Book Club Post

The Cosmic Doctrine: The Law of Polarity

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 turned 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 28, “The Law of Polarity,” pp. 125.

Millennium Edition: Chapter 29, “The Law of the Aspects of Force or Polarity,” pp. 171-175.

Commentary:

As mentioned last month, there are two chapters in our text in which the two editions of The Cosmic Doctrine differ significantly.  The chapter we discussed last month is the first, and this month’s chapter is the second.  In both cases, the difference is that some material in the original, privately published edition was left out of the revised edition, and then put back into the Millennium Edition. In both these chapters, the material that was left out has to do with polarity magic, the central secret of Dion Fortune’s magical teaching.  The previous chapter covered the technical methods; this chapter covers certain details of theory that allow those technical methods to be put to work in a remarkable diversity of ways.

The single page of material that got into the revised edition includes the beginning and the end of the wider discussion, so we can begin with the first two paragraphs included there, which are identical to the first two paragraphs of this chapter in the Millennium Edition.  The first point made here is that just as the Law of Impactation we discussed last month depends on the Law of Polarity for its function, the Law of Polarity depends on two more laws, the Law of the Attraction of the Center and the Law of the Attraction of the Circumference, which we have not yet studied. Notice here the difference between the occult approach to instruction and the standard approach:  instead of covering the theory first and then proceeding to the practice, the occult approach is to present the method of practice, make sure that it has been learnt, and then provide the theoretical perspectives that make the practice work.

The attraction of the center and the attraction of outer space have already been discussed repeatedly in our text, of course.  Back in Chapter 3, when the twelve Cosmic rays were first introduced, we saw that the Cosmic Days and Nights set the rhythm of the Cosmos:  during a Cosmic Day, the influence of the Ring-Chaos sets in motion a new cycle of manifestation, while during a Cosmic Night, the influence of the Ring-Cosmos causes the cycle to end.  Later we saw that currents of motion in space stream out from the Central Sun, go as far as they can before reaching the boundary of the Ring-Pass-Not, and then turn and stream back in toward the Central Sun, whence they flow out again.  That same dynamic set the traveling atoms on their way, and later still, once the traveling atom that became the Logos of our solar system reached the seventh Cosmic plane and began to dream a dream of worlds, that same dynamic sent the seed-atoms that became conscious beings like you and me down the planes to the realm of dense matter and then back up again to the Logos.

In making sense of this passage, it’s important to remember that to Fortune, the words “positive” and “negative” are not moral labels. “Positive” is the pressure that moves things down toward manifestation.  “Negative” is the pressure that moves things up toward abstraction.   Those two pressures—the downward motion from the Logos into manifestation, and the upward motion from manifestation back to the Logos—are the prime polarity in every working. Both are always present. Whenever something moves down the planes into manifestation, something else moves back up the planes in response, and vice versa.  Whichever of these is the intention of your working, the other must always be taken into account.

For the moment, think of the flow of energies into and then out of manifestation as a rope that runs through a pulley overhead.  If you pull down on one side of the rope, the other will go upwards. If you want to lift something, you connect it to one side and then pull down on the other.  If you want to lower something, you connect it to one side and then let the other rise up in a controlled fashion.  This is what Fortune called the circuit of force, and it is an essential principle in magical workings.  When you want something to descend into manifestation, what will you send up out of manifestation to balance it?  When you want to lift yourself up to higher levels of awareness, what will you bring down into manifestation to balance it?

The pulley makes a good first approximation of the process, but as Fortune points out, things are not so linear as that, because of the way that each plane relates to the planes above and below it. This is where the caduceus, the rod of Mercury, comes into the picture. The caduceus is central enough to the symbolism of Fortune’s great metaphor that the first published edition of The Cosmic Doctrine had a caduceus printed on the cover.  If the rod at the center of the caduceus is the straight line of ascent and descent, the two serpents that twine about it are the interchanging currents that move from plane to plane.

At this point we leave behind the material printed in the revised edition and begin to explore the text found only in the Millennium Edition.  To make sense of this, it’s necessary to know something of the symbolism Fortune assigned to the planes. Each of the seven planes of being has an exemplar from mythology who represents its influences in a vivid and magically effective form.  Hermes or Mercury, the bearer of the caduceus, is the exemplar of the lower mental plane; Orpheus, the demigod of music and master of the elementals, is the exemplar of the upper astral plane.  Fortune’s explanatory diagram takes the caduceus of Mercury and places it on the lyre of Orpheus, whose seven strings are the seven planes of our solar system, as shown below. (Yes, I know that this is not what Greek lyres actually looked like.  Fortune was writing a manual of occult philosophy, not a treatise on historical musicology, and some degree of artistic license has to be expected from her.)

Notice that on each plane, the black and white serpents exchange sides.  This is crucial for the metaphor, because under most conditions the planes sort themselves out into alternating polarities—thus, for example, if the physical/etheric plane is negative, the lower astral will be positive, the upper astral negative, and so on. This is why Fortune’s workings normally involved two or more people who had opposing polarities.  Imagine two people doing magic together. On the etheric sub-planes of the physical plane, one of them is positive and one is negative—that is, one is projecting force and the other is receiving it and giving it form.  On the lower astral, though, the flow goes the opposite direction, and so on up the planes.  This allows power to come down the planes all the way from the upper spiritual plane, passing back and forth from one participant to the other so that it is always flowing through a body of positive polarization.  Then the force flows back up the planes the same way, passing back and forth so that it is always flowing through a body of negative polarization.  That back-and-forth process creates the symbolic caduceus, and the power flows.

Here Fortune gets very technical.  Remember that to create anything on a lower plane, it’s necessary to take two things on a higher plane and bring them into relationship, creating a vortex that manifests itself on the next plane down. To balance that process with an upward motion, you take two equivalent things on the next plane down and bring them into relationship, then establish a unity on the higher plane that expresses itself in the form of those two things. Thus you’re balancing the descending triangle with an ascending triangle.

All this can be understood more easily through an example, and the one I have in mind is one we discussed last month, the communion ceremony practiced by sacramental Christian churches. In this working the horizontal polarity is provided by the congregation, the positive pole that provides the energy, and the priest, the negative pole that draws forth that energy and gives it form.  The vertical polarity is provided by Christ and the world.  The method of the pulley is in evidence here:  through the communion ceremony, the ideals of Christianity descend into manifestation in the Christian community, and the consciousness of each participant is raised to an extent determined by their individual readiness to accept such an ascent.

But there’s more going on here than a simple pulley-dynamic, of course. To begin with, while the priest is receiving the energies of the congregation on certain planes—the physical, the upper astral, and (if he and they can reach this high) the upper mental planes—he is simultaneously giving energies to the congregation on the lower astral, the lower mental, and (if he and they can reach this high) the lower spiritual planes.  This allows a current of force to descend, shuttling back and forth between them, all the way from the upper spiritual plane to the physical plane and to rise back up again. The more effectively this is done, the more potent the effect of the rite.

The ritual is also designed to work with the relation between two polarized concepts on the lower mental plane—sin and redemption are the usual set. Those concepts have exact equivalents on the upper astral plane of emotion—contrition for one’s sins on the one side, and the exaltation that comes from deliverance on the other.  So we have the descending triangle in which the concepts of sin and redemption guide the manifestation of Christian ideals in the world, and the ascending triangle in which the emotional reactions of the congregation and the priest assist the birth of higher modes of consciousness in all the participants.

This is of course only one example, though it is one that most people in the contemporary Western world know well enough to follow.  Others can be found detailed in Dion Fortune’s Rites of Isis and of Pan, edited by Gareth Knight; in The Magical Battle of Britain, also edited by Knight; and in Fortune’s novels The Goat-Foot God, The Winged Bull, The Sea Priestess, and Moon Magic. Go through a few of these examples with the framework just above in mind, and you will have no problem figuring out how polarity magic works in practice.

This is only one application of the theory of polarity, however. Another has to do with ordinary relationships among human beings—sexual and otherwise.  If a relationship only functions on one plane it will be temporary, because no circuit of force is formed:  one participant has a surplus, the other has a lack, and once the surplus flows away and the lack is filled, the relationship dissolves. A stable relationship requires the involvement of at least two planes, so that the flow one way can be balanced by a flow the other way on another plane.  Fortune’s book The Esoteric Philosophy of Love and Marriage expands on this in detail.

Another, broader application has to do with understanding phenomena of every kind, and will be found especially useful in meditation.  If you take any phenomenon and explore it in detail, you will find that it can be understood as the result of two polarized phenomena on the next higher plane.  If you understand this, and trace out the hidden duality on the subtler plane that lies behind the outward unity on the denser plane, you can understand aspects of the thing’s behavior that a less nuanced analysis will miss.

Still another, far more focused application has to do with the potential for polarity between the personality and the Individuality—between the lower self of a given incarnation and the Higher Self.  If the lower self systematically neutralizes all its characteristic activities on all the planes on which it is normally active, the Higher Self will sometimes manifest.  This is the key to certain kinds of religious and mystical practice, but it also has another application to which Fortune alludes only in the most cryptic style:  “You will perceive that here you have certain important clues to the practice of that which induces that which is not in that which thinks it is, but is not.”  For reasons I don’t propose to discuss, I’m going to leave that just as obscure as Fortune did; those who want to understand it have the necessary tools in discursive meditation, and the necessary data in this and the previous chapters of this book.

Finally—and here we return to the material that was preserved in the revised edition—the workings of an occult lodge, or any other spiritually oriented group, are subject to certain applications of the same principle.  Under normal circumstances such a group will gather around a teacher or leader who has achieved an insight, or a group of insights, on a plane above that on which the members of the group normally operate.  The principles discussed in this and the previous chapters set out what happens next—the horizontal polarity between the teacher and the students, the vertical polarity between higher and lower planes, the force that descends the planes through teacher and students alternately and rises back up again the same way, the paired concepts on one plane and the paired emotions on the other, all these play their usual roles.

In a group of this kind, however, the flow cannot be sustained indefinitely.  Sooner or later the members of the group will have absorbed everything they can from the teacher, and the teacher will have given everything he or she has to offer to the group; a Cosmic Day in miniature has ended, and a Cosmic Night begins, in which the patterns thus established can stereotype themselves so that a further wave of evolution can build on the foundation thus laid. The familiar rhythm of spiritual groups, in which they alternate periods of intensity with periods of relative quiescence, comes from this process.

At the very end of the chapter, Fortune gives two sentences that are worth a month of meditation all by themselves. Here they are:  “You will observe that throughout all manifested life the co-operation of two factors is essential for all ‘form’ building. Force, however, works as a unit because its polarity is in the Logos.” At the very beginning of The Cosmic Doctrine Fortune set out a prime duality between space and movement, and here we encounter it again, reworked to fit the distinctive characteristics of this little corner of the cosmos.  As the background for all existence in this solar system, conditioning everything else, the Solar Logos corresponds to space, and the currents of force that flow out from the Logos are forms of movement.  The relation between them is one of polarity, and every point made in this chapter about the practice of polarity can therefore be applied to the creation of the solar system—and, indeed, of the cosmos itself.  The working out of the details of that application is left as an exercise for students.

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 February 10, 2021.  Until then, have at it!

95 Comments

  1. The Aztec goddess Coatlicue (Serpent Skirt) is depicted as having two facing snakes where a human head would be, resembling the caduceus of Mercury.

  2. I’ve seen images of her. There are a lot of odd little echoes of Old World symbolism in New World traditions, or vice versa — the Mexican pyramids, for example, are very close analogues of Mesopotamian ziggurats. It’s an interesting question whether those come from trans-oceanic contacts or from perceptions of spiritual realities (which of course are not limited by salt water).

  3. Going to have to reread this one over and over again. It is the most interesting thing, to me, you have ever written and opens up vistas of insight into how a variety of things work, including types of mysticism I’ve engaged in for years. Funnily enough, today I was thinking/explaining that I just didn’t understand Christianity and that’s one reason why I don’t do it, it would be dishonest. (There are far more spiritual resources where I live for Christians, so I sometimes really wish I could accept all that available help.) Buddhism I /get/ — at age 7, hearing the basic tenets I was “of course.”

    Now I feel I have a much better understanding, and it’s also a lovely synchronicity.

    Anyway, will probably have further comments and perhaps questions as I stew on this.

    Thank you for this, I can tell this is going to MATTER to the rest of my life.

    (The first magical ritual I ever did was to understand the relationship of love and hate. I did it without even fully understanding what I was doing.)

  4. “…through the communion ceremony, the ideals of Christianity descend into manifestation in the Christian community, and the consciousness of each participant is raised to an extent determined by their individual readiness to accept such an ascent.”

    I’ve been following your posts on The Cosmic Doctrine with interest, if not with deep study…yet! That will have to wait until I feel ready to undertake it with the focus it deserves.

    I just wanted to share something I read last night that relates to this idea of individual readiness, as illustrated in the Christian communion example you provide.

