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.
Revised Edition: Chapter 27, “The Law of Impactation,” pp. 124.
Millennium Edition: Chapter 27, “The Law of Impactation, or the Transmission of Action from One Plane to Another,” pp. 167-170.
Most of the material we’ve covered so far in this commentary can be found in equally detailed form in both the standard editions of our text. This chapter and the following one are exceptions to that rule. Both these chapters in the Millennium Edition are nearly three times as long as the corresponding chapters in the revised edition, and include diagrams left out at the time of revision. There’s a reason why the revised edition was published with these things left out, because like the last several chapters we’ve examined, this one deals with the techniques of practical magic—specifically, in this case, the techniques of practical polarity magic, the central magical method of Dion Fortune’s teaching.
Fortune isn’t the only writer of her period, or most of a century before her time, to be evasive about this. Eliphas Lévi, in his Doctrine and Ritual of High Magic, is equally evasive about what he calls the Grand Arcanum, the secret of bringing magical forces into manifestation. That’s what Fortune is talking about here, too, and Lévi’s symbolism echoes Fortune’s closely enough that it’s pretty clear that they’re presenting a shared tradition.
Let’s start by considering the general theory of impactation, which is covered in the four paragraphs of this chapter from the revised edition. (This is all of p. 167 and the last paragraph on p. 170 in the Millennium Edition.)
We can begin with some definitions. The basic pattern of movement on the planes of being, as we have discussed in previous chapters, is involution followed by evolution: a soul, an energy, or an influence descends the planes from the upper spiritual plane to the physical plane, and then returns up the planes from the physical plane to the upper spiritual plane. (The diagram on the left is a reminder of how this works.) Any action that furthers one or the other of those movements is natural and beneficial—when an energy, say, is descending the plane, magical work that helps it on its way down is a good idea, but trying to make it go back up the planes before it has finished its descent is not.
There are specific terms for upward and downward motion on the planes depending on whether what you’re trying to affect is on the descending or the ascending arc of its journey. If it’s descending into manifestation, further descent is called impactation, while turning around and going backwards is called disintegration. If it’s rising back up out of manifestation, upward movement is called sublimation, while turning around and going back down into matter again is called degradation. Those aren’t value-neutral terms, and they’re not intended to be—disintegration and degradation have exactly the effects those words suggest.
This follows from the nature of the process we’re discussing. As Fortune explains, currents of unformed force descend the planes into matter because material objects provide the structure that allows them to organize themselves into form. Once the force has settled into its proper form, it can rise up out of matter but still maintain the form it has received without the scaffolding of material substance. To go back up the planes before descending all the way into form is to fail to coalesce into a stable form, and disintegration follows. To go back down into matter when the material form is no longer necessary is to fall back into the confusions and complexities of matter, and degradation follows.
So the wise occultist acts by impacting forces that are descending into manifestation in matter, and sublimating forces that have already earthed out on the physical plane. That isn’t as restrictive as it might seem, because there are always a great many currents of force descending at any given time and a great many more seeking to rise up out of manifestation, and it’s purely a matter of choosing which one to work with at any given time. Astrology is the classic way to figure out which currents are descending, by the way, and natural magic—the knowledge of which currents of energy are already in manifestation in herbs, stones, and other natural things—is the classic way to figure out which currents are ready to rise back up.
Sublimation, as our text says, is the art of separating the subtle from the dense. (“Thou shalt separate the earth from the fire, the subtle from the dense, gently and with great ingenuity,” says the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus.) Impactation is quite another matter. To bring a descending energy further down the planes, the process is identical to the one we have examined several times in this commentary already, especially in the formation of the Cosmic atoms: two tangential forces encounter each other, form a vortex, and descend to the next plane down, where they become a stable node that can enter into interaction with other things on that plane.
So far and no farther the revised edition takes us. It’s in the Millennium Edition, which is based on the privately printed 1949 version, that the text goes further—in a guarded and allusive way, to be sure, but clearly enough that the meaning can be extracted.
Imagine, our text proposes, that you want to express an abstract concept in a concrete form—that is to say, you want to take something on the lower mental plane, the plane of abstract thinking, and give it a form on the upper astral plane, the plane of concrete imagery. (The same principles apply to the transition from each plane above the physical to the one below it, but this set of planes makes for a good clear example.) As it stands, the concept remains a concept, not a concrete image, and it cannot make the descent on its own.
It can only crystallize into an image when it is combined with something else—“an entity of a different type to your own,” in Fortune’s evasive phrase. The “type” in question is either involutionary or evolutionary. What is being said here is that you need to bring the concept that is descending into form together with something else that is rising up out of form, and link the two in a particular manner. For the involutionary pattern—the concept you want to transform into an image—the parts of the concept that can be expressed in astral form are moving toward impactation, and the parts that cannot are moving toward disintegration. For the evolutionary pattern—the influence rising up out of form—the parts that can be expressed as a mental concept are moving toward sublimation, and the parts that cannot are moving toward degradation. The diagram above and to the left expresses this: 1 and 2 are the two things to be combined, 1 the descending concept, 2 the rising form; + and – indicates descent and ascent respectively. The leftward half of the diagram shows the halves of 1 and 2 that are moving with the flow of nature, the righward half the halves that are moving toward disintegration and degradation respectively.
What happens when you join the two—“gently and with great ingenuity”—is that you create a symbol. Suppose the concept you want to express is that of the natural unfolding of the human spirit, and suppose the influence rising up out of form is the image of a rose. The image becomes a vehicle for the concept, so that the concept can take a step further down into manifestation. The concept becomes a vehicle for the image, so the image can take a step further away from manifestation. That’s the art of impactation: you impact something and sublimate something at the same moment. The same thing happens, and of course Fortune is broadly hinting at this all through the chapter, when a man and a woman have sex and conceive a child.
Something curious happens in the aftermath of the act of impactation, though. The two things that join together do so, in a certain sense, horizontally—no doubt Fortune chose that turn of phrase quite deliberately, and she and her students chuckled about it. The concept becoming an image and the image becoming a concept are on the same level, the boundary between the lower mental and upper astral planes, and they unite on that boundary. The diagram on the right shows what happens next: the halves of both that are moving downward unite, as do the halves that are rising upwards. The conceptual dimensions of the idea and the image sublimate together into higher levels of being, while their imaginal dimensions descend together into manifestation: meditating on the rose as a symbol of unfolding spirit leads to intuitions of meaning, that is, while the same interaction has encouraged quite a few people who’ve contemplated the rose as a symbol to plant rose-gardens! Horizontal union leads to vertical separation: that’s the key to the process, and it opens up some of the deeper dimensions of what Fortune is discussing.
One of Fortune’s essays included in the anthology Applied Magic, “The Circuit of Force,” helps clarify how this works. “In order that any thing or factor shall be brought down from a higher to a lower plane, it is necessary to analyse it into the contradictory factors that are held in equilibrium in its nature. To do this, one imagines the opposite extremes of which it is capable and expresses them separately while retaining in consciousness their essential unity when in equilibrium.” In practice, you become aware of the highest and lowest aspects of whatever it is you want to bring down to a lower plane, and work with each of these as already described.
Yet the two aspects of the concept, and the two aspects of the rose, never entirely separate. Rather, each recombines with its partner, and sets up a rhythm in consciousness, like two couples in a dance who are constantly changing partners. This is what gives symbols their magical force, and also their elusiveness. You can never pin them down, because the symbol and its meaning are constantly trading places and exchanging aspects of themselves. Analysis fails because it relies on dividing things into their components, and what makes a symbol powerful is not a component but a constantly changing set of relationships among all the components. The diagram Fortune uses for this is a hexagram, as shown on the left; the positive and negative aspects of each of the two forces interlock and interchange to produce a stable pattern that unites force and form, impactation and sublimation.
That far Fortune’s example proceeds. Anyone who has read the published accounts of workings by Fortune’s students, such as Alan Richardson’s Dancers to the Gods, or studied Fortune’s Rites of Isis and Pan in the recent edition capably edited by Gareth Knight, can take it a step further. That being the case, it seems unnecessary to be mealy-mouthed here.
The same process is at the heart of certain classes of polarity workings which are performed by properly trained operative occultists. These workings are not sex magic in the usual sense of that phrase, but it would be wholly inaccurate to say that sex has nothing to do with them. In this form of working, the force that is descending into manifestation is sexual energy, and the form that is rising up out of manifestation is the human soul—either an individual soul or the collective soul of a group of a nation. The participants should be sexually attracted to each other but should not have sex with each other, to keep the energies from earthing out in the time-honored fashion. The exact methods used vary from one type of polarity work to another, but in all cases sexual energy is raised by one participant or group of participants, and gathered up and directed into a form established and maintained by the other participant or group of participants.
That’s the horizontal dimension. The vertical dimension is also present, of course, and it can be best understood by tracing out the whole process in an actual example. The most common form in Fortune’s school involved one man and one woman, but it can also be worked in group form, as in the Rites of Isis and Pan mentioned above; these are arguably better suited to use as examples here as they have been published in their entirety. The participants in the working were the audience, who provided the sexual energy, and the people performing the ritual, who provided the form into which the energy flowed. The pattern of ideas the rites were meant to help bring down into manifestation was one that Dion Fortune wrote about at great length in her essays and novels—the need for a saner attitude toward sexuality in the Western world. That was the downward movement. The upward movement? That took the form of the spiritual exaltation of the participants.
This was the method of the ancient Mysteries. The rites performed at Eleusis, Samothrace, and the other centers of the old Mystery-cults didn’t make use of sexual desire as their motive force, so far as we know, but the culture in which they existed had to cope with different emotional and psychological burdens than the one in which Dion Fortune lived and worked. The principle was however the same: a horizontal energy flow between two participants or groups of participants, one providing the energy, the other providing the form, which brought certain ideas into concrete manifestation and simultaneously furthered the spiritual development of all the participants. Consider the ceremony of Communion in a sacramental Christian church and you can see exactly the same process at work, with adoration as the motive force, the congregation providing the energy, the priest and his assistants providing the form, the ideals of the Christian faith descending into manifestation and the participants being exalted spiritually by the working.
That which is impacted, Fortune points out, is a reflection of the combined nature of the impactors. No one can bring down an influence into manifestation in a clearer form than they themselves can experience and embody it, and those who participate in a working of this kind always remain in some sense connected to it. It’s possible to weaken that connection by establishing what Fortune calls the bar of impactation—a firm distinction between the higher plane on which the working is done and the lower plane on which its effects manifest. Think of an inverted letter A, like the one above. The two diagonal lines represent the descending influences from the two elements of the operation, and the crossbar is the bar of impactation. When the bar of impactation is solidly in place, the participants can leave the working behind and others can take up the work and continue it without disrupting the basic structure.
This chapter is full of hints as to how such operations may be done, combined with the calm suggestion that the student will need to meditate on the text repeatedly to figure out what exactly is being suggested; as the revised edition puts it, “more has been said here than you may realize.” This is true enough, but the interested student can go much further by combining meditations on our text with a close study of the rituals already cited and Dion Fortune’s novels, along with the useful commentary on the novels in Penny Billington and Ian Rees’ book The Keys to the Temple. It’s not at all impossible, through that course of study and practice, to get a very clear sense of exactly what Fortune is sketching out in this chapter, and will outline in even more detail in the final chapters of our text.
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 December 9, 2020. Until then, have at it!
So, to put this into context of what happened to your country during the 2020 election…
Did mage supporters of both sides of the divide focus all their energy and works into disintegrating the concept of POTUS in order to prevent either image of “President Trump” or “President Biden” to sublimate with it? Instead of pulling the concept of POTUS to combine with their preferred image/candidate?
If that’s the case, would the result of this working be a weakening of the abstract concept of POTUS for the decades ahead (because it got partially dispersed by both side’s magical artillery) and the manifestation of a crass, ineffective presidency (which was, after all, degraded) with probably Biden but maybe Trump starring as the inmate in charge of the White House?
As for the unwise mages that worked against the natural cycles of impactation and sublimation… what’s in store for them, bad karma?
“Astrology is the classic way to figure out which currents are descending, by the way, and natural magic—the knowledge of which currents of energy are already in manifestation in herbs, stones, and other natural things—is the classic way to figure out which currents are ready to rise back up.”
