Book Club Post

The Cosmic Doctrine: The Law of the Attraction of Outer Space

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 29, “The Law of the Attraction of Outer Space,” pp. 126-128.

Millennium Edition: Chapter 30, “The Law of the Attraction of Outer Space,” pp. 176-179.


We are approaching the end of The Cosmic Doctrine, and this and the next chapter neatly sum up the implications of the philosophy that Dion Fortune has been expounding in the pages of her book. Those readers who have been following along closely will doubtless already suspect that she did not carry out that summation in any simple or straightforward way, and they are correct in that assessment. This chapter in particular is deliberately deceptive in certain ways.  For reasons that will become clear as we proceed, Fortune tried to trick her readers into a particular reaction, and then used that reaction to make a point of immense importance. She also drops an unexpected hint that invites readers to go all the way back to the beginning of the book and reinterpret the entire project of The Cosmic Doctrine.

The chapter begins by recapitulating one of the core themes of the book.  The Solar Logos, we are reminded, sets the ongoing process of creation into motion after a period of indrawn meditation by propounding to itself a new conception of existence, which then takes shape as an evolutionary impulse and cascades down the planes.  That impulse is carried on its way by a swarm of entities, each of which starts out the journey as a seed atom united with a Divine Spark and provided with a simple body of seventh plane atoms.  Down the planes it goes, embodying itself in ever more complex forms, until it finally reaches the first or physical plane, the one you and I perceive in our current incarnate forms.

When the Lords of Flame made that descent, near the beginning of the life cycle of the solar system, there was nothing waiting for them on each plane but a cloud of unformed atoms, ready to be gathered up into planetary spheres.  Each subsequent swarm must cope not with a cloud of possibilities but a structured planet on each plane, with its own existing processes and patterns already established in place. In terms of the basic metaphor of our text, the Lords of Flame have to work with only such random tracks in space as have been laid down by the uncoordinated movements of the atoms on that plane, but the Lords of Form have to work with a coordinated system of tracks in space laid down by the Lords of Flame, and each subsequent swarm in turn has to deal with the tracks in space laid down by all the preceding swarms.

Previous chapters have discussed this, of course, but not in the terms Fortune uses here.  In this chapter we are told to envision this situation in terms of a conflict of “will” and “form”—the quotation marks are Fortune’s.  The idea of form has appeared repeatedly in these pages already, but will (or as she further defines it in later paragraphs, the will-to-live of the Logos itself) has seen very little use. We have seen some discussion of epigenesis, which Fortune equates with the free will of individual entities, and a very few times in our text, references appear to the will of the Solar Logos—a “Cosmic will,” defined as the momentum of the Logos implanted in it by its experience in the Cosmos before the birth of the solar system. We have not seen any previous discussion of a Logoidal will-to-live—but every reader of The Cosmic Doctrine among Fortune’s own students will have seen that phrase, stopped cold, and said some variant of, “Oh, so that’s what she’s been talking about.”

The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer gets very little attention these days.  During Dion Fortune’s lifetime, by contrast, his main work The World as Will and Representation was widely read and discussed, not by philosophers—Schopenhauer despised the professional philosophers of his day, and they and their successors by and large returned the favor—but by artists, writers, scientists, and occultists. (From Schopenhauer’s world as will and representation to Eliphas Lévi’s Doctrine and Ritual of High Magic, which presents the world as will and imagination, for example, is the smallest of steps.)  A detailed discussion of his philosophy would take us far from our subject, but the core concepts of his analysis are relevant here. To Schopenhauer, the world of our experience consists of representations:  we do not know a sun and an earth, as he phrases it, but an eye that sees a sun, and a hand that feels an earth. With one exception, everything we encounter and everything we can encounter is a representation, not a reality.

That one exception is will. If you consider your hand as an object, you can see it and touch it, and it behaves like any other representation. At the same time, your hand has another dimension. Obviously, you can move it; less obviously, you can attend to it, perceiving it from within. These are expressions of will. Schopenhauer starts from simple manifestation of will like these and reasons step by step to a conclusion that runs like a subterranean current all through the work of Dion Fortune and a great many other occultists of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries:  the reality behind all these representations is will, the Cosmic will-to-live, of which our human consciousness is one grade or expression, and which surges outward continually through all beings and things. Fortune sums up Schopenhauer’s vision more concisely than he ever did with a vivid metaphor that appears in several of her works:  “God is pressure.”

To speak of the Logoidal will-to-live and its interaction with forms would have instantly evoked Schopenhauer’s ideas in the mind of any educated person at the time The Cosmic Doctrine was written.  Fortune didn’t stop there, however, because the relationship between will and form she presents is not a comfortable one.  The will-to-live always seeks to express itself freely, while form always seeks to confine the will-to-live within its existing patterns, and so the will, in Fortune’s phrase, is irked by forms it cannot escape.  This is the source of the warfare between spirit and flesh that religious thinkers have discussed at such length over the years, and to which Schopenhauer devoted much of the fourth part of The World as Will and Representation.

Thus the Logoidal will-to-live, embodied in each of the swarms of souls, streams down the planes, descending ever deeper into worlds of established form, until it finally reaches the physical plane, the furthest extent of the creative process and the realm in which form is most rigid and resistant.  There each of the souls that has made the descent faces the challenge of the initiation of the Nadir; it stands alone, in the terrible silence of a world that for the moment seems to be reduced to empty space and dead matter, and its task is to turn toward the illuminated beings of the seventh plane to receive the initiation that will complete its descent into matter and begin its ascent into spirit.

This is not the only option for a soul at this stage, however.  The momentum of the Logoidal will-to-live, striving to overcome the irksome burden of form, pushes it the other direction, away from the seventh plane and toward the abysses of outer space. So does the pressure of the forces of a manifested universe, which naturally seek equilibrium with the emptiness of the vold. So, finally, does a factor Fortune has mentioned under other names and in another context: the Penumbra.

Back in Chapter Eighteen (Chapter Twenty in the Millennium Edition) we discussed the role that comets play in the economy of the universe, as scavengers that gather up those few souls who systematically turn their backs on evolution and take them to the Unknown Death. The Penumbra is the consequence of that process:  all these failed projects of evolution remain visible just beyond the Ring-Pass-Not of the solar system. There is a difference of some importance here between our two editions; in the Millennium Edition, which reprints the original privately printed version, we read that these are the forms “which having been disintegrated against the inner shell of the Ring-Pass-Not remain as an image” while in the revised edition the same passage reads “which having not been disintegrated against the inner shell of the Ring-Pass-Not remain as an image”.  I suspect the Millennium Edition is correct here, and the images of the Penumbra are phantoms, the last echo of those beings and forces that have undergone the Unknown Death.

That’s not what it looks like to souls who face the temptation of the Nadir, and Fortune is at some pains to phrase things so that we feel the temptation ourselves. This is the point at which each soul gazes out into the void and imagines what it would be like to leap out of the solar system entirely, to shake off every limitation, “to leap that gulf,” as our text says, “into the freedom of Outer Space where there is no law, and men are as gods.”

Those readers who remember the laws already tabulated in The Cosmic Doctrine will instantly sense the trap here. “Limitation is the first law of manifestation, therefore it is the first law of power.”  That was the opening sentence of Chapter Twenty-Four (Chapter Twenty-Six in the Millennium Edition), and it is arguably the most important law taught in our text. The freedom of outer space is a fictitious freedom, for where there is no law and no limitation, there is no power and no manifestation—only dissolution into the void. Freedom is found not by overturning law and limitation but by accepting them, internalizing them, mastering them, and thus becoming free to use them and work with them.  To recognize this is to overcome the temptation of the Nadir, receive the initiation of the Nadir, and begin the journey to genuine freedom.

It’s worth taking some time to understand this, since the mental habits of today’s popular culture make the temptation of the Nadir considerably easier to fall into and the initiation of the Nadir considerably less easy to receive.  Think back to the first chapters of our text, where Fortune explored the role of negative evil as a thrust-block for action. The laws and limitations experienced by incarnate beings in the planes of manifestation function exactly the same way.  Each of us is conditioned by the forms of the physical plane, and through that conditioning, we are able to bring our own energies into perfect equilibrium.  Then, having overcome the conditions of the physical plane by internalizing them, we rise to less restrictive planes, where we have the capacities we developed on the phusical plane and can use them more freely.