    In her novel The King Must Die, Mary Renault imagines a cultural transition in the ancient world, when the annual ritual sacrifice of the king is replaced by the king’s voluntary decision to sacrifice himself for the good of the tribe.

    Old King Pitthias says to Theseus,

    “Listen, and do not forget, and I will show you a mystery. It is not the sacrifice…it is not the blood-letting that calls down power. It is the consenting, Theseus. The readiness is all. It washes heart and mind from things of no account, and leaves them open to the god.”

    .

  5. Aloha JMG and all ~

    “When you want something to descend into manifestation, what will you send up out of manifestation to balance it? When you want to lift yourself up to higher levels of awareness, what will you bring down into manifestation to balance it?”

    Yes! I love this. This really exemplifies the importance of internal “work”… being willing to release attachment to anything that reinforces the individual “I” / personality / lower self. And when space is made by releasing conditioned beliefs, thoughts, words and resultant actions, then something new and unknown has the potential of being “birthed” from the higher realms… i.e. descending or being brought down into manifestation.

    Also, what you’ve said has helped clarify the whole “group” / institution phenomena and how once an individual reaches the “ceiling” there, or when collective consciousness has evolved to an extent that the group becomes obsolete, it’s difficult for people to “let go” of the idea that brought about original manifestation, and to be willing to make space for a new way of being, which more closely matches the whole concept of evolution.

    Love this series of posts and meditations.

    Thank you as always JMG 🙂

    Waves of Joy ~

    Tanya

  6. As it is that subject which is to be left obscure that most interests me, I shall pass over it under the sign of silence and move on to the next bit that struck me as something I could speak about. Really though, there are many lines of flight burbling around my head from that one sentence of Fortune’s.

    In regards to the group Leader and the group, I will bring up something I have brought up before in these discussions. My teacher’s teacher, Richard Rose, in the 20 odd years that he lead his group which is now TAT, had no success with invoking the 7th death in a single student. In the 90s, as he drifted away on the waves of Alzheimer’s, his students started to pop. It was as if his presence kept the polarity in place, but when his mind left, room opened up for his students to ascend to his plane. Or perhaps the fertilization had already taken place, and there was need for him to stay any longer. Of course, who knows what his mind was doing while his body sat there drooling…

  7. Oddly, in my opinion, this made me realize the place that sacrifice has in spirituality and in making any change. Since polar opposites have to exist in any relationship, often the only way to overcome that opposition to make a sacrifice. And sometimes, the only way to overcome those polarities is with bloodshed, which is also some food for thought.

    Thanks for this monthly post JMG.

  8. Ian, thank you! Glad to be of help.

    Goldenhawk, hmm! That’s highly relevant, in that the Christian communion ceremony drew very heavily on Pagan and Jewish sacrificial rituals, thus the body and blood, etc.

    Tanya, exactly! If you want to bring something down into manifestation, the best way to do it is to raise yourself up to a higher mode of consciousness.

    Isaac, that’s a great example, and it makes perfect sense as a polarity working. How many of those students have now become teachers?

    Prizm, it’s not odd at all — though there are other ways to do it, besides the physical shedding of blood. It all depends on what plane and which sub-planes you want to work with.

  9. As ever, thanks for this, JMG!

    A few notes and questions:

    (1) You mention that Fortune assigned a mythical exemplar to each of her seven planes. Where would an interested reader need to go in her vast corpus of writings, to find the others? I’m hoping that by approaching them through the myths, it will be easier to grasp the divisions themselves!

    (2) This discussion of alternating polarities on the different planes is clearly an important source for your thinking, in this summer’s post on the metaphysical dimensions of sex. In the current Cos.Doc. post, you mention the now-familiar principle that “A stable relationship requires the involvement of at least two planes, so that the flow one way can be balanced by a flow the other way on another plane.”

    Now, I’m combining that with what you discussed back in August, about individuals who have an unusual configuration of polarities within themselves, rather than the usual positive-negative alternation ascending the planes within them. You used the terms masculine and feminine in the previous post, but these, and the pair “projective-receptive,” look to be synonyms for Fortune’s preferred set.

    This suggests to me that either (A) when the “involvement of at least two planes” is mentioned here, the planes in question (especially if more than two are involved) need not be directly be adjacent… perhaps we can “skip” or duplicate a level, as long as we have at least some polarities going in each direction, somewhere? Or (B) that while “the planes are discrete and not continuous,” such that there are objectively better and worse ways to divide them, nonetheless the divisions that we draw (or that we emphasize) between planes are in some sense arbitrary, or contingent on our present context and interests… such that in a given circumstance, it will make sense to draw the boundaries between planes in whatever way necessary, to ensure that there is alternation between positive and negative polarities each time we move up or down to another plane. So, for persons who have two positive planes side-by-side, we would consider those as only a single plane, for purposes of this exercise.

    It would seem that options (A) and (B) are quite compatible with each other, again a matter of remembering that, at the end of the day, these are simply useful models for realities that are beyond our ability ever to fully grasp or conceptualize. And so each of them will be more or less useful in different circumstances, and each will have some point at which it breaks down.

    (3) Regardless, the issues raised in (2) do point to some interesting challenges for those whose internal polarities don’t follow the typical pattern of alternation… both for human pairings and for group work. It’s obvious from the earlier discussion of group ritual that a given individual can play a role in the working that it opposite of their predominant polarity on a given plane. (For example, not every member of the Christian congregation in your example will be predominantly naturally receptive on the lower astral and lower mental planes.) This suggests that in principle–even if it’s challenging in practice–each of us has the capacity to work in either direction on (nearly?) every plane. Exactly what challenges and benefits that entails will be a fruitful subject for meditation.

    (4) The extended example of the Christian liturgy was incredibly helpful, by the way: both as a concrete case to hold in mind, and for the way in which in exemplifies multiple aspects of the doctrine all at once. Thank you!

    (5) Finally, the following quote from the chapter made me laugh out loud when I came to it:

    “You will have perceived in the foregoing teachings, certain applications of the abstract to the concrete which it is not expedient should be concreted even in the abstract.”

    What a Dion Fortune thing to say! And thank you for “concreting” a few of them here, nonetheless!

  10. It looks like I wasn’t the only one thinking of sacrifice!

    This makes a lot of sense to me why there was so much emphasis on physical sacrifice in previous myths, which allowed most connection with the world mostly on the material plane. A lot of us are still stuck in that “seeing is believing” mentality.

    Just an example, to make sure I am understanding this clearly:
    Two people have a disagreement, the opposite of an agreement. This disagreement could be resolved on a lower plane, which likely would involve some sort of physical payment. Otherwise, at a higher plane, it’d have to be realized that the relationship is based possibly on a value which may or may not be easily negotiated. I imagine values connected with mythology can be near impossible to discuss since involving the myth is at a very high level of planes. Am I on the right track?

  11. Apt day for a discussion of Mercury. Never noticed the similarity between the caduceus and a cross, but makes sense, given the activities of the deities associated with those.

    When I have tried to read this book, it initially presents as very dense and a slog, but to judge by these past two entries, it would seem to contain significant practical information in there.

    Axé

  12. Been thinking some more on this. Also picked up a copy of “The Magical Battle of Britain.”

    Seems like you could do something with triads, as well and that some things would work better. You can do sun/moon — but sun/moon/earth seems more natural and more balanced. Not sure on the mechanics, but sensing the shape of it. No reason why you couldn’t increase the number, but the more complicated, the easier for it to fail, it would seem. Two-pole polarity magic seems easier not to mess up.

    Seeing this stuff everywhere: Odin’s ravens and wolves, his two eyes, the yin/yang symbol.

    Then there is the question of doing this as a solo practitioner. Perhaps charge an object on one pole, embody the other, or use an object which naturally has the other pole. Of course it’s also possible to embody both, and in some disciplines being able to embody male and female energy is considered a basic competency, but it seems like it would be very hard to embody both at the same time. Perhaps it is possibly to do it as a rhythm, moving back and forth yourself.

    As for energy sources, a fire or river or storm, sun, moon, earth or some other things, so long as you have the right. Or charge a source in advance, then use that. A god, of course, but I’d never do that without permission and a personal relationship.

    You mention the master/student relationship, and I see it it in a lot of guru relationships. Constant identification, discharge into disciple. Can be done with dead masters/Saints, etc… if they allow it, but a lot of such people were pieces of work, and I would be VERY wary.

  13. Hmm. This sounds as it should be part of the standard education of every counselor… Years ago, I attended several sessions of family constellations. The main focus of every session was, as I realized only later, not to “change” the client (as far as I know, this is often tried in the way of intervening in the constellation and move the representatives around) or to provide him with “tools”, but to allow him to look at the situation from a distance and to realize and articulate what’s there (or not what’s missing). Usually nothing more. Besides the heavy impact this had on the clients, the “miraculous” part of those workings was, that when you came home after a session (usually taking two and a half days away from home), the other part – without any knowledge of what was said and done during those sessions – in some way had already begun to do his or her part to resolve the situation which was usually really baffling every time, even if you had experienced this before.

    I think I am far from understanding the matters presented here but I get the notion that a core part of what was done there was to work on this flow of energies. So, for example that if you miss or desire something and this causes problems you probably need to give or take something on another plane to resolve that. Ah, I wish I could formulate this more precisely…

    Nachtgurke

  14. Barefootwisdom, (1) I don’t recall any one place where she names them all; it’s a little here and a little there. (2) Option B is the one I generally use, for the sake of cognitive convenience, but of course both are options. As for the rest, but of course!

    Prizm, you’re getting warm. Now break it down into the full set of planes the people are able to work on. On the physical plane, you can settle the disagreement with payment. On the lower astral plane, the plane of the passions, they’ll end up yelling at each other and may get violent, or tearful, or otherwise take it down a plane to physical action. On the upper astral, symbols and myths come into play, and it becomes possible to begin to think about it — also to help the resolution along by making use of whatever friendship, affection, or shared feelings they may have. On the lower mental, concepts come into play, and it can be discussed more or less rationally. On the upper mental, you’re in the realm of values, meanings, and purposes, and once you get there finding some basis for agreement is usually not impossible. On the lower spiritual plane — as high as we go, for only the Logos is on the upper spiritual plane — there can be no quarrel, because each side understands wholly where the other is coming from. Of course you still have to bring that insight down, plane by plane — and it may be that at the bottom of the curve, it still makes sense for one person to pay another.

    Fra’ Lupo, one reason it’s a slog is to screen out those who aren’t willing to put in the necessary work!

    Ian, yes, you can work with triads, but it’s tricky — unless you establish a polarity and then use the third element to absorb the resulting energies, and even then it helps to know what you’re doing. As for working by yourself, there are plenty of options, since the world is full of powers and persons who don’t have the limitations of a physical body. Nearly all worship of gods can be understood this way, btw — the god provides the form, you provide the force, things move down into manifestation, and you move up to higher modes of consciousness, all in the privacy of the place you pray!

    Nachtgurke, it definitely benefits from much meditation…

  15. Off topic, perhaps, but the Sun-Earth system may provide some entertainment tonight for those of you who live at high latitudes. The Space Weather Prediction Center of NOAA is on watch for a strong geomagnetic storm, between 0300 and 0600 UTC, Dec. 10. (That’s 10PM, Wednesday to 1 AM Thursday, on the US East Coast.) That level of storm may drive the aurora visible as far south as Pennsylvania, Iowa, and Oregon. Solar activity is increasing after a couple of years of very quiet conditions, and a new forecast claims that the next cycle may be unusually active.

  16. There is a lot in this chapter that I want to talk about, but can’t. There’s a lot more that went right over my head, and don’t really have the time right now to properly contemplate. So, I’ll just share a few other thoughts that came up while going over this chapter and the last.

    Reading a book is an example of polarity and a way to effect a change in consciousness; that is, if the author has insights from the upper planes he or she would like to communicate. The author’s ideas act as the force, which then flows into the reader’s mind which is the womb which can receive the ideas and give birth to them. As understanding dawns in the reader his or her being is uplifted to the same plane as the author’s insights. Without a reader to understand and hopefully embody the author’s insights, there is no connection, and the ideas will not be brought to life.

    The Tarot cards are another example. The artist took an idea or concept from the mental plane and joined it with a physical image which represents or relates to that concept, thus giving birth to a powerful symbol. When someone meditates on the card, the insights which are contained within can flow down into that person’s mind. To me, when I meditate on the Tarot, it sometimes feels as though the power within the card is dissolving or separating, then being put back together in my mind as I receive the insights.

    Prayer is yet another example. A Bible verse comes to mind here, Mark 11 verse 24: “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Although on the surface this might seem to be the Power of Positive Thinking meets the Secret, when looked at through the lens of polarity a different meaning comes to mind. If you pray, and you actually trust and believe that God is going to come through for you, you would start acting in a way which showed you knew your prayer would be answered. In other words, you would take corresponding action on the lower planes – as if what you prayed for was already there. You offer up your actions to God (the form), and he meets you with spiritual force, the two unite and something new is born. If you only pray, but don’t actually act and feel as though your prayer has or will be answered, there is nothing coming up from the lower planes to connect with the descending spiritual power, no polarity, and no manifestation.

