Book Club Post

The Cosmic Doctrine: The Law of Action and Reaction

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 23, “The Law of Action and Reaction,” pp. 108-111.

Millennium Edition: Chapter 24, “The Law of Action and Reaction,” pp. 145-151.


We have now finished our exploration of the forces bearing on human evolution, and are about to launch into Dion Fortune’s tabulation of some of the core laws of magic. If you have the Millennium Edition, unfortunately, that tabulation is made a little more difficult by some really bad formatting—I get the impression that somebody forgot to proofread this far into the book, because in my copy, at least, the table of planes is a complete mess. I’ve attached a corrected version below to help readers sort out what Fortune is saying.

It may come as a bit of a surprise to the more scientifically minded of my readers to find Newton’s law of motion listed as a law of magic, but there it is:  in magic as in physics, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. That rule is the basis for a great deal of traditional occult thought.  It has certain complexities not dealt with in physics, however, for physics by definition deals solely with the physical plane—the lowest of the seven planes in our solar system, one-seventh of the world we as human beings inhabit, and 1/49th of the greater cosmos in which we are placed.

According to Fortune, action and reaction are equal and opposite when measured on the same sub-plane:  for example, the sub-plane Fortune calls the chemical sub-plane of the physical plane, the world of solid matter as we know it. If the action is on one sub-plane and the reaction is on another one step higher and lower, however, the potency of the one on the higher sub-plane is the square of the potency of the one on the lower.  If the action is on one sub-plane and the reaction is two sub-planes removed, the potency of the higher is the square of the square, i.e., the fourth power, and so on.

Even on the physical plane, this works tolerably well.  Think of the amount of moving water in a stream that it takes to move a rock along the streambed, or the far greater masses of wind that it takes to fill a sail and set a sailing vessel in motion.  (Our standard measurements, sensibly enough, are all calibrated with reference to solid matter to make calculation easier.)  What Fortune intends to discuss here, though, is what happens when you move forces up and down the planes above matter—a process that plays a central role in practical magic.

Imagine, Fortune suggests, that you could take one of the primal atoms discussed in the early chapters of The Cosmic Doctrine and split it apart. Each atom consists of two currents of movement in space locked into a vortex, so that the result seems static from outside. Break the bond that unites them, and you have two independent currents which have between them far more force than the atom itself could exert. There’s an additional wrinkle here, though, because the liberated forces are on a higher sub-plane than the atom was.

Two of Fortune’s technical terms are necessary for what follows:  sublimation and degradation. To sublimate a force is to raise it to a higher sub-plane or plane.  To degrade a force is to sink it to a lower sub-plane or plane.  When you sublimate a force one sub-plane, you square it; when you degrade a force one sub-plane, you reduce it to its square root.  Each atom of solid matter is therefore the static form of an immense amount of force, and if all the force in a single ounce of clay could be liberated at once—as Fortune points out—the resulting explosion would wreck the planet. (Remember that she was writing this long before the first nuclear weapon tests.)

The same principle applies on the subtler planes of being, and this is the core theme of this chapter. As a human being, your consciousness normally functions on what Fortune terms the lower astral, upper astral, or lower mental planes:  the lower astral if your life is guided by passions and collective norms, the upper astral if your life is guided by imagination and feeling, the lower mental if your life is guided by personal ideals and reflective thought.  Each of these planes contains seven sub-planes.  Even on the lower astral plane, there is plenty of difference from the nearly animal consciousness of the lowest sub-plane and the shrewd folk-wisdom of the highest sub-plane, just as there is plenty of difference on the lower mental plane between the mind just waking to the life of ideas and the mind that has reflected deeply and begun to catch whispers of the next plane up.

To move from one sub-plane to a higher sub-plane is to unravel a static vortex and free a great deal of force of the type found on the higher sub-plane.  If this is done too suddenly, especially when the leap in question covers more than one sub-plane, the resulting explosion can be disastrous; these are the spiritual crises that leave people gibbering in corners, or worse. In the ordinary way of things, the movement up the sub-planes takes place much more slowly, a little of the vortex being unraveled at a time; this is the ordinary way of spiritual evolution, and Fortune uses a mathematical metaphor here to make sense of it.  If the sudden unraveling of the vortex is raising something to its square, she suggests, the ordinary process of evolution is like addition. You can get to 77  (seven to the seventh power) by adding 7 plus 7 plus 7…  It’s going to take you a long time, though.

There is a middle ground between the sudden shattering revelation and the slow slogging process of ordinary evolution, however.  That middle ground is initiation, which Fortune compares to multiplication.  7 times 7 times 7… gets you there a lot more quickly than addition, but without the sudden shock of raising to a higher power.  This is the central work of a magical lodge like Fortune’s Fraternity (now Society) of the Inner Light, and it’s also something that can be pursued by the individual.  This latter is not something Fortune discusses here, since The Cosmic Doctrine was written for members of the Fraternity of the Inner Light, but it should be remembered through the discussion that follows.

The process of initiation as Fortune sets it out is straightforward.  The initiating group constructs, though ritual and the use of the trained imagination, a structure in the groupmind to receive the energy released from the initiate’s awareness and give it a useful form. (This structure is made up of imagery, narrative, and the other features of effective initiatory ritual.)  In the ritual of initiation, the candidate is brought into contact with that structure after having been placed in a receptive psychological state.  When the initiation works, the candidate’s consciousness rises to a higher level, and the force released by that upward movement—like the flash of an old-fashioned photographer’s flashbulb—imprints the structure on the candidate’s consciousness, giving the candidate a form that can be used to understand and work with the new capacities of awareness.

(Notice that Fortune is remarkably sloppy in her terminology here. At one point she says that the movement from sub-plane to sub-plane is like squaring, and initiation is like multiplication; a few paragraphs down she seems to be implying that each grade of initiation results in the attainment not of a sub-plane but of an entirely new plane. My working guess is that this bit of obfuscation was deliberate, so that those who didn’t read carefully and meditate on what they read would get confused.)

So sublimation, in one of its forms, is the result of initiation.  Degradation is another thing entirely. When you degrade a force you take its two opposing polarities on one sub-plane and lock them together into a vortex, so that you create a much weaker force one sub-plane further down. This can be risky, because whatever structure of consciousness or substance the original force used to fill is left empty, and other things can fill it—including things that you really, truly don’t want filling it.

Here Fortune gives some extremely useful pointers about obsession. That’s a technical term for the condition in which a spirit has effectively supplanted the Individuality in an incarnate person, so that instead of being guided by the Individuality, the personality is guided by the spirit.  (It differs from possession, which is the condition in which a spirit has supplanted the personality itself.)  Obsession happens when the personality has undergone degradation in the technical sense used above, and is functioning on a lower sub-plane than it previously occupied.  That leaves the open space through which the spirit enters.

That happens when the human will, the will of the personality, becomes inhibited—when the person stops willing and regresses to a passive, will-less state of awareness in some aspects of life. There are spiritual and pseudospiritual practices that do this, as Fortune was well aware, and it can also happen as a result of deliberate contacts with demonic entities—the “lower types of evolution” she mentions in passing. The basic rule here is that in every aspect of life, the mage acts intentionally; if she chooses to be receptive to astral influences, say, it’s a willed receptivity, wholly under her control; if she seeks to surrender herself to a deity, as you see so often among religious mages, it’s a willed surrender, done freely and through perfect control of the self.

In any magical action, equilibrium must be maintained. That has another dimension, for when you sublimate a force—raising it to a higher sub-plane and unraveling it into its component forces—that leaves an empty space on its original plane.  The same thing happens if you degrade a force—bringing it down to a lower sub-plane and locking its component forces into a stable vortex. The trick to maintaining equilibrium, of course, is that you balance these two actions against each other.  If you set out to bring a force down into manifestation on the physical plane, you need to sublimate a comparable force up out of the physical plane, to maintain equilibrium.

This is why, among other things, traditional occult training balances workings for spiritual development against workings of practical magic. By practicing the former, you sublimate yourself, unraveling vortices of fixed energy and expressing the freed forces on higher sub-planes; by practicing the latter, you further the descent of energies that are already in the process of flowing into manifestation and help wi8th the process of creation.

There are advanced forms of this kind of work, suitable for very skilled practitioners only. “The Sephiroth when reversed are the Qlippoth,” Fortune comments in passing; you have to know your way around magical literature to know that the Sephiroth are the ten primary realities that form the Tree of Life, and the Qlippoth are demonic beings who originated in the universe before ours.  One potent way to manifest the power of the Sephiroth is to degrade the Qlippoth—to lock their polarized forces into a stable vortex, forcing them down a sub-plane and weakening their power. Old legends about binding demons are metaphors for this process.

To do this with the Qlippoth themselves, as already noted, is a very advanced form of magic. Each of the Qlippoth, however, has a reflection in the human soul, and one way to make use of Fortune’s formula is to use it on these reflections.  Take any habit of passion, imagination, or thinking that is automatic, mindless, and destructive—these are the classic markers of demonic influence—and meditate on it until you can pick it apart into its two component forces, which alternate in your psyche. Then you pit the two component forces against each other until they lock into a stable vortex, and their ability to influence you is reduced to the square root of its previous potency.  The two forces will differ from person to person—one person may balance anger with shame, another may balance anger with fear, or what have you—but by figuring out the balance and bringing the two forces into contact, degradation happens; a demon is bound.

A different kind of advanced magic is the subject of the last section of this chapter, and it’s a kind that very few people do these days. It used to be standard practice in late nineteenth and early twentieth century occultism, as a result of the influence of Spiritualism,  for advanced practitioners to engage in mediumship, seeking to contact the beings known as “the Masters” in Theosophical literature. Some occult schools still teach this, but many do not, as the practice turned out to have a range of downsides, including the one Fortune hints at a little primly in the last sentence of this chapter.

Too much power brought into the personality inevitably tries to earth itself out, and it normally chooses the earthiest possible way to do that.  This is why ministers in those branches of Christianity that like to whip up emotions to fever pitch, seeking to raise enough energy in this way to perform healings and other remarkable events, so often end up being caught in sexual embarrassments of one sort or another; it’s why sexual scandals are so reliable a part or the history of alternative spiritual groups, and why “the all too frequent overweighting of the lower aspects of the occultist” gave magical practitioners a reputation as sex fiends in Fortune’s time.

There are, fortunately, other ways to commune with benevolent nonhuman intelligences that don’t have this same downside.  If you belong to an occult school that teaches the practice of mediumship with the Masters, and can learn how to do it safely from people who have enough experience to matter, that’s one thing, and close study of (and meditation on) the last three paragraphs of this chapter will be helpful.  Otherwise, it’s probably best to leave that practice strictly alone.

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 August 12, 2020.  Until then, have at it!


  1. There is a huge amount of synchronicity in this chapter for me, so thank you so much for explaining and discussing this book. As a solo Druid, my initiation into whatever level I’m at now was the trial by fire of rescuing my aunt’s two cats when she passed away in her home about a year and a half ago. I’ll try to sum up the story briefly: my reclusive aunt, who had never allowed anyone into her house after buying it in 1973, suffered a heart attack in her bed. Her house was in total disrepair, a bit of a hoarding situation and she was heating it with kerosene heaters that barely kept out the weather. The house was permeable to the outside. Squirrels and raccoons were getting into some rooms. Her friend discovered her body when my aunt didn’t answer phone calls on a winter day. The coroners took her body out but they didn’t find her cats. Two days after she died, I rallied the friend who found her body and my own friend and we rescued my aunt’s cats from her house. It was extremely difficult and took every ounce of strength of three women and a full day of cancelled lessons in a time that was already financially strained for me. With no small amount of help from the gods and much furniture thrown about and a puncture wound on my hand (it healed in a week), we got the cats, took them to the vet, and safely delivered them to my parents’ house. Epilogue is that my aunt’s beloved cats are extremely happy, well-cared for, and spoiled at this time. One of them took to my dad the other cat took to my mom. I didn’t know that event was my initiation when it happened. Afterwards, the powers informed me of how my actions helped my aunt to leave that particular incarnation behind.

    Another synchronicity is the series of articles I have been writing about the demonic infestation of the Left. I just posted the second one today, five essays are planned:
    I hope I was able to make sense of demonic obsession by spilling the tea on myself via my own experiences with obsession and becoming a bully in high school.

    Again, thanks for helping us delve into the CosDoc, JMG, we’d all be lost without you. I don’t know why Fortune ever worried about occult books, at least in the CosDoc vein, falling into the wrong hands… they read like stereo instructions unless you’ve got an excellent teacher to help you out with them.

  2. Can a demonic obsession infest a family through the generations? My Sister in law says she believes her family was cursed, and after dealing with my hubby, her brother, for forty years, I can believe it.

  3. A whole lot to think about here, thank you. A couple of questions:

    This is why, among other things, traditional occult training balances workings for spiritual development against workings of practical magic.

    I am working through the DMH, and my main interest has been in the workings to develop spiritually and staying away from doing practical workings to achieve effects on the physical plane. Part of that is just a fear of causing an imbalance somewhere and meddling in things that are already working. However, the above would imply that I need to be doing those practical workings fairly often. Are there signs that one is spending too much time doing workings for spiritual development only? I guess the tendency you mentioned about sexual scandals in certain organizations and individuals is already a sign of that.

    Thank you also for the technical explanation of initiation. A synchronicity here: this morning I did a ritual for self-initiation into an organization, and it was interrupted in several ways (I did it outside, and a boat engine started to get louder in the middle of it, I thought I was about to get ‘seen’ and so this was distracting, plus several gusts of wind came up when lighting candles and blowing them out). What should one do when an initiation ritual gets interrupted like that? I finished it as best I could, and cast an Ogham reading afterwards whether I should do it again later, but it said not to.

    Now, off to ponder how to balance countervailing forces…

  4. “Take any habit of passion, imagination, or thinking that is automatic, mindless, and destructive—these are the classic markers of demonic influence—and meditate on it until you can pick it apart into its two component forces, which alternate in your psyche. Then you pit the two component forces against each other until they lock into a stable vortex, and their ability to influence you is reduced to the square root of its previous potency. The two forces will differ from person to person—one person may balance anger with shame, another may balance anger with fear, or what have you—but by figuring out the balance and bringing the two forces into contact, degradation happens; a demon is bound.”

    This is being written down in my notebook. I have a great deal of work to do with it. Thank you.

  5. Kimberly, thanks for this. Initiation via trial is another option, one that life throws at us from time to time: we hit a challenge that can only be dealt with effectively by inner development, and if we pass that test the world becomes noticeably larger and more interesting. As for Fortune’s sense of caution, most occultists were more careful in her time than they probably needed to be; on the other hand, people in her time also tended to be much better at handling abstract concepts than we are today, after several generations of saturation with media that does a very good job of teaching people not to think.

    Danaone, yes, that kind of family entity is a known problem; my family doesn’t have one but I know families that do. Like other kinds of obsession, it requires the assent of the victim, who can be tempted to give that assent in various ways. To fight one off requires an active spiritual life, enough self-knowledge to recognize the dysfunctional patterns that replicate down the generations, and enough self-discipline to refuse to fall into those patterns even when there are plenty of excuses for doing so.

    Anonymous, (1) the alternative to doing practical magic is doing creative activities in the material world. That also allows you to channel the descending force. I find, for example, that writing is an effective way of balancing the flows. (2) No, don’t do it over again. That kind of thing happens quite often. What I’d recommend now is to meditate on the ritual, and treat the interruptions as though they were part of it. What do they symbolize? What role do they play in the whole pattern of meanings?

    Scotlyn, you’re most welcome. It’s one of the most practical techniques in Fortune’s work.

  6. Wonderful chapter, your response to Anonymous answered and confirmed my suspicion… I also don’t do much practical magic, as I don’t really need to, but I also ground a lot of energy with music, writing, gardening and other creative activities.

    I’m going to have to meditate more on this form of binding demons, there is one particular habit that seems like it boils down to 1. Caring what other people think/being vulnerable to other’s views of me and 2. Wanting to be better/feeling like I am not living up to my ideal… any hints on how to do this practically?

  7. Dear JMG, I have been waiting months to get your views on this chapter!
    And I’m so relieved—this looks do-able, and not nearly as stringent as I was imagining it might be.

    As a solitary practitioner, I was discouraged at the idea that you have to have a group to raise your awareness by a plane. The observation that the wiser you get, the more alone you are, is true in my experience. Any comments?

    I’m hoping there’s some wiggle-room in the requirement to balance force brought down from above with energy sent up from below.

    Dion Fortune’s discussion brought the image of a siphon into my mind, where how much you draw down from one end is a function of what comes out the other. Please tell me this law of spiritual development is not quite as stringently mechanical as the operation of a siphon! Because, problem is, at any one given time, balance may not be possible.

    But in the long overview, it makes all the sense in the world that such balance is needed.

    Somewhere along the line I was given this bit of advice: Knowledge and Power are like the two wheels of a cart—if one wheel is bigger than the other, you end up going in circles and getting nowhere.

    I understood that as: In order to continue growing in knowledge and wisdom, I must USE that knowledge and wisdom; apply it and learn from what results. Working hard and staying busy will get you nowhere if you are clueless. Another way of putting it: To the degree you consume, be a producer.