To put all this in terms of a concrete metaphor, the laws and limitations of the physical plane are to souls what the barbells, dumbbells, and kettlebells of a weight room are to bodybuilders. It’s certainly possible to put down the irksome burden of, say, a couple of hundred pounds of cast iron disks on a steel bar, rather than doing three sets of difficult lifts with them.  The consequence of putting it down, however, is that you don’t get the gains.  The material plane may be an unusually heavy and clumsy weight to lift, but those awkward features simply make it a better instrument for exercise!

All this, finally, relates back to the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer in ways that Fortune’s own students would again have realized at once. One of the central themes of The World as Will and Representation is precisely the process by which the will-to-live overcomes itself or, to use Fortune’s metaphor, overcomes its own outward momentum in order to turn back toward its Logoidal source.  In Schopenhauer’s view, this self-overcoming is the source of music, literature, and the arts, on the one hand, and holiness and the salvation of the soul on the other.  The Cosmic Doctrine does not discuss the arts, and Fortune’s conception of holiness and salvation is both more complex and more subtle than Schopenhauer’s, but the connection is clear.

I suspect Fortune put the reference to Schopenhauer’s philosophy so late in our text precisely because the connection is so clear.  The Cosmic Doctrine is not a book to be read once and then set aside, having been mastered at a single go.  Getting out of it all that has been put into it requires repeated readings and a great deal of thought and meditation.  The first time through, most readers will have missed the quiet hints that show the underlying presence of Schopenhauer’s ideas here, as in so many other occult writings of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  On the second reading, those hints will stand out, and help the reader penetrate to a second level of understanding of the text.  On the third reading, and those that follow, other elements will be more visible.  That’s the way any classic of occult literature is meant to work.

For those readers who are on their first journey through the Cosmic Doctrine, however, the point that matters most in this chapter is the temptation of the Penumbra.  This is a serious matter, and Fortune wants us to feel it:  to wallow at least briefly in fantasies of tumbling out into the void and fulfilling all those empty images of impossible desire.  She leaves us deliberately in that state at the end of this chapter.  In the next—the final chapter of this book—she brings everything back together in a final synthesis.

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 final chapter of our text on March 10, 2021.  Until then, have at it!


  1. The juxtaposition of will and form remind me of the conceptions of Awen and Annwn in the Dolmen Arch. Are these ideas similar in their implications? Also, is the initiation of the nadir something that happens in material incarnation, or is the initiation the point when one is ready to move past material incarnation?

  2. The temptation of the nadir sounds remarkably like the materialistic myth of progress, in which God is already dead and Man assumes the role.

  3. I’m still playing catch up on Cos. Doc. having just finished ch. 21., but I think I understand the commentary pretty well, and would like to hazard a comment. One connection to the initiation of the nadir that is obvious is the insistence of many that reality is what we want it to be and, in turn, the myth of progress. Both of these beliefs seek to transcend limits. It seems from your commentary, that accepting and working with limits is the initiation of the nadir. Since so many people seem to not accept limits, does that imply we have not collectively received the initiation of the nadir? I’m trying to reconcile that thought with the faint memory from an earlier commentary of you mentioning that we had indeed collectively received this initiation? Could you untangle those threads for me? Maybe a collective initiation does not equal a personal initiation, and one has to receive both?

  4. It seems to me that the limitations of the physical plane as compared to other planes of being can explain a portion of our current political situation. One group ( lets call them the flyovers) dwells primarily in the physical plane and has not the time or resources to escape this plane. The other group ( lets call them the comfortables) has more of their needs on the physical plane taken care of so they can escape to other planes of being. This does not mean they can escape to higher planes, just dwell in a place where they can ignore the bar bells of the physical plane. These other planes could be places of fog and misunderstanding just as easily as of enlightenment.

  5. I guess it has been a long time since we discussed the ring-pass-not – I thought it encompassed the entire manifest universe but here you indicate it encompasses the solar system (galaxy?). What have I not understood?

  6. Hello JMG:

    “…the images of the Penumbra are phantoms, the last echo of those beings and forces that have undergone the Unknown Death.”

    I’m aware that one can get into trouble trying to map the ideas of one system onto another, but sometimes it helps me expand and refine my understanding. Is Dion Fortune’s Penumbra related to the concept of nirvana in Indian religions?

    Also, regarding the Solar Logos, is the solar current a manifestation of the Solar Logos?

  7. Not sure I read this right, but is Fortune saying the more people end up embedded in the Penumbra, the more attractive taking that leap becomes to future generations?

  8. John–

    Does the temptation of the Penumbra relate at all to the Fall of Genesis 3, as Fortune might have seen it? It strikes me as having some parallels–the illusion of freedom from restrictions (knowing both good and evil), leading to dissolution (returning to the dust), etc.

  9. Kwo, good. I’m pretty sure the concepts are related, though a good deal of meditation might be helpful in sorting out the intricacies. As for the initiation of the nadir, it’s both — it takes place in material incarnation, and marks the point at which further material incarnation is no longer necessary.

    Kyle, it does indeed. I doubt that’s accidental.

    Youngelephant, the concept of “collective initiation” is rather knotted, as each of us has to pass through the evolutionary process by our own efforts. A very large number of human souls — perhaps something like a majority, given how many of us are incarnate at the moment — is being confronted by the temptation of the nadir right now, and of course a lot of us are floundering and fumbling and being loud and stupid about it all — our species does that.

    Clay, that’s an intriguing analysis, and some of the material in next month’s post will apply directly to it.

    Onething, no, you’re paying attention. Fortune is being deliberately ambiguous here.

    Goldenhawk, if I understand correctly — and I’ll gladly accept correction from my Hindu and Buddhist readers — the Penumbra is the opposite of nirvana, because its keynote is the pursuit of desire beyond all limits, rather than the renunciation of craving and the reorientation of the self toward its divine source. As for the solar current, good. Yes — the solar current descends from the Solar Logos just as the telluric current ascents from the planetary spirit of the Earth.

    Yorkshire, that strikes me as quite plausible, but Fortune as far as I know doesn’t clarify that.

    David BTL, that seems very plausible indeed! Here again, though, I know of nothing in Fortune’s writings that clarifies this, so it’s probably best treated as — you knew this was coming, didn’t you? — a fine theme for meditation. 😉

  10. Thought I’d reply to your reply to me yesterday on your previous post.
    I commented with a news report on yet another billionaire using their vast wealth to enable their over-inflated ego-will to push out into, yes, space. Where’s their spiritual growth and understanding? They could attempt to know better. Hopefully you can you now see why I made the link to this post!!! “The momentum of the Logoidal will-to-live, striving to overcome the irksome burden of form, pushes it the other direction, away from the seventh plane and toward the abysses of outer space.” As you’ve mentioned before, who’d want to (unsuccessfully) live a physically incarnated existence for any length of time on Mars or such. It’s a cul-de-sac. A dead end.

  11. @Kwo, JMG:

    “The juxtaposition of will and form remind me of the conceptions of Awen and Annwn in the Dolmen Arch. Are these ideas similar in their implications?”

    This might betray my limited but hopefully growing understanding of Awen and Annwn from the Dolmen Arch, but Annwn, representing the unmanifest, therefore formlessness, may correspond to will.

    If Annwn is kind of like potential energy, that starts to manifest during the breaking of its perfect balance at the dawn of the Cosmic Day, then perhaps Awen represents the form that the nwyfre from Annwn flows into. If this holds, then Awen, the unknowably multifaceted ‘crystal’ that represents absolute form, isn’t the active element as it is often portrayed, but rather the receptive element.

    The descending three rays of light symbolically could represent not the light from Awen coming down into manifestation, but rather, the nwyfre from the manifesting potential energy of Annwn rushing ‘upwards’ into the form given by Awen – and the light looks like it’s descending to us as a kind of trick of perspective. Symbolically speaking, of course.