    So the cooperation of two factors is essential for form building. One – the creative impulse – is positive, masculine. The other – the receptive part – is negative, feminine. The negative part is the one that actually creates the form, but she can’t do it without her partner which provides the stimulus.

  17. About 7 of them have actually become teachers and written books and such, though there are a few who took to the sidelines, and others who came to the group later, never met Rose, but who found what they were looking for and have become teachers also.

    It is interesting to me that of those 7, half of them were cross-fertilized by meeting with a certain Douglas Harding soon before their breakthroughs. Harding and Rose had somewhat opposite ways of pointing to the same thing, and this may have created another kind of polarity. Rose often talked about polarity as tension, tension as what creates energy, and how by triangulating from the poles one can transcend the binary and move up a level.

  18. Hi JMG,

    This post strikes me as particularly profound.

    I am trying to understand the following section in terms of lust in my dreams as someone who plans on sexual restraint until the right relationship.

    “If you take any phenomenon and explore it in detail, you will find that it can be understood as the result of two polarized phenomena on the next higher plane. If you understand this, and trace out the hidden duality on the subtler plane that lies behind the outward unity on the denser plane, you can understand aspects of the thing’s behavior that a less nuanced analysis will miss.”

    It strikes me that I can probably consider the physical and etheric planes as the same entity for this exercise, and will just refer to them as the physical (hopefully this isn’t a grievous error). My justification is that the problem has a similar horizontal polarity on the etheric as the physical.

    So on the physical there is a horizontal polarity between choosing not to engage in sexual activity, which I’ll call restraint, and sexual desire, which I’ll call lust. I think restraint would be a + in the hexagram diagram because that’s what I’m manifesting on the physical plane. Above that in ascending triangle of the diagram is an astral -, which would be lust on the astral plane. So too much restraint is leading to astral lust on the higher plane.

    I imagine because when horizontal polarity on the physical plane skews to one side, you manifest the “new thing” on the ascending triangle closer to that side.

    In my case, restraint on left of the physical polarity is pulling the manifestation on the astral plane towards the left, which is the negative polarity (lust).

    So the take away is too much physical restraint without lust manifested physically leads to astral lust.

    So to do a complete transmutation of the horizontal polarity of restraint-lust, could one indulge lust in small ways that don’t violate my restraining? Like imagining an ideal woman in my head or something like that?

    This may have happened accidentally some months ago, as I had a dream foray into what I think was the mental plane.

    Oh and as an aside – I think the brain/etheric energy of the brain and the astral dream would form a vertical polarity.

    *The problem with that is that people claim sexual dreams disappear after a variable length of time restraining, so I’m second guessing this meditation. Hmm…

    Does this sound reasonable or am I misunderstanding things? Also, sorry if this didn’t make sense. It would have been easier to make an edited diagram with my specific example labeled.

    Thanks for the post.

  19. Late to the party; this chapter is a tough one.

    My thoughts wander to a cup of tea: the leaves in a bag are the masculine force and the water is the feminine that becomes pregnant. The two things together sublimate into nourishment/hydration and comfort on the more subtle planes.

  20. JMG

    A young man writes a poem. Tired of meaningless relationships he writes not a standard love poem, more of a seeking love poem.
    It reads in a kind of prophetic tone. “You are fire, I am darkness, I am searching for you, you will find me.” And so on.
    After this creation, he feels the need to read it out loud towards the clear starlit sky outside his house with a profound voice and an open heart. Visions relating to the poem form in his mind as he recites it. After this he is left with a feeling of relief and confidence and he keeps the paper with him.
    Months later he meets a woman with red hair, however he doesn’t realize who she is. She reads the poem after they meet and compliments him on it. She is similarly tired of meaningless relationships in the past and doesn’t realize the poem was him calling on the universe; asking that they meet. Neither does he really, however both feel a strangeness about the piece he wrote that she likes.
    Subconsciously both are deeply effected, and they join together for decades of partnership. They are an odd couple as they don’t have much in common, yet they both benefit immensely from the union, and are exalted as their commitment brings them to an understanding of the virtue of each other’s particular strengths over time.

    Is this a somewhat close example of a form of accidental / intuitive polarity magic at work?

  21. Seeing the notes in the picture makes me wonder if this can be applied to my musical practice. The tempting habit of using muscle memory for playing music is limited to the physical plane and only gets you so far. By moving a plane higher you play music by attaching emotions/passions improving the quality of the music. Moving higher, you imagine the harmony, tunes and notes and allow the music to flow. Moving higher into lower mental plane you provide meaning to what you play. The meaning you provide would determine how you imagine the music playing out and the context for it. In some ways, we’re engaging multiple planes in practice, instead of just the physical which we seems like the easy way out. Applying the statement.. “because under most conditions the planes sort themselves out into alternating polarities” here, the pulley system would be us ascending into higher planes to “initiate” music during the practice and allow it to be manifested. Does this seem clear?

  22. Dear JMG,

    Your note about the obscurity of a certain Dion Fortune comment that might be unpacked through meditation prompts a relevant question regarding discursive meditation, if I may:

    Basically, as I understand it, with discursive meditation one can approach a topic in various ways. I believe that the example you employed from the Well of Galabes post was of taking Tarot Trump 0, The Fool, and meditating on the meaning of the little white dog at the heels of the Fool. Once that got unpacked one could then meditate on the mountain peaks in the distance; the rose in the Fool’s hand, the precipice, etc.

    With this broad method, the goal as far as I can tell is to achieve certain insights and to more importantly to train the mind: for instance with the tarot card just mentioned, there are a lot of rather obvious dream puns: the man feels “dogged” onward; he’s coming down from “peak” experience; he “rose” to the occasion, he’s “precipitous” in his next step etc. One can also look at these and other symbols from a variety of different angles.

    There seems to also be a different level of discursive meditation, one in which, like the passage you quoted, in which the author proposes a riddle that has basically one answer. Here I think especially of the Riddle of the Sphinx that Oedipus answered. Point being, one could meditate on that riddle and achieve all sorts of insights: one could turn it into a geometrical problem, let’s say, and describe a shape that has 4 points, 2 points, and then 3 points — say a square, a circle and a triangle all inside one another, forming certain alchemical symbols which in turn might provide excellent fodder for discursive meditation. One could look at the sum total of legs and see the number 9 and turn the riddle into a Cabalistic meditation on Yesod, or the Paths between Chesed, Chokmah and Binah. All of these forms of meditation might yield life-changing insights and practice, but they would still fail to actually answer the Riddle which has, presumably, only one answer that will satisfy the Sphinx.

    Basically, I see a very large difference between the free-style discursive meditation in which everything might be approached in search for insights, and discursive meditation on a Riddle in which the insights that fail to yield to the solution are irrelevant as regards the Riddle itself. I guess I can call these two types of meditation material Symbols and Riddles. Symbols being Platonic forms that one can spend time with and learn things about; Riddles being a type of question that presuppose a single answer.

    My question is do the same tools of discursive meditation get applied in the same way to Symbols and Riddles? The first seems like polishing a mirror that one cannot see; the second like picking a lock in the dark. In these human activities one would work with radically different tools, and I wonder if upon the higher planes one would also work with analogously different tools? Do these higher plane tools have names? Or is the _substance_ of consciousness by its very nature— which I can’t help but imagine as elemental Mercury, a liquid mirror, an ideal manifestation of reflective plasticity! — sufficient from a practical standpoint for both of these tasks of discursive meditation? Didn’t the alchemists consider consciousness the universal solvent? Thinking analogously, I could imagine that a solvent might be sufficient to clean a mirror and to pick a lock in the dark, if it were strong enough and wielded with enough cautious facility! Still all of that said, I’m very curious what insights you might share on the approach to these two very different subjects of Symbols and Riddles in discursive meditation, in addition to, of course, meditating on it!

  23. Why are some people drawn to studying occultism rather than becoming an operative mage? I’m one of them and I don’t get it. 🙂 The way I normally think, as soon as I accepted it was an option, my mind would have filled with possibilities. But beyond general protection and self-improvement, I have no desire to use magic to change the world.

  24. Thought-provoking post, JMG: I’m still letting it percolate through my mind, so no comments from me (either sublime or ridiculous) yet.

    However, you may be interested to learn that the US Navy SEALS are being taught to use the four-fold breath! https://getpocket.com/explore/item/beat-stress-like-a-navy-seal-with-this-ridiculously-easy-exercise?utm_source=pocket-newtab

    Who would have imagined that your book The Art and Practice of Geomancy (from which I learned the four-fold breath technique) was part of the Navy SEALS canon? Now, I am imagining a group of SEALS all-geared up and huddled in a beefed-up dinghy casting a chart prior to initiating a mission. 😊

  25. What levels does the Higher Self exist on?

    Can you give an example of a phenomenon and its polarised phenomena on the next level up? I could do with seeing how one works to start thinking through how others might work.

  26. @Violet

    Interesting question. The way I see it, the first type of discursive meditation is the preliminary step, where one explores all the possible meanings, which has to happen first. The Riddle (or Koan as the Zen folks say) uses the same focused consciousness, but instead of running this way and that, it sits with the tension of the Riddle, the tension between knowing and not knowing, until something “pops”.

  27. aggh. Clearly, this is something I need to get, because it’s chewing at me lately, and here it is again, but I just can’t for the life of me figure out what sacrifice means outside the (presumably) garbled meaning of “giving up or destroying something or someone you really care about; causing yourself or your victim enormous physical and/or psychological suffering and/or death.”

    I’ve made it back up to Moon Magic in her novels; and while I got more than I got at last pass (apparently I forgot a lot that I’d read, too!), I still had no idea what she meant in the Sea Priestess when she says she sacrificed Wilfred, or what she means now when Lilith insists she is the sacrifice. The part of me that dreams seems to know, but the rest of me is highly vexed.

    I’m also reading Joseph Campbell’s The Masks of God series – backwards, starting with Creative Mythology, because that’s the first one I found – so now I’m in the Primitive Mythology (one can hear the heads exploding at the non-politically correct terminology throughout even more than reading Fortune!) and the whole thing so far is going over the sacrificial rites of the agricultural societies, but it is definitely of no help. They’re all very bloody and painful ghastly sacrifices, and I suspect many of the virgins buried alive with the carved up dead kings would not have been terribly willing (the kings probably not stoked, either).

    Campbell’s opposed concepts that do seem to match Fortune’s in her novels are Personal Desire and Social Duty (Tristan and Isolde, Abelarde and Heloise as his exemplars), with “woman awakened to earthly desire” the janua diaboli that threatens the whole Middle Ages social code.

    Aside Danaone: Campbell’s theory is that the astounding similarities between the mythology and architecture of the New and Old Worlds is that it was disseminated there physically by Polynesian voyagers, potentially among other sailing high cultures. He even mentions up here on Vancouver Island, which is further supported by more finds that were discovered here just last month or so of a group that practiced south american-style headbinding that the extant groups never did (though they talk of intermarriage with this older group). I find it fascinating that these books were written nearly 70 years ago, and yet the concept that these hemispheres were connected – possibly well connected – is still radically against pop culture concepts about human deep history. He assumes that while physical transfer is the simplest explanation that captures the data,it doesn’t negate that it can also be based on an underlying spiritual reason. The fact the myth structure is so resilient despite vast timescale and geographical differences suggests that it is just functionally good at describing something fundamental about how humans can understand reality.

  28. Violet:

    Your excellent question is precisely timely for me, and I look forward to JMG’s response.

    I have been studying Grail myths recently. This morning as I was waking up, I heard the question in my mind, “Whom doth the Grail serve?” It is certainly a mirror-polishing type of question, with many layers of Symbolism and meaning possible.

    I realize now that it is also a Riddle, in that there may be one particular answer that will “pick the lock” of insight, for me.

    “…be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue…”

    –Rilke

  29. @Ian

    Hi Ian

    Reading your posts and especially the trinity vs polarity, here are some more thoughts to ponder…

    Polarity may be considered that which makes up duality.

    When duality, or those poles are balanced, as you have recognised (as well as per JMG’s suggestion of assistance from a god), those two poles unite to form one. This is the Eastern version of Yoga (Union), Kundalini Awakening etc. Again, those symbols touched upon already – the Caduceus.

    So to bring triple symbolism into things…

    From a DAO perspective, we can relate the lower, middle and upper dan ti’ens, to Yesod, Tiphareth, Kether respectively on the Tree of Life – this equates to the Middle Pillar – which you may see as the bridge or the “Middle Way”, the way of harmony – of uniting both the left and right pillars (duality/polarity) on the ToL.

    As applied to Yggdrasil (The World Tree) in Norse Mythology, you may see the lower, middle and upper worlds again relating to the 3 dan ti’ens and Yesod, Tiphareth and Kether.

