Book Club Post

The Cosmic Doctrine: The Law of Limitation, Part One

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

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

Assigned Reading:

Revised Edition:  Chapter 24, “The Law of Limitation, Part One,” pp. 112-114.

Millennium Edition: Chapter 26, “The Law of Limitation,” p. 152 to the end of the first paragraph on p. 155.

Commentary:

All through the chapters we’ve already covered, without drawing unnecessary attention to that fact, Dion Fortune has been laying the foundations for detailed, practical instruction on the art of magic. To some extent, that long slow buildup is a matter of camouflage, of a kind very familiar to any of my readers who know their way around the occult literature of an earlier time:  you’ve got to have the patience to work through the earlier chapters, and understand the terminology they present, in order to make sense of the exposition of practical methods when that arrives.  Yet it’s also true that the more you understand about the magical vision of the universe, the more effectively you can use the technical details when you finally get to those.

In this chapter, we’ve gotten to some of the technical details. Hang onto your hats. What follows, though it’s deliberately broken up into brief glimpses and comments, is among the clearest expositions of the mechanics of magical practice you’ll ever find in print.

Let’s start with the very first sentence of the chapter:  “Limitation is the first law of manifestation, therefore it is the first law of power.” Yes, I know, that statement flies in the face of some of the most deeply rooted habits of contemporary popular culture.  To the modern mind, rules are made to be broken and limits exist solely as things to overcome; pop-culture spirituality prattles on endlessly about limitless this and infinite that. Tell most people these days that willingly accepted self-limitation is a source of personal power—in fact, the only source of personal power—and they’ll look at you as though you suddenly sprouted an extra head.

Fortune is quite correct, though, and the rejection of limits in today’s popular culture is among the main reasons that so many people just now lead lives of failure and frustration.  There are reasons why the idea of limitlessness has been spread so enthusiastically and systematically in recent years, and we’ll get to those in next month’s post.

Power without limitation is power wasted.  If you spill some gasoline and light it, all you’ll get are flames, smoke, and a little waste heat.  Put the same gasoline into an engine, where it will be imprisoned in the hard limits of a steel cylinder when it’s ignited, and it can send your car zooming down the road. This is the same principle Fortune introduced back in Chapter Two under the label of “negative evil”—the thrustblock that provides the resistance necessary to put energy into motion—but in this chapter she takes that concept much, much further.

Even the Solar Logos, Fortune suggests, had to accept limits in order to act in the world. She’s on solid traditional ground here.  In the writings of Isaac Luria, one of the greatest of Jewish Cabalists, the process of creation begins with an act of self-limitation on the part of God: the first thing an infinite deity has to do, in order to create a universe, is to make it possible for there to be something that isn’t God.  This withdrawal of the divine presence, Tzimtzum in Hebrew, set the creation of the universe in motion.  Fortune may well have been familiar with the Lurianic teachings; she was certainly familiar with Christian teaching about the tremendous self-limitation that God had to accept in being born as a human being, so that his death could accomplish the redemption of humanity.  Here again, limitation is the key to power.

Now consider the second paragraph. Better yet, read the second paragraph three times slowly, paying attention to every word.  (If you’ve got the Millennium Edition, where the text is divided into paragraphs differently, do this with the first four sentences of the second paragraph.)  What’s being described here is the basic template for magical operations. If you want to bring any energy into manifestation on any plane, you have to create a form for that manifestation on the plane immediately above the plane where you want the energy to take action. The diagram on the left shows Fortune’s taxonomy of the planes for reference. (This is not the same taxonomy I use in my own writing, so be warned.)

If you want something to happen on the physical/etheric plane, you build the form for it on the lower astral plane, the realm of the passions; if you want something to happen in the realm of the passions, you build the form for it on the upper astral plane, the plane of imagination, and so on.  You build the form on the next plane up, and then call down forces from the planes further up and fill the form with them; the union of force and form then precipitates down onto the plane below the form, and takes effect. Ignorance of this principle is responsible for a great deal of failed magic.

For example, a lot of pop-culture magical practices try to affect attitudes and habits of thought (which belong to the lower mental plane in Fortune’s system) using emotional energies from the lower astral plane.  If you want to affect attitudes and habits, you have to build your form on the upper mental plane instead, the plane of meanings and insights; all you can do on the lower astral is shape the etheric and physical plane—whence the frequency with which ideologies that use such methods end up trying to control people rather than convincing them.

Next comes the most important rule of magic you will ever learn. If you retain nothing else from this book, retain these words:  “In order to achieve an end you must outline that end and limit yourself to it, rejecting all that is irrelevant.” There. You’ve just learned the secret of magical attainment. It really is that simple—but “simple,” of course, is not the same thing as ”easy.”

You can attain anything that’s possible for you to attain if you follow Fortune’s rule. Let’s say you want to have a million dollars. Nothing could be simpler.  All you have to do is focus your entire life on making that million dollars. When you get out of bed each morning, assess every hour of the day before you and figure out how you can use that hour as a stepping stone to your million dollars. Consider every activity you might engage in, and if it doesn’t further your goal of making money, skip it. Treat every penny that comes your way as a tool for making more money—one of the secrets of wealth, of course, is that you get rich by making your money earn money for you.  Have your eyes constantly open for opportunities to earn money, and pay just as much attention to saving the money you earn and putting it to work for you. Do this, and you’ll have your million dollars much sooner than you think.

Note, please, that there are things you cannot achieve this way. “In all undertakings the prime requisit for success is to know what you cannot do:”  Fortune’s words offer a useful warning.  Not everything is possible for a human being. Not everything is possible for you.  If you don’t have certain kinds of inborn talent, for example, you will never become a great mathematician. (Mathematics is one of the fields in which experienced teachers can tell very promptly which of their students has what it takes and which, no matter how hard they work at it, will never do any original work of value.)  If you’re tone-deaf, please don’t decide to become an opera singer—the world has already had its Florence Foster Jenkins. Here again the Law of Limitation is important: if you recognize your own personal limits you can use them as thrust blocks to put yourself in motion in some other direction.

What if you want to achieve more than one thing in your life?  Fortune’s already waiting there for you.  To the extent that you can, you do one thing at a time. Earn your million dollars; then, once you’ve got that magic figure in your bank account, take a break, relax, recover from the effort, and then choose the next thing on your list—climbing Mount Everest, say—and do that. Then take another break.  The breaks are important; too much focus, too much intensity of will and singleness of purpose, will unbalance you and lead to various unhelpful states, such as fanaticism or mental illness.  The traditional habit of setting aside a couple of days a week and a couple of weeks a year to rest from labor is a good one, and should be applied as well to the work we’re discussing.

Fortune makes a useful distinction in this context.  The terms she uses for the two sides of the distinction are “limited consciousness” and “limitation of consciousness,” which is perhaps a little more confusing than it has to be. By the first Fortune means a consciousness that focuses on a narrow range of things because it’s never encountered anything else.  By the second she means a consciousness that has encountered many things and chooses to focus on a narrow range of them for its own purposes. (The great mistake of every form of puritanism is that it confuses these two very different things.)  The alternation between concentration and relaxation is a good way to avoid that trap; each period of relaxation, in Fortune’s words, provides “broadened consciousness and developed character,” which then become the basis for future acts of deliberate and temporary limitation of consciousness.

Another useful point follows. Everyone who’s gone through the process of taking up magical practice for the first time knows just how difficult it is to get any results at first. That experience, Fortune points out, is the result of simple inertia, and it doesn’t work to try to overcome that by the unaided will. That’s where the force of habit becomes an ally of the neophyte. By doing a set of practices by rote, even when they don’t seem to be accomplishing anything, a new momentum  is established, and this balances out the existing inertia and gives the individual will the deciding vote. The same principle can used in many other forms of magical working: if you want to overcome the inertia of a habit, don’t try to white-knuckle it, establish a countervailing habit and let that build its own momentum.

The next point Fortune makes has to be understood in the context of her time. In the early twentieth century, Theosophy was the template on which most occult teachings were based.  One of the ideas central to Theosophy was a belief in the existence of a spiritual Hierarchy of ascended masters, who accepted good Theosophists as students and servants.  Another was an insistence that good Theosophists should stay away from magic, and limit themselves to meditation and occult study.  Fortune here is simply reassuring her more Theosophically inclined readers that there’s nothing wicked or forbidden about magical practice, so long as it’s done in an ethical and appropriate manner. Here again, she’s quite correct; ceremonial magic is not for everyone, but it’s a valid option as part of a spiritually oriented life, and the principles Fortune sets out in this chapter can also be put to work in less obviously magical ways.

Let’s go on. One of the major challenges faced by those who want to make change in the world, whether or not they use the specific technical toolkit of the ceremonial magician, is the awkward but inescapable detail that the individual human being counts for very little in the context of the cosmos as a whole.  Scale matters in magic. If you set out to change the world, or a nation, or a community, or even a family all at once, the inertia of your target’s existing habits will overwhelm any energy you can bring to bear, and you will fail. As Fortune points out, though, this doesn’t mean that you can only achieve small things. It means that if you want to achieve great things, you have to take them one step at a time, focusing on one small change that will further your intention, working on that until it happens, and then moving on to the next small change. The strategy of magic on a large scale is the strategy of drops of water falling on a stone and wearing it away.

Two principles of magical tactics should always be applied while using this strategy, and Fortune gives them both.  First, no matter how tightly you focus on a specific detail of the broader problem, always keep the whole context in mind, and see what you’re doing in terms of the movements of the cosmos as a whole. This is one of the reasons that occultists who know what they’re doing use astrology and other forms of divination to guide their work. By checking the ebb and flow of the cosmic tides, either directly through the positions of the planets or indirectly through the divinatory oracle of their choice, they stay in touch with what the cosmos is doing. Less obviously magical ways of doing the same thing are of course also important.

The second principle is to find and make use of the natural divisions within the whole system you intend to affect.  Nothing in the universe is an undifferentiated whole. There are always lines of fracture, points at which one part of the problem can be separated from other parts. Here Fortune’s advice is extraordinarily canny.  Most people, in and out of occult circles, try to find the natural divisions on what she calls the mental plane, the plane of concepts and ideas, but this often doesn’t work well:  things that seem very distinct conceptually very often have close connections in practice, while a single concept can cover several distinct phenomena.

What Fortune recommends instead is to pay attention to the emotions involved in the situation you are trying to affect.  Look for differences in emotional reaction among the people who are involved.  Notice what they want most, and what they want first. Since human beings are complex, figure out what appeals to one side of their nature and what appeals to another side.  Then choose a part of the problem that’s linked with a specific, distinct emotional pattern, focus on it with laser intensity, and achieve the change you want.

One last detail of magical technique rounds off this short but extremely important chapter. The advice given earlier to alternate between periods of intensive one-pointed focus and periods of relaxation and broadened consciousness has another reason behind it, and Fortune gives it here. Your capacity for focus enables you to bring power to bear and accomplish work with it, but the power is generated in the periods of relaxation.  It’s the latter, the periods when consciousness broadens and relates to the widest possible range of experience, that provides the broad and solid base for the pyramid of your power; only on that base can you rise to the apex of perfect, deliberate, willed focus, and accomplish wonders.

Whew! That’s a lot of ground for a single short chapter. Spend the next month contemplating it line by line.  If you practice magic, see how you can apply the insights offered here to your own practices.  If you don’t practice magic, consider applying the same insights to your own life. They work equally well either way.

Notes for Study:

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

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

Questions and comments can also be posted here for discussion. (I’d like to ask that only questions and comments relevant to The Cosmic Doctrine be posted here, to help keep things on topic.) We’ll go on to the next piece of the text on September 9, 2020.  Until then, have at it!

179 Comments

  1. Fortune’s concept of ,” Not everything is possible for you.” is succinctly phrased by that great cinematic philosopher Dirty Harry, played by Clint Eastwood, in the 1970’s movie Magnum Force. Harry grits his teeth as he disposes of a bad guy and says, “A man’s got to realize his limitations.” A lesson that I wish the democratic party had taken to heart when deciding to run Joe Biden for president.

  2. I believe you had a typo in the page number of the millennium edition. Either that or we have to read over a hundred pages for this one…

  3. A lot of sources say that spiritual improvement takes a lot of time, and also that it shouldn’t be commited to seriously until middle age. What about starting at a minimal level from a young age? Then it just sort of ticks over in the background, providing protection and other benefits, and steadily building up. It doesn’t take up enough resources to get in the way of a normal life. But by the time the person gets older and has done most of the material-world things they want to do, their spiritual capacity has reached a critical mass, or is close to it. So when they do switch to it being their main focus, their progress will be rapid and spectacular. This seems like the opposite to the one-thing-at-a-time strategy, but could it work?

  4. Hi John,

    Wow. Mind = Blown. This is exactly what I needed to read today in regard to recent conversation you & I have had regarding life choices and themes from the Order of Essenes course. This gives me much more to meditate on. Thank you.

    Right now I’m writing an article on Information Theory and Music. Yesterday I was meditating on the Law of Limits and then had an insight via the subject matter for my article that I wrote down after the meditation:

    “Too many disparate activities lead to noise in the human system. If the circuits being activated are connected feedback between them can occur, but the power is then diffused between the connected circuits instead of in one circuit.”

    This has law has powerful applications. I’ll be looking forward to the essay you alluded to. Hope you & Sara are well, and everyone here on this information channel is having a good week.

  5. So ‘World Peace’ doesn’t cut it.
    When focusing on emotions, do ‘softening of the heart’ or ‘intentional vulnerability’ work?

    I’m undone by your gift to us in these posts.
    *Thank you*.

  6. Well, I am really glad you decided to apply those insights to help others widen their perspectives and entertain a more diverse set of alternate viewpoints on key issues we are collectively facing. I can see why early occultists may have feared how the same teachings might be misused in the wrong hands. What makes you think that broadcasting those ideas on the Internet is likely to result in more “good” than “bad”?

    Speaking of emotional reactions from personal experience after reading your essays on The Archdruid Report: At first I was overwhelmed and forgot them for a number of years. Then I came back to them, got fascinated, but also quite anxious about the future. And now I feel, after almost half a decade, that it is helping me be more stable in the face of numerous crises. And recently I have been feeling more optimistic, not in an “escapist” way, but in the way I feel that the public discourse changes enough that I don’t feel we are all collectively blindly driving into a wall, or perhaps more precisely, that a sufficiently large number of people seem to be aware of the issues you mentioned to make a difference.

    And the regularity of your posting habits have created an anticipation for the next one… Pretty good magical skills at play here, so tip of the non-druidical non-hat ;-).

  7. Applying the insights from this chapter to self-healing in the Dolmen Arch system, which uses a three-plane system (spiritual, astral, and physical), to accomplish physical healing I make a form on the astral plane by using the visualizations given in the course for this purpose. The forces on the spiritual planes that I bring down into the forms are Spirits Below and Above, and also Spirit Within that I generate from the fusion of the former two. The now-charged astral pattern precipitates into the physical plane to accomplish healing.

    To get to the point where I could learn and practice self-healing, I had to limit other things that I was doing to free up enough time for the Dolmen Arch course study and practices. And I had to go through the period of rote work with self-healing that lasted for multiple months before I felt as if the practice had any effect at all.

    I could list many other ways I have applied the Principle of Limitation in mundane life, but instead I’ll say that I’ve lived long enough and done enough to recognize it at work in every successful effort I have ever made (and in what has failed).

  8. Clay, I wonder how many of Dion Fortune’s magical principles can be illustrated by bits of dialogue in tacky Hollywood productions. Hmm… 😉

    Churrundo, yes, it was a typo! Thanks for catching it.

    Yorkshire, yes, and in most societies that background work is done by way of religion. One of the great historical tragedies of the Western world is that our mainstream religious traditions rejected their own occult dimensions — that was spelled “Gnosticism” back in the day — and so made it as hard as possible for people who were ready to go deeper to do so.

    Justin, ’tis an ill wind that blows no minds! Delighted to hear it.

    Jenny, possibly, depending on what your overall goal is. You might see if you can make it even more specific to start with — becoming deliberately vulnerable to some individual person, for example — and then go from there.

    Viking, it’s a huge gamble, but I’ve noticed repeatedly that these days, the deeper people get into malign magic, the more they seem unable to learn, either from their mistakes or from the teachings of the past. I’ve watched people repeat the same beginner-level mistakes over and over again and fail consistently as a result, and still get angry if I suggest that maybe if it’s not working they should learn something from that. So this is a window of time in which it may be possible to get these ideas into the hands of those who can use them intelligently, without having to worry too much about the clueless or the corrupt.

    SLClaire, exactly!

  9. JMG, so, if you want to affect the Upper Mental, you need to act in the Lower Spiritual. That is, you need to found a new religion, or a new religious tradition. That’s why the great intellectual traditions of any given civilization are like its religions and spiritual practices with its serial numbers filed off. Interesting!

  10. My first thought is yes limits are necessary. Having a brain injury has taught me how focused people of today are about the word limit being a dirty word. For me, it is liberating since it gives form and substance to my life. Limits are a part of life.

    Off topic, disability porn focused on people overcoming their disabilities. Heroic stories to keep able bodied people from facing a possibility of limits on them.

  11. This makes so much sense. I have music students who will benefit tremendously from the insights you’ve illuminated in this chapter — that was my first thought. One is a teenager who might just have a future career in church music if I limit his focus. I don’t have to exclude his repertoire to church music entirely, but I will choose forms that are relevant to church music, including pop songs, with a ton of actual hymns thrown in.

    Most people who study music find they can play one particular style extremely well or with genius. Most will also have a single, favorite instrument. I include myself in this as I do best in the style I like to write in. Every now and then you will find a musical jack of all trades/chameleon but usually it isn’t the case.

  12. The distinction between only knowing one thing and choosing one thing out of many has an interesting equivalent in sports. The choice between specialising early or remaining a multi-sport athlete as long as possible can make the difference between burning out at 16 or peaking at 28.

    Also in sports science there is the concept of the shallow reserve and deep reserve. Shallow reserve is your normal system – exercise depletes it, food and rest recharge it. But if you push far past that and use the deep reserve you’re in trouble. Once it’s gone it’s either gone for good or only recharges very slowly. This is the worst of the worst overtraining. Even if the individual can be nursed back to a decent state, their health may be hanging by a thread from then on. From an occult point of view, what’s happened to them?

  13. Just a quick Dion Fortune related note, JMG. In a recent MM you speculated that her efforts during World War II may have been the cause of her early death. In fact, it was very common indeed for the people in the “back room” of the British war effort to die within five or ten years of the war ending. Some typical examples below:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Duncan_(businessman)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archibald_Rowlands

    https://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Oliver_Lucas

    https://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Edward_Robert_Micklem

    So in dying shortly after the war, Dion Fortune and Colonel Seymour were simply part of what would become a well established pattern. This phenomenon was also I think part of the reason why Britain went so quickly downhill after the war – an enormous tranche of its most able people simply died off.

  14. BL, more often it’s a matter of taking up an existing religious tradition that will give you the forms you need to create meanings and values. To create a new religion that has any real power, you have to reach up to the Upper Spiritual Plane, which involves contact with God or the gods.

    Neptunesdolphins, oh dear gods, yes. My late brother-in-law was in a wheelchair for many decades due to a swimming accident when he was 18, and he had scathing and unprintable things to say about the endless drumbeat of “uplifting” stories meant to convince the able-bodied that no one was really disabled…

    Kimberly, thanks for this. That makes a great deal of sense.

    Yorkshire, what’s happened is that they’ve injured or crippled their etheric body. It has its own organs and structures, and those can be harmed by various kinds of abuse. If it’s bad enough you don’t recover, any more than you can grow back an amputated limb.

    Logan, thank you for this — I wasn’t aware of the broader pattern.

  15. JMG, and Neptunesdolphin, the case of disabled persons brings up something about limits: there is presumably a point after which a limit becomes more a hindrance than a source of strength, I assume. But the details of this are complex, and they depend on the kind of limit concerned. But I’m not totally sure about this.

  16. “Writing free verse is like playing tennis with the net down” says Robert Frost… limits allow for creativity, to be sure.

    One thing that struck in my mind was this notion of effort and rest. My mentor suggests to have a few minutes of “doing nothing” after the intense effort of meditation… in the relaxation insights can pop up easily.

    “Doing nothing” can be really hard to do though, as irony would hve it. Doing a light activity can be more of a rest, as the bit on memory in the first grade of the DA says. Mowing the lawn can be quite a good time to let thoughts percolate. Also, in my own life I have noticed a pattern of focusing intently on one interest, like music, for a while, then alternating to another, like gardening. The change in focus gives a rest from one activity, coming back with renewed motivation. Likewise with spiritual practice, and with having to “earth” the higher energies with creative endeavors.

    Much food for thought, I’ll let this ferment as I go rake grass.

  17. One of the interesting things about gathering force on the plane above is that it implies that magical workings for various goals can’t be done unless you have the focres ready to go on the plane above the one you want to work on. I think a large part of the reason why so much pop-culture magic focuses on emotions, even when it’s counterproductive, is that they have emotional energies they can use, but getting meanings and insights for a particular purpose can be very, very difficult; even, depending on the goal, impossible.

    One of the other implications is that if you have something ready on a higher plane and hope to reach the lower ones, you can’t make that leap in one step. This can be done quite quickly in some cases, but in others I suspect it would take a long time and a lot of work to bring something all the way down.

    I just did some work in Green Wizardry, and have a surprisingly mundane example in mind now: if you wanted to change your life to fit around peak oil, the first step would be getting a good grasp of the implications of it (meanings on the upper mental); the next is changing the habitual ways of thinking about things to make room for peak oil and the fact that a good amount of what passes for normal these days is anything but normal (lower mental); after that it’s a matter of imagining what can be done, and what needs to be done, given these new ways of thinking (upper astral); then it’s time to bring it down a little further, to the level of desiring these changes (lower astral); and then, and only then, does the solar water heater go in.

    Each step is to bring it down, but to go right from “peak oil” to having a solar water heater won’t work: each step down is necessary before it eventually reaches the physical plane. It’s fascinating that this applies to such a mundane example, one which seemingly has very little to do with magic at all.

  18. I’ve found a good deal of the opposition to the concept of “free will” stems from the notion that the only real freedom is the complete and total freedom from every sort of limitation—including the limitation of being yourself! Which is quite absurd since if you’re “free” from having to be yourself, then there is no longer a “you” to have that freedom.

    It’s a “freedom” so free that it’s free to not be freedom.

  19. Yorkshire’s mention of athletes who pushed themselves beyond endurance for too long and burned out, reminded me of a term and a trope I ran across in the novels of 100-150 years ago: the child prodigy, pushed too hard by an ambitious father, who has an attack of “brain fever” and recovers with his talent gone and his intellect down to a mildly slow normal. I used to wonder what illness “brain fever” might be – encephalitis? – now think it was plain and simple burnout, just like the athletes “working at ten-tenths of their capacity” too long without a break.

    “ten-tenths of their capacity” is a term Steve Stirling used far too often about the young warriors in his Emberverse series. But one of them, who had never wanted to be a warrior but became so of necessity when widowed, and kept it up into her forties, was described in her later years by a grand-niece as a sour, nasty old crone “whose nose and chin were beginning to meet.” Same phenomenon, do you think? Though I’ve never met anyone whose nose was meeting their chin who didn’t have massive tooth loss.

    And child prodigies who loved what they were doing, like Mozart and Blind Tom, don’t seem to have been affected by that. Though Mozart did die young.

  20. JMG, yes, you’re right, of course. The creation of new forms is a Lower Spiritual phenomenon, which is influenced by the Upper Spiritual plane. Contact with gods beget new religions, and these enable new forms, which are in turn used by intellectuals to establish new intellectual traditions. Which is why secular religions fail so fast, and so regularly: they have fragile links to the lower spiritual.
    There’s a lot to meditate concerning this last chapter.

  21. And on the infatuation with “no limits to anything,” The general economy is in ruins. Warren Buffett warns that stock prices are more than 100% of the GDP – and that doesn’t even include the rest of the financial sector! And the DOW and the S&P are skyrocketing upwards.This can’t end well! What are the people in that sector smoking? Not their shorts: that would leave their brains naked to the wind.

  22. (Sorry if this question has been asked multiple times before) Do you plan on combining all of your posts on this topic into a commentary on Fortune’s book? I know that you turned the Arch Druid report into a ten volume series. It would be interesting to see these various articles combined into a single, physical text after completion.

  23. JMG & all –

    One thing I’ve certainly drawn from D Fortune and the Lurianic concept of divine limitation is a more clear idea of the meaning of *sacrifice*. That is, sacrifice isn’t merely giving something up simply for the sake of it or to prove one’s endurance in the face of loss and privation – it’s giving up something in order to get something better, even though in the short term a sacrifice might indeed hurt.

