babies are prime targets. Killer whales chasing a mother and baby trying to get home to the arctic – chase it till exhaustion and then eat only the tongue! At the same time, the beauty of all these animals are mesmerizing to me.
    I tend to think veganism is silly and if people are carnivores, as I think they are, refraining from eating animals doesn’t actually change things anyway. The world works the way it works. My husband shoots a deer and I’m glad. We raise chickens and kill the extras because we don’t want grocery store chickens. I do draw a very huge distinction between naturally lived lives such as the deer and chickens who are having a wonderful time as ours are, and animals raised in torturous conditions. But I don’t personally like to pull the trigger.
    Perhaps nearly all death is unpleasant.
    So my question is, at higher planes, how do entities get energy and do they need this constant ‘feeding’ as we have here?
    Yet another aspect of it here is the need to constantly hone and maintain the health of a species and for this competition for territory and mates within the species is also needed, even though that competition can result in some animals being weeded out by their peers.
    Lions and tigers are enemies and will kill one another’s cubs.
    Some say that negative/demonic entities feed off lower beings like us, are predatory, may even feed off the energy of emotions such as fear, anger and despair. If so, how do angels feed? Do they feed off love, joy and bliss?
    Ultimately, where does the energy buck stop? What is the source of energy for beings on the planes?

  23. Helen, welcome to the adventure! The distinction between tangentials, vortices, and composite atoms takes some study (and some meditation time), but it’s definite. The tangentials are linear movements set in motion by the interaction of the Rays in the Central Stillness, thus they’re Binah to the Rays’ Chokmah. When two tangentials meet, they form a vortex, which is a simple atom — the basic unit of creation in Fortune’s metaphor, thus Chesed. When two or more simple atoms meet and enter into a stable relationship, they become a complex atom which is capable of moving out of the Central Stillness and taking up an orbit on one of the seven Cosmic planes, thus Geburah. Finally, some of those complex atoms become complex enough to begin the journey up and down the Rays, thus becoming microcosms of the Cosmos, thus Tiphareth. At this point the metaphor passes down through the Veil, and the solar system embodies the four spheres below the Veil plus Tiphareth as the Solar Logos.

    With regard to the published version of the commentary, that won’t be coming out until after these posts are done, because the book will be a collected and revised set of these posts! Aeon Books has already expressed interest in bringing it out. It’ll be a few years yet, though.

    Christopher, I’m delighted to hear about the Mormon mages! As for following along, by all means do so as your schedule permits.

    Cat, yep. One of the things that Western occult spirituality got out of South and East Asian spirituality is that souls over vast amounts of time can rise up to the level most of us would call “divine.” Mind you, the beings currently at that status are also rising, so it’s not as though we get to be king of the hill or anything: as an old Druid ritual has it, we pass through portal after portal, and portal after portal appears ahead.

    Shivadas, delighted to hear it! There are many ways to take in what Fortune has to say, and just moving with the flow of words and imagery is a valid one — it’s what happens in initiatory ritual, for example.

    Kid, you’re welcome and thank you. Don’t worry about trying to make sense of it all at once; my first half dozen passes through the Cos.Doc, I was basically blinking and floundering, trying to drink occult wisdom out of a fire hose. It takes repeated passes through the text before things start making sense — just as it would if you picked up a physics textbook for the first time, with no previous exposure to physics!

    Will, it’s deliberate. Fortune is telling you “Slow down and pay attention!”

    Veena, hmm. Weren’t we talking about doing a much more specifically focused novena?

    Onething, in occult philosophy the energy that sustains the cosmos starts at the highest levels of being and works its way down the planes to the dense material levels of existence, the ones we experience with our senses. The higher you go, the less conflict there is, because conflict is the result of form: the more fixed a given form is, the more you need conflict to dissolve it, until finally you get to a wolf killing a deer, because the deer is a dense material form for energy and the only way the wolf can extract it is with its fangs. The dense material levels are difficult and painful, no question; it hurts, in a galaxy of ways, to confine the life force to so rigid an object as a physical body; but it’s necessary, so that each soul can become a fully individualized being, a microcosm of the Macrocosm.

  24. Hi JMG,

    I thought we were working on clearing the nation’s evil egregor? At any rate reword it as you see fit, I’m a novice novena-writer so I’m sure there’s plenty of room for improvement.

    (What we need, oddly enough, is a good Independent Protestant preacher. You can wake a good one up out of a sound sleep, prompt him with no more than “Lord, we just…” and he’ll take that tiny little 3-word prompt and snowball it into a magnificent exhortation to the Lord before he goes back to sleep. I think the secret is the “just”s.)

  25. Ok, this is odd…

    I read this: “ the more fixed a given form is, the more you need conflict to dissolve it, until finally you get to a wolf killing a deer, because the deer is a dense material form for energy and the only way the wolf can extract it is with its fangs. ” and a voice in the back of my head says “So that’s why Jesus had to be nailed to the cross”

    I’m not Christian, partly because the whole crucifixion thing never quite made sense to me. But I was reading from the book of John yesterday (not something I often do) and the bit where Jesus says “Nevertheless i tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor [the Holy Spirit] will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” John 16:7 RSV

    Is this sort of what he meant, that his material form had to be torn open to release the energy of the spirit, or is my brain just tired? Yah i know “an excellent topic for meditation.” my meditation list is getting soooooo long….