    You’ll also see the number 9 occurring in Odin’s “story”… 9 is a triple triple (3 x 3 or 3 + 3 + 3). You’ll note that 9 is also the number associated with Yesod.

    Yesod is the very Foundation of the Middle Path / Way / DAO; with 6 being the corresponding number at Tiphareth, passing through Da’ath (containing 3) directly to 1, Kether. (3 + 3 = 6 + 3 = 9)

    Kether, Chokhmah and Binah are also the “Three in One”… the two polarities merging out of Kether.

    You’ll also note that the number 9 is an important number in Eastern traditions too… e.g. 108. I see 1 here as being “masculine”, 0 as “feminine” and the 8 as being the union or “offspring” / child / result.

    Continuing with 108, 0 may also be referred to as Ain, 8 being Ain Soph and 1 being Ain Soph Aur.

    So back to the dan ti’ens, the rising of energy from earth (Malkuth) up through the lower dan ti’en (Yesod), continuing to the middle dan ti’en, meets the descending energy from the upper dan ti’en (Kether) at the middle dan ti’en (Tiphareth) – the heart.

    So the heart is the middle point in virtually all “traditions”. If you put the heart at the centre of an imaginary Coptic Cross, the entire human body with outstretched arms make up the North – South, and West – East correspondences.

    You’ll also begin to imagine that the heart or centre of that Coptic Cross (or Rose Cross) is the “eye of the storm” – a complete place of stillness, peace, harmony, equilibrium, equanimity, emptiness (refer to below) etc. Take a look at the “Sun Cross” and Swastika (“broken” sun cross) which relate to Thor – Son of Odin… and incidentally Yeshua (from the Hebrew letters “Yod Shin Ayin” meaning “Salvation”).

    Relating this to your correspondences of the planets, we have:

    Earth – Moon (Yesod), Sun (Tiphareth), Stars (Kether, Chokhmah, Binah through Da’ath). The Sun relating to the “son” of “God”.

    You’ll also note the following correspondences from Eastern traditions:

    1. Emptiness = Wisdom = “Child” / Son
    2. Luminosity (or bliss) = Love / Feminine / Mother
    3. Energy (or force) = Power / Masculine / Father

    Wisdom, Love and Power make up the 3-fold flame, which reside at the heart.

    On the vertical level, Love can be seen as the lower dan ti’en, Power as descending down from the upper dan ti’en, and Wisdom at the middle dan ti’en.

    So the location of the dan ti’ens as referenced to the physical vessel / Tree of Life also relate to Yggdrasil.

    From a Buddhist stance, and according to the “Mother” Goddess, Prajnaparamita, “emptiness” is what one should “strive” for – or to become.

    Emptiness, for me, does not mean “nothingness”, it means equanimity… a fertile womb or place which is full of potential… the potential to create if desired. Being aware of which is to be used in each moment – that balance of Power and Love, masculine and feminine energies, action or stillness, talking or silence etc

    When we are equanimous in our being, we rise above duality, by not placing any preconceived thoughts or judgments on Life… and it’s manifestations.

    We allow “what is” to be exactly that… to just “be”, right now. And by “being” equanimous / our true selves / True Nature, we give the rest of Life (other people, earth, nature, animals etc – all of Creation) the opportunity to be who and what they are too.

    You may resonate with Prajnaparamita’s mantra:

    gate gate pāragate pārasaṃgate bodhi svāhā

    This is from the Heart Sutra.

    If you haven’t delved into any of these yet, some recommendations:

    – The Heart Sutra by Red Pine (translator)
    – A Complete Guide to Chi-Gung: The Principles and Practice of the Ancient Chinese Path to Health, Vigor, and Longevity by Daniel Reid

    Hope these thoughts further add to your own reflections and meditations.

    Waves of Love ~

    Tanya

  30. Stefania, thanks for this. All these are good examples.

    Isaac, that’s definitely something that happens, too!

    Youngelephant, first of all, treating the physical and the etheric as one plane is correct in Fortune’s terms — that’s how she classifies them. More generally, remember that any reality on a lower plane divides into two realities on the material plane. You’ve identified the material plane issue, which is sexual desire. On the lower astral, the realm of the passions, what two contending forces are uniting to create that desire? And how do those divide into separate forces on the next level up, the upper astral, the realm of images and emotions?

    Kimberly, a useful metaphor!

    Ian, it’s a very straightforward example of basic magical practice. The man formulated his intention as an incantation (in verse form, which is highly traditional); he recited the incantation in a state of heightened consciousness; meaningful coincidences followed, and his intention was fulfilled. TSW!

    Nomad, that seems like a very clear application.

    Violet, that is to say, you can do discursive meditation on a them that wasn’t specifically designed to be unpacked by discursive meditation, or you can do discursive meditation on a theme that was so designed. The tools are the same, with one exception — to unpack an image that was designed as a theme for discursive meditation, you need to have studied the symbolic language the makers were using and, in many cases, unpack several previous themes first. Ironically, the tarot deck was originally designed with this in mind, and several influential decks today (including the Rider-Waite) were also created for that purpose, but you have to know the relevant symbolic language or it reverts, for you, into the first category.

    Yorkshire, that’s like asking why some people like to listen to music but don’t feel drawn to play an instrument in a symphony orchestra! Operative magic is an extremely demanding art and science, and it is emphatically not for everyone. If you’re doing something else with your life, it makes perfect sense to benefit from the philosophy and take up some simple practices, but not to go into it whole hog.

    Ron, fascinating. I wonder what other occult disciplines they’ve picked up!

    Yorkshire, (1) the higher self is composite; it exists on all the levels you haven’t yet evolved the ability to work on. (2) Sure. I’ve been reading a lot of Jung recently, so let’s take an example from psychology. Let’s say you have a habit you’re ashamed of, and (in the typical fashion) you deal with that by hating other people onto whom you project that habit. What’s going on here? On the upper astral, the plane of emotions, you have (+) the desire to do the thing you’re ashamed of, and (-) the shame that makes you uncomfortable when you do it. Those lock into a vortex and descend to the lower astral, the plane of passions, where they take the form of blind unreasoning hatred toward someone else, who represents to you the habit of which you’re ashamed. That’s why such hatreds can’t be reasoned with — nothing on the lower astral is susceptible to reason. You’ve got to unpack the feeling into the craving and the shame, and accept both of those, before the vortex will unravel.

    Pixelated, the word “sacrifice” literally neans “making holy.” You sacrifice something by moving it up the planes. Campbell is a very dubious source, as he tends to wallow in extreme examples and slide right past the much less colorful but much more common habit of simply offering up the livestock you’re going to butcher anyway, and giving the gods a modest portion (in Greece, some fat and some bones) while you and your family eat the rest. As for Wilfred and Lilith, they’re both sacrifices in the sense that the workings are raising both of them up a level spiritually, while bringing other things down into manifestation.

  31. I finally understood the concept of sacrifice by reading Sallustius, the Sallust whom John mentions, not the Roman historian. In Thomas Taylor’s translation (1793):

    “… the honours which we pay to the gods, are performed for the sake of our advantage: and since the providence of the gods is every where extended, a certain habitude, or fitness, is all that is requisite in order to receive their beneficent communications. But all habitude is produced through imitation and similitude; and hence temples imitate the heavens, but altars the earth; statues resemble life, and on this account they are similar to animals; and prayers imitate that which is intellectual; … herbs and stones resemble matter; and animals which are sacrificed, the irrational life of our souls. But from all these nothing happens to the gods beyond what they already possess; for what accession can be made to a divine nature? But a conjunction with our souls and the gods is by this means produced.

    [Chap. XVI] “But I think it will be proper to add a few things concerning sacrifices. And, in the first place, since we possess every thing from the gods, and it is but just to offer the first fruits of gifts to the givers; hence, of our possessions we offer the first fruits through consecrated gifts; of our bodies, through ornaments; and of our life, through sacrifices. Besides, without sacrifices prayers are words only; but accompanied with sacrifices they become animated words; the words indeed corroborating life, but life animating the words. Add too that the felicity of every thing is its proper perfection; but the proper perfection of every thing consists in a conjunction with its cause: and on this account we pray that we may be conjoined with the gods. Since therefore life primarily subsists in the gods, and there is also a certain human life, but the latter desires to be united with the former, a medium is required; for natures much distant from each other cannot be conjoined without a medium; and it is necessary that the medium should be similar to the connected natures. Life therefore must necessarily be the medium of life; and hence men of the present day, that are happy, and all the ancients, have sacrificed animals; and this indeed not rashly, but in a manner accommodated to every god, with many other ceremonies respecting the cultivation of divinity. And thus much concerning sacrifices and the worship of the gods.”

    It took this pagan author, with those last words, to (finally) make me understand the significance of the Christian mass. “Take, eat: This is my body …” “Drink this, all of you: This is my Blood …”

    “… for natures much distant from each other cannot be conjoined without a medium; and it is necessary that the medium should be similar to the connected natures.” The brilliance of the Christian mass, from this perspective, is that the media are bread and wine from one perspective and flesh and blood from another. The human and the divine “natures much distant from each other” are conjoined with media suggested by the divine itself. Celebrant: “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.” Communicants: “Therefore let us keep the feast.” The god to whom we sacrifice provides us with the media of that sacrifice by means of the same god’s body and blood in the form of bread and wine. It took a fourth-century Neo-Platonist to furnish me with a clue as to how to go about understanding this, and I have to admit that, if not for John, I wouldn’t have found it, or found it so soon.

  32. Dear Isaac, thank you for your insights! That makes a lot of sense, although I’m still very much in the preliminary stages so I don’t know on the basis of experience.

    Dear Goldenhawk, I’m glad my question might shed some light on your ongoing meditations. I’ve been reading and meditating on a lot of Greek literature lately and so the distinction between the two sorts of question has been fresh on my mind. Many thanks for the lovely Rilke quote!

    Dear JMG, Many thanks for your response! I find what you wrote a very helpful distinction and one that I hadn’t considered in that manner before. It helps to clear up quite a bit of confusion I had concerning a distinction that I felt but hadn’t quite articulated in such a clear way.

  33. JMG and Pixelated,

    Understanding the meaning of sacrifice is very important here. I definitely am under the impression every time I use the word sacrifice that is meanings something is being given up, or lost, or that something is being removed for the sake of making change. That perspective sours the idea of making sacrifice. Definitely, when recognizing that sacrifice comes from the root sacer, or holy, and having the idea that to sacrifice instead means to make holy makes the feeling of sacrifice better. There’s always so many things to contemplate here!

  34. JMG,

    I think I might have figured it out…So we’re talking about the contending forces of physical sexual desire on the lower astral plane, the realm of passions. I think the two forces would be the desire to live forever materially OR the desire to reproduce, and the counter passion would be the fear of death.

    On the upper astral the realm of images and emotions, this manifests in the dream image of women and the emotion of lust.

    What do you think?

  35. The Christian communion ceremony drew very heavily on Pagan and Jewish sacrificial rituals, thus the body and blood, etc.

    Some modern Christians describe the structure as “We don’t sacrifice any longer because The Savior made the ultimate one and its no longer needed.”

  36. Contemplating sacrifice from the original meaning, to make holy, made me think about about the Jewish sabbath, a holy day, and how during that day to make it holy, it becomes a day of being grateful for the family and friends, for what has been accomplished. It is not that anyone really gives anything up, but instead choose not to use that day for activities that take place on regular days.

    Somehow that brought to me to realizing how in our modern society, we are surrounding by objects which are not holy. They are objects made not with the idea of sacrifice, not with objects that are made with an intent focused on their purpose, but instead made purposefully for efficiency and quantity, whose purpose is only to be sold. They are objects which lost the touch of of a human medium with which to connect that from above with that from below. It is no wonder the value of the items are so much less, and why it is easy to just toss them and by something new to replace. It also made me wonder how when being surrounded in a world full of emptiness, a lack of holiness, what effect that has on us. It reinforces that empty and hollowness around us. All because sacrifice was given up for convenience.

    Given the current season, along with the recognition that the Grand Mutation is upon is, sacrifice and the holy are ideas we have lost but are well worth considering again, and the timing for this thinking is quite auspicious.

  37. Hi JMG

    You wrote:

    “Campbell is a very dubious source, as he tends to wallow in extreme examples and slide right past the much less colorful but much more common habit of simply offering up the livestock you’re going to butcher anyway, and giving the gods a modest portion (in Greece, some fat and some bones) while you and your family eat the rest.”

    I read some of your Merlin book and you made the point that in ancient Greece after you have offered a portion of your food to the gods you then eat it as it has been blessed by them. This is distinct from the Wiccan practice of not eating offerings.

    Is it better to eat the blessed offering or to not do so as it then becomes a ‘sacrifice’?

    Thanks.

  38. Hi, everyone.

    I don’t like to brag, but at the current pace I think I will finish CosDoc in… eight years? But that’s just for the first reading XD Anyways, I’m enjoying the ride.