    As I imagine it, the original divine sacrifice – God surrendering His seamless One-ness and Unity for the sake of Multiplicity and Creation – is the template for all sacrifice on the micro level. I imagine it’s the foremost of the “as is above/so is below” dynamic. For example, in the simple act of, say, creating a musical composition, I’ve found that once I have the composition’s root idea in mind, I experience a certain exhilaration, a sense of the wholeness of the piece, albeit it’s an abstract sense. So many possibilities are at hand! But when I start choosing among possibilities and the actual composition comes into focus, I lose the exhilaration – things get *real* as they say. I have sacrificed that hovering, giddy sensation of having a world of possibility in my mind by making choices, by the act of limiting.

    Of course, when the composition is completed and the final choice is made, I have a feeling of sober fulfillment, which is distinct from the original exhilaration I experienced, and overall, it feels better. I imagine all artistic, or any kind of creative endeavor, is in a very real sense a mirroring of the original divine sacrifice, and is a taking part in the act of the original Creation.

  24. Booklover, it depends on the limit and also on the situation. Of course the law of diminishing returns applies here as well, though.

    Isaac, I often find that when I finish a meditation and start writing it up in my practice journal, all kinds of further ideas show up. I think that’s another example of the same process you’re describing.

    Kevin, excellent! Yes, exactly. You have to be able to function on the plane above the one you want to affect. If all you can do is brandish crude passions, you can make things happen on the etheric and material plane but that’s all. This is one of the reasons why workings for inner development are so essential to the operative mage: it’s by means of these that you become able to function on higher planes, giving you the power to shape the planes immediately below. And yes, you have to take things down the planes a level at a time!

    Valenzuela, that makes a great deal of sense. I’ll be talking about will in an upcoming post, and the relationship between will and limitation will be central to that.

    Patricia M, “brain fever” in the 19th century was often a euphemism for what we’d now call a nervous breakdown, so I think you’re quite correct.

    Bruno, bingo.

    Patricia M, ha! A fine image.

    Stephen, yes, and I’ve already placed it with a publisher. A Commentary on the Cosmic Doctrine will probably see print in 2022.

    Will M, that’s very much how I experience writing fiction, so I think you’re on to something.

  25. There is so much to relate to in this post.

    On limiting focus, I had a clear affirmation I was working with for a few weeks and started seeing results. I got greedy and starting incorporating new affirmations for a broader progress. As soon as this happened, my first affirmation started suffering.

    On propagating changes to lower mental plane, I’ve found reading your blogs and meditating on them more effective than any steps I’ve taken over the past few years for self correction. I seem more willing to make changes when an insight is attached. Would it be right to assume the dynamics of mental and astral plane are extensively used in your posts?

    On natural divisions for systems, I wonder if this plays a role in the ineptitude of the political class to make incremental changes. So many of them place themselves in sports teams of political ideas and fail to see how humans respond emotionally to issues. (Or maybe they do and want to cement our emotional patterns)

    I rewatched the harry potter movie series last week and now realized how it’s messed up expectations of magic. If it happens at the wave of a wand it’s magic, anything less means magic is not real.

  26. I’m thinking about it in my own life and realize I haven’t tried to make the jump for peak oil in a singal step, but I’ve broken it down into quite a few pieces and have some on every plane from the physical to the upper mental, all of which will gradually descend down to the physical over the course of the next few months and years.

    I’ve also had a rather stunning realization: my analysis of peak oil as a phenomena that needs to be brought down from the upper mental plane down to the physical plane stepwise reveals why the Appropriate Tech Subculture and Peak Oil Movement both imploded. They failed that task, but the way they failed it is fascinating, since it’s also the way the climate change movement and a bunch of other social movements failed and are failing: they tried to skip a step.

    Specifically, in the terms of the Cosmic Doctrine, they tried to descend from the upper mental to the upper astral, without giving the lower mental attention. They went straight from “Here’s our situation” straight to “Let’s imagine a better world”, without ever quite noticing that the leap was being made through channels which ought to have been challenged by peak oil or the limits to growth. The result was peak oil being filtered through systems of thought which contradict it. Thus the wild incoherence of both scenes, particularly the Peak Oil scene.

    It also seems likely this is part of what made Reagan possible, and why nearly the entire appropriate tech scene collapsed in the 1980s: “Morning in America” provided a potent counter-force to the Appropriate Tech Scene on the upper astral, and anything which tried to resist but lacked a base in the lower mental was obliterated.

  27. It was amazing to read a straightforward chapter in the Cosmic Doctrine and feel like I came out the other side understanding the concepts (although they are not necessarily easy to put into practice). I was thinking through how important it is to understand the end to which you are pointing. A year ago I focused on moving back closer to family and re-entering the work force. I accomplished both, but chose from several work options based on accomplishing an end that in retrospect didn’t lead where I expected. So part of the experience is learning that this works! And then the other part is learning this works, so you really do need to be careful where you point your efforts. So now I am re-evaluating how I ended up getting what should have been what I wanted, but didn’t quite go right, so that I can course correct a bit.

  28. Kevin, thank you for that beautiful and elegant set of analogies about the planes. That’s the sort of thing that helps a lesson stick in my mind so I can retool it and expand it to apply to other stuff. It’s the sort of thought process JMG does almost flippantly yet it has utterly changed my life’s trajectory.

    “To weigh yourself in the scale against that which is greater than yourself is to be outweighed by the inertia of the mass but to circumscribe a section of the mass, and separate it from the whole is to enable yourself to achieve piecemeal that which you cannot achieve in bulk.”

    I find myself frustrated by people who call themselves composers who, as far as I can tell, have never written so much as a compelling three chord jam or a catchy ad jingle. I know of many — their stock and trade is in hour long, unlistenable works of inscrutable tones and noises. I have no doubt they know their music theory and their notation is impeccable, but where is the muse? It is music, after all. It’s as if they skipped over the baby steps that were not a choice for Brahms and Stravinsky. For instance, Shulamit Ran. Her music is incomprehensible garbage to my ears, maybe useful for a horror movie soundtrack about mutant wasp attacks or lunatic serial killers and not much else.

  29. I’ve had another interesting insight: our society seems to reject the realm of what in the Cosmic Doctrine is labelled as the lower mental. (I feel a tad uncomfortable with terminology, since I think I’d classify it as the highest reaches of the astral; this system thus causes me some weird mental difficulties. Oh well: I’d best to get comfortable with it since it seems to provide me with a lot of brilliant insights). This seems to explain why so many movements for social change get caught up in jumping from the upper mental to the upper astral.

    I suspect one cause of this is the case is the curious myth in our society that insists we, or at least those of us who are smart enough to grasp reality, don’t think in myths. In the terms of the planes used here, myths would seem to be the natural stuff of the lower mental. So, our insistence we don’t think in myths thus means we reject the lower mental. What’s really fascinating about it is that we thus have the nonexitence of the lower mental as a pattern on the lower mental, and so of course efforts to engage in the lower mental go nowhere!

    Meanwhile, this means the lower mental can get quite toxic, since a lot of things which we’d clean up if we were paying attention to it get stuck and go septic, and that when we have something on the upper mental we want to try to bring down to lower levels, we tend to bridge the gap between the upper mental and upper astral by way of this idea we don’t use myths which is availabe to bridge the gap from upper mental to upper astral.

    Oddly enough though, this seems to imply that as long as you use that bridge, you’ll never be able to establish anything new on the upper astral in a form which will be viable long term. The reason is simple: anything which is going to survive, on any plane, needs a connection with the plane above, and if you bridge the gap between the upper mental and upper astral by the myth of a lack of myths, which seems to be how most people do it right now, then you’re trying to establish something which in all likelihood the patterns which you aren’t aware of will reject.

    No wonder so many people are incoherent right now!

  30. Greetings JMG and fellow Ecosophians ~

    RE: “Limitation is the first law of manifestation, therefore it is the first law of power.”

    Interesting the choice of terminology on DF’s side re: “limitation” and definitely in agreement here on how that is affecting people today. I didn’t quite understand this phrase before, and the use of “limitation” in this context before, but now it makes sense.

    I like your “Power without limitation is power wasted.” – absolutely.

    I do believe that once one has accepted, worked and overcome limitations, that greater power is achieved / bestowed / reclaimed, and hence “limitless” is possible. Or shall I say the feeling, knowing and understanding of, or alignment with, one’s True Self – the Eternal and Limitless Self – is possible.

    It seems that most of the population’s view or definition of “limitless” is more of a superficial one; with more mundane or egoic goals vs the loftier goals of spiritual growth, ideals and virtues.

    For me, I would replace “limitation” with other words like “Self-control” or “Self-discipline” or “Focus” because only when we have controlled the monkey mind, and have complete and unquestionable focus and control, and are willing to “do the work”; then being limitless and opening up to deeper versions of “reality” (or seeing through the illusion) is a given.

    So perhaps its because people today aren’t really interested in “doing the work”. They would rather just pop a pill, not realising that it’s the journey that results in transformation, and hence real magic.

    Most people have lost the art of language too; it’s meaning and proper use. Words are flippantly thrown about, without actually putting them into context, or knowing what they really mean. When the true meaning of something is lost, or is taken for granted, it loses its power too.

    “Limitation” comes with another word “humble”. I feel that this is what is missing in society today, and which we could all do with being reminded of and coming back to; using it as a guiding force.

    We, as spiritual beings, have to accept being in a human vessel and the limitations that come with being limited by the physical laws of the 3D realm. This relates to your words about Creation. As above / so below reflected nicely here.

    “In order to achieve an end you must outline that end and limit yourself to it, rejecting all that is irrelevant.”

    Absolutely – the word/phrase that makes more sense to me here again is… “FOCUS yourself on it”.

    Just focusing on the end or outcome as “done”, with absolute conviction… “And so it is.”

    I love your “The strategy of magic on a large scale is the strategy of drops of water falling on a stone and wearing it away.”

    Definitely focusing on the bigger picture, and taking into account forces that can be used in one’s favour, is what can result in something even greater.

    Fantastic! Your final paragraph was exactly what I did yesterday, and what I need to allow myself more of – some relaxation “time”… time for mundane activities and enjoying the physical side of life and being “human” 😉

    Thank you JMG for this well-timed reminder… as always.

    ~ Tanya

  31. @Kevin, you are quite on a roll! Thanks for these insights. Given these, if you were to suggest new myths for Peak Oil or the Appropriate Tech movement, what could do it?

  32. While reading the description of Fortune’s schema of the various planes, I was suddenly struck by the thought that the old art of rhetoric is connected with making things happen on each of the planes.

    Almost certainly I’m oversimplifying something more rich, but if we have the three appeals to reason (logos), to emotion (pathos) and to character (ethos), then they roughly could map on to Fortune’s schema:

    Logos/appeal to reason – it would depend on whether this segment of an argument involved the arrangement of facts or the arrangement of concepts, but in the latter case would involve probably the upper mental, if one definition of meaning is an arrangement of concepts that ‘makes sense’.

    Pathos/appeal to emotions – this maps clearly on to the upper and lower astral. Perhaps we could say there is an ‘upper pathos’ and a ‘lower pathos’ which maps to those two astral planes respectively.

    Ethos/appeal to character – here’s where my mapping falls apart, unless it maps to the lower mental, if that is the territory of ‘attitudes and habits of thought’. The appeal to character is arguing on the basis of concepts not arrived at through reason but because they have settled into habits, ie, ’embodied’ concepts. Perhaps another way of describing someone’s character is to describe what habits of thought they are living.

    If this little thought experiment holds, then perhaps a good rhetorical argument, if sequenced properly to touch on the planes in descending order, will trickle meaning from the upper mental down into the realm of the physical, providing to its audience the pathway necessary to do so themselves. The arrangement of the content of an entire rhetorical argument itself could correspond to the upper mental, for that matter.

    I’d have to look at examples to see if this all really works, though.

    Unrelated: the discussion this week about the planes together with last week’s discussion about the genders of the subtle bodies on each of the planes is really thought-provoking.

  33. Because our gracious and erudite host is always relevant: happy International Left-Handers Day!

    The Reverend Fastleft raises his teacup and toasts all his fellow southpaws. *Clink*

  34. Taking it further, what happens when a whole generation, within a nation or many nations, expresses all their energy with no limitations? You have the situation were ALL human energy is gasoline poured on the ground and lighted. Yes, no work is done, and glaringly. Widespread destruction is had, clearly, with all power going off out in the open, yes. But more, *No change is had*. Nothing is gained. And as you’re shooting off your explosives, your power, out in the open, in public, much is burned and lost. Friendships, governments, cities, principles, yourself.

    Reminds me of “Liminalism” so well expressed here by Jasun Horsley: https://auticulture.com/the-liminalist-241-james-howard-kunstler/ The present generation is aching for limits, for discipline, for a Daddy to say no. Because they’re dying of lack of limits that would give them back their power of their lives (and elsewhere). They feel powerless, and that is their panic, the energy that gets them out and acting. But mentally that is not ‘logical’, they also fight the solution knocking on their door in a death-match: limitations, rules, order, traditions, are the hated “other”. So they are attracting their need, their answer, their opposite, then fighting it. Or rather, fighting themselves, using some outside prop, as Jung might describe. So it goes. This could be apparent and solved if they say, “I am not a person who lives to hate others and fight things, I must find another way.” Then you ask questions, the questions open doors, and you learn, which is to say, you change yourself first. Not the other guy. He is not your responsibility or problem. You are. Self-awareness. Self-ability. Self-action. Which requires limitation, rules, order, habit, and tradition.

    While they first banished spiritualist, personal gnostic tradition (with constant re-discoveries) now they’ve also outlawed the magic or religious ritual. “Real people don’t believe in that stuff” only backwood hicks actually believe religion and prayer works and that God exists anymore. We Theological schools are by far too smart and sophisticated for that. So…what religion do you have then? None at all. And Poof! They disappear into a cloud of their own logic. But with Catholic Vatican II, the loss of Latin, and the Protestants giving up churches and litanies for rock bands and street-speech, the last of the magic was erased, driven from the temple with a whip, then swept the corners with a broom.

    So with no power, no change, no purpose, the people stop showing up. …And the answer (from modern consultants and think-tanks) was to do it more, be more approachable, more man-of-the-people, less tradition, less rules, less judgement until the Pope himself says, “What is sin? Who am I to say?” and All Dogs Go to Heaven. They have done what 2,000 years of opposition couldn’t do, erased themselves more completely than any outsider could, and so pagans – or at this point, the general population which is the same thing – laugh at Christians as fools and pick up the crumbs of power that mostly exist outside of the former Church magic. That doesn’t mean they don’t have power: both traditions do; but if Christianity is hell-bent on expelling their own power and purpose, then even an average Joe will have more magic by accident by accident than they do on purpose. Sad because the pattern has been so established over the last 2,000 years, helped by so many billion people, that there is real high-tension power available on tap there. And as they say, that pattern of willing sacrifice was universal…and mysterious.

    Aren’t cell phones the real solution to ever resting, stopping thinking and stimulation, and having ‘down time”? We must get them into the hands of everyone, immediately.

    Speaking of “freedom”, that is a careful misnomer, like “democracy.” “Freedom” is indeed “Do what thou wilt”, but we in America are not supposed to be about “Freedom,” at all, we are supposed to consider others in our community, and therefore believe in Lady “Liberty”, which is freedom but with strict limitations and responsibilities. The originators would never mistake the two. We mistake them as much as we can, and therefore “The centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.” Things fall apart. Perhaps instead of Lady Anarchy, we would like to support Lady Liberty again. But only if you love and support limitations, that is to say, self “Discipline.”

  35. I meditated this morning with Fortune’s sentence as a theme: “In order to achieve an end you must outline that end and limit yourself to it, rejecting all that is irrelevant.”

    The first part of the sentence reminds me of the old saying ‘defining the problem is half the solution’. The second part of the sentence is, as you’ve noted, the part which our society struggles with, the idea that limits are something to be embraced rather than rejected. I kept thinking about the notion of resting between achieving ends, and then imagined what those poles would represent if compared in terms of personalities.

    On one side, you would have the person who is great at seeing the overview of things, content to sit on the sidelines, and watch receptively to the goings-on in the world. They sit watching, but never do anything. The other personality is the monomaniacal striver, who relentlessly pursues their aim and is literally blind to everything else, being so focused on one thing at the expense of all else.

    I forgot during meditation that Fortune has already made the distinction between those who pursue a goal blindly because they know nothing else, and those who choose to reject anything other than things that bring them closer to their goal. The same applies to those who watch and do nothing: it is easy to stay sat in inactivity, doing little because of a lack of desire, or aversion, to commitment (yes, I speak from experience). With people like this, deciding to give up the lofty position from their perch, where they have a great view of everything, in order to get into the weeds and work – the reassuring thing to know is that they can come back to their perch after doing so to reclaim the view.

    Going further, I realized that revival Druidry has a great toolkit for working with all this: the seasonal cycles. Previous meditations and a read-through of the Dolmen Arch have led me to the following: Awen is ultimate unity, the ultimate focused end. Annwn is ultimate potential, total division into smallest parts and completely receptive.

    In the language you used last week about gender, in terms of it being the ‘direction of creative energy’, then perhaps Awen is masculine in nature, whereas Annwn is feminine. Which maps on to the seasonal cycles: the movement toward Sammhuinn, and the cauldron of Annwn, is the seasons heading back to Winter’s receptive and reflective state, toward repose, toward renewal of potential. And midsummer reflects Awen, the manifestation of life in its fullest form and energy. This cycle happens across all the planes, further complicating matters.

    One last point, and I can’t remember if I’m recycling the thoughts of others and this point has already been made: Rather than our society being masculine or feminine as Kevin Taylor Burgess very interestingly and perceptively wrote last week, it seems to me that it’s confused. It aims for goals, ie, it is masculine in that it seeks ends and is outwardly focused, but it doesn’t want to accept the necessary limitations to do so. And this might be because it wants to also embody the feminine – it seeks the total expansiveness of pure potential, it wants the potential to go into any direction it chooses. As Fortune notes, these are two contradictory goals. Our society has a gender identity crisis, and perhaps that’s why gender is such a theme nowadays, as this trickles down into the lives of people living in it.

  36. This is very insightful, both the original post and the comments.

    I have a question about affirmations, though. It seems to me that they weaken or countervail an undesirable, emotionally very salient link or story through incessant repetition of sentences and images that are also highly emotionally charged. Doesn’t that mean that the undesirable and the affirmed phenomena are on the same plane?

    This week’s lesson would seem to suggest an undesirable emotional pattern can be dislodged using new thought patterns reinforced e.g. by meditation or prayer. I think this works up to a point, but affirmations seems to have their own strength. How does that fit in?

  37. Kevin, that’s brilliant! You’ve come a long way so fast, too! I’m copying down those insights from my own use.

    Grandma Pat

  38. John–

    A couple of things for me coming out of this chapter. First, could you do a quick parallel of your schema of the planes versus Fortune’s and a review of the components of each plane (e.g. emotions, thoughts, etc.)? I keep getting jumbled up.

    Secondly, my wife is on her own magical path, one that is more folk-magic than ceremonial (certainly, more practically-oriented than theoretical) and this disparity has resulted in some interesting challenges when we’ve tried to discuss our experiences. (To be fair, the issues are largely on my side: she has little issue with trying various approaches to find something that works, whereas I insist on trying to have some understanding of the mechanics–the hows and the whys–before I “blindly stumble forward,” as I often call it, and attitude which often impedes my progress.) I think this chapter, however, has shed some light on something she’s been telling me for some time now, which has been to cultivate the feelings (she’s big on feelings, which I try to skirt around) that are associated with the thing I’m trying to manifest, and then the thoughts, and the thing in question will manifest in its own time in whatever form it’s supposed to take. So, if I’m understanding your commentary on Fortune correctly, what my wife is actually doing is creating the form on the lower astral (emotions), filling that form with energy from the upper astral (thoughts), which precipitates into manifestation on the physical. Am I seeing this right?

    Finally, there was something from this chapter that bothered me and I had to sit with it for a while to understand what it is. The best way I can describe it is that there seems to be a certain “Jedi mind trick” aspect to magic as it is developed here: if you want something, focus on it relentlessly and it will come; unless it’s something that you can’t do, in which case don’t waste your time; an din any event, your focus is not on changing the world, but your perspective of the world. The power we develop is more about realizing that we don’t need the power in the first place, at least not in the way we thought we did. (Saving civilization, for example, or making oneself rich and powerful.) It’s rather like Zen enlightenment: it’s nothing, but it’s a special kind of nothing, and certainly not the grand something the novice is seeking at the outset of his/her journey.

    One has (I certainly had) this vision of a magus as an immensely powerful being, able to bend the fabric of the world about him/her and able to withstand the onslaught of the storms of this life, only to discover that the power is there, but it’s in a very different form (e.g. the messianic expectations of first century Zealots versus the prophet Yeshua bar Yosef), one that is quiet and subtle and outwardly weak if inwardly strong. You can have all that envisioned power, but it won’t get you what you think it will and in time it all goes away anyway. So the answer is to not seek the things you thought you needed to seek because they’re not going to get you what you actually need. This feels like cheating somehow.

  39. Booklover
    The limits on the disabilities is many fold. If you are born with one, then that is all you know. So it becomes a matter of being a part of your life. If the disability happened later, then there is the before and after. Then the limits become cumbersome since the before is now the measuring stick.

    The other factor is how the disabilities interact with the world. For Deaf people (culturally Deaf), they have no problem in communication. For them, it is the Hearing who insist on how the communication should be i.e. spoken. Since the Hearing are educating Deaf children, speech is often emphasized over other means of communicating.

    So it is a multifaceted thing and the deeper you go into it, the more layered it is.

    As for how it manifests on the planes, I haven’t a clue.

  40. A part of limits is of course the person’s focus. If you are focused on gaining more money, then of course you spend your time with that goal. However, as Mr. Greer has pointed out, most people have a split mind or will. They want more money but are unwilling to work on getting it. Neopagans are constantly begging for spells for prosperity but don’t follow through on the material plane. I knew a person who ran store haphazardly constantly doing money spells, and wondering why she went out of business. She kept closing the store to goof off.

  41. On physical limitations and the AWFLs of a certain age – the phrase “Kamala Harris, 55…” was the trigger. That’s prime time for politicians and corporate types and other professionals. But it’s also menopause time for women. And having had a very rough puberty, I will never underestimate the way unpredictable surges of hormones can mess one over physically, emotionally, and mentally, whether the tide is rising, or ebbing. (Had an easy menopause. Go figure.)

    55 is also contemporary with my daughters, and my post about the world they spent their childhood in also applies. And so does one other pressure unique to women in our contemporary culture – the perception that the slightest sign of aging is a quick trip to the dumpster. A lot of what’s considered “vanity”projects like botox, hair dye, surgery, etc, can be put down to trying to retain one’s competitive edge. One can see how a certain amount of anxiety and resentment would mount up at that age, in an environment where Image Is All.

  42. Another thought on limits – learned helplessness and victims.

    The women who rail about the evil patriarchy all have comfortable lives. They do not use their resources to get out of whatever bind they feel they are in. They wait for someone to come along and remove the problem. This is also the objection to BLM and their focus on removing the White Supremacy. The focus is that the people are helpless and inert, and must wait for change to come outside of themselves. Before they can move forward, those bad men or Whites must change. Instead of working within the limits, they wait for the shining prince to rescue them.

    I call these people heroic victims. They must rail about limits and how evil the limits are, in order to explain how they are stuck or unhappy. At the same time, they construct a system of limits that they can throw themselves up against and fail. Then report how they struggled but the evil whatever prevent them from achieving.

    I am not sure if this is the limit of consciousness or limited consciousness that is at play. All I know is that it is a handy construct to avoid change or movement.

  43. JMG, just saw your last comment on previous post. You are right, I’m afraid. Their mothers have no idea what is happening, they’re so afraid…they’re not bad people, just scared. My whole will has been bent on preparing to help them, and I can’t help them by telling them, only to do it. It breaks my heart, so to survive this I must accept I can’t help them all, some will be held out of my reach.

    My best hope is to be able to help the ones left in my reach. It’s all a human mother can do, so it has to be enough. Every mother – not just those of the stillborn, or rare genetic disorder, or death by terrible accident- also knows that eventually they all still leave your reach anyway, and you don’t always get to decide when, and you won’t always be able to see it coming, and no one could have told you. And the is nothing you could have done. Because shale happens, but also, they eventually have to be allowed to decide on their own. Pain is pain is pain though. Say ouch.

    But that’s true every day of the week, and not just in these times. The truth is not necessarily to be interpreted in its most ominous form, as you remind newbie diviners on Magic Monday all the time. It’s just that our whole society are newbie diviners right now, and can use the talk down from the ledge. It’s catabolic collapse, sometimes the drop is shorter than we think, and the landing not so bad at all 😉

  44. @Isaac (& all):

    I think free verse in poetry and musical improvisation are both at their best when they have limits. When a free verse poem is allowed to crytallize around a key theme, then words can flow around that theme in the same manner as when a jazz player is improvising around a certain mode. So free verse can still have an outline or theme for the ideas to cluster around and create a shape. That shape may not be in traditional rhyming or meter schemes but some structure still may be there. Internal sound patterns, the use of commas, enjamming the lines to create rhythm are all found in good free verse.