Is this little gem you’ve tossed in going to get a full treatment at some point? The astrology part makes a fair amount of sense based on its divinatory nature, but the natural magic part sends my mind spinning off in all sorts of different directions.
CR, excellent! Yes, that’s a very cogent analysis. As for the blowback the mages who did this can expect, it’s not just a matter of karma. The energies of disintegration and degradation will affect them as well; the most obvious outcome is that their ideals will disintegrate and their behavior will degrade, but there may be more to it than that, depending on the details of the workings involved. It’s also possible that there will be spillover into the social movements and the nation they were trying, however clumsily, to benefit, and that those will also lose their connection to the spiritual factors that once animated them, and tumble down into the muck with their opponents.
Christophe, follow those different directions! The philosophical dimension of natural magic is central to the entire traditional practice of that art — every magically effective substance in the natural world is the material vehicle of an influence that is seeking to rise back up the planes, having earthed itself out in matter. That’s why herbs and stones and the rest of it have the subtle power they do over the etheric and astral levels — and of course if you link them up with the sources of their spiritual influence through ritual, that effect becomes even stronger.
Back in the early ’70s, a friend of mine who dabbled in astrology and other occult matters gave me a book entitled “The Book of Black Magic and of Pacts.” It was about an inch thick and slightly larger than a trade paperback, and appeared to be bound in black leather. The text was in an old woodblock style font, and there were numerous sketches and diagrams. She said it creeped her out and she felt it dangerous because it (she claimed) told one how to make a deal with the devil.
I looked it over, and it seemed incomprehensible gibberish to me, so I just put it on my bookshelf and forgot about it. After several moves of residence in the past 45 years I seem to have mislaid it; at least I can’t locate it now.
If I recall correctly it named no author, nor did it have the usual page in books listing publishing or copyright information.
Just wondering if you are familiar with this book or know anything about it.
Who published the revised 1956 edition, may I ask?
JMG – Your explanation of the Christian rite of Communion goes a long way, I think, to illustrate the ideas of this chapter. This chapter also reminds me of the verse in James: “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also”. (For me, CosDoc has been a hard slog until recently, but I’m starting to think it’s been worth the work.)
At the end of the previous comments Gwydion posted about concentration camps causing a unique kind of spiritual damage and Dion Fortune having written about it. What is the nature of this damage and why is it different from anything else?
“Once the force has settled into its proper form, it can rise up out of matter but still maintain the form it has received without the scaffolding of material substance. ”
The emanation body created by Taoist/Ch’an and other practices is a copy of the physical body, purified. If your physical body is flawed, that problem will carry to the emanation body (it can be fixed at the higher level(s), but it’s easier not to have to.)
Also, I wonder (suspect?) if the old Celtic requirement for physical perfection had something to do with this. (The story of Nuada Silverhand, who could not be king after he lost his hand, until it was replaced with a silver one, comes to mind.)
Further aside, one teacher who had the ability to see life force/prana/qi once commented that he could always tell a Dragon in human form, because the chi patterns, especially in their heads, were very different. (Take that with as much salt as necessary, but…)
Thank you for this fascinating post!
To see if I understand correctly, let’s say we have a blessing or healing rite with consecrated oil – the consecrated oil would provide a vehicle of impactation between the physical and etheric planes, to manifest blessing and healing, and in this case the consecration of the oil provides a sublimating substance? Would it be correct to say also that the symbolic actions and words of the operator during the rite would provide a vehicle between etheric and astral, and that the energy is raised and directed into the form and substances of the rite by the operator?
Antoinetta, that was a pirate edition of The Book of Ceremonial Magic by Arthur Edward Waite. Like most of Waite’s books on practical occultism, its best use is lining the bottom of birdcages.
Linnea, you can look that up on worldcat.org, you know. I don’t happen to know off hand; my copy was published by Helios Book Service.
Lathechuck, one of the things that helped me understand Fortune’s methods was the papers of the Christian sacramental branch of her magical order, the Guild of the Master Jesus, which are among the things I got handed when I became head of AODA. She’s very clear in those papers about the magical dimensions of the Communion ritual. Thus I’m not surprised that you found that aspect helpful. Yes, the Cos.Doc. is a helluva slog — it was intended to be. Those who complete the slog end up understanding things that are very hard to grasp any other way.
Yorkshire, you’ll have to ask Gwydion. That’s not something I’ve studied.
Ian, that makes a great deal of sense. Have you by any chance read Manly Hall’s Self-Unfoldment through Disciplines of Realization? What he has to say about the birth and development of the transcendental personality seems to have a lot in common with what you’ve said about the emanation body.
Your comment about the audience of mysteries being sublimted towards spirit in the ritual made me wonder: is this same process taking place if people degrade themselves? In that case, what form is being called down to impactation? What is sublimated when an outbound soul degrades itself?
JMG, I have not.read Manly Hall’s “Self-Unfoldment through Disciplines of Realization.” A little searching reveals it’s out of print (and even second hand copies are expensive). I’ll see if I can find a copy at some of the local used bookstores for something more reasonable.
Been thinking on this piece, I have so many questions/thoughts, etc… I’m almost embarassed. If I’m asking too much, let me know.
1). Dion and Levi both use sexual energy as the primary life force (etheric) energy. This works great for them because they’re from cultures (especially Dion) with largeamounts of repressed sexuality and thus sexual tension.
I’ve been thinking on etheric energy and the life energy body since your comment that it was associated with the passions. In my experience, prana/chi exhibits really simple stuff: rage, fear, lust, excitement. Physically large movements often include huge amounts of heat or cold. (Walking on the grave sensations), tingling and so on.
So Dion/Levi/(Napoleon Hill) use sexual energy, but there are other passions available. I’ve used rage in the past (really bad idea) but I think the easiest one for me is excitement/glee, which I have on tap. I assume, if it’s appropriate, that sort of “Wheeeee” should work and is etheric body based?
2) Is the upper / lower distinction important? Can one move directly from astral / mental /etheric / physical or should one step down by half-tones? If the latter, what is an example of a half tone?
3) Why does Dion plump etheric/physical together?
4) Have you talked about the spiritual plane in any detail elsewhere? I know we don’t have spiritual bodies or sheathes, but I am curious.
5) I see 2 problems with corruption of manifestation. One is our weak mental sheathes, so that justice or dominion of God or even love mean very different things to different people, as we can’t grasp concepts directly. The second is the bit that you can only bring in what you can embody.
Using communion and Christian rituals as an example: they can exalt, they can whip up bloodthirsty mobs, they can bring great good or evil into the worldThis would suggest that the laity’s concern that priests be good/pure is appropriate, but also that the character of the congregation matters, and that either can turn what should be a force for “good” into something awful. Am I understanding this correctly?
6) The bar of impactation seems important, and perhaps a way to avoid some of what you once called the strawberry jam effect? OTOH, for broadly beneficial workings, perhaps one wants the strawberry jam?
I suppose when you’re a hammer everything looks like a nail, but this chapter makes sense to me in my ongoing study of music, especially as a composer/arranger as I’m constantly pulling concepts “out of the air” in order to notate them, sing them, teach them, or otherwise pin them down. A four note motif pulled from a dream somewhere around 2006 or so became an entire programmatic album of 14 songs for me in 2010, the Dream of Flight. It’s also the reason I will never copyright my musical accompaniments to the Orphic Hymns — to do so would snuff out their vitality. When music gets re-arranged, it’s always a mash of styles that the composer was exposed to over time. The musical influences mate and create “children” in the form of tunes. I am the temporary, extremely faulty vessel that barfs out those tunes. Everything I ever wrote was once just an improvisation. I want people to rework my tunes, break them, and put them together again because I want the musical equivalent of grandchildren. I think future cultures may eventually end up losing the music of Beethoven and Mozart because we’ve gone and fossilized them… how sad is that?
“Once the force has settled into its proper form, it can rise up out of matter but still maintain the form it has received without the scaffolding of material substance.” – Although I have only read about his concepts in “Irreducible Mind” so far – that reminds me very much of F.W.H. Myers. Did his ideas have any influence on occultism or was it rather him who was influenced by occult lore?
What you present here sounds very simple. But that’s most surely not the same thing as easy. I feel like bouncing against an invisible glass ceiling all along. What lies beyond is in clear sight yet it seems impossible to grasp.
Dear John Michael Greer,
Thank you so much for this.
Would it be too much to ask for another example of two of workings that avoid disintegration and degradation? And vice versa?
Working off Car’s comment above, might one be able to take another image, say Columbia, and impact/sublimate the American ideal and experience? That is, a positive, constructive version of the degradation hypothesized?
How does one distinguish between an subtle form on the involutionary arc versus one on the evolutionary arc? In the context of my previous notion, for example, if I were wanting to impact the American ideal, how would I know if I’m taking that ideal from the “right” arc of flow?
Kyle, no, if a group of people degrade themselves what happens is that something else disintegrates. You can sublimate and impact at the same time, and you can degrade and disintegrate at the same time, but you can’t mix them.
Ian, not so — it’s currently in print, and for sale for US$17.95 at the Philosophical Research Society bookstore. As for your questions: (1) Yes, you can use excitement — rock concerts and sports games do a primitive but effective job of this. (2) You can impact using any two things, one evolving and one involving, if you can bring them to the same level — the border between two planes. Where they start the process is immaterial; a rose exists on the physical plane, after all. (3) It was standard in the Theosophical schools where she got her original training. No, I don’t know why they did that. (4) No. (5) Yes, you’re understanding this quite correctly. Another way of saying it is that magic can be used for evil as well as for good. (6) If you’re doing beneficial workings, the raspberry jam is part of the payoff — you can fix a lot of problems in your life by doing a sustained series of beneficial workings to bless and heal others.
Kimberly, I think every creative person has that same experience. In writing, fortunately, copyright isn’t a barrier — I copyright my books, but that doesn’t keep creative people from taking the themes and images and ideas I’ve deployed and doing new things with them, any more than Lovecraft’s copyrights got in my way. Copyright doesn’t last forever, for that matter, and Mozart and Beethoven are both long out of copyright — which is why arrangers and composers have had such fun with both of them over the last century or so. Do you recall Walter Murphy’s A Fifth of Beethoven?
Nachtgurke, I’m pretty sure Myers was influenced by occultism. Yes, it’s simple but not easy!
Millicently, hmm. Is something unclear about the examples I’ve given? If so, it might be easier to talk about those, rather than having me fish about at random for other examples that may or may not answer your question.
David BTL, one could certainly do that in a constructive way. The way you make sure to draw down an involutionary current is to invoke divine powers to help with the working, and time your working using astrology, choosing a time in which the influences of the planetary force you want are descending into manifestation.
Necromancy is generally condemned. It strikes me as involving a kind of degradation of the spirit of the departed. Exorcism, on the other hand, does the opposite, causing a spirit to sublimate and is a religious rite. I wonder whether what Fortune is talking about here is the intuition lying behind the condemnation of the one and support for the other.
Thanks JMG, yes, I have heard the disco 5th… I’m not a fan of it, but to each their own. Thanks for the suggestion of Fortune’s other books to hunt for clues as well as the Billington and Rees books. Much meditation is in order.
Thank you JMG, for the answers and the book link.
One further question: when helping people I was taught that even good workings can bounce negatively if a person is particularly attached to their suffering/storyline. Does that jive with your undertanding?
(Some Buddhists are very big on doing a lot of workings for the benefit of all beings and some teachers emphasize this very heavily. Hindus tend not to be so big on it, though it varies by tradition.)
“magical work that helps it on its way down is a good idea, but trying to make it go back up the planes before it has finished its descent is not”
Maybe this explains why psychedelic drugs as an assist to speed up the evolutionary process are such a bad idea? Are they basically too much ascension too soon?
F. W. H. Myers was deeply interested in many occult phenomena, and he also played a leading role in the Society for Psychical Research. He was one for the first to work out in detail the concept of what he called the “subliminal self” in every person, which he deployed to account for many of the observed phenomena of mediumship, clairvoyance, precognition, etc. etc., much as Jung was later to do. (Jung had at least one of Myers’ major works in his library.) IIRC, one of Myers’ friends and colleagues in the Society for Psychical Research was a physician named Charles Lloyd Tuckey, who shared many of Myers’ interests and worked along similar lines. Tuckey’s membership in the Golden Dawn can be documented from the surviving records of the order.