    It has been my experience, however, that the arts provide a good venue for working on this equilibrium. Almost any mundane activity, done in an appropriate frame of mind, as a symbolic gesture as well as a practical procedure, can spiritualize energy as well as ground it.

  8. Some unusual metaphors came to mind:

    With the energy changes between levels, the first equivalent I thought of was the heat transfer that occurs with evaporation and condensation. How close is that?

    Then I remembered Robert Thurman’s book Inner Revolution. He describes Tibetan Buddhists meditating in huts up the valley sides above towns. When one achieved enlightenment, people in town would see a flash of light. I wondered at the time if that meant enlightenment was an exothermic reaction. Turns out it is. 🙂

    Needing to move things up and down at the same time so as not to leave empty space made me think of castling in chess.

  9. John–

    I think you may have given something of an answer to my question already, but I wanted to ask for some examples of the sublimating (spiritual development) activities on the one hand and degrading (practical magic/creation) on the other. For one who is trying to construct a balanced practice on one’s own, as opposed to working within a formal institutional structure. (Since I’m apparently *not* supposed to work within an institutional structure…)

  10. JMG, thanks for the reply. I am have some strategies that seem to be helping with my husband. He’s a real control freak, so I have become a SELF control freak, meaning I’m not going to let his weird little fixations and occasional out of the blue nasty comments trigger a fight. When I can feel that a conversation is veering off into dangerous territory, I use the “Look – Squirrel!” method to change the trajectory of the dialogue. It works too, because he is easily distracted, or his brain processes are, like, short circuited. Whenever he tries to pin me down to something, I refuse to give him a concrete answer, because if things don’t go as planned, well, now it’s my fault. His dad was a lot the same way, as well as being physically abusive to his mother. My method is to be like water, inspired by my astrological sign, Pisces.

  11. Ohhhh. Ohhhhhhhhhhh .

    I read this three times and still missed the personal implications of:

    “This is why, among other things, traditional occult training balances workings for spiritual development against workings of practical magic. By practicing the former, you sublimate yourself, unraveling vortices of fixed energy and expressing the freed forces on higher sub-planes; by practicing the latter, you further the descent of energies that are already in the process of flowing into manifestation and help with the process of creation.”

    For why my divinations are always adamant I should not pick up formal magical study, and just keep following along with my elements-only SOP, divination, reading and meditation; and be assured that mopping the floors, canning all the things, and wiping everyone’s kids noses is very important, focusing on food skills in particular. If you’re already an over balanced Air-head practical magic does not mean talismans, herb magic and learning actual ceremonial forms to do spell work. (well, I guess herb magic counts if it’s ‘chew up the plantain leaf and put it on children’s bee stings to stop the swelling’). It’s not ‘you can’t do the cool stuff, neener neener here’s a mop’ it’s ‘you’d pop your dang head off.’

  12. About 20 years ago I was overcome by an obsession. The reason I mention it now is because it ended suddenly one day, after two months or so. By that time that was aware that it was affecting my husband strongly, and I remember thinking that I needed to get out of the obsessed state to ensure that we stayed together and because I hated to see him feel so obviously lost and unable to help me. By this time, too, I knew I was the only person who could free me of the obsession. So I woke up one morning and it was gone, with a sense that I had been tossed out of a whirlpool onto dry land, and the whirlpool had disappeared. It didn’t come back either, even when I actually tried to re-think the obsession to see if it was really gone. It took a bit of will to avoid the thought pattern, but I managed well enough to keep the whirlpool away. Thinking about it in line with this chapter, that whirlpool seems like the degradation that led to the obsession. If I understand correctly, my understanding of what I needed to do triggered just enough will to pull me back up out of the degradation, hence the sense of being thrown out of the whirlpool and back on shore. Does this make sense? I’ve wondered what happened ever since; this is the first thing I’ve read that might explain it.

  13. Greetings JMG and all,

    “Take any habit of passion, imagination, or thinking that is automatic, mindless, and destructive—these are the classic markers of demonic influence—and meditate on it until you can pick it apart into its two component forces, which alternate in your psyche. Then you pit the two component forces against each other until they lock into a stable vortex, and their ability to influence you is reduced to the square root of its previous potency. The two forces will differ from person to person—one person may balance anger with shame, another may balance anger with fear, or what have you—but by figuring out the balance and bringing the two forces into contact, degradation happens; a demon is bound.”

    Wow, reading this gave me a chill. I stumbled on to something very like this approach when dealing with envy. I had tried a variety of approaches over the years, but this one worked, and the effects stuck.


  14. Also, the squaring vs multiplying- this reminds me of how Richard Rose had a Self-Realization experience at around 30 yrs old, rather out of the blue (though he was a dedicated and serious seeker and practioner) – he felt like he went insane, it was a temendous trauma, he told his students that they might have to be carried out in stretchers if it ever happened to them… my mentor, his student, had his Realization when he was around 60, after decades of work and sacrifice, and drove home from his isolation retreat with wits and a quite functional personality, certainly not on a stretcher.

  15. “…they read like stereo instructions…”


    Instructions Written in Engrish!

    I am pleased to report that has not been cancelled. Still making everybody, Asian and non, laugh. There is, or was, at least one site—in Korean, if I recall correctly—flipping the Engrish concept on its head.

  16. Many years ago, I went through an experience which perhaps was a spiritual degradation, as you describe it here. I had been very active in a christian church and had a structured and rigorous spiritual life. For various reasons I had a crisis of faith and quite suddenly left the church and my faith and practice shattered. I then went through a very rough patch – anxiety, depression and behaviors quite unlike my old self. I almost didnt make it. I had to build a whole new worldview and spiritual life. I’m good now, this was all a long time ago. But i wonder whether it would be useful to meditate and reflect on this time with this framework in mind, perhaps to learn something useful. Or maybe just better to leave it all alone? That time in my life is still quite frightening and I’ve fully understood what happened.

  17. Although I am not, and do not intend to become, involved in the occult generally I still find some of these posts helpful. I can use them to look at life differently and sometimes to make sense of things that have influenced me in the past. Or are still influencing me today.

  18. Isaac, that’s a good first step. Your binary is (1) trying to live up to other people’s unrealistic expectations vs. (2) trying to live up to your own unrealistic expectations. Start by exploring each of them, journaling about them, noticing what seems to trigger one or the other, tracing back patterns if you can to childhood experiences you may not really have processed fully, and so on. Then focus on the pattern revealed by these two things — the conflict between expectations and reality — and see what two forces are knotted together to keep you stuck in that conflict.

    KKA, (1) there’s a reason Manly P. Hall used to call the occult path “the way of the lonely ones.” (2) The balance between downward and upward flows is a moving equilibrium, not a static balance. Sometimes you need to concentrate on bringing things down into manifestation, sometimes you need to concentrate on your own inner development; these two gradually settle into a rhythm that keeps you more or less in balance. Yes, arts and crafts as well as other forms of action in the world can ground the descending energy!

    Yorkshire, two good metaphors! As for the Tibetan monks, I wonder whether the light is physical or psychc; whichever it is, of course, it’s attested in many traditions.

    David BTL, sure. Sublimating activities are those done to transform yourself and relate to deities and other beings above the human level: for example, prayer, meditation, rituals performed to foster inner development, and so on. Degradative activities are those done to make things happen in the world: magic for practical purposes, arts, crafts, ordinary hard work, and so on.

    Danaone, good. That’s likely to help a great deal. Do you practice a daily banishing ritual? That might also help things quite a bit.

    Pixelated, exactly. This is why monks traditionally alternate prayer and ritual, on the one hand, with diligent physical work on the other; that latter is an effective way to ground the energies.

    SLClaire, that makes perfect sense. You rose back up a sub-level, and the obsession dissolved since it could no longer get between you and your Individuality.

    Bonnie, excellent. TSW indeed!

    Isaac, exactly. You can go too far too fast — but there are alternatives.

    Your Kittenship, well, that’s some relief, at least. Carefully fall up the cliff!

    Mark, I’d say reflect on it and learn from it. Yes, that very likely was a slide down a sub-plane or two, followed by obsession, or at least an unhelpful openness to the influences of the lower astral.

    JillN, occult practice isn’t for everybody — but many of the basic concepts of occult philosophy can be very useful even for those who don’t practice. I’m glad that they’re helpful for you.

  19. There are many pages for me to read before I reach this chapter, but – ding – synchronicity. I had an experience today when I was in a really bad, anxious mood. While cooking I let my mind wander a little bit and suddenly a thought entered my mind, the thought – which I read here from time to time – that not all the negative feelings and thoughts I experience are necessarily mine. As I said, I read that before but this time it was more like a small revelation and had a remarkably powerful effect, namely that my negativity vanished at an instant and was replaced with a lot of energy and also a little bit of wrath, I’d say. I pondered what I had just done and this led me to think about the actions on and the interactions between the planes. If you say something like “the negativity you experience is not yours”, isn’t this a very abstract concept like “this is an icosahedron ” and wouldn’t the content of this sentence (not the sentence itself) belong to the mental plane? This lead me to another question: You can banish on the physical plane (at least it has something of it, I’d say) by keeping your body and physical surroundings in a good shape. You can work still physically but on a higher level by taking a hoodoo bath or doing something similar. You can work on the astral plane by performing the SOP or the LBRP. Is something similar possible on the mental plane? Is there something like banishing ritual working on the mental plane?

    One other sentence that especially caught my attention:

    “That happens when the human will, the will of the personality, becomes inhibited—when the person stops willing and regresses to a passive, will-less state of awareness in some aspects of life.”

    MBSR-style techniques…!? But also watching television. Being forced to work a mindless job. Being denied the possibilities express oneself, to shape and influence ones environment. But isn’t this our current society is all about? On the other hand – could the space that had been freed as a result of degradation also be occupied from a lower plane, that is the physical plane? The kind of person whose intellect turns overdrive and who as a result desperately longs for tranquilizers of all kind of sorts to shut it down for a while comes to my mind. The depressed, not the obsessed kind of person.


  20. @ JMG, pixelated

    It’s not ‘you can’t do the cool stuff, neener neener here’s a mop’ it’s ‘you’d pop your dang head off.’

    Crap, crap, and double-crap. I think this just answered my question. And it would explain why I keep getting redirected away from formal training and scholastic modes.

    But I want to do the cool stuff. Crap^crap.

  21. Well, that was certainly the most concise explanation I have read of what has been unfolding all around us this year. So many more-or-less independent forces in our world — employment, industry, education, healthcare, finance, sports, kinship, etc. — have been locked into vortices with an amorphous pandemic death-panic. What an amazing degradation to be living through! So much that we all took for granted has been transformed into a frighteningly large void in our lives, our consciousness, and our society. What kind of spirits will end up inhabiting/infesting that emptiness?

    Alas, we are already getting worrying glimpses of what has taken up residence in emptied minds. Obsession is guiding so many passive meat puppets (Won’t the materialists be happy? They have finally achieved their goal!) to fixate on incessant infection stats, innumerable racist triggers, their disobedient neighbors, and all symbols of common national heritage. Given how much productive energy, wasted on those obsessions, cannot be channeled into more status-quo-threatening goals, I wonder whether driving the world into obsessive fixation was the whole intent behind selling pandemic fear. Is Fortune’s use of the term obsession related somehow to demonic glamour? Is glamour the shiny, dangly distraction that the spirit uses to hypnotize the individual into passivity? Or is the disorientation from weakened force, bound up by degradation, enough to cause the reverse initiate to grasp out at anything offered from above? Is that why spirits are attracted to that void — to feed on the bound energy below? How long do these obsessive crises usually last?

    All the civilization-sustaining forces on the chopping block have polarities quite opposed to the overwhelmingly destructive force of pandemic fear, so I don’t think those vortices are in any way stable. That would mean that massive amounts of energy are having to be continuously expended to keep all the sustaining forces locked up, and that the energy available for that purpose declines with each successful degradation to a sub-plane. All kinds of energies are being sacrificed towards that goal, but legitimacy, respect, and influence may be the most costly ones in the long run. And, oh my, they are being used up awfully quickly — that would be the golden lining, of course. Any troubling delusions of a stable, dystopian, technocratic Reich can finally be laid to rest, though they probably won’t be (Perhaps UFO’s can bring the Illuminati the missing energy and legitimacy to impose their vexing Reich?)

    On the good side (or would that be the evil side in this dying status quo), rigidity is being tested all over and getting exposed for its inflexible uselessness. With so many individuals, systems, and ideas getting locked into a degraded orbit (a dance with the devil), there must be a significant pull towards sublimation and untethering from fixed polarities at the moment. What a great time to be exploring occult practices, when, to maintain equilibrium, the environment is encouraging rapid growth into recently emptied niches! Are there any special concerns to be aware of along those lines so we do not advance too rapidly unprepared, become overwhelmed by residue from the former occupants, or mistake a malign claw for a helping hand from above?

  22. @JMG regarding the way occultists in Fortune’s time may have been overly cautious with the obfuscation in the language in their instruction:

    This is something that I started to wonder about with my penchant for always trying to ‘figure out what’s going on’. They seemed very concerned with the possibility of handing too much information to the incautious or unethical to abuse. I have been tootling along on the assumption that if I’m not trying to use deliberate energy raising and concentrating ceremonial work, I can’t manage to figure out how to burn myself or give away dangerous information I happen to pull out of my own brain or read on a blog. While I could, like a child, shoot a whole gun I found lying around, but if I’m just looking at my pieces, with a vague idea of what they look like put together, I figured I can’t accidentally put it together and pop myself first, though I might pinch a finger. If I somehow figured out how to put it together, I’m not a child who will accidentally fire it any longer. Is that a valid assumption?

    I mean, what if there were a less trustworthy druid who gave me a poem to read? 😉 I suppose it depends on if there was explicit instruction on what ideas or concepts to will behind it or meditate on?

    Or, if, someone were to, oh, at random, write a post then link to it on a druid’s blog that happened to describe a potential set of contending qlippothic forces doing stuff at the moment, the day before he discussed what that could do in general… I’m going to assume, if I wouldn’t know how to provide information (assuming it was even true) in a way that actually met the criteria for a magical working, there can’t be some guy rubbing his hands in his basement evil lair going “excellent, this was the last piece of the puzzle I needed for my dastardly plan!” and actually be able to do something with it. If he was proficient enough he knew what to do with it, and the intention to do it, he would already know what’s the what… I think?

  23. Ah, thank you very much for the hint, JMG, the process is already moving.

    As for going too far too fast, yes I can think of examples where that turned out pretty bad (Crowley? Parsons?) But for Rose it ended up fine, though it took him years to recover, and one of the greatest sages of the 20th century had an even more intense explosion at 16… apparently Ramana Maharshi was so absorbed he couldn’t feed himself or knock away the vermin biting him, and he turned out alright. Of course, it seems like these people didn’t really have much of a choice in the matter either… is that what happens when one is obsessed with the Solar Logos?

  24. Very much appreciated–I am very much on the Humanities side of things, and my initial reaction to this chapter was “…oh, frack, it’s full of *math*,” only with language that doesn’t work on this blog. 😛 Your explanation clears things up considerably! (And as another person who doesn’t do much practical magic, I’m glad that writing or other creative activities can serve the same purpose.)

    The binding description amuses me: for a while now, I’ve said that my deadly sins tend to balance each other out (I’d be a lot more lustful if not for my sloth and pride, a lot more gluttonous if not for lust and pride, a lot more wrathful if not for sloth, etc.) and leave me a more-or-less decent person by my own standards. This seems like the next level of that.

  25. I enjoyed this piece and particularly liked your explanation on picking apart destructive habits. I tried meditating on a mindless, destructive of mine and found jealousy and dissatisfaction to be it’s component forces. However, I’m finding it hard to understand how I can pit them against each other. Is it mere awareness of the component that reduce it’s potency? Or it that awareness let’s us overcome it easier?

  26. I’ve been chasing instant enlightenment for a decade or so, dabbling in various practices for a time and stopping them because they wouldn’t deliver it in one short bang. I was also very much flowing with the New Age ideas of global awakening just around the corner. One day I was given a vision where it was shown that sudden awakening of all humans would require energies to shift so drastically that the planet would become uninhabitable for us due to earthquakes, volcanoes, and other natural disasters brought up by the shift. I took it at a face value and proceeded with my quest of instant enlightenment only to get my nervous system fried so badly that I had to stop all practices completely for a year or so. Only after tentatively restarting a spiritual practice and finding a way of doing it slowly, meticulously, and steadily did I understand that the vision of volcanoes and earthquakes was a warning that I was about to break down and the Earth uninhabited by humans hinted at the lifelessness I felt for a year staying away from spiritual practices after the disaster.

    I am mightily grateful to JMG, Dion Fortune, and everyone else involved in this forum for developing a framework where these experiences can be understood and discussed in a sensible way!

  27. Nachtgurke, yes, those are mental plane phenomena, and the mode of banishing that works on the mental plane requires the capacity for reflective thought that is best developed through discursive meditation. What you did was in fact a variety of that banishing. As for the depressed rather than that obsessed sort of person, that sort of thing isn’t a function of degradation of forces — in fact, it can often be treated by degradative practices. Many people find that hard, productive physical work is an effective cure for the blues!