    In music too, the idea of a fantasia on a theme… stream of consciousness / improvisation is harnessed around a certain set of limits giving these things their form.

    So I guess there can be looser and more rigid outlines and forms for which creative endeavors can flow into for manifestation.

    I too often get good ideas when I’m washing the dishes, cutting the grass, or doing some kind of physical chore where my mind kind of drifts or lets go of whatever I’m working on mentally. Say a story or essay. Then solutions come.

  45. “In order to achieve an end you must outline that end and limit yourself to it, rejecting all that is irrelevant…”

    That statement describes my last few months very well! We’ve had a few fairly large building projects that needed to be done on our farmstead, and I knew I would have to limit lots of things in order to get them done on time, as we are on a fairly tight schedule for a few different reasons. The pandemic made that process a lot easier in some ways, but there was more that needed to be limited, so: housework was quickly (and cheerfully) deemed irrelevant; having dinner before 10 pm – irrelevant; visiting friends, especially the problematically chatty ones – irrelevant; going to sleep before midnight – well, you get the idea. It definitely works – we got our projects finished (the current one is almost wrapped up), but I wholeheartedly agree that this is an unbalanced approach which leads to burnout if pursued for too long without a break. I’m in need of some proper rest and a chance to step back and see how things are all working together and fitting into the larger picture. Then, I’m sure, it will once again be time to focus and limit to get the next series of projects done…

    In terms of personal development, I think it can be trickier to limit the forms one is creating. One part of the self might have a goal (the form) of, say, becoming a professional athlete, while another part of the self is plagued by another form – self-doubt (I’m not good enough, not strong enough etc). Clearly the self-doubt needs to be limited, and I think that’s where magic can come in. One could invoke forces from higher planes which can unravel the roots of the self-destructive thoughts and replace them with a better concept that is in harmony with the original goal. I don’t think it’s possible to properly create forms without doing this as the contents of one’s consciousness haven’t been effectively limited – instead it’s trying to create two different and opposite forms at once.

  46. Hey hey JMG,

    I’m not sure how this would map onto Fortune’s planes, but I think that the sequence fits here.

    Mindset, skillset, toolset.

    It’s the order of operations for developing a new ability, skill, profession, etc.

    Thanks,
    Tim

    P.S. how would you classify these three? Particularly skillset, what plane does skill reside on?

  47. Splendid commentary, JMG, on a phenomenal chapter. It’s truly amazing how much information Fortune crammed into the Law of Limitation.

    The biggest thing that grabbed my attention when reading this chapter (I’ve got the millennium edition), second paragraph: the word “vehicle” (I notice that your commentary focuses on the alternative word that Fortune used: “form”) For a Hindu, “vehicle” is a very common (but, sadly, I might add, not well understood) concept. Every god has a vehicle: Vishnu has the eagle; Shiva, the bull; Shatki, the tiger; Lakshmi, the elephant (aside: I have used these four in my SOP representing air, water, fire and earth, respectively, with great success); Ganesh, the mouse; Saturn, the crow, etc. No god exists without a vehicle. And in Hindu mythology, each vehicle has a distinct name, identity, and “story”. Most Hindus pay little attention to the vehicles (after all, one prays to the god rather than his/her mount), but I have increasingly found them to be a source of great revelation about each vehicle’s lord.

    So, for me, “vehicle” within the context of the Law of Limitation (i.e., being the intermediate “next level up” between the higher planes and our plane) was a “lightbulb moment”. It fits remarkably well. It also fits well with, IIRC, a statement by Patrick Harpur (in “Daimonic Reality”) that one is not visited directly by a god, but by a “daimon” of the god, who possesses some of the god’s characteristics and serves as an intermediary between the divine and human realms.

  48. I breezed through menopause. I had exactly one hot flash, from the knees down. (I thought, “Wow, that IS horrible!”). At the time, Sonkitten was alternating between a week at home and a week at his aging grandparents’s house, taking care of things. I like home-cooked-type Japanese food and took advantage of my solo weeks to eat a lot of it, as Sonkitten doesn’t care for Japanese-style veggies. So I ate a heck of a lot of seaweed. Later I found out that most Japanese women also breeze through menopause, and researchers found that something in seaweed—I forget what—prevents hot flashes. So, young ladies, start slurping down that seaweed!

    There’s one kind, called hijiki, that contains natural arsenic. I gather you’d have to eat barrels of it for YOU to get sick, but that you should restrict it to 2-3 times a week as long as you are able to become pregnant.

  49. I also got to thinking about the effectiveness of and techniques used in propaganda after reading this article from Dr. Mercola:

    https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2020/08/13/coronavirus-vaccination-campaign.aspx?cid_source=dnl&cid_medium=email&cid_content=art1HL&cid=20200813Z1&mid=DM621205&rid=939442223

    It’s about a study being conducted by Yale University to test the effectiveness of various messages to influence people to get a coronavirus vaccine, for an upcoming ‘public relations’ campaign. Some of the messages are particularly insidious:

    “Guilt message — the danger that COVID-19 presents to the health of one’s family and community. Therefore, the best way to protect them is not only by getting vaccinated, but to get society to work together to get enough people vaccinated. Then a test question asks the participant to imagine the guilt they will feel if they don’t get vaccinated and then spread the disease.

    “Trust in science message — A message about how getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is the most effective way of protecting one’s community, that vaccination is backed by science: If one doesn’t get vaccinated that means that one doesn’t understand how infections are spread or you are one who ignores science.”

    This is clearly a type of debased, selfish magic, but it’s interesting to analyze it from the perspective Fortune presents in this chapter. It would seem the main obstacle which prevents people from getting vaccinated is they perceive vaccines as not being safe. If I understand correctly, this would largely be a form on the lower mental plane – an attitude and habit of thought, although I suppose it would vary from person to person as to where that habit of thought came from and how much they have personally thought about it all. To change this would require creating a form on the upper mental plane. It seems whoever crafted the different messages is aware of this as well, as many of the messages seek to first create a specific framework of meanings and insights. And particularly interesting how they then literally ask the participants to imagine forms on the lower astral! It would be odd, to say the least, if the people responsible had no involvement with the occult arts.

  50. JMG, in honor of Southpaw Day, we are treating you to a bacon cheeseburger 🍔 with extra seaweed! Enjoy!

  51. JMG, just one more comment: gods change, they evolve, or, in a way, they die. With their passing, a given set of forms decays. When forms decay, the intellectual substance of a civilization rots. And then the civilization declines, and, finally, falls.

  52. @Kevin, fascinating. If I may, I tried to imagine not quite some time ago a world in which we, as a civilization, had embraced the reality of peak oil around the eighties. I envisioned billboards, TV shows, comics, movies and whatelse depicting a generic figure I named, in my imagination, The Self Reliant Man. Self-Reliant Man doesn’t drives a car, because he is strong and healthy enough to walk long distances by himself; he doesn’t needs air conditioner, because he has enough fortitude to not be bothered by cold or heat. Self-Reliant Man does not requires expensive transoceanic vacations, because he finds joy anywhere. Self-Reliant man does not buy shoddily made trash, because he prefers things that last. And so on…

    I’m not saying we should use that specific character, by we need to elaborate that kind of myth.

  53. This wonderful discussion of the planes and their ability to affect the lower one–including issues when a plane is “missing” or confused onthe mental instead of addressed on the astral–remind me of the transactional analysis discount matrix. Cos Doc fans will notice how easily it corresponds to the planes. You can check it out in summary here: http://www.psihoterapieat.ro/eng/pdf/TA%20%20-%20discount%20theory.pdf

    While a person might be discounting their ability to solve a problem on a lower plane, it may just be the plane of manifestation of that discount, while the original discount could be at any level higher. So one ises the matrix by asking questions starting at the upper left and working to the lower right to figure out where the discount arises, then addresses it at that box, which then leads to the next box, which must be addressed in turn, etc. until there are no longer any discounts.

    I have found this matrix very helpful (a full discussion can be found in the book TA Today 2nd ed.), and it doesn’t surprise me that it could well have been pulled from the pages of the Cosmic Doctrine. Each row is a plane, each column a subplane. Of course, it need not apply only to discounts. It strikes me that someone could as easily devise a belief matrix to see how the higher affects the lower in terms of attitudes, for example.

    It might even be possible to work from the bottom right up to assess a current state: from actions upward, and compare to a belief matrix to see where the discord happens. For example, if I think I believe climate change is a problem and that I’m acting to deal with it, I can trace my beliefs downward and my actions upward, and expect to see a certain harmony. The highest box at which they fail is the misstep, sending ripples of discord down the planes. But it should also be possible in tracing upwards to see what the actual belief is. Lots of meat on this bone!

  54. Kimberly Steele,

    You’re most welcome! I find that a lot of these abstract metaphors and discussions are hard for me to make sense of without a concrete example, and since I jumped straight from Green Wizardry to this post, I wound up applying the concept. I’m happy it helps others too!

    Viking,

    I’d like to see plenty of them, but I’m not sure what would work best. Certainly grasping historical cycles would help a lot; redefining the task not as keeping business as usual running but the heroic task of simplifying our lives to make room for the potentials of human existence we’ve lost; I’m sure there are others as well. Bruno, for example, mentions one I think has a lot of potential if adopted.

    Jbucks,

    Fascinating. I think that might make sense of some of the weird phenomena in contemporary society! Hmm. It looks like my observation last week is a springboard from which to launch in a dozen different directions. I’m quite pleased with that fact!

    Grandma Pat,

    I already have a Grandma Pat, but I’ll happily accept another! I’ve discovered a useful trick to having ideas, inspired by something a science fiction author Stanley Schmidt wrote. He noted that his best stories were always where two ideas collided with each other; I wondered if that might be a general principle, so I’ve taken to occasionally switching what I’m doing or thinking about very suddenly, and it appears the result is brilliant insights.

    Neptune’s Dolphins

    Dear gods, this makes so much sense! I’ve noticed one of the major differences between the very affluent suburb I grew up in and the working class neighbourhood I live in now is that a lot of people in the suburb are violently against “white supremacy” or “the patriarchy”, or whatever the bogyman du jour happens to be. The thing which I think drives it is that people in the suburb lack the desire to impose limits on themselves, and since they don’t do that, they need something to explain why they keep failing.

    Bruno,

    I think Self-Reliant Man has potential as a mythic figure for peak oil! Thank you.

  55. Nomad, glad to hear it. With regard to affirmations, I recommend using one at a time, or at the very most two — more than that and you lose focus. With regard to writing, any writer who isn’t a hack is working with the upper mental plane in at least a small way — that’s where you get the insights that make a story or an essay something more than a rehash of clichés — and trying to clothe those insights in concepts from the lower mental plane and images from the upper astral plane. With regard to our hopelessly inept political class, I think getting fixated on ideas is an important part of it — too much abstraction divorced from contact with human realities produces reliably awful results. And as for Harry Potter, I’ve long thought that that’s the point of the fake magic in bad fantasy — it makes a great way to distract attention from the realities of magic.

    Kevin, excellent. That analysis seems spot on to me.

    BoulderLovin Cat, good — learning from the results of your workings is an essential skill in this work and one that far too many people neglect.

    Kimberly (if I may), to my mind (and ear), modern art music is unlistenable because the composers don’t know their music theory — or more to the point, they know it only as something to reject. Music is a language, tonality is its grammar and harmony is its syntax, and once they reject those — and of course it’s de rigueur to reject those in modern art music — they’re simply doing the equivalent of sitting down at a typewriter and typing AOVUGINCOGJAIEMQNIOVGJQIMC. And then, of course, preening themselves on how cutting-edge they are because only the cognoscenti can stand their music… (Yes, I’ll stop ranting now. I feel very strongly about this, which is why so much music and opera criticism went into my two shoggoth novels…)

    Kevin, hmm! I think you’re right — and that opens two immediate directions of analysis. First, as iirc Jung said somewhere, there are two kinds of people: those who are acting out myths unconsciously and those who are aware that that’s what they’re doing. The myth of mythlessness thus makes it easy for people to act out myths in a completely unreflective fashion, because they have no awareness of what they’re doing. Identifying those covert myths would therefore be a way of understanding and predicting their behavior. Second, that suggests that effective narratives presented to people could have a much more powerful effect than I would otherwise expect. This needs some thought…

    Tanya, thanks for this meditation! “Focus” is certainly another way to think of it, and so are “self-discipline” and “self-control.” I’m pretty sure Fortune used the word she did to try to shock people out of habitual thought patterns — she was good at that.

    Viking, excellent. Yes — the appeal to logos attempts to transmit new insights and understandings to the listener, so it belongs to the upper mental plane. The appeal to ethos works with habitual thoughts and values, so it belongs to the lower mental plane. The appeal to pathos appeals to the emotions and the passions, so it belongs to both the upper and the lower astral planes. Equally, as you suggest, the insights at the center of your argument is a thing of the upper mental plane, the structure of your argument is of the lower mental plane, the words and verbal images you use to clothe the argument belong to the upper astral plane, and your posture, gesture, vocal tones, and other performance issues — which communicate to the audience on a nonverbal gut-level basis — belong to the lower astral plane.

    Your Kittenship, thank you! I’m a little more left-handed than right-handed — my nervous system is kind of a mess, and I tend to think of myself as ambisinistrous rather than ambidextrous — but will certainly raise a teacup in response.

    Jasper, a fine meditation — and rather timely, of course. One thing I’ll add is that those who begin to grasp the importance of limits gain power as a result — power over themselves and over their circumstances. I think one of the reasons that certain social phenomena (such as the NoFap movement) are becoming so widespread is precisely that people are noticing that those who take them up achieve the power and liberty that the people who reject all limits are trying to attain in the wrong way.

    Jbucks, another fine meditation! I think you may well be right about our society’s gender identity crisis. Most people these days don’t know how to be masculine or feminine, on any plane.

    Dornroeschen76, affirmations take something from the upper mental plane (an insight or understanding that you want to make part of your life) and clothe them in forms from the lower mental plane (the words of the affirmation), then charge them with the substance of the upper astral plane (the emotions you build into the affirmation). It’s replicating the process by which habits and emotional patterns get established in the first place, but doing it deliberately.

    David BTL, sure. The material plane in my system is the denser half or so of the physical/etheric plane in hers. The etheric plane in my system is the upper half of Fortune’s physical/etheric plane, plus the lower astral — the passions are to my mind very deeply involved in the etheric body. The astral plane in my system is her upper astral and lower mental planes. Her upper mental plane is my mental plane; and I divide the spiritual planes into three — the spiritual, causal, and divine planes — while she divides them into two, the lower and upper spiritual planes. We’re describing the same landscape but with somewhat different maps.

    As for your wife’s strategy, not quite — in Fortune’s scheme, the upper astral is the realm of emotions and images, while the lower mental is the realm of thoughts. Other than the terminological difference, though, yes, that seems to be what she’s doing. With regard to cheating — no, because you’re leaving out the third stage. You start out thinking that magic involves vast powers and miraculous events, then you figure out that it’s actually something much subtler and more deeply woven into the structure of what is…and then you find out that that’s actually far more powerful than the lightning bolts you imagined yourself casting, and opens up into realms of light that are quite literally beyond human imagination. Keep going and see where you end up…

    Neptune’s Dolphins, a fine example, and one that I’ve seen repeated all too many times. All the spells in the world won’t help someone who wants two contradictory things at once.

    Patricia M, that makes sense.

    Neptune’s Dolphins, oh dear gods, yes. That habit of deliberate helplessness plays a central role in the Rescue Game, too, which is another very effective way that people defend themselves against happiness and success.

    Pixelated, well, I hope I’m wrong. We’ll see.

    Stefania, that’s very good to hear.

    Tim, mindset in Fortune’s scheme belongs to the upper mental plane, and toolset belongs to the physical/etheric. Skillset — depends on the skills. Verbal skills belong to the lower mental plane, interpersonal skills to the upper astral plane, physical skills start on the lower astral and cascade straight down to the physical.

    Ron, hmm! That’s fascinating, and I think highly relevant.

    Stefania, advertising is a well-developed form of black magic, and has absorbed a lot of occultism directly and indirectly. They’re foolish to put this information out in public, though, where it can be analyzed and monkeywrenched…

    Your Kittenship, thank you!

    Bruno, nicely summarized.

    Kyle, excellent! I hadn’t thought of that, but you’re quite correct, of course.

  56. @JMG ah, punctuation. You’re right: I’m afraid. The kids I think will be as fine as ever kids will be. But we’ll see.

  57. Sorry Bruno, the Powers That Be don’t want the “Self-Reliant Man”. BAU requires the exact opposite. Buy a car, eat junk until you ruin your health, sit on the couch and view commercials about Fun Carnival Cruises, buy cheap Chinese junk that needs frequent replacing (Wal-Mart model), fill the landfills with trash, go get MORE. It’s all about the churn, baby. I was thinking about the phrase “the customer is always right”, and having spent a literal lifetime working in a service industry, I can tell you, in my humble opinion, the customer is usually NOT right. Then I made a connection between that phrase and the concept of breaking down boundaries, which is the “magic” of the advertising industry. Perhaps the SOP is what is needed to have a concept of healthy boundaries. I am always amazed that when I tell a customer no, we don’t do that, or no I can’t get that, or we don’t do a job that way, that people will not take NO for an answer.

  58. John–

    Re power, visions of power, and the limits of our vision of power

    That makes me think of a conversation I had a year ago with my stepdaughter’s youngest boy, age 4 at the time. I’d asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up and he answered, most emphatically, “A bus-driver!” When I asked him why, he replied, “Because then I would let the kids sit wherever they wanted.” Such was his vision of power: the bus-driver was the most powerful being in his universe. I immediately understood the parallel to myself, though it is a challenge to keep the point in mind.

  59. “If you want to bring any energy into manifestation on any plane, you have to create a form for that manifestation on the plane immediately above the plane where you want the energy to take action.”

    This, as well as what Fortune herself says about it, really helps crystallize this concept for me.

    I sometimes compose and write songs, and that process is the example that came to mind first for me. I’ve often had the experience of a song sort of “appearing” to me, hearing it, or part if it, in my head and understanding that it already exists somewhere in some form. I’ve learned to understand this as an interaction with the song on a higher plane and a sort of invitation to collaborate in bringing it into being on a lower plane. I’m not sure I’m especially good at that yet. When it comes together it really comes together and I’m very certain and satisfied that I’ve done what was needed, but much more often I lose my way and am left with an inspired idea that I can’t get into form, into a body as it were. I’m stuck there, I think, not due to lack of technical ability in giving a song form but because by that point I’m all the way back down at the technical level and have lost touch with an inner sense of the song’s spirit.

    This reading from Fortune has me recognizing something I’d already begun to intuit, which is that rather than bringing the idea right down into form, I need to rise up to the level where the song already is and work on developing or sensing its form more fully there.

    If any of the musicians or creators here can offer insight about how to do that, I’d love to hear what it’s like for you.

    I’m realizing too I don’t a have a good conception of how music operates on the different planes. It does express on the material, as vibration to act upon with our nervous systems, and an instrumentalist or vocalist certainly must do a great deal of work on that final plane, but that’s obviously not the level where the composer’s work of giving form occurs. It definitely seems possible to experience music as having a body of light or life force dense enough to be etheric, but I don’t think that’s where the creative work happens either. (Or if it is, then I just haven’t developed my etheric senses enough to know what I’m doing there!) Lower astral then? In which case I’d want to engage with the song-to-be at the upper astral level? Or is it higher still? Now I’m just making guesses. If anyone has their experience or example of how this process can work, please do share!

    Thanks as always!

    Jonathan.

  60. I have been using an affirmation lately, when I am feeling frustrated or unhappy in my circumstances. ” I want for nothing, and I am grateful.” It seems to have a calming effect when I realize that my life is actually pretty good.

  61. “You start out thinking that magic involves vast powers and miraculous events, then you figure out that it’s actually something much subtler and more deeply woven into the structure of what is…and then you find out that that’s actually far more powerful than the lightning bolts you imagined yourself casting, and opens up into realms of light that are quite literally beyond human imagination. Keep going and see where you end up…”

    Thank you for this beautiful, elegant, inspiring bit of prose. I’ve copied it into my notebook.

    I saw a post on the other blog and have picked up a copy of The Magic Arts in Celtic Britain by Lewis Spence. I am trying to determine if it is a book about magic, a book of magic, or a little of both. His insights into the the Holy Grail legends are my intended focus…imposing a limitation of sorts. It’s so easy to be distracted; the book is full of interesting magical tales and associative rabbit holes beckoning.

  62. and now… announcing… the ADHD question!

    Hi JMG & fellow ecosophians,

    I was just having a conversation with a friend who is ADHD, and he’s been using some tools to do better on his day job and in his personal life (setting timers for 25 minutes of concentrated activity, etc.)

    I was tested for ADD/ADHD in grade school but the results of the test, or at least what my parents said the results were, was that I didn’t have it. All they learned is that I read at a post-high-school level and the assignments probably just bored me.

    But I’ve often wondered if I’m on a spectrum of ADHD or something. (Maybe it explains the love of chocolate & coffee… over-the-counter ADD meds 🙂 Anyway, I have lots of interests in lots of subjects. I’ve managed to limit myself to a few of the more important ones to me… and am putting systems in place to eliminate other things.

    As far as the Law of Limitation goes do you have any advice for those who might be on the ADD/ADHD spectrum (not medical advice) in putting it to use?

    For instance, I’ve tried to limit my reading to one novel and one non-fiction book at a time. At the library I get interested in everything. Some rabbit holes are productive others not so much.

    Just curious and curiouser.

    I also have wondered if the media extensions of mans nervous system have not in turn made him nervous, and over-stimulated our sensory perceptions in such a way that our attention spans flit and flutter and cut back and forth as fast as 2020 Hollywood movie. The shots and cuts are way more jagged and fast than those from even 40 years ago. And those faster and more cut than films from the fifties.

    And one final thought on temperament: for those who have studied Ayurveda -even superficially- enough to know their dosha’s (or minimally enough) it seems that Vata dosha might correlate to those with ADD/ADHD symptoms.

    On another note I’m note even sure if ADHD is “real” or just another diagnosis used to sell drugs.

    (One of the books I want to work through is Ernest Wood’s “Concentration and Meditation”. It’s on that long list…

    …Anyway, I guess I need to be finishing this other thing I’m working on.)

    Peace.

  63. David BTL, that kid has a splendid future ahead of him if the height of his youthful ambition is to free other kids from arbitrary rules!

    Jonathan, from my own experience of creative work, my guess is that the song originally takes shape on the upper mental plane as an abstract pattern of meanings. The lower mental plane gives it its form and basic structure, the upper astral is where it becomes a sequence of words and notes, the lower astral is where the musicians take over and add their own passion and interpretation, and the etheric and physical are where the performance itself takes place (music is as much an etheric phenomenon as a physical one). As for how to reach up to the upper mental plane, how I do that as a writer may not help you much, but it’s simple enough: I listen. When I feel something taking shape in my creative life, I turn the same kind of silent attentiveness toward it that I’d turn toward someone who was saying something I want to hear.

    Danaone, very nicely crafted.

    Goldenhawk, you’re welcome and thank you. As for the Spence book, it’s more than a little of both. He was a first-rate practical occultist and knew exactly what he was doing.

    Justin, I have mild ADD as well as Aspergers syndrome — as I noted in response to another comment, my nervous system is kind of a mess. Yes, there’s a spectrum, and the kind of limitations you’ve discussed here (one novel at a time, etc.) are what I’ve used to deal with it.

    Neptune’s Dolphins, you always break some limit somewhere. When the gasoline is ignited in the cylinder, there’s one place the pressure can go — pushing the piston away — so one limit gives way. The goal is to have all your force aimed in one direction, so it can push against that limit, while the other limits stay firm and give it thrust.

  64. Your essay came right on time for me. After having a really grumpy day yesterday, today I had the chance to think a lot about it while harvesting buckwheat and that really cheered me up. What you and Fortune write sheds a lot of light on the reasons for the frustration I experienced yesterday. We have a lot of work here and a lot of projects in the pipeline and yesterday the feeling that we’re just not getting anywhere was just overwhelming. The image that formed in my mind while working today is that in order to act and bring something to manifestation, you use your will to create a kind of channel through the planes, your will being something like the wall of that channel. If you try to bring many different things into manifestation at the same time, you have to create as many channels and obviously, if your will is the material for the wall and a limited resource, the channels have to become thinner which reduces the flow in each one. If you take that analogy very physically there’s a power law hidden here since flow is approximately proportional to radius^4 which is proportional to (1/n) thus if you take the same wall material and form two channels instead of one, total flow will be reduced by 1/16th. Of course this is not about exact numbers, but at least in my experience the general trend seems to be correct. Going further, this to a few conclusions and questions:

    1) To act more powerfully, you need more wall material, i.e. will and enough “substance” to flow on the corresponding planes.

    2) The amount of substance should match the channel so that it can flow with maximum efficiency (the examples of having a fancy idea but not the necessary means to realize it on the one hand and having a lot of potential but running idle with nothing to do come to my mind).