    Then again, I keep thinking about what Fortune describes as evolution and involution, and wondering how/if those concepts work with the DA. And this might throw off what I’ve written above completely.

  12. “The freedom of outer space is a fictitious freedom, for where there is no law and no limitation, there is no power and no manifestation—only dissolution into the void. Freedom is found not by overturning law and limitation but by accepting them, internalizing them, mastering them, and thus becoming free to use them and work with them. To recognize this is to overcome the temptation of the Nadir, receive the initiation of the Nadir, and begin the journey to genuine freedom.”

    Interesting. This is more or less the exact conclusion I came to regarding freedom a few years back, when I was first getting into philosophy and before I got into occultism. Glad to know I’m in good company.

    When all of its implications are pased out (something all too rarely done), the freedom from everything becomes the freedom from being any concrete thing, or the freedom from being at all. To desire this sort of “freedom” is to desire nonexistence. It’s therefore unattainable, since whoever “attained” it would cease to be, thus there could not be anyone to enjoy that freedom.

    Conversely, the more modest freedom to act within the limitations of our existence—the freedom to be fully oneself, as I sometimes call it—is a real, meaningful, and actually attainable sort of freedom, but not one with any appeal in a culture that feels itself entitled to having the universe jump on its command.

  13. What sort of final lives do people have before they take the trip on a comet? Is it stereotypical ‘evil wizard’ or is there more variety to it than that?

  14. Thanks for the response JMG. And thanks Kwo for your question. It cleared some things up for me.

    “the valley of the shadow of death” in Psalm 23 could be correlated with the nadir possibly..and has more meaning if you combine “I fear no evil, for thou art with me” with the guiding force of the soul through the arc of involution and evolution.

    For reference, the whole verse I’m talking about is something like: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil. For thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me”.

    Now I just need to meditate on “thy rod and thy staff”. One possibility is that they stand for the flows of energy from spiritual->material and vice versa.

    Meditating on the Bible actually seems like a fun proposition now.

  15. I can imagine that sometime soon, SETI will pick up a signal from deep outer space, and scientists will spend years trying to decode it, and then one day researchers will announce to the world they have cracked the code. To the great bafflement of the attentive citizenry of all nations, it will be found to say: “What a fine theme for meditation!”

  16. I find Schopenhauer to be tough sledding. Are you saying it was “trendy” in the 20s and 30s? How did you yourself approach reading these volumes? As to the images left on the ring-pass-not by those who passed beyond, they remind me of the “bird prints” I sometimes see on my sliding glass door after a bird has run into it, maybe in a panic trying to escape from a small hawk. How do these images on the ring-pass-not relate to the images in the “reflecting ether”?

  17. The brief discussion of positive evil in the text struck me as yet another possible interpretation for the origin of the qlipoth, for some value thereof.

  18. I’m now more than a little disturbed by the fact that after centuries of no evidence for them, we’ve suddenly seen two interstellar comets. I suppose it was inevitable a lot of souls would be flying off towards the unknown death right now….

  19. “Not sure I read this right, but is Fortune saying the more people end up embedded in the Penumbra, the more attractive taking that leap becomes to future generations?”

    I wonder now if Pluto is formed from the images of all the people who flung themselves out into the void during the couple centuries of industrialism prior to its discovery………

  20. We are here. Dead matter, unacknowledged limits. The personality sees only itself and its desires. The desires that pull it toward dissipation in limitlessness are phantasms though, not real in the same way as the pull back to the center. When the personality lives in a world of dead matter, only their thoughts and desires are real, and so this longing for Wholeness is drowned out. The phantasms in the chasm call out, but inward call of Love will win out, for most anyway. Pressure is tension, the tension between limits and freedom, between love and limitlessness, consciousness and objects of consciousness, between separation and Wholeness, Being and Non-Being. Each cell in our body is it’s own self, as we are cellves of the Solar Logos, the reflection in the mirror turning back around. Tension is energy, as the will creates the form it loathes by looking.

  21. Another manifestation of the lure to the Penumbra: Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret.

    Also, I have been listening to interviews and sermons from Catholic clergy in the last few days (related to a bit of Biblomancy I attempted last Monday, I’d rather not talk about the specifics) and I found the speeches overflowing with parallels if not reference to occult themes we have been discussing here in Ecosophia. If I were not a reader, those would have gone completely over my head. Of particular relevance to today’s chapter is that angelic beings (of which there are three hierarchies) are not the mindless goons and hired hands of God popular culture makes them to be. They started as free agents, with only a vague notion or manifestation of God, and they were tested to see what they do with that freedom. What we know today as “angels” are not slaves or robots, but beings who decided to align themselves with God’s Will by their own volition.

    More than once, the idea has been floated around here that Christianity started as an esoteric tradition which lost it’s keys to the secrets, and survives today as the exoteric left overs of its former self. I am not so sure this is the case anymore.

  22. Jay, the astonishing thing to me is that Fortune understood this mode of thinking clearly a century ago. (The Cos.Doc. was originally written in 1923-1924.) Yes, exactly — the (literal) attraction of outer space, in pursuit of failed and impossible cravings…

    Jbucks, a fine meditation! I’d encourage you to keep exploring that.

    Valenzuela, thanks for this — very elegantly phrased.

    Yorkshire, I’ve known a couple of people who I think may have ended up on a comet. One of them practiced the sleazier end of New Age pseudospirituality, the other one as far as I know had no spiritual life at all, and neither of them was even remotely like the evil wizard stereotype. What they had in common was the kind of total self-centeredness that led them to hate everything and everyone else for not spending every moment trying to make them happy.

    Youngelephant, excellent. Yes, that works very well. If the Christian element in the symbolism works for you, you might want to pick up a copy of Dion Fortune’s Mystical Meditations on the Collects, which explores Christian symbolism from Fortune’s esoteric perspective.

    Jbucks, funny.

    Phutatorius, “trendy” is too shallow a phrase. He was the favorite philosopher of Albert Einstein, Erwin Schrodinger, Leo Tolstoy, Jorge Luis Borges, and George Santayana, just for starters. He was an immense intellectual influence on just about every Western thinker from the mid-1800s until the beginning of the Second World War. I find Schopenhauer almost compulsively readable — his prose is clear and his ideas make a great deal of immediate sense to me — and I reread them regularly, along with his Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason. As for the images on the Ring-Pass-Not, well, the reflecting ether is within the solar system, and the Ring-Pass-Not is the boundary between the Cosmos and the Unmanifest, so there’s not much connection.

    Asdf, yes, and very deliberately. Remember that Fortune was also up to her eyeballs in Cabala. Once we finish with the Cos.Doc., read The Mystical Qabalah and you’ll find an enormous range of parallels and points of contact.

    Anonymous, yes, I’ve been thinking the same thing about comets, As for Pluto, hmm! That’s an interesting speculation.

    Isaac, a fine crisp meditation!

    CR, Byrnes’ book is about as Penumbral as you can get without actually undergoing the Unknown Death! As for Catholic esotericism, I’m delighted to hear this! There’s an enormous amount of richness in Christian esoteric thought, and if your church is finding its way back to that heritage, much good may come of that. As for angels, three hierarchies? That’s fascinating; most Christian angelology works with the nine-hierarchy system of St. Dionysius the Areopagite; the threefold version is mostly found in esoteric sources (Robert Fludd was into them, for example), so that suggests that the clergyman in question has indeed been studying some very deep sources.

  23. YoungElephant,
    I wonder if “thy rod and thy staff…” correlate to the laws and limits imposed in this physical dimension.
    As I am understanding it, the attraction of the penumbra is a rejection of laws and limits and a desire for “total freedom”. That total freedom is actually total dissolution. Some might even say eternal damnation.
    That would fit with some Christian theology that teaches God’s will, his law, (his rod and his staff) are designed to help us mortals find our way back to him, back to the Divine.
    Or I could be completely “off the Mark”!