Anonymously, because our culture, or at least I, am not as unrepressed as Fortune’s working hoped for-
I once had a very strong full body sexual arousal feeling, a flush, when I was praying to a deity of the opposite gender. It happened for about a week each time I prayed, and I never wanted to er, do anything about it, because a lot of guys have reported here about maybe etheric parasites, and I thought that’s all I’d attracted, somehow (though in a woman, it came back between cold showers, and between sex with my partner). Until one day I hit the gym to try to ground it the energy, and while resting between double crunches, I felt this energy leave my genital centre.
Is that something that can happen when working with gods, or is it some other kind of critter? I felt fine, divination said it was the god, but people here have also been saying their divinations have been giving misleading results, too, maybe.
All I thought was “if that’s you, [god], please use this energy for healing my community” because I don’t do magic and had no idea what happens if energy just goes out like that with no intention.
JMG you have clearly explained a interpersonal relationship that I have struggled to understand:
Two people that are clearly sexually attracted choose (for various reasons such as prior commitments / other ethical considerations) to not consummate said attraction.
To the extent they maintain this arrangement, the relationship grows into friendship and beyond into a lifetime companionship. They can openly bring others into an expanding productive relationship.
When it degrades/disintegrates into a sexual relationship, confusion, conflict and social isolation often occurs, despite their efforts.
Instead of viewing this as primarily a moral issue, I can now see it as a mismatch of energy flows and directional consistency (not discounting the moral dimension)
Thank you for another incredibly insightful essay.
Someone, that’s an excellent example.
Kimberley, I’m not a particular fan of it either, but you must admit that having Beethoven written down didn’t keep Murphy from doing something original with it!
Ian, this is why it’s crucial to get people’s consent before doing magic for them, even if it’s purely beneficent in nature. If someone’s deeply invested in some kind of suffering, taking that away from them is a violent act.
Kimberley, they can certainly be used as an attempt to avoid completing the descent into matter, and so result in disintegration. They also mess up the aura, which is another factor entirely.
Anonymous, that’s a very familiar phenomenon in religious literature. Mystics and ordinary devotees routinely get such effects; you have to read carefully in Christian literature to get past the euphemisms, but it’s there, and in other societies it’s much more openly discussed. As for your direction of the energy, that was well done.
Pebird, exactly. Fortune’s approach to sexual polarity makes a lot of sense of such things!
Ha, well, I’m glad it was good, not “oh, sorry, bad news, Nadine from The Stand “, since I clearly didn’t manage to anonymously clear my avatar! Sucks to suck 😂
Now, when I read this, I got it all wrong and thought the two forces you needed to create a new vortex were both from the same plane, because of that use of the A, and the hexagon.
The example I thought of now, was assuming a character on stage. Someone creates the character of Blanche Dubois, I read the script and try to get the character with costume, intonation and movement. The audience reacts to me as her, not the actress – if I’ve done a good job. And at the end of the performance, presumably I can leave the character behind with the set and costumes. A bar of impactation. If the writer did a good job, each of the actresses who do Dubois should be doing the recognizable same character, but in occult theory, each of us make the character more real each time we do her, so that somewhere out there, there is a form that each of us is stepping into that the others helped make, that makes it easier for each of us to get into the character each time, even if we’ve never seen the others perform?
JMG: “Ian, this is why it’s crucial to get people’s consent before doing magic for them, even if it’s purely beneficent in nature. If someone’s deeply invested in some kind of suffering, taking that away from them is a violent act.”
JMG: “She’s very clear in those papers about the magical dimensions of the Communion ritual.”
The path between things seems to call for steady and careful movement.
If I have it correct, you have suggested that a blessing that calls on someone else’s guardians/spirits etc to help guide them is ”acceptable’ rather than the imposition of a directed working without permission- but also that it is polite to ask someone if it is okay for one to pray for them; but it seems there is likely to be a fine line between a genuine blessing and just an ‘imposition’ of how the person praying wants the world to be.
Sure I remember reading somewhere that the Mormons decided that it was okay to do some sort of baptism of people who knew nothing about what they were doing… This seems like the height of arrogance. Hyperactive spiritual rescue game.
In a system I studied the teacher advised against some of the ‘fluffy’ open your heart to the world type of energy projection as it essentially amounted to laying out an all you can eat buffet for anyone or anything that might care to ‘eat’. A similar caution was given against world healing meditation and projection such as filling the world with love and light’ for similar reasons; the advice was to work on getting one’s own house in order first (else one might merely be projecting a shadow [so to speak].)
Random projection with a poorly defined aim being a potential recipe for trouble
One aspect might be be a mask for forcing one’s own desires, another aspect that it might be no strings attached prayer/blessing, or all sorts of combinations etc
I have sometimes thought that time spent praying for world peace might be better spent cleaning out the dark and dusty rooms within oneself.
Trust in god but first tie your camel.
Perhaps it is about knowing where a prayer or blessing is about someone else rather than, ‘actually, it’s all about me’ (look at how virtuous I am by doing all this praying)…
If the boundaries between prayer and magic are as complex as might seem – it’s not hard to imagine all the externally directed prayer etc could provide the potential for a spiritual Kessler syndrome!
From what you said above, the boundaries between magic & prayer etc are pretty fuzzy – did Fortune have anything particular to say on this matter?
Two interesting ideas occurred to me: Firstly, although the combination of a material symbol with a transcendental or magical goal is commonly seen as something positive and uplifting, the same can be done for more or less nefarious goal, as the symbol of the M of McDonalds, or the swastika, show. Here, it is negative things which are helped to manifest themselves vial a symbol, in one case, highly processed and unhealthy food presented as something magical, in the other case, it was German ultranationalism, antisemitism and racial ideologies.
Secondly, it is interesting to note, that brothels tend to attract sleaziness not because sexual activities are bad or immoral, but because customers of brothels often are solely interested in sex as such and in the baser aspects of sex, so that we here have an example of degradation; that is, sexuality undergoes the opposite of sublimination and is turned back towards a pure material character without the higher aspects of it (like love and mutual commitment). That may be one of the causes why cities and citizens often don’t want the brothels to be located in the city centre, near schools or the like, even in countries where prostitution is legal.
If I have understood correctly, the Order of the Golden Dawn performed some pornographic shows to an audience that was repressed about sex, and they all felt very good both audience and performers after watching the show. There’s also a magical aspect about that, but in the physical realm that was what happened, right?
I have recently watched a Netflix show called ‘The Order’, which is roughly inspired by TOGD I should say. There are too many coincidences to what you have taught us about this Order to be purely fictional. The implied name, the secrecy, the laws of magic, the rituals, the blowbacks of not understanding spells, the prices for the spells, the regalia, amulets, grimmories, even the Jungian collective mind space makes an appearance. The only thing it misses is the spiritual beings, perhaps to not alienate non religious audience, although demons and demonic magic is covered too. Porn spectacles wasn’t either a thing in the TV show. I was kind of amused to see what the show got right and what got wrong to my amateur eyes.
I’m still through the Twelve Rays chapter using the revised edition, and I am proceeding much slowlier than I expected since I skipped several days of study. I’ll try to leave questions of old chapters to the open post.
This one is truly hard to grasp. In your example you have a concept (the development of the inner self) and an image (the form of an ideal rose) and you want to mix them together to form a symbol. I guess that the flower should have some similarities with the concept in order to make the mixing easier. Among the flowers, the rose might have more similarities than the others, thorns, scent, lush colors, drought resistance, all pointing to the concept in a better way than any other flower. The rose is also a common gift for lovers. So I take that the image that we want to link to the concept is not just any image, but one that suits.
Then, since every action has a reaction, when the concept gets linked to the image, a few of the things that were initially in the concept that don’t fit the image become detached. For example, the rose smells good from the beginning, but excels when it opens up the petals. Maybe the ‘personal development’ don’t ‘smell good’ initially and it’s only after the working that ‘good scent’ comes. It might not be the case, but just let consider this is where the concept and the image don’t match.
I’m learning to see this ‘movements’ as pressured fluids. Where you are making the connection, the stream is under high pressure, and somewhere else the inverse process is taking place under lower pressure. What would be the inverse process?
Is it parts of the image of the rose and parts of the concept of development losing their meaning?
Is it that the parts that were not successfully linked find another partner?
Is it the image losing the value it already had as a symbol for other concepts, like lovers gifting?
Or is it that some other, unrelated symbols will lose their bindings?
This very interesting post has sparked a number of scribbles in my notebook.
I’m working with the DMH, so one realization was that the process of sublimating forces which are on their way upwards from the material world and impactating forces on their way downward into manifestation looks quite a bit like the process of creating the lunar current: the lunar current is the result (a vortex?) of upward and downward poles being consciously fused together.
So a force coming up along the telluric current (Spirit Below) is in the process of sublimation. I know that the spirit world alluded to in discussions of the telluric current is important here, indeed, one possible interpretation of the spirit world are forces which previously were material and which are headed back upwards into the higher planes.
A force descending along the solar current (Spirit Above) is in the process of impactation, it is a force descending into manifestation.
If this really does fit (I hope I’m not trying to bend two incompatible systems into one), I still need to meditate on how this works with the planes, ie, how the lunar current is established on each of the planes.
And I wonder if this doesn’t relate to the Stations on the Wheel of Life. If I understand the Tree of Life correctly, each of the Spheres also has a relationship to a journey upwards along the planes. And if the Wheel of Life has some correspondences with the Tree, then each Station could also correspond to the planes. Then perhaps that Stations are mediating the solar and telluric currents may have some relationship to the planes one is working with. Another hastily jotted down clue is that the connections between the Central Grove and each Station are handled by either an Earth or Spirit Ogham few. Hmm…
On the other other hand: “In order that any thing or factor shall be brought down from a higher to a lower plane, it is necessary to analyse it into the contradictory factors that are held in equilibrium in its nature. To do this, one imagines the opposite extremes of which it is capable and expresses them separately while retaining in consciousness their essential unity when in equilibrium.”
The Stations of the Wheel of Life as they relate to a particular process, force or situation, and the double-cycle implied, is perhaps another way that Fortune’s quote above could apply – the Wheel is itself a vortex, and one could use it as a model, via the implied double-cycle, to aid in understanding the contradictory factors involved.
Oh, much to think about, but I hope I’m not scrutinizing the map at the expense of walking the territory.
About decay, I noticed that the people who are the magical resistors and blue magicians all seem to have hollowed out. I was reviewing some blogs at Patheos Pagan from the notables, and noticed once everyone decided politics=religion, they started hollowing out. It seems that the interior rot has taken over. Is that because of the idea of man over nature? People are out of balance. Will exterior rot follow?
Robert, thank you very much for that information. I was aware of Myers activity around the SPR but not of his link to the Golden Dawn. It’s been a while since I last read Irreducible Mind which contains a lot of details, explanations and observations regarding Myers work. As far as I recall it, besides our ordinary waking consciousness and the subliminal self, he proposed a supraliminal self and (I don’t know if that’s original to Myers or was expanded in Irreducible Mind) during the course of evolution some new faculties enter awareness coming from the supraliminal while some sink below the threshold and become kind of automatic (like the reflexes a martial artist can “hardwire” into himself by constant training)? The sentence I quoted in my first post sounds very similar to this idea…
Reading a bit on Neoplatonist metaphysics, and these ideas do not seem incompatible. Is there a direct (or indirect) lineage/linkage?
You’re very welcome. IIRC, for Myers the supraliminal self was another term for the conscious self.
Just to be clear, I don’t have any evidence, one way or the other, that Myers himself was (or was not) a member of the Golden Dawn. (We don’t have all the membership lists for all the lodges.) However, Tuckey was a member, and Myers and Tuckey (1) were both active as officers in the SPR and (2) had very similar interests in many occult phenomena.
So it’s more than likely that Myers was influenced by Golden Dawn practices and experiments through Tuckey, even if Tuckey never actually talked much about the Golden Dawn itself with Myers.
Did you know that all the early volumes of the Proceedings of the SPR (the ones with Myers’ seminal papers) can be found on line, as can the original editions of Myers’ own published works?