  26. Hi JMG,

    Thank you. Because it is such a complex image she is trying to get us to hold I find my ability to use it expands as I think about it. Even just thinking about the connection between the movement of thoughts and action (like I was describing in my earlier post) made me realize that I can also continue to judge the amount of movement in a physical act and use the same sort of logic to rank acts which are more swept up in passing tangents that will direct an action out of alignment with this movement and which are truer to the goodness of my cosmos. This seems to relate to the atoms passing along the rays and picking up tangential movements. Like following the course of a line of movement picks up complexity from the possibilities that arise from this journey, and maybe that these should be seen as interesting bits of character that don’t have to be followed, in the same way that I have learned to lower the value I place on innovation for it’s own sake (I see this as entertaining potential, which I tend to think of it as white noise, it is full of information and movement of thought, but approaches closely an empty void – it is close to the Unmanifest and possibly better seen as part of the Ring Chaos, allowed to just pass out into the void of nonexistence). I am not really sure, and I might be making use of her metaphor totally incorrectly, but it was the first time I was able to think with of this bit of her teaching,

    Thanks again,
    Johnny

  27. Hi John Michael,

    What is the Planetary Spirit is antithetical to the Solar Logos? Or does the Planetary Spirit contain the Solar Logos and so by definition they cannot be at odds?

    And I tend to feel that the Planetary Spirit has the capacity to sweep (that is the word that comes to mind) should it so choose, Divine Sparks back for another track and turn. I’m pretty certain that the loss is ours too.

    I likewise concur, because I observe little in the way of lofty goals. And basically I too reckon my brain cannot comprehend such lofty matters. That does in no way suggest that there are no goals, it seems improbable to me that there are none, I just probably need to do a few more tracks and turns before comprehending such matters. 🙂

    Incidentally, my mind is for some reason uncomfortable with your words: “the idea of each individual soul becoming the Solar Logos”. I’m guessing that it is not your belief.

    Cheers

    Chris

  28. Veena, I thought we were going to be doing something specifically focused on stopping the epidemic of mass shootings. Trying to clear the whole egregor all at once is like trying to get a mountain out of the way by shoving on the slope; it’s more effective to choose something small enough to haul it away, cut that loose, deal with it, and go on.

    Question, that’s something I’ve encountered among esoterically minded Christians more than once. In that way of seeing things, it took the crucifixion, death, and underground burial of Jesus to complete the work of redemption by (literally) grounding the Incarnation all the way down the planes into physical matter. So you may have been tapping into the tracks in space left by those thoughts!

    Johnny, excellent! That’s the point of using this kind of complex metaphor — it’s the mental equivalent of a good workout, stretching your mind and then having it do some heavy lifting, so it can accomplish things it couldn’t do before.

    Chris, since the Planetary Spirit is created by the first of the three swarms, and each entity in that swarm is guided by a Divine Spark, the Planetary Spirit comes into being oriented toward the Solar Logos, and the process by which it becomes aware of the Logos completes what amounts to its initiation. So the Planetary Spirits are in harmony with the Logos — if they weren’t, you’re right that the results would be pretty ugly. As for the idea that each soul becomes a Solar Logos in due time, no, I don’t consider that literally true. I tend to think that there are different destinies for different souls, and different classes of souls, even among the swarm we call human beings on Earth. Still, as a metaphor it has some interesting things to teach.

  29. Hi John Michael,

    Thanks for the reply. As always there are depths here that need to be contemplated further.I have a day of digging ahead of me, and it is always a good time for such things.

    Incidentally, I just wanted to thank you for the time you are taking with us slow pokes, because you are both telling us the story, and giving us a perspective on the subject, but also hinting at the purpose behind it all.

    So are you suggesting that Dion Fortune (reaching for a metaphor here) wanted to shake the dust out of her students brains whilst at the same time lifting the mist that obscured their view? Was there any blow back in taking that strategy? My mind tells me that things might go awry from time to time. I can well understand your fondness for the older mystery schools if that is the case.

    Cheers

    Chris

  30. Thank you for your reply, just trying to apply this to what I think about. Yes, I remember this is a metaphor, all words are metaphors! So in this metaphorical world, the Cosmic Atoms are all of different angles depending on which plane it was hanging around in when the Travelling 10 sided proto-Logos swept it into it’s orbit. Do these corrospond to different orders of beings or are there different sided cosmic atoms within one species, such as humans.

  31. JMG, in your reply to Question you wrote “ …. it took the crucifixion, death, and underground burial of Jesus to complete the work of redemption by (literally) grounding the Incarnation all the way down the planes into physical matter. So you may have been tapping into the tracks in space left by those thoughts!”.

    Re: “tapping into the tracks in space “ – would this be akin something that Jesus, and in fact, many saints (of all religions) have said about their eventual physical deaths, that they would in effect do better work once they were out of body, that is, their entrance into the upper planes would make it easier for the incarnate to tap into their spiritual vitality? Or would that be distinct from thoughts leaving space tracks?