    Today’s theme is tricky, in my opinion. We’re talking in a very abstract way, then placing concepts we think make sense into these abstractions, and trying to explain what is going on afterwards. But we don’t have the tools to confirm whether those concepts fit the abstractions. Let’s talk the given example, Christian community. They all perform a ritual. Seen from outside, its the clerk repeating the same words, explaining that the bread and wine we are going to share ARE the blood and flesh of the saviour. The public is required to repeat a few sentences. The symbols are raised to the sky, so the deity can consecrate them, and once everyone believes that the soul of god has infused the objects, they can be eaten, everyone hoping that a part of that soul touches their own. At least, that’s how I’ve been thought of the rite.

    In the occult explanation, we are looking for flows at every plane, since things move from the masculine towards the feminine, there’s movement.
    Taking strictly the physical plane, the clerk moves his arms as he performs the ritual, and voice the words, in a sense he is giving a spectacle, then offers the aliments. The rest is watching the show and finally eat the offered bread.
    Let’s move to the animal instincts, the passions. In this ritual we are calming our need for protection. People want to feel secure, protected and fed. There is protection in going with the pack, there’s some food offered too. So people here are asking for protection and they are receiving the feeling of being cared. But this protection isn’t coming from the priest, it comes from the community itself in the first instance, and from the god in ultimate instance. The act of sharing creates the community which is stronger than before because it now acts as unity. In this case, the flow goes from the formed community to the individual, where the priest is a catalyzer.
    Moving to the desires realm, this time I think they come from the priest. People might have each one his reasons for wanting to be there (virtue signaling, seeing friends, like the atmosphere), but it’s the priest desire to perform the ritual what can make it powerful. Maybe he wants the congregates to feel god, maybe he wants to strengthen the community ties, maybe he think the ritual brings joy to some people, maybe it’s just for the salary. The flow goes now from the priest to the formed community.
    Let’s step up to the meanings. The priest, by feeding the ‘beast’, learn about its worries, its strength, its unity, its fear, so the priest gets to know what this community is capable of. The community is giving a meaning to the aware priest. So the flow goes from the community to the priest.
    In the dream realm, people attending the ritual might be inspired by the act, or by the priest sermon, or whatever (flow from the priest towards the community), and taking the last step, the priest might feel closer to the god when everything goes well, by bringing god’s word and such to the herd.

    It makes logical sense too, at least to me, but flows are opposite to what you explained, so how can we test the validity of such claims?

    @Yorkshire, if you had a car but nowhere to go, why do you want a car? What need do you have for another tool if you have no use for it?

  39. JMG – I was thinking about apologizing for my off-topic posting about the solar storm. The idea of “energy flowing out from the sun, being manifest in a display of the aurora (possibly disrupting the distribution of energy through our modern technological civilization)” seemed like a weak reed to lean on. But, as it turned out, the plasma blast that hit the Earth Wednesday night had very little effect, because it was of the opposite POLARITY. Apparently, the magnetic polarity of a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) is random, and since this one was aligned WITH that of the Earth, there was no conflict. If it had been OPPOSITE, there may have been some effects. So, it’s actually rather more relevant than I had known at the time. Thanks for putting it through.

  40. “The ritual is also designed to work with the relation between two polarized concepts on the lower mental plane—sin and redemption are the usual set. Those concepts have exact equivalents on the upper astral plane of emotion—contrition for one’s sins on the one side, and the exaltation that comes from deliverance on the other. So we have the descending triangle in which the concepts of sin and redemption guide the manifestation of Christian ideals in the world, and the ascending triangle in which the emotional reactions of the congregation and the priest assist the birth of higher modes of consciousness in all the participants.”

    Okay, this helps me understand a problem I’ve been having lately.

    I’ve been working with material from the Liberal Catholic Church– for those who are unfamiliar, that isn’t a branch of the Catholic Church run by Democrats. It’s a separate church, founded by Theosophists in the early 20th century, which makes use of the 7 traditional sacraments for explicitly magical purposes, within a theology that is far closer to the Cosmic Doctrine than the Summa Theologica.

    So far, so good. My own theological views are closer to Dion Fortune than Thomas Aquinas. But there is something missing in the Liberal Catholic Church’s liturgy, and I think I’ve realized what.

    When he was designing the liturgy, CW Leadbeater removed a lot of the material about sin, guilt and redemption. His reasoning was good– the theological and anthropological perspective that sees God as a wrathful father granting mercy to man the miserable worm after much groveling is both false and absurd from a literal point of view. But in liturgy as in magic, we are in the realm of myth, which is never literal. Leadbeater seems not to have read Sallust and learned that “These things never happened, but always are.” The point of confession and redemption is not to literally believe oneself to be utterly depraved and in need of mercy, but to go through the ritual experience of the descent into sin and Hell and the return to the grace of God, and in that way mirror the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ.

    And so Leadbeater replaced the general confession, which at the time went (in English)–

    “I confess to almighty God, to blessed Mary Ever Virgin, to blessed Michael the Archangel, to blessed John the Baptist, to the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, to all the saints, and you my brothers, that I have sinned in thought, word, and deed, through my fault, my fault, my most grievous fault.”

    with

    “Almighty God, thou hast created us to be immortal and made us to be an image of Thine own eternity; yet often we forget the glory of our heritage and wander from the path which leads to righteousness.”

    The second one might be more appealing on a rational level, and it might even be more accurate. But on on a magical level, it is flat and weak. The result is a mass which, from my point of view, lacks much of the power of the traditional mass, despite its better theology and the explicitly magical intention behind it.

    …All that said, this was an exceedingly difficult post, and I’m going to have to do some serious re-reading and meditation before I come close to understanding it.

  41. Someone, Sallust’s On the World and the Gods is always a good place to look! There’s a reason why the first and most influential theology of the Christian church was a lightly Christianized form of the same Neoplatonism Sallust wrote about.

    Violet, you’re most welcome. I have the advantage of having brooded about that point for a very long time, in the context of having to unpack a lot of the meditative diagrams in the Golden Dawn tradition and elsewhere.

    Prizm, it’s crucial. Sacrifice is not about spoiling something, it’s about lifting something up.

    Youngelephant, that makes good sense.

    Simon, exactly — but they have the good common sense to reenact the sacrificial ritual over and over again every Sunday, which keeps the energies flowing.

    Prizm, thank you for this. That’s a point worth serious reflection.

    Bridge, depends on the tradition you’re working with, but in Hinduism and in Shinto — the two modern polytheist faiths I know best — it’s standard practice for food to be presented to the deities and then, after a time, for all of it to be taken away and shared among the worshipers. That was also standard in ancient Egypt, where they knew a lot about gods! Equally, in the Christian communion ceremony, which is descended from classical sacrificial rituals, the Host is meant to be consumed by the worshipers. So that’s the default mode I use: you make an offering to one or more gods, place it in their presence, and after a respectful interval remove it and eat or drink it reverently as a communion. Of course that’s also a lot less complicated these days than burning a bunch of fat and bones… 😉

    Abraham, taking your time with this is a great idea — my chapter-a-month sequence here is intended to inspire one’s first reading, not to sum up everything. As for testing the validity of the claims, what you’re saying is that you have an explanatory model that differs from the one Fortune used; that’s not surprising, as it’s possible to come up with an infinite number of explanatory models to interpret any set of phenomena. Does your model help you guide your practical work to get good results? That’s as close to validity as we can come in these matters.

    Lathechuck, you don’t often post off topic, so I accord you a certain amount of wiggle room — and it seemed to me that the CME might inspire interesting discussions in the context of this post.

    Steve, that’s one of the reasons the LCC hasn’t gotten very far, despite an otherwise very solid liturgy and a clear sense of the magical dimensions of religious ritual — I have a copy of their liturgy and Leadbeater’s The Science of the Sacraments, and have studied both of them closely. The sense of sin is an essential part of Piscean religion and Christianity is one of the faiths marked (more intensely than any other, to be frank) with the sign of the Fish. We’ll see what happens as the influences of the Aquarian age build; I’d like to see it get further.

  42. Something I’m worried about is based on some of the discussions of how energies flow from plane to plane: what happens if something is removed from the paths up or down? The specific concrete example I have in mind is how a lot of people have made hating and opposing Donald Trump central to their identities.

    On the physical plane this takes the form of actions to oppose Trump’s presidency, and anything to do with Trump; and obsessive attention to the news.

    On the lower astral this takes the form of the passionate insistence Trump is about to destroy the world, and the profound sense Trump is evil.

    On the upper astral it takes the form of the imaginative apocalypses which Trump is about to unleash and daydreams of what the world could be like just as soon as Trump is gone.

    On the lower mental this takes the form of the shrill and incoherent ideas floating around about what exactly Trump has done which makes him so evil.

    On the upper mental it takes the form of an understanding of your life which places it in opposition to someone else’s evil, in this case Trump’s evil.

    What disturbs me is that the grounding out on the physical plane is about to get a lot harder, while the patterns above are going to remain intact. Suddenly the bizarre way in which the victorious side of a war seem prone to suddenly turning on each other and going at it makes a lot more sense: they’ve created a pattern on the higher planes of conflict, and if the old enemy is defeated these energies will find a new one….

  43. Greetings to this esteemed commentariat:

    @ Tanya, re: the dan ti’ens and “emptiness”

    After merely skimming your post last night before going to bed, I had an early-morning not-quite-waking-state experience that I understand a lot better now, after really reading what you wrote. Thankyou!

    There’s definitely more going on in this forum than meets the eye!

  44. The barrage of ideas and thoughts provided this week are so much fun!

    First off, recognizing this common pattern of polarity in life, is something so easily lost in the mundane day to day activities. Yet the pattern manifests everywhere, in the fact of birth and death, day and night, spring and fall.. Recognition of this pattern is something I could use on a daily basis, but also to recognize that there is movement between those polarities plus movement between the differing planes. I’ll be practicing this recognition a lot before it becomes easier to see. Was that daily practice of trying to connect two seeming opposite news articles you’ve suggested before something that helps in developing this recognition?

    I keep thinking of electricity, perhaps because of the word polarity, but also because it is something that connects positive and negative, which can be manipulated to move in different ways based on resistance, and opening/closing of circuits. Schematics are made to help one understand the way electric is supposed to move within a building. Is the Kabbalistic Tree of Life one such schematic for understanding the movement of the energies discussed in the Cosmic Doctrine?

    And slightly connected with my previous post and the Grand Mutation happening, this article on The Hill, while still stuck in the dogma of the Myth of Progress makes some statements recognizing the need for change and greater recognition of the need for humility in our life as the conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter can help is appreciate. Such comments as “With all our innovations, we have lost the greater story. Our superstitions are greater because for many years we thought we could outsmart nature. In a sweeping, revelatory way that notion has been discounted under the plague of an immense ignorance that has brought us to where we are today.” provide some further evidence that there is a grand change happening. The night of our empire is upon us but a new day will rise.

  45. JMG,

    I read the following article with interest right after this week’s essay. Synchronicity strikes again. Would the problems Rod Dreher published (with the submitter’s permission) be an example of Polarity magic gone wrong in the various Evangelical/Pentacostal Christian communities the letter submitter talks about? I mean…I just kept reading it and thinking back to this week’s essay over and over.

    https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/why-did-millennials-leave-church/

    I read the article and all I could think of was, “Omg. I wonder if this is the same dynamic-turned-sour that powered the problems within so many in the Catholic Priesthood too?”

  46. “Remember that to create anything on a lower plane, it’s necessary to take two things on a higher plane and bring them into relationship, creating a vortex that manifests itself on the next plane down.”

    Just realized that this is exactly the process used in geomancy to produce the nieces, witnesses, and judge, as best exemplified in the shield chart.

  47. @KKA

    How sublime! Glad to hear of your experience – thank you for sharing.

    May your realizations continue to unfold… as I know they will. Very exciting 💫

    Waves of awesomeness ~

  48. Good gods, something just clicked: the upcoming inauguration chart makes sense if the chattering class has created a pattern on the lower mental, which can be expressed with a certain degree of flair as something like, “The Establishment, lead by an evil president, is evilly evil with a side of evil sauce”. This pattern on the lower mental is drawing in a lot of Trump supporters, and will probably continue to do so if Biden is inaugurated; while the chattering class can’t let go of the pattern either. The result is the mess which the 2021 inauguration chart seems to indicate…..

  49. Anonymous, yes, that’s very definitely an issue, but historical analogues are a good place to start in understanding how it works out. Do you recall what happened among conservative thinkers when the Soviet Union imploded? Quite a few of them insisted that it was all an illusion and the evil Russians were still out to get us all. In the same way, the people who’ve spent the last four years in an ecstatic trance of blind hatred toward the Bad Orange Man will keep on insisting that he’s responsible for everything bad that happens — even though he’s no longer president, they can still see him as a sinister presence dominating their lives, and so they’ll be happy.

    Prizm, thanks for this! Yes, the daily practice of reading two opposing news articles and finding the third concept that brings them into balance (or shoves both of them over to the same side in opposition to the third — don’t forget that practice!) is a way of learning how to do polarity work on the lower mental and upper astral planes. As for the article in the Hill, I wonder whether the author is simply repeating canned sentiments or if he actually realizes that something is changing on a very deep level.