This might be slightly off-topic, or maybe not depending on the answer. I’ve been having recurring dreams about an auction that is somehow metaphysical in nature. Are there any mythologies or parts of occult philosophy that involve auctions?
@pebird: Mary Renault described just such a relationship between Alexias and Lysis in LAST OF THE WINE.
@JMG – thanks for the link to “A Fifth of Beethoven.” I got up and danced to it, skirt swinging, and it released a lot of pent-up tension. So many places I have access to these days are as quiet and low-energy as a mainstream church on Sunday, especially The Village, which once was so lively. I think a lot of energy is being repressed among the earnest rule-abiding people these days that would have been released by a good party. (Sports fans do have that release, even if they’re not at the stadium, in this Gator-worshiping city.) That energy has to go somewhere! Where it’s going may not be at all healthy.
@Neptune’s Dolphin – Witches & Pagans magazine’s latest issue is on folk magic, hoodoo, and British Traditional Witchcraft, was of great interest to me, and yet it still felt hollowed out somehow. Their article on how to tell honest Heathen symbols from those used in the prison/white supremacist culture had a tone of suspicion towards Heathenry in general – as probably tainted with racism anyway – which is new and disturbing.
They also published all the letters objecting to the interview with Michael Hughes and saying “Cancel my subscription.” Mostly on the grounds that his brand of magic violated the “Harm None” rede at the heart of Wiccan ethics. The editor “Felt that fairness required … sharing the objections…but :”we stand by our interview.”
Yes, something rings hollow there, like the rotting heart of a dead tree.
Pixelated, I really liked the miniseries of The Stand. One of the best epidemic-themed films or shows. It was also the first place I heard ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’ by Crowded House. It’s a long time since I saw it though. When did Nadine think she was annonymous but wasn’t? I’ve seen the exact same moment of horrified realisation more recently on the Philip K Dick’s Electric Dreams episode ‘Kill All Others’.
Thank you for this post. I haven’t chosen to give this series the level of study it fully deserves, but thinking on the themes of each posting has still been quite profitable in it’s own right. In my case I can feel the processes focused on in this particular post most acutely in two domains of my life. One is the process of maturing into my own sense of my romantic and intimate values, which complex as that process is presently resides is beyond my ability to do justice to in writing, except to say that I will be thinking much on what facets of finding peace between my inclinations different planes correspond to impactation, sublimation, degradation, and disintegration; in seems as though in the nitty gritty of dealing with life’s complexity all four factors take part in the process of my own maturation. I hope that now having some degree of access to those concepts will give me useful tools to favor the processes of impactation and sublimation in the process while mitigating degradation and disintegration.
The other domain is in my fondness for a strange corner of arithmetic concerning mathematical patterns that emerge out of a focus on some interesting properties of the golden ratio. This isn’t the place to write an essay on the finer details of that process, except to say that I have an ongoing challenge of developing a notation system for the patterns I am interested in. It seems to me as though my process involves gaining awareness of certain mental level possibilities, and then attempting to connect that to a notation system which can articulate those possibilities in an actually writable and workable formal system. I recently went through about 8 years of notes I have made since taking a keenness to this work and found that as more of the possibilities opened themselves to my awareness I have had to move through a several of notation systems in order to find ones which most eloquently can articulate the meanings on this isle of math. In the process certain sounds and scribbles have gradually knit themselves in to a meaningful system of math, while at the same time the shear elegance of golden arithmetic has found voice to speak to me what there were once not the words to say in a way that did not hide that elegance behind needlessly (for this project) abstruse existing notation systems which are better suited to the more general work of mathematics.
Pixelated, that’s a great example — thank you.
Karl, it is indeed a fine line, and it can take a real effort to maintain that balance. Thank you, btw, for the metaphor of a spiritual Kessler syndrome — that’s a reality, and very possibly explains what’s happening right now in US politics.
Booklover, two excellent points.
Abraham, er, no, you haven’t understood correctly. Dion Fortune ran her own magical order, the Fraternity of the Inner Light, after she left the Golden Dawn, and it was the FIL that did the rituals in question. They weren’t pornographic at all — you can work with sexual energy where everyone is fully clothed and several feet apart. As for the show, sometime when you have a chance, you might want to read my book Inside a Magical Lodge; one of the lessons of that book is that the Golden Dawn was one example out of thousands of magical lodges, all more or less similar. (It’s quite possible that the people who put on the Netflix show read my book…) As for your analysis of the rose working, no, there isn’t an inverse process — there are two processes, both under the same pressure, which balance each other.
Jbucks, ding! We have a winner. The creation of the lunar current out of the solar and telluric currents is another way of talking about the process Fortune discusses here. Her analysis is specialized in one way, since she mostly dealt with polarity between men and women as the motive force for magic; the Druid analysis is specialized in a different way, since it mostly deals with energy flows in nature as the motive force for magic. The basic process is however the same — and yes, each station of the Wheel of Life is a mode of energetic interaction between the two currents. Close scrutiny of that map will give you plenty of clues to unfamiliar regions of the territory…
Neptunesdolphins, that doesn’t surprise me at all. I’d like to know more, however, about the hollowing out process you’re seeing. Can you describe it in a little more detail?
Fra’ Lupo, Neoplatonism is the default setting for Western occultism, and you’ll have to look long and hard to find any serious work of Western occultism that doesn’t have Iamblichus’ fingerprints all over it! Certainly this one doesn’t count.
Yorkshire, if there are, I’ve never heard of them. Interesting.
Patricia M, glad to hear you enjoyed it! I’m also delighted to hear that a good many Wiccans canceled their subscription to W&P in response to their giving Hughes and his sorceries a platform. That speaks well of the ethics of the Wiccan community, and has made me reconsider the possibility that at least some Wiccan traditions may come out the other side of the current shalestorm with their faith intact.
Ray, thanks for this! The mathematical work you’re doing sounds fascinating. (Of course the romantic work is doubtless at least as absorbing, but communicates less to others…)
JMG: “… [drugs] can certainly be used as an attempt to avoid completing the descent into matter, and so result in disintegration.”
This response helped me in coming to grips with the use of intoxicants in light of this chapter. It strikes me that the (ab)use of intoxicants as an escape from the involutionary arc can have disintegrating effects on the body, mind, relationships, and employment. For those on an evolutionary path, intoxicants can also have a retarding if not a de-grading effect: a precept in Buddhism forbids their use. This train of thought leads me to realize that one can be on both an involutionary and evolutionary path at the same time, and I think there may be a pointer in that direction in this chapter: “The involutionary and evolutionary aspect of every problem has to be envisaged.”
The cosmic dance just described into which the magician cleverly proxies gave much more meaning in my mind to the phrase referring to Magic as “standing between worlds”
“Astrology is the classic way to figure out which currents are descending, by the way, and natural magic—the knowledge of which currents of energy are already in manifestation in herbs, stones, and other natural things—is the classic way to figure out which currents are ready to rise back up.”
Do you think intuition and divination operate by sensing something similar to the impacting and sublimating forces in an omen, scene or chart?
It also seems to have some parallel in physics of which I might be abusing terms a little. It reminds me of quantum field theory in which such fields set a pattern in space unto which concrete form is given and taken several times a second by the catalyzing movement of the Higgs. CERN scientist have effectively been experimenting with it and I wonder if the reason why they can’t push their understanding further is because they have forgotten how to do it “gently and with great ingenuity”. Thing you can’t accomplish by smashing matter together with great energy. Could it be that all this “dark” matter (and energy)—which basically means the force we don’t understand— be the influence of sublimation and impactation and possibly some other “dark” forces?
Insight from the mirror – and an illustration of exactly what you’ve been talking about here.
On the higher planes of existence – and to your Individuality – such things as clothing that becomes you is trivial. On the material plane, it truly matters. Or why – probably Dion Fortune noticed, but so would anyone with eyes – the tendency of self-proclaimed “spiritual” people to look deliberately nonfashionable. For some, of course, it’s a true expression of the values they’re called to live by (Quakers, Mennonites), but I’m talking about the deliberate dowdiness that goes with being “above such things.”
On the material plane, knowing that one’s best skirt length is 28″ (and one’s daughter’s best length is half that – rank, raw envy-) and that dark red makes certain coloring look vibrant while other shades wash you out, makes a lot of difference, as both Jenny and Brecken discovered in your Weird of Hali novels. And should. The converse, of course, is those who treat church-going as a fashion contest!
Or as my mother put it more succinctly, “A time and a place for everything.”
@Darkest Yorkshire – was the miniseries where they had Molly Ringwald as Fran, or did they do a separate movie? Drove me crazy…
My mom was re-reading The Stand during our first lockdown – because that’s a cheerful one when you live in a basement suite alone! But she’d run out of her horror preference, zombie movies, and that was the next best thing. Then Lady Cutekitten mentioned Stephen King a few weeks ago, so I think it reminded me – Nadine’s story arc was the one that scared me the most. It wasn’t that she thought she was anonymous but wasn’t, it was the link she had with the Walking Dude, starting when he contacts her with the Ouija board in college. Sigh. I suppose it’s all a fairly traditional take on the subject. Fortunately, I’m no virgin 😉
@Darkest Yorkshire: PS! I forgot – coincidentally, of course – I just started re-reading Fortune’s novels, and having got to the Sea Priestess, the protagonist is talking about auctions, and the worth of a good auctioneer, and his own near-sightedness making him rather terrible at it. I can’t even guess what metaphysical significance that would have, if any, but Fortune probably doesn’t include a lot of random details for no reason, so maybe it would make sense to you.
John M. Geer and Patricia M.
What I have seen has been a gradual thing before Trump but speeded up afterwards. I used to blog for Witches and Pagans and contributed two articles to them. They seem to not want to offend anyone, and seemed to stand in awe of the big name people. What I saw at ADF as well was a gradual weaning away from looking at people related to the cosmos and the beings within was a more I centric world.
Everything seems to flow out as they wrote more and more about how to be socially correct and politically correct and then how they had personal sovereignty over all. Once personal sovereignty kicked in as in I can tell the various Beings off or what to do, it flattened out people’s personalities. Now, everyone was looking at everyone else and declaring that they were socially and politically correct. Woe be to those who had differing opinions – they were driven away.
What was once a yeasty, lively, fertile place became a sterile monoculture of politics. They edged the Gods out of the equation and broke off connections with Them. Later, it seemed to flatten from a 3d universe to a 2d universe. Now, it is all an illusion of not even 1d. There seems to be no realness there anymore.
They seem interchangeable in their being and thoughts. It is almost as if everyone became mass produced as a plastic thingy.
It is strange since I have met Trump people, who are very creative, yeasty, and connected to each other and to the world at large. They seem solid. They don’t do magic, but use actual things like letters and the like to express themselves.
I am not sure if the magic was the deciding factor in the hollowing out of the Neo-Pagans. Perhaps all of that fake until you make magic did it. It seems to me.
Someone, good. Yes, those are all important factors.
Augusto, yes, that’s certainly one way to understand divination — you’re providing a symbolic form to descending energies, and sublimating your own awareness. As for CERN, yes, exactly — they’re the anti-alchemists, trying to separate the subtle from the dense “clumsily, and with great awkwardness.”
Patricia, true enough! One additional factor that feeds into the dowdiness of the spiritually minded is that a lot of people get into spirituality because for one reason or another they get bollixed up trying to follow the social language of clothing. I’m an example — Aspergers syndrome will do that, which is why I typically dress in a quietly dumpy sort of way.
Neptunesdolphins, thanks for this. That makes a great deal of sense.
I was brooding over the relation of the matters presented here to the lectures on training of the will as described on dreamwidth. One basic, as your last post of the series emphasized again is to decide to do a certain silly thing in a certain manner and in that way – as I see it – strengthen the idea of a strong will in yourself. This enforced idea descends into manifestation again in the way that I am capable to design more sophisticated applications of will and I can impact those by taking proper action.
On the other hand, many people are frequently forced to do stupid things by all kinds of external factors. Here, I’d say you can see disintegration since your own ideas of proper action are hindered to descend into manifestation because you have to obey the stupid rules someone else made. At the same time if you try to take proper action anyway, this leads to degradation because your action can’t realize its full potential due to the environment you are part of.
So on the material plane I have the same action – I do something stupid. In one case there is a natural flow in both directions leading to a positive result, in the second I try to force things into an unnatural flow which usually leads to ugly results and chaos.