    BTW, I have read the same applies to great artists, that the deaths of a Bach, Beethoven, etc., provide incarnate artists with new sources of inspiration and creativity.

    Also, re: spiritual habitation on other planets – Jacob Boehme stated somewhere in his writings/revelations that (I paraphrase) *there is no parsec of space that is not inhabited*. I would take this to mean that not only are all other planets inhabited, but all of space itself, what the material eye perceives as mind-blowing cosmic abysses, is also inhabited. This makes sense to me if the Cosmos is in a sense one living organism, a macro composed of micro-organisms.

  32. @JMG: “my first half dozen passes through the Cos.Doc, I was basically blinking and floundering, trying to drink occult wisdom out of a fire hose.” Thanks for the wonderful image, because that’s exactly how I feel. OK, now I don’t feel so bad about being overwhelmed by CosDoc. I am falling behind in my readings these days (more pressing worldly matters are occupying my time and attention), but I hope in a month or two to get back at it. In the meanwhile, I’m following the posts and dialogue between you and the commentariat (please keep it up!).

  33. Thanks JMG,

    I appreciate the time you are taking with us to help us through this. I was very interested in systems theory but my brain could never quite make it click, that was part of what I was hoping to get from this, and I think I am starting to make some headway. I was reading Lean Logic the other day and he was describing a loop that was just like Fortune’s day with two day/night cycles (a positive day/night and then a negative day/night). He wasn’t quite using normal systems jargon, I think he was also trying to make it more accessible to layman, but I could see that it was the same basic thing, form an idea (presumably a way of getting more good according to your cosmos) then act on that idea (try to manifest the plan), then judge the results (according to your same goodness), then work to remove what isn’t useful for your purposes. None of it makes sense without intention that is relative to this “good” that must be self defined within the system.

    A few years ago the programmer that created Yar’s Revenge for the old Atari video game system was in town so I went to hear him talk. He described the process of development on games in similar terms, They came up with some idea, then they worked to realize it, then once they got it into a playable form they just tried it out and figured out what was fun about it (typically not what they expected), then they cut what wasn’t working and reworked their idea towards this new sense of what was good. The important bit here, I think, is that good isn’t just a plan, it’s something that you react to and can sense, and so the whole system is pulled towards this. Certainly I have noticed that when nature seems to want something done, the necessary parties like doing it. It also shows how we can get sucked into pleasure traps this way, you can get pulled out of alignment by positive feedback that seems to deliver more and more good. This concept of good being relative to your particular alignment allows you to explain why you like something that might be bad for you, which seems like something we struggle with and often requires very large myths and stories to explain.

    Really, we can follow a series of likes all the way out of alignment with our initial goals, and this offers us a way to evaluate these different goods against each other. Like, “why do we like to waste energy so much?” Oh, because we enjoy it and it feels good. How good is that as a long term plan if our goal is to have happy lives on this planet? Oh, not great because it puts us in a precarious, possibly fatal spot long term. Well then we should change our behaviour and try to line up (and limit) our sense of having a happy life within the greater cosmos of the natural systems we are part of. It doesn’t make sense for me to engage with things that aren’t aligned to my goals, but it’s not a big deal to realize that I might want them, and rather than decide I am a bad person for that, I should just not worry about it or define myself that way, instead focusing on the things that are aligned to my goal letting these other things drift off.

    Earlier I had understood part of this, and thought in ways the Cos Doc was like Spinoza’s Ethics, but the big difference is that his system is fixed where there is The One and everything falls into line (and should enjoy that), but hers is more relative and applicable in many different situations as a tool,

    Thanks,
    Johnny

  34. Veena, fair enough. One additional suggestion: focus on what you want to ask for, not on the things you want taken away. That’s as valid in prayer as it is in affirmation…

    Chris, Fortune was trying to do in print what an old-fashioned occult order does with ritual initiations. No question, there are risks, but they’re basically the same: people can just fail to get it (in lodges, this is termed “failure to initiate”) or they can go too fast and get it in a one-sided and incomplete way. I’m pretty sure one of the reasons the Cos. Doc. is so dense and difficult was that she set out to make it impossible to rush through; you have to read it over and over again to understand it, and each reading gives you another shot at getting a more complete picture.

    Isaac, Fortune doesn’t say! Myself, I’d say that there are humans whose Cosmic atoms are of every kind — that would explain the diversity of basic outlook that happens even in families and close-knit communities.

    Will M, I think it’s a little different. There are things you can do in the afterlife, provided that you’ve reached a certain level of awakening in this life, that go very far beyond what you can do while still in a body. You need to go through physical embodiment to pick up certain capacities, but it’s when you’re no longer in a physical body that those capacities really come into their own. As for space, have you by any chance read C.S. Lewis’ Out of the Silent Planet? He makes a very similar point — one shared by many mystics — that what we think of as “empty space” is actually full, and indeed more densely filled than what we think of as solid matter.

    Ron, glad to hear it.