  24. I seem to feel myself quite safe from any temptation to hurl myself into space…I would not even have been on the Mayflower.
    Now, that might make me sound like a timid person; I am not and am even a bit of a risk taker but I’m not foolhardy.


    But even if the church became mostly exoteric, the esoteric would not completely disappear. Perhaps it waxes and wanes.

  25. Ughh just had an unpleasant thought piggy backing on the comments about recent comets. The Unknown death is a death of the individuality, which to me, seems like could happen at any time irrespective of the death of the physical body. So it seems like there could be more than a kernel of truth in all the talk about NPCs I’ve heard before on the interwebs.

    And those subtle bodies can probably sense they lost their individuality after the death of the body, which means they’ll do whatever they can to stay alive on the astral plane. This could be a significant source of spooky beings. It could be described as a jump from the evolutionary arc to the involutionary one, and the subtle bodies will dissolve into mental/astral/etheric matter, and take up the journey of the elementals (less sure about that last statement).

    I’ll consider your book rec on Fortune’s thoughts about Christian symbolism JMG. I don’t really know what my relationship to Christianity is nowadays. I was raised in it, and it’s the religion of my family, so the esoteric aspects remain appealing for that reason.

  26. I have bought a copy of CosDoc, and follow along here, although I haven’t yet tackled the volume. It seems it is necessary reading for me, as a lot of the themes from Boris Mouravieff’s Gnosis find echoes in it, and I’ve worked with Gnosis. One of his prime themes is that transcending the Cosmic Law requires fulfilling it to the letter, in its higher meaning, something the Christ also taught. The prime Zeitgeist of our current age (present in technology’s promise, our Science, our pop religion, and our entitlement governments) is the obliteration of all limits and even of Limit itself. Would I be right in thinking that the obliteration of Limit itself is the temptation of the Nadir, as manifested in the modern milieu? Even the Faustian vision doesn’t go quite so far as that, but one can see how the Ruler of the Age might use it as a bridge to the temptation, which are also the temptations of Christ in the wilderness. It would explain why Voeglin and others see a kind of “Gnostic” heresy operating in the subconscious depths of the modern mind. Not that the Medieval period ever satisfactorily solved the problem of how to incorporate Gnosis into its worldview, without veering into Gnosticism. If I may, I was saved from Gnosticism by a rare rational thought I had one day: If the “true God” is really a dark God, with the true Light hiding behind Him, and one “believes” this, what confidence would one have, ever after, that that new true God was not just some other imposter? Cosmic Law may seem harsh, but it is the way it is for a reason, and yet the source of Being is not complicit in its apparent “evil”.

  27. Dear JMG,

    As always thank you for these book clubs! Interestingly, I find the idea of Penumbral limitlessness as discussed by Dion Fortune rather unappealing on a gut level. In this incarnation at least, I’ve always imagined and always have prioritized spiritual teachings that emphasize a goal of incremental improvements leading towards Enlightenment, rather than the total loss of every limitation. For me, the loss of limits would be very sad: I orient my entire existence around the faith in a personal soul that works as an organizational principle for this incarnation and all others “I” am involved in. This soul is very real to me, and I feel very much subordinate to my soul. The dissolution of any soul would be, I imagine, the literal worst outcome of an incarnational cycle! Rather, I wish for my soul to slowly bring desires into harmony, to grow wings as Plato discusses in _Phaedrus_ so I might join in the great celestial procession of my deity and serve my deity with greater capacity, capacity forged through the experiences my soul has faced in the incarnational cycle. To simply be sucked into space would render meaningless all of the experiences I’ve had throughout incarnations, experiences which I regard as of the greatest value in terms of the evolution of my soul.

    Instinctively, I love my limits for my limits are what gives me integrity of being on all levels, indeed, even including my most far-ranging dreams. That is to say, my dreams are in every sense limited by the tracks in space laid down by _Phaedrus_, and again, I see these limits as the very bounds of integrity. Without limits both force and form face instantaneous disintegration!

  28. This indeed is sobering. The penumbra is scarier than the Christian hell, and more realistic too, and every human who has thought has grappled with the call of the void. The horrible part is that the fear can be part of the strange attraction, and the only way to get above it is to realise that you are not your mind. I also compare Fortune’s material with new age material, Fortune presents real dangers amidst the cosmos, whereas the New Age material speaks of limitless light and love and the idea that we can do nothing wrong. I think I prefer Fortune’s tail.

  29. Dion Fortune’s discussion of lost souls taking a ride on a comet reminds me a lot of the Heaven’s Gate cult. The cult members killed themselves because their leader claimed there was a huge UFO following behind Comet Hale-Bopp and so they committed suicide as a means of beaming themselves up to the mothership. They were one of the groups Jacques Vallee profiled in his 1979 book Messengers of Deception and he predicted back then that they were one of the groups that were going to end really, really badly.

    The story of Heaven’s Gate and their mass suicide is creepy enough as it is, but after reading the CosDoc, it is infinitely more so. Were they being deliberately enticed by something evil to take a one way trip to the outer void? The very thought gives me shivers. I am reminded too of the Yuggothians in the last couple of books in the Weird of Hali series and how they enticed their victims by advertising that there were plenty of jobs out West. Desperate people headed out there looking for work and found themselves abducted and being shipped off as brains in a jar to the outer solar system. It also puts a whole new spin on the plans of a certain tech godzillionaire and his more devoted followers to go to Mars via SpaceX’s grandiosely named “Starship”….

  30. Thanks for the hint, JMG. It allowed me to trace another source.

    Well, the way I first learned is “… with the three angelic hierarchies, and with the three choruses of the [first/second/third] one”. Now, according to St. Dyonisus book, The Celestial Hierarchy ( as depicted in Michigan State University’s web site) “Theology has given to the Celestial Beings nine interpretative names, and among these our divine initiator distinguishes three threefold Orders.”

    The footnotes in the same source expands this as: “There are nine Orders of Angels, figures of the nine Archetypes in God; and each one obtains a name corresponding to the property in God which it exhibits”, which then proceeds to explain in detail how Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones (all from the first hierarchy) have all the same essential properties, but are different in f how each pick one particular virtue and derive others from it.

    In my original prayer book, it says “loving Seraphim, wise Cherubim, preeminent Thrones”. I have repeated those words many many times over the years, but they just today unpacked as “the path of the saint, the path of the philosopher, the path of the hero”. Synchronicity!!!

  31. Hi JMG

    I’ve not yet read any of The Cosmic Doctrine, but have been passively following these book club posts.

    I’m very glad to hear Schopenhauer is relevant to the CosDoc after all; I had wondered if he’d pop up. I also read him semi-compulsively (I particularly loved the Fourfold Root, the Will in Nature and the first two books of WWR volume 1) and this gives me extra encouragement to make the effort at some point!


  32. After more reflection, I realized that the Druid Revival already has names for will and form: nwyfre and gwyar. In Fortune’s terminology, will and form meet and swirl in a vortex, which results in the substances/matter of the cosmos itself (calas in Revival terminology). That is to say, the will-to-live can only manifest into the reality we see upon its encounter with form.

    That this structure exists is itself a form, a vortex is a type of form, the splitting of one into two is a basic form. And this structure replicates itself upwards and downwards through the planes. If I use the crystal metaphor for Awen again, then this replicating crystalline structure is constantly illuminated by the seething light emerging from the cauldron of Annwn – the energy and life of every thing exuding outwards from it.

    It’s said that the cauldron of Annwn are where souls that fail to learn the lessons of Abred go (our current everyday existence), and become ‘unformed soul-stuff’. This sounds to me like the comets that Fortune describes which gather those souls who fail to learn the lessons of evolution and are swept out of the solar system (and into the cauldron of Annwn).

    So how can Annwn be the source of nwyfre, of life and consciousness, and simultaneously the place where souls are reabsorbed?

    It may be that if you’re a being stuck in the Earth’s core, your world of molten metal and rock is an undifferentiated void (symbolically speaking). The heat is such that everything is melted together into a uniform oneness. The Earth’s core – a source of life, an entity with consciousness, yet to a smaller being melted within it, it is a merging into void.