If that is right, I wonder if and how this principle can be applied when you are in an environment that forces you to obey a lot of very stupid rules. In my working place, for example, the official doctrine regarding the completely insane rules on how to deal with a certain hot-button health issue is (worded exactly as I write this) “as long as you do everything in the way the administration requires you to do, however illogical those rules seem to be, you are safe”. One way would be of course to just walk away and do something else which I might have to do anyway, but then I wonder if there is a more active approach to exploit the stupidity and use it as a thrust block in any way….?
Robert, yes I know about the SPR proceedings. It’s been a while since I read some of it, but yes. Myers original work however – no, I didn’t know that. Do you possibly have a link that you could share? That’d be highly appreciated!
Augusto, JMG – It’s been a while since I last indulged with cosmology but I see it basically the same – dark matter and dark energy are a clumsy attempt to disguise ignorance as ingenuity. Which doesn’t mean that physics does not provide great and detailed insights into the world of matter and energy, it surely does. But all our knowledge and theories are based on a few axioms. And if one of them turns out to be wrong, well… There is a great quote from the noble-price winner Michelson from 1894 making this point very nicely:
“While it is never safe to affirm that the future of Physical Science has no marvels in store even more astonishing than those of the past, it seems probable that most of the grand underlying principles have been firmly established and that further advances are to be sought chiefly in the rigorous application of these principles to all the phenomena which come under our notice. It is here that the science of measurement shows its importance — where quantitative work is more to be desired than qualitative work. An eminent physicist remarked that the future truths of physical science are to be looked for in the sixth place of decimals. ”
Obviously this was said well before the advent of quantum physics, of the general theory of relativity and of many more ground-breaking and worldview-shattering discoveries.
I didn’t like the looonnng version of The Stand. It was pretty dull watching the characters re-create government by town meeting. Also, I’ve always found Flagg a terribly weak villain. Inevitably the hero ends up drop-kicking him around the parking lot while barely breaking a sweat. I want sturdy villains, like the Overlook or Room 1408, villains who give the hero a run for his money.
You looked pretty spiffy in your Druid outfit, if that makes you feel any better. At 61, I can be as dowdy as I please whenever I please. I love it.
In India there’s a weird cultural perspective on sexuality that emerged out of the psudomorphasis of Islamic, Victorian, and the Brahmacarya practices of Gandhi. It is extremely sexually repressive, but pushes the idea that sexual energies SHOULD be controlled to allow people to achieve Moksha. If someone engages in aesthetic practices during puberty, when the sexual energies are descending into manifestation, the kind of confusion and disarray of ones sexual self would be really bad. This is why ancient texts advised people to engage in extreme ascetic practices after the sexual energies had passed their peak.
Similarly creative energies are inhibited from flowing into manifestation through poor educational and social practices. Since those energies are never allowed to manifest in a healthy and productive fashion, it locks India’s economy into a spiral of confusion and disarray.
In the US, we’ve attempted to take consumerism, that is the desire for goods, and tried to elevate it into a spiritual form. Especially at the end of our lives, when every other culture encourages an individual to detach from the material, we continue to cling to the material. There’s a literal taboo against aesthetic virtues.
Our creative energies are also viewed as deviant, and we use medication at an early age to control energies trying to manifest themselves. As people reach adulthood, the energies that should be lifting their consciousnesses to the next stage of evolution, and their societies to greater aesthetic beauty, instead yank them back to the material.
This puts social Taboos in a whole different context. A society’s taboos inhibits the natural flow of descending or ascending energies, often using tools and social practices to yank them backward as they move. Every society’s pathologies are based on the energies whose movements they inhibit.
The Keys to the Temple is only available as an ebook on Amazon and Nook as far as I can tell. This information is coming just in time, although I do not want to download proprietary DRM apps if I can avoid it. The mathematical approach makes my heard hurt, so hopefully fictional analysis will get the relevant points across.
@JMG: “Quietly dumpy” as a fashion mode — I really like that; it sounds like attire of my favorite composer, Brahms. I apologize for not being able to somehow tie this remark in with the current chapter. I find occult philosophy a good deal more interesting than practical magic, and this chapter seemed mostly concerned with the latter.
It seems that a prayer to bless one’s food and all who took part in it’s manifestation is a simple working of the kind discussed in this chapter. A lot of downward movement had to happen for all of the components of a meal to be materialised and for them to come together into a dish. Asking for blessings before eating it is asking for more beneficial energies to move downwards. At the same time, the act of eating, digestion, and assimilation is then not just destroying the food but giving it an upward thrust – it sublimates the components of the meal and, when done right, nudges the eater upward in addition to satisfying the physical hunger.
Ah, so that explains why a prayer, together with an image (such as a statue) is done together with incense. Your communication is then able to traverse upwards to the the higher planes of existence where the god is reachable. It always kind of made sense, but this adds a deeper level of understanding and appreciation for the need.
On a similar note, and partly in response to David by the Lake’s mentioning of Columbia, I’ve noticed quite a few others here mention Her, expressing an interest in trying to communicate with her. I’m very interested in what sort of response forming a group with the intent of doing some bidding in line with Columbia would have. Is there anyone interested in uniting together to communicate with Columbia, and offering ourselves to serve Her purpose?
Nachtgurke, that strikes me as a wonderful theme for meditation! Thank you for Michelson’s quote, too; he was one of several respected physicists who made world-class fools of themselves in much the same way. Doubtless he’ll have company soon; I’ve long thought that “dark matter” is properly spelled “epicycle”…
Your Kittenship, thank you. At 58 I’m settling comfortably into dowdiness, too.
Varun, that is to say, there are many different ways that cultures can have unproductive attitudes toward sex and material desires, and India and the US are exemplifying two of them. No argument there.
Aloysius, you should be able to find it in the used book market for a little while. I’m sure there will be a new edition from another publisher in due time, but that may take a bit.
Phutatorius, well, I’m glad to be in good company. 😉
Ganesh, excellent! Yes, that’s a fine example.
Prizm, exactly. As for a Columbia working, a fine idea and I wish you well.
This chapter brought some flashbacks of 10th grade Physical Science class — is it me, or is Fortune talking about the construction of a type of battery? For instance, in a Communion ritual, the audience is the + and the priest and company are the – sides of the battery. The flow of “electrons” is Fortune’s Circuit of Force. My apologies that I have not yet obtained and read that one. Energy comes down through the priest, gets fed to the audience, and then circles back up again via sublimation. An energetic loop or circuit is created. The thing being turned on can be symbolized by a real life lightbulb, meaning that the point of the ritual is mission accomplished if the lightbulb goes on. The hooking up of the battery to lightbulb circuit creates waste products such as ambient heat and water vapor — maybe these are the disintegration part?
When Fortune uplifted the British spirit to defeat the Nazis, her group polarized the Nazi’s energy instead of becoming the same as it/ sinking to the same debased level of Nazi hexing. Where Nazis cursed, Fortune’s group blessed. If Nazis threw a bunch of destructive energy towards England in various forms, Fortune’s group became an insulated coil with which to channel destructive Nazi impulses towards the great outer void. Her group did this by blessing, which attracted the energy in a single direction, and then by magically insulating themselves via the construction of blessed forms managed to re-direct and throw the curses into the black void. As you said in your recent Dreamwidth post, the pro-Trumpers taken a similar approach they might have easily defeated the corporate fascist Left, correct? I hope this makes sense.
Ah, but dowdiness can be pure glory when you’re female. No more high-heeled shoes! It’s wonderful!
Whoever programs spell-check on Apple phones doesn’t like the word “dowdy” or its derivatives, but has no problem with “dowry.” Interesting. Plenty of women have been murdered over dowry issues. There may have been at least one woman murdered over wearing frumpy flats to a glamorous occasion, but I haven’t heard about her. And yet it’s dowdiness, not setting a woman afire over her dowry, that appears to be unspeakable in Apple’s eyes.
I had foot surgery in ‘05 and the surgeon said “No heels over 2 inches!” Yay!
It seems like whoever managed to get to ‘The Keys to the Temple’ are holding very tight to their copies. Even used books are hard to find and when they appear the price is usually quite high. I managed to hunt one down through e-bay a few weeks ago and I know that from time to time they do appear there as well as on AbeBooks and other online book stores. Here’s one.
Myers’ “Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death” (2 vols., 1903) is his most important book; several different copies are available on archive.org
Pixelated, oh I see – it was in relation to the original story you told, not being revealed. Yeah it was the 1994 series. They never made a film but there’s another miniseries that’s coming out in December.
On the value of a good auctioneer, check out the guy at 8:03 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUEqGMVv58g. His voice twangs like a Cajun guitar.
He, I forgot that for puritans, showing the bare skin of an ankle was erotic enough. Anyways, that was a good teasing for reading your books 🙂
On a more serious topic, I reread the post, since I couldn’t make sense of the rose example. So we find an item that exists wholy in the mental plane, the concept ‘natural unfolding of the human spirit’. Then we find another that exists wholy in the astral plane, the image of an idealised rose. By some intuition or by guidance, you get to know what concepts are ready for sublimation and what images are ready for impactation. With ingenuity you select among concepts and images which ones will fit together. That is, you realize that the rose shares characteristics with the concept of the natural unfolding and they will match nicely with a little bit of work. So you bound them together (maybe you are using the rose as a metaphor in your lessons so your students will think of a rose every time they think about the ‘unfolding’). This is as if the concept and the image were sticks floating in their planes, then when they were close enough, the compatible extremes of each item were driven together. Then the sticks had the not compatible extremes going the other way. Let say that ‘planting gardens’ suggested by the image of a rose is not compatible with the idea of ‘unfolding’, so the natural outcome would be that the image of the rose that is a symbol for the ‘unfolding’ will lose its gardening characteristic. Let say that the ‘unfolding’ has cycles of good and bad odor, which is not compatible with the image of the rose who always has good odor, so the natural outcome would be that this characteristic of the concept is lost (or gone to higher planes without form). Buuut. Something else happens then.
For now, I see a long stick formed by two sticks. The stick of the concept has one extreme linked to the image at the boundary of astral and mental, the other extreme going to spiritual plane. The stick of the image has one extreme linked in the boundary, the other extreme reaching for the ethereal. Since their are linked they can be considered as a single stick which exists in two planes.
You said it in a rather obscure way, that the extremes going in the same direction join together. Now if I take the image of the two sticks joined by their most compatible extremes and wanted to do as you expressed, there are two ways of doing this. One is to melt both sticks together in a single entity. The result stick would be twice the thickness and of the same length of the originals, both extremes of the symbol existing just in the middle of their respective planes. The other way is that the sticks remain as they are, as a long bound stick, but it is folded creating two rings (the figure 8 ), when both extremes touch with their respectives in the center, all extremes now existing right in the boundary between planes.
I don’t follow how from any of those images (the thick stick, or the 8 stick) comes that the symbol both sublimate and impacts in the planes around. In order to get the effect that you described I would prefer to think of it as a very long stick whose extremes are touching the next planes, therefore making it easier to reach the next planes, or maybe it’s just the boundaries of the other planes what get attracted to the symbol so the distance between planes is shorter where a symbol exists.
Hi John Michael,
Thanks again for providing clarity to this work.
Am I correct in assuming that ‘progress’ as it has been proposed and that we have discussed before, is somehow a symbol as discussed in the context of this essay? And is it possible that what makes the human soul, and possibly also a denial of the finite steps we take in all manner of directions is somehow ‘sublimated’ in the process of creating that ‘progress’ symbol? And then, does this not hint at the old adage that where there are benefits, there are also costs?
You mention “and those who participate in a working of this kind always remain in some sense connected to it.” Does this not imply some level of risk, or how do you put it – the raspberry jam principle?
So, just musing here…
To become dense enough to descend a plane is to bring about a vortex of two “tracks in space” which meet one another and become mutually entangled in a point of stability. To become diffuse or subtle enough to ascend a plane is to release two mutually entangled “tracks in space” from their entanglement, and allow them to continue on their separate ways.