    David BTL, is crap^crap “crap to the crapth power”? If so, I like it.

    Christophe, a fine meditation. The crucial points to keep in mind, while pursuing the sublimative path in the midst of all this degradative action, is to go a step at a time, keep the will fully engaged, test the way ahead by divination, and banish daily.

    Pixelated, exactly. One of the things that guides my blogging on magical subjects is precisely the need to be sure that what I’m handing out isn’t going to enable anyone to fry their own nervous system or do something disastrous with other people. That’s one of the reasons I so often work on the plane of concepts and abstract images; those aren’t easy to misuse, if they’re well chosen and well aimed.

    Isaac, oh, granted, some people come through it just fine. No, it’s not obsession by the Solar Logos, because he doesn’t get between you and your Individuality — it’s initiation by the Logos, which opens up for just a moment a direct contact between your personality and your Individuality.

    Isabel, one thing you can certainly do is lock two or more vices together so they cancel each other out. They then become a thrust-block off which you can move in new directions.

    Your Kittenship, I was particularly impressed by these wise words.

    Nomad, good. That’s the first step. Now explore each component by itself. Study your jealousy, for example; figure out what sets it off, what past experiences it relates to, how else it expresses itself in your life. Do the same kind of exploration of your dissatisfaction. You can find some other way to express these feelings that doesn’t cause the same habit to manifest; you can teach yourself to become dissatisfied by your jealousy; you can figure out what two forces feed into each of these feelings — neither jealousy nor dissatisfaction are simple emotions, and you can unravel them further. Those are the obvious options, and you may be able to find others as well.

    Ganesh, the visions were good metaphors, but there’s also another layer of truth to them. There’s a Zen saying: “One who achieves sudden complete enlightenment is like an arrow shot straight into Hell.” Too much spiritual awakening too fast can set off disastrous imbalances in the unprepared psyche and energy body, resulting in moral collapse, insanity, illness, or death.

  28. If this is done too suddenly, especially when the leap in question covers more than one sub-plane, the resulting explosion can be disastrous; these are the spiritual crises that leave people gibbering in corners, or worse.

    JMG, is this what is going on when people do Kundalini yoga and then go crazy and/or die?

    Also, you’ve mentioned how some Golden Dawnies channeled Tipareth and ended up with stupid gigantic egos like Crowley… was that what happened to him, or was it something else?

    DanaOne, one thing that has helped me not get so frustrated with my husband when he is being an absolute pill is to repeat the mantra “I accept my husband for who he is”.

    Lady Cutekitten, one of my favorite Engrish sites that befuddles snobs to no end is For the uptight arbiter of good taste who becomes irate when they encounter the site, they are forced to examine their own elitism (a piece of wadded up paper is “art” in the same way a picture of a soup can or a crucifix in urine is “art”) and juxtapose it against their anger at being poked fun at for being Emperor-has-no-clothes gullible.

    Bonnie, de nada.

  29. @JMG

    This process reminds me of enchanting items.
    Two currents must be invoked and streamed towards it before the third current to is born
    within it. So the item is sublimated and initiated to a subplane higher in the material plane..
    Perhaps jumping from chemical to etheric. However, the forces themselves have been invoked in the item come from their own respective planes and are degenerated to form the item’s life force, locking an etheric vortex inside of it. The item is safely balanced once first. But enchantments can wear off. I assume there must be then work done with the item to ensure that it is used for its purpose of course, but also to ensure nothing inhabits the space of it’s previous plane. So a sickle that has been enchanted to bring peace, protection, and healing must be used for that purpose at intervals or it is at risk of being inhabited by an entity itself if the enchantment weakens from disuse. That provides the creator good incentive to make things that need to be made and do not just lie around I guess.

    Following this, I have seen that people can be mindless in the face of tragedy and display automatic reactionary behaviour that causes destruction in their family.

    A child, for example, may become fearful because their father left. The father’s will kept the household together with discipline and in leaving created a power vacuum. A lack of direction and discipline causes the child subconcious fear. The mother, being distraught and overworked, doesn’t fill the shoes of the father’s old role. The child drops out of school and attempts to take the place of the father. The child’s fear turns to expressive anger as the responsibility of their new role bears down on them and a realization occurs that rage works to control other family members. The child begins to hit other family members and control the household dysfunctionally.
    One of the ways of helping this situation without having authorities getting involved might be to counsel the child concerning the role that fear and anger played in the further deterioration of the household. The child may then see and accept the need for the mother’s empowerment and attempt to help in this process. Because most children ultimately don’t want to be in charge ‘for real’ no matter how headstrong they are. In this example the child effectively turns anger to will and challenges their fear through supporting the family instead of attempting to control it. I don’t know that this example necessarily fits in perfectly with the CosDoc lesson but it certainly seems magical when a family can be healed this way.

  30. I am a bit confused by the interactions described between the planes.

    “If the action is on one sub-plane and the reaction is on another one step higher and lower, however, the potency of the one on the higher sub-plane is the square of the potency of the one on the lower. “

    Let’s say, to take an example inspired from The Archdruid Report, that I would aim for an increased collective awareness of the most likely consequences of the progressive decrease of net available energy from fossil fuels. As an occult practitioner, I could:
    1. Help people imagine more vividly some probable scenarios, using the tools of fiction.This would work on the mental plane, using imagination as a target. However, to have an actual effect on the material world, this relies on people that resonated with those stories to then “pull-down” those imaginary visions into day-to-day practices that are coherent.
    2. Practice myself some material aspects of a lifestyle that would be coherent with the lower net energy available in the future (ex: biking instead of taking a car). If I practice that long enough, others will notice. Those that are ready will be able to imitate those practices that are sufficiently compatible with their lifestyles. They would adopt it at the same plane as I perform it (lesser need for imagination).
    3. Building tools/infrastructure in the material world for those future conditions, even if the current conditions are not best suited. The most comprehensive the preparation, the more likely more people will take it seriously, and start imagining (“pull-up”) into the mental plane the possibilities that are hinted at by the physical technologies.

    * Question 1 *

    Is that coherent with Dion Fortune’s model to say that the strongest effect will come from (3) because it is operating the lowest amont the planes but the reaction is on the higher planes? Concretely in this example, the action is on the material world but the (intended) reaction is in the imagination plane of future people.

    It seems to me that another coherent interpretation of the model is that it will take *a whole lot* of fiction work that targets the imagination of others before that inspires them enough to “pull-down” the teachings in the material world!


    * Question 2 *

    I am getting confused with an apparent contradiction, possibly in the model or maybe just by this particular discussion. The discussion suggests that the energy freed up on the lower planes, by invoking the higher planes are powerful enough that carelessly trying to tap into those can fry up the practitioner. But that seems incoherent with the quote at the top of this comment, where an action on a higher sub-plane has a reaction with half the potency for each sub-plane below. Am I getting the action and reaction mixed up? Or am I confused by something else?

  31. Mariana Caplan’s books Halfway Up The Mountain, The Guru Question and Eyes Wide Open all emphasise the need for long periods of spiritual preparation before the most profound changes happen. These are some of the ways it’s explained:

    You want to build a house for your god. You don’t want the god turning up and all you’ve got is a pile of bricks.

    Spiritual energy flows through you like water in pipes. You need to have good pipework installed before the pressure increases or the pipes will burst and there’ll be water everywhere.

    Extensive spiritual purification is necessary because impurities cause resistance. Just like with electricity, resistance causes heat, and you really don’t want that inside your body.

  32. Greetings all
    Your above diagram, suddeny, clears up things a lot. At least for me.

  33. Take any habit of passion, imagination, or thinking that is automatic, mindless, and destructive—these are the classic markers of demonic influence—and meditate on it until you can pick it apart into its two component forces, which alternate in your psyche.

    If I understand right, this is actually built in to a banishing ritual like the SOP, if you meditate on framework of the elements and figure out what they mean for you, you’re already starting to find those countervailing forces and the banishing ritual is what degrades and sublimates then accordingly.

  34. Sir,
    A long time reader — since the days of “The Long Descent” — I found this top notch even by your high standards. Reading the comments I realized you likely know this already, making these 2 cents superfluous, but hey.

    You explained a lot to me and many others. You altered a lot of consciousness, so to speak. Well done.

    And by rule four, enough said!

    Thank you,

  35. Hi JMG,

    Correct me if I’m wrong: if I want to manifest the book I’m trying to write, I must grow up (evolve emotionally/thoughtfully) to meet the more subtle energy of the higher plane where the subtle form of the book lives. This development on my part displaces similarly shaped energy on that higher plane, which is then available to manifest downward into material reality. Do I understand this correctly? Traditionally I have made my plea’s to the angels and archangels for assistance in things that I want to have happen, trusting that their wisdom and ingenuity are far greater than mine. But I can certainly craft my requests with more refinement, now that I understand this: that the nature of what I contribute upward is absolutely essential to the machinery of the universe. It recalls to my mind a role I once knew I was supposed to play in “all of this,” somewhere long ago and far away…

    If you have ever played cards with someone who plays to win at any cost, you know how unpleasant this is, and I think it is a good example of the left-hand path way of going about things. It is a degradation, and it is unpleasant to be around. Similarly, I often find I struggle with my loathing for narcissists. However, now realizing that narcissists are people who have degraded themselves, they are to be pitied, and ideally, forgiven. But not before I kick ‘em in the shins, of course…whenever it falls to my sorry lot to do so.

    Thank you so much for this forum, and to everyone here contributing!!

  36. JMG, I read Dion Fortune’s banishing ritual in her book “Psychic Self Defense”, I don’t do it daily, but I sometimes do it at my hubby’s chair, using sea salt. I was feeling unbalanced in my marital relationship, and I thought it had something to do with my wedding ring, the only ring I usually wear, so I put a big sterling silver band on my right hand middle finger (Saturn) and basically realized that I no longer had the same feelings for hubby that I thought I did at the time we were married. I feel more balanced now that I have been wearing the silver ring on my banishing hand.

  37. Fear and loathing, I should have said, with regard to narcissists. And it’s the fear which is so debilitating.

    Times like these I find myself quoting the Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear, still useful to me all these years after my obsession with Dune has faded:

    “I must not fear. Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see it’s path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

  38. Dear John Michael Greer,

    Thank you for this fascinating post, and for hosting this also always fascinating comments section.

    In answer to a comment above you write: “Isabel, one thing you can certainly do is lock two or more vices together so they cancel each other out. They then become a thrust-block off which you can move in new directions.” I see that you also answered a similar question for another commenter. Still, I cannot quite grok this concept.

    Would you provide another hypothetical example or possibly two? Thanks for considering.

    Meanwhile, I shall continue meditating…


  39. There are spiritual and pseudospiritual practices that do this, as Fortune was well aware, and it can also happen as a result of deliberate contacts with demonic entities—the “lower types of evolution” she mentions in passing. – From the posting.

    Then the posting discusses mediumship and personality.

    I put those two points there since I am curious about how Core Shamanism fits into this.

    I have written about the group of experienced feminist witches all taught by a core shaman and their TDS rituals. After their latest ritual with pins in a Trump doll, one ended up with the Virus and one ended up with stomach bleeding. Are what they are doing pseudospiritual?

    They also talk about Gods such as Freya living in their heads telling them things. Usually feminist ideology. Did they have a deliberate contact with a demonic entity?

    Is the problem that I am seeing with Core Shamans is the inability to tell what is what? They seem to do mediumship and it seems to warp them, at least the ones I know.

    I appreciate your discussions on how not to fry your nervous system. I guess since I am surrounded by Neopagans and New Agers, I have to be careful since they seem to fling about terminology they have little understanding of.

    As for me, I have been reading the blogs on the Cosmic Doctrine. The book is very dense but very necessary to understand especially when dealing spiritual practices.

  40. The math part of my head immediately thought, “I hope potencies have a value greater than one.”

  41. John–

    Quite so: crap^crap was intended as “crap to the power of crap.” Glad you liked it 🙂

    My challenge here, it seems, is accepting the inherent limitations this particular incarnation imposes with re to my path (perhaps it would help if I thought of them as “guidance” instead). There’s a good amount of “all those skills you’ve developed to this point are not relevant to what you need to be doing now” going on. I am heavily air-oriented (possibly fire as well) and need to balance out, most certainly with water (emotion/feeling) and possibly earth. And that means doing different things and pursuing different foci than I have to this point.

    I should also stop whining and just get to it.

  42. So many thoughts emerged from this chapter.

    I have an image of the process of initiation by multiplication being like little bubbles of air slowly rising through water to the surface and popping, little by little, one small realization affecting the personality at a time, giving it a chance to adjust, adapt on the fly, and reinvent itself piece by piece. Like a diver returning slowly to the surface after a long stint underwater. Better that than trying to rise to the top all at once, which is liable to give one the bends, or waiting for evolution to come up with some gills!

    Fortune mentions that to raise forces up a plane, a group is necessary. But you mentioned it is also possible to do the same thing independently. If I understand it correctly, the Tree of Life functions in a similar way as a structure in the group mind – it has a vast presence in the astral plane created by years of practitioners meditating upon it. We are meant to meditate upon the symbols and correspondences of each Sephira and Path, connecting our psyche to this reservoir of spiritual forces and allowing it to gently transform and sublimate us along the way.

    On maintaining equilibrium – the practitioner who receives spiritual knowledge but then tries to flee from the world – living in a cave, meditating on a mountain or simply rejecting the material world out of hand doesn’t maintain equilibrium. Jesus meditated in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights, but then returned to begin his ministry. Spiritual forces are a gift from the Gods, but we need to put them to use by engaging with the material world. Like the parable of the talents (talents as in money, not individual skills) in Matthew – the servants who put their talents to use in the world and multiply them are rewarded by their Master upon his return, but the servant who buried his talent in the ground was cast out into the outer darkness, weeping and gnashing of teeth etc. In the process of initiation, to maintain equilibrium, we have a responsibility to give back to the world the equivalence of the spiritual gifts the Gods share with us. To keep the silver thread going, to help others find it. The Gods can work through us on the material plane. If we want to bring spiritual forces into our lives, we need to pay the price, which is taking action in our physical world and our actual lives.

    On the flip side of that, if we only focus on the material side, we won’t know the spiritual, or we will slowly start to forget about it. I find I need to alternate the child-rearing, housekeeping, gardening, retrofitting of old camper into Salatin-style eggmobile, clearing out of old apple orchard to become perpetual shaded pasture area etc. with spiritual work, so things can (hopefully) stay in balance.

  43. Christophe – thank you for sharing your meditation! Is this why Spengler’s Second Religiosity often emerges when paradigms crumble? One way to resist demonic forces, for those with some exposure to religion or spirituality, is by turning to the divine for help. As you suggested, though, this path pursued in an imbalanced way could lead to religious fanaticism and a full-out rejection of the material world, neither of which are helpful on the hopefully-balanced path of the initiate! Definitely something to watch out for as our main belief system begins to crumble around us. I think we can be thankful for a certain Druid who is gently introducing some suggestions as to what else might be available to fill that void.

    Isaac – you wrote: “there is one particular habit that seems like it boils down to 1. Caring what other people think/being vulnerable to other’s views of me and 2. Wanting to be better/feeling like I am not living up to my ideal…”

    I hope you don’t mind if I jump in here; your comment also describes my psyche quite well! In my case, through introspection I came to realize that not receiving any love from my father when I was a kid (or at any other time for that matter – I only hugged the man twice as far as I remember, once when my mom died and once when he was dying) allowed some demonic forces to fill the void in my personality. On one hand, anger and blame, thinking I’m better than everyone else, and on the other hand, self-pity, inferiority, never being good enough, feeling like if only I could somehow be perfect enough then my dad would finally love me. (I realized as an adult how he was incapable of the kind of love I needed – like trying to squeeze blood from a stone – as he had demons of his own that had not been dealt with. It just wasn’t there for him.)

    As for pitting them against one another, what I came up with is how can it be possible for me to be both angry and better than everyone else, and inferior and worse than everyone else at the same time? It’s impossible as well as absurd. So I leave those two ideas/forces/demons to wrestle it out and rise above them by creating something else – in this case, a self that loves others and focuses on my own actions – being me. Demonic forces negate us – they take away our power to will, to act, to Be, and instead trick us into Not-Being. It’s possible to waste an entire life being controlled by demons, worrying about other people’s’ actions or opinions, or being angry at them for their perceived injustices. My responsibility instead is to be my best possible self, to be the one doing the loving, and living life to the fullest.

  44. Thanks, JMG, for the post and the great Zen quote. While we are on the subject of the perils of high-speed enlightenment, my spiritual teacher used to always say: start early, drive slowly, arrive safely. How I wish this kind of common-sense was more common! And thanks for straightening out the tabulation at the start of the chapter: as a possessor of the Millennium edition, I found the tabulation to be utter gibberish.

  45. @ David BTL, JMG “crap to the crapth power!” is my new go to exclamation.

    Also, I love the Cos. Doc. commenters, just in general.