    Panda, that’s a stunningly revealing article; thanks for posting it. Yes, what’s going on is a form of polarity work, but the Christian priests and ministers who are doing it have no idea what they’re doing. The deep structure of Christian worship includes, though it’s not limited to, the congregation and the priesthood both restricting their sexual activities in specific ways to generate power that can be poured into the ritual to help it attain its ends, but of course they don’t know that — the level of ignorance about basic ritual structure and dynamics among most Christian clergy is stunningly high these days. So the excess sexual energy builds up, because nobody knows how to use it any more; it turns stagnant and sours, and you end up with youth ministers who can’t stop talking about masturbation in exactly the same way that the same dynamic produces priests who can’t keep their hands off little boys.

    It doesn’t have to be that way. If the priest or minister knows how to establish a form for the energies, and the congregation gets a little training in how to offer up their unused sexual energies to fill the form, and everyone treats it as a voluntary offering to God and not a nightmare in which they’re being persecuted by their own genitals, so much good could be accomplished!

    Hermitalex, an excellent point! Yes, and I don’t know why that had never occurred to me.

    Anonymous, if Biden succeeds in attracting that pattern to himself — and the position and aspects of Uranus in that chart suggests that he may well do so — it’s going to get very ugly very fast.

  50. Regarding occult techniques use by US special forces. A Navy SEAL of my acquaintance, Michael Jaco, self published a book titled The Intuitive Warrior which may be of interest.

    I also met a handful of active duty special forces guys in the early 2000s during Philosophy Classes run by Tom Brown Jr. TBJr taught quite a few occult techniques in those classes which one might find useful in the field so to speak. My impression from conversations with Mike and others was that there was growing interest at the time in occult techniques which aided the mission.

  51. Hi John Michael,

    What do you mean that there is no such thing as a free lunch? 🙂

    This knowledge makes sense to me, and interestingly what you observed about the life cycle of a magical lodge is also represented in your economic writings as to the historical and possible futures for corporations, in that they come together for a specific purpose. Interesting. That old inverted bell shaped curve keeps turning up all over the place. It is mildly disconcerting to me that the lessons learned from that curve are widely ignored. It needn’t be that way.

    Cheers

    Chris

  52. If I may, don’t forget the meteor shower tomorrow night! The moon won’t be a problem so it should be pretty good.

    We now return you to your regularly scheduled Cosmic Doctrine.

    —Lady Cutekitten

  53. “Anonymous, if Biden succeeds in attracting that pattern to himself — and the position and aspects of Uranus in that chart suggests that he may well do so — it’s going to get very ugly very fast.”

    What is it about Uranus in particular that makes you think this likely?

  54. Finally, I’ve found some time to contemplate this week’s posting. And my contemplation has cojoined the previous chapter’s post due to the subject of polarity. A few scattered thoughts if you will… (I refer to the millennium edition).

    Page 168: “A unanimous decision is impossible, and it is a unanimous decision which is necessary in order to bring to birth upon a denser plane that which is conceived upon a subtler plane. It is, therefore necessary, that in such a matter you should have co-operation from an entity of a different type to your own, so that the consideration will be reversed…” and page 170: “… impaction depends on polarity wherein union takes place horizontally and fissure takes place vertically.”

    When I read these passages, my Hindu mythology-soaked mind conjured up one of the most iconic scenes of that religion: where the Devas (usually translated as “gods”, which I have problems with) and the Asuras (usually translated as “demons”, which again I have problems with) for once stopped their seemingly incessant fighting in order to obtain the nectar of immortality which they would mutually share. This is done by churning the ocean of milk using the giant snake Vasuki as the “rope”, being pulled back and forth by the Devas on one side and the Asuras on the other – and by using the mountain Mandara (a spur of Mount Meru, the world axis) as the churning rod. So, we have the polarity co-operating on the horizontal axis applied to the vertical “fissure”, from which the nectar of immortality emerges (after a whole lot of other things first come out – Lakshmi the goddess of prosperity, Dhanvantari the god of medicine, and many of the vehicles/mounts of the gods). All of these things which come out of the churning process seem to be from a “lower plane” than that of the Devas and Asuras.

    Also, regarding polarity, it is a little known fact that in order for a Hindu idol/icon to be consecrated, it must be sitting upon the Earth, in order for both the telluric and solar currents to be active. When a friend – who has been trained by a priest who was educated in the most orthodox Hindu institution on the planet – told me this, I got goosebumps! Not only did I relate it to Druid philosophy, but it also helped explain to me why Hindu temples in North America almost universally feel “plastic” and “hollow” compared to the temples in India – because the idol/icon is placed on the main floor, but there is a basement beneath the sanctum sanctorum and is therefore not in direct contact with the Earth. Of course, there are other factors involved (architecture and length of time in which worship has been active among them) in creating this difference in intensity of feeling.

    Finally, regarding the black/white serpents on the caduceus (page 172), “… a force which is positive on one plane will be negative upon the plane above”. This reminded me, JMG, of your analysis (a few months back) about the alternating passive/active planes in the typical male and female genders.

    Thanks for expounding and explaining these chapters… they are tough nuts to crack!

  55. John Michael wrote, “Notice here the difference between the occult approach to instruction and the standard approach: instead of covering the theory first and then proceeding to the practice, the occult approach is to present the method of practice, make sure that it has been learnt, and then provide the theoretical perspectives that make the practice work.”

    So, instead of being a top-down, centralized approach where authorities distribute the only permissible parameters and ideologies, requiring their obedient followers to manufacture life experiences that will conform completely to those conceits through thoughtless repetition of goofy drills; the occult approach is a grab-bag of practices that reliably lead to personal experience of changes of consciousness, causing practitioners to begin questioning various conceits they have been boxed in by and to become open to new theories that better conform to their actual experience of life. Cool!

    The standard approach not only sounds like the kind of mind-closing method used in most schooling, but an awful lot like the military methods inflicted in boot camp, and the religious methods demanded by fundamentalism. Thoughtless repetition of goofy drills provides not only the means, but also the ends of keeping people too distracted and confused to pay any attention to their actual experiences or to begin questioning the ideologies and taboos the goofy drills have fixed in their minds. Yuk!

    When our ideological gatekeepers, in suitably horrified poses, shriek that anyone who finds occult practices useful correctives to a disenchanted worldview has, in fact, been brainwashed into a cult, they are clearly projecting out what their own preferred methodology so effectively accomplishes, onto anyone who has managed to escape their control by practicing something different. Authorities demanding complete consensus with their rationalized, self-justifying dogmas could describe the military, the education system, and the typical cult with equal precision.

    Whatever will our ghastly shocked gatekeepers do when the rising strains of populism and tamanous really take off, as they eventually will? Will they try to induce yet another purity purge without it just looking like so much desperate handwaving? The standard instruction method, by forcing approved narratives onto its pupils regardless of their own experiences and then demanding that they practice getting their experiences to conform to those given narratives, appears to be little more than a form of purity purging of thought right out the gate. That would make the current intense cults of political correctness, critical theory, and cancel culture just natural extensions of the dogmatic instructional paradigm the West has been promoting for so long.

    Fortunately, we have other time-tested options to fall back on when our current craziness finally takes itself down. The apprenticeship model is always good for keeping societal collapse at bay when some self-congratulatory straight-jacket like Scholasticism gets played out to its natural absurdity. Socratic dialectics would also be an interesting instructional method to revive. And then there are all the occult mystery trainings our rationalist gatekeepers have tried so hard to suppress. All of the antidotes to recover from our current imbalance partake of the same methodology of learning practices/techniques before dragging in theory, so as not to muddle or manipulate inexperienced, un-practiced minds.

    I think the occult approach to instruction is going to become more and more appealing as all the illusions of security that ideological obedience once kept propped up crash and burn with a vengeance. Alas, the shrieking, posturing handwaving of our gatekeepers will accompany every one of those torched illusions and failing ideologies as it follows its predictable trajectory down.

  56. I hope I may be forgiven for announcing that country singer Charley Pride has died at 86. Tomorrow, let’s all kiss an angel good morning in Mr. Pride’s memory.

    If you are not a country fan and yet you are wondering why his name is familiar, it’s because he achieved a footnote in history by becoming the first black person to achieve country stardom.

    Back to your studies, Doctrinaires!

    —Lady Cutekitten

  57. Off topic perhaps? Regarding occult practices in the US Special Forces; it does remind me of the book and the movie of “The Men Who Stare at Goats.” I don’t know whether the author John Ronson was doing pure satire or whether he was actually on to something. Any idea? Am I just reeeally gullible?

  58. Eric, that doesn’t surprise me at all. Tom Brown Jr.’s work has some remarkable overlaps with occult training — I have a number of his book in my collection.

    Chris, but of course! Every line must zoom off to infinity, right? 😉

    Anonymous, an afflicted Uranus in a mundane chart indicates that someone makes a blunder, and since it’s square the Sun, the significator of the head of state, that indicates that Biden is likely to blunder in a big way. Doing something to become the next Bad (though not orange) Man in the eyes of the political class would be about as big a blunder as he could be expected to achieve; as Obama has said, “Never underestimate Joe’s capacity to **** things up.”

    Ron, that’s utterly fascinating about Hindu divine images. Why on earth (pun not intended) do Hindus here not arrange for a proper temple with an earth contact for the image?

    Christophe, and that’s also why “…and to be silent” is such an important part of the occult toolkit. What the gatekeepers won’t know won’t inspire them to hurt us…

    Phutatorius, I knew one of the people who’d been involved in the US Army program that Ronson based his book on, a retired general. He took it quite seriously. I get the impression, between his stories and the legendary First Earth Battalion field manual, that some seriously intriguing stuff was in circulation in the US military in the 1970s — that decade again.

  59. Two weird things have just clicked: the first is that I suddenly see why what you contemplate, you imitate: when you contemplate something, that builds a pattern on the higher planes, which then descend downwards until it earths out in your life!

    The second is that polarity magic, vortexes yanking things down into manifestation, etc, provide a very good explanation of why you let what you don’t like fling out into the void: any engagement with it runs the risk of locking it in place by yanking it down a plane!

  60. Thanks all for your thoughts on sacrifice.

    I still feel like I’ve of my husband’s students (pity the highschool teacher).

    His example the other day was talking to a girl about vector sign conventions, and why she’d flubbed a physics question.

    Him: “So up is what?”

    Her : “positive”

    Him: “so gravity is?”

    Her : “negative”

    Him: ” and you wrote it?”

    Her: “positive”.

    Him: “…”

    Her: “I don’t understand”

    They did that THREE times before he gave up. She may still be sitting there, as the janitors sweep around her feet… Quietly muttering “gravity down? Up is up? To the power of how?”

  61. Hi John Michael,

    Possibly, and this hints at a more personal failing, but all the same, my brain is perhaps far too small to even comprehend what the word ‘infinity’ even means.

    Infinity sure is big, that’s about all I’ve got to say on the matter! 🙂

    On the other hand, if I see the inverted bell shaped curve playing out all around me in relation to most things, why wouldn’t an abstract outcome such as infinity look more or less the same as that curve?

    Just because we don’t understand things, doesn’t mean that they are not happening all around us…

    Cheers

    Chris

  62. Doing something to become the next Bad (though not orange) Man in the eyes of the political class would be about as big a blunder as he could be expected to achieve; as Obama has said, “Never underestimate Joe’s capacity to **** things up.”

    Well Biden is historically quite a social conservative, isn’t he? Whether he is still lucid enough to enact any socially conservative policy is doubtful though.

    On the subject of this post, I remember reading that Padraig Pearse intended the Easter Rising to very much be a blood sacrifice, and this would follow Fortune’s scheme. The Rising was the force, Irish Republicanism was the form, and the intention was to bring divine energy down into the concept of Irish independence. The divine energy that was injected into the event of the Easter Rising still lingers quite strongly even today, and was certainly strong enough to power quite a few decades of intense Republican activity.

    It’s notable that in The Magical Battle of Britain, Dion Fortune mentions in passing that the Britain and Ireland both shared the same group of inner plane masters, but that the Irish masters had decided to go their own way. It surprised me that the Irish inner plane masters were once joined with the British ones, as this suggested that at the inner plane level the British occupation of Ireland was not seen as being such an encroachment as on the outer planes.

  63. Phutatorius, Jon Ronson’s persona is one of perpetual bewilderment. Some of the leading figures in controlled remote viewing sat him down for four hours and explained in explicit detail what they do and how it works. He couldn’t use that without spoiling his befuddled image.

    If you want to know about CRV you can look at the books and websites of people like Lyn Buchanan, Paul H Smith, and Lori Williams. But the way I really learned it was watching loads of Teresa Frisch videos: https://www.youtube.com/user/MemoryMime/videos. Seeing that many CRV sessions analysed, the process just sort of soaks into you. It works unnervingly well.