    Johnny, excellent! Yes, exactly.

  35. “Tapping into the tracks in space…”. Wow. Yes, I’ve definitely been tapping into something lately. Books have been appearing in my life left and right, popping up like mushrooms after a rain. Waite’s book on the Kabbalah, E. D. Walker on Reincarnation, Aquinas, Jung, Ficino… the list goes on. It almost feels like an avalanche. I’m being buried in books, they’re coming so fast I can’t keep up with the reading.

    And I’ve been feeling pulled toward going to church, of all things. Not back to the protestant baptist I grew up in and rejected 30 years ago, but the Episcopal church, which I’ve been in maybe twice in my entire life. I had been resisting, but yesterday afternoon I finally decided I will try it this Sunday (tomorrow). I did a geomantic shield chart for 2 different churches with 8:30 am service for one (within walking distance, but feeling somewhat ambivalent) and 11:00 for the other (requires driving, but the pull is stronger). For the first I got LW carcer, RW amissio, judge Fortuna Major. For the 2nd I got LW conjunctio, RW acquisitio, and so again Fortuna Major for the judge. I’m still very much a beginner at this, so I was hoping you’d help interpret? The appearance of FM in both seems to strongly say YES but I’m wondering about the unfavorable witnesses in the first?

  36. Hello JMG,

    The idea of “twelve rays” (or more general use of number 12 in various religions) seems to have originated from 12 signs of zodiac in ancient astrology. However, if we include the Ophiucus constellation, we have 13 zodiacal signs. Why is number 13 not revered (or used) as much as number 12 in religious and mystical symbolism?

    Thanks,
    M.

  37. My apologies for going off-topic on this, and if you choose not to let it through I won’t be bothered – there’s always next Wednesday.

    Seen on Twitter, from Dr. Andrew Thaler.

    So I just put in an $80,000 grant proposal to build the next-generation virtual conservation conference. It’s a long shot, but it’s time we had a real alternative to flying hundreds of people halfway around the world.

    John Roth

  38. JMG, thanks, and yes, I’ve read Out Of The Silent Planet. When I first read it at age 14-15, in terms of sci-fi it was a little too theological for me; when I re-read it several years ago, again in sci-fi terms, it wasn’t quite theological enough for me, heh. Rollicking good read though.

    My impression was the eldila are essentially angels, and as far as inhabiting space goes, can’t angels be said to inhabit anyplace they choose or are directed to inhabit? I was imagining that there is, say, a certain form of life that inhabits a certain area of space in the same way that there are spiritual beings that inhabit the planetary area we know as Mars, and likewise for any area of space, there are indigenous inhabitants. A universe composed of life, in all places and at all levels, save perhaps for the Center Stillness, which can’t be defined as “being”.

    Speaking of planets that are out of sync or detached from a Solar Logos – there are said to be a lot of “rogue planets” out there, just floating about deep space. D. Fortune may written something about this in her own prescient and metaphorical fashion, but I don’t think I’ve come across it as yet. A bit spooky, but I have to wonder if the rogues are inhabited in any manner. I imagine that the rogues are in a sense, “searching” for a sun, a Solar Logos to adapt them, and in cosmic time, I like to think it’s inevitable they will find them.

  39. Dumb Question,

    After I moved to North Carolina, in my loneliness for the Orthodox Church, I visited the Quakers and went to the service of lessons and carols at Christmas time in the Episcopalian. Sometimes Episcopalians have more common ground than the Roman Catholic or at least less strong disagreements. That service was sublime and especially if you like old English things.

    The Quakers were as different to what I was used to as possible except for one important thing. Their total lack of structure or service reminded me of the unstructured space in real Orthodox churches, which more and more of them are lazily getting away from (pews). But I digress.

    I wonder what their theology on the crucifixion is. The Orthodox Church, alone so far as I know, does not teach that “God demanded a death” to even a score. They think that the crucifixion was done out of man’s sinfulness, full stop. An archbishop once told me that when God confronted Adam and Eve after their fall, he was ready to reconcile with them had they repented.

    They say that the salvation on the cross was one of love, wherein humanity would reach the depths of repentance due to seeing what God/Christ had done for them. A reconciliation of the heart. Yet they also sing at Easter that death was conquered by Jesus’ resurrection. I like this because it reminds me of the places in the gospel where he talks about leaven. As a metaphor, Jesus, our brother, who is one of us, uplifts us all because he is the leaven in the loaf of humanity.
    I also consider how in the first pages of Matthew, he says a man has no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends. Perhaps a statement like that couldn’t be just left to stand unmanifested.
    I believe the Christian path is one of achieving a very high level of love (as Buddhism is about nondual awareness) and so the insistence upon making the crucifixion a physical/legal necessity is unbalanced. Nonetheless, in order to save the entire cosmos from the fall, the physical must be included. Then too, Christ is supposed to have gone down to Hades and preached to the dead and lifted out all who would come.