    I was considering (while doing my good physical work of running up and down stairs for my weightlifting warm up ;-)) that one of the reasons that simply describing contending qlippothic powers in abstract terms doesn’t provide as much possibily for misuse by the unwary is that:

    a) if you’re not already in touch with these powers in your lower emotional and physical planes, you aren’t going to accidentally choose to do so – i.e. a happy, balanced person reading the abstract recipe for a demon isn’t going to be like “oh, fear and loathing vs. envy and greed, I gotta get me some of that”

    b) if you ARE already someone in touch with those lower aspects… you are already summoning it by your daily life and deeds and teaching you the abstraction behind it – sending the energy back up to your higher mental faculties – that might actually be what snaps you out of it like some of the people upthread did for themselves without even needing occult trai-… oh. Have I mentioned again, I’m slow on the uptake? 😉

    I also see the explicit key now in how to prevent an accidental over-contemplation of that which you wouldn’t normally prefer to imitate, thanks.

  46. Dear JMG

    Thank you for this; and as others have commented, very much Divinely timed.

    JMG, I’m wondering if you could check my correspondences here. When you’ve made reference to the last 3 paragraphs of the chapter.

    When I superimposed the X over the Y, I see 5 points. I have turned the 5 points around so the the channel of inflowing and out flowing energy, as DF describes is at the top. So I see a pentagram now.

    Am I correct in thinking then that the energy then flows in a clockwise direction from Spirit > Water > Fire > Earth > Air, back to Spirit.

    The Left side then being water and fire, and the Right side being earth and air.

    Fire relating then to individuality; and earth to personality.

    When you refer to individuality do you mean this to be the Higher Self or Soul? And the personality being affected astrologically via the planets, and hence the conditioned (egoic) or lower self?

    Just corresponding the pentagram then to the Tree of Life:

    Water = emotional / astral plane
    Fire = vital / etheric ?? (I am not sure on this)
    Earth = physical
    Air = mental

    I also see the clockwise flow of energy as an oroboros. The snake eating it’s tail. An eternally perpetuating cycle of creation and destruction.

    I’m getting confused though, because the left side of this figure (symbol) being the water / fire side, doesn’t then seem to relate to the left side or column of the Tree of Life. Because the mental on the pentagram is on the Right side, yet on the ToL, it’s the column of Mercy on the Left.

    Or do the two (the pentagram and ToL) not correspond from this point of view (ie left / right)? Or have I mixed up the sides on one or both?

    Not sure if I’m making any sense 🙂

    Thanks for this,

    ~ Tanya

    PS Everyone, I do enjoy reading your comments and experiences. Thank you for sharing.

  47. Kimberly – I’ve been going with the mantra “the nut doesn’t fall far from the tree”.

  48. Dear Neptune’s Dolphin,

    If I may:

    Looking over Core Shamanism’s website it seems to depart from my understanding of historical Shamanism. That is, Shamanism isn’t something chosen or pursued, it’s something that happens to a person as an overwhelming event outside of their conscious choice or control. Furthermore, all of the trademark symbols on the page honestly give me the creeps. That said, I don’t know anything about their techniques.

    Regarding messages from the Gods, for what it’s worth I’ve never received what I’d term a political message in my years of devotional practice. Much more common, I’ve found, is that deities will point out places my character fails to live up to my ideals, ask me to do things that cultivate various virtues, and give instructions or information that relate to our specific relationship. Honestly, I’ve found myself much more challenged in the task of becoming a better person than affirmed in what I thought before hand. Sometimes I’ve even had to give up cherished ideas about myself or the world that, upon reflection and contemplative prayer, turned out to be obviously toxic to hold or simply inaccurate.

    These things all strike me as extremely far from any deity simply repeating a currently popular and fashionable ideology. If I were to receive that sort of message, and the source felt inwardly divine, I would probably think that I was being tested in some way and would not simply go along uncritically. Indeed, I might even ask in prayer if that were a test!

  49. “…the lower astral if your life is guided by passions and collective norms, the upper astral if your life is guided by imagination and feeling, the lower mental if your life is guided by personal ideals and reflective thought.”

    By comparison, what would the guiding principles be for someone operating on the higher mental plane?

  50. Kimberly, yes, bad reactions to kundalini yoga are very good examples of what I’m talking about. The issue with Golden Dawnies getting overinflated egos is a little different — there we’re talking about a severe imbalance in the direction of spiritual development — too much solar influence, not enough of the influences that keep it in harmony — rather than a problem with the rapidity of spiritual development. Yes, there are plenty of ways to run off the rails! (BTW, thank you for the Origami Boulder website — I needed a good laugh. You buy wadded up paper now!)

    Ian, two excellent meditations. Yes, exactly.

    Viking, these examples are much more complex than what Fortune is discussing here. Let’s take the first one and unpack it. You’re trying to work with the imagination — that’s on the upper astral plane, btw, not the lower mental. You want to shake people out of the fixed notion that progress will solve everything. You can do that in two ways. First, you can take progress as one of your two forces and lock it together with another factor — say, resource depletion — and build that into a powerfully imagined vision of the future on the next sub-plane down, so that the people you influence no longer imagine progress as an independent factor. It’s always paired with resource depletion, and leads to the future you’ve imagined. Since you’re using a degradative process, the power of that imagined future is going to be the square root of the power of the two original forces, and will need much repetition to give it any real strength.

    Then there’s the other way, which is a sublimative process. You take the concept of progress, and show as clearly as possible that it’s made of two very different things locked together. The two things, of course, are the fact of increased technological complexity that was made temporarily possible by fossil fuel extraction and exploitation, on the one hand, and the torrent of mythological images that have been assembled around that fact to turn it into a religious conviction that this increased technological complexity is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent, and will lead us onward and upward forever to a New Jerusalem among the stars. Once people realize the difference between those two, and get used to thinking of them as two separate things, the energies locked into the myth of progress are freed up for other uses — but that has to be done gently, of course, because those energies will be the square of the energy of the myth of progress. (And yes, I’ve done both of these things repeatedly since I first started blogging.)

    As for your second question, I think you’ve confused the action and the reaction, or something. What happens on a higher sub-plane is always the square of what happens on the next sub-plane down, whether the event on the higher sub-plane is an action or a reaction.

    Yorkshire, those are three very sound metaphors. Thank you.

    Karim, you’re most welcome. I had to work that out when I first read the Millennium Edition!

    Anonymous, ding! We have a winner. Yes, exactly.

    Bfp, you’re most welcome and thank you.

    Jade Dragon, you’re not wrong at all. This is why ancient Greek poets always invoked the Muses before beginning their poems — they knew that in order to bring something down into manifestation, you have to start by reaching upward.

    Danaone, good. You might consider, though, doing the banishing ritual more often and seeing whether that helps things.

    Jade Dragon, good. You might see if you can take apart the fear and the loathing, separate them, and so sublimate the energy locked up in your relationship with narcissists.

    Millicently, sure. I am by nature rather vain, and I am also by nature rather irritable. I balance those two against each other. When I’m irritated and don’t think it’s a good idea to express that, I call my vanity into play: “You won’t look very good if you say that, you know.” When my vanity wants to express itself and I don’t think that’s a good idea, I bring my irritability into play: “Oh, for the gods’ sakes, quit with the posturing, okay?” This has to be done from a higher sub-plane, one at which self-knowledge is possible, but it works fairly well.

    Neptunesdolphins, I read Harner’s The Way of the Shaman when it first came out, and I was thoroughly underwhelmed. It seemed to me, and still seems to me, that it relates to actual shamanism the way that a Harlequin romance relates to actual relationships; put another way, it’s what’s left of shamanism when you dumb it down far enough to market it to bored suburbanites via weekend workshops. It doesn’t surprise me that people who practice it have ended up drifting over the border into mediumship, without the protective methods that old-fashioned spiritualists knew how to use, and so the gods alone know what kind of entities have moved into the homes thus provided for them. As for the “experienced feminist witches,” that sounds about right; do you recall the John Lennon song “Instant Karma”? Malevolent magic — no matter what ideals you claim you’re upholding by practicing it — quite reliably has that kind of blowback, and if you don’t know how to protect yourself against the blowback (or don’t even realize that blowback is an issue), yeah, it can land very fast.

    RPC, in occult mathematics, yes, they always do. I should do a post here someday about the difference between occult and secular mathematics; there are some interesting points to make.

    David BTL, labeling your feelings as “whining” is a very air-and-fire sort of attitude, you know! Let yourself feel your disappointment; accept those feelings as part of the process of embracing your emotional self.

  51. @JMG: The thing I’ve noticed about “Zen sayings” is that you can make up just about anything and call it a “Zen saying” and nobody will disagree. Now really, was the one you quoted above for real?

  52. Folks, around here, at least, there has been a pervasive sense of unreality among the populace since at least last Xmas. That’s going to goof up everyone’s equilibrium too.

  53. @neptunesdolphins – they claim Freya is in their heads preaching feminist ideology. Have those wannabe witches ever *read* any Norse mythology? Interestingly enough, the deity who seems to be guiding and protecting me, Minerva, has started me off with “A sound mind in a sound body,” and “So the Nine Noble Virtues were so intimidating, they put you off Asatru. Well, you’re about to start practicing the Four Classical Virtues – prudence, temperance, fortitude, and fairness.”

    Never trust a spirit who tells you what you want to hear.

  54. Stefania, a fine meditation! Thank you for this.

    Ron, that’s an excellent maxim. I have no idea what went wrong with the Millennium edition — Weiser is usually a lot better than that.

    Pixelated, excellent. Yes, exactly.

    Tanya, hmm! That’s certainly one way to think of it. I think, though, that Fortune meant the bottom arm of the Y to be the astral, etheric, and physical bodies of the individual, and the two upper branches to be the Individuality or higher self and the personality or lower self. The X isn’t on top of the Y like this:
    …but, as Fortune says, superimposed on it, and it’s made of two Cs, more or less like this:

    Sven, we don’t know yet, because humanity hasn’t yet evolved to that level. We’re still hard at work trying to get a foothold on the lower mental plane.

    Phutatorius, I read it in what purported to be a collection of actual Zen sayings translated from Japanese originals. Since I don’t read Japanese, I’m not in a position to be able to confirm that one way or another.

  55. @RPC

    Re powers of potencies less than one

    Ah, but then you simply invert space (the Raum and Gegenraum of Steiner) a la George Adams (Physical and Ethereal Spaces) where the center becomes the periphery and vice versa and you’re all good 😉

  56. “What you did was in fact a variety of that banishing.” Fascinating. But then there has to be a difference between “thought” and “thought” in some way? Those special thoughts with similar effects of what I have described above happen from time to time and it’s hard to miss when I just had one. I always sense them as something special and profound but I have never looked at this from that perspective. I guess much more could be done than banishing – but to stick with that example and applying the power-law that describes the interactions between the planes – let’s say you are under the effect of some nasty magic that works on the astral plane but banish on the mental plane – shouldn’t that be relatively weak then, compared to banishing on the astral plane?

    “…that sort of thing isn’t a function of degradation of forces — in fact, it can often be treated by degradative practices. Many people find that hard, productive physical work is an effective cure for the blues!”

    That’s true. Few things work better than a day of hard manual labor. Ok, you could finish that day with a decent bacon cheese burger and a good beer to complete the grounding… 🙂


  57. @Stefania, Isaac, if I may – I had copied your exchange to meditate on later for myself, as Stefania and I apparently share a psyche (though I won’t say the dad origin of the story is quite the same). But the mind did wander instead of reading dry reports… And my first thought went through Violet’s observation about how the gods actually communicate to her. Very true words were spoken, and specifically about the way you have to chuck sometimes one’s most cherished ideas about oneself.

    Whenever in my studies I was thrown up against the idea about how difficult that process is, so most people won’t do it, I used to think – but I already don’t like myself very much, why would I fight discarding garbage? If enlightment is popping your ego bubble and realising you’re not so hot; baby, I’m there. And that would be a less than inspiring self help book.

    But the crux is of course that no one without an equal and opposite belief they aren’t looking at would persist in holding such an unbalanced view of herself.

    And before you can untangle that, you have to be able to admit that the unbalanced emotions – the qlippoth – also have their place. They are not to be entirely banished, but merely brought into full context – they are only parts of a truth of a wholistic response to the world. Some of our most cherished hatreds of ourselves are not true. I’m not inferior to *everyone*. But certainly, a person can be made deeply angry about How Wrong Someone Is about…anything… Has some inferior character traits . But also, while I’m not superior enough to get off on feeling self righteous about how Wrong someone else is, I do possess some things at which I am legitimately better than others at .

    And to admit THAT has been the actual surprisingly hardest part. The brain really fights against looking at the hard thin , you have to sneak up on it. What’s the thing we (the formal plural) tell ourselves when we get really mad about How Wrong Someone Else Is? “Can’t they SEE?! Anyone with half a brain should be able to see!”. And maybe they can, and you’re wrong, that’s common enough. It blows over. But where it becomes sin, is when you are right.

    You may not be seeking the WHOLE picture, but you were seeing. And they weren’t. And before that gets mistaken as too much of a political opinion indictment – to much about thinking skill vs not – it’s the same note: when adults use their superior knowledge and motor skills to berate children. When we tease the clumsy, the new language speaker, the unmusically gifted. Being better at something and knowing it is not a problem, that’s not what “superiority” as a problem is – you stand on a higher step, that’s just a fact. It’s when you maintain your knowledge of the fact they’re a step lower by actually pushing them further down. It’s weaponised false modesty. (artificially raising yourself up is a distant sort of problem… I wouldn’t call it superiority, it’s the more straightforward common inflated ego trap).

    Fortunately, one of the things self help books frequently get right about attacking faulty beliefs is suggesting, if you can, asking someone who knows you well. I of course I never took this good advice, because obviously I already could list all the many ways I was terrible, didn’t I tell you, I know I’m crap, that’s not the problem! However, my husband (a legit saint) has always told me unasked when I’d get in a snit about the latest Dumb Person At Work or what have you “Your problem here, pixel, is that you’re right, you are smarter than her. You can’t expect her to have figured that out. Don’t be mad she didn’t figure it out and you have to do the work, be gracious about teaching her and proud they’re fortunate enough to have you there. Or just don’t do the work. Let her suffer for being dumb, if you think it was intentional. Fix the problem or ignore it, your choice.” Ah, and there’s the rub, where the duty is – the spiritual obligation, Stefania speaks of, isn’t it?

    I never ignored it. I always fixed it. And continued to stew, because while it was good material work, it was not the ‘sacrifice’ of a balancing good work. I mean, I’d sure tell you it was our of the goodness of my heart. But it didn’t actually elevate any of us. If you’re convinced you’re doing good, and you’re angry still, you are still most definitely not. You may not be doing bad, but that’s not the same as capital G good.

    The balancing force to superiority is generosity. And to inferiority is (true) humility. Simply not following the negative force lessens the damage, And since that’s pretty traditional exoteric Christian teaching even someone raised atheist knew, I don’t think it’s giving the keys of the kingdom away for that concrete example.

  58. Ok great! You’ve helped me with the flow of energies and the stem of the Y. That makes perfect sense, thanks JMG.

    I’m going to work on a diagram tomorrow – as I see now how these 3 elements (DF’s X and Y, the pentagram and ToL) correspond.

    Is there a way I can send you the final graphic? I’m not sure whether it can be attached here.

  59. I had a very strange and intense occult-themed dream last night before reading this post and comments. I have sense that it’s related to the themes of the chapter, but I’m having trouble putting all the pieces together. I’d love to hear people’s insights and reflections:
    “Storms were being born in the upper upper atmosphere and upper realms. These ‘storms’ were turning into entities of some sort. They were forming fingers and toes and looked at least a little bit demonic.

    This was very concerning to people on earth/the earthly plane, and the authorities had created a weapon to take out these entities before they developed further. The weapon was a large organic looking jellyfish like object (minus the tentacles). This organic disc would be launched into space and sever the developing limbs of these demonlike storms.

    This seemed like a temporary solution to the growing problem. End of dream”

    In the dream I wasn’t a person rather just a silent disembodied observer.

    Not sure how this relates to the mathematical ideas here, but it certainly seems to connect to the transfer of power between planes.

    Would love to hear other’s thoughts!

  60. @Stephania: lovely meditations, and thank you for engaging with me! I think how that developed for me was a little different, as both parents were loving, though also somewhat critical… but I think for me it was more being the oldest of 4, and a boy, with all of those expectations, plus always being told how special and bright I was. When that delusion hit reality in college, I scrambled to find a way to be special, finding the big kahuna with the spiritual search at 20. Of course I couldn’t go from being a partying, self conscious, vain kid to a disciplined spiritual seeker as quickly as I thought I should be able to, being as special as I was of course, and those expectations let me down hard… maybe a case of trying to go too far too fast.

    It seems that the expectation that I should be able to meet everybody elses expectations is itself an unrealistic expectation… so absurd, nobody can meet everybody elses expectations. When it comes down to core emotions it seems like fear and anger. For the last day or so, its been relatively easy to face the pattern when it manifests and analyze it, but we’ll see as we go, it’s a pattern thats been around a while, but I’ve also been doing a lot of self work for a long time now.

    Can the expanded SOP from DMH help with this, JMG?