To go *with* the flow of development is to trace a cycle that begins with the most subtle and diffuse, and through various steps of entanglement, descending through the planes, becomes denser and denser – an “involutionary arc” which I’m thinking of as the “getting INVOLVED [in various mutual entanglements] stage”. When on this stage, increasing the number of mutual entanglements/involvements, allowing them to descend the planes, follows the arc and is called “impaction”… while decreasing them goes against the arc and is called “disintegration”. This is because the work of this stage is to create an enduring form, and mutual entanglement is what temporarily halts moving “tracks in space” long enough to provide this form with stability.
However there is a further arc, which is the “evolutionary arc” – relating, obviously to the “getting EVOLVED stage” (whatever that means, I’m still working on). In this arc, the trick is to be able to maintain the enduring form, while releasing, bit by bit, its most limiting and dense entanglements (the scaffolding, or skeleton around which the form was built), allowing the form to become more diffuse and subtle, travel back up the planes, and be increasingly filled with force, while still enduring as a form. When on this stage, decreasing the number of mutual entanglements/involvements, allowing them to ascend the planes, follows the arc and is called “sublimation”… while increasing them goes against the arc and is called “degradation.” This is because the enduring form, once achieved, now has work and purposes that may only be accomplished as it becomes more diffuse and subtle, and more capable of being filled with light (and sound?) and force.
I think that I am beginning, just a little, to grasp this as a very large cycle and momentum working through the world on a large scale of time. Seeing how to apply it on a day to day basis, while ensuring that even small things – like, say, baking bread, or building a hearthfire, or setting seeds – are following proper directionality, and going WITH rather than AGAINST the flow of the indicated arc – that is definitely going to take much time and reflection. I do not think that I will be a mage in this lifetime or able to apply these “methods” as methods of conscious intent, but there is certainly a lot to study in the ways of the world, the ways of people, the ways of nature, in seeking more understanding of these principles.
@JMG: all you need to add is a little hedgehog following you around like a familiar or a pet.
“Kyle, no, if a group of people degrade themselves what happens is that something else disintegrates. You can sublimate and impact at the same time, and you can degrade and disintegrate at the same time, but you can’t mix them.”
I’m now wondering if this is part of why TV has had such a toxic effect on society: it has a degrading effect in the form of pulling a performance down into a permanent physical form; and so something else (the people and society which consumes it) has to disintegrate. This would certainly fit the way that kids who watch a lot of TV are less mature and developed at the same age than those who don’t watch a lot of it: they’re having a much harder time descending into matter, fighting against disintegration the entire time…..
It’s not likely a surprise that this chapter, as many others have in different ways, dealt with polarity magic. I have a suspicion that one reason was that dualities/binaries are often employed to shepherd the flock since we have a habit to fall back on that line of thinking, namely because fight or flight is a very basic response to a simple environment. It’s probably also very important to realize that trying to bind these different energies can have very different responses depending on whether it had originated from the upper planes or lower planes. Not everything simply breaks down into wrong, or right, or black and white.
Without a doubt it is not just a Western way of thinking, but I have noticed with my Russian wife, and the time we spent in China, it was always difficult to break things down into simple yes or no situations. I am often always trying to break things down that way. My wife rarely can see things so simply. I remember when we lived in China, going to do what I thought a simple task, would often turn into hours of conversation, back and forth between the parties involved because each layer of understanding had to be dealt with.
In turn, it’s been challenging raising children this way, especially when the child learned it was normal to talk with these different layers of reasoning. Here in America it is less often allowed to develop your thinking in this way.
I wonder in part how much our language influences polarity in thinking. Both Russian and especially Chinese, allow a lot of room for different ways of understanding the same sentence when compared with English. Although there is a cultural context to that as well, since both the formerly mentioned cultures emphasize a lot of historical meaning to the words, phrases, and idioms being used when communicating, thus encouraging and further drawing attention to the complexities of things..
Kimberly, yes, that’s another excellent metaphor for the process.
Your Kittenship, you know, you may be on to something. Dowdiness is a threat to the status quo, since it involves a calm refusal to kowtow to the latest fashions. It’s as though a bunch of greyhounds at the race track decided they were tired of chasing the mechanical rabbit and went lolloping out into the world to do something more interesting with their time!
Abraham, excellent! Keep working at it and you’ll get the rest of the details.
Chris, excellent. Yes, Progress is one of the master-symbols of modern industrial society. The problem with it is that it’s no longer involutionary — that is to say, it’s already happened and there’s no more en route — and so attempts to force it to keep happening on the material plane are causing the degradation of progress that we’ve seen in recent decades. And, yes, there’s plenty of raspberry jam involved…
Scotlyn, also excellent. Yes, and the way of the speculative occultist — understanding these things to understand them, as distinct from the operative occultist, who understands them in order to use them — is also a valid path.
Phutatorius, did Brahms have a pet hedgehog? If so, that speaks well of him. I’ve always found hedgehogs delightful; it’s a pity they’re not native to this continent.
Phillip, that’s a fascinating suggestion. I think another aspect is that TV is a substitute for the imagination. Instead of attending to their own images on the astral level, and letting them flow down into manifestation on the physical, TV watchers are fed a diet of already materialized images. So their own imaginations disintegrate, and their lives degrade…
Prizm, but the point of working with these polarities is precisely to resolve binaries in a constructive way, by bringing them into a complex balance. Western thought is unquestionably binary; if every great culture explores one of the many ways of being human, that’s the way Western culture is exploring, and finding ways to work with that reality is the task we’ve set ourselves, or been set.
What sort of time period does it take forces to come down, stay at the bottom, then rise up until they’re out of reach? How much can occultists speed the process up? Could there be such a thing as too fast?
“Phillip, that’s a fascinating suggestion. I think another aspect is that TV is a substitute for the imagination. Instead of attending to their own images on the astral level, and letting them flow down into manifestation on the physical, TV watchers are fed a diet of already materialized images. So their own imaginations disintegrate, and their lives degrade…”
Does this mean that TV functions as a kind of perverse Bar of Impactation, separating people from their reflections on the higher planes?
JMG, I had meant to explain myself more in that way, that it feels from Fortune’s continued use of polarities was to help us overcome the trap of binary thinking that many of us fall back into. It got lost in my explanation but I am glad you were able to confirm my impression that Western culture does tend to be more binary in our thinking. It will be fascinating to see how human thought will be used to achieve tamanous. Being united and yet still respecting individuality is a difficult polarity to overcome!
@LadyCutekitten, OT: Jeans, T-shirts, those comfortable and unfashionable plain midcalf knit skirts, and fake Birkenstocks, what’s not to like? Hi, hip, ….superannuated hippie? May a black cat cross your path today and ask to be rescued on this blessed Friday 13th. When it’s clear that Thor spared us Tropical Storm Eta yesterday., and the sun is finally out again.
Robert – thank you very much!
JMG – Hah, I should have known that this would be your answer! But you are right, of course, and interesting things have happened today in this regard even without meditation at all. But I think I should better be silent for now…
Brahms did not have a pet hedgehog, but he was caricatured being followed around by one because of his own rather prickly personality and because his favorite watering hole in Vienna was “Zum Rothen Igel,” (the red hedgehog). (Brahms could never commit to marriage and I don’t know if he could even commit to having a pet.) Some Brahms album/CD covers also manage to work in a hedgehog as an inside joke of sorts. My German friends admire our fat, healthy squirrels which we take for granted. I guess we can admire their hedgehogs.
@Lady Cutekitten I thought the dwelling on the process of recreation of government was part of King’s signature horror-absurdity! What is an animate topiary to that??
I don’t remember the end except Nadine jumping, and the bomb, but I can’t reread that extended edition, and that’s the one I’ve got 😂 I remember thinking it was weak, but I usually think his ending are, because he backs himself into a corner where he needs to showdown with the evil, and making it finite and defeatable Out There defeats his whole horror-absurd shtick. I seem to recall The Dark Tower series just ending with six pages of a damp raspberry sound that evaporated any good in the first books. What was left after they showed up in Maine, that is…
I loved him for his women characters. They were people with interiority and the same strange imperfections and bizarre repeating ear worms and intrusive comic memories that heighten the surreality… My mom just got a box of random popular discards every couple months from the second hand store, and that was wildly refreshing after the Heinlein and Asimov that were the rest of the bulk of the usual ten dollar box fare.
Yorkshire, it varies dramatically from one situation to another. Dinosaurs were in material manifestation for more than a hundred million years; some spontaneous songs last seconds. Speeding the process up and slowing it down — both can be useful in different cases — can be done to a limited extent, and “too fast” means that it didn’t have time to have its proper effect on the material plane.
Phillip, hmm! Yes, though I suspect it would be more properly called a Bar of Degradation.
Prizm, when the Tamanous culture of future North America is born, whatever remains of Faustian dualism will be an early casualty. The dualistic streak in today’s North American cultures is purely a pseudomorphosis, a hangover (in the literal sense) from our European roots.
Nachtgurke, one of these days I’ll be able to patent a Magic 8-Ball that has all my stock phrases on it. “Meditate on it” will be one of the things that comes up.
Phutatorius, thanks for this! I didn’t know that.
Expanding on the point of natural magic, do you recommend particular philosophical texts for dealing with herbs and stones? I’ve recently begun to dive into crystals and herbs and could use a solid grounding.
As an expansion, I’m already starting to meet the various spirits of subtler and subtler herbs… rocks and crystals I don’t have as good of a feel for
Ian, I’m just spitballing here, but could Dione Fortune lump Etheric and Physical together because of the number of dimensions the atoms of each plane have and the difficult relationship her culture had with the number two?
John Michael wrote, “The principle was however the same: a horizontal energy flow between two participants or groups of participants, one providing the energy, the other providing the form, which brought certain ideas into concrete manifestation and simultaneously furthered the spiritual development of all the participants.”
I was pleasantly surprised to recognize that this technique can also be practiced by an individual internally when one part of the self has already unfolded more than another and can lend a helping hand. Essentially that is what our dreams are attempting to do every night as the conscious and subconscious exchange energy in the working of a dream. “No one can bring down an influence into manifestation in a clearer form than they themselves can experience and embody it,” but we have parts of ourselves that are so much clearer than our muddled minds that we’re unlikely to ever tap out the full potential of the internal work we can accomplish.
What kind of spiritual development can manifest from pouring conscious energy into the form provided by one’s body with all its innate wisdom? That seems to be the path pursued in practicing yoga, martial arts, and body work. Worthwhile training in sports and fine arts partakes of the same magic. As children we naturally partner with our bodies to unfold our budding potential; how do we manage to lose so much of that inborn skill over time? The fun of rolling in the grass and making mud pies gets replaced with adult goals and ambitions, some of which might be much easier to achieve if we would just roll in the grass and make mud pies more often!
Since sublimating and impacting arising simultaneously, I understand better why retreating to a mountaintop to achieve enlightenment is unlikely to deliver. It’s through dealing with the muck of jobs and relationships that we discover what we care about. This principle explains clearly why spiritual development often manifests when we’re least looking for it, and instead focusing completely on partnership in a concrete project (almost like being children again.) For how many has the most frazzled part of a project brought the greatest insights that need the most unpacking later, when there’s time to think again? I’ve sometimes wondered whether it may be my wanting to progress spiritually, without being distracted by the material world, that has held me back the most in doing so. And now I know — all sublimation and no impaction makes Chris a dull boy.
There is something very confusing to me about the numbered diagrams in the post. I get that the point is to show how an effective working rearranges the polarities to create a powerful linkage, but I don’t understand why the first one used the contrived placement of flowing-with to the left and retrograde to the right in order to make that point. It seems kind of strained.
Then there is the orientation of the ascending and descending sides of the figures running horizontally rather than vertically as their names would imply, and as they do in the very first figure of the post showing ascent and descent vertically through the planes. I was already rotating the numbered image 90° CCW in my mind before I reached the paragraph that describes the horizontal union. So then, of course, I doubted that my mental rotating could be right and tried instead to find the union in the horizontally aligned squares of the image. If that’s in fact where the union is, then I really don’t understand that paragraph at all.
As far as I can deduce, “Horizontal union leads to vertical separation” in the second image only after it has been rotated a quarter turn. The image as shown seems to illustrate vertical union leading to horizontal separation. So, am I completely muddled, or are these illustrations unnecessarily confusing?
John Michael wrote, “this is why it’s crucial to get people’s consent before doing magic for them, even if it’s purely beneficent in nature. If someone’s deeply invested in some kind of suffering, taking that away from them is a violent act.”