    3) To do real multitasking (the computer analogy of multi-threading could go quite far here, I believe) you need to dramatically increase your willpower.

    4) Would you say that this analogy is at least roughly appropriate? If so, how to create more “wall material”, i.e. more will? Is this possibly at all? Reality says yes,since I have met a hand full of people so far who seemed to have the capacity to pursue several ambitious projects at the same time without too much effort… And where, then, in this cosmology, has will its origin and seat?

    There was a lot more on my mind while standing in the buckwheat-field but the one thing I do know – sleep deprivation is not good for your will so I will leave those thoughts for another time.

    Cheers,
    Nachtgurke

  65. “By checking the ebb and flow of the cosmic tides, either directly through the positions of the planets or indirectly through the divinatory oracle of their choice, they stay in touch with what the cosmos is doing.”

    Sounds like instructions to use a surfboard to move instead of letting the wave carry you! You use it to maintain balance and reach heights when it boosts you but take precautions when you know its dangerous; all while the wave itself sets strict limits to what you can do with the surfboard. With a better understanding of the waves, your directions are improved and you start to enjoy it. Soon enough, you can sense them a mile away and be prepared for it; but not for everything.

    This and my HP binge also got me thinking about prophecies and if they are an outcome of limitations. Numerous movies and books cover stories of an antagonist who tries to avoid his “fate”, does everything to avoid it but still ends up facing the prophecy. Do prophecies end up being common observable results of a grander cosmic scale over which we don’t have power to influence?

  66. JMG, thank you! That gives me a better idea of how to start experimenting.

    Re: your advice, I think stopping and listening is probably the right idea. Maybe especially with music. A musical idea can be so faint and fleeting that there’s a tendency (for me) to tense up and try and “capture” it before it vanishes. Now it seems like that impulse–to try and grasp the idea and bring it down the planes with me–might be exactly what closes me off to further perception on the higher plane where the idea is showing itself. I think I’ll be practicing instead trying to stay open and “up” with the idea as long as possible and see how fully I can perceive its form.

    Thanks again.

    Jonathan.

  67. I mentioned it would be neat to work out a belief matrix, and it occurred to me: who the heck do I expect to do that if not me? Here’s a rough first take. I’m very open to feedback on the subplanes, but I modeled with off the TA discount matrix, and the discussion here, with big nods to JMG and Kevin. The goal is to have a matrix to assess whether my actions are coherent with my beliefs, and have a model for change according to Fortune’s principles if they’re not.

    Spiritual: [Divine Seed]
    Mental: [Meaning]; [Myth]; [Ideas (beliefs, structure)]
    Astral: [Arguments (words and images)]; [Emotions]; [Appetite (craving)];
    Physical: [Nonverbals (Posture, gesture, tone, etc.)]; [Action]; [Result]

    A given subplane reveals the one higher, and directs the one lower. It can be thought of as a bridge, or vehicle, between two disconnected planes. As Stephen Wolfram points out, you can’t necessarily guess a cellular automata from the rules, or rules from the cellular automata. The higher can take any number of convenient forms in the lower, and a given lower aspect might come from multiple possible higher sources. That said, I think this works for a postmortem analysis. If actions and results are coherent with the highest level of belief and meaning, then we should be able to list things out. When incoherence appears, we can look at the point at which things don’t add up. From there, the subplane that’s “wrong” may be the next one up, but it’s likely that all subplanes above that point were misunderstood.

    This makes me wonder, in the case of malefic magic, if we can determine at what subplane the offender is directing the magic, if it might be a good option to figure out what they’re working from one subplane higher than that, and orchestrate defenses at that level to redirect the forces? For example, if an advertisement works primarily by playing on shame which leads to a craving and a purchase, it might be defended by reworking some of their words and images to induce a different emotion, like satisfaction, which leads elsewhere.

    Divine Seed
    This is the spiritual reality behind the entire matrix. It isn’t possible to experience it directly, only mediated through the lower planes, since we are still forming bodies on the mental plane. Still, it can be referenced by the religious tradition, e.g. Christianity, Revival Druidry, etc.

    Meaning
    The upper mental form of the Divine. We cannot think about meaning directly, though it underlies the plans below it. We experience it in the form of its vehicle, myth. As such, it’s something myth attempts to convey.

    Myth
    The mediator of meaning into mental forms in which we can participate. We experience myth in a pre-rational-thought way. We can deal with this box by naming the collection of stories, e.g. Greek myth, Hopi myth, Myth of Progress, etc.

    Ideas (beliefs, structure)
    Corresponding to the lower mental or upper astral, these are what we end up believing based on myths, and the structures that come about as a result. For example, we might say Druidry contains ideas like cycles and transformation, while Progress’s structure is linear and extensive. A bit lower, we can even look at social and institutional structures and the ideas they’re founded upon. This is where we first attempt to deal more directly with the things on this plane, though it being the lower mental/upper astral, our ability to do so is still limited.

    Arguments (words and images)
    These are the words we use and the images we invoke when defending our ideas. Their emotional charge varies depending on which part of the astral they’re coming from, but they generally belong to the upper astral.

    Emotions
    The emotions are what we experience, regardless of whether or not it’s apparent to others. It can be difficult to assess one’s own emotional state, much less someone else’s. Additionally, there are layers to the emotions. This subplane has many subplanes of its own.

    Appetite
    This could correspond to the lower astral or etheric. It’s the cravings we experience that drive our actions.

    Nonverbals
    The Nonverbal subplane includes posture, gesture, tone, etc. Another name for this subplane could be “Messages.” These are all the ways we communicate with one another outside of words, e.g. eyes bulging, spittle flying, fist shaking. I initially had this switched with Nonverbals, but appetities are not apparent to others, while things like posture are. As a message, these belong to the lower astral, but there is also a physical component, which belongs to Action. In keeping with the notion that a subplane directs the one lower and reveals the one higher, I think appetites direct nonverbals, and nonverbals reveal appetites. I put these on the physical level despite the obvious astral function because this is the first thing that can be directly observed in another. That said, I’m open to changes in this taxonomy, as I’m not 100 percent sold.

    Action
    The things we do. Physical change.

    Result
    The result is not so much a part of the physical plane, but the consequences of action. It’s the new state after the change, and reveals something of the action that caused it. I wanted this matrix to be able to guide me either way, from end to end, and it’s helpful to start with a result and try to track down its causes. That said, I don’t believe a result necessarily reveals its causes in the same way that Stephen Wolfram points out that you can’t start with an executed cellular automata and determine the rule that generated it.

    An example assessment of neoliberal climate change activism:

    Divine Seed
    Unmediated masculine principle, a certain flavor of monotheism. The God Progress.

    Meaning
    Power, extension, limitlessness

    Myth
    Progress, endless possibility, the path from caveman to the stars. Constant improvement, and the inevitability that whatever disagrees is a temporary hiccup bound to be overcome. Heaven, and eternal reward.

    Ideas
    Man is special. Powerful-enough to cause climate change, and powerful-enough to fix it, if not now, then soon. Linear extension is the preferred structure. Endless growth, consuming and extending again. Within this framework, manmade climate change is a hiccup to be overcome by new technologies, unbound by the limits of nonrenewables. These are things like solar, of fusion, inexhaustible. Anything that would demand a cyclical withdrawal is heresy.

    Arguments (words and images)
    Arguments rest on recent technological improvements, and prefer to ignore the future availability of resources. We don’t run out, we just plug in something better. Images include windmills, solar panels, and starships burning clean fusion reactors. Current things are preferred to older ones.

    Emotions
    Since they’re founded in extension and a denial of limits, emotions cannot be denied. They must be satisfied, to a growing degree of specificity. Everything is valid (as long as it fits the higher planes). We see tremendous optimism, except where limits are checked. In that case, the masculine nature of the emotion prefers to bully and overpower, to leave no room for compromise. There is no going back, no yielding to the feminine. Emotions are accepted or they run roughshod over the ones who resist.

    Appetite
    Cravings for the comforts of modern technology. Instant gratification, then more.

    Nonverbals
    Lots of movement. People an stuff traveling great distances. An air of nonchalance, or entitlement, where things are expected to work out. Anxious, fidgety movements otherwise. Postures of change.

    Action
    Consumption, burning more fuels, indulging appetites. Conferences. Telling others what they should do.

    Result
    Business as usual.

    This is my take on what’s actually going on. As an assessment tool, I would look at the business as usual results, note how that was incoherent with the idea of climate change activism, and then work my way through the planes. I’d start up from the bottom, tracing what I actually noticed, and perhaps also go down from the Idea of solving manmade climate change, to determine what I should expect to see. The failure point is the Idea and the Myth it comes from.

    Since it’s based on extension and progress, that means they see the climate change issue as one of past ignorance, to be solved with future innovation. NOT as a cyclical event, so be solved by accepting the withdrawal of Autumn and the rest of Winter before trying to salvage the seeds of the past season to plant in the Spring. That reveals that while any number of spiritual sources might lead to people believing in climate change and wanting to solve it, the precise one will determine the context they put it in and the actions they see as valid resolutions.

  68. Hi Justin,

    There was no concept of ADD when I was in grade school, but I got tested for moving to a higher grade, so boredom definitely plays into it. I went to elementary school at the height of the Dick-and-Jane era, and kids who can read are exceedingly bored by D & J victims struggling through simple texts. They didn’t put me in a higher grade but they did bring in a box of SRA (does anyone remember those?) so that was a great improvement.

  69. @Justin: I get ya, and agree. I’ve read and written a lot of free verse and sometimes the formal structures the verse crystallizes around, or the mental plane meaning that is behind the poem, can only be embodied in that way. That said, I also end up writing a lot more lyrics to music that play around with rhyming and such than free verse. I was thinking about that Frost quote when I read this so I had to include it, but he has a point. In a way its easier to work within forms because it’s harder to work within forms… the best is when you know the forms so well that you can break them strategically, like Wu Tang exemplified in their raps (ODB all the time, but Masta Killa does it perfectly with this line from Da Mystery of Chessboxing “The flow, changes like a chameleon
    Plays like a friend, and stabs you like a dagger”.)

    @JMG: Yes that makes sense, journal writing after discursive meditation has also generated some great insights. I wonder also if for you, a master writer, writing is like mowing the lawn or washing dishes. For me it is a little slower, and I wrestle over words a lot.

    Also, in general I’ve been thinking about “rest.” Dreamless sleep is the only true rest, but I am not there for that, by my own first person experience. Otherwise, in the world there are just different kinds of activities… so switching from a physical activity is a rest from mental activity and so on. Also, this idea of “vacation” is interesting to me. I have always found them quite a bit of work… but of course I dont have the same work schedule as most people and am out in the sun and forest a lot. It seems like most 40 hr a week types need vacations at the beach to recharge on etheric energy. I was in the Adirondacks over the weekend and spent a lot of time “resting” and splitting my time between lying in the sun and sitting under a freezing waterfall. I felt etherically super charged, but on the way home I was exhausted!

    @Jonathan: I’d agree that music starts as abstract meaning. It starts as a meaning I catch a glimpse of while playing around, then I listen and feel it out, it reveals itself as I play it out, work it down the planes into a crystallized form.

  70. “effective narratives presented to people could have a much more powerful effect than I would otherwise expect. This needs some thought…”

    What are the myths that we have left in modern life, and by myths I mean the myths we live by, that give meaning to our lives? I can think of advertising and politics. Religion for those who still believe. Progress, of course.
    Is there anything else that the average citizen of our society can use as a guide for living? Am I missing something? Because if that’s all there is, and progress as a myth is visibly failing, then a huge vacuum opens up, ripe and ready for filling.. with what?

  71. As International Left-Handers Day rolls to a close, I wish blessings upon all of you who have spent your lives struggling with scissors, can openers, spiral notebooks, car ignitions, guns…everything. I lived in your world for 7 weeks when I broke my right elbow. It gave me quite the new perspective—as did 3 weeks in a wheelchair after foot surgery. 🎼I’ve been everywhere, man, I’ve been everywhere…🎼

  72. @Justin Patrick Moore

    I have also contemplated the possibility that ADD/ADHD is not ‘real’ per say but more a grouping of human characteristics that were put together to sell medications and create treatment plans. There is a lot of money to be made in mental health now days.
    Some Doctors, in particular Dr. Leon Eisenberg (the father of ADHD), claimed it was fictitious in an apparent disclosure some months before he died… he could have been a bit senile at this point as well.
    That said, I was diagnosed with ADHD as a young boy and perhaps working myself into different thinking habits has paid off a little. Some people are perplexed when I tell them my dx as I don’t think I present that way very often anymore. The dx serves well as a thrusting block for driving towards tenacity regardless.
    I just thought now that when the mind wants to concentrate on everything, perhaps it’s best to pin it down with a little Dion Fortune. Without setting some serious limitations on concentration The Cos Doc is surely a difficult text for the ADD/ADHD personality to absorb!

  73. Nachtgurke, yes, the metaphor works quite well. As for how to develop more wallpower — er, willpower — I’ve been drafting a series of Dreamwidth posts about that and should be able to put something up shortly.

    Nomad, surfing makes a great metaphor for this. As for prophecies, the best I can do is quote from a blog post of mine from 2012:

    “It occurs to me that some of my readers may not be familiar with the structure and function of curses. (What do they teach children these days?) The sort of thing you get in bad modern remakes of fairy tales, where someone inoffensive gets burdened with a dire fate that would not otherwise befall them, is strictly amateur stuff. Professionals know that the curses that matter are the kind that unfold by their own inexorable logic from the actions and attitudes of the accursed. The witch or wizard who finds it necessary or appropriate to pronounce a curse doesn’t have to make anything happen; he or she simply says aloud the unmentionable realities of the situation, states the necessary consequences, and leaves. The efforts of the accursed to avoid falling victim to the curse, without actually changing the things that make the curse inevitable, then proceed to drive the curse to its fulfillment.”

    Jonathan, may it work for you! That’s something I had to learn how to do the long and hard way, but it works, at least for me.

    Kyle, exquisite! Thank you very much for this — something I’ll be copying out to mull over for a while. Very briefly, though — one of the classic ways to mess up malefic magic that’s directed at you is precisely to go higher — either one plane, to mess with the form of the malefic spell on its own level, or two planes, to create a form that will then descend to the plane of their form and draw their form into its manifestation, hijacking their entire working and redirecting it to other ends. The latter’s hard work, and requires a lot of inner development, but if you can do it, it’s as elegant as it is unanswerable.

    Isaac, I write almost as fast as I can move my fingers, so yes, it’s like washing dishes. As for rest, that’s complex — things that many people find relaxing, like social events, I find difficult and strenuous, and of course vice versa.

    Blueday Jo, those are the questions I’m brooding over right now.

  74. JMG, re your reply to Nomad—does the sorcerer who handles curses that way avoid getting splattered with jam?

  75. I’ve been brooding this over, and this is what I think happened in the peak oil scene, starting off on the upper mental, the level where peak oil as a concept exists. I’d have to spend more time looking into the 1970s to say how it played out in the Appropriate Tech Scene of those days, but for peak oil, this is the general sense I have of what occurred.

    Upper mental: Here, the insight of peak oil, that Earth holds a finite amount of oil and it will start running out at some point; and that this will be problematic, occurs. The core essence of peak oil is found in that concept.

    Lower mental: The insight above is transferred down past this plane filtered through the concept that we lack myths; the established myth of progress also played a role, as did the myth of apocalypse; the stories which people tell to themselves to justify why they deserve the comforts and privileges which they have were left unchallenged, as people didn’t even realize they held them; and the myth that more machines are always better played a role in jumbling the insight for peak oil as well.

    Upper astral: On this level the results of the incoherence above included the algae farms of Nevada (progress/machines) despite the fact one of the insights of peak oil was the lack of resources; the dream of bio-diesel (perks); the bizarre insistence that peak oil was about to crash the economy and everyone would die (apocalypse); the images of the neo-primativists rising from the ashes of industrial society like a phoenix (apocalypse); the images of towns with all the perks and privileges of a middle class life which somehow would survive the unravelling of the age (perks); the various efforts to imagine what fuel source could keep the grid going and keep cars running (perks); and the insistence that life was about to get better due to peak oil solving various problems (progress) ranging from the reasonable like pollution to the absurd like poverty. One workable response, conservation, got tarred by the myth of progress and turned into something horrid on this level.

    Lower astral: On the plane of the passions, things got very confused, since there was no clear image above to latch onto, but rather several competing ones. The passions however had a major block, one which occurred as a result of the myth of progress transforming the images of conservation into something out of Hades and thus to be avoided; while the actual energy on this plane got scattered in a dozen different directions.

    Physical: The result of the above was huge amounts of effort got spent on projects which had no hope of success, and that plenty of actions which would make sense never got started; the peak oil scene briefly grew into a substantial cultural presence around 2010, but fell apart due to incoherence and the fact that no one was able to present a workable plan.

  76. This is probably a good meditation theme, but I am wondering how important is learning limits in childhood through our family life? Partially I am taking into account some of my own family, those who were born earlier and later, and recognizing how the limits changed, with more limits for firstborns and less limits for latter born. In general our society has less limits within the family, for a variety of reasons. The Law of Limitation seems like a good initiation, and another good reason for us to remember our occult heritage.

  77. RE: Myths and Narratives we live by

    Blueday Jo, JMG, and all

    Without a doubt, initially we live by the narrative of our own self-interests and pleasures. Eventually that will give way to other narratives that were born out of the failure of progress but what worked for the individual. Right now, there is nothing that encompasses us all, but most likely it will have some connection with smartphones, the internet, TV, music, and other aspects of pop culture. Something perhaps, that goes viral. If a person wants to have an impact on the future, now is the time.

  78. Jonathan, my advice is to start with the concrete goal of creating an ABA form song. ABA is also known as ternary form, or the musical equivalent of a sandwich. Here is my (silly) Youtube video explaining what that is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRAZx5viuPo

    You’ll need two contrasting melodies in the form of phrases, both approximately 8 bars. Think of a phrase as a musical sentence. If you’re not aware of what a parallel phrase versus a contrasting phrase, I’d look that up. I recommend using a set of parallel phrases, because that will severely limit your material. Maybe try a common chord progression for your harmony, for instance the I-vi-IV-V or Heart and Soul accompaniment.

    Add harmonies to the tune you end up with and don’t be afraid to experiment and throw a great deal away. If you’d like to try your hand at notation, Musescore.com’s notation software is better than some software I’ve bought for $400+ and it’s freeware.

    As far as my own compositional process, I swear I was born obsessed with minor harmonies, specifically minor v chords and deceptive cadences (I-ii-V-vi and its variants) so that’s what I always write. Melody is always first and I get them everywhere. They pop into my head as fragments with accompanying harmonies. My extensive aural skills training enables me to immediately translate whatever I am doing into notation.

    My album, the Dream of Flight, revolves around a tetrachord leitmotif that I heard in a dream with a particular set of harmonies. I sing to myself and I’ll often hum tunes that float through my head. I make up a lot of tunes for my cat — I have always done this with companion animals — and of course they are throwaway tunes as they have dumb lyrics like “Water-water-water-buffet” and “Baby girl”. The ones I sing for my cat are usually somewhat childish or bluesy. Basically, if you want to write something good, make up tons of tunes you are willing to throw away. JMG often says that he wrote a bunch of throwaway fiction before he was able to put out coherent novels such as Retrotopia and The Shoggoth Concerto. That’s the way it is with music too.

    My favorite song form is ABABCB, which is typical song form: Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Bridge, Chorus, except I love a super-complicated bridge that is the short, nerdy songwriter’s equivalent to the development section in sonata form. You’ll hear this form many times in Dream of Flight.

    JMG, your rants are my guilty pleasure. That said, I think these composers know their theory. The reason why I say this is because I learned notation, instrumentation, and orchestration from a composer of Shulamit Ran-esque “music”. The guy knew his stuff and I swear I use what I learned in his classes every single day. His muse, at least in my opinion, left the building. Having one foot in the music academy as I have often had in this life, I have run into many such fellows and dames. There’s something about snobbishly skipping/ignoring popular forms that seems to impede flow from the source of beauty in music.

    Lady Cutekitten, I’m going through menopause and the hot flashes are brutal. Thanks for the tip on seaweed. I’ll have to up my Japanese home cooking game in hopes of getting through this.

    Patricia, do you remember that film called Shine about David Helfgott, the autistic pianist with an abusive father who suffered a total breakdown when his father pressured him to play Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto Number 3? In 1996, his “rescuer”/wife Gillian dragged David on an exhausting world tour. I was in music school at the time and I remember how fishy it seemed. People who saw it (I did not) said Helfgott’s playing was absolutely terrible. Helfgott’s sister wrote a book about how she felt her brother was used and abused by his mate for profit: https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/bs-xpm-1998-05-24-1998144007-story.html

  79. On myths to live by, I would like to propose a few that I think would be useful in a de-industrializing future:

    William Kamkwamba built a Windmill for his family from scrap and books he read in a library in a village in Africa. He later got famous, received scholarships, and was able to study in the US. Obviously in the further parts of the long descent there would be less of international media, venture capitalists, and academic industry so the “after-fame” part of his story does not work as well in that context. But the first part of bringing ingenuity to everyday problems, going back to first principles with the few available books to creatively solve local problems, and reusing scraps of the previous industrial civilisation to achieve this can certainly be inspiring.
    (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Kamkwamba)

    Nausicaa is a fictional princess in an animated film from Miyazaki, living in a post-apocalyptic wind-powered village surrounded by a toxic forest. She is closely attuned to the Wind and travel around in a glider. She also has a deep affection for all living beings, and a deep drive to understand the world and nature around her. She finds herself thrusted in political rivalry between two large competing and surrounding empires, both vying to address the major issues of their time with ultimate military powers, menacing her village in the process. Even in the most dire circumstances, she brings deep care for all human and non-human living beings, opening up new resolution paths to escalating conflicts. Her greatest power seems to be to elicit empathy in even the most hardened, cynical, and fanatical of her contemporaries, quite literally shifting consciousness and outcomes in the process. (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nausica%C3%A4_of_the_Valley_of_the_Wind_(film))

    Elzéard Bouffier is a fictional character in “The Man Who Planted Trees” short story by Jean Giono. After loosing his wife and only child, he sets out to plant trees in a desolate valley. The few and far-between villages of the region, in the ruins of once thriving cities, are now violent dwellings inhabited by charcoal burners that barely manage to survive. With slow, consistent, and astute planting over many decades and two world wars, Elzéard Bouffier manages to turn the once desolate valley in a rich, beautiful, and thriving forest, bringing back water, birds, and a younger generation. The sheer magnitude and beauty of the forest deeply moves the politicians and foresters that experience it later, leading to its later protection in a reservation.
    (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Man_Who_Planted_Trees)

    There is also a 30-min animated short film by Frederic Bach whose hand-drawn, careful, and painstaking animation aesthetics deeply echoes the spirit of the story (see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkZDSqyE1do). And there are actual real-life examples of this myth (see: Forest Man in India https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkZDSqyE1do).

    Of the three, I think the last one best echoes this week’s essay and has been the most emotionally moving to me, every time I watched it.

  80. ” When the gasoline is ignited in the cylinder, there’s one place the pressure can go — pushing the piston away — so one limit gives way. The goal is to have all your force aimed in one direction, so it can push against that limit, while the other limits stay firm and give it thrust.”

    From the shepherding world, a quieter and walking-paced example of this.

    When there is one place you want your sheep to go you simply close off all other openings they can take (with fences, gates, or people to “stand in the gap”) and keep walking at them from behind (people and dogs) and they will move in the one direction you leave open. I never thought of this as an illustration of the use of limits before, but now that it is obvious, I will do some more thinking with this. Especially since it introduces the new idea that what you are “aiming force” at here, using limitations to guide their direction, are living beings and not mechanical parts.

    I do know that the habits of sheep that allow them to be rather easily moved when in a group (please don’t imagine it is anywhere near as easy when you are talking about *one* sheep!) is the reason the term “sheeple” was coined, which I find extremely disconcerting and profoundly dislike. But it is true that when flocking together the habit and preference of most sheep is to move towards the centre of the flock, which is their favoured place. This tends to keep them together as a unit when being moved. (Although sheep also have their odd adventurers and intrepid explorers, and misfits, etc. too). This makes a flock of sheep easy to move from place to place, and I suppose some human behaviours can also take this form when people join one another in groups.

    I have a real aversion to the “sheeple” term, though, because I do feel that moving others, and being moved, without consent is a violation when it comes to people. With sheep, it does not feel like that because we have taken on the responsibility for their welfare, and that entails responsibilities and duties. Although I’m also aware there may be a form of special pleading going on here, and that I have to be equally prepared for nature to act on me as I act on our sheep. I do not think I am prepared to allow people (in media, politics or wherever) to act on me as I act on our sheep, though.

    This concept is very complex when it comes to the relationships we have with other people and other living beings of any kind.

  81. On the question of what myths we have left in modern life – that question and the discussion here by Blueday Jo, Kevin, JMG and others have led to some roundabout thoughts, so bear with me.