  61. @JMG, I suppose it would not surprise you to know that I had a very strange afternoon. I hadn’t intended to sit down to write that meditation until later, but my computer suddenly told me it was out of batteries and then instantly died, leaving me unable to do my “real” work until later, so I figured, I may as well just do that now while it was fresh because I’ll be doing the real work later. Things got a lot weirder after that, and cut to the chase I realised I would have to have a hard think about some choices I’d have to make about my work as a result of that self knowledge. That culminated in me laughing so hard while I did dishes that my husband came in to ask what I was doing.

    I told him “I’ve often thought the universe was playing a joke on me, but I just got the joke. But I also realise that just now the universe told me to repeat the joke to a room full of people, and at least one of them would have gotten it, and I *still didn’t*, which would have made it even funnier to the universe.” He said, uhhhh.

    So then, I knew, just like you and your blasted poems probably knew exactly what choice a person like me would make, if we were to be given a nudge – I’ll do the thinking, but we’re creatures of habit, after all – I told him a parable. A parable for the love of mike. I call it:

    The Parable of the Sunglasses on the Head

    Have you ever thought you lost your sunglasses, but they were on your head the whole time?

    And you encounter a kind person who watches you search for a while, realises what’s going on, and so tried to help by pointing at them? So you look up – nothing there. You turn around and look behind you. Nothing there. You say “thanks, but I don’t think you understand what I’m looking for, there’s nothing there.”

    Then you encounter a wise person. They’ve seen this problem before, they know what you’ll do if they just point directly. So they say, “you know, have you ever lost your keys, but then it turned out you’d just gotten distracted and forgotten you had them in your hand the whole time?” You ponder. “Or sometimes, you just need to retrace your steps to where you last used them, as you just put them down right nearby.” You ponder.

    And this time, you ponder hard enough that you look up again, but tilt your head further this time.

    The sunglasses slide right off the back of your head.

    (Now here a cool person might catch them and suavely pretend they knew they were there all along and gracefully put them on. But if you’re me, they will assuredly hit the ground with a clatter, and this will assuredly happen while everyone is watching, causing me to feel the need to cover my embarassment by going “ta daaaa!” with jazz hands, stooping over to put them on clumsily, and then scuttling away.)

  62. I realize now why when my spiritual practices are most powerful and going well that I am at my most creative and productive. There is that drive to balance the spiritual in some way, and it tends to come out in areas such as my knitting and writing, that are both creative but also productive in the material world. For me, both the spiritual and creative have fallen off this year, and now as I try to get both going again I will look to see the balance doing both brings.

    Also, though, I will try to remember when I am plodding along, between the events that multiply, that even my slow adding is worthwhile.

  63. These Cosmic Doc posts are very challenging, Dion’s text itself is beyond my current available energy to study well, but these monthly posts do inspire much rumination for me. Thank you!

    Biking to work this morning I considered the possibility that the three sorts of folk mentioned, those focuses respectively on the lower astral, higher astral, and lower mental might correspond to souls young to human incarnation, middle aged, and aged respectively. Then this evening looking back on the long slow to unwind musings of the morning a quote from a great hobbit came to my mind thinking of the merits and demerits of different ages, either in an incarnation or of and incarnation “I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.” Bilbo.

    By natural inclination the lower mental is vividly captivating to me, and when circumstances allow it I find the greatest recreation in those reflections which correspond to it, whereas so many friends would with the same allotment of time dance, follow hobbies, jaw with friends, or the like I might for a week or two dedicate each free minute to some exploration of the deepest nature of logarithms in cellular automita which my wit can yet delve to. Among other occasional obsessions.

    Today I thought of a strange fellowship I feel with Mr. Baggins when he speaks as the butter, one that feels untimely for my age, a soft world weariness. Often in Nietzsche I found cheer to refocus on the matters of the material world, ‘this world’ as Fritz would put it; and tighten the reigns on what he would call ‘other worldliness.’ And it is important, I feel, that I do so, for staying engaged with the most worldly activity of gardening as a physical hobby does much to counterbalance the thinness of scraping myself across to wide a gap toward a mental plane that my sheath is only barely formed for.

    Blessed is the youth enraptured in the lower astral concerns, for the human body is a wonder for those interests, and the world a treasure of toys. And blessed is the adult, in their prime of manifest power. And blessed is the weary, for a “higher power” awaits. Math pun. It seems as though human life thrives in a golden mean of these dispositions, and must pay the price of adaptive fatigue to the souls under or over ripe to it.

    And an aside concerning gardens, while at the farm I mused that this mathematics of powers relating between the sub planes corresponds tolerably closely to the mathematics between layers in a food chain. The farm receives 2 megawatts of solar energy in the day. That energy becomes locked with countless chemical processes that a small fraction participates in the life of plants. They are integrated with the farm that a root of the plants whole life and metabolic processing (in the case of carrots and beets anyway) is locked into the harvest system. Similar transformations happen between the harvest and the business, and the entire process from the economics to paying the energy bill to commute to work involves a nest of similar fusions and fissions of forces, extending to my internet connection and reading this blog and thereby having the opportunity to contemplate this planes business.

    A second aside concerning Nietzsche. I mentioned above the influence of his worldly philosophy as a useful counter balance to my thirst for abstractions. Such that the two influences are often pitted against each other by my will so its subtle rudder can turn the barge of my life. Also his praise of vices as preconditions of virtues has proved useful to me, often I have called vanity my favorite vice, because it is so useful to counteract other vices whose influence could not be well bore unmitigated. JMG’s example of using the same exact tool in a more general context of this post is most eye opening, that this technique I happened upon with vanity (no small thanks to Fritz) is but a single member of a great family of similar possible techniques is most exciting. Though mastering even a couple more of those techniques (bringing this very abstract possibility into more tangible manifestation) by the logic of this post, might take a daunting quanta of effort.

  64. I can also say this is a timely post (I’ve barely begun to catch up on the book club here, I’m not even sure why I opened this, I usually don’t), this might’ve given me an answer I’ve been looking for.

    I think I experienced a spiritual degradation, possible minor obsession. Years ago, when I was involved with a small, informal, online only NeoPagan group, centered around more mystical work of a sort. The problems I started having in my religious life can be traced right back to my involvement there, when I started taking direction from them, adopted their ideas (very stupid, in hindsight). Degradation well describes what I witnessed there, people’s spiritual practice went from anything serious to entirely self indulgent – these were highly dysfunctional people (and this only made it worse) who wallowed in their own misery, took no responsibility for their lives, and surrounded themselves with gods (or what they called gods, or what may have started out as gods but didn’t stay that way when they went down this path) that just played house with them, told them they were great and nothing in their life was their fault. And that’s on the saner end. The stuff Neptune’s Dolphin is talking about up there, people who claim to have gods living in their head parroting their own political opinions, I knew people who turned into that. And worse.

    I maintained enough self awareness to know that something was wrong, that this dynamic I was operating in wasn’t working somehow. I never could fully embrace the comforting delusion that the others did; I knew it was there, hovering in the corner of my mind, trying to tempt me, but every time I touched it it just felt empty and fake and I backed away again. None of that meant I knew how to get out of it, though. And the ideas that caused that obsession were keyed into a few deep insecurities that made it difficult to walk away from (in retrospect, insecurity was what that group was running on). It held me captive in a way, but always from a distance. So I didn’t go completely nuts the way others did, I just stayed frozen in place.

    I left that group behind a long time ago, life has gotten better (in some cases almost immediately). The spell it had over me has lessened over time, as I’ve been out of NeoPaganism, exposed myself to better ideas (like yours, this blog has been a huge help). But I’ve not entirely been able to outrun that old pattern, it still crops up every now and then to trip me up when I got something going well, even if all it can do anymore is whisper what if questions and poke those same old insecurities.

    Maybe knowing what it was, no what ifs just a spirit obsession that was only ever going to be a dead end, might be the final thing I need to pry loose the last finger hold it has on me. I was starting to suspect it was something like this, wasn’t sure if I wasn’t making too much of it, and definitely didn’t know how to word to myself so it made sense. This really helps.

    As an aside, the last time I got advice from a NeoPagan priest (no one involved in the original group but very much cut from the same cloth) on how to deal with the spiritual block I’m experiencing here, I was told essentially to engage in what are mediumistic practices on my own with no training and no protection. This to help develop discernment no less. No, I did not take the advice.

  65. As enlightenment can result in a flash of light, is there any outward sign when something has been sent downward that an observer would notice?

  66. Excellent discussion, as always, and it’s good that people feel free to admit and share their errors!

    Classical Sufi literature is full of pithy sayings on the Way rather akin to those found in Zen -and also Tao – writings ( for the latter, see the all the excellent translations by Cleary.)

    Among them we find:

    ‘You think you want Enlightenment right now ? It would split you like a thunderbolt!’

    And as for the ‘balancing of forces’, we also have the Sufi admonition:

    ‘No monkery in Islam’. ie the Way is not an excuse to avoid getting out into the real world, and in fact not possible without participating full.

    And, of course, the Tao saying:

    ‘The Immortal is certainly found in the mountain hut; but the more perfect one is found in the town.’

    (Perhaps even more so now, when our cities seem to be machines designed to cause madness? )

    It’s unfortunate that Sufism is mostly known in an extremely narrow and traditionalist Middle-Eastern religious format, complete with silly clothes and too many dead rituals, and not in the original, culture-neutral, form which is quite as pithy and to the point as the best Zen tradition.

    All authentic and beneficial higher traditions do seem to converge on much the same point, and admonish and warn about similar pitfalls and errors – even extreme dangers, whatever the root culture appears to be.

  67. Many thanks for answering my concerns.

    I believe that the planes that is described is what the problem is. The Core Shamans live too much in their heads, they are too spiritual. What has happened is that since they have no defenses, all sorts of demons have taken up resident in them.

    The Freya woman spouts nonsense such as when men learned to domesticate cows, they domesticated women. I.e. they got other men to kill their wives and daughters who were the leaders, uppity, or forceful. Of course the Freya woman delights in saying that she and her cohort escaped that, and they are uppity, etc. What demon has taken up resident in the cohort hates all men. They do not read the Lore since it is written by men……

    They spend a lot of time isolating themselves and living on-line, restricting their reading to the NYT, Wash. Post. TDS is total insanity as in they jumped off a cliff, and are still falling. To converse with them is like building a bridge across a river, paying toll, and waiting for them to open the gates. I.e. no compromise or halfway.

    In contrast, the readers here are rooted in their communities and in the world, as well as seeking spiritual answers. There is a balance and a curiosity here. What I have noticed even on-line is a different vibe as in coolness and quiet. In contrast, to the Core Shamans who hurt my brain. They are red hot, hotter than hot.

    Is this sensing the difference of the planes, and of pseudo-spiritual practices? I have noticed similar vibes from the writers of the Neopagan communities that they are not cool but hot and moist. Raging fire. Not a cool pool of water.

  68. @ JMG, pixelated, Patricia M, et alia–

    Re balance, pathways, and direction

    Patricia M commented about not trusting spirits which tell you want you want to hear. Well, my patroness certainly doesn’t do that! She spends a good amount of time telling me things I don’t want to hear, in fact. I (reluctantly) understand this to be a good thing…

    A couple of things that have arisen for me lately, to which I hope to apply the lessons of this chapter:

    The water aspects of my need for balance I (sort of) understand and I’ve started working my way through Jung in order to understand them a bit better. I can certainly relate to those here who wrestle with self-criticism, as that’s been a thing for me for much of my life. (Just as one example, I wanted to go to college since I was ten. Not someday, but right then. The fact that I wasn’t one of those kids you read about who graduated when they were 12 and had multiple doctorates by 21 annoyed me to no end growing up.) I may have mentioned that my location at work has changed in that I’ve moved from an office to a cubicle out on the floor (which I actually like better). It was apparent right away that it was good for me to not be so isolated (holed up in my cave) and for me to be “out in the mix of things,” as it were. Something else that has come up, however, is that I have become a lot more aware of my critical self-talk (mutterings at myself when I can’t type or I click on the wrong file link or make some other error) because now other people can hear me and I’m aware of that fact, which has helped me be a bit kinder to myself (or at least, less harsh).

    A more earthly element that has come up in the last several months is that, rather like my political life, it seems that my drinking days are over (crap^crap). I’ve gone long stretches without imbibing now but every now and then I’ll get the notion of “just one,” which invariably results in me feeling like crap shortly afterwards. Yesterday was one of those cases: I’d gotten a small thing of wine (one of those 500 mL jobs) with the intent of parceling it out over a few days (“a little bit at a time won’t hurt,” I told myself). Well, I had on glass last evening and my body told me differently this morning. Between that and the dreams I had last night (in case my body wasn’t speaking clearly, She made sure I would get the message), it is clear that there’s no negotiating on this one. So this morning, before I could rationalize my way out of it, I went out back and poured the remainder of the wine (~2/3rds of the container) out as a libation to Her. The challenge is to see this is something other than another item that’s been added to the list of things I’m not allowed to do. Perhaps one way is to see limitations as guidance, rather than as blocks preventing you from going where you want to go. I think in this particular instance, it’s not only a health issue (one part of the dream message) but also that I need to experience the material and emotional aspects of this existence in full awareness, rather than buffering them.

    I’m sure there’s a lot more to do, but this is what I’ve got so far.

  69. Isaac, pixelated –

    Thank you for your comments! I think it is very tricky to actually change the patterns and habits that have built up in our psyches. They have become deeply etched tracks in space by the time we get to adulthood. I agree that simply repressing feelings is not a good idea, as they’ll eventually find their way out again one way or another. I think at least becoming aware of the less-than-desirable patterns into which we tend to fall is definitely part of the puzzle, as well as struggling with them with our regular mind, in our everyday lives. But to really get in there, to make changes to consciousnesses that are lasting, something more is needed.

    “The potency of each sub-plane is the square of the potency of the sub-plane below it.”

    In Fortune’s mathematical metaphor, I don’t know if she meant it’s actually possible to numerically calculate the forces as she describes them. At one point in the book (and again at the beginning of this chapter) she suggested it would be possible to calculate all the influences at play in the universe, but it’s something which is beyond our human capabilities at the moment. Perhaps astrology and the various systems of divination are our nearest approaches to doing that. But for my purposes at the moment, it’s enough for me to realize that initiation packs a heck of a lot more punch than regular living/evolution does. Like, way, waaay more. Without the power of the upper planes, I am just going in circles, chasing my tail, letting the ever rising and falling rhythms ebb and flow through my psyche. One day I’m a little freer, the next day the old patterns seize hold of me once more. As Levi described it somewhere in The Doctrine and Ritual of High Magic, I am like the grain being crushed beneath the miller’s stone. My regular conscious mind can’t generate the force required on its own. I need to ask the Gods to stage an intervention for me, which is more or less what initiation achieves. Then I can make use of the greater force of the upper planes to achieve lasting changes in consciousness, at which point the old thought patterns no longer make sense and are no longer required.

    And pixelated – I love the Parable of the Sunglasses!

  70. Wow!

    This chapter is amazing. It makes very clear why the entire The Secret crowd or Name It and Claim It believers won’t necessarily get what they imagine or name and claim.
    I’ve often thought there were holes or blindnesses in some versions of New Age / New Thought teachings but this chapter gives a good account of why and how karma works (or doesn’t).

    It also makes much clearer a story Sadhguru told that I had puzzled a bit over. It seems many centuries earlier in India – a little bit I think after the Mahabharata War there was a yogi who was able to do amazing miracles. We’re talking miracles akin to Moses in the Old Testament like parting the Red Sea.

    Sadhguru says a woman’s infant died and she was distraught with grief. Someone told her to go see the yogi as it was rumored he could bring people back to life. She took her dead infant to the yogi – and this is where I immediately recalled it upon this week’s Cos.Doc essay.

    Sadhguru made it clear this yogi was no ordinary yogi. He really could do major amazing miracles he was that advanced beyond ordinary humans. Even so, Sadhguru says simply holding this tiny infant in his hands and bringing it back to life very nearly killed the great yogi himself. The yogi’s life literally was balanced on the edge of a knife as he nearly collapsed from the herculean effort it took to bring this infant back from the dead.

    Other miracles like Jesus taming the waves, Moses parting the sea, etc., which this great yogi could also do, were as nothing in cost according to Sadhguru compared to what it cost the yogi to bring back the tiny infant.

    Though Sadhguru did not say it I am guessing it cost the yogi so much precisely because it was an infant he was being asked to bring back. An infant has a full, unspent-but-already-unfolding storehouse of current life karma that in sanskrit is called Prarabdha karma. It’s your entire life’s allotted amount of potential action to be converted to kinetic action in your current incarnation. My guess is that it would have cost the yogi less had he been asked to bring back an adult in his/her prime, still less if that adult had been elderly.

    Only now, upon reading this chapter do I understand the mechanics of why this miracle nearly brought the yogi himself to death’s door.

  71. I thought shamans were a product of their people, tribe and culture, and functioned as keepers of their people’s stories, as well as healers. If that is an accurate (?) description of their roles, than I find it hard to believe that a run of the mill modern American can become a shaman.

  72. One more comment. I am curious if the success of Fortune’s Magical Battle of Britain had to do with her understanding of the cosmic planes.

    I am not sure if people know about HekateDementer’s Magical Battle Of America. She copied Fortune and started a weekly series of blog posts just after the election. She stopped with the beginning of the Impeachment, saying she and Michael Hughes were successful. Later, of course she blamed what happened on the usual suspects. She is a close friend of the group I have been discussing. I wonder if it failed because it was rooted in something else. Or am I off base!