Yikes! Do any non-violent solutions exist when opposing sides become sufficiently invested in incompatible, mutually exclusive methods to alleviate suffering? I’m thinking here about outdoor mask wearing.
One side is convinced that the suffering of potential, gruesome death is being inflicted upon them by anyone not wearing a mask outside. They believe they have the right to force their corrective “well-wishes” on anyone suffering under the misplaced delusion of unjustified confidence. Their spells of protection are expected to be gratefully received. Of course, the imposition of their will on others gets couched behind following expert opinion.
The other side is convinced that the suffering of intrusive, useless, gaslighting enforcement is being inflicted upon them by anyone requiring they wear a mask outside. They believe they have the right to force their corrective “well-wishes” on anyone suffering under the misplaced delusion of unjustified anxiety. Their spells of liberation are expected to be gratefully received. Of course, the imposition of their will on others gets couched behind protecting Constitutional freedoms.
Both sides are so convinced that their motives are purely beneficent that neither cares about getting the other side’s consent. “Those fools are suffering under a delusion which we must take away for their own good!” The inherent torturous mental violence in the solutions they have come up with for each other appears to be one of their fundamental goals. Once people allow themselves to be manipulated into loathing each other this much, they’re bound to wish acts of violence on each other. How can we maintain our humanity and compassion in our magical interactions when the Overton window has been distorted this far out of shape?
(This flurry of comments comes courtesy of a long train trip, as I fled the wave of dark, tense energy that flooded over NYC this week. Something very unhealthy is bubbling up out of the minds of the PMC, where it has long lain repressed.)
Prizm – if I may: “Being united and yet still respecting individuality is a difficult polarity to overcome”
Actually, I do not find this to be the case at all, so long as what brings people together arises organically. If you think about a family – they are chock full of absolutely irreducible and irreplaceably unique and different people… each one, when lost, makes a “them-shaped” hole that no one else will EVER be able to fill. And yet, they are STILL, surprisingly in our atomised times, for MOST people (not all), the people who will have your back in some shape or form when you need support – which is what underpins unity, after all. This kind of being an irreducible self among mutually supportive irreducibly individual selves is also still common in many other contexts. Friendships, neighbourhoods, churches, lodges, sports and hobby clubs, etc.
What is fatal BOTH to unity AND to individuality is that atomising social force seeking to turn each one of us into a lonely cog in someone else’s machine. This is one aspect where Marx’s critique of capitalism is cogent. He not only points out how being turned into a cog in someone else’s machine produces “alienation” in the person. He also points out how the factory and workplace is organised so as to co-opt the very tendency working people already had, to work in common for shared goals into the most basic “machine” element capitalism has at its disposal – worker solidarity.
If we recapture common goals that reflect us, and rebuild solid relationships around them with people who share those goals, I believe our individuality begins to shine – and to matter to each and every person we begin to feel a “belonging” with.
More on the hollowing out of Neo-Pagans. I recently became involved with a group of Trump folks who are engaging in a letter writing campaign. Seen through the prism of Fortune and the Cosmic Doctrine, I think they will be more successful or at least remain untouched.
First they are using actual pen and paper to write the letter, with their own words, and putting said letter through the postal service. They have grounded their working in the lower plane with the physicality of what they are doing.
Second, they ask everyone before asking for the action they want, to write a blessing to the recipient such as bless you for your service, and a blessing to the U.S., and finally a blessing for the government to be democratic. Three blessings written down in the letter before even asking….. This raises them to the higher plane as well.
In contrast the Neo-Pagans have removed themselves from the lower plane by embracing and employing technology and social media, only. They have used their mental activities to force the issue. They have also removed themselves from the higher plane by discouraging themselves from contact with the Gods. The ones who have talked about their relations with the Gods seem to have put the Gods in a box or removed them from the higher plane. i.e Gods are now buddies.
By staying on one plane, they are hollowing themselves out since there is a closed circuit of nothing in or nothing out. So the energy eats itself.
Am I interpreting this correctly?
I appreciate your response and providing such a great example of how unity and individuality can be commonly seen. Historically, family has probably been one of the biggest building blocks for any society. It’s definitely under assault in today’s world, with there being large amounts of single parent families, and, as in my case, a lot of families who hardly have anything to do with one another as they get older. It is important to understand why, and I’d agree, capitalism has managed to exploit a huge weakness: the individual and their animal tendencies. It’s hard to say whether this has been exploited using disintegration or degradation. I’d venture a guess and say it’s both, since in some instances family value is a manifestation, but we can also see some animals having this instinct, which would to me indicate it also develops from the Earth.
With that said, it’s important, and again recognizing that the family unit is currently eroding in many cases, to ask is the family unit the only way that having a shared value of unity yet individuality can exist? I’ve read that Sparta has been one such example.
My gut instinct tells me though, that with the coming Second Religiosity, which I am seeing more and more of a spiritual awakening in people of recent, family units will begin to rebuild as it is again recognized as an important value on both the individual basis as well as the society basis.
Jake, the philosophy of natural magic has been neglected since the Renaissance. The first book of Cornelius Agrippa’s Three Books of Occult Philosophy is about the most recent thing of any significance, and it presupposes some knowledge of Renaissance Neoplatonism and the Renaissance worldview; you might read C.S. Lewis’ fine book The Discarded Image for an overview if that’s unfamiliar territory.
Christophe, yes, exactly. The mind sublimates itself by bringing incoming spiritual influences down into matter, whether in the body or outside it, while it degrades itself by refusing those spiritual influences so that they disintegrate instead. As for the numbered diagrams, yes, they’re confusing. They’re printed here exactly as they appear in our text; I assume that Fortune deliberately made them cryptic, so that they have to be unpacked through meditation.
As for nonviolent solutions to extreme conflicts of the sort you’ve described, I wish. The only thing I’ve been able to find so far is to walk away from both sides and, as far as possible, avoid situations where a conflict is going to break out.
Neptunesdolphins, that’s very good to hear. Yes, that interpretation makes sense.
Prizm (if I may), I hope there’ll be options for those who have a lot of toxic family members. Two of my three closest biological relatives are people I hope never to have to have anything to do with again!
@Ganesh Ubuntu Thanks so much! It is on the way as we speak.
Prizm & JMG – I thank you both for further thoughts on the matter of resolving solidarity/individuality. I don’t think the key is in biology or blood ties. However the key is in those relationships that develop over time because of some shared thing that (key) does not require *conformity*. The link may sometimes be formed within a family, but it may also be formed in a neighbourhood, a school, a club, a lodge, a church, and many other similar places. Over time, in such settings people can get to know these *particular* others in ways that cherish the way in which they are specially themselves.
To get what I’m trying to get at, imagine a church losing (say) Betty Smithers, whose special meatloaf always disappeared first at every potluck, and whose laugh could lift anyone’s spirit, and who would often be found visiting church members when they were in hospital with her special brand of spirit-uplifting laughter… and then, after a period of mourning, holding interviews for her replacement. The very notion is absurd. Because it is her uniqueness – the things that made her HER, that make her irreducibly irreplaceable. Those same things are what made her matter to people in the church to the extend that they would unquestioningly have HER back if she was ever in trouble. That true kind of solidarity has a million acres of room for people’s individuality.
Also, despite a million ways in which our culture attacks BOTH solidarity AND individuality, amazingly, most people still manage to find some slivers of both in some part of their lives, and almost never entirely succumb to being the seamless cog in a collective machine, that is robbed of both.
In my humble opinion. 🙂
Hi John Michael,
Interesting. So I’m guessing that in utilising the flows of involutionary or evolutionary err, is forces the correct word here (I’m struggling a bit here with the language), as described in the essay an attempt to reach an equilibrium point – or even just a natural point where it is not a constant fight to maintain the err, goal of the working?
There is something remarkably sad about being stuck in the progress loop trap, and I tend to feel that that particular emotion could swap to anger looking for catharsis – and then there is a risk that those heady emotions and forces pervade society in a really negative way.
And the other thing which occurs to me is that proponents of progress might not have as much free-will as they’d imagine – and there is little enough wiggle room already with that. I guess, thus the trap.
And I assume that when such potent symbols crash and burn it creates a pretty potent mess, and even despite that there are hangers on?
Pretty heavy going…
When you say it’s too fast if something wasn’t in existance long enough to have its proper effect, do you mean just the effect the occultist had in mind? Or do all these currents have something they are supposed to accomplish in a larger sense?
How would you slow the cycle down? Are there any ethical concerns with that, as I understand it you would then be hanging onto something that could have been on its way.
Can’t pretend to have got any more than a superficial feeling of this chapter so far. Would be more concerned but with plenty of reminders to meditate on it, particularly in the text, will just let that happen as headspace allows.
Probably related, though I’m not fully understanding yet, this week saw two ideas kind of mesh for me – both concerning electro-magnetism. One was reading a partial explanation for the workings of astrology suggesting complex interplay between the sun and planets, their effect on Earth’s magnetic field and us as beings ‘sensitive’ to this starts to explain why it works and why certain repeated planetary patterns may lead to similar outcomes. Then I stumbled on this midweek…https://neurosciencenews.com/electromagnetic-consciousness-17191/
– Definitely would link into our sensitivity to changes in a surrounding field and add importance to the energies that operate one step (or plane) on from the physical. I know this echos the not new idea of an aura, but with added consiousness maybe this pushes it on a bit, and it comes from a molecular geneticist to boot.
That “dark tense energy bubbling up” sounds like Pluto.
Both sides of the mask-wearing dilemma are guilty of hubris (as you so clearly describe in their attitudes toward each other).
In The Astrology of Fate, Liz Greene writes: “Pluto is a great and divine balancer of hubris. Without him, man would believe himself to be God, and would in the end destroy himself.”
The ability to tolerate and contain the tension of opposites (which is being brought painfully to light in our national drama, both in the polarized election results and in attitudes about the virus) is what our survival as a nation…indeed, as a species…may require.
When Oswald returned from his latest looting trip from the waste dump he was more than satisfied. This weeks crop would be payed well. He could not forebode that this last trip would turn not only his own little world upside down. A small black sphere he found in between piles of garbage starts to speak in cryptic messages and slowly he realizes that this may more than just another piece of junk. Has he really found one of the mysterious Greerballs, those long forgotten magical items that are said to communicate the wisdom of the legendary sage Jonmik? But he is not the only one who is interested in the little black spheres secrets and soon Oswald finds himself in a deadly race with the agents of the evil aristocracy that sows in autumn and reaps in spring. After hours of careful meditation and equipped with little more than a talking black sphere and a metal folding chair, he sets out on a dangerous journey. Nothing less than the fate of mankind rests on his shoulders…
Very, very interesting series–
It explains a lot about some of my past activities in Christian Churches and Associations. I used to find myself involved in creating small groups that met in private homes. We would meet and get to know each other well, pray and share a meal. There was _always_ sexual tension involved with these groups and, when ‘not earthed out in the usual manner,’ we were very effective at doing good things for the larger community. For years, I thought that my own attraction to certain women in each of the groups was a character failure on my part, even though I never acted on it (and ran like crazy when some of them did!). It turns out this was a feature, not a bug! A lot of the members of these groups ended up getting married to each other–not a bad outcome…
Switching gears, would the creation of talismans and gamahes be simple examples of this? It seems to me to be the same sort of pattern, to take an idea like ‘protection during travel’ or ‘friendship with a neighbor’ and link it to this reality by creating a physical representation, with intention. — I am remembering here the Roman Catholic St Christopher medallion, and the hoodoo buried jar of honey with the message, ‘let us be friends.’–
If this is the case, would I need a Bar of Impaction if I make a talisman or gamahe for use by someone else? What references can I read about this?
Thanks again JMG for this series! I am sure I would never have read this book on my own, and its unlikely that I would have any understanding of it without your commentary.
Well, this one was very challenging when I first read it, so I let it marinate in the back of my mind for the better part of a week. I spent the morning meditating on the ideas here, and I think I’ve got it. I’d like to share what I came up with to see if it works.