    The fantasy author Terry Brooks, who I loved as a child but whose first book, the Sword of Shannara, was a total rip-off of the Lord of the Rings. The one interesting note now about that book was the nature of the sword which gave the book its name. To the protagonists who sought the Sword, it was supposed to be an all-powerful magical tool that can vanquish the evil wraith-like Warlock Lord, whose armies are descending on the good peoples of the Four Lands. Sounds like Lord of the Rings? The book was even more blatant than that with what it borrowed from Tolkien.

    But the plot twist at the climax, when the hero wields the Sword against the mighty Warlock Lord, was that all the Sword did was reveal the truth to the person who touches it. Truth here means the wide view of facts of what actually is and was, with subjective perception stripped away. So the hero, when he first picks up the Sword of Shannara, sees his life fly through his mind’s eye, his pettiness, his mistakes, his harmful behavior to others, but also his good deeds. It is sobering for him, but against the Warlock Lord, the truth is devastating; the Sword reveals that all he is is a shadow of life, a shell whose power was based on a lie, whose time was long past, and the truth of the matter literally destroys him.

    It’s actually a good metaphor for the shell of abstractions and seemingly heavy ideas that surround the myth of progress. Our Sword of Shannara could be the question: WHY do we have a myth of progress in the first place? It is a self-reinforcing myth that arose from fear that actually it’s all pointless. If you wipe out all the myths that put humans in their place in the cosmos, and instead place humanity at the apex to become the master being, the Warlock Lord, then there is a fear that, hey, there is nowhere else to go. We’ve done it already, and it’s worth nothing in the end. Is this all that being supreme is – the hunt for career advancement, the flight into space to live on dead rocks, the quest for more pleasures that all eventually wear off? It kind of sucks! So we hunt for more… but being confronted with our Sword of Shannara, when so much effort has gone into getting where we are, is too painful to contemplate.

    But the Sword of Shannara analogy bears more fruit: at the end of The Sword of Shannara, the Sword is placed in a stone in a prominent place in one of the largest cities in the Four Lands, and in a later series of books, hundreds of years later, the Sword just disappears. Not suddenly, people go about their lives and then sometimes, half-curiously, are struck with the question, hm, what happened to the Sword? And then they shrug and go back to their lives, the Sword and its purpose a fading memory.

    In that book, if I remember correctly, the heroes discover that through time the temple where the Sword was kept was surreptitiously replaced by another empty temple, a copy, and the original had fallen down a cliff side where, in a ruined state, it wasn’t noticed by the residents of that city. A malign enchantment had been cast over the residents of the city, who could not see where it had gone. So the Sword, which has the ability to see the truth, to see the real facts, was itself hidden in plain sight, with a lie.

    Riffing off of what Kevin wrote earlier, perhaps in our society our myth is that there are no other myths, that the myth of progress is all there is, and our fear of its emptiness is only matched by the fear that, as Margaret Thatcher said, ‘there is no alternative’. In the same way that many children can identify corporate logos but not plant species, in the same way that the ancient Greeks had no word for blue – many now can not see alternative myths, even if they exist in plain site, drowned out as they are by a media with no attention span and laden with the duty of constantly reflecting our society’s anti-myth back at itself, because hey, misery loves company.

  82. I remember you made a point once – the more abstract (less limits) a society becomes, the closer to decline, it gets. This is true on both sides of the cultural and political curve. Total religion or total science – God or bosun – both are abstract placeholders for a current limit of human understanding and both are very hard to comprehend for the human mind, perhaps even impossible. Some people have to believe that one or the the other is Absolute, not understanding that Absolute is absolute.

    When any civilization/culture goes too far in one direction and exceeds the “limit”, it is pressurized and can explode. Polarity is necessary – however, from the human point of view, while working within limits is necessary, working outside boundaries is also necessary. Sometimes the limit is constrained falsely by the view, which I first learned from Plato, though it’s taken decades to grasp.

    Whatever terminology one uses, the system must always balance itself out. The key is to attempt to understand what systems you (mind and body, heaven and earth) are participating in and balancing those systems. We are all participating in many systems that we are unaware of and may not always have the capability or sense-making apparatus to understand them.

    While I don’t always agree with your view, the difference between our views has helped expand my own limited perspective. For that, I am grateful for the time and energy that you put forth into creating and sharing.

  83. Dear gods, something just clicked. We discussed last month the possibility of obsession if a gap is opened, and well, the refusal to acknowledge the lower mental seems to be such a gap. This seems to have been filled, at least here in North America.

    The astral environment in middle class neighbourhoods is remarkably toxic these days, and I’d always attributed it to the insane over consumption, but I’ve had an experience which suggests to me that this is actually backwards. I’ve had an experience similar to what you described as the results of banishing an astral parasite: crisis, followed by suddenly having a lot of things resolve.

    The thing which is fascinating about it is the emotional state which vanished: a mixture of a complete lack of interest in doing anything and a strong fear of destitution, which could only be resolved, temporarily, by wretched excess. Since this seems to look like an emotional state which explains a lot of how a lot of people in the middle class in North America act, it seems likely to me that this isn’t just me, but rather it’s a widespread phenomenon. Thus, I think the fact the astral is so toxic around middle class neighbourhoods isn’t because the people there are engaged in wretched excess, but rather the cause of it.

    The entity in question then appears to have attached itself to people at the level of the lower mental, probably by way of the myth of progress, but I don’t think that’s the only place. But considering how the myth of progress was turned into a narrative to justify an extreme amount of consumption in the 1950s, and tends to still be used, I think it fits quite well.

    Of course, the sheer amount of excess needed to satisfy this demon keeps on going up; the hedonistic treadmill is not something fun to get stuck on, but it makes sense: in order to keep that feeling at bay, the excess has to be enough to register as excess. Anything which has become normal is no longer enough, and so the excesses of yesterday become terrifying deprivations today.

    This also explains another thing which has confused plenty of people over the years: why is it that no society outside North America has ever manged to establish a consumer economy on a large scale? Sure, there’s the superficial appearance of an Americanized economy, but I don’t think anyone else can do the wretched excess we do so easily here; when I visited England a few years ago one of the things which struck me was the way people seemed content with their stuff, and weren’t always trying to get more; and the global economic system for decades has been that the rest of the world produces stuff in excess and then North America consumes it all.

    The answer to those questions is found in one of the traditional demons of the Algonquin peoples: The Wendigo. I think the reason no other society has ever been able to set up a consumer economy like the ones in North America, even when they tried desperately to do so, is that it requires large numbers of people to engage in such wretched excess that no one who’s not obsessed by a demon can do it. Since different places have different spiritual ecologies, and on top of that there are few places which have approached their spiritual ecology with the level of brainlessness which we have, there is no where else with enough people who’ve fallen victim to a demon who pushes for such wretched excess.

  84. Neptunesdolphin, your example is a good one. Deaf people would not be able to understand spoken language, but they are able to communicate with other deaf people via sign language. People, who are merely hard of hearing, as I, have different problems. I don’t have any connection to deaf culture, but communication with more than one or two persons at the same time can be difficult for me. So the limts are different and not necessarily proportional to the scale of the disability which causes them. Still, it is better not to have any disabilities, because then one can choose in which way one limits himself or herself to this or that kind of lifestyle without too much limits imposed in the first place. But that presupposes that said person knows about the ideas Dion Fortune promulgates about limits.

  85. About the way that attempts at changing the behavior of people via information campaigns failed so often, I knew since a long time. Be it saving ressources, dealing with climate change, or everything which has to do with morale, such attempts failed. Interestingly, attempts to create new religions on the drawing-board failed likewise, probably because only the lower mental plane and the planes below were involved, but not the spiritual plane and the part of the mental plane where myths take shape.

  86. @Isaac: I like writing rhyming poetry myself and free verse. My free verse poetry tends to have a lot of internal rhyme. I love the Wu Tang… those guys are great. I really liked the Gravediggaz back in the day. The way rappers can improvise and flow probably comes from having the rhyme patterns, meters, etc. all in place.

    I got a book on poetry forms I’ve been meaning to read. As for contemporary poets, I really like Marilyn Hacker who makes extensive use of the sestinas, villanelles, & sonnets. Recently I’ve been formulating little “thought gems” into haikus.

    This one is a good example from Hacker: https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/nearly-a-valediction/

    @JMG: Yes, a spectrum. Another thing I’ve been doing is making a point to finish the projects I start, and break the bigger ones down into chunks. That there can be rest between larger chunks is also good. Now that I think about my friend telling me about the timer he uses to concentrate on tasks falls also into the pattern you mentioned: time focused working on one thing, and then rest.

    I still do wonder about the effects of modern technology and how they effect our nervous system. The speed / access factor makes it easier to get distracted. And I think that is wired in by some of the software developers with rewards of “likes” and upvotes, etc.

    I made an audio collage piece once called “distracted from distraction by distraction”. It juxtaposed a lecture on Thomas Hobbes with a lecture on Blaise Pascal with inserted world events circa 9/11.

    @Ian: I think the symptoms, behaviors, effects are real. I just don’t know if that makes them a mental disorder? Or if that is just the way group people for diagnosis. I always wondered about the medical interpretation of depression…. different levels of serotonin, etc. in the brain. But did they take measurements of those brain chemical levels? Either way I prefer to come up with other solutions. Regular meditation has certainly helped calm and relax the nervous system. And getting into useful habits has also helped.

    One quote that may be relevant to this discussion on Limitation came from the Carlos Ruiz Zafon book I just finished “The Angels Game”: he wrote:

    “Routine is the housekeeper of inspiration.”

  87. From the Original Post
    One last detail of magical technique rounds off this short but extremely important chapter. The advice given earlier to alternate between periods of intensive one-pointed focus and periods of relaxation and broadened consciousness has another reason behind it, and Fortune gives it here. Your capacity for focus enables you to bring power to bear and accomplish work with it, but the power is generated in the periods of relaxation. It’s the latter, the periods when consciousness broadens and relates to the widest possible range of experience, that provides the broad and solid base for the pyramid of your power; only on that base can you rise to the apex of perfect, deliberate, willed focus, and accomplish wonders.
    —-
    When working magic and breaking barriers is the relaxation time when you gather your resources to continue?

    Somehow, in modern times – I guess with the idea that humans are machines – is the idea that a magician can continue on and on without rest. Is this what affects Neopagan magic? or is it the idea of doing it once and expecting results? Or is it something else – distraction?

    I use the term Neopagan magic since they are the magicians I know the most about. As you know I am a student at the Grey School of Wizardry. However, the idea of focus, then rest, then focus is not in the official manual written by a number Neopagan magicians, who were well-known in their day. Did they somehow miss this or is Fortune not read by various Neopagan types? I do know that reading along with this book club has enhanced my understanding of magic and deepened it.

    Although Mr. Hughes in his book suggests that people rest from time to time after cursing Trump, I haven’t seen that happening.

    Final thought, on the Magical Battle for Britain, was the shortened lives of Fortune and the others because of going beyond focus and resting or something else? In the Magical Battle for America (Hekate Demeter) and Mr. Hughes’ efforts, will there be a shortening of lives? Is that different from the raspberry jam principle.

  88. Justin, I hadn’t come across anyone else who was into Gravediggaz before. Haven’t listened to them since the 90s but you don’t forget people rapping about evil rituals. 🙂

  89. Your Kittenship, that’s the exquisite thing about that approach. If it’s done right — if you really are doing no more than stating the obvious but unmentionable truth, and then walking away — it’s jam-free. What’s more, since you’ve also given those involved a chance to break free of the pattern, there’s favorable karma from that. (What’s more, it sometimes works. The Book of Jonah is a story about that.)

    Kevin, very nicely done. The same thing happened in the 1970s; the great difference then was that the appropriate tech movement was also hitched to a great deal of lightly veiled political ambition. Read the books the Club of Rome issued after The Limits to Growth, eagerly talking about how the limits to growth would open the way for an unelected body of experts to run the world, and you’ll see a will to power that would have made Nietzsche blanch. The results were the same, though — incoherence followed by failure.

    Prizm, it’s a great theme for meditation, but it’s also something important to apply to one’s own life. As for the narratives we live by, my take is that the pursuit of self-interest and pleasure is a screen under which far more potent and dangerous narratives are moving.

    Kimberly, fair enough — my exposure to academic music has entirely been at third hand, by way of books and essays, blog posts, and the occasional self-inflicted torture of listening to the latest avant-garde dreck, which was an unfortunate necessity while I was working on my shoggoth novels. (Dear gods, I’m glad that’s over!)

    Viking, thanks for these. The mythic imagination is one of the deepest sources of strength we have as human beings, and it’s good to see it getting a workout.

    Scotlyn, thanks for this! I’ll keep the metaphor in mind. I also dislike the label “sheeple,” not least because so many of the people who use it are just as thoroughly controlled by peer pressure and intellectual fashion as the people they affect to despise.

    Jbucks, okay, I’m impressed. I read The Sword of Shannara when it first came out, curled my lip, and never read anything else Terry Brooks ever wrote; to see that piece of cheap plagiaristic trash used as the basis for a valid and important point is frankly rather stunning. Thank you.

    Docshibby, if everyone who read my essays agreed with me, I’d consider my work to have failed. Thank you for contending with the ideas I’m presenting.

    Kevin, that’s very plausible. Now to figure out how to banish the Wendigo…

    Booklover, exactly. You have to start on the plane above the one you want to affect!

    Justin, I think modern technology encourages hyperactivity, as (in human terms) it is itself hyperactive. Thus the need to assess each technology and decide if you actually want it in your life.

    Neptune’s Dolphins, I think there’s a lot of things wrong with Neopagan magic, but forgetting to take breaks and let the power recharge is certainly one of them. As for Fortune, back in the day she was required reading, but I suspect these days she’s been denounced as racist, homophobic, etc., etc., and posthumously canceled in order to free up the market for books by her fifth-rate imitators. As for the shortened lives, I’m not sure — and we’ll have to see whether something similar affects Hughes et al.

  90. To all who are musing on new myths for busting/replacing old ones…

    Jbuck said: “…our myth is that there are no other myths, that the myth of progress is all there is, and ***our fear of its emptiness is only matched by the fear that, as Margaret Thatcher said, ‘there is no alternative***’”

    When I read this my heart and mind shouted “Yes” at me. OBVIOUSLY (now that it is said) fear of emptiness and fear that there is no alternative are the two sides of the vortex that grounds the myth of progress into consciousness and gives it staying power. Using Cos Doc’s metaphors for thinking with, these ARE the two tangled fears that must be somehow disentangled on the plane they are on, to bring about a change on the plane above them. From which there will then be power available for a new, and more useful, mythos.

    PS – thanks to all who are meditating into this “new mythos” challenge. I am finding this a very nourishing stream of comment…

  91. @Kimberly Steele – oh, yes, I remember “Shine” It struck me very hard, and I remember buying the soundtrack album for it as well. I didn’t realize his wife continued the pressure, blast her.

    @Kevin – possessed by The Wendigo – marvelous! That could be one of the founding myths of the post-Faustian Age: “They were possessed by The Wendigo. Beware the Wendigo, the spirit of endless hunger.”

    The warm shoreline/aquatic equivalent is, of course, The Shark. Among the Northern European cultures, especially the Norse, the Wolf was the equivalent.(Odin’s wolf was actually named Greedyguts.) Have you noticed how often Wall Street figures are called Wolf or Shark – as praise?!?!? (From the Hebrew Testament, probably Ecclesiastes, “The horse leech has two daughters: “Gimme,” and “gimme more.”)

  92. @Lady Cutekitten. Yes to SRA-The box appeared in the classroom when I was in 5th grade (~12 years old for anyone outside the USA). SRA was the only classroom resource in my small southern town. IIRC, the entire 5th grade could use it; another classmate and I finished it. The only other resource: I remember the elementary school librarian showed me “the most difficult” novel in our small elementary library; of course, I checked it out and attempted to read it.

    How limiting is local school spending? I was at university before I’d ever heard of Schaum’s Outlines and Cliff Notes. When I sat the LSAT, I’d never heard of the LSAT prep guides. Having parents trained in law or apprenticeship in a law office were the fastest paths to law school.

  93. JMG – I had a dream several weeks ago that had a lot of mythic content. I have been trying to use the dream state as a guide? or something… I have felt for the last several years I need a new path in life. In the dream were many recognizable Egyptian and middle eastern motifs. Some of the more outstanding elements of the dream were – a tall white horse, a collapsing red granite temple, a labyrinth where a bull needed to be fought, and a pile of golden Egyptian amulets. In the dream I picked through the amulets, rejecting the baboon amulet, to choose a golden browband of Isis wings and a sun disc for the bridle of the white horse. Jung would probably have a field day with that dream. Why would such “foreign” elements appear in the dream of a past middle aged midwestern American woman? I am familiar with the mythic elements in the dream, but I am not a worshipper of the ancient Egyptian gods, by any means.

  94. I’m by no means certain that it is at all possible to “banish” such a natural predator as the Wendigo, no more than it would be possible for doves to “banish” the hawks that have always needed to eat them for food, or mice the owls. Wendigos probably came to life in the Americas long before the first humans arrived. They may have had something to do with the extinction of so many large species in the distant American past, and also with the existenc of the “eating places” here and there on the land.

    The very little I know about Algonquin ways of life before the arrival of Eropeans suggests to me that their approach was to teach their children ways to avoid becoming the prey of a Wendigo, ways that lead it to seek its proper food elsewhere.

  95. Oops: meant to add: it was great that the elementary school librarian showed me the “most difficult” book to read in the library. Wouldn’t it be better, in this digital age, if libraries publicly ranked their most difficult books; in that way, patrons could prioritize their own reading challenges.

  96. In The Esoteric Philosophy of Love and Marriage, Dion Fortune states:

    “Form determines the sex of the individual on the physical plane, but relative force determines it on the inner planes; and this fact is a clue to much”

    Can you guys share your thoughts on this passage? I wrote this little snippet down sometime last year and it has been bothering me ever since. Only recently does it begin to take shape in my thoughts with JMG’s discussion on the sexes last week. My first instinct is to hone in on the words “relative force”. Meaning, the opposition/polarity of each plane depends on the strength of the previous consecutive plane. For instance, does this mean a guy who reads as extremely butch on the material plane is proportionally feminine on the etheric plane? This leads me to wonder: How such a man might do magic on the etheric (natural magic) or other planes in order to influence his material world if he wanted to attune himself to his feminine side? Any ideas?

  97. Today’s International Financial Awareness Day, so when you buy your favorite Druid a cheeseburger 🍔, be frugal and use a coupon. He’ll still eat it. (The cheeseburger, not the coupon.)

  98. To follow up on my uncertainty about the Nonverbal subplane: I realized the reason for this is that, of course, the physical plane in the matrix is really just action. The other two, nonverbal and result, as there as assessment tools only. Any action can also be a message. Posture might register as a message to another on the lower astral. A ballet might register on the upper astral or lower mental.

    The reason for splitting out these nonverbal cues is that we can’t directly observe the activity of the astral in others. For the sake of assessing belief matrices, the first place where we might register what’s going on in another person in the higher planes is in their nonverbal signals, which are actions that clue us in to their appetites and lower astral state. In that sense, it’s useful to distinguish. I can also see how certain postures, tones, etc. tend to be followed with certain classes of action.

    That aside, from the matrix I brainstormed about the myth of Progress, it seems to me what is missing is the divine feminine. Polytheist religions tedn to have a female—or quite a few—who temper the masculine forces. In the unchecked masculine brand of monotheism, no such principle exists, leading to the habits of extension and consumption. Materialists and Protestants are altogether devoid of the feminine, and Catholics have relegated her to a position of far less power than the Father and the Son.

    Therefore, the remedy might involve pulling in myths that involve balanced masculine and feminine powers. These lead to ideas that are themselves balanced and cyclical. While the unchecked masculine has the attitude of “my way or the highway,” bringing in the feminine limitation allows for compromise. Once the third possibility becomes apparent, so do an infinite variety of others.

    The Piscean age seems to feature this masculine principle on a collective scale. Entire peoples have to be united in their beliefs and actions (while individuals prefer the herd). Social Justice Warriors are as good an example as the Reagan-worshiping coal-rollers. The positive of the Aquarian age is that we can expect to see this masculine principle—the strong insistence on imposing a will—moving down to the personal level. Instead of a mass ideology, we might have quirky people who follow their own path, but the feminine principle entering from above at the collective level means they will limit that path to themselves, and nurture others’ ability to also do their own thing. In refusing to extend the masculine principle beyond the self, there’s a balance through the sheer number of different applications, the worst of which will kindly excuse themselves from the gene pool in short order before harming the collective.

    If I’m correct that a lot of our issues are a result of this unchecked masculine principle, then an effective solution (besides appealing to a more balanced myth) could simply be to let it work its way down to lower and lower logical types—from group to individual. Encourage an individuality that respects others’ right to the same. It’s as though it got stuck at the collective and needs to finish grounding out before the feminine can come back into play from the higher levels.

    That means for me personally, I need to keep up a sincere study of the Druid Revival curriculum I’ve been working on since the three rays, myths of Merlin, and a variety of other forms provide that balance. To assess where I run afoul of nature by refusing limits, and accept them in order to direct myself to my best-possible individuality, while respecting that other things work for other people, and they have their right to their own quirks. My job is NOT to convince people I’m right, but to live the example of one who can express himself without imposing on others. In that way, I bring the feminine down into my own life from the mythical level, while providing a grounded outlet for the masculine principle that I, like most of my age, fall unconscious victim to more often than I’d care to admit.a

  99. I’ve got another example of how limits are necessary, and which shows what happens if you discount them: the people who pick up an old fashioned system of occultism learn magic very quickly compared to the people in the neopagan scene, if the latter ever even get around to it. The difference? The occult school work with a single book, or a single system, while the neopagans try to do it all.

    So, for example, I’m working my way through LRM right now: a single book, and because it’s my focus I’ll eventually master it and then move on somewhere else. I’ll see where I go once I’m done with it, but for now, I’m focused on mastering one small subset of the occult scene, and not the entire thing, or even the entirety of any one system. Even people who’ve successfully done a lot of work in multiple systems tend to do it one thing at a time, and even the people who cover the most ground can’t cover more than a small fraction of what’s out there. So in order to cover anything in the occult, you have to limit yourself and not work with most of it.

    With regards to the appropriate tech scene, the will to power is a very potent driver of incoherence these days and seems to have been for quite some time. I think it would be better if people could just admit they desire wealth and power, but it seems to be a major taboo in contemporary North American society.

    As for banishing the Wendigo, I think this is something I’m going to have to spend some time on as well. I’ve broken free, so I know it’s possible. However, my family, many of my friends, and plenty of other people are still victim to it. At this point the only thing I can say for sure is that it’s going to take a lot of work to free anyone else. I don’t expect to be able to do much for anyone for a few years yet: for now I need to work on myself. I’m not entirely free of it yet, and given it seems to have been attatched to me my entire life, I think it’ll take quite some time and effort to completely clean myself from it.

    Kimberly,

    Thank you for the discussion on songwriting. I’m going to spend a while longer practicing playing music before I do much of it, but I love seeing it outlined in a way which makes so much sense. I think it’ll make it much easier when I get to the point I want to try my hands at it.

    Scotlyn,

    I really like the example of sheep. I’ll have to keep it in mind and see if it leads interesting places.

    Jbucks,

    Those are some fascinating metaphors. Hmm.

  100. As for myths (and collective identities, which are the detritus of myths), my family has made a point for generations of standing apart from all wider communities, and of finding our own identity in our ancestors and the stories we continue to tell about them. Other people, outside our own ancestors and their living descendants, have hardly anything to do with our sense of identity. (Of course, survival requires that we have to interact with the communities in which we happen to live, and sometimes that can involve acting as if we considered ourselves to be a part of them. Mostly, however, it sufficies to fly “under the radar,” so to speak.)

    This approach has worked well for us for many generations now. I can recommend it as a tested method for living good and meaningful lives.

  101. JMG and Neptune, Fortune’s books are still available on Amazon, so the Wokesters are probably not aware she existed. I agree they’d be trying to unperson her if they knew about her.

  102. Hi JMG,

    Thank you very much for this post. I very often open my comments on your posts with those words, but today I mean it more than ever before, because this post literally saved me and my family.

    Let me explain.

    I mentioned a few weeks back that I had moved out of California and back to the East Coast in June. For the last 2 months, we’ve been staying with my wife’s family in New Jersey. It was not our goal to end up here, though. We were trying to move to Maryland, but we needed 1. work and 2. a place to live. Towards the end of July, my wife was hired as a teacher at a fairly well-to-do private school– with no little help from the Spiritual Plane, I must add. But I still didn’t have anywhere for us to live. We looked at a dozen places, sent in applications–nothing.

    As the weeks passed, my search became more and more desperate. My wife’s job starts this Monday morning, and as of Wednesday, I still didn’t have a home for us.

    Then I read this post, and I realized exactly what I was doing wrong. My goal was to create a change on the material plane– I wanted a physical residence which would have enough space for myself and my wife, our two children and our cats, to live and the flourish in. According to Dion Fortune’s instructions, in order to create a change on the physical plane (housing) I would need to create a structure on the next plane up– the plane of passions and emotions– which I would fill with force from planes higher still.