    Also her spells and writing felt like corrosive venom. Is it possible to have a sense of something even if it is electronic? Is that something the different planes give off?

  73. Nachtgurke, of course you want to banish astral influences on the astral plane, just as a problem on the material plane is usually best solved by action on that plane. You use mental banishing when there’s a strong mental plane component to what you want to get rid of. Of course there are differences between the kind of thoughts that do that and the others — it’s the difference between thoughts that reach upward to the lower mental plane, and those that are simply astral. And of course I’d recommend a bacon cheeseburger!

    Tanya, the only way to attach a graphic here is to post it somewhere online and then use raw HTML code — (angle bracket) img src=”URL”(angle bracket) — to insert it in your comment. If you have a blog or an online journal or anything of the kind, you can use that to post it — and if you don’t know how to cut raw HTML, just include the URL in your comment and I’ll stick in the formatting spaghetti.

    PrimalNate, fascinating — and I trust you know that the east coast of the US is being hit right now by a tropical storm!

    Isaac, yes. You might also want to consider more focused and specific magical workings of the sort described later in the book; those can be very useful for this sort of thing.

    Pixelated, excellent! “If you don’t laugh, you’ve missed the joke. If you only laugh, you’ve missed the chance for enlightenment.”

    Cat, that was something I had to learn the slow and hard way. The thing I found is that you can work with it from either side — when my creative life’s feeling blocked, a bunch of spiritual work will kickstart it, and when my spiritual life is feeling blocked, all I need to do is start work on a novel.

    Ray, many thanks for this. I hadn’t thought of the food web as a metaphor for the different planes, but it works tolerably well.

    Seaside Hermit, I hear a lot of stories like that. One thing that might help is to do something new with your creative life — take up a new art or craft, or try writing something you’ve never written before. By goosing the downward flow of creative energy into matter, that can very often shake things loose so that you can reconnect with your own proper spirituality and shake off the last traces of the former obsession.

    Yorkshire, depends on the planes and sub-planes involved.

    Xabier, no surprises there. We’re all working with variants of the same nervous system and the same set of subtle bodies, after all.

    Neptunesdolphins, the cool quality is one that I’ve tried to cultivate here and in all the online forums I’ve managed. There is too much heat on the internet, too much fire. I’m glad the water helps you!

    David BTL, critical self-talk is a very common habit these days, of course, and it’s one that I had to break. Affirmations are good for that, since critical self-talk is after all simply a set of affirmations that bring about failure and misery. If you can come up with an affirmation or two that counters the most common themes of your negative self-talk, and get into the habit of catching yourself, stopping the negative self-talk, and repeating the affirmation instead, that can do a lot of good.

  74. If it was noticable, how would observers experience a drop in energy? I imagine at least in some situations everything would suddenly seem very calm, quiet and still.

  75. To David BTL re critical self-talk.
    I also have this tendency and about 8 years ago had a, for me, major trauma which really sent me spiralling downwards. The thing that I learnt at that time is that I must not sit and ruminate about anything. If I found myself doing so I had to get up and do something, anything. Playing mindless computer games for too long is a definite no-no.
    Too much ruminating makes me lazy and depressed and the two do go together for me. Doing a physical activity chases both states away.
    And now that I am starting to ruminate as a result of writing this I am off to make my breakfast.
    Good luck in your work against your self-talk.

  76. Millicently, you’re most welcome.

    Panda, it would have been partly a matter of the infant’s age, but partly that he was having to work on a much higher plane. Parting a body of water takes place on the material plane, where the creative forces are at their most condensed and sluggish. Bringing a soul back into the body it has left involves reaching up to the spiritual planes where the forces are unbound and almost unimaginably powerful. To command those forces to flow against their natural course would require extraordinary efforts.

    Danaone, and you’d be entirely right to doubt that. On the other hand, run of the mill modern Americans have quite a passion for dress-up games and make-believe, and pretending to be a shaman has been a popular pose for a while now.

    Neptunesdolphins, no, I hadn’t heard of HecateDemeter’s working. I’ve just searched up and read several of her posts. She seeems to have started with the right idea, and then run off the rails in a predictable fashion. Fortune wrote:

    “I received a letter from a French correspondent last week, urging that we should use our knowledge and power to make personal attacks on the leaders of the German nation in order to confuse their minds and even destroy their lives; but this would be quite the wrong way to work. Nothing and nobody is altogether evil, therefore it is never justifiable to try and destroy any person or thing by direct action, but only to open a channel whereby spiritual forces are brought to bear on the problem.” (The Magical Battle of Britain, pp. 10-11)

    The Nazis, like the Magic Resistance, set out to destroy their enemies, and by calling down energies of destruction, guaranteed that they themselves would be destroyed. Fortune set out instead to open a channel for divine energies to bless Britain, refusing the trap of malefic magic, and Britain survived and triumphed. There’s a moral to that story!

    (I imagine an alternative history in which Adolf Hitler didn’t have the experiences in Linz and Vienna that filled him with hate toward Jews and Slavs, but still fought in the First World War and went into politics afterwards. If he and his followers had focused on building up Germany rather than tearing down its supposed enemies, the result would have been wholly different: Hitler becoming a vehicle for a different archetype, Balder the Beautiful instead of Wotan the Lord of the Slain; the Germany that rose up around him being the Germany of Goethe, Schiller, Bach and Beethoven, instead of the Germany of jackboots, concentration camps, and eventually smoldering ruins. The end does not justify the means, quite the contrary, the means you choose determine the end that you’re going to get, as distinct from the one that you think you want.)

    It fascinates me, though, that HecateDemeter declared a victory and stopped her meditations when the impeachment proceedings began. That was when she should have pulled out all the stops, to build on the momentum she’d generated and make sure that it came to a successful conclusion! The fact that she didn’t makes me wonder if, in her heart of hearts, she knew that she’d run off the rails and was looking for an opportunity to back away from the mess before it consumed her.

    As for sensing moods and states of consciousness through electronic prose, a lot of people seem to be able to do that, but it would take some serious experimentation, and some clairvoyant work, to figure out just how.

    Yorkshire, ahem. It depends on the planes and sub-planes involved. If you really need me to keep repeating that until it sinks in, I will…

  77. David by the Lake–Your comments on being kinder to yourself when you make a mistake typing reminded me of a job where I inherited a computer already set up. Every time I made a mistake typing it yelled at me: “WHAT DID YOU DO THAT FOR?” I quickly fixed it. As a sloppy typist it went off quite often; I often wondered about my predecessor and how often it shouted at her and what that did to her.

  78. A most stimulating conversation this week, JMG and commentariat. Thanks to all for opening up so many vistas from material which seemed rather self-evident to me at the time that I read it.

    I have found the discussion of sublimation and degradation to be most rewarding. In the mystical path that I follow, there is a great emphasis on music. And the number of individuals who blossom into phenomenally gifted musicians and composers – many of whom have little or no musical training – is astounding. At the peak of my involvement (in my 20s), I was caught up in the phenomenon, being able to effortlessly learn and perform classical music at a level that attracted the attention of highly acclaimed classical musicians. Needless to say, this path can be pretty intense — but I have noticed that the number of people who “wig-out” or go seriously astray on this path is extremely small. Based on this chapter of CosDoc and this week’s discussion, I think that I finally understand why.

    As I have become older, I have turned to a different form of degradation (as I savour the subtle music of silence) – gardening, as I find it more thoroughly grounding than any other activity, though I engage in creative writing and music from time to time. But without these various creative outlets, I think that I’d burst!

  79. @ JillN, JMG

    Re self-criticism

    Thank you both. I’m hoping to use the lessons of this chapter and some of the examples offered up in this week’s discussion to construction some useful tools for my particular path.

    @ All

    Just briefly, I wanted to be clear that my statements re drinking were not meant generally. I have always understood the direction to be with regards to my health specifically and it didn’t occur to me until after I’d hit “submit” that I might be read differently. We’ve touched on politics of diet on the blog before and this was not that in any way. In fact, I ask that those of you who so desire to have a pint for me, as I apparently cannot. (And if you want a bacon cheeseburger to go along with that pint, feel free!)

  80. If someone else is creating a void, can I fill it with something of my choosing? What would be the consequences of that? How could I do it, if it is indeed possible? What kinds of things can be accomplished with it? Do you have any answers, or is this a topic I’ll need to meditate on for the next year (or more)?

  81. Ron, I’m coming to think that I need to put much more stress on having students take up an art, a craft, or some other creative outlet — yes, like gardening — to keep themselves balanced and sane as they work at spiritual development. It really does seem to help.

    David BTL, glad to hear it — and your comments about alcohol seemed to me to make it very clear that you were talking about yourself, not about everyone.

    Anonymous, can it be done? Sure. Am I going to tell you how? Not a chance. Think about what you’re asking — you want me to tell you how to take control of someone’s soul. I don’t think so…

    Your Kittenship, the Bee these days is far and away the funniest humor site on the net!

  82. My mother had breast cancer in 2015, and she’s ok now, but I have always thought of that tumor as what I can now describe as a degradation of psycho-emotional turmoil congealing into a physical nucleus right on top of her heart.

    Also, calling nuclear fission decades in advance has truly blown my mind.


  83. Hmm. You know, I never thought about writing as being integral to spiritual practice. That’s what I started doing around the time I began pulling away from the group; only because I’d given up on making anything religious work and I needed something to do with my time. I was obsessed with that project for years, only gave up the hobby somewhat recently thinking it was a waste of my time – part of that comes from attempts to share online that were less than wonderful. I went back to trying to fix my spiritual life, finding progress was made but still not quite there.

    I’m going to take this advice, pick up some writing project alongside basic daily practices, see if it doesn’t help.

  84. I was just looking for some examples of what the experience might be like.

  85. The synchronicities should not surprise me any more, but it seems like the intensity keeps getting turned up every time. Just finished my first crack at pathworking a couple days ago and today is the second day of unpacking. There was a mysterious brightly glowing blue cloud just below the surface of the ocean which I came to realize was a large mass of potential energy waiting to be put into form.

    This was literally the fruit of my meditation tonight so you can imagine my shock when I cracked open the Cosdoc and your breakdown. For the past few weeks I was slow to start pathworking, trying to memorize everything and fussing over the details but the messages I kept getting were screaming for me to start, like there was some sort of ticking time bomb that needed to be diffused.

    The exact details are fuzzy, but what is obvious is that it has something to do with demonic habits and a big pool of unrealized creative potential. Probably safe to assume that this is also the reason Langston Hughes’ Dream Deferred keeps popping into my head over the past few days.

  86. I had my own Ohhhh. Ohhhhhhhhhhh. moment (as perfectly expressed by Pixelated.)

    Here I have been chaffing and grumbling under the need to earn money and pay bills, and deal with ridiculous amounts of work at two jobs and other affairs, having such minute, fleeting time to do spiritual and magic work, wishing I could just shut myself up in a cabin in the forest to study and meditate to my heart’s content, and it turns out all the hard work I do from morning to night is part of the course.

    So does that mean (said tongue in cheek) that there is a corresponding amount of work being done on the inner side even though I’m not aware of it? (Grumble grumble, I must be working through the upper mental by now, grumble grumble…)

    It also occurred to me that there has to be a balance between the two and you can as easily go too heavy on the one side as on the other, using the distraction of hard work in the physical world to avoid work on the inner world.

    I really appreciate the space you have created for this book club, and thank you for choosing this book! I am learning an incredible amount from the explanations, as well as all the comments.

  87. Hi JMG and fellow Ecosophians

    For Ecosophians reading this, it’s in reference to the last three paragraphs of the chapter we’re discussing.

    Here’s what I’ve come up with regarding Dion Fortune’s X and Y.


    Fortune’s depiction just didn’t make sense to me, so I found it easier to start from a blank slate.

    I initially just saw various symbols; which for me, are far more accurate and representative of “truth”. Symbols are not sullied or tarnished by words and projections.

    However, to accurately express truth, or a lightning bolt flash with a seed containing information, into language can be tricky.

    Hence to always question information you have been given (as in the case of reading the Cosmic Doc, and in general); and to rather experience something for yourself, in order to get an understanding of a concept, is recommended (as JMG encourages). I’ve tried my best to express my understanding. Hope it makes some sense 🙂

    One of the questions I had asked myself a few months ago is, “How can I relate the ToL to the pentagram?”

    So the answer had to wait awhile to be prompted by this very chapter! Thank you JMG.

    Please refer to the graphic I drew, and have uploaded here –

    Arrows / Energy Flow / Ouroboros

    With reference to the inverted pentagram…

    I don’t use Fortune’s “C” shape to represent the flow of energy as she has suggested, and that, JMG, you correctly depicted in your graphic.

    Instead, you’ll see that my arrows are curved to flow from the point of the X and Y to form a whole (holistic) / circular flow of energy. You might say that this energy flow represents an ouroboros.

    Microcosmic Orbit

    If anyone reading this is familiar with the microcosmic orbit, you might see the Y (the top and bottom points of the inverted pentagram – imagine the vertical stem to yesod) as representing the human spinal column (and Middle Pillar of the ToL).

    The Y would be a person from the side view, the left side being the front, and right being the back of the body.

    The flow of energy then being from the Dan T’ien up the back of the spine (from spirit or yesod), up and over the cranium activating the crown and third eye chakras (or pineal and pituitary glands), with the flow of energy going back down the front of the spine or body to the Dan T’ien.


    To get the correct labeling of elements in the inverted pentagram, I began with drawing an upright pentagram first. Then, labeled that accordingly.

    I then drew the inverted pentagram, which can be applied to Fortune’s X / Y superimposition.

    These two pentagrams, with 5 elements are then mirrored. This also relates to “As above, so below.”

    To match up the elements with the sephirot, I swapped the Pillars around. So if you’re looking at the diagram, as a mirror image of yourself, the Pillar of Mercy is on the left and the Pillar of Justice or Severity on the right.

    So for example, Netzach (mental) accurately fits with Air; and Hod (emotion or astral) with Water.

    Geburah then relates to Fire, which also happens to be the Seraphim or fiery Archangelic realm.

    You’ll see that Malkuth is not labeled here. I see Malkuth (the physical body) as encompassing the 5 elements and the related sephirot.

    Additionally, if you’re on the magic pathway, or Middle Way, you will more than likely have risen, or in the process of rising, above the basic root chakra needs of survival / flight and fight response. So the best foundation, literally, to work upon is Yesod.

    Malkuth, and a purified physical body (or pure intention / heart), is also the vessel which contains these elements. The “Kingdom” of “Heaven” (Kether or Crown) Manifested on Earth; or heaven on earth.

    X and Y

    I see the X and Y as referencing chromosomes. They also relate to the paths between the sephirot on the ToL.

    On a diagram of the Tree of Life, there are various 5 pointed pentagrams. Also, Tiphereth at the center, with the surrounding sephirot in a circular shape remind me of the Seed of Life.

    The Heart Chakra, or Tiphereth truly is the physical location and seat of our Soul. With great transmutation, and karma clearing, I see that when Chesed and Geburah (the innermost and Divine Soul) are “realized”, the 3 souls are united as one. This creates a new space, unlimited access to DA’ATH and clear connection to Kether; which will literally result in the manifestation of “heaven on earth” (Kether to Malkuth).

    In the inverted pentagram, the Y results in the counterclockwise flow of energy, which is “masculine” in nature. Represented in this respect and flow, the energy is “destructive” or of a transmutation of the personality; or what people know as “death”; or a return of energy back to Source.

    The X itself represents the “feminine” principle, the physical body as vessel for being able to contain the masculine energies (Father). The physical body / vessel could relate to the Holy Grail.

    The physical body can also be seen as making up the elements of Nature. The human being as fashioned by clay, inspired by the breath of Life (Spirit). Nature is also the Earth / Gaia / the physical manifestation of the feminine Mother. The “platform” upon which SPIRIT gets to play and experience FORM. Change “platform” to “play-form”.


    In the pentagram on the “upper” level, the flow of energy is clockwise or feminine in Nature. The flow of this energy is constructive (creative, “life”); and forever eternal.

    So, the inverted pentagram would represent the normal life cycle of a human soul (playing out karma), experiencing life on the 3D realm.

    Conversely, the upright pentagram relates to eternal life.

    So, should karma of a human soul be transmuted within a single lifetime, a space is created (within the center of the pentagram).

    What happens then, is that the “empty” space then equates to DA’ATH, as seen in the upright pentagram. What fills this space is Chokmah (Wisdom) and Binah (Understanding), being directed by Kether.

    If you had to fold the page in half, you would see the DA’ATH / Tiphereth mirror.

    This then changes the Forces of Nature; and which haven’t existed en-masse on this plane for quite some time. As the upper pentagram, representing eternal life, is experienced here and now, within a human vessel on this plane.

    Merlin / Oracles

    Another symbolic prompt for all of this is that I had been creating a new oracle card spread incorporating the pentagram and Tree of Life.

    Merlin also assisted me greatly with unanswered questions which he helped clarify.

    Merlin (Myrddin) is a fantastic magical companion and guide.