    To bring this around to my own experience, I can’t tell if I’ve felt that temptation towards the Penumbra/Annwn or not. There are moments where suddenly I’m in the ‘flow state’ and I’m completely aware of my surroundings, and it feels exhilarating. But perhaps it’s only so because I suddenly notice myself, and if I hadn’t, I would have just been in the world in whatever I was doing, with my awareness focused outwards.

    Yet I have felt in the past, sitting perhaps on a balcony and watching time, people and nature pass by, a longing to merge with my surroundings so that I could be everywhere – it was a strange feeling of wanting to go upwards and outwards in all directions, to be part of everything else, and thus perhaps not be excluded from it all. It’s hard to describe because I’m not feeling either state right now, but the first implies almost a perfect contentedness with my current situation in the world (and thus fully part of it), and the other a powerful longing to transcend it.

    I’ve run out of steam now, but I’ll need to reflect further on how the goals of the options Fortune outlines seem to be the same: that the progression of the soul back up the planes into spirit into planes of less resistant forms on one hand, and the journey outward into void on the other, are both about a desire to join with the universe, but the first option joins with the All via the necessities of form, while the other rejects it.

  33. “I’ve known a couple of people who I think may have ended up on a comet. One of them practiced the sleazier end of New Age pseudospirituality, the other one as far as I know had no spiritual life at all, and neither of them was even remotely like the evil wizard stereotype. What they had in common was the kind of total self-centeredness that led them to hate everything and everyone else for not spending every moment trying to make them happy.”

    Ay yi yi, I think I’ve known a few myself!

  34. The place where will and form clash most significantly, for me, is the brain itself, or the neurological apparatus that the soul in each animal has to cope with to interact with the world as we move up the reincarnation ladder. The awakening soul must grow into the realization that it is being limited by the form. I’m thinking it is when we become human and can think our way to the choice facing us that is the nadir, not when we begin our journey as amoebas on the material plane. And we begin to chafe at the limits when we begin to see the limitless. Our monkey brains trying to grow a mental sheath, catching glimpses of something beyond the material. It’s sad that those who get caught up in New Age half truths begin by catching a sense of the limitless but then take a wrong turn.

    By embracing the limits of our brains and neurological apparatus, however, and see them as a negative evil, we can push against them as a thrust block for the leap back to the source.

  35. Onething, true — there’s a difference between courage and stupidity, after all!

    Youngelephant, “spooky” is the right word. Yes, that’s uncomfortably plausible.

    Arkansas, interesting. I haven’t read Mouravieff, though I’ve read about his work, of course. Yes, the obliteration of Limit is the essence of the temptation of the nadir, and the Faustian vision comes very close to that in its excesses, of course.

    Violet, that makes perfect sense to me. There’s something very Pythagorean in Fortune’s vision, and of course Pythagoras identified Limit with light and life and spirit, and the Unlimited with obscurity and death and matter…

    Anonymous, exactly. It’s a real temptation, and a significant challenge.

    Galen, I thought of that too. I read Messengers of Deception long befor the Heavens Gate debacle, and in fact when I first read the accounts of the mass suicide my initial reaction was, hold it — didn’t I read about them somewhere? As for the similarity with the bit in my tentacle novels, why, yes, and it was not accidental…

    CR, fascinating! Okay, that makes sense. Robert Fludd (my main source for the threefold order) calls the three hierarchies Epiphaniae, Epiphonomiae, and Ephiomae — Visions, Voices, and Acclamations. Make of that what you will.

    Morfran, the old grouch of Frankfurt is relevant to just about every work of occult philosophy written between Lévi’s Doctrine and Ritual of High Magic and the coming of the Second World War. One of these days I need to write a book on that, but it’ll take several more rereadings of Schopenhauer before I’m ready to do that.

    Jbucks, nicely done.

    Kimberly, I think most people have. It’s not a pleasant experience.

    Myrian, good. Yes, exactly.

  36. Building off Youngelephant’s comments about the possibility of the subtle bodies clinging to life because they know the individuality has died, if they know, then would the physical body know too? Not at a conscious level, but at a subconscious level? And if the comments I’ve seen made before about a lot of souls veering off into the unknown death are accurate, then a lot of bodies have no individuality anymore.

    Suddenly the fear so many people seem to have that when they die they’ll stop existing doesn’t seem so unfounded: if the above speculations are accurate, a lot of people will cease to exist when they die……….

  37. I’ll have to read over this many times. There really is an exquisite amount of wisdom to munch on here.

    Limitation really seems to lurch out at me as one of the fundamental themes from the text this month. It really struck me that, while each plane of existence has limits, none often seem eternal, but this chapter seems to imply that there is such a thing as an eternal death when one passes the ring-pass-not. With that said though, apparently there is the image of such things outside of the ring-pass-not, which I suppose serves as an opportunity for all of us to learn.

    The metaphor fits in well with the broader theme of this blog, and The Archdruid Report. Learning limits means recognizing that there is an end to something. When we push limits on the material plane, sooner or later one could push too far and will receive death as a result. Likewise, when a civilization pushes too far, it too will perish. We can certainly extend that lifespan by trying to push towards a higher plane, such as is happening with our progressed crazed society believing we can further abstract ideas, but the further up the planes of existence we go, the more possibility there is of reaching Penumbra. In the sense of civilization, would that mean they’ve been forgotten? Such as Atlantis?

  38. Back in the 1980s, I used to play a game called Temple of Loth on a boxy IBM computer, you know the kind where you had to boot it from a floppy disk? Yeah. Anyway, I wasn’t good at the game and I didn’t understand it, so when I became bored, I would purposefully do stupid things like fight characters I wasn’t supposed to fight, steal their treasures, and generally wreak havoc until I died.

    The rioters of Antifa and the looters of BLM seem like the real-life, for-keeps equivalent of the kind of trolling I used to do while playing Temple of Loth. I would guess hardly any of them believe in reincarnation, gods, or a God. To them, life is a game and since they have convinced themselves they are Victims with a capital “V”, they must take the low road and burn it all to the ground because “you only live once”. They are convinced that they’ll never have to answer for the people they hurt/killed and all the places they destroyed. After all, this life is just a game they did not choose to be born into, plus they’re automatically the Good People because they display the correct virtue signals.

    This chapter clarified demonic possession for me and I am eager to meditate on it further. The idea of ghost images beckoning from the periphery, begging to be brought into manifestation is eerily poignant.

  39. To my mind the place at the end of that comet ride sounds quite a bit like the outer darkness in the Gospel of Matthew.

  40. Max Stirner seems like the kind of guy that gets sent to the papershredder of the solar system on one of those comets discussed upthread. “Everything is a spook! Nothing exists except me! I am above morality and God!” Criminitly, some humans…

  41. Mr Greer.
    I’m glad you helped me to find some knowledge behind what I would have called mere hallucinations a while ago. Coming from a scientific background, where theories are only good as long as they can be prooved valid, where the understanding of the world must be revised after some major discoveries, I found religions and esotericisms too sure of their ‘truths’, dogmatic, and that they used some imaginary ‘invisible powers’ to control the credulous. Don’t tell me scientists are now the same, I’m talking Science, not the Academia.

    I still conceive the world as indissoluble of its material part, but now I’m accepting that one way to describe the complex behaviour of the massive interactions in matter is by using the concept of planes. So speaking, if I’m having a dream, that’s some complex behaviour in my sleeping brain cells, the physical cells are a constituent for the dream, but the dream is also a property of the physical brain, both are parts of the mind system, it is ‘complexity in this level’. In order to observe any complex behaviour we have to create a conceptual frame, a model or a pattern, then seeing how well the observed subject conforms to the model. We could even observe dreams in a bunch of molecules in a gas bottle (if we had an objective way to model dreams), a whole lot simpler than human dreams, negligeable, but they will be there. It’s like measuring temperature, it’s always there even when it’s close to the absolute zero.