    I did, indeed, go to those higher planes. I said prayers, made offerings, and in other ways asked the powers of the Spiritual and Intellectual planes to direct energy toward the situation. But the structure that I produced on the Lower Astral was one of fear, doubt, desperation, and a sense of homelessness. A form made of a sense of homelessness on the Lower Astral can only produce actual homelessness on the material!

    As soon as I realized this, I took steps to change this. I first rented an Air BnB for the week, so that, no matter what, we would have somewhere to sleep at night. Then I got to work re-orienting my attitude toward the situation, so that even if we had to rent a cramped apartment with barely enough room for us all, I would still see it as a blessing. I made a few offerings to appropriate divine powers (Saint Joseph in particular), and then I spent extra time in prayer and meditation to calm my emotions and my nervous system as well as to invoke divine blessing. Above all, I tried to transfer the whole affair from my fraying astral consciousness to those better able to handle the situation (that is, the powers of the spiritual and intellectual planes).

    Well, today I signed a one year lease on a large townhouse that is in the town we wanted, in the school district we wanted, and is in every other way perfect for our needs. We move in tomorrow.

    Not that you needed to hear it again, but– This Stuff Works!

  103. At this point I think I must have spent at least one lifetime as a very serious occultist, because I’ve had some more insights. I need to thank Kyle for this, since his idea of looking at the various planes to identify where a break occurs lead me to a rather neat realization: the break at different points produces different phenomena, distinct enough that it ought to be possible to look at something and tell where the break is.

    Upper mental-Lower Mental: The result here is, in a word, incoherence. For example, the Peak Oil Movement.

    Lower Mental-Upper Astral: This one results in revitalization movements: there’s a frantic effort to do something to avoid a particular outcome, which only makes sense if the outcome is clear enough to the people doing the frantic effort, and so it’s clear on the level of narratives they grasp what’s happening, while the thing which they try to avoid is vague enough that it’s clear they can’t imagine in; thus the reason the frantic efforts are being directed in truly baffling directions is that anything thinkable is unworkable, and anything workable is unthinkable. For example, the Ghost Dance sought to avoid the destruction of the the Plains Indians, and the frantic efforts made it clear they had an idea of what would happen if they failed. The frantic nature of the movement says the narrative (“Our people will be conquered by the White Man, we’ll lose our lands, and our culture will be destroyed”) was there, but no one was able to imagine it, and so they imagined something else instead.

    Upper Astral-Lower Astral: If the break happens here the result is someone who knows what needs to be done but is utterly unable to do it. For example, a middle class person reading Green Wizardry and wistfully thinking about a possible future, but not doing anything to get there.

    Lower Astral-Physical: If the break is here, the result is striving towards the impossible. Someone with a break here is coherent, and the only sign of any issue is that the goal towards which they move is one which can never be achieved. For example, perpetual motion enthusiasts.

  104. Holy Cow have the comments been insightful this chapter! So much to add to my journal and meditate upon.

    In meditating on limits in my own life the other day, I came across one that helped to empower mine and my family. Budgets and Cash. Budgets are a massive limiter on spending, which can then help lead to growing your wealth by staying within their confines. For the longest time I had a budget that I mostly stuck to, but credit cards made it far too easy to go over them by a little each time. Once my wife and I moved to doing everything we could in cash, it finally made the difference by limiting our spending drastically. Hard to spend money when you don’t have any in your pocket! We save a ton of money now every month. Working even with small limits can have powerful outcomes!

  105. @ Scotlyn

    See also Sun Tzu who said in “The Art of War” that when you have the enemy cornered you should leave them an escape route. If you don’t, all that energy will blow back on you and cause needless casualties.

  106. I have very fond memories of The Sword of Shannara and its first sequel. My roommates and I shared copies and “annotated” them with text additions, snarky comments, substitute dialog, and even illustrations.

    For example in the sequel when Gandalf expy “Allanon the Druid” gets overwhelmed by demons so that the rest of the questing party can escape the ambush, we added: “‘Fly, you fools!’ cried Allanon, as Gandalf’s copyright lawyers dragged him into the pit.”

  107. @ JMG and Kyle

    A quite awesome structure taking shape here, I must say. If I may, I should like to make an attempt to reach up into the causal plane from which the god progress descends to take shape on the spiritual plane to establish his mythos on the mental plane, which from there is enacted down through the levels.

    The religious seed can best be described as a kind of satanic inversion of Neoplatonism. Satanic in the sense that it wholeheartedly accepts every single premise, and then merely turns everything upside down, much like the way old fashioned satanists relate to Catholicism. Have you by chance noticed that your common or garden variety progress worshipper must mechanically redefine everything into its own opposite in order to maintain a semblance of coherent mental functioning? Stupidity is intelligence, weakness is strength, debt is wealth, dependence is independence, opinions are facts (cuz science), upper middle class consumerism is “saving the environment”, women are “liberated” by slaving for corporations and depending on globalism to meet every single need, and working class people in the countryside are an evil elite “oppressing” everybody…

    Everything is deliberately and methodically turned upside down, and that means first and foremost the flow of creation itself, the core of the structure, which is re-imagined to work “in reverse”, with dense matter on top giving rise to subsequent layers of stuff that is considered less “real” and as such subjected to increasing levels of hostility as one moves further from it – with spiritual awareness being the ultimate evil, and the capacity to bridge the inner and outer and linking them to the above through sustained reflective thinking being the runner-up. In “The Abolition of Man” C.S. Lewis explores in detail the process by which the mind is turned and inverted in this way, but also the motivations behind, as well as the consequences, with the latter two being the drive towards – and the attainment of – a state in which nothing is experienced to exist but the self, imagined as a state of omnipotence, but in reality an illusory experience that is the result of the self itself methodically degenerating all the way back to the vegetable realm in terms of inner development.

    I believe the drive towards this state is rooted in the fact that with Neoplatonism in reverse/upside down, it follows logically that the ultimate attainment be the dissolution of the self in the Cauldron of Annwn rather than its elevation to Gwynedd. And from this, gentlemen, is born the God of Progress, whose sole purpose is the expansion of self to engulf the cosmos, and his subsequent dissolution in the Void that this effort in practice amounts to, an effort which must for all practical purposes take the form of the rejection of all meaning (because meaning per definition implies relations between different things with independent existences). What is progress but the process by which self (in this regard western industrial culture as a collective consciousness/egregore) expands endlessly by reducing everything else to a tool towards the cultivation of the illusion of its own onlythingthatexists-ness? What is the built environment that is the physical manifestation of this, if not a closed feedback loop in which all input not arbitrarily generated by the collective self’s own priesthood is excluded to the degree that the available resources will permit? And what does any inquiry into any phenomenon you’d care to name amount to, save the systematic negation of its actual meaning? Examine the victimhoods of the comfortable upper middle class left (the truest of the true believers), and at the core the shrieks are directed towards the unholy blasphemy that something that is not them (and gods forbid, beyond them…) seems to be imposing things on the cosmos (whether that be aesthetic standards, the need for coherent philosophical views, recognition of physical limits, historical cycles, sensible tariffs and whatnot – all being ultimately some form of limit). And, finally, what is the journey into infinite space, the most important mythological image of this religion (represented these days by SpaceX…), if not the final plunge into the Void, feet first, deliberately undertaken by the mind as it spends that last precious shred of lucidity on rejecting the reality of everything that is not itself or an extension thereof?

    Gods below, I can literally feel the cold breeze from the Abyss as I write…

    Oh, and on a more lighthearted note, JMG, have you had a chance to try out that mead recipe yet? This jolly heathen eagerly awaits your judgement… ^^ 😉

  108. @Kevin I am glad you are bringing Wendigo in, as I have been mulling over it too. That is an indigenous myth to North America, articulated by native cultures, so it would not be surprising that it could have a strong effect.

    My understanding is that the insatiable consuming drive, that verges on cannibalism in the traditional native lore, is triggered by a fear of dying in periods of scarcity. Somehow something snaps and the cultural limits around what and how much to consume disappear. I swear one of my cousin developed something similar after the oil crisis of 1979 resulted in a sudden spike in mortgage interest rates, and her family risked loosing their home and had a few months/years of lean years. Now well into her forties and affluent, I still get the distinctive feeling that the lingering feel of not having enough is a major drive in her life choices and behaviour.

    So which period of American history could have triggered a similar reaction?

  109. Hi. My name is Sean, father of Seth. I would like to talk to you about any druidic rituals you may be aware of that may use principles of magic to effect weather. Please email me back if you can talk, thank you so much for your time.

  110. Dear Steve,

    If I may:

    Congratulations on the excellent news! That is so wonderful to read! Also, many thanks for illustrating an application of Fortune’s theory in practice.

  111. I interpret the famous Borges story “The Library of Babel” as a parable about limitations and structure. (The Library referred to is an entire universe, filled with a vast collection of identically bound books that consist of every possible sequence of an alphabet. The number of books would be unimaginably vast; it would include every book ever written, but finding even one coherent book, or even one coherent page, let alone an informative one, among the universe-fulls of gibberish would be a hopeless endeavor.) Without the limitations of language rules, meaning is unmanageable. (Even with the pre-existing limitation of a single alphabet.)

    Evolution as we know it depends upon limitations in a fundamentally similar way. Imagine what would have happened in some alternative and vastly more spacious world where there was soil and sunlight for every seed, and food and space for every spawn. Every creature that evolved in our world would have been born there too, somewhere, but if you started at a random location you’d be extremely lucky to find a recognizable eye or tentacle in a space the size of our universe, even if Earths were packed into it like marbles in a jar. The “Eden of Babel” would be a nightmare beyond

    Limitations are relationships, and relationships are limitations. This is easy to see in mathematics. X by itself means nothing of interest. An equation or inequality like x = 5 or x < 5 creates a limitation on x, and a relationship between x and the quantity 5. But it's true of everything. Limits underlie meaning. Lack of same erodes meaning. For instance, if your location doesn't limit you in any way, you're nowhere.

    The new mythos of limits might feature figures who lack them, and the import of that. Frankenstein was the "modern Prometheus." What lesson might a modern Proteus have to teach us?

  112. To put it more simply, “The myth of infinite expansion and consumption is the ideology of a cancer cell.”

  113. @JMG, Patricia Mathews, I have been repeating Patricia Mathews mantra “cool logic, warm emotions” and when I saw the discussion about “brain fever” I realised there was something missing that could only be expressed with some 19th century, reminiscently Vogon, medicine advertising:

    Brain fever! Mercy me!
    You need Aunt Pat and Uncle JMG’s
    Secret Magicke Remedy!

    Cool logic, warm emotions keep you balanced,
    Sense of humour and a sense of perspective keep you grounded

    @Nachtgurke I just got this great Tarot deck called the Tree Spirit Tarot by one Laural Virtues Wauters. She assigns the Maple as the tree to contemplate for medicine for restless sleep or nightmares, or excessive day dreaming. Her companion essay: <a href= "https://treespiritwisdom.com/tree-spirit-wisdom/hardwood-trees-swords/maple/&quot; Maple, 9 of Hardwoods, Dreams

    Field report: I read the most fascinating news story today, about the effort to get psilocybin legal to use for patients with terminal medical diagnoses.

    Says the trial patient interviewed,” People have the right to [medically assisted death] in Canada, but what about the living part? There’s a lot of space between being given a terminal diagnosis and when you die.”

    “Leading up to her trip, she attended four or five therapy sessions. She had to work through ‘a lot of stuff’ prior to taking the dose, figuring out what she wanted to get out of the experience.

    Her trip lasted six hours and immediately after, [her anxiety symptoms went away].

    ‘As soon as my trip was over, I said to my therapist – that was amazing, I don’t ever want to do it again.’

    She describes feeling these “waves” that would knock her down throughout the trip. At first, the waves were huge, but by the end, [she] felt like she was being rocked gently in a boat.

    According to [the lead researcher], medical professionals are still in the process of understanding the effects on a neurological and biochemical level.

    ‘Basically psilocybin allows people to face certain parts of their life or life story that are really difficult to look closely at in normal states of consciousness’, he explains ‘It allows a person to deal with the kind of truth of their situation and see clearly what’s important to them.’

    [The patient recounts all the ways her health and life and relationships have improved dramatically, and says] ‘I’ve been able to be happy and anxiety-free and not worry about what’s going to happen tomorrow, I’m able to live in the day and in the moment.’

    The therapist says, on his desire to open up legitimate access to the drug, “There’s a fair amount of what we call underground therapy going on right now… There are hundreds and I’m sure thousands of people in Canada who have gone through underground therapy.”

  114. I find the Wendigo discussion interesting, since it connects to the Tamanous discussion some time ago, in the sense that, if so, then a native American archetype has in fact already infested/infected the vast majority of the American populace, and done so quite some time ago. The unrecognized hence unconscious Consumer archetype consumes the consciousness of the American consumer. This would explain some of the behaviour noted in the comments, such as very well-off people still thinking they don’t have enough, as if they’re perpetually hungry in the metaphorical sense.

  115. Scotlyn, nicely sublimated.

    Danaone, the Egyptian archetypes have been very powerful in Western cultures since the early 19th century. Have you considered journaling or meditating on the details of the dream?

    Robert, good heavens, banishing doesn’t make an archetypal power stop existing, it just makes it go somewhere else and not hassle you. Of course the Wendigo will always be there; I’d just like to find a way to get it to stop manifesting so insistently in the American privileged classes.

    Kimberly, it’s force relative to the other person in a polarity interaction. This is getting into complexities I didn’t deal with in my (brief) post on sexual esotericism. What makes, let’s say, an etheric body masculine is that it tends to give out etheric energy rather than taking it in — you can have situations where someone has an etheric body of middling strength, which would be masculine in relation to someone with a less powerful etheric body but feminine in relation to someone with a stronger etheric body.

    Kyle, a fine meditation. I’m glad to see that Druidry is proving useful to you.

    Kevin, a solid example. I finally started to make some significant advancement in my magical studies, after some years of ineffectual dabbling, when I buckled down and got to work on one specific tradition, taking it a step at a time and doing everything that was included in the tradition. Lacking that, yeah, you get nowhere.

    Robert, that’s certainly one approach.

    Your Kittenship, no doubt!

    Steve, excellent! I’m delighted to hear this — first, that it worked well for you, and second, that you were able to pick up this material and run with it. Well done.

    Kevin, this is seriously good. Yes, you’ve probably done some significant occult training in previous lives.

    Trubrujah, thank you for this — an excellent example.

    Walt, okay, that’s two seriously good uses for the book my friends and I, after an old 50’s-themed music show, used to call The Sword of Sha Na Na. I’m in awe. 😉

    Sven, thank you. A perfectly cogent summary, and yes, the wind from the Abyss is tangible. As for mead, not yet — it’s still hot and sticky here in the midst of a New England summer. To quote Ogden Nash…

    “Well, well, summer is here, and isn’t that mirabile dictu,
    And summer is the season where whatever you sit down on, you stick to.”

    When it cools off enough to make cooking less of a miserable chore, it’s on the list.

    Sean, in order to perform any such rituals with effect, you have to put in a great deal of personal training and practice so that you can direct nwyfre, the life force, into them. It’s not the ritual that has the power, it’s the Druid. If you want to pursue the necessary training, you might try my book The Druid Magic Handbook to begin with.

    Walt, please write it so we can find out!

  116. Sometimes in your work, you describe the power of limits as something like a gun or cannon: Energy constrained can create explosive output in a single direction. I feel that image can help a lot, especially if you ARE very stressed out and have a lot of energy to channel.

    However, the meditating on the cabalistic path of Cheth (fence) made realize the power of both (1) setting limits, and then (2) expanding to fill those limits.

    Setting limits itself seems like an act of mental/astral blacksmithing sometimes. Take 30% of your mental energy to clearly and strongly set a limit, and 70% pouring energy into the mold you set.

    In my mind it feels less like a cannon than like a balloon – it gains its strength both from the limits imposed on it, as well as the expansive force filling it up – pushing against the imposed limitations.

    Perhaps it is an obvious observation, but I find it very helpful mentally whenever I have zero energy, to just set limits outlining what I will do next, and challenge myself to fill those limits with intensity. Without any limits, sometimes there is the relentless pressure to do MORE. By clearly stating that you WON’T do more, you can pour your energy into doing the limited thing well.

  117. Archdruid,

    I’ve been meditating on Sun Tzu’s saying about knowing thyself and knowing thy enemy, and it struck me that there’s a hard limit to knowing thy self.

    You may have a conception of your core character, you may have a conception of what you want to be, or you may have a conception of what you think you are. That sense of self-knowledge, which exists on mental plane, is a broad conception of the matrix that is your selfdom.
    However, your idea of self is tested upon the lower planes, when the project of your character from the higher planes is filtered through the cleavages of your imaginative currents, and tested against the hard limits of the physical plane.

    If your conception of your selfdom is true, then the currents will manifest upon the material plane as a successful resolution to whatever problem you face.

    To this end, training is a viable way of ensuring that currents flowing from the higher planes have an appropriate effect on the lower planes. You cannot know yourself in a situation in which you’ve never been, but by using the imagination appropriately, and relying on external forms like books, you can create conceptions of yourself in situations you’ve never been. The forms allow the energy to flow appropriately.

    Knowing your limits, the true meaning of discernment, can often mean realizing that you may not have the skills necessary to deal with a problem. You may be faced with the choice at that point of relying on outside help, a person whose selfdom is already manifest on the plane where the problem has been successfully resolved for example, or failing.

    The key is to face the problem, the whole matrix, on the astral plane where you can see the cleavages. The cleavages could just be your inability to create a bridge between where you are and where the solution lies, and may require you to focus your effort on finding help.

    Knowing thyself is knowing that there are things you cannot do, things you do not know, and things you have not experienced. It is discernment.

    Regards,

    Varun

  118. I’d already filled several pages of my notebook where I keep themes I want to meditate on in the future, but apparently I’m still going! I suspect my prior occultist life/lives spent a ton of time grappling with the Cosmic Doctrine in particular, and so a lot of this is just me rediscovering things I’d already found in a prior life.

    Linking this to astrology, if limitation is the source of power, then Saturn and Capricorn become, astrologically, the source of all power. This would seem to imply that both the planet and the sign are more complex than I thought, which is important since my ascendant is in Capricorn! The origins of power from the Saturnine archtype isn’t something I’ve seen discussed, but it seems to work!

    I have both Uranus and Neptune in Capricorn, and while I mastered using Uranus well earlier than Neptune, I think I’m getting the hang of Neptune now too. Since I mastered it a while back, I’ll use Uranus as the example of how Capricorn can provide the higher potentials of a planet. The general Uranian traits are rebelliousness, change for the sake of change, and a fierce desire for autonomy and independence. In Capricorn, the planet’s extremes are tempered by the seriousness of the sign, but crucially, where typically Uranus goes off in new directions regularly, in Capricorn it’s possible to focus it: to take the desires for freedom, for autonomy, and the general rejection of the usual and normal, and use them to achieve great things, while the usual Uranian tendencies towards “ooh shiny” and “I’m bored. Let’s do something else” can be restricted and temepered by the sign. In other words, it is by limiting the excess of the planet that it’s highest potentials can be reached. Hmm….

    As for banishing the Wendigo, as I see it our best bet would be to figure out something on the upper mental plane to attack it since it seems to have infected the lower mental. Exactly what this would be is something I’ll need to spend quite some time brooding over. In the meantime, I’ll just have to keep banishing and get it to go away.

    There’s one other thing I think I’ve realized about the locations of the breaks: it appears that the reason why we’ve yet to see any classic revitalization movements is that given where our culture has its break, they simply can’t exist: they can only form where the division is between the lower mental and upper astral, and since we don’t have a functional lower mental these days, there can’t be any clear breaks between the lower mental and upper astral.

    This seems to suggest that there can’t be two breaks in a row. Thinking out loud here, if the break is at the level of the upper mental-lower mental, then the lower mental is too incoherent for there to be an additional break between it and the upper astral; if it’s between the upper astral and the lower astral, then the lower astral doesn’t do anything and there can’t be a break between it and the physical. Fascinating.

    Patricia Mathews,

    I have a very strong sense that a lot of people are going to look back on the present in horror in the future. “Beware the Wendigo!” is likely to be a major factor for the future. As for wolf and shark, wow. I never thought of it, but you’re quite right.

    Viking,

    That’s a good question, and it’s not one I’m sure I can answer right now.

  119. Once more, articulating a comment here suddenly gives me a new insight: the baffling insistence we don’t need to banish in the pop neopagan scene could be a defense mechanism the Wendigo has: it pushes that thought into the minds of occultists it obsesses, to keep them from banishing it. This would suggest it ought to be far more common an insistence among privileged occultists, and far less common outside of North America, which I think does appear to be the case.

  120. Re myths to live by and the endless hunger of the wendigo:

    If health on the physical/etheric planes relies on good food, fresh air, sunshine, exercise, cold water (and good sex!) and instead we get a stale indoors life with junk food and porn and hot showers, then we are in a constant state of physical/etheric malnutrition and unpleasant and nasty supernatural forces have a way in… and we are always hungry and depleted.

    If health on the astral/mental planes relies on good, nourishing myths and meaning that connect us with the higher planes which in turn lead god-ward and instead we have advertising, self-actualisation via consumerism, debased religion and the failing story of progress, then we are in a constant state of astral/mental malnutrition and unpleasant and nasty supernatural forces have a way in… and we are always hungry and depleted, but at a more fundamental and critical level.

    In this sense the way to banish the wendigo is a diet of good myths that nourish us on the astral/mental planes and reconnect us on our path towards the gods. In this paradigm we have actually cut ourselves off from the gods. I think what we may be suffering from is a terrible, collective loneliness.

  121. I haven’t followed your magical commentary too closely but this is incredibly useful stuff. It occurred to me while reading this how many people might practice magic without realizing it.

    I’m imagining a druid giving a lecture on the design of a motor vehicle in purely magical terms and summing it up with “so you see, any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology”

  122. JMG and all:

    On this month fragment: the essence of focus It’s one of those things that seems straightforward, but still require quite a lot of thoughts.

    Quite coincidental, I’ve been reading one of the books Dion Fortune recommended (in Initiate and His Works(?) , named Self-Help by Samuel Smiles; the title might be misleading because it has almost nothing to do with current field of self-help, bu it is entertaining survey of people who by hard and focused work accomplished astonishing things. It’s out of copyright and I think readers here would like it as an illustration.. and it’s super-quotable, I put a lot of snippets in my wastebook.

  123. @pixelated – Thank you! I read the essay on the maple tree, interesting! If I sleep, I usually sleep very well. The main problem is finding my way out of all the work and into my bed. At some point you start to create an ugly feedback-loop. If you don’t sleep enough, you start being inefficient so you don’t get your work done so you sleep less. The ideal amount of sleep for me is somewhere around 7 hours a night, although with small children this is not always possible…

    @Scotlyn – I like your sheep-stories. We have a small herd of six Ouessant-sheep that came to us more or less by accident. We thought about finding another place for them since sheep are not really what we were searching for, but I have to say it’s really fun to have them around and as long they’re happy, they will stay.

    Cheers,
    Nachtgurke

  124. @Someone Perpetually hungry is not only true in the metaphorical sense in the case of my cousin: she has had trouble maintaining a stable weight for years. There has been periods where she slimmed down, when that became her major focus, only to gain back weight later when work requirements (and stress) took the forefront.

    To anyone else interested in the Wendigo discussion:

    It may be interesting to some here that my cousin definitely is a PMC-type. It is also interesting to note that the more money she made, the stronger the drive to accumulate got. A decade ago, when I visited her (and her husband and kids), she would spontaneously share and I always felt an equal member of “the family”. I learned years later that she is mentally continuously keeping track of the financial cost of things: she can cite by heart how much she paid exactly for any item in the house, even years later. I realised then that every time she was offering me something before, that also meant she was computing at the same time how much it cost her. (That must be really tiring…)

    But a few years later, when probably having doubled/tripled her salary, she would “invite” me to the restaurant to celebrate her new job, only to let me pay my share. Or tried to use me as a free “babysitter” while insisting that her kids were old enough to take care of themselves (implicitly implying I was not really babysitting for free…). Or ask me to contribute financially to her kids’ sport activities, at a time when her family was making 10x more money than I was… That left a really sour taste in my mouth. When I tried to raise the subject, she and her husband simply and suddenly cut ties. I was flabbergasted by that sudden reversal of attitude, as I had felt for years that they were somewhat of a second family to me, and I had and still have, a fond affection for them, especially the kids.

    I had the distinct and intuitive impression that this is a phase that has to pass and that it may take a decade or more for the underlying drive to loose enough power to get back a bit of our previous relationship. A good thing is that I did not feel the same drive in her kids. Once old enough to babysit herself, the elder girl once told my cousin: “I am not trying to make money [out of babysitting another affluent lawyer’s couple kid], I only want to have enough”. I don’t think they risk the same drive for accumulation, but there is still possibly a chance they might get attached to the affluent lifestyle. We will see.