It seems that, if you want to work with the magic of impaction, you need to start– as with all magic– with an intention. Following your example, we can start with some abstract ideas that we might like to see manifest in our material reality. So I made a list of several things I think would improve the life of the modern world and its inhabitants:
1. A more sensible relationship to death, neither the stark terror we’ve inherited from our Christian past nor the callous ghoulishness of the worst of the euthanasia movement;
2. A vision of a more diverse, inhabited and, as we say, enchanted spiritual reality. Not just Jesus and Satan, as in much of Protestantism, or even just Team God and Team Lucifer, as in older forms of Christianity;
3. A return of the virtues– the classical, the Christian, really any list of virtues would be better than the nothing that we currently have– as central to life and necessary for the good life;
4. The creation of a unified self directing a unified will, against the constant digital distractions of the age.
Considering the list, and considering my own life, in which telephone-based distractions play far more of a role than I wish they did, I selected number 4– the creation of a unified will. Another way to talk about this is the idea of COHERENCE– to live a single, unified life, remaining one person from one moment to the next, regardless of what thoughts or emotions the TV or the telephone are trying to think or emote for you. The term “coherence” seems useful to me; Liu Ming, the American Taoist priest, used it to summarize this state of self-unity in which one becomes impervious to obsession or possession by spirits.
Having selected a concept to bring into manifestation, we now need to look at those influences which are descending into manifestation or ascending upward from manifestation in order to create a symbol.
For influences descending into manifestation, that means an astrological election. An election related to unity of self and unity of will will need a strongly diginified Mars above all, as Mars relates to the will. It should probably also have a strongly dignified Sun, as the Sun relates to the Self in its higher aspects. The Moon should be waxing, and might also be involved in the election, as the Moon pertains to the inner life.
Now, as Fortune would have it, a chart cast for the moment I began my meditation on this topic has all the following qualities:
1. Mars direct and in Aries, trine the waxing Moon;
2. Scorpio rising, with both the Sun and Mercury (thought) rising in that sign, and therefore under Mars’s rulership;
3. Moon in Saggitarius, trine Mars.
Mars is weakened by a conjunction with the 6th house cusp and an opposition to Venus. Other than that though, this is itself not a bad election for my purpose.
Next we need an influence that is rising out of material manifestation. For this, we have to look the world of natural magic. Your Encyclopedia of Natural Magic is a great resource, but in this case I think an animal symbol would be useful, and the encyclopedia only has a few of those. How, then, to determine which other animal-forms are in the process of rising out of material manifestation? We could look them up in Agrippa or the Picatrix, although here again these aren’t complete resources, as they won’t include any animals from outside of the Old World. I wonder if we can say that, as a rule of thumb, if an animal can be said to have “captured the public imagination,” it is probably useful as a symbol in practical magic. The phrase is telling, as the imagination is the domain of the upper astral. Such animals are also sometimes referred to as “charismatic,” a more or less explicit reference to supernatural power.
In this case, the animal that came to mind is the Hawk. As raptors, hawks are martial birds, though it seems to me that they have a Solar aspect to them too. That makes them appropriate for a martial working. But I was especially thinking of their ability to spot a prey animal and descend upon it from a very great distance as symbolizing the unity of the will.
What comes next? Having chosen the time (this morning!) and the material (the hawk), how do we create the symbol? I suppose: by creating it. I started by meditating upon the hawk as a symbol of the unified will, and would encourage others to do the same. Given the comment about influences both ascending and descending, if it works, we should expect the following results: 1. Meditating upon and otherwise making use of the image of the hawk will produce personal coherence and unity of will; 2. the symbol may spread, and become a general symbol of coherence and focus; 3. people who meditate on the hawk may find themselves getting involved in raptor conservation and even taking up falconry!
…Now, that’s not even to start with the discussion of polarity magic, on which I plan to meditate tomorrow morning. But, am I understanding the work of impaction correctly?
Have purchased Dancers to the Gods – first copy I came across online turned out to be from an occult/esoteric bookseller hidden on an industrial estate a few hundred yards away from my house. A face to face meet later and a happy purchaser. 🙂 He has a few unread softcover copies but with moisture damaged covers available (Aquarian Press) – Magis books on Biblio.co.uk
OK. I spent this morning meditating on the description of polarity ritual magic, which I also had a hard time understanding when I read through it the first time.
My free time is fairly limited these days and so I haven’t had a chance to read all of the comments; my apologies if these posts are redundant.
The best way to make sense of it for me was to draw an x-y axis, representing the horizontal and vertical movements. On the horizontal axis, force is provided by one party, and shaped into a form by a second party. On the vertical axis, a force descends from the higher planes toward the lower, while the souls or consciousnesses of the individuals involved ascend from lower planes toward the higher.
Examples: In Fortune’s Rites of Pan and Isis, the force provided on the x-axis is sexual attraction, while the form is a ritual performance. The force descending into being is a healthier attitude toward sexuality, while the souls of those participating in the ritual are exalted.
In the traditional Christian mass, the force provided is adoration, rather than sexual energy as such. It seems that there are many variations like this, but there is always a sexual element, because we are always bringing something into manifestation by way of polarized interaction– which is a definition of sex. In this case, though, the congregation provides adoration, while the priest and assistants provide the form of the communion ceremony. The ideals of the Christian religion descend into manifestation, while the souls of the participants are exalted.
Those are the examples that you provided, but we can think of many others. The modern pop music concert is the first one that comes to mind. This is a general ritual that admits of a bit of variation. For the most part, the motive force is sexual energy, but other passions and emotions may be mixed in or used in its place– rage or aggression in the case of punk or heavy metal acts, for example. The form is the concert itself. While modern musical genres vary widely from one another, the ideas the concert brings into manifestation are mostly limited to: clothing styles; practices related to intoxicants or sex; and attitudes toward political or religious authority. Moreover, it seems that whatever force a specific variation on the pop concert brings into manifestation tends to exhaust itself very quickly, rarely lasting more than a decade.
I keep saying “the soul is exalted,” but what does that mean? It must mean, “the consciousness is brought to function, at least for a time, on a higher plane than it is used to.” Considering this shows me how magic of this kind can be debased and used for destructive purposes.
In 2014– six years and a lifetime ago– I was living in a house with a number of other young people. We were all friends and spent our time together, the way housemates do. Then several of our members went out and saw the movie “Dear White People,” and learned that they were being oppressed by myself and my girlfriend (who were white people). A month of fighting and recrimination followed, the friendships in question were destroyed irreparably, and we moved out. It ended up being the best thing that could have happened to me– I was 31 and didn’t need to be living like a college student anymore, or spending any time around college students.
Still, at the time it was a very painful experience, and I struggled to understand what had happened. Even then I put it in magical terms– it seemed that my friends had been subjected to a debased ritual of thaumaturgy, which had completely changed their personalities. Fortune’s discussion of polarity gives me a more detailed way of understanding it. On the horizontal axis, the motive-force was provided by my friends captured attentions and the emotions (mostly of fear and a sense of victimhood) elicited by the film, with the film’s plot providing the form. So far, this isn’t that different from the previous examples– the difference comes in on the vertical axis. Here, the souls of my friends were not exalted, but degraded– after watching the film, they became unable to consider any differences of opinion on racial issues, and began to act out of rage and fear– lower astral functions. The force brought into manifestation, meanwhile, was not a higher idea, but rather a social script. Starting from the day that they got back from seeing the film, everyone in in the house started acting out the Rescue Game, with heroes, victims and villains lining up and playing their roles exactly. This included me in the villain role, even though I hadn’t seen the film!
The lessons that I’m taking away from all this are as follows:
1. When composing a ritual of any kind, be very aware of the force that you are attempting to bring into manifestation. And as a potential participant in rituals, be extremely careful about what you give your attention to!
2. It seems that, for a polarity working to be effective, there must be a match between the motive force provided, the form of the working, and the force descending along the vertical axis. In the Christian ritual, for example, the appropriate force is adoration; the appropriate form is the re-enactment of the passion and death of Christ; and the appropriate descending force is the ideal of the Christian life. In a hardcore punk concert, the force is rage; the form is the concert, with its particular songs and dance styles; and the descending force is a militant embrace of anarchism, the straight edge lifestyle, black clothing, poor personal hygiene and generally acting like a jerk all the time. All these things feed back into one another. It’s easy to imagine how a polarity working could go wrong, by failing to elicit the proper motive force from participants or by eliciting a different force entirely; by providing a form inappropriate to the force; or by failing to consider what descending force will be brought into manifestation; or by degrading, rather than exalting, the souls of the participants.
If, for example, one were to take the form of the Christian mass and– oh, I don’t know… replace the physical setting with a cold, empty meeting hall; the artwork with modernist abstract paintings or white walls; the candles and incense with nothing; and the traditional songs with tone-deaf and vaguely homoerotic lullabies– if you were to do all this, how would it affect the motive-force?
3. For me personally– I am still working on the Druid church that we began discussing this summer. For the last few months, progress has been slow, and I’ve felt like an outside force was hindering it– not necessarily a hostile force, either. Divination has suggested taking it slowly and letting things come in their time. These meditations are providing me with tools that I did not have a month ago. I have written a ritual that I think is good, but it’s not enough for it to be “good” in the sense of aesthetically pleasing– I need to look at it again and carefully consider what Ideas it is attempting to bring into manifestation and whether it is effective in doing so. More on this later!
@Steve T – fantastic addition to understanding this chapter – thank you – certainly makes sense to me and helpful. And, as ever, thanks to our host too. How to ‘lock in’ the meaning in a symbol (at least to an extent) is maybe the area that remains fuzziest for me, but am guessing time and group practice are involved to do that – plus a kind of ‘100th monkey’ element too.
Thank you for your thoughts and insights on ritual processes. I was wondering yesterday about the progress of your Druid church project. I’m glad to hear that the idea is developing in its own time.
One of the aspects of the pandemic that continues to fascinate me is “social distancing” and its “impact” (so to speak) on some of the ritual forms you mention: church services, rock concerts, sporting events, live theater and cinema.
People aren’t gathering to sing, dance and worship together.
I wonder about the deeper meanings of these shifts in our culture’s ritual forms. Are they only temporary? Time will tell.
Scotlyn, thanks for this. I know I get a little defensive from time to time when people extol biological family as, say, the people who have your back. With one exception, mine don’t.
Chris, exactly. Basically, any given pattern will go through an involutionary phase, when it’s mostly coming down into manifestation; an equilibrium phase, where what’s coming down is more or less balanced by what’s rising back up out of manifestation; and an evolutionary phase, where its material expressions dissolve and those who are paying attention learn the lessons the whole process has to teach. The great blind spot of the believers in progress is that they can only see it as involutionary — in their faith-based worldview, progress must keep on going forever and ever; since it won’t, and in fact is already receding rapidly, yeah, anger’s a common reaction. And yes, there will still be some believers long after it’s all collapsed in an ugly mess.
Yorkshire, everything has a natural cycle of ripening, and rushing things can cause things to fail that might have ripened and had a range of important results. As for slowing things down, that’s just as bad. Let them mature at their own pace!
Jay, hmm! Fascinating. Thanks for this.
Nachtgurke, funny! I want to see the novel for which this is the back cover blurb…
Emmanuel, two direct hits. Yes, there’s a lot of polarity working hardwired into Christian worship, and yes, the making of talismans and gamahes is another classic application of what we’re discussing. As for the bar of impaction, it depends on what kind of talisman or gamahe we’re discussing. Astrological and geomantic talismans made by the Renaissance method have one built into them, because the mage puts none of his own energy into the talisman — it all comes directly from the planets. Golden Dawn-style talismans, which draw on the mage’s own energy, are a different matter, and in that tradition the usual advice is not to make talismans for others.
Steve, I either didn’t know or had forgotten that you had contact with Liu Ming. My acupuncturist when I lived in southern Oregon was a personal student of his. As for your example, yes, that’s a fine example of one way of working impactation.
Jay, excellent. Read that together with the Cos.Doc. and you’ll end up with a very good idea of how to do some types of polarity working.
Steve, a fine meditation, and your comment about how to wreck Christian worship was of course followed very exactly in the wake of Vatican II…
@ Simon Sheridan (if I may) – when I tried to visit your site this evening, I got error messages, unsafe messages and and 403 warning. If you do not already know this, your site may have been hacked or in some other way shut down. (I have been enjoying your propaganda series, and recommending it to others). Best wishes getting it up and running again.
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