    I understand that a book like the CosDoc is not ‘truth graved in stone’, but more like a Phylosophic Work. Useful knowledge and insights, perhaps better than the previous works, perhaps worse than future works from future authors. It helped hugely to know that the writer don’t claim it to be the reality (they still sound like hallucinations to me), but a poetic way of describing complex systems. Not the only possible way, but a useful one. Now, I’m very bad at poetry (beauty does not move me), so I’m struggling a lot with it, but I like mental games, so meditation is paying off. CosDoc might not be the ultimate truth, but it really helps making sense of some behaviours, commonly dismissed as irrational ones, and even hints to the outcomes of these behaviours.

    About the topic of today’s post, it makes me shiver. I must explain that my father is very into New Age stuff. He thinks one day he will peal himself of the flesh shell and become a shiny being, literally. He talks a lot of esoteric and religious stuff, not as metaphores, but for real. Last couple of years he was unusually bothersome, talking about huge alien vessels that would come to save humanity and that would take with them whoever wanted to be saved. If he wasn’t crazier than usual (drugs abuse could explain), then this means that he was expecting to die sooner than later. Except that he was really adamantium, saying that we should prepare ourselves to get on the vessels too, since we don’t really want to be left in this sorrowful uninhabitable land.
    Nowadays I am making more sense of his mumbles, but he is one to reject limits, to think that anything is possible just by visualizing and wanting it (obviously without much success). I can see how visualizing and strong willing can help getting some things, even some that looked like impossible, but they can’t violate the laws of Physics. If they could, then such things would not belong to our cosmos. And that makes me think that he doesn’t want to belong to our cosmos for longer, He’d throw himself into the penumbra without second thoughts. At least he still thinks that committing suicide is sin.

  42. @Onething

    Hope you are right. I have found a little bittersweet the fact that some unsatisfactory answers peddled in the usual channels seem like props behind which better answers can be found. On the one hand, why didn’t anyone told me 30 years ago? But then, what service fine answers make for a boy who thinks Masses are too long and pews are too hard?


    In response to: “The place where will and form clash most significantly, for me, is the brain itself, or the neurological apparatus that the soul in each animal has to cope with to interact with the world as we move up the reincarnation ladder. ”

    The way I see it, we all have already fought and won this battle thrice before, and are just now going through the opening moves of round four. The battle starts anew with each subtle body we manage to evolve.

    On round three, you may say the clash did happen in the nervous system (just like you described our current one). The milestone that past struggle gained us is the ability of language. Today we fight in the same arena for an ability we might call “total awareness”: to grasp information intuitively without going through the motions of rational thought, which is a sort of training wheels of the mind.

    However, our more primitive past selves did lack brains, and nonetheless had their own tasks to complete and their own struggles to toil at. Round one was fought in the base material plane, and gained us the ability of biochemistry (common to all living beings). I am yet to figure out what is round two, or where is it fought, but I have the intuition that the ability gained is something inherently animal.

  43. All–

    This is off-topic, but I’d like to ask everyone to pray for my colleague Zach and his wife Heather who lost their unborn child recently. Thank you.

  44. There’s the common spiritual saying that everyone is taking different paths up the same mountain. You’ve said it’s more like everyone starts at the bottom of the same valley, then climb different mountains. What does trying to achieve balance mean for people who are heading off in opposite directions? How does balance manifest in radically different circumstances?

  45. There are many other renditions of the Garden and the Fall, and in one/some of them we have beings that are, let’s say, “unformed”, misty, etheric, and therefore in a way, “spiritual”, uncorrupted. The accident they had in eating the “apple” is similar to dining in Faerie, where — klunk — they found themselves tied to this foreign dimension, the physical, and therefore to corruptible materium. The clarity of pure spirit now far away, a receding dream.

    Is that bad? Depends what you mean by “bad”. Are they subject to death, or was the devil-serpent right and God lied, they did not surely die? Well, their materiums now die, even if their immortal spirits are unchanged. Have they actually fallen? Aren’t they where they were before, with the same immortal souls? Yes they are, but they have been veiled by materium and can no longer perceive the infinite even though they are in it still. They are now not in the world of infinity, but the world of duality, of “good” and “evil”, of ups and downs.

    Here’s the other thing: in the story they are therefore proposing that the world itself was once misty, unformed, less-solid. Over millennia the constant interaction of consciousness continues to add solidity to the formless. Thus even now magic is less because we are currently obsessed with the mere physical. Those age of miracles, the age of Druids, rain dances, talking to gnomes and dryads really happened because in contradiction to science’s unfounded, unprovable opinion, the rules of reality, the rules of physics really were once different. Because half of all materium is consciousness — the seer they cannot see — and *consciousness* then was different.

    But that is to say the past was misty and being formed, as Lords of Form made tracks more solid, and we made tracks too. One of those tracks may have been getting captured in materium. Was that good? Bad? Should we be glad, mad about it and at Eva? Certainly humans, souls trapped in matter, do endlessly long for home and the separation wounds us badly. But a different story pointed out that the man who went out, saw the world, even in a ditch or a pigsty, was still more celebrated and brought back more when he could finally find his own way home.

    Maybe not a story we would choose, but a story that happened already, long ago.

  46. JMG –

    Just to be clear – is there a distinction between D. Fortune’s temptation of the Nadir and what we’d call immanentizing the eschaton? My sense is that, generally speaking, the human desire to flee the earth and colonize the stars is misplaced spiritual longing. This is eschaton-immanentizing, certainly, but at root, it is a spiritual longing, albeit one corrupted by modern materiality. From what I’ve read, the Heavens Gate people and Marshall Applewhite himself, though obviously highly deluded, were basically a collection of oddballs and not particularly what we’d think of as self-centered, evil, sociopaths, bereft of spiritual sense.

    In my own experience, when I was a teen I frequently got brief but very distinct ecstatic kundalini shots while contemplating photos of the galaxies – I don’t believe this was a matter of desiring a short cut to formless, limitless freedom, but rather just an awe of the numinous as represented by the deep space photos. Later, however, after my kundalini had erupted, it seemed my perspective did a 180, becoming more direct, and I began perceiving the material cosmos as a fear-and-trembling void. Still do. The notion of deep space travel profoundly creeps me out.

  47. To extend on what I’d posted earlier – for decades after my kundalini eruption, I had extremely vivid dreams of being untethered to the earth, floating in space. Intoxicating in one sense; it felt as if my etheric/astral bodies were being sleeted by exotic radiations. But also very unsettling as I felt a certain sense of disintegration and dis-assembling, and I’d find myself fighting to return to earthly stability. I can imagine this may have well been what D Fortune is describing re the dangerous attraction to deep space formless freedom.

    An erupting kundalini can bring such things into a very disturbing focus, obviously.

  48. In the process of trying to understand Fortune’s work (at least for me), I think there can be the danger of seeing life as a simple battle between the people who chose to be good and those who chose evil. After all, failed souls earn a one-way ticket to oblivion, front row seat on the nearest comet, since they were dumb and/or selfish enough to choose the evil path. And yet in the Bible, we find Jesus eating with criminals and tax collectors. In Revelation 3 verse 20 he said, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” To avoid spiritual pride setting in, to avoid seeing oneself as one of the ‘good’ people struggling against all those who chose evil, I think it’s helpful to consider that we are all creations of the Logos – every last one of us part of those great waves of exploration emanating from the Cosmic mind. It’s just that some people are not quite aware of that as of yet.

    Whether it was by Cosmic design, or simply by virtue of the fact that in order for God to enter into manifestation he needed to impose limits on his formerly-unlimited nature, the fact is that we initially find ourselves in the condition of existing as a separate being. I remember as a young kid feeling like I was sitting on the edge of a vast chasm, alone, empty and without hope – probably due to my not-too-enjoyable childhood! I think many people find themselves in that state of feeling fearful, alone, separated from any feeling of love, not knowing anything about spirituality, and in that condition might give up and act as though their own fear was all that is real. Other people, with different experiences in life might end up with the opposite feeling – being independent, powerful, but also not knowing God, might believe that acting of their own free will in their own self-interest was all that was real. I think having the consciousness of fear can lead people to look for anything that will help them feel better- limitless money and power for example. People seemingly make the choice of the Penumbra because for a variety of reasons they do not yet have awareness of the higher levels of consciousness – that relationship with God – which would allow them to choose otherwise. They are motivated by other factors in what amounts to the fallen state of the lower self as it exists in Malkuth.