  40. Onething,

    Thank you very much for your reply. You have mentioned the Orthodox Church many times in our host’s blogs, and I always read your comments with great interest. In fact, after one of your comments a few months ago, I looked to see if there were any Orthodox churches in the area, as I find some of the beliefs you have stated to be more sensible in my mind than many other church doctrines I have been exposed to. There are two, it turns out. Both quite small, and one of the two seems geared toward recent immigrants (there is a large university in the area – we have a wide variety of nationalities here!). The problem for me is, I’m already feeling somewhat nervous about this whole returning to church thing, and the links one of the churches provided on what to expect in an Orthodox service seemed so different from anything I know that I would be terrified to walk into one of those churches without a guide. The two Episcopal churches I’m considering are both large enough I can probably hide out in the back pew or something. The one that is pulling more strongly, I _almost_ feel ok about (They had the building open for tourists to view their stained glass windows a while back, and I had a sense of comfort and peace while I was walking around looking at them. I’m hoping that sense will still be there when there is a service going on)

    I have no idea where this is leading. I have learned over the years, however, to recognize when changes are coming, and whatever it is I’m being prepared for, its going to be big. (As in a big change in my life. To the rest of the world it will probably matter not a whit).

    And yes, a big part of the problem is that I’m not particularly fond of Y*** and He knows it. He doesn’t seem to mind as long as I stay polite and show proper respect, but I suspect if I join a Christian church I will be expected to cease working with other deities.

    “The gods only go with you if you put yourself in their path.”
    “Yes, but some of them have big boots to trample you with”
    -Mary Stewart, ‘The Crystal Cave’

    JMG:
    I apologize for taking the conversation off on a tangent. I confess I have nothing to add to the discussion on the Cos Doc, as I have not read the last two assignments. I find this book so utterly baffling that I am unable to even form an intelligent question! And with so many other books showing up right now, I have simply let it slide. I did take some comfort in reading your statement that it took you several tries to get it. If someone like you didn’t get it on the first try, there’s absolutely no reason I should expect myself to. I will put it back on the reading list, save these lessons, and hope that by the time I circle back to it, I will be more ready to hear its message!

  41. Well, the Saturn sun theory is that Saturn was a red or brown dwarf, earth and mars were its satellites, and we had a very warm and hospitable, womb-like existence. Then we began coming toward our present sun, there were terrible shakeups, violent upheavals. In the old system, the north was actually the warmest place, but all the earth was bathed in warmth due to a quite different system in which were in an envelope-like plasma sphere. Venus was not yet born, as per the ancient myths. Even the moon was not. At least, not here, not in our sky. Mars may have harbored life, but was destroyed in the upheavals, esp with Venus.

    I think it is early to use terms like rogue. But it does seem odd to me to have a system wandering around, not part of an organized system. That is, the system was organized and long lived, but was making tracks through space. Who knows what might cause that.

    This theory is tied in with electric universe, which I find to be a better explanation for things like how stars, galaxies and so on form.

  42. Onething, you write:

    I also consider how in the first pages of Matthew, he says a man has no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends. Perhaps a statement like that couldn’t be just left to stand unmanifested.

    It reminds me of what I’ve read Indigenous nations say about killing wild animals for food, that these animals lay down their lives so that their kin in the form of humans can live. That would be true of course for the whole food web of life.

  43. Thanks JMG,

    I think this is the way reading this has started to affect the way I’m living my life. I feel like if I were to split my personality into two halves, one would be the more intuitive, impulsive side, and the other would be the more considered, deliberate side. My problem has been that the intuitive side is very often right, but some times wrong – and sometimes wrong in a big way (even if it’s through hundreds of small mistakes, following too many stray paths), and the more considered, deliberate side tends to over think and not be able to act (it’s like the arrow that can never hit it’s target), but it’s far better at evaluating the bigger picture. I think this has helped me to integrate and evaluate these two things a bit. I think the “tracks in space” concept also helps to explain why the intuitive side can be so much more successful than the considered side, because it can just get into these grooves. So it’s getting a lot of free stuff just because it’s open to receiving it. Like in an example like dancing, something I enjoy doing, I don’t understand how to dance, I mean I don’t know how to make my body do specific controlled things in a graceful way, and so I never did it and thought it was just something completely beyond me, until I learned that I could just not think about that at all and let this “other side” somehow channel movements based on how they feel from the inside, then it’s a process of just letting my body have fun and the problem suddenly goes away. Oddly enough, I’ve often pictured it as literally interacting with invisible objects and motions that I could “see” (this is years prior to Cos Doc reading, so just a strange co-incidence) . But, since dancing is something where there is a lot of energy flying around, particularly sexual energy, I’ve learned that I need certain rules if I’m going to go do it at all, mainly that I don’t drink when I go do it, and also that I move away from certain types of attention. Those sort of rules need judgement against greater standards, so they are more for the considered side, and so they are more integrated and the intuitive can serve the controlled.

    We want to be open to these prior movements, these tracks in space that keep spinning, because we can take advantage of their existing depth and power, it’s like standing on the shoulders of giants really, with much more movement than we could generate by our own deliberate acts of will (just pushing a boulder up a hill through sheer effort), but we want to make use of these according to our own goals, ideally the cosmos that seems most applicable to the greater purposes in our lives, the cosmos that (hopefully) we try to align to the greater cosmoi of the forces at work in our times and maybe the larger purpose of human beings.