    As far as I can tell, things like breath control in combat are just used for material-world stress control and performance optimisation. See Dave Grossman’s On Killing and On Combat, and Ken Murray’s Training at the Speed of Life. Though they may be getting other benefits from it as well.

  64. I have my own working hypothesis, JMG, re: Hindu temples in North America, but I’d rather “ground truth” my hypothesis through a conversation with my friend’s uncle before replying to your enquiry. I’ll get back to you as soon a I “get to the bottom of the matter”.

  65. Phil Knight, I just realised Padraig Pearce is a real-world version of something I made up as a joke. Whether in China Mieville’s novel Iron Council or the film Snowpiercer, the moral is the same: don’t let the mystic weirdo mess up your revolution.

  66. Anonymous, good. Yes, exactly. As for the 1970s, I’ve been wondering for decades (a) what made that decade what it was and (b) if there’s any chance of doing it again. (Well, without the Bee Gees, if at all possible.)

    Pixelated, when that happens, usually there’s some emotional block in the way. Have you considered doing some journaling about the concept of sacrifice and seeing why your mind is stuck on seeing it in wholly negative terms? (Also, did he ask the girl directly: “You just said gravity is negative. Why did you write it as positive here?” Sometimes that can break through the block.)

    Chris, exactly! The supreme superstition of our time is the belief that the universe must be simple enough for our brains to understand it…

    Phil, I doubt Yeats would have agreed with her that England and Ireland had a common set of inner plane masters! When dealing with the inner planes, it’s very easy to let your own beliefs and prejudices interfere with your perceptions. As for Pearse and the Easter Rising, that approach is brutal but effective. I wish they’d chosen another way to go about it — there would have been much less suffering as a result.

    Ron, thank you. I’ll look forward to the info.

  67. I think that one has to have lived through the appalling 1950s to really grok the 1970s (which, IMHO, actually began to make itself known toward the end of the 1960s).

    The 1950s were the decade when two important things happened: (1) television became ubiquitous and TV advertising became extremely manipulatve; and (2) there was enormous pressure in mainstream culture (especially in the public schools) for young people to all conform obediently to a common norm of thought, behavior, dress, eating habits, etc. etc. (When I was in 5th and 6th grade in the Berkeley public schools, all the boys had an hour of military drill once a week, under the command of a very stern uniformed poilice officer. The purpose of this weekly exercise was not so much to prepare us for eventual military service, as to teach us to obey stern uniformed authority without question. No “Officer Friendly” here.)

    This was an age when–for heaven’s sake!–espessso coffee was generally pilloried as an un-American, decadent, subversive drink, and even ordinary coffee and tea were generally forbidden to young people by their parents before they turned 18.

    So of course, once we began to feel we had a real chance at a rebellion, we all started out by drinking espresso–and frequenting the coffee houses where it was served. And many of those same coffee houses were also frequented by slightly older poets–beatnik poets, with original ideas and cultural critique! Oh, the shudders among our elders at the thought of those beatniks!!! (Beatniks on the West Coast, all of them poets, were a known thing before anyone out there was paying much attention to those alien New-Yorkers, Kerouac and Ginsberg.) So then we young people had a second reason to frequent espresso coffee houses.

    This was also the age when all of us young people were eagerly reading Vance Packard’s “The Hidden Persuaders” (1957) and Sloan Wilson’s “The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit” (1955) in our efforts to understand why the pressure we felt toward absolute conformity was so intense and so stifling.

    Of course, once you have finally figured out what makes you feel so unhappy and stifled, you can finally begin to do something about it. The later 1960s were when young people started doing something about it. By then, of course, we had a few anthems to keep us energized. The one I remember most strongly is Malvina Reynolds’ melodious “Little Boxes,” very much in a ’50s musical style, but with a ’60s content. What a welcome change from Patti Page’s “Mockingbird Hill” (also lovely music, but not a message that we hungered to hear).

    All this happened several years before the Vietnam War suddenly became a huge concern for draft-age young people. The protests against the Vietnam-era draft fed off this earlier rebelliion against the era’s stifling pressure to conform. If that pressure hadn’t been so stifling and if young people hadn’t already begun to rebel so strongly against it, the anti-war movement might not have become so powerful. But they had, and it did.

    I remember a chance conversation with one older man in Berkeley before 1967. It turned out that he sat on one of the Berkeley draft boards, and boy! was he ever angry at the world of young people he had to deal with. He said–it is seared into my memory–that what he’d like to do was to arrest my entire generaation, men and women alike, and ship them off to Vietnam without any weapons, where the Viet Cong could kill them all for “us.” After that, real Americans could start all over again, raising up a new and better generation in place of the one that had rotted so badly.

    As our host has often remarked, the opposite of one bad idea is generally another bad idea. The opposing bad idea of the later ’60s involved drugs and sex and the fetishization of revolutionary violence. The forces of conformity, of course, reacted to this with almost military harshness, and the ’70s picked up steam and got rolling. That, in turn, led to Ronald Reagan’s easily winning the Governorship of California, and then the Presidency. The rest is well-known history …

  68. @JMG: “To be silent” is something I learned early in my abortive writing career in the guise of “Put in in the STORY, not the letter!” That is, if I talked too much about what I was going to write, the energy did dissipate as if by doing so I’d already done the writing. [“Abortive] not because of that, but because I couldn’t create an original plot to save my life.]

    “Anonymous” – the 70s were so distinct because the rising generation had been raised in relative comfort and affluence, but with a degree of cultural stagnation caused by their war-weary elders’ fervent desire for “normalcy.” You can never underestimate the enormous pressure to be “normal.” Now throw in the Silent desire to clean up their elders’ unfinished business of, to use the best-known example, getting rid of legalized segregation. And other institutionalized problems that were revealed as scandals and reformed – out of existence, alas, in many cases. (Shutting down the hellholes mental hospitals and ‘homes”for the mentally disabled had become.)

    The comfort and affluence gave them the leisure and resources to head for the cultural hot-spots and create their own art and music. Gas $0.25/gallon, for example!

    Then throw in the pointless and badly mismanaged War in Vietnam. More than one author has compared its effect on those who fought it to the effect of WWI, another conflict in which the generals were fighting the last war.

    Or – short version – the times were ripe for it. And so it happened.

  69. @JMG what a coinky dink, that’s what I sat down to do this morning 😉

    My husband is not a person who would think to ask “why”. He asks “how”, which sometimes looks the same, but for certain things end up being very different. He’s a very good teacher when the problem is a lack – of instruction on how, or expectation that they try – that most kids by the time they get to him in grade 11 and 12 find his teaching mindblowing. But that she’s not able to see what’s in front of her because the machinery of her own mind is stopping another part of her mind from executing its task would not occur to him.

    I got as far as thinking that the thing with most of the blood sacrifice examples is that they’re being described by external, western anthropologists, using one word: “sacrifice” to describe a two-part process, one part of which it has not occurred to them, as they’ve focused on the how of what they can see. They use the one word “sacrifice” to describe sometimes just the degradation they can see, because they don’t see what the countermovement sacrifice is.

    A hunter who cuts off joints of his own fingers as sacrifices to gain better success in the hunt, leaving only those fingers intact needed for his specific aims of drawing a bow; I can buy that as sacrifice. A willing individual letting themself be immolated to bring success to the crops in a highly group-oriented society has sacrificed. A group that throws one of their own unwillingly screaming into a pit has sacrificed, but the girl was just a symbol used to evoke it.

    Other symbols could have been used, and it was our ancestors poor choice at the tracks in space they were laying that have locked so much in place; why we keep expecting different results but using the same methods. When the Aztecs reached the point of their decline, and deciding since killing twenty captives didn’t bring the crops back, we should kill 2000…. and getting Cortez.

  70. @pixelated:

    Decades ago archeologists excavating an ancient hill-fort in the British Isles happened upon a most unusual burial (IIRC, outside the main gate). The skeleton was of a young woman, a girl by our culture’s standards, lying on her back with her head raised almost vertically, and her arms and hands bracing herself against the edges of the pit with all her might. They interpreted the evidence as a sacrifice, and probably a somewhat willing one. The position of her body suggested that she was trying as hard as she could to endure being buried alive, fighting her own natural impulse to escape and run away. I don’t suppose she screamed so much as shuddered and wept.

    (I read about this burial some thirty years ago, in Aubrey Burl’s “Rites of the Gods” (1981). It has haunted me ever since.)

  71. Regarding the First Earth Battalion, etc: I exited the US military (honorably) in 1971 so I guess I missed all the fun. I wish I’d missed the BeeGees, but also Kaycee & the Sunshine Band, and “Candy Man” (perhaps the most annoying song of the entire decade). The telecom co. I went to work for adopted new age-ish, Jungian, and Gurdjiefian training in the late 80s and then got burned for it when the news leaked to the local papers. As a side note, the TV series Mad-Men wraps up at the Esalen Institute (of all places) in the early 70’s when the fictional Don Draper (whose entire life is a fiction), off on one of his little “detours” from his ad agency job, gets stranded at Esalen for a week. And what comes out of all this enlightenment? (spoiler alert) A new Coke ad! Actually, I loved the ending. It still makes me laugh.

  72. I actually like the BeeGees, so a repeat of the 70s in all of its glory and weirdness sounds wonderful to me! 😉

    I’ve also found Rod Dreher has just posted something which looks a lot like it could be a very strange example of a polarity working: The Jericho March in Washington DC. It seems to be powered by the interaction between consumerism and wallowing in the material plane (complete with advertising!) on one hand and hatred and wallowing in fantasies of violence on the other.

    If this has effects, I really really don’t want to be anywhere near this when it goes off….

  73. “. Does your model help you guide your practical work to get good results? That’s as close to validity as we can come in these matters.”

    Oh! Then the only way to check it is changing little pieces of the ritual based on the model I’m using, and see whether the changes give the expected outcomes. Not exactly something you can ask with this religious stuff (hey, mister priest, would you mind to change a few words here and there in today’s communion?).
    But maybe I could design some practices when I’m sharing time with other people, and experiment. I’m pretty sure that simply taking into account what a practice could affect in other planes will vastly improve its efficacy.

  74. JMG, as I’ve said, I have been studying the Aztec religion, and up until this essay on the Law of Polarity was completely baffled by the Aztec goddess Tlazolteotl. She is the goddess of lust, vices and filth, but also the redeemer of sins! I was raised by Catholics, where sin, embodied by the the devil, is a separate being from Jesus as the redeemer. Tlazolteotl is both sin and the forgiveness of sins, so is she really an expression of polarity? The sins she encouraged where on the material plane, and the concept of forgiveness would come from which upper plane?….

  75. I want to thank Pixelated and JMG for opening up the theme of sacrifice a bit. It is also a “bugbear” for me, and, like you, Pixelated, I am meditating on this to see what this stems from. It is extremely helpful to have the translation “to make holy” which I can “insert” when I see the word “sacrifice” to see if I can make sense of whatever the passage is, without instantly recoiling.

    In my case, I have, so far, pinned down two elements that hide in the word “sacrifice” for me. One has been touched on by Pixelated, and it relates to consent. That is to say, tolerably often one reads about a sacrificEE who is sacrificed unwillingly by a sacrifiCER, and, while clearly this falls into the ethical dark side from the sacrificEE’s point of view, I wonder if the sacrificee’s willingness features at all in the actual EFFECT of the sacrifice. Presumably this kind of unwilling sacrifice creates bad karma for the sacrificER, but I can see no reason to assume this detracts from its magical, plane moving effects.

    The second element, though, hides in the person of the willing sacrificee, or martyr. And it is the potential for emotional blackmail. “Look how many people died so you can do X” or “All I’ve done for you, sacrificed for you, have you no respect?” That is to say, there is a way that sacrifice (whether real or apparent) can itself become a weapon for overcoming someone else’s consent.

    When you use the phrase, “to make holy” none of these connotations arise at all. It is hard to imagine someone saying “Look how many people made themselves holy so you can do X”… and it having the same arm-twisting effect 😉

    Anyway, thank you both for getting under the hood, so to speak, of this difficult theme.

  76. John Michael wrote, “If the lower self systematically neutralizes all its characteristic activities on all the planes on which it is normally active, the Higher Self will sometimes manifest.”

    Thank you for parsing that out so clearly. Your version offers insights not easy to come by in Fortune’s “This polarisation is effected by neutralising the characteristic activity of each body of the personality, and intensifying the activities of each body of the Individuality so that all inhibitions are removed, and this produces a state of instability, and therefore cannot be sustained for long.” It is in there, but I seriously doubt I would have stumbled across it in a first, or even a second, unpacking.

    This helps to explain why the past year, with its global death panic, has been the most transformative in my life by far. By imposing neutralization on so many characteristic activities of normal life, the leaders of government, medicine, commerce, media, etc. helped me to willingly chuck those few remaining characteristic activities left accessible to me. Surely, they had expected me to pour my energy into grasping onto the few shreds of normalcy I could (perhaps netflix?), while obsessing about all the new fears they were amplifying at me. But I didn’t.