    When considering the idea of a choice, I got to thinking that in the beginning stages of our hopeful spiritual journey through life, this choice is not one that is made once and for all, Salvation or Damnation earned – end of story – but rather one that is made continuously, on a day-to-day basis, before every action, every conversation, every interaction with the world. Even at ‘upper’ levels of spiritual development, for the best of the ‘good’ people, there are temptations to be faced, errors to be overcome – spiritual pride being one of them. Life is about constantly being faced with obstacles, tests, threats to one’s ego. It also is about being rewarded, finding successes, gaining recognition, gaining spiritual insight. At every turn the two forces of fear and pride seem to rise up, presenting the opportunity to make that choice again.

    In my own limited understanding of the cosmos, I currently don’t think it is ever too late for anyone to repent or have a change of consciousness and make the choice towards God, although it may not seem that way when looking at the world these days and throughout history, and observing the actions of those who seem to be motivated by pure evil and greed. Every small act in our everyday life is another opportunity to listen for the quiet voice of God knocking at our door, and make the choices which will allow us to gradually gain greater understanding, and ultimately be unified with him once more. But is Fortune saying that, actually, it can end up being ‘too late’ for some people who repeatedly make the wrong choice, fail to listen and accept the limitations and laws of the Logos? That some people are truly evil and beyond all hope or forgiveness?

  49. When I read this post, I kept going back to the idea of souls evolving. In Roman Polytheistic theology, a person has multiple souls. (In Polytheistic theology, in general, this is true.) Souls don’t evolve as such, but they do get added to the family’s line and become Ancestors. Other souls of the person end with death while others continue after death. What people consider to be ghosts in modern times was at one time material beings who could after death procreate and the like.

    In my point of view, a soul evolving seems to be an entrenched Monotheistic thought. It shows up in New Age thought and elsewhere. So I am curious if a person has multiple souls, if the Cosmic Doctrine holds for them.

    Roman thought on reincarnation was simply that if a person did have unfinished business with the living, they came back to finish it. However, the Dead did not as a rule return to the living. Again, if one doesn’t hold to the view of reincarnation or evolution of a soul, how does the Cosmic Doctrine apply to them? Or does it?

  50. John,
    Excellent analysis as usual. I’m going to attempt a metaphor, which may not quite fit the CD and arguably is too simple, but anyhow I’ll have a go. It seems to me the human phase is like a metal mould of fixed size and structure and functionality, into which the individuality/spirit/sole is poured, like heated liquid plastic. The individuality must go through countless lives until it has achieved sufficient solidity (i.e. the plastic has cooled), giving it form, purpose and understanding. Only once that stage has been reached can the individuality progress up the planes outwith the incarnate form. Is that what is being suggested?
    Regards Averagejoe

  51. To Onething and others still having trouble seeing the comment numbering (as a follow-on to comments from last-week’s article):

    If you are not seeing comment numbers, it is a browser issue on your device. Chances are your browser is still holding onto older style sheets associated with JMG’s blog, and you need to force a refresh of those so the new copies download from the server, including the new code for displaying the comment numbers. I had to do that with one of my computers.

    If you are on a desktop and using the Firefox browser, one way to force that is to right-click on the page you are viewing and then select the option “View Page Info.” Once in that, click on the Security subtab and then select the “Clear Cookies and Site Data” option. And then if you refresh the page, all needed support files will be downloaded and saved again on your computer.

    Other browsers may have similar options, either for individual pages or domain servers that they come from, or (worst case) you can usually force a clearing of all cached content and cookies (which forces your browser to start rebuilding all that again as you continue browsing, at the risk of also loosing all saved passwords, etc., that you might have built up).

  52. Kimberly Steele,

    If you want to take a trip down memory lane, you can play that game at!

    With regards to the Nadir, I remember seeing photos of a group of Satanists or Luciferians having a grand time in an abandoned church. This must have happened two or three years ago. While I’ve found that most Satanists seem to be LARPers, this group appeared quite serious. A woman was standing on a table (or perhaps an altar?) and was completely naked. She had painted on her chest, “I am God.”

    I can’t tell you how much that image creeped me out.

  53. I had another truly terrible thought: I’ve never had much success figuring out how so many people could believe consciousness does not exist. If I understand correctly, consciousness, as awareness, is part of the individuality; which means that if the individuality leaves, then so does consciousness.

    What this means is that some fraction, probably a very large one, of those people talking about how consciousness does not exist are not lying: they genuinely are not conscious, as their individuality died bringing their consciousness with it. Given just how many people make that claim, it seems to imply a lot of individualities have died….

  54. Anonymous, keep in mind that the Unknown Death is very, very rare. It takes misdirected effort over many lives, in the teeth of constant and accelerating pushback from karma, to get to the point at which the Divine Spark is withdrawn because there’s no hope of improvement. I think most people fear death because they’ve been misled by materialist ideas, or because they’ve been taught by religions that if you don’t measure up to some standard or other of perfection you get to fry in Hell for all eternity.

    Prizm, excellent. Yes, the theme of limits is central here as well as to a lot of other things we’ve discussed! As for Atlantis, if I understand the occult traditions on that subject correctly, the reason the Atlantean age and its predecessors been forgotten (and our age will be forgotten in turn) is the same reason you don’t keep intact memories from life to life: there’s a risk of getting stuck in a rut, repeating the same mistakes over and over again.

    Kimberly, that makes a great deal of sense.

    Simon, I suspect the resemblance was intentional on Fortune’s part.

    BoulderChum, if he really, truly, in his heart of hearts believed that, and many lives of misery didn’t knock him out of it, yes, quite possibly.

    Abraham, it’s certainly possible to make sense of the Cos.Doc. as a set of metaphors for systems theory, not least because so much of it does in fact seem to follow the same principles as do material systems; if that’s the way that works for you, by all means run with it. As for your father, remember that the universe has a high level of tolerance for human stupidity; a lot of people down through the years have had a lot of really dumb ideas, and been reincarnated anyway; most people I know who recall previous lives remember at least one in which they were devout believers in some such life-rejecting ideology. (I certainly do.)

    David BTL, prayers on their way.

    Yorkshire, it usually works out to “you go the way that works for you, I’ll go the way that works for me, and where our paths conflict, we can work something out between us.” It’s like the famous lake in Maine whose name, in the local Native American language, translates as “you fish on your side, we fish on our side, and nobody fishes in the middle.”

    Jasper, and that’s also a way — a very traditional way — to interpret it.

    Cow Flop, of course there is. In most cases, efforts to immanentize the eschaton are simply a misdirected effort toward spirituality, as you’ve suggested.

    Stefania, that’s an excellent point. What Fortune is saying is that given the human capacity for free will aka epigenesis, it’s possible for some souls to put themselves beyond the reach of redemptiom. We have been granted freedom, and that includes the freedom to make mistakes, keep making mistakes, refuse to learn from mistakes, and finally define their entire reality in terms of their mistakes. As I noted earlier, it’s very, very rare, but in Fortune’s view, it can happen.

    Neptunesdolphins, the interesting thing is that reincarnation was just as controversial in Roman times. Of course people knew about the idea — the Pythagorean tradition was well known, and toward the latter end of Roman history the Neoplatonists believed in reincarnation as well — but it was not the mainstream, any more than it is today. Fortune, like Pythagoras, believed that the mainstream belief was wrong and that individual souls were reborn. Since the soul is composite, in Fortune’s view — it consists of several different portions, variously named — you can say that she also believed in multiple souls; many of the things that modern polytheism classes as souls, however, trad occultism classes as bodies (e.g., the astral body and the mental sheath). As for how the Cos.Doc. applies — why, this is a metaphor, remember! How do you choose to apply it?

    Averagejoe, that works.