    It might be a fluke of history that we are able to control our impulses, but it does seem like that brings us into the area of cultivation, somewhere between the chaos of wild nature (great for it, not always great for us) and our dream of the conquered nature (an illusion for the short term and a danger in the long term). With the right perspective and judgments we can create gardens in nature with a light touch. Something that serves both our needs and it’s own.

    Thanks,
    Johnny

  44. Seems to me the Cosmic Doctrine is a general primer explaining general occult science. Modern science looks at material plane phenomena only whereas Cosmic Doctrine looks at all the planes that created material phenomena and without which the material plane would not exist. Since modern science can’t manage to acknowledge the etheric, mental, and spiritual planes let alone investigate them, the literal and scientific minded are up a creek. Modern religious people have similar thought-stoppers cemented in place by literalism. In Monty Python’s The Life of Brian, Brian’s followers chase their charismatic leader in hopes he will give them a miracle or sermon of wisdom. When he loses his gourd and his shoe while running, different factions of followers separate into squabbling cults of the Holy Shoe and the Holy Gourd. The shoe/gourd sketch epitomizes modern religion for me. It puts the cart before the horse. One starts to realize the genius of the ancient Druids for never putting anything in writing.

    Seven notes and twelve tones of the scale, at least in Western equal temperament, which is the only one I even partially understand. The Seed-Atom needs to be able to play every tune in every key, not just C major, so it goes about putting on layers of education. I am seeing that each of the various “keys” we learn how to play in can be an entire class of incarnations the Seed-Atom soul has to go through in order to get to human incarnation, and then once we are here in human incarnation, the whole thing ramps up and then we must be born as every human type, proclivity, and zodiac sign. For instance (spoiler alert I’m about to sound like a fruitcake even more than usual) I think I remember being a goose, not just a silly goose like I am now but an actual goose, or at least some kind of migrating bird, and also a cat. I was a cat several times. No idea when this was, obviously it was long, long ago. I also remember being a Scottish laird, there are memories of a bard/comedian guy, and also a young girl growing up on the East Coast. This was my Seed Atom going through reactions and building up different layers. Perhaps the goose incarnation was my Sun in Aries, the first flight after a lengthy series of times as a walking or swimming animal. Hope this makes sense to someone.

    There are no literal atoms or literal layers. The Cosmic Doctrine is the attempt by non-embodied intelligences to explain to us dumbkopfs how forces we cannot see brought us into being. They are trying to express what the potential is if we make our best efforts to transcend our unfortunate meat suits and the material condition. They must be patient teachers because we’re not easy to work with.

  45. Dear Question,

    I don’t think your inquiry was much off topic. A lot of people ask for spiritual direction and that needn’t be limited to particular gods. Plus, the comments during Dion Fortune weeks are so sparse!

    I see you feel timid. I recommend the church geared toward immigrants as it is more likely to retain the old world flavor. I suspect that while there might a a few curious glances, you will be allowed to acclimate at your own pace and left alone. As for a guide, that is where you will probably find one! But I am most emphatically not encouraging you to pick the Ortho Church over the Episcopalian.

    One time many years ago, guess who showed up at our Russian church in Los Angeles? Why, Natalie Wood and her husband Robert Wagner. It turned out to be some sort of holiday in which their was a procession around the church and thus many people. It was about 3 weeks later that she died. She wanted confession and communion. Natalie Wood looked perfectly comfortable because she knew what to expect, but poor Robert Wagner looked so uncomfortable, as if he expected typical mob behavior. But no one bothered them at all.

    I actually try not to say all that much about this church as I am no longer a member, it’s just that I retain a great love for it and consider it a useful religion. I mostly chime in for a particular reason: at some point my love for God caused me to feel genuine heartache at theology which slanders that Being whom I love so much. So I decided that I am a defender of God’s character, for who will defend Him? It is absolutely not something God will do. It also breaks my heart that these (demonic?) teachings have greatly impaired that very thing which is the Christian path – love for God and one’s fellow man.

    Rather than being something like a ‘recovering’ Christian, I left the church because I no longer believed some of the teachings. I don’t think we know or can know who or what Jesus was. Too many lies and fabrications. I believe in reincarnation.

    What happened to me is between me and God. Orthodox Christians will not be able to accept it. I did an intense search and meditation on what the essence of the Orthodox Church was and read a book by an obscure monk written in the 1930s. This man, whom I consider my mentor, I found out only recently has been canonized. He lit my soul on fire with his pen. So fitting for a bookworm such as myself. What I had was a life changing experience of the Holy Spirit who then slowly but surely began to teach me. What happened next shattered me, a dark night of the soul, total cognitive dissonance. Again, books. Some months later, living in bliss, I found adequate evidence that the church and its truths, including the Old Testament were not true. This was horrifying to me because, like a near death experience, my spiritual uplift was something more real than life itself – I could not doubt it and it had come to me through this church which I loved more than ever!