    I am all for any concerted attempt at banishing the Wendigo archetype/myth/demon. I deeply miss the depth and warmth of the relationships it is sucking dry. So if anyone here has insights about how a geographically-distributed half-anonymous occult-savvy commentariat can go about this, I am all ears.

  125. From my meditations this morning:

    Whoever rejects limits, who knows only force and not form, knows not BInah, the Great Mother in Her old age, with the wisdom of having illusions left.

    Whoever thinks they’re entitled to endless peace and prosperity, knows not the discipline of Geburah, and will be bitten in the rear thereby. (Though, as a corollary, those who known only Geburah have not the wisdom of the gangster-turned-warlord on the border between Dark Ages and Early Period Medieval, who has the sense to realize “When you’re the government, you shear the sheep, you don’t slaughter them.”*)

    Whoever thinks only of tricks and technology, commerce and communications and cleverness, knows not Netzach. And for whom Yesod has become a realm of flashing neon lights and advertisements, and whose dreams have become Goblin Fruit.

    Those who want to walk in perpetual light and banish the darkness as the Great Satan Negativity, will end in burnout.

    And who think of the Earth as a thing to be used and not a living being will lose all touch with reality and be destroyed thereby. (Think “Suicide by Alaska.”) Exeut, pursued by a Bear, who is the Great Mother of the North.

    *Quote courtesy of Steve Stirling’s Emberverse novels, but wisdom well known to Beowulf.

  126. Viking asks “Which period of American History could have triggered that reaction (of incessant consuming due to past scarcity.)?”

    For the generations just passed and/or on the way out? The Great Depression. Though for many, that led to compulsive frugality! For the ones currently on deck? The Carter Years, 1973-81. Whose survivors greeted the Reagan years with the heartfelt cry of “We’re SAVED!”

  127. Kyle – You said “Polytheist religions tend to have a female—or quite a few—who temper the masculine forces. In the unchecked masculine brand of monotheism, no such principle exists, leading to the habits of extension and consumption. Materialists and Protestants are altogether devoid of the feminine, and Catholics have relegated her to a position of far less power than the Father and the Son.”

    However, in my Protestant church, it is common to invoke “The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit”. The Holy Spirit, sometimes referred to as “The Comforter”, nurtures and sustains us, which I think puts her firmly in the feminine category. In other cases, the Father is known as the Creator, without gender.

    Maybe we’re just Liberal Protestants, or maybe we’re evolving to a more complete understanding of the Holy, less influenced by male-dominated social traditions.

  128. “… in order to perform any such rituals with effect, you have to put in a great deal of personal training and practice so that you can direct nwyfre, the life force, into them.” This suggests that the ritual is the form, and nwyfre in this case is (obviously) the force, but the question I have is how this relates to the etheric body. I’ve understood the etheric body as being the life body, the one that communicates life force to plants and animals (including ourselves), so is it the vessel for nwyfre, and if so, how does that relate to masculine and feminine etheric bodies?

  129. Dear JMG and commentariat,

    If I may,

    Regarding the Wendigo and possible strategies for coping with it:

    From my experience one can “lock” the Wendigo by balancing it with destruction of things “by fire.” Specifically one can lock the Wendigo — the urge to senseless consumption — with the desire for senseless aggression and destruction, that is with Fire.

    Here’s how I’ve found it effective. One can go through one’s room and find all sorts of objects the “short-circuit” the will. This picture, that notebook, etc. They are objects that neither one wishes to keep nor get rid of. The worst is when there’s an infusion of the self into the material. Old pencils, toys from childhood, sticks that were once whittling projects, ill-begotten status symbols, you name it. These sorts of objects can have the uncanny power to short-circuit the will. They are almost something out of a Borges story: they are object that prevent one from using other objects effectively. They are objects that exist not for use but to drain the vitality from one’s life, to encourage the reproduction of more clutter to cover over the fundamental emptiness at the center of one’s life.

    What I’ve found works, then, is to make a beeline directly for that emptiness: to take all of these emotionally heavy and functionally near useless objects and to _burn_ them and to watch them burn. If one has theatrical inclinations one can scream at the fire “NEVER AGAIN!” as one watches the objects that once were so much baggage now reduced to nothing but ashes.

    There’s a sense of levity that opens up when this fire ritual is done. A sense that one has everything that one truly needs inside of one’s own self, that the emptiness has another name and that name is freedom.

    Of course, one can easily go too far into burning things and senseless destruction in general, but as per the earlier chapter of the Cos.Doc., one can lock demons against each other. The desire for acquisition becomes balanced with the desire for destruction, and thus the two become rendered at a square root level to their prior level of intensity. Specifically I find it helpful to acquire things with the knowledge that I’ll probably burn many of them come a few years, and I like to burn things with the knowledge that I’m creating a space in my life for new development. And so the two base impulses can be balanced against each other, thus reducing their destructive capacity.

    Furthermore, and most saliently, one can do the burning as a community event. I once had the pleasure of attending a ritual in which a person built a large shed out of wood, everyone in the community filled it with objects they wished to destroy, and then the shed was set ablaze. It worked too, it worked very well: I experienced big and rapid positive transformations after that ritual.

    Note too, that the impulse towards senseless aggression and destruction forms one of the great taboos of the privileged classes here in the Eastern Woodlands of North America, and perhaps this participates in leaving the Wendigo unchecked. My understanding is that, if I remember correctly, many First Nations Tribes had a yearly ritual in which they ceremonially burned unneeded things…

  130. Earlier I was reading an article which serendipitously led me to thinking more about the origin of the myth of progress. I know I’m going over territory well trodden by yourself and your readership before, but synchronicity struck, because a section in that article relates a bit to the discussion this week.

    In a passage in the article, I saw that the Latin word saeculum, the root of ‘secular’, means something like flux, whereas religio means something like ‘bond’.

    Saeculum also apparently was a unit of time, and looking at Wikipedia (sorry) it has to do with the renewal of a population, or a human lifetime. Implicit in the idea of progress is time, as it involves a comparison with a starting point to an end point. Therefore there is a connection between the idea of progress and the idea of secularity, which later came to mean the stance or attitude that is outside of religion, and the two ideas became joined at the hip.

    I started thinking about what a myth does, that it’s a way of emphasizing a particular connection between humankind and the rest of the cosmos.

    So in the same way that saeculum eventually came to mean secular, and due to its connections with time, came to be connected to ‘progress’, there is a similar phenomenon perhaps with how ‘myth’, with its role in binding humanity and the cosmos together, came to be connected with ‘religion’. Our culture has obviously defined these two concepts as polar opposites.

    And that has led to what we already know: If the central idea of the myth of progress is that any connection we have to the rest of the universe is that of our dominance over it, our role is then to expand to fill it, because we are not bound by it. That worldview only works until you hit the limits of the planet itself, and suddenly, adherents to the myth of progress sense the bonds we have to the cosmos, but having shed all other myths, have no way to explain them.

    I haven’t read Spengler yet, but I do recall your description of the Second Religiosity as being a period that happens later in a civilizational cycle where the civilization comes to terms with its earliest religious ideas, if I remember correctly. The oscillation between striving for ends, and then periods of rest, that Fortune outlines here may be related to that shift – that period of rest could be thought of as a kind of re-binding, or said another way, myth-making.

    Perhaps there is no need to invent myths – because the act of collision between limits and the futile desire to overcome them will itself result in new myths, and these will arise naturally from the times ahead.

    @Scotlyn: Thanks very much for that comment about the two tangled fears: I am still thinking about it since you posted it.

    @Steve T: I really appreciate that description of how to put this week’s post into practice, it’s very helpful. Glad you found a place to live!

    @Walt F: I first read the Sword of Shannara before I read Lord of the Rings, and even after I did read Tolkien and realized how much Brooks had taken from it, the book was still a guilty pleasure. Brooks did eventually get more original, some of his later Shannara books aren’t bad, but perhaps that is my childhood self speaking. I haven’t read them in years. I remember the scene you described – glad to hear Gandalf’s copyright lawyer’s finally caught up with the taciturn Druid! 🙂

    @Kevin: Thanks for the continued thoughts, all very interesting and thought-provoking!

  131. The discussion on magic and limits sparked more thoughts.
    Yes to the dabbling aspect of neopagan magic. My Grey School experience is that they do want majors and minors, but encourage everyone to sample all the departments of study. My major is divination, minor lore. So I don’t do magic much in the sense of spellwork. Anyway, I am a generalist in temperament and ended up graduating with two degrees and a certificate in wildly different subjects. So I know what I am and don’t expect my magic to work.

    However, the neopagans I have encountered do not understand that focus and choices are needed to be effective. When you are this, you are not doing that. Problem is they all seem to want it and want it now. So they use the scattershot method instead of the rifle method. Yes using a shotgun is effective, but it will also blowout the side of a barn if the person is not careful.

    Btw the cool kids at Grey School and bloggers at Patheos all groove on the Dark Arts i.e. Curses, vampires etc. Is that the attraction of th lower plane?

  132. @Jonathan: Hi Jonathan… I’m not sure what spiritual practices you partake in, but meditation is sure to be a key for bringing down your songs from the inner to the outer.

    You and the other musicians here might be interested to know that composer, musician and ambient music label runner Kim Cascone, the force behind Silent Records, is currently in the beginning stages of writing a book on Subtle Listening based on the workshops he used to give in the same area. The main tool is meditation, and listening to the subtle aspects of sound. Goethe is a strong influence on the work he is developing and he wants to help musicians “develop new organs of perception”. These organs are of course not physical ones. He is looking at sound in a way to use as a mode of transport to the inner realms, and as I said before, help artists learn the skill of developing those organs to create better music again so they can bring forth what they hear on the inside to the outside.

    He has been blogging some of his thoughts here:

    https://silentrecords.bandcamp.com/community

    “About will or intention: it’s like being a conductor of an orchestra. She leads the group of musicians through a piece of music, but the control is an illusion, the conductor serves as a psychic focal-point.

    Each player conforms to an agreed upon standard of quality based on their own training, practice and musicianship thus able to contribute to that quality. The conductor understands this and uses it to shape/guide each players performance and achieve the performance quality of the piece.

    The will exerted by the conductor is _mostly_ non-verbal, indications are made via hand gestures and eye contact – this channel of communication that has to be learned over time.

    The illusion is that the conductor controls the players but in reality the conductor is an invisible hand subtly micro-adjusting a network of nodes exchanging subtle information.

    We do something similar when we link the subtle and physical planes. We send and receive subtle information via a network of nodes that are also exchanging information. We are conductors micro-adjusting and interpreting these nodes. I will refer to these nodes as events or event-energies.

    Each event-energy has a “psychic signature,” i.e. a distinguishing, non-physical, presence we perceive with new organs of perception.

    Soundshapes are event-energies, they are dynamic, have texture and movement/placement in the field of time, not a passing of time.

    I once recorded birds flocking during calls-to-prayer in Istanbul and was the most transcendental subtle listening experiences I’ve ever had. The birds were chattering and flying overhead while distant prayers from half a dozen mosques were carried by the wind, the exchange of the event-energies was magical.

    Although I didn’t impose will or intention I experienced a different level of participation, like a continuum of engagement as an active participant”

    Also, this from his recent series I really liked:

    “In Captain Beefheart’s “10 Commandments of Guitar Playing” the second commandment is: “Your guitar is not really a guitar – Your guitar is a divining rod. Use it to find spirits in the other world and bring them over.” Beefheart knew intuitively that music never really comes _from_ the artist, but _through_ them; all you have to do is listen to “Trout Mask Replica” to experience this.

    Much music today emanates from the material plane and is stuck resurrecting the same sounds, same ideas, same progressions, same cliches. Familiarity sells.

    Self-similarity (familiarity) happens when the imagination is malnourished. When commerce determines culture what sells is imitated and quickly shoved out into the market. Lather, rinse repeat.”

    And here is an essay Kim wrote about developing organs of subtle perception:

    http://www.interferencejournal.org/transcendigital-imagination-developing-organs-of-subtle-perception/

    Kim’s spiritual background is based in meditation disciplines, studies of Goethe, Rudolph Steiner and other aspects of Western Esotericism. His music is also well worth checking out. Some of my favorites are his albums under the moniker “Heavenly Music Corporation”

    I think all this relates to having an outline -but you use your subtle senses via a magically developed imagination to bring it down into an earthed form. Some of the magicians I know speak of this as “Reificiation”

    @Darkest Yorkshire: Yeah, I haven’t listened to Gravediggaz much since I was in highschool in the ’90s but they definitely left a lasting impression. I listen to hip-hop and rap here and there still, but I don’t follow the genre very closely. Usually its when a friend says to give something a whirl or when I see a record at work that looks interesting. There were lots of days skateboarding though and listening to stuff by the Wu-Tang and all the different solo albums. And Fugazi.

  133. The planes reminded me of how modern western people are separated from the cosmos. Instead of being integrated into the various planes, people often stand outside of them.

    Could be another reason that Neopagan magic doesn’t work well. The cosmos becomes a thing to dominate and command. Instead of something that can limit or expand on its own.

  134. Kevin, that’s an excellent take on the break between planes, thanks! I’ll be using that from now on.

    Sven, i wasn’t confident taking a crack at te spiritual genesis of it, but this sounds like a distinct possibility. While I had it as an unmediated masculine principle, the inversion makes a lot of sense. I even wonder if that sort of inversion is what happens as a matter of course when something goes unchecked. Lots to think about here.

  135. John—

    I must be really dense, as I’m still having difficulty taking practical workings and seeing them through the lens of the variously plains so as to understand the mechanics (and the mechanics of potential counter-workings). You’ve talked about working at a plane (or two) above that of an effort one wishes to counter. Take the example of the COVID vaccine propaganda previously mentioned. What are it’s components (and how does one identify them)? What is it’s plane of working? How might one counter such a thing by working on the next plane up? How does one go about identifying this generally?

  136. Just popping in to say, yet again, how much I appreciate this series. I’m “way” behind you all (back on the evolution of Great Entities) and not likely to catch up so as to join current on-going conversation, but that’s ok. I’m very much enjoying meditating my way through, with help from the tracks you all have already laid, so thanks for those! 😀

    In the way deep time is reassuring to me, the CosDoc’s ‘differences in kind, not in degree’ is as well. Can’t wait until I get to this chapter (and the ones in between) because I need to learn how to stop spinning my wheels.

  137. I forgot the end of my story.

    I asked my husband if he’d seen the psilocybin story, and what he thought. He said he didn’t read it, he skimmed it and just chortled at the doctor who had been “experimenting for many years” on himself, and was now working to get the medicine into the wider community. He thought it was funny he obviously admitted he did shrooms. I told him that’s why I’d trust him rather than the cancer doctors who usually work with his patients: never trust a doctor who won’t take their own medicine.

    Hubby said, that reminded him of a story he’d read: there was a man who’d been told he had six months to live. He told his doctors they were wrong, and left.

    10 years later, on the anniversary of his shoulda-death, when he was still very much alive and kicking, he decided to look them all up and basically say neener-neener.

    He couldn’t. They were all dead.

    How was that said?

    “I want for nothing, and I am grateful.”

  138. @Kevin – I have Capricorn as my ascendant too, and Uranus in Taurus. Meaning I can be all too bullheaded about my desire for independence and letting my freak flag fly. And am too conservative to do it too openly. Go figure. (Midheaven, Mars, and Venus in Scorpio, which is given to secrecy anyway. And loves being part of a secret conspiracy, heh-heh-heh….)

    @JMG and all of you re: my meditations and Binah: OOPS! Typo! I meant, “having NO illusions left!”

  139. @ Justin Patrick Moore – I really appreciate this:

    “Your guitar is not really a guitar – Your guitar is a divining rod. Use it to find spirits in the other world and bring them over.”

    It will now, with slight changes, become my first commandment of acupuncture, which will read as follows:

    “Your needle is not really a needle – your needle is a divining rod. Use it to find the spirits of healing in the other world and bring them to where they are needed.”

  140. Regarding the stepladder of synthesis from DF->JMG -> Kevin ->jbucks that looked like this and will, I hope, be touched on in the upcoming post on will

    “One last point, and I can’t remember if I’m recycling the thoughts of others … Rather than our society being masculine or feminine as Kevin Taylor Burgess …wrote last week, it seems to me that it’s confused. It aims for goals, ie, it is masculine in that it seeks ends and is outwardly focused, but it doesn’t want to accept the necessary limitations to do so. And this might be because it wants to also embody the feminine – it seeks the total expansiveness of pure potential, it wants the potential to go into any direction it chooses. As Fortune notes, these are two contradictory goals. Our society has a gender identity crisis, and perhaps that’s why gender is such a theme nowadays, as this trickles down into the lives of people living in it.”

    I have to add that this seems extremely relevant to my case of divided will of doing creative work but getting caught in the expansive potential of the ideas, floundering with manifesting them, then giving up to go wallow in an identity crisis…

    When I get to this chapter, I’m going to really have to figure out and hone in on which plane my problem is really on and learn how to plane-skip up a level…

  141. Enjoying the discussion, as always! A couple things occurred to me:

    1) The second paragraph reminded me very much of the bit in “A Study in Scarlet,” where Holmes not only cheerfully admits that he didn’t know the earth went around the sun, but now that he does, he’ll do his best to forget it, as it’s no use to his work. The dude’s a bit extreme in many ways, granted, but it seems relevant–especially considering that Conan Doyle was no stranger to the occultism of his time.

    2) The narrow-at-apex, broad-at-base form brings to mind the wedges for splitting logs, as generally does the notion of finding weak points. (That’s how we were always trained to break boards back in my Tang Soo Do classes, though I admit I was never much good at it.)

  142. Does anyone know some good resources to learn about the original Wendigo myths? Really any good resources on American Indian myths in general would be helpful.

    Thanks

  143. MacGregor, that’s also a very workable metaphor.

    Varun, of course! That’s why no general has a batt(l)ing average of 1.00 — you can’t know yourself perfectly and you can’t know the enemy perfectly. You can, however, do your best.

    Kevin, at this point I’m just going to sit back, smile, and watch this unfold.

    Blueday Jo, that strikes me as very plausible.

    Jo, ha! I like that.

    Changeling, excellent. It really is a good book. (If anyone else wants to read it, it can be downloaded for free here.

    Patricia M, a fine meditation. Generally speaking, I’m impressed by the quality of the thought that this post seems to have elicited!

    Someone, the word “nwyfre” is generally used a little loosely in Druid Revival settings, meaning not merely etheric energy but the entire pattern of creative currents that hold the material plane in existence. That’s the sense in which I was using it here.

    Violet, interesting. Might be worth trying.

    Jbucks, oh, any attempt to create or renew myths will have at most a personal effect unless it’s tapping into changes already at work in the higher planes of existence. One of the reasons that I’m encouraging people to think about different myths is precisely that the habit of attending to the mythic will give the higher planes more opportunities to communicate to us the myths we need.

    Neptune’s Dolphins, that’s typical of beginners, and not a bad thing — it keeps them from learning enough to hurt themselves before they get the experience they need to use magic wisely — but yeah, a lot of people get stuck in it. As for the wallowing in the lower astral, people tend to gravitate to the level at which they’re naturally centered. As for trying to dominate the cosmos, exactly! You can get the cosmos to move with you if you’re part of it, but trying to push it from outside gets nowhere.

    David BTL, let’s take one of them as an example, the guilt spell. The spell works on the lower mental plane — the plane of mental habits and ordinary thoughts — and tries to create a form on the upper astral — the plane of imagery and emotions. If you want to mess with it, you start on the upper mental plane — the plane of meanings and insights. One way to do this is to put the spell into context. Who is casting it? What are their motives? How have they behaved in the past? Can they be trusted? You can also pull the guilt apart into its component emotions of love and fear — love for your family and fear of the disease — and target each of those individually, for example by directing the love into other ways of improving their immune system health and redefining the fear by finding out that the death toll from Covid-19 among people without serious preexisting conditions is around 0.01%.

    Temporaryreality, delighted to hear this.

    Pixelated, that’s a great example of using the upper mental level. Trusting doctors is a matter of habit; asking how well the doctors are doing at taking care of their own health is a way to achieve insight.

    Temporaryreality, duly noted!

    Isabel, I always figured that Holmes was having fun at stuffed-shirt Watson’s expense!

  144. JMG & commentators – I have been reading JMGs weekly essays for ten years now, and the comments to this essay are probably the most insightful and thought provoking I can remember. Thank you all.

    A question about the Lower Mental and myths in particular. I am having some trouble understanding what exactly we are talking about.

    Kevin mentioned the Myth of Progress. If I have understood correctly, that is the misconception that history moves in a linear path toward utopia, rather than repeating cycles.

    Blueday Jo mentioned “good, nourishing myths that connect us with the higher planes”.

    JMG says “One of the reasons that I’m encouraging people to think about different myths is precisely that the habit of attending to the mythic will give the higher planes more opportunities to communicate to us the myths we need.”

    My understanding is that “myths” can convey universal truths about existence but can also be sources of misconception and delusion (eg “Progress).

    From an occult perspective, what is a myth? How do we recognise its presence and influence?

  145. Although I believe I’ve run out of steam and don’t have much else to add to the greatly thought-provoking discussion about the planes, the law of limitations, and the Wendigo, I continue to follow along with great interest. Thanks everyone!

    @JMG: In trying to find practical ways of putting this knowledge of the planes into practice, I realized during meditation this morning that the elements in the Sphere of Protection also correspond to combinations of these planes. I still need to meditate further, but it could be that Air corresponds to the upper mental, Fire to the lower mental and upper astral (there seems to be a connection between will and the lower mental), Water to the lower astral and perhaps ‘upper etheric’ and Earth with the ‘lower etheric’ and the physical planes. The 3 Spirit elements could be the first inclinations toward the spiritual planes: with Spirit Below corresponding perhaps to the collective unconscious or subconscious, and Spirit Above to an as-yet-unsensed ‘supraconscious’.

    On the other hand, the Spirit elements could simply be an extension of the planes ranged across all the elements, with Spirit Above corresponding to the upper mental, and the rest descending from there.

    Perhaps the SOP as a whole is a form to balance oneself within the planes (among other things), to limit oneself within the restrictions of the planes, but Spirit Within is meant to help see these limits not as a hindrance, but as a source of power – that being in harmony with the cosmos is itself a source of power.

  146. Hi John Michael,

    ” If you set out to change the world, or a nation, or a community, or even a family all at once, the inertia of your target’s existing habits will overwhelm any energy you can bring to bear, and you will fail.”

    Mate, so very true. It hardly surprises me that mass protests fail abysmally lately, because the sheer weight of energy – even from really large protests, gets readily absorbed and deflected. Sometimes at truly cynical moments, I do wonder if this effect is known and encouraged? Dunno.

    Of late I have been wondering how the folks who so very recently were protesting Climate Change are now coping with the sort of changes brought on by the health subject that dare not be named, have produced? Well at the very least the folks are learning better living through enjoying less and with positive outcomes for the environment and resource and energy depletion.

    “There are always lines of fracture, points at which one part of the problem can be separated from other parts.”

    This week’s essay is superb reading and fine instruction! Yes, there are cracks which can be navigated for those brave enough to venture forth on bold adventures! 🙂 It always surprises me that few people see these opportunities, and I am curious as to your opinion in this matter. I’m not really sure why, but have sort of always put it down to the strength, volume and sheer inertia of the dominant narrative. Am I off the mark in that understanding?

    Phew! So many good lessons. Rest, focus, limits. I hear you! 🙂 Plus I reckon people have forgotten the creation of beauty and how to have some fun.

    Cheers

    Chris

  147. What does anyone think of this wee spell for warding off or banishing the baleful influence of the Wendigo upon oneself.

    Frugality is Freedom
    Generosity is Power

    Although the freedom of frugality may be experienced in Violet’s “Bonfire of the Vanities” ritual, which sounds interesting, I think there are two arms to this working. I myself have never been greatly drawn to wanton destruction, but find that the power of generosity path, which takes advantage of one of my own tendencies (to cook a LOT), also speaks to the mirror opposite of the Wendigo, in mythic terms, which is the Dagda’s cauldron (which can never be emptied). There are, of course, many similar European myths – magical cauldron’s, magical wallets, magical cupboards, etc, which in story after story are found to be inexhaustible. However, I think I am going to do a review of stories containing this element, because there are obviously other story elements that relate to how to find and benefit from this magic (which is obviously the abundant natural and living world.

    I wonder if we have somehow got these two myths wrongly entangled. Somehow, part of us ACTS AS IF we believe in the Dagda’s caudron (that there are no limits to what we can have or get), and so we [or at least the systems that arose to channel our cultures deepest moods and impulses] allow the Wendigo to give us inexhaustible appetites capable of swallowing and eating the fruits of the Dagda’s inexhaustible cauldron, and thinking no harm can come of this. Ironically, if we actually believed that the cauldron was inexhaustible, it would really be way easier to take only what you need now, and let yourself get full at this meal, knowing the next will be available and will come when the time for hunger arrives. So, underneath, there is another, truer belief, which is that the cauldron is running out and the only way to be sure is to grab enough for today and for an endless series of unknown tomorrows.