    Anonymous, here again, I suspect it’s more likely that they’ve simply gotten themselves into a bizarre ideological loop. If they actually had no consciousness, how could they know that they had no consciousness?

  55. Is everyone on a spiritual path pursuing balance or are some weighting themselves in one direction? How can those aiming for balance not end up all the same? How do balance and variety coexist?

  56. “The freedom of outer space is a fictitious freedom, for where there is no law and no limitation, there is no power and no manifestation—only dissolution into the void.”

    So that’s what happened to Major Tom!

  57. @Stephania

    > After all, failed souls earn a one-way ticket to oblivion, front row seat on the nearest comet, since they were dumb and/or selfish enough to choose the evil path.

    If I understand correctly, the Unknown Death is not the destiny of all people who experiment regression in their lives. Consciously choosing selfish and/or harmful actions is not enough to achieve this outcome. Only those individuals that stubbornly refuse to learn after multiple failures, impervious to each and every consequence karma throws their way, are eventually dragged to the outer void.

    > And yet in the Bible, we find Jesus eating with criminals and tax collectors.

    The insight Jesus teaches regarding this theme is that most transgressors are not evil, let alone thoroughly corrupted. Most of us that commit negative actions, or even indulge in nasty habits, do so out of ignorance or pettiness. These sort of sinners are capable of overcoming their vices and leading better lives, when given the chance to repent. The feud Jesus seems to have with the pharisees in the Gospels is derived from the fact that this people ought to know better. They are knowingly ignoring the Spirit of the Law and pretending to follow the letter of the Law. Even then, I do not think most pharisees were utterly Evil-with-Capital-E.

    Pope Francis did explain this back in 2013, in his homily Sinners yes, corrupt no.

  58. The idea of the individuality dying and leaving a body still alive – the ultimate outsider and lost soul – I’m seeing franchise potential. Graphic novels, role playing game, young adult romance series… Make that long green. 🙂

  59. Glad to have stumbled onto this post and the Cosmic Doctrine and other works of Dione Fortune. I have always thought travel to mars or thoughts of living in space to be premature and dangerous fantasies given the immediate challenges more pressing on our planet but this adds whole new dimensions to the folly.

    The cosmic doctrine reminds of this map of conscious potentials Great Continuum of Consciousness though the later incorporates eastern spiritual systems something i know Dione was not for.

  60. @JMG

    JMG said: Back in Chapter Eighteen (Chapter Twenty in the Millennium Edition) we discussed the role that comets play in the economy of the universe, as scavengers that gather up those few souls who systematically turn their backs on evolution and take them to the Unknown Death. The Penumbra is the consequence of that process: all these failed projects of evolution remain visible just beyond the Ring-Pass-Not of the solar system.

    JMG said: I suspect the Millennium Edition is correct here, and the images of the Penumbra are phantoms, the last echo of those beings and forces that have undergone the Unknown Death.

    As always I loved this week’s essay. Your Cosmic Doctrine essays are typically my most anticipated.

    FYI, Meher Baba mentions something like to the Penumbra in God Speaks. I’ll try to find the direct quote to post later but as I recall it was during a specific talk answering one of his disciple’s questions. The disciple asked about Jesus being tempted by Satan during his 40 days & nights in the desert before he came out to begin teaching.

    Meher Baba says that thing about Satan displaying all the wealth and power, fame and glory Jesus could ever possibly want – “All this I will give you, if only you will fall down and worship me.” But Jesus rejected it saying he would only serve God (I’m guessing here He meant the Solar Logos). Meher Baba says Jesus was tempting himself. Infinite Desire is Infinity infinitely unfulfilled of which I guess the final culmination is the Penumbra.

    @JMG, @Cosmic Doctrine Readers:

    On a separate note to all Ecosophia readers: I would like to let other Cosmic Doctrine readers know of the various transcripts I’ve made of some Sadhguru videos. I think there will be some knew things people can learn. Not least of which is the appreciation of many of the things JMG is teaching from angles he might not even realize (or if he does he just doesn’t go into it).

    I recommend scrolling to the bottom and reading the transcripts in order as they build on each other. One of the surprising things I learned is that chakras can be moved. It gave me a new understanding of why the rituals JMG teaches work. Not all of it of course. But one of the many reasons is that they can be moved.

    I hope to provide a new transcript probably once a week. That’s an estimate but it’s what I’d like to aim for right now.

    Comments and questions there are welcome. Also hoping people will be as civil and courteous there as they are on JMG’s forums.

  61. Fantastic and timely.

    This meditation of the Penumbra has been on my mind as of late. I realized I was much happier when I was in the military even though my personal life was objectively much worse and the demands of my job much higher. However I sought the structure and discipline of the military and my mindset was one that accepted suffering as a need for growth. The last 10 years of the 9 to 5 I have noticed has shifted my mindset to one of desiring endless freedom with no struggle. Put more normally “I will be happy when I have no problems”. I have recently started to shift to seeing struggle and I have found I am happier and funnily enough more productive. I found that we have to find the right struggles. While I might learn a lot struggling aa a drug addict I prefer to struggle in my permaculture and physical endeavors.

    This is something at the edge of my understanding as accepting the spirit world as true is very recent for me…I’ve been wondering if the perversions of spirituality are centered around trying to control or run away from the will’s interaction with form. Let me break this into an example so I can try to form a picture for you of the idea I am dancing around. There are very fundamental forms of spirituality (think fundamentalist christianity) and very wishy washy forms of spirituality (think woo woo new age). I can imagine that comes from trying to force the will under an institutional control (The Pope) to also run away from the discipline required (forever dropping psychedelics as ones main method of spiritual work). I wonder if this is why there is such deep suspicion of the occult because it is individually directed and deals seriously with the will allowing one to escape others control and being a critique of no control by its very nature

    What do you all think?

  62. I am with Stefania in my perplexity on the finality of this chapter…

    How can one tell the difference between someone whose Personality is simply being successful at gaining the experience available in the material conditions of the world they found – whether by being greedy in a greedy culture, or morally judgmental in a culture that demands that – and someone who might be different in their next life, or was in their last life? Or who might even change later in this life?

    I’m certain that a lot of people here would have been quite happy to have given me my ticket to the comets if they’d met me when I was an atheist scientist working in environmental assessment and permitting for mining and oil and gas. Still more so would have been happy to have arranged my transportation there during the year I joined the social justice movement. And don’t get me started on all the people elsewhere who could tell I belonged there for my failures as a Good Mother and Good Woman etc…

    I left all those stages because I wanted to ‘help in the healing of the world’, and none actually did that. But how would anyone else have known by interacting with me on a facebook thread or on the street that that comment in that one slice of my life represented my lack of a Higher Self? I did the best I could with the information I had and the personality I have until I got better information (or in the case of the atheism, decided to stop gaslighting myself into disbelieving my own prior experiences). I’ve had a terrible winter, many days feel like being psychologically peeled alive… am I learning, or is it just that my Individuality hitched a ride on the comet and this is what the dissolution feels like, now that it has once and all – having repeated these mistakes over and over in this life, let alone possibly many! – permanently failed to join the ranks of the Saved?

    It seemed to me like the very idea of Eternal Damnation looks an awful lot like the kind of fragments of Bad Ideas that Went Before that one could see if one stared into the Penumbra surrounding a civilization with a dualism problem. Perhaps the most tempting one of all that someone living through our times… To get to be God, and sit in final judgment of oneself and others despite having only mere mortal access to information and one slice of time, from the perspective of just one mortal husk.

  63. “…all that in fact which it is desired to reject from the Logoidal consciousness and which not having been disintegrated against the inner shell of the Ring-Pass-Not remains as an image in the reflecting ether of space upon what may be figuratively termed the outer surface of the Ring-Pass-Not…”

    It may be due to a mispent youth, but every read of this passage evokes the following image in my mind…

    “The freedom of outer space, where there is no law, and men are as gods.”

    One of my own ongoing themes of exploration relates to the concept of “objectivity” – which, in essence, it seems to me, is the achievement of a “gods eye” vantage point. A vantage point from which one may views all things as they actually are, without being swayed by looking as