    I struggled a long time over this but ultimately clung to God alone, let everything else go, and slowly rebuilt. The first thing the Holy Spirit taught me was that God is good. From this many other realizations follow. And as Jesus promised, the Holy Spirit set me free.

    I hope that whatever you choose to do, you will have the strength to be self-standing. Let you have your own understanding. In the gospel of Thomas there is a strong hint. It says that while many are standing around the bridal chamber, only he who stands alone will be admitted. This is one of the spiritual lessons we are here to learn. You must be a mystic, and know God enough to know when to say no to the teachings of men.

    My mentor was at one time harassed by the other monks because they saw he had lost his fear of God. He said it was a truth that was not for everyone, that one could be taught directly by God. Those for whom this is true know who they are, but others cannot fathom it.

    Basically, what seems to be going on here in this world is that evil and good are just all mixed up and thus we are all confused. One of the gems from the Old Testament – Woe to those who call evil good and good evil. I realized this is the human condition!
    Once you understand that God is good, the scales fall from your eyes.
    One of the most useful tools in the New Testament is this: “We tell you this that your joy may be full. God is light and in him is no darkness at all.”

    If you use this chisel properly, it will help you understand my position. God has no part in the negativities attributed to him in either the Bible or theology. There is no reason to fear God ever, no more than you fear your next life giving breath.

    You might want to check out gnosticism, too.

  46. A few random thoughts, in no particular order…

    The concept of “a definite system of stresses and reactions which are intercompensating” which “have achieved an equilibrium and thus become stabilised” (Chapter XIII) reminded me of the construction of a house or a building, which basically is a series of inter-connected spaces made habitable by surrounding them with walls and roofs that remain standing and stable by means of intercompensating stresses.

    There is an interesting connection to stimulus and attention (still Chapter XIII). When a rhythm “settles” it becomes monotonous and ceases to interest the Great Entity, which withdraws its attention from the monotony of the satellite, which then lacks the external stimulus of the attention and “sinks into subconsciousness”. Does this suggest that Solar dream-forms which have settled into a regular rhythm, and no longer hold the attention of the Great Entity, can fall into a sort of sleep (stereotyped reactions) for an extended period, until some new tidal shift awakens them?

    I am still uncertain of the ways in which the travelling atom, the seed atom and the divine sparks connect to one another, as described in the text, but the commentary above (which relates them to personality, individuality and Guardian angel) helps somewhat.

    What I do vaguely grasp is that there is a process being described in this chapter, which concerns ourselves and our destinies, in that each of us is in train to discover and unite with our “Cosmic creator” (is this our own travelling atom, or the original Great Entity of the original Cosmos that both the travelling atom and the Solar Logos were formed in?? If the latter, that sounds like a very big “ask”…) and gain the capacity to evolve into a Great Entity. This is still too big of a task to comprehend, but I can make some sense of the progression from being created (by the Cosmos) to being conditioned (by the Universe) to reaching the free and independent state of being able to condition oneself.

    I missed much of July, having been travelling to see family, and hope to have caught up again by next month. I do expect that there will still need to be more readings before getting a lot of sense from the text. However, I can attest that a second reading shows up a lot more than the first. *Raises glass to many more*.

  47. JMG
    I slid off along several tangents so far this month. Mostly I have been thinking about the meaning of words and the part words play in our thinking – they seem to come and go in the cognitive processes. ‘Atom’ used to have a strict definition as ‘indivisible’. They still do have strictly defined terms, as in the Periodic Table.

    I try to follow Fortune ‘meanings’ when she is talking about ‘entities’ and ‘parts of entities’ and uses the concept of ‘evolution’ over time. Which has made me wonder about other terms / words such as ‘complexity’ and its equation with ‘power’ / ‘capacity’.

    Hmm … I have needed to think about ‘what is a metaphor’ and what is ‘symbol’, and what is language’s part in the wider functionalities of cognition? Fortune’s words constitute metaphors, which are words or groups of words, but are not apparently symbols – rather they are abstractions with no obvious symbolic and meaningful representation, at least as they might be if they were symbols like the symbols in the Periodic Table. The latter does not seem to be the case.

    I find the consideration of relations between words and ‘thought forms’, whatever these might be, fairly fruitful so far, if very inconclusive. Smile.

    best
    Phil H

  48. PS
    It is Fortune’s words that I have whatever problems with. Words used in ‘metaphor’ bring with them a representational definition even if the metaphor is not itself a representation, i.e. is not a symbol. But Fortune seems to have detached many words from their definition.

    OK, probably a good thing.
    best
    Phil H

  49. Building on your response to Booklover’s comment. Why is Earth’s lower astral plane so toxic?

  50. Onething,

    Would you be willing to have a conversation about things off-blog? I have many questions I’d like to ask you, and I’m afraid I’ll be trying our host’s (and other readers) patience if I try to post them here. I’ve made a new gmail account not wanting to put my regular email out in an open forum, so if you’re willing to talk, you can reach me at wholelottaquestions at the aforementioned mail server. Or if you’d rather not, would you be willing to share the name if the monk and or the title of the book you mentioned here?