    If you’re interested in welcoming and including him in your magic practises / life, I know he would just love to work with you. Particularly if you, like myself, are a solitary practitioner.

    You might consider reading and working with JMG’s book, “The Mysteries of Merlin.” I know some of you already are – enjoy the journey!


    According to the Gnostic, Samael aun Weor, the “Christed” human being (or an individual fully aware of, and experiencing their Eternal Nature) is represented by an upright pentagram. According to this diagram and correspondences, that would then make sense.

    JMG, I’m wondering, in light of your experience, whether you’ve had similar or perhaps other reflections or correlations that might apply?

    Ecosophians with any related reflections on this, I would love to hear your thoughts / experiences too.

    Yours in Light,

    ~ Tanya

    PS with all of this talk and concentration, isn’t it time now to go outside and hug a tree?

  88. Anonymous, can it be done? Sure. Am I going to tell you how? Not a chance. Think about what you’re asking — you want me to tell you how to take control of someone’s soul. I don’t think so…

    Mr. Greer – how did you know from reading this post what the poster was asking? I am puzzled. Perhaps I just didn’t understand the language.

    Speaking of voids, when I had my brain injury, I was in a coma for a while. Afterwards, the core shaman people offered to heal me and close the void. I refused. Was a void created by the injury? If so, does the void come with only brain injuries or any sort of injury to the body?

    Since then, I live between planes in the eternal now. I do ground myself with squirrels and their actions. There is something about a squirrel that makes you get out of your head and focus.

  89. About core shamans – the people I knew had in their stories a sense of powerlessness. Most are upper class and felt stymied by males in their lives. They wanted to do something transgressive and rebel like. They were trained by Harner himself or his next in line. Later trained others.

    What I have noticed is that this pursuit of power ends up with people living only in the spiritual domain. They spend time at their altars cursing Trump, making oaths to destroy the usual suspects, calling down the Gods to smite away, etc. Few are grounded in the lower domain. It is all ego and self-will. Core shamanism seems not to have any of the structures needed for a healthy spiritual life.

    I see where a balance is needed to pull people back from the brink or uplift them. It is a tricky thing since at least for me, the mental realm is very enticing. The squirrels pull me back since they do not conform to my will. Ever try to have a squirrel stop using your bird feeder?

  90. JMG, thanks for your suggestion that I reflect on the experience of degradation that it seems I went through, about 14 years ago now. It’s been interesting to meditate on. I still have occasional echoes of the extremely negative thinking from that time, although at much lower intensity/frequency. Breaking it down into the component forces at work is proving helpful and I can see that kind of mathematical power between, say, impatience/anger squared with shame, which is what it felt like.

    Back when I was in the thick of it I just would not have been able to do the work. The best I could do was mind-emptying meditation – I was very stressed and had a pack of monkeys in the mind, so sustained disciplined thought was not really possible. I also went through a long period of not really trusting my thoughts, because they had been so negative, so discursive style meditation was not an option, or something I was familiar with, until later. The problem as I discovered is that in mind-emptying meditation you may calm yourself and strengthen a sense of beingness, but you don’t strengthen your sense of will. It’s even possible that you inhibit your will by confusing it with those negative aspects of your ego that you wish to limit. But of course that same will – that determination not to succumb – is important in getting out of a negative mood.

    I remember in the first chapter of the CosDoc that Fortune introduces the two options for dealing with evil – observing but not engaging with it (“hating it” I think was the somewhat counter-intuitive terminology), or engaging with it positively to use it as a thrust block. In the case of the thrust block approach my understanding is it gives you power, or thrust, but cements the negative force in place at the same time. So, my question: in dealing with a sudden influx of negative thinking, is it better to just observe and watch it float through the mind and transmute (which sounds lovely but in my experience lower astral plan negativity seems to have more agency than that) or is it better to engage with it and defy it willfully, with the risk that it is cemented in place? If one needs to discern and chose the right approach depending on circumstances, what would that look like?

    And thanks again.

  91. Good morning JMG and all,

    The discussions about sublimation and degradation in terms of daily activities remind me of the alchemical processes of fixing the volatile and volatilizing the fixed.

    I try to keep a balance of those when navigating my materially-creative and spiritual life and that’s been a handy way of characterizing my activities. Am I fixing when I should be flying? Have I flown too much lately and need to ground?

    Really it’s more of a triad now that I think more closely on it. My workaday life that includes what I do for a living and the usual kinds of obligation to others, my spritual practices and where they take me, and my art practice that lives in the shifting middle-land between the two. Each has its own fractal subdivisions of volatile and fixed parts and processes, but for the sake of contemplation, this bigger umbrella works.

    Now how does this “3” fit into the pattern discussed? Does it even? Guess I now what I’ll be meditating on soon!

    As always, many thanks for a very stimulating discussion!

  92. Juan Pablo, it’s entirely possible that cancer in general is the result of degradation of forces at the etheric level — the gap that’s opened up is filled by an etheric pattern from some other source, which simply wants to grow, irrespective of the impact on the rest of the system. (In other words, the same very low level of mentality as modern industrial society.)

    Seaside, I suspect it’ll help a great deal. It certainly does for me!

    Yorkshire, fair enough — that wasn’t at all clear from your comment. (Remember that I have Aspergers syndrome and so routinely miss what other people think are the obvious implications of a statement.) Let’s take an example from the material plane first. Water can be cooled below 32°F without freezing, so long as it remains perfectly still and undisturbed. The slightest shock, though, causes it to crystallize. The absorption of the energy of that shock triggers the descent from sub-plane to sub-plane. The same thing happens on a different plane when, for example, a set of images and ideas I’m considering comes together into a story or an essay. Something has to provide a burst of energy, and that energy is wholly absorbed by the process that causes the images and ideas to crystallize into a set of patterned ideas that can then be written down — and of course the process of writing also demands energy inputs. Does that clarify things a little?

    Aloysius, Pathworkings are a great way to crank up the volume. That’s one of the reasons they’re such an important part of occult training! Good; now you’ve sensed some of the work that’s ahead of you, and you can start directing that creative energy in constructive ways.

    Myriam, you may also be building up the momentum that, when your workload decreases a bit, can express itself in a sudden upward leap in your spiritual life. The balance doesn’t have to happen instantly — and in fact it can be a useful bit of strategy to fling yourself into work on one side of the balance, push the balance that way a good distance, and then ride the recoil as it swings over the other way. (The Kybalion has more than a little to say about this.)

    Tanya, you’ll never hear a Druid disagreeing with the idea of hugging a tree from time to time! Thank you for an intriguing meditation.

    Neptunesdolphins, it’s entirely possible that I misunderstood him, but since Dion Fortune was talking about obsession as what happens when a person’s consciousness goes through a degradative process and another consciousness slips into the space left open, it really did sound as though that was what he was asking about. As for traumatic brain injury, I’m not sure I know enough about the subject to have an educated opinion, but if a void opened up it was down on the physical/etheric plane, since that’s where things like injuries have their effect. I’m glad that squirrels help!

    With regard to core shamanism, that’s fascinating — they don’t reach down into the planes of matter, and if it’s all ego and self-will, they don’t reach up into the planes of spirit either. There are few things less useful than staying stuck in the middle!

    Mark, that depends entirely on circumstances — notably, on the intensity of the negative thinking. If it’s really intense, drawing back from it and actively refusing to engage with it can be very helpful; if it’s less intense, and you know of something you can do with it, lock it into place with a different kind of negativity (my example of vanity and irritability above is an example of this). Don’t lock it into place with a virtue, because that locks up the virtue as well; get two of your vices stuck in conflict, rise above them, and do something else with the freedom you win by doing that.

    Bonnie, that sounds like a great theme for meditation. 😉 Aside from that, Fortune didn’t always use the sort of threefold logic I apply so relentlessly, but then she wasn’t a Druid. If I were to seek a third factor to make a ternary out of the binary of “fix the volatile”/”volatilize the fixed”, I’d probably choose “leave the volatile volatile and the fixed fixed, and watch the relationship between them.” But there are always many possible third factors…

  93. As a lurker on these posts, I just want to express my admiration for all who fight their way through this huge initiation!

    Today, for the first time in years, I heard Kate Bush’s Sat in your lap and thought it was appropriate:

    “Some say that knowledge is something sat in your lap,
    Some say that knowledge is something that you never have.
    I see the people happy,
    So can it happen for me?

    I’ve been doing it for years,
    My goal is moving near,
    Says “Look! I’m over here”,
    Then it up and disappears.

    I want the answers quickly…
    Tibet or Jeddah
    To Salisbury, a monastery
    The longest journey…”

    Also Suspended in Gaffa from the same album:

    “Out in the garden
    There’s half of a heaven…
    I can’t have it all,
    Not until I’m ready for you.
    Can I have it all?”

    As an aside, remembering the discussion on aesthetics some time ago: I much prefer beautiful music. I hear Kate Bush’s first album much more often than this one. It irritates me that she can create breathtakingly beautiful strains, like in “NIght of the Swallow” on this album, and then breaks the beauty. But maybe there is no way to express the situations she wants to express on this album in a beautiful voice and with harmonious arrangements. Maybe the other way is with austere symmetry as in J.S. Bach…

  94. “Juan Pablo, it’s entirely possible that cancer in general is the result of degradation of forces at the etheric level — the gap that’s opened up is filled by an etheric pattern from some other source, which simply wants to grow, irrespective of the impact on the rest of the system. (In other words, the same very low level of mentality as modern industrial society.)”

    I think it’s relevant that cancer was basically unheard of until the industrial era was underway: it’s also concentrated in industrial areas and societies. So, perhaps the etheric disruptions would produce other effects, or possibly none at all given how small cancers can start out as, if and where that pattern isn’t present, but where the pattern of “Grow baby, grow!” exists, it takes root and causes problems. Hmm….

  95. @Myriam

    I shared similar thoughts when reading comments. You know I just spent a few weeks in a cabin by the woods with family. It was explosive actually. During the lunar eclipse a particular explosion caused me to sever ties with a family member. I am happy to be home in the city and set my schedule back to handling my busy hard working life peacefully. I may start regarding that particular piece of land as the otherworld so I can process the chaos a little better when I’m there. It’s funny how romanticism is so illusionary way of thinking. If that family dinner hadn’t have happened I wonder if a tree would have fell on me instead..

  96. Hello, I was pondering on the math a bit.

    Let P = potency. Let L = Latency.

    If, on the same plane L = P, then sublimation (up one level) can be represented by L = P x P; and degradation (down one level) can be represented by P / P = L.

    To balance a sublimation (converting a latency in one plane to potency squared in the next) a different potency on the higher plane must be divided by itself and transferred to creat a new latency on the lower plane.

    The crossing from one plane to the next seems to correspond to the chemistry model in that it either requires or produces energy. I can’t recall my chemistry equations just now, as school is well in my past, but if I recall correctly, there is a way to represent energy being consumed or produced in the equations for chemical bonding/breaking.

    Last night as I was drifting to sleep I had a vision of the “what” that is being joined or separated as consciousness goes up or down the planes as beams of light, that some divine weaver is either rolling up together or unravelling. The thought that occurred then – that the rock in my garden that I like to sit on, is made of extremely densely packed rolled up bits of light delighted me.

  97. Hi JMG and the Ecosophia commentariat,

    This is my first time posting but I am a long time reader.

    I am posting this question because I am at my wit’s end, and the discussion around obsession made me wonder if there was something that I have overlooked.

    My partner has been caught up in recent months with the drama of the coronavirus crisis – his daily talk and thoughts seem to revolve around it, including death statistics, and footage of people in hospitals. He has come to the conclusion that mask-wearing should be made compulsory and enforced strictly, and is very adamant that _even people who are wearing masks are not doing it correctly_ because they reuse their masks, or touch their face with unclean hands while wearing masks.

    I am happy to wear a mask myself when I am out, but I feel like I am constantly being watched when I am with her. We have had fights before about the proper way to put a mask on, for example.

    It has become a constant topic of conversation in our household, to the point that I feel like I cannot stand it any more. I feel like he has become a different person from who I knew, and I am experiencing overwhelming grief over this.

    We disagree in many other aspects which I think might have worsened this. For example, we are both religious in the Christian faith, but we express this in different ways. I am very private about my beliefs, even with people who are close to me, but he is much more proselytical, and he feels like I am not doing enough to reach out and evangelize. I grew up in a church and in a family that did not express their emotions freely, which makes it difficult for me to worship and feel like I am in the presence of the divine when I am with anyone else, including him. This gap, among others, I think may have contributed to the current schism.

    I am reaching out because I cannot seem to reason a way forward from this. I feel like someone I love has been taken over by something beyond my ken, and I don’t know how to approach this entity, if it is indeed an entity. Is this situation one in which I can do something about?


  98. Sorry, can’t edit my post. This was meant to say: I am happy to wear a mask myself when I am out, but I feel like I am constantly being watched when I am with him.

    English is not my native language so I hope my writing makes sense!

  99. JMG, I wonder if you might consider writing a post on the other blog about using two vices to nullify each other. A primer, so to speak, to teach how to assure one is working from the appropriate “sub-plane” and maybe to identify useful opposites. It sounds useful.

  100. Do you think it’s possible some of the weirdness coming out of Pelosi/Naddler/Biden is the result of someone doing what Anonymous asked if was possible? Someone has obsessed them and is now using that to push for the current rounds of insanity?

  101. JS – you mentioned you and your partner are both Christians. Have you considered trying to appeal to your partner’s respect for scripture with regard to what it has to say about how our thoughts affect our health. For instance, scriptures like “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7) or Philippians 4:8: 8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Then there are the many instances in the Gospels where Jesus healed the sick and said , “it has been done unto you according to your faith”.

    Perhaps if your partner could see that Christianity clearly teaches that healing is the will of the Divine and that our thoughts and words effect the health of our bodies (modern science also shows this), he might be willing to give less attention to the negative media surrounding Covid and more attention to preserving his own health.

  102. Looking for “higher” (etheric) causes of cancer is an interesting and worthwhile topic to explore – since nearly everyone in this group likely has relatives and/or friends who have developed the disease. While I do not have anything to add generally, whenever this sort of discussion crops up, my mind always goes to examples of highly exalted souls who nevertheless died of cancer. The two who are closest to my heart are Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (1836-1886) of Bengal, India, who died of throat cancer; and Ramana Maharishi (1879 – 1950) of Tamil Nadu, India, who died of osteosarcoma, an extremely painful form of bone cancer. While Ramakrishna spent most of his life on the outskirts of the industrialized city of Calcutta (now Kolkata), Ramana lived in a fairly remote rural part of India (the holy mountain Arunachala). Both lived simple, largely pre-industrial-style lives. Of course, the lives of such exalted souls can be a great lesson to their followers (or spiritually-inclined persons in general). For example, when Ramana’s cancer was quite advanced, a person asked him if he does not feel pain. After a few moments of silence, he famously replied: “There is pain in the body, but I do not feel it”. In the case of Ramakrishna, at later stages of his cancer, it became almost impossible for him to eat anything due to the pain in his throat. After being urged by so many of his followers to pray to goddess Kali, Ramakrishna said, “Mother, I can’t eat anything because of this pain – please let me eat a little!” In response, Kali pointed to the gathering around him and said to Ramakrishna, “Why, you’re eating through so many mouths already!”

    Perhaps we can expect there to be always exceptions to the rule, or departures from the norm, but I can’t help thinking about these examples.

  103. Got it.

    Thinking about Core Shamanism and other attempts to modernise religion, I present the ultimate evolution: palletised shrines and containerised temples. Next day delivery. 🙂

  104. Matthias, thanks for this.

    Anonymous, that’s a very good point. I’d always assumed that the soaring rates of cancer that hit in the 1950s and 1960s were the result of the fantastic increase in the number of untested chemicals being dumped into the human environment from the Second World War on, but it also makes sense that this material plane phenomenon would be linked to etheric and astral realities as well.

    Scotlyn, thanks for this! Physicists would agree with you about the rock, btw.

    JS, I wish I had an easy answer. One thing you might consider is prayer. Whether or not any human power can help him, divine power certainly can.

    Temporaryreality, hmm! I’ll consider that.

    Another, it’s possible, yes — whether or not the other person in question is an incarnate human being or…something else.

    Ron, those are certainly things to consider.

    Yorkshire, if you were to set up a firm to do that, I suspect you’d get takers.

  105. Re cancer being so much more prevalent today I would suggest we are also better at detecting it. In my grandfather’s family there were 6 children. Five had cancer, all different kinds and at different ages. He is the only one who did not have it. They all lived on a small farm 100+ years ago. Of the descendants of that family of whom there were not many only 2 have had it.
    To me it is just another disease.

  106. JS wrote, “My partner has been caught up in recent months with the drama of the coronavirus crisis – his daily talk and thoughts seem to revolve around it, including death statistics, and footage of people in hospitals.”

    It sounds like your partner has been locked into a degradation with death panic, which is exactly what the virus being peddled is designed to do. If people get obsessively afraid of any one of the mostly interchangeable viruses that can kill humans, they are less likely to pay attention to what really threatens their life. Rather than experience his panicky fear, you could see his obsession as being with loss of control, which fundamentally it is. By fixating on how this virus has taken away his sense of control and how he wants to get that back, he can then overlook that coordinated actions by our ruling classes have taken away many of the stable constants that gave him a sense of control. His arguing and policing of your behavior is an attempt to regain some of that lost sense of control. Yes, it is a sadly diminished sense of control, but from his degraded position a sub-plane down, with much of his energy locked into battling around the Covid Tar Baby, tiny victories are the most he can envision at present.