    I embraced eating foods from the wild and walking in nature, just when the powers that be told me to get food delivered and hide indoors. I enjoyed paying attention to my physical health rather than my financial health, just when they told me to be dependent on their costly medical industry and its “experts”. I started socializing with random strangers in the park, just when they told me to limit contact to immediate family. In fact, today, I had a wonderful conversation with a birder in the park about woodpeckers. He heard the cackling call of a crimson-crested woodpecker while we were chatting, leading me to ask him about the all-brown woodpecker I heard and then saw pecking with abandon on an upper-story branch the day before. That led to discussing whether the two crimson crests I saw this summer were engaged in what I imagined looked like a hop-scotching mating dance.

    None of those new practices were characteristic activities my personality was used to, and all of them turn out to nourish my Individuality. So this is the year when aspects of a previously unknown Higher Self started manifesting. And what a long strange trip it has been! Thank you for clarifying why so much growth occurs precisely when normalcy gets shut down. I’ve met many others (we all tend to be out in nature) who are surprised by their own awakening this year. An amazing inflorescence may be about to sprout out of every crack in the old edifices.

    As remarkable as this experience is, I am glad to know that it cannot be sustained for long. Awakening and manifestation need to be balanced and grounded by integration and recovery. I’m willing to bet we could all of us do with a little bit of recovery from this past year.

  77. Did anyone get a good view of the Geminids? They got clouded out here.

    —Lady Cutekitten

  78. Hi JMG,

    Busy time so have just let this chapter and study percolate a little. Main thing that has come out of it for me thus far is more of an idea of how any resurrected 21st century ‘fire worship’ might work. It was inspired by a stumbling on an internet page re-look at the provenance for the naming of the days of the week (English and French discussed together). Of course the main Christian worship day is Sunday (Lord’s day) – but why? Oh yeah, the Sun. The Solar logos – long-shining sustained power behind all life on this crazy planet. And our ‘proxy’ for the ultimate unmanifest source. Bam! – I’m gaining a rich, deep understanding of the Christ-God relationship. Mad – never really got that before. So how is this concept brought down to Earth? Fire – through it’s spirit, concept and emotion. But we are most interested in presenting its controlled side and respecting it for what it should and can represent. It’s a three way thing.
    Lots of detail to think through but that’s what this and the previous chapter have offered me so far. Many thanks.

  79. I came across Carol Christ’s (feminist religion) blogging for the Solstice. It wants to embrace polarity but seems to dance around it in political terms

    https://feminismandreligion.com/2020/12/14/winter-solstice-can-we-celebrate-the-restful-welcoming-darkness/

    In it, she writes: In our culture we have learned to celebrate the light and to avoid and disparage the darkness. We have inherited this habit of mind from the Indo-Europeans who, as Marija Gimbutas wrote, celebrated the shining light of the sun as reflected in their shining bronze weapons. When the Indo-Europeans rewrote the myths of the land that came to be called Greece, they placed the “Olympian” deities on Mount Olympus while relegating many of the oldest female deities to the underworld, which became a fearful place. New Age spiritualities follow this pattern, celebrating “light and love.” This habit of mind reinforces racism.

    Anyway, it seems to be dualistic in its dislike of Indo-Europeans and sneaks in about how they started racism, etc.

    She does end with: This Winter Solstice I encourage you to honor and celebrate the darkness: to rest, to sleep, to dream, in the embrace of the longest night. Life is not all about light. It is about the cycles of light and darkness, birth, death, and regeneration.

  80. All this talk of sacrifice brings up for me the Runatal of Odin. As he hung on the tree, an offering for himself from himself, he gained the Runes, the Mystery. The word that’s used in old Norse is “gefinn” a cognate of “given”, so no “sacrifice” meaning “make holy” but the same thing is happening. The Rune “Gebo”, which looks like “X” means “gift” and is the root of “gefinn”. An exchange, giving freely the freedom and comfort of the lower for the Higher. Taking on the temporary ascetic limitation for the possibility of future freedom. Maybe even of freedom from the limitations of the lower.

    Later in the same poem he says that “a gift always looks for a gift”. But for it to be worth anything, it must be freely given. The act of exchange ties the two in relationship, so by the lower giving a gift to the higher, if nothing else, there is the forming of a relationship. A road that can be ridden. Of course, Odin gives himself to himself, he doesn’t give somebody else, so its very ethically clean. For me that’s the most powerful offering, of yourself, to the Higher.

  81. I left out an important point. By this giving, this sacrifice, the relationship is formed between the lower and the Higher and so the lower is touched by the Higher and made Holy. The circuit completed.

  82. Christophe, I have had similar experiences of questioning ordinary activities in more “normal” times. I’m based in Germany; the difference to your experience is that people didn’t get more open, rather the contrary.

  83. Yorkshire, thanks for this!

    Patricia M, it took me a while to learn that one, too. There are no original plots, by the way, just original variations on an existing stock of plots…

    Pixelated, one of the things that still astonishes me is that more than a century after Freud, most people still don’t think about the possibility that the subconscious mind might mess things up for them! As for sacrifice, that’s a good start. Remember also that monotheistic propagandists have been using evil pagan sacrifices as one of their stock booga-boogas to wave in front of kids since about five minutes after the invention of dirt, so it’s got an ample cargo of hysteria loaded on it.

    Anonymous, yes, I saw that. Things are going to get weird. That is to say, even weirder than they are already…

    Abraham, exactly. That’s how magical and spiritual practices develop and evolve — people experiment with variations on them, and those that get good results are picked up by others.

    Scotlyn, you’re welcome!

    Christophe, excellent. When life hands you lemons, make a lemonade ocean…

    Jay, in one of the Druid orders I belong to, fire workings are done with exactly that in mind. They’re seriously cool.

    Neptunesdolphins, yeah, that sounds like her. I wonder whether anyone’s thought about what her rhetoric looks like if you take the term “Indo-Europeans,” and pop in some other ethnic group in its place. Haven’t we heard this song before?

    Isaac, good. That’s a passage, and an image, worth serious meditation.

  84. @Pixelated and @JMG

    I’ve just been playing around with the Latin etymology listings, which give
    Sacer = “sacred, holy”
    Facio = “make, do”

    It turns out that very similar roots are contained in the words “sanctify” and “consecrate”…

    I see a good bit of work to be done here. 🙂

    *Gone playing around some more*

  85. “Anonymous, yes, I saw that. Things are going to get weird. That is to say, even weirder than they are already…”

    I must confess, trying to figure out how that could happen is proving to be a struggle: there must be a point where it becomes impossible to get weirder, and I keeping thinking we should be there by now….

  86. Polarity is what imbues good fiction with life: believable conflict between two opposing forces breathes action into a story. When we get a Mary Stu and her easy blundering trip into bed with Gary Stu, like in the case of many bodice-ripping romance novels, it’s boring. The magic does not happen, at least not in the case of this reader, and there is no fertilized egg of interest. It’s just porno in text form and no actors got paid.

    Danaone, thanks for your insight about Tlazoteotl. I feel like I’m finally beginning to understand The Lovers tarot card as well from this discussion.

    “When the Indo-Europeans rewrote the myths of the land that came to be called Greece, they placed the “Olympian” deities on Mount Olympus while relegating many of the oldest female deities to the underworld, which became a fearful place. New Age spiritualities follow this pattern, celebrating “light and love.” This habit of mind reinforces racism.”

    She really needs to get out of her bubble… racism? The what? I don’t understand how celebrating light and warmth equals racism. I’m all for celebrating darkness and cold: I’m a die hard trad goth with hot flashes; meaning the winter freeze is a welcome friend of mine, but COME ON. Additionally, there are plenty of Greek goddesses in high positions. Athena, for one. Also, last time I checked, it was Hades who is god of the Underworld, not Persephone. Does Carol Christ identify as an atheist? Is Starhawk an atheist? I’m genuinely curious. The way in which they arrogantly disregard the gods for their own pet hatreds and biases reminds me of myself when I was an atheist.

  87. @Tanya

    thank you so much!

    There’s a lot there to take in (just came back to this post today), and I’m going to have to re-read. I have far more exposure to eastern traditions than western, but oddly I also have always (since I was a child) been drawn to Odin and Yggdrasil, in particular and the first piece of magic I every did (without knowing what I was doing) was a very extended (over a week) ritual relating to Odin’s trial on Yg.

    All of this is swirling around in my head, and not settled yet. I can see many possibilities but unsure how to proceed. However, your kindness and knowledge are very welcome, and greatly apreciated.

    Be blessed,

    Ian

  88. One more comment, for the moment, having read the Magical Battle of Britain, something about using images as bridges to meaning (mental plane) feels really clumsy and every time I consider it, I feel irritation. Something about it just doesn’t sit well.

    (Did overall love the book, and as an old Arthurian fan, who spent a ton of time on that mythos, rather loved she used it (though I’m a natural pagan, and prefer the sources.) Also seems that what she worked gave rise to the post war period welfare state, went into excess in the late 60s and was largely lost with Thatcher/Reagan.)

  89. Scotlyn said:

    “Presumably this kind of unwilling sacrifice creates bad karma for the sacrificER, but I can see no reason to assume this detracts from its magical, plane moving effects” and

    “the potential for emotional blackmail. “Look how many people died so you can do X” or “All I’ve done for you, sacrificed for you, have you no respect?” That is to say, there is a way that sacrifice (whether real or apparent) can itself become a weapon for overcoming someone else’s consent.”

    Yes, those are two key things that came out for me, too – and the latter is definitely one that I associate with the word sacrifice. Robert Mathiesen’s example made me want to joke “well, now we know why when Christianity came to Britain it resulted in that Protestant work ethic!” but it occurs to me that might actually be getting close to the mark. And since the higher planes are more abstract, not more essentially moral, pairing actions under the concepts of “performance of duty” and “self-denial” fails to generate heaven on earth.

    I had been looking up the difference between the word “holy” and “sacred”, because we often use them somewhat interchangeably in English, but not entirely. Why is sacrifice “to make holy” rather than “to make sacred”, when they appear to have the same root?

    The distinction that made the most sense to me is that holy is ‘an essential character or property of a person or a relationship that is set apart for divine use’ while sacred is usually ‘an object, place or event set apart for divine worship or intermediation’. A thing (or person, I suppose) can be made sacred by a unilateral decision of humans, but a holy thing has an essence of becoming, of a live channel. I can desecrate a sacred temple or grove – undo what has been added to it, if you will – but I can’t take the holy out of a holy man (or put it in without his and divine consent).

    So then can one wage a holy war? A lot of anti-war protest rhetoric – in fact I’m thinking of the lyrics from Buffy St Marie’s War Racket – claims that “war is never holy”; but if this is an amoral process… then yeah, I guess it could be.

    @JMG early enthusiastic new convert Yakoff Smirnoff was a hit: “In Christianity, we eat sacrificed God, in pagan religions, god eat sacrificed you!”

  90. JMG – you wrote “…They’re seriously cool.”
    Would love to know which Order…
    And wishing you and yours a relaxed and reflective solstice period.

  91. JMG, about the Hindu practice of consuming the offerings to Gods, yes, that is the standard practice. A small portion of the offering is usually kept in the open for other living beings (swallows, squirrels, ants, crows etc) to eat. There are some specific rituals where it is expressly forbidden to consume the offering. These rituals usually involve neutralising a very evil spell someone cast upon you, or trying to mitigate the negative effects of a inauspicious conjunction of planets, or getting rid of some really bad karma. Here again, the offering is left in the open for other creatures.

    And about the way deities are placed in temples in the USA, the canonical texts that guide construction of temples give very precise instructions on the construction materials, dimensions, architecture and building processes (Like the Solomon’s temple you discussed many years ago). I have no idea whether the temple(s) Ron mentioned have not followed any of these instructions. But even in India, there have been enough instances of people deciding they are smarter than the old texts and decided to honor a few guidelines in the breach. (There is a protestant-style tendency among the affluent classes to look down on rituals and the associated papraphernalia as shopworn superstitions, and claim that direct connection to god is possible through just prayers alone. They are usually enthusiastic supporters of such things). The effects of such tinkerings have ranged from annoying to disastrous.

    You said that the priest draws the energy. In Hinduism, after the initiation the bachelor carries a wooden staff with him. Here’s a description of its significance as explained by a very revered guru:

    “The celibate-student must perform samidadhana every day, beg for his food and take no salt. If he is a Brahmin he must keep a staff(danda) or palasa, if he is a ksatriya a staff of asvattha. The vaisya brahmacarin has a staff of udumbara. The staff helps the student to retain his learning. It is similar to the lightening conductor or the aerial and is scientifically valid as to “fix” these hymns.”

    The link to the full article is here: https://kamakoti.org/hindudharma/part17/chap4.htm

    Here is that guru with his staff that he carried all the time. http://www.kamakoti.org/kamakoti/details/acharya-spl.jpg

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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