    What you wrote above really hit home for me – one of the issues in going back to church is knowing perfectly well that much of what I believe conflicts with what they teach. Your comments about God’s character being misrepresented hit me in particular. He has tried to tell me he’s not the abusive father as portrayed in the bible. I’ve not believed him. In one of JMGs Hali books he has a character say that building up false expectations and bad reputation is done by the materialists to discredit the gods (I’m paraphrasing a bit). When I read that, I got goosebumps, which is my body’s way of telling me “pay attention.”

    I went to the 2nd of the two Episcopal churches yesterday, the one with the windows. The experience was intense, to say the least. I’m still processing it. I spent most of yesterday afternoon sleeping or wandering in a daze, feeling rather like I’d been run through with some sort of spiritual pipe cleaner.

    I had a conversation recently with a devout Roman Catholic, after I had rather impertinently asked how he could stand to be Catholic, given the history of abuses and violence in that church. He spent approximately two hours answering that question and what it comes down to was this: people suck. Any organization made of people will suck. You just have to keep the channel to God open, and he feels the rituals and sacraments of the Roman Catholic church do that for him.

    And yes, the gospel of Thomas is one of the books that has landed in my hands in the last couple months. I’ll bump it up to the top of the reading list.

    Thanks

  51. The shells are different states of consciousness, states of awareness to which we can possibly evolve. The Cosmos projected both us (Cosmic atoms) and the Logos, so we’re essentially the same, but we are at an earlier stage of the journey than the Logos. We could evolve, we have the potential to evolve, but we’re not there yet. This implies action needs to be taken, changes need to happen, work needs to be done – the work of the initiate. Gradually awakening into new states of consciousness or building the shells, one by one, following the path that has been laid down before us. Our material forms are just the inflection point in the solar system, the turning point on the return to spiritual states. Not the last word by any means. We think the material world is all there is, but really we lack the senses to perceive the other worlds, if we have not started on the path of building the shells or bodies which would allow us to perceive spiritual levels of being.

    “Therefore, each atom of a Logoidal universe is a potential Divinity.”

    A lofty goal that, to become divine! I’ll try not to let that go to my head, and instead re-frame it in a way that makes sense with what is going on in my life right now. Through magic, the work is to establish a connection to my Higher Self, to gradually become aware of the different spiritual states of being that are as much a part of our solar system as the level of sensory awareness. They are right here all around me, all the time, and are what actually inform the material world. I’m supposed to learn from the initiates and divine beings that have gone before me, follow patterns that have been established, build up the different spiritual bodies or shells and allow myself to be conditioned by divine states of consciousness, not just strike out on my own and do my own thing. Without the work of initiation, I’m being led about by unconscious fears and doubts – those tangential thoughts that are uninformed by God. These unconscious fears distort my decisions, my relationships, and my emotional state. To me, becoming more conscious of the divine influence on my consciousness is the main goal of the work of initiation – gradually, through exposure to spiritual beings in practices, and then through much reflection, repetition and strengthening of those new tracks in space or states of consciousness, bringing my unconscious fears to awareness, and then clearing them out, letting them go. Making way for God’s love to enter, and then allowing that love to be shared with the people in my life. Finally noticing that the way I think and behave affects how people react to me and shapes my life in an exact reflection of my inner state. In that way, I could slowly start to become the Logos of my own universe.

    And as an aside, I just finished reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s amazing book, Aurora, and (spoiler alert) it would seem the designers of the immense ship forgot about the Planetary Spirit in their meticulous yet materialist biosphere design. Their equally immense hubris must have prevented them from noticing they could not recreate the unique consciousness of the Earth’s biosphere which is what actually holds all of life in balance.

  52. I’m still behind on my reading in the Cos Doc, but slowly catching up as I am soon to finish Chapter 10. Thank you for your commentary on that chapter! I’ve needed it even more than in past chapters to help me untangle the words and visualize the images that Fortune provided.

    Regarding this month’s post and particularly your exchange with Chris, do I understand correctly from it that Fortune doesn’t include a place in her cosmology for the Path of Descent as it’s discussed in the Dolmen Arch course? Or was that mentioned in one of the in-between chapters or will it be discussed later on? If the two cosmologies are different in this way, it will be interesting for me to meditate on what that might mean in terms of the kinds of magic that I might do with one or the other as the guiding metaphor.

  53. Wandering Poet, maybe a part of that is the current state of Western Civilization, full as it is with things as Trump Derangement Syndrome, fanatical toxic beliefs about Progress, and so on, and another part of it is the state that other, non-Western societies are in with their own problems. Somewhere J. M. Greer wrote that banishing rituals now are more or less mandatory in magic, whereas in earlier times, this wasn’t as necessary as now (except a bit of frankincense).

  54. Dear Questions,

    Of course I will and will probably answer you a bit here as well. I lost the whole day yesterday because of the treatment at this clinic. While I don’t believe in chemo, they do it a special way with 10% dosages, so it seems to be worthwhile. Even so its a bit rough. Yes, I do think I am seeing improvement, and have to read up today on how to run a funding campaign.

    Now, it is off to the “hot box” a hyperthermia treatment.

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

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