    The deepest work anyone trapped in a degrading battle with death panic can do is to realize that we are not in control over nature or death and never were; however, that can be a personality-shattering discovery since it often involves unraveling fixed orbits around our myths of agency, dominion, and autonomy. Most sufferers of panic paralysis will resist any attempt to help them decouple their thinking, just as a stone will resist any attempt to help it swim or grow tall. So just helping your partner to realize that fear and loss of control are what he is struggling with is probably more than enough to focus on.

    Like helping children to recognize the adult they want to become by letting them learn from their own immature choices, you could acknowledge him when he faces his fears (like by going on a long walk outside,) and when he reclaims any actual control/responsibility in his life (like by washing the dishes.) You could disengage from his power struggles by willingly adjusting your mask to his preferred method and saying, “Sure, if it will make you feel more in control.” No snarkiness, just deep willingness to help him discover what actually rebuilds his confidence, and what simply doesn’t. That returns his struggle to him, which is the only place it can be resolved. Call on sympathetic friends, human or otherwise, to provide you with support and guidance. Working with him to rediscover his lost confidence may help you to bear your (hopefully temporary) grief over its shattering loss.

  107. I know, I should pick a new handle already, but I couldn’t resist.

    JMG, I wonder if you might consider writing a post on the other blog about using two vices to nullify each other.

    I would be very interested in this, too, if you have the time and inclination.

  108. Xabier wrote:

    Classical Sufi literature is full of pithy sayings…

    ‘You think you want Enlightenment right now ? It would split you like a thunderbolt!’

    And, of course, the Tao saying:

    ‘The Immortal is certainly found in the mountain hut; but the more perfect one is found in the town.’

    (Perhaps even more so now, when our cities seem to be machines designed to cause madness? )

    This relates to something I’m reading, a fascinating discussion of the madness of crowds in Liz Greene’s <The Dark of the Soul: Psychopathology in the Horoscope. Specifically, she mentions Uranus, associated astrologically with technological progress.

    “Uranian madness reflects a cosmic vision of perfection….In genetic experimentation we can also see glimpses of Uranian madness, as we can in political ideologies which trample on individual feelings and rights in the name of social engineering and an ideal of a perfect society….These are collective forms of madness or, put another way, a collective gone mad, and Uranus excels at this kind of eruption whenever the life force is held in bondage to Saturnian structures or primordial Plutonian survival needs.”

    It makes me wonder whether it is garden-variety demons, or something much larger, that is behind current events, the collective possession, the madness we need to hear (as Varun hinted on another thread:

  109. Per previous comment I continued to seek insight and kept getting the message ʻmaintenanceʻ, so upon further exploration in meditation it was revealed to me that a messy environment has a reflection on other planes as well. Trying to get something done under the influence of the miasma is like flying a plane through clouds with no instruments. My environmental habits have improved over the years, but the house is definitely a square rooting today.

    Also wanted to mention that it is a relief to finally get “permission” to explore the Qliphoth. They actually make it easier to understand the Sephiroth, the same way troubleshooting a piece of broken machinery reveals valuable insights into something most people normally just take for granted. Would a pathological hoarder house filled with cat feces and roaches be considered under the influence of Gamchicoth?

  110. @Scotlyn, JMG on the math/physics/chemistry bit: It’s possibly only a very minor point to the topic of the essay, but I’d say many physicists (at least the one who is writing these lines, although he finds a lot of beauty and also some truth in it, too) will not fully agree on the stone = condensed light equation. Of course, the point that analogies are rather to train than to inform the mind is fully valid here, but it might be still useful to apply an analogy as exactly as possible and see where it might lead. I’m not sure where this will lead, but will give it a try, anyway:

    It’s possible to create matter from light. Some mechanisms need the presence of matter (for example an atomic nucleus or an electron nearby), but it’s also possible without the involvement of “solid” matter by photon-photon scattering. The point is, that you will always create matter and antimatter at equal proportions. So (theoretically!) it is possible to create as much matter and antimatter as you wish, as long there is enough energy in form of energetic photons available. The opposite process, that is creating light from matter, is only possible if you created matter beforehand, since you will find virtually no antimatter in our universe. As far as we know, matter will only annihilate to photons when you bring it together with a fitting bit of antimatter. This means: While you can create matter from light, you can’t create light from matter – unless you have created matter and the corresponding antimatter beforehand. It is impossible (for us humans at least, and we have not observed it, so far) to sublimate matter to pure energy. The energy that is created by nuclear fission and fusion is an exception, of course, but only a minor one since the binding energy that is set free is comparably small to the overall mass of the nuclei that participate in the nuclei.

    So is it valid to say that matter is condensed light from a physical point of view? There is some kind of relationship, but certainly something’s missing in that equation, I’d say. Still, we don’t know what either matter or light are. What is this thing we call matter? If you take an electron which seems to be a true elementary particle, what is it? What kind of stuff, if any, is it made of? You can say it’s made of energy, but then what is energy? What is “stuff”, anyway?

    I find it very ironic, that physicists can give a lot of answers on questions about how things work but can’t give a single answer to what things are (and for other sciences that are further up in the hierarchy and deal with more complex systems this is even more true). We can manipulate and control hydrogen and oxygen atoms in the most intricate ways but if we’re honest with yourself, we have no idea what water is, let alone what and why the laws are that allow water to exist. I frequently wonder and strongly doubt, whether the scientific method is capable of answering such questions at all.

    And in the context of the CosDoc, I wonder whether the impossibility to sublimate significant amounts of matter can be integrated somehow in the framework of analogies.


  111. @Ron M and others on the subject of cancer

    Ron, so lovely that you mentioned such Divine Souls. I loved my time in Sri Ramana’s cave and walking around Arunachala. Thank you for bringing up these wonderful memories 🙂

    Ron, you have brought up a worthy point.

    When a Soul is aware of themselves as One with All, there is no death; and pain and suffering, as experienced on this realm is temporary.

    Indeed, part of their purpose is to be an example and to show others that who we truly are is not our bodies or thoughts, words or actions. These are just methods of being and expressing (or operating) on this plane.

    Before being born upon this earth, it may be that a Soul has chosen to depart this realm via “death” by cancer or whatever other means.

    Other times, Souls may depart “before their time”, due to being caught up in very negative and destructive thought processes which may be influenced by malevolent entities.

    We are all here, experiencing Life on this plane in whatever way we choose, based on our beliefs. Any thought of “death” and decay, and allowing a tiny sliver of doubt and fear to enter your consciousness will result in that.

    So for me, “cancer” is the acceptance of disharmony and disorder, which manifests itself via thoughts and beliefs, at a cellular level within the body. If you can imagine then, that these “abnormal” cells then start mirroring each other and expanding accordingly.

    A person then has an opportunity to truly reflect on how this abnormality has presented itself. And the only real way to do that is to uncover the distorted conditioning of one’s own state of being, mental processes etc. It could be a karmic process which is playing out from a previous incarnation.

    Years and years ago, “death” was not. That is, everything is LIFE. “Death” is merely a transition from the dense, physical plane to a plane of higher vibration.

    Today, the human race has bought into the fact that “death” is inevitable, or assured. Think about all the services that are invested in the whole “death” industry; from hospitals, pharmaceuticals, entertainment etc; and all the marketing and messages that plant a seed of “death”, and it’s supposed inevitability.

    Most people fear death and hence invite it into their lives sooner. Mostly at an unconscious level. Others will partake in activities that decrease their lifespan, and so “life” becomes temporary for them.

    It may be that a Soul has cleared all their karma and has completed their purpose upon this plane, and so they will depart this plane… via their chosen method of departure or “death”.

    My grandparents have passed due to cancer; and my mother has had her thyroid removed because of cancer. As an example, why might that be? The thyroid relates to the throat chakra, the expression of truth and living in one’s truth. This might be the physical result of lying to oneself (delusional), and hence to others. Without realizing it, because it has become a natural state of being.

    Some people are just uncomfortable with greater levels of information and knowledge, which will result in the “death” of what they are attached to, which gives them a sense of identity. So this would be “death” of the conditioned / egoic or lower self. And so they would rather remain in their “comfort zones”, even if that means a limited view and experience of Life.

    Being out of alignment in thought, word, and action is more than likely going to create an imbalance; and disorder will present within the physical vessel, in the form of abnormal cells presenting.

    For anyone who has (or had) cancer, or with family members or friends, if you haven’t read Anita Moorjani’s, “Dying to be Me”, I highly recommend it.

    So to all reading this, CHOOSE LIFE!

    Go out and enjoy the marvelous day before you, and be conscious of every miraculous breath that you take.

    Waves of love,

    ~ Tanya

  112. An interesting experience this morning, as I am currently dedicating my discursive meditations to a complete review of TCM concepts to assist my clinical work. This chapter gave a very deep help to a review of the Taijitu (commonly known as the Yin Yang symbol – the black and white flowing wheel symbol). I suddenly “saw” each flowing arm in 3-d – each spiralling up and increasing, or down and decreasing, in relation to one another, as “actions/reactions” going across planes – although the increase/decrease in the symbol is gradual (addition) not stepwise (multiplication).

    It seemed to me that the Yin flowing movement, portrayed by the colour black in the symbol, which in standard TCM theory refers to concentration, material qualities, density, downward flow, dark, substance seems to strongly correspond to the idea of degradation – ie bringing things into increasing density and concentration and eventually, material manifestation. Meanwhile the Yang flowing movement, portrayed by the colour white in the symbol, which in standard TCM theory refers to expansion, aetherial qualities, sparsity, upward flow, light, energy, seems to strongly correspond to sublimation, bringing things into increasing expansion, activity and ultimately spiritual awareness.

    This should help bring some “zing” into my clinic.

  113. Nachtgurke – thanks a million for the response. I do think you are right in that science can be frustratingly uninformative about what anything IS, although we can find out all sorts of things about what things DO under certain conditions. I wonder what you think of the apparent ability of biological systems to produce endogenous protons?

    PS I tend to use biology more than physics or chemistry to source my “metaphors” for training the mind from. 🙂

  114. Emotional Plane: Fear + Loathing = Horror
    Physical Plane: Flight + Fight = Paralysis

    Paralysis on the physical plane sublimates to Fear and Loathing on the emotional plane. If you separate the two, you release the paralysis.

    What does Horror sublimate to on the Mental Plane? Is it the Archetype of the Parasite? The Vampire? A Monster, no doubt, something which challenges soul development, because it’s strategy for existence is one of degradation.

    Degradation translates to me as meaninglessness, or meaningless defeat. However, it has also been shown that what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.

    Further thoughts: degradation is catabolic, releasing energy for anabolic functions.

    I’ll leave it at that for now (for I sense that I’m about to inquire into the square root of an egg salad 😉

    Thanks again…

  115. Christophe:

    Thank you for your insightful comment, “…the deepest work anyone trapped in a degrading battle with death panic can do is to realize that we are not in control over nature or death and never were.”

    I’m confronting this with my elderly father right now, and your practical suggestions to help him acknowledge his fears, reclaim responsibility for things he can control, and to disengage from power struggles with him, are much appreciated.

    Deep work indeed!

  116. Scotlyn – thanks for your reply! It’s been a while since I last heard or read about biophotons. I have a book from 2001 (first edition 1995) on my shelf, which is written in semi-scientific style and tries to summarize research on and possible applications of biophotons. I was fascinated when I first read it but rapidly lost interest afterwards. To me, this became just another example of a fascinating phenomenon that was ground to nothingness between the mills of science, pseudoskepticism and pseudoesoteric crackpots. Some say “wow, fascinating science but we still know very, very little”, some say “wow, it’s the proof that EVERYTHING which I always told why mainstream science is wrong is true” and somebody else says “look I have build this fascinating device that can diagnose and treat any illness”. Finally somebody comes along, throws it all into one pot and nominates it for the pigasus-award. And then everybody looses interest quickly and goes on doing other things. It’s just SO boring.

    I have no real idea if any significant research has been done since when I first read the book, although a quick scan shows that not much seems to have happened. I believe it would be certainly possible to design a robust set of experiments basing on the results of Popp, for example, that would possibly yield fascinating and scientifically solid results on which you can go on and develop further research. However, you would have to find somebody who has proper scientific training, enough experience in the field, a proper laboratory and a scientific working group, enough open-mindedness and willingness to delve into a fringe topic like this, enough common sense and communication skills to avoid being thrown in the pseudoscience-drawer and finally enough funding and what else you need on resources. I doubt you will find somebody in a setting like this willing to intensely study biophotons anywhere soon. Still, it would be fascinating if somebody did the research.


  117. Hi John Michael,

    “This is why ministers in those branches of Christianity that like to whip up emotions to fever pitch, seeking to raise enough energy in this way to perform healings and other remarkable events, so often end up being caught in sexual embarrassments of one sort or another”.

    It is noteworthy that just such a character appears early on in the American classic “The Grapes of Wrath” by the author John Steinbeck. When first I read that chapter I was wondering whether the author was going with a ‘shock yo momma’ approach to his audience, however the majority of the story reads like a warning to my eyes. So I’m suspecting the author had other intentions with that character.

    Incidentally as background to the book I read a bit about the author’s personal reaction to the work, and he appears to have suffered in the writing of the book.

    Anyway back to the topic at hand, with the startling revelations in this week’s essay, perhaps the words hint at the efficacy of the old saying: Actions speak louder than words?

    As usual you’ve left me with much to ponder.



  118. Before this post rolls over, I just wanted to write back to thank everyone who has responded to me. I have a lot of things to think about.

    @Ethan and @Christophe, your suggestions are greatly appreciated. I want to approach both ways carefully as both issues (mask wearing, Christian faith and interpretation) are very raw and fresh.

    @JMG, prayer is the main thing that gives me hope and keeps me from sinking deeper into grief. I will continue to pray for divine intervention. Thank you for your encouragement.

  119. “The crucial points to keep in mind, while pursuing the sublimative path in the midst of all this degradative action, is to go a step at a time, keep the will fully engaged, test the way ahead by divination, and banish daily.”
    -JMG reply to Christophe quite a few replies above-
    Duly noted. From a grounding point of view and helped by more time available, I’ve personally been (re)discovering the natural play of the seasons in the local countryside (easy to miss in urban life) plus help with a local community allotment. And thanks for this months post – enlightening a tough chapter to understand otherwise (at least for me).

  120. Aloysius, yes, very much so.

    Nachtgurke, fair enough! I don’t claim to be a physicist.

    Scotlyn, fascinating. Yes, that makes a great deal of sense.

    Jade Dragon, in a lot of ways the term “degradation” is unfortunate, as it has unhelpful connotations. It’s the term Fortune uses, though. I’ve been correlating this chapter with material from other esoteric writings, and finding a lot of interesting connections; I’ll see if I can find a helpful alternative to “degradation” for the downward process.

    Chris, indeed they do — on more than one plane.

    JS, I’m glad to hear it. There may well be a purpose to all this.

    Jay, and that’s also a way to do it!

  121. Nachtgurke – yes, it would be fascinating. I suspect that photons come into the “biological chain of being” from the sun, through photosynthesising plants, who absorb and (at least apparently) convert them to energy for metabolism. But what does “absorbed” actually mean? Might they be in some sense “trapped” (I realise this may be an entirely misleading word) within the functioning biology of healthy plants, from where they can pass into the bodies of animals via consumption? The intriguing hint that biophotons appeared to the researchers who studied them to be emitted in greater numbers when plants or animals were stressed or diseased, would suggest interesting possibilities for their (occult) role in – or association with – health.

    However, it is not at all likely that the current corporate sponsors on whose goodwill science now relies, would invest in such studies. It might very well find (just for example) that corporate food tends to be lacking in properly “entrapped” biophotons, exposing its eaters to chronic diseases, just for example. But… I outrageously speculate… 😉

  122. Scotlyn, yes there’s a lot of room for outrageous speculations 🙂 Experiments on what happens to cells which are exposed to artificially created “bio”photons (once you know spectrum and temporal pattern, this could easily been done nowadays) would certainly be on very far up on my to-do list. Could be an easy way to show that biophotons communicate something. And the effect of healthy vs. non-healthy food – in your body it’s quite dark and comparably cold so that there’s not much overlaying UV in the black body spectrum. What effect has it to heat up food with microwaves would be one experiment, that comes to my mind. Again, it shouldn’t be that difficult to do… outrageous, truly 😉


  123. Hmm, I thought that the sublimation process Fortune referred to was to bring one idea against its complete opposite and meditate on them neutrally until a sense of equilibrium is achieved, which is different than what you mentioned if I understood correctly.

    It’s interesting reading your remarks on this chapter and topic of mediumship in particular, I think many people not active nor interested in occultism and the esoteric go through a similar process psychologically when constructing (or rather actualizing) their Selves, and they work that out intuitively. Professional actors from what I observed have this ability “to untie the knots of the mind” willfully, just like mediums, what do you think?


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