    That this second belief is born of scarcity was brought home to me by a story told by my father who ran a Christian summer camp programme for children. After running many camps for paying children from relatively well-off homes, my father ran a pro bono camp for street children. On the first day, he was amazed at the sight of the children surreptitiously filling their pockets with bits of food off the table at the first meal served. But then there was another meal, and another meal, and another meal. So, by the end of the week, the pocket-filling had become much less, as the children began to have a small bit of faith in the next meal. (At the end of the week he got them all to pack themselves a food pack to take with them.)

    The trick, I think, is trying to embody the Dagda’s cauldron to others, that is giving freely of what I have to share (which I’ve been doing on the perfectly self-serving basis that every gift spins the wheel that keeps everything moving through the world and that also moves what I need towards my own sustenance, too). And at the same time, supping frugally thereof. When I take what I need, but limit myself to that, there is a freedom that comes from reducing the “hooks” which my hunger might give others (including the Wendigo itself) to ensnare me. And, yet, to do this in the (genuine!!) belief that the cauldron is actually THERE, and will always continue to sustain me, which means I do not have to test it, or strain it or overuse it. Meanwhile, the more I embody the cauldron’s inexhaustible generosity to others and to the natural world, the more I enable its existence to be true.

  148. @ Nachtgurke – enjoy your wee flock for its own sake. Sheep have their own quiet interest, for anyone who is interested. 🙂

    @ JBucks – you planted a seed, and I just grew it on a bit. It seems to me that this whole comment thread is a case of people swapping thought-seeds around and others watering and feeding them and going “wow! look at what’s growing here!”

    @Justin – thanks for that most beautiful essay by Kim Cascone! Incidentally, the wee phrase “sensation is not experience” is extremely apt to that whole discussion that has been had on this blog about pornography…

    @ Kevin – you are on a roll! Thank you for sharing all of these insights. Much food for thought.

  149. So, for the next while, I’m guessing the ensuing long descent of slowly squeezed physical resources is offering humanity the opportunity of thinking well within increasing limitation. The only way being up? (in plane speak.)
    Quite the ideal. 😉

  150. And just like that, an issue I’ve been ruminating on for months is beginning to be resolved. Without going into a lot of detail, I’ve been hosting an annual winter holiday event for 30 years or more. It has gradually changed as people have grown, changed, moved, etc.; however, in the past few years it has been hijacked by certain family members and made into a misery for everyone else present.

    I thought I had two options: put up with the situation or cancel. My husband (who is supportive no matter what I choose) was in favor of canceling. I’ve been dithering. Then I read the assigned pages and your commentary, and something clicked: limitations and insight. I talked to my husband about why I keep wanting to host the event despite the recent outcomes, and what the tradition means to me. I told him why I’m not happy with either option, and with that understanding he suggested a completely new way of instituting boundaries (in the past, my half-hearted attempts at boundaries have been plowed right through). Half an hour later we had a plan. If there is fallout (and in my family there always is) I feel like I can live with it because I will be working with the limitations of what I can put up with (or could reasonably ask others to put up with) cheerfully, while at the same time not expecting to change anyone else.

    This chapter is going to need a lot of review and meditation.

  151. Archdruid,

    A further meditation on the limits of control and leadership.

    In reality no person has absolute control over themselves, they are limited to directing themselves toward habits and patterns that are beneficial to themselves. For example when someone raises a hand, they are exerting control or the conscious use of will to rise their hand. However, for the will to accomplish the tasking of lifting the hand, it works through the subconscious to move thousands of parts across the body. The conscious mind does not control those movements, only the triggering of the movement to raise the arm. In essence the conscious mind controls the trigger, but not the whole series of subsequent actions.

    A leader, similarly, can influence a follower to raise an arm, but the leader does not control the follower only the means of influence. Upon the plane of imitation, passion, or reason the leader can use tools (symbols) to exert influence over their followers. The leaders convinces the follower to take up the object of the leaders desire, and make it their own, to match the leaders rhythm.

    A successful leader will influence the follower to raise a hand, an unsuccessful one will only get a single finger raised.

    When the leader shares the object of desire, they no longer have control over it, but share the control with others. When a leader shares their rhythm with a larger group, the rhythm is changed and the leader must keep pace with the new rhythm.

    By the way, can you or anyone else recommend a good book that teaches the Socratic method of questioning?

    Regards,

    Varun

  152. @Scotlyn:

    I think your “wee spell” is a very powerful spell indeed! (You can’t banish a Wendigo, but you can certainly starve it beyond what it is willing to endure.)

    The more frugal one is, the easier it is to be generous. The more generous one is, the easier it is to be frugal. They balance one another, just as justice and mercy balance one another.

    BTW, that applies to “social justice” and “social mercy,” too. To be a warrior for only one of the two is unbalanced.

  153. @JMG

    As someone who generally starts to suffer as soon as the temperature rises above 24 degrees C, I can totally imagine the lack of enthusiasm for elaborate kitchen activities this time of year… 😉

    @Kyle

    Nuh, not at all. “Unmediated masculinity” is an important part of the mythology itself. It is after all one of the devils the true believers reliably invoke for blame when reality fails to follow the mythic narrative… 😉

  154. Darren, myths are narratives that we use to interpret the world. The myth of progress, for example, is the narrative that fits all of human existence into a line extending from the squalor of an ignorant past to a shining future of universal betterment. That narrative worked very well for three centuries, from the beginning of the scientific revolution until the mid-20th century, when the law of diminishing returns started biting down hard on further technological complexity. Now it no longer works — that is to say, it doesn’t produce helpful interpretations of the world we experience — and needs to be replaced with different narratives that are more useful. One of the great traps we’ve fallen into as a society, as I noted back in the very early days of my blogging career, is the delusion that insists that one narrative can explain the whole world — that’s why we need not “a new myth” but new myths in the plural, a bunch of narratives that can embrace more of the complexity of existence.

    Jbucks, excellent! Using my usual taxonomy in place of Fortune’s, the planes sort out as follows:

    Divine Plane: Spirit Within
    Causal Plane: Spirit Above
    Spiritual Plane: Spirit Below
    Mental Plane: Fire
    Astral Plane: Air
    Etheric Plane: Water
    Material Plane: Earth

    Fire goes with the mental plane and air with the astral because what Fortune calls the upper mental plane, the realm of meaning and value, is where will shows up in its full form — will can be seen as the power to choose values and meanings — while what Fortune calls the upper astral and lower mental planes, which are the astral plane in my system, is the plane on which our ordinary thinking takes place, and thus corresponds to air.

    Chris, you’re not off the mark at all. The dominant narrative of every society is set up to keep people from noticing their own potential power, so that they remain dependent on the power of the collective and those privileged individuals who run it and benefit most from it.

    Scotlyn, that’s quite elegant. It’s also a fine example of something we studied a little while back — the ideal of freedom and the ideal of power can be locked together in this way, so that their union precipitates from the upper mental to the lower mental plane, and creates a set of habitual thought patterns which can then cascade all the way down to the world of action.

    Jay, I see you’ve been paying attention. What other ideal am I bringing into relation with that one, so as to precipitate it down a plane?

    Patricia M, too funny. I take it that’s the AWFL Monument.

    Maria, excellent. That is to say, you’ve converted a frozen binary into a potentially constructive ternary.

    Varun, very nicely done. The only books I know of that teach the Socratic method of questioning are the early dialogues of Plato, but they’ve been serving that purpose very well for about 2300 years…

    Sven, it’s finally cooling off. Now to see about sources for the yeast, in a state that’s still pretty much shut down…

  155. @ JMG – have taken to heart your advice to buckle down and get to work on one specific tradition, taking it a step at a time and doing everything that was included in the tradition. I have chosen the to do the Order of the Essenes, because it starts with baby steps on the physical plane, and because it is theologically neutral.

    I will still do my ordinary worship – I can do no other – which is a mix of very early Greer, very early Roman, and a scattering of Norse – i.e. barbarian – input. This strikes me as just right for a rebirth in a dying empire. As for the mix, the Romans dealt with gods the way the English language deals with words. “We don’t just borrow them, we go into back alleys and mug other languages for them.” After all, when a Roman soldier on horseback offers to Epona…..

    Have printed off the first three chapters and am about to take another glass of water. That, and, the night before last, I took a solemn oath before the gods on the altar and any that might be listening, ans swore by all the my names, born, married, and magical, that I would do one thing at a time and finish it or come to a stopping point, and would do only one thing at a time. And added that this goes into the Well of Wyrd, which is as strong as any heathen can make it. Making it public before you and a bunch of readers strengthens it.

    Now to close the computer and drink the water and do nothing else but until it’s finished.

  156. Would you ever do magic against the current of the universe, to use the energy in a different way? Like how planes take off into the wind.

  157. Some fantastic comments on this chapter which have kept this train of thought churning in my mind! I think one of the most problematic aspects of modern industrial society is the pervasive lack of limits, which we think of as progress. Thanks to petroleum, we have almost unlimited energy. But where is the need for an individual to develop and hone physical strength when fossil-fueled machines do most of the work? Distance is less and less of a limit thanks to planes, cars, GPS and text messaging, but what happened to the skill involved in navigation and the bravery required for traveling? The self-discipline cultivated in order to save money and the knowledge of how to live frugally has all but evaporated, slowly having been replaced by credit cards and consumer debt. The know-how to maintain and repair small machines has been lost; with cheap junk made overseas and just-in-time delivery taking its place. Performers can have a whole career without musical talent, perfect pitch or a sense of rhythm thanks to Auto-Tune, drum machines and synthesizers. Where is the skill needed to make well-fitting, durable clothing when Fast Fashion allows us to buy new cheap clothes every two weeks? The skill displayed by having a well-trained memory, once highly regarded, has all but disappeared thanks to Google and cell phone cameras. Agricultural skill has been swapped out for synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and powerful tractors. The knowledge of food preservation lost and replaced with a fully-stocked grocery store and takeout pizza year-round. The combination of fossil fuels and technology has made all of these skills, which were in the past limited to specific groups of well-trained, hard-working, and/or naturally gifted people, accessible to just about anyone.

    Yet we measure ourselves and our self-worth against those very limits. We test our skills against those limits, and know success or failure only because of limits. By having limits removed, we have also lost the opportunity to know how we’re doing in relation to a particular limit. We need limits to define us, to shape our identity, to give our lives meaning. As Fortune points out, God entered into manifestation by accepting limits. With nothing to oppose us – no Ring-Chaos, there is no meaning, no definition, only nothingness – the Unmanifest. Is this part of what’s behind the insatiable appetite of the Wendigo – we have few ways left to determine who we really are, when we’ve done enough, when we’ve had enough?

    Hopefully as the influence of fossil fuels and modern technologies begins to wane as we go further into descent, we will be moved more and more back into contact with the natural world, which presents us with its own collection of limits. The solar energy striking the ground, limited rainfall, the capacity of our physical bodies to do work, the length of the growing season, the quality of our soil for agriculture, and countless other natural limits. I also hope, as we test ourselves against those limits, we regain a sense of self-worth and individual purpose which allows us to bring meaning back into our lives.

  158. Does anyone know some good resources to learn about the original Wendigo myths? Really any good resources on American Indian myths in general would be helpful.

    Thanks

    American Indian thinker Jack Forbes wrote a book entitled “Columbus and Other Cannibals : The Wetiko Disease of Exploitation, Imperialism, and Terrorism.”

    https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=30353808679&searchurl=sortby%3D17%26tn%3Dcolumbus%2Bother%2Bcannibals&cm_sp=snippet-_-srp1-_-title3

    Edward

  159. Thanks to Violet and Scotlyn for your thoughts on the Wendigo. After I read about Violet’s fire ritual, I realized i would not be able to do that, but there might be another way to counter the Wendigo and the Native American ritual of generosity called a Potlatch. Some families would save and save to be able to give it all away. I might be able to do that (strong pack rat tendencies make turning loose of things difficult). Then Scotlyn so beautifully expanded on what I was think. Thanks to both of you. Much to think about.

  160. Edward:
    August 16, 2020 at 6:23 pm

    “Does anyone know some good resources to learn about the original Wendigo myths?“

    The wendigo myth figures prominently in the novel The Antelope Wife by Native American author Louise Erdrich. Fiction; an oblique, subtle approach to the mystery.

    “Into all our lives there comes a great uncertainty to foil us. Either, as is the case so often, we retreat in fear to guard what we know, or we shrug off those worn skins and go forward.”

  161. @Scotlyn Thank you for this wee spell. That echoes my own personal practice in recognising often and in various circumstances that “I have enough”. I have seen others try to counter-act a similar spell with “Frugality is Misery/Martyrdom”. The freedom aspect of it always spoke most to me, but I am not quite sure how to deal with the counter-act.

    I really like the Dagda’s Cauldron as a myth. I have been exposed to the same idea through “the nuts game”, which perhaps works at different planes (see: https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/BF01127369.pdf):

    Participants sit around a bowl pre-filled with 10 tokens (ex: nuts, coins, bricks, etc.). The game master explains the following rules:
    1. The goal of participants is to get as many tokens as they can.
    2. Each turn, any participant can take as many as they want from the bowl.
    3. At the end of each turn, the game master refills the bowl with as many tokens as there are left, up to a maximum of 10 tokens.

    In a first run, no one is allowed to talk. In subsequent runs, talking is allowed (and encouraged). Obviously, the intention of the game is for participants to realise and negotiate limits in order to maximise their individual and collective returns. Another goal is to serve as a simple and faster analogy to the ways our collective commons can be organised for long-term benefits.

    When I was a science instructor at a youth camp, a decade and a half ago, I tried it with perhaps up to 20 groups of 7-10 kids (6-15 years old). I was amazed to see some kids and group leaders (16-20 years old) instantly get the idea (some abundantly thanked me for introducing kids to it), while seeing others, both kids and instructors, staying completely oblivious to it.

    All that to reinforce the idea that carefully chosen limits in the right places can lead to abundance now and in the future, while the insistence that there is no limit can temporarily offer the appearance of abundance but lead to long-term misery.

  162. I’ve been thinking about it means to have “underdeveloped bodies in the mental plane” and “well developed bodies” in the lower planes. Does this mean we’ve developed lower planes relatively better compared to the upper planes? Or is this in the absolute sense?

    If the latter were true, I expect the collective narratives of the mental planes influencing the limits on the lower planes. Taking the example myth of progress from the commentary above, it would limit what future we can imagine, what ideas drive us for building solutions and finally the act itself on the material plane. In general, we force a limited capacity on the lower planes; a subset of imagination (in spite of having extensive imagination), prioritizing a subset of emotions and a possible material plane brought about.

    On the formation of myths, they would need to have grassroots strength, having developed over multiple generations and newer generations bought up in a “default” environment. Would it be right to assume a similar movement needs to happen to new myths that would take its place? You mentioned insights in the upper mental would contribute to myths; in your opinion, are there insights that we have today which would certainly contribute to future myth(s)?

  163. Reading this month’s blog on the Cosmic Doctrine has been more useful than I could imagine.

    Last week, I started dancing with a field mouse who decided to live in my condo. I would love dearly a mouse begone spell. You know the kind where you do the spell, walk away, and poof mouse gone.

    Well, I did what was recommended for achieving riches. I consulted an expert magician – the exterminator – for suggestions. I have a lot to do but have been doing some daily. Cleaning up seeds, patching holes, etc. I focus on it, and then I rest doing something else. Still mulling over the mouse. Yes, I send pictures of dead mice in traps to the mouse living in the condo. I also realized that resting allows me to regroup and rethink.

    One thing that I realized is the expenditure of energy in this mouse begone project. Resting is needed to replenish the energy. (If you keep going to the well, it will run dry.) Also, in doing this work, I am sacrificing a bit of myself in it. Therefore rest is needed. Also, the sacrificial aspect of magic comes to the fore with the down time.

    If the mouse doesn’t leave, then I will summon the master magician i.e. exterminator…. since I have reached my limit of mouse begone knowledge.

  164. @Soctlyn: Glad you dig the Kim Cascone stuff. Those methods of “growing new organs of perception” can be used for many creative fields. Listening in the silence is very useful for writing poetry and other writing for one.

    & yup, the Captain Beefheart quote is great. Your needle is not a needle it is a divining rod. Or your pen is not a pen it is a diving rod, etc.

    Kim’s latest piece in his ongoing blogging on Subtle Listening is here. He talks about making sketches from Subtle Listening meditations and then using these for compositions, poetry or other creative work.

    https://silentrecords.bandcamp.com/community?sid=298315&st=sm

    All the best!

  165. (Third time the charm? Sorry – brain and phone playing up together. I took the last line out but do appreciate the blog. J)

    Have considered the question you posed, JMG. Given that the idea exists in the mental realm and is of a forecasting nature I’d suggest that it’s formation has its causation in a mixture of the upper mental and lower spiritual planes. Same level divination gets its power I’d guess. Open your mind and follow the cues? Talking of which, a couple of weeks ago, had not one but two pigeons get hit by cars at speed in fairly rapid succession (within 5 minutes) just before I got to them on the bicycle. Heard the thuds but the cars didn’t stop. Both died pretty sharply on the road after a fairly big headache I’d think. Was bizarre. Never experienced one car birdstrike before, and then I get two – complete with thrashing deaths. Had an impact!
    All change please was the message there I think.

  166. O.T but I think of interest to many frequenters of this site:
    New York Times bestseller “Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art” by James Nestor (Riverhead Books)

    An exploration of the subjective and objective effects of different breathing techniques. The book is well written, not a masterpiece, but memorable. It could have even subtitled something like “Breathing, Chewing, Diet and Health, A Psychphysiological and Anatomical Study of Ancient and Recent Techniques.”

    I’d be curious to read what JMG’s and the commentariat’s opinions of it are.

  167. Viking – Re: your PMC cousin. I wonder whether her lack of generosity later in life might be related to (someone) having dug the family into a pit of debt (visible only to them, and their creditors). It can be tempting to take on the excessive mortgage, the leased car payments, the private school tuition for the kids, the self-dealing investment advisor… all long-term obligations taken on in the presence of (possibly) short-term prosperity. A mountain of “easy monthly payments” can accumulate into a landslide, and one that can be an embarrassment to describe (to one’s self, as well as to others).

    Even if a change of heart inspires a healthy frugality, the bankers must get their interest until the debt is liquidated.

    My parents were children of the Great Depression (Great Depression-1, that is), and were not driven to consumption. They were driven to conserve. Maybe it was just to make a point, but when the ketchup wouldn’t ooze out of the bottle any more, my Mom would save it to rinse the remains into the soup pot. When my Dad caught a fish, someone was going to eat it. “Catch and release” was not an option (if of legal size, that is).

  168. Hi John Michael,

    Hmm. Narrative. I ask you this, if the dominant stories being told and repeated at high volumes patently don’t work, doesn’t that sound like a form of (or outcome of) malign magic?

    And doesn’t that failure allow space and opportunity for more functional stories to fill the ignored void which was thus created? I sort of feel that the void can get filled with all manner of stories, and history has proven to me that they don’t necessarily have to be nice stories, but they do have to be functional for the times. So there is risk in that void just hanging around.

    This issue is on my mind. Dunno, but it sure is an interesting matter.

    Cheers

    Chris

  169. Surprised nobody has mentioned Spenger pointing out each civilization has its organizing symbol, and that this iteration of western civilization takes infinity as its symbol. Stuart Brand, the man behind the whole earth catalog protested for many years that NASA release a picture of earth in its entirety, when they finally did it gave the lie to the idea that the earth was infinite and therefore had infinite resources to exploit.

  170. The use of PMC to mean ‘professional managerial class’ messes with my head because I automatically see it as ‘private military contractor’. Maybe they’d do alright as mercenaries. “Okay Karen, go recapture the diamond mine from the rebel commander.” 🙂

  171. @Nomad

    Let’s say I have a dog, it is a really smart dog too. It can sense and display a range of emotions, read subtle clues and respond to situational conditions. It is even able to solve puzzles and to fool me in order to get a snack now and then.

    But if I were to sit with my dog to watch the Anna Karenina movie, my dog would probably not pay much attention to it. The TV box is too abstract for it. Even if I found a theater adaptation of Anna Karenina, maybe the dog would be able to pick up more information from the actors’ body language, but would still probably not understand in full what the work is about. The reason for that is that the dog does not have a fully formed astral body, but most humans do. The dog’s astral body is pretty well developed, for an animal, but it is not quite mature yet.

    Now, if you could ask my dog about the concept of infidelity, it would probably respond: “She-human was hot on young he-human, so older he-human was angry at both, barked at both. Male-humans fight each other, then she-human dies”. It can grasp it only in the vaguest terms, and only in the concrete form it was able to pick up from Anna Karenina. The abstract concept is lost on him. That’s because the dog only has a seed of a mental body, not developed at all.

    Now, I can totally grasp all the nuances of Ana Karenina, because my astral body is complete. But if I were to theorize about the abstract concept of infidelity, I would struggle and probably would be able to think of it if I had received some formal training. That’s because my mental body, like my dog’s astral one, is not yet fully developed (and there are, presumably, beings higher up in the hierachy that can grasp abstract concepts naturally and at once, with out any kind of training, some of them we call angels). It is not a task that can be completed in a lifetime, or even during the life cycle of a civilization. The development moves at an evolutionary timescale.

    And just as the dog cannot grasp abstract concepts, there are planes further up that we can only perceive in the foggiest ways. We give those the generic name of spiritual.

  172. Patricia M, oof. That seems kind of extreme to me. Still, if that’s what you need to do…

    Yorkshire, only if I wanted to lock some specific current into place.

    Stefania, thanks for this! Another fine meditation.

    Nomad, we evolve bodies in ascending order. Thus our material bodies finished their evolution a long time ago and are about as finished as they can be. Our etheric bodies are still putting the finishing touches on their evolution. Our astral bodies are well developed but still need work, and our mental sheaths are at various points in the very early stages of their evolution. It was when we first evolved mental sheaths that we became capable of conceptual thought, and could begin creating stories that weren’t simply a description of something that happened. All our capacity for abstract thought unfolds from that storytelling ability: “what if the world were this other way, instead of the way it is?” is the question that gives rise not only to literature and the arts but also science, mathematics, and logic. Yes, the stories we tell ourselves determine how we encounter the other planes of being, and yes, a myth needs to pick up strength over time before it can shape the destiny of a society. As for which insights can do that for us — well, that’s the big question right now, isn’t it?

    Neptunesdolphins, “Dancing with Mice” probably wouldn’t make a good Hollywood movie, but that’s what came immediately to mind… 😉

    Jay, good — and yes, that’s the message.

    Walter, hmm! Good to see this getting some attention. I haven’t read it yet, but will get a request in to the library.

    Chris, exactly. Thus my sudden turn to writing fiction…

    Bradley, an excellent point. I think we can probably take the publication of that photo of the whole earth as the moment when Western culture gave its last gasp and Western civilization finished setting in once and for all.

    Yorkshire, I’d be good with giving that a try!

  173. I have been following the discussion about Wendigo with a considerable amount of interest. I grew up in what was traditionally Algonquin territory and have spent nearly all my adult life in what has in recent centuries been Ojibwe territory (both groups have Wendigo in their stories). And, through my own interest in the Indigenous myths of my homeland, I am very familiar with the terrifying figure of Wendigo.

    While I agree that no society has (to our knowledge) embodied consumerism on such a mass scale as modern North Americans, I do not accept that mindless consumerism is a uniquely North American trait. I have lived in both West and South Asia, and what I witnessed there (and continue to witness in North America via their diaspora) is a level of greed and conspicuous consumption that puts all but the richest of the rich North Americans to shame. As soon as a typical person in these societies is able to accumulate (or borrow) a significant amount of money, they follow the template of the Sheikh / Nawab / Maharaja and try to imitate the legendary level of ostentation associated with such figures. It is utterly mindless (yes, I have seen it up close enough to say this confidently) and insatiable. It is truly scary. But I am not aware of any equivalent to Wendigo in these societies. The closest I can think of is the Hindu goddess Kali, who is hideously emaciated and is able to devour entire armies with a single gulp. But Kali dispatches demonic hordes for the protection of the world rather than being a demon herself. The Hindu epics also have stories of an eternally full cauldron (“akshaya patra” in Sanskrit) though I am not sure if there is an equivalent in Arab myths.

    My two cents’ worth.

  174. Another thought came to me regarding equivalents to Wendigo (which may help explain things that I described above): there IS a demonic representation of insatiable greed in south Asian culture – Rahu (dragon’s head), who is not only considered one of the great malifics in Vedic astrology, but figures prominently in Hindu scriptures as the demon who tried to imbibe the nectar of immortality (which was reserved for the gods) but was called out by the gods Sun and Moon and was beheaded by Vishnu as a result. I am wondering if the “black magic” of advertising (which is a global phenomenon) has stoked the fires of Wendigo, Rahu and their equivalents in other cultures across the world to over-ride the attitude of contentment with one’s lot which was common in many societies until quite recently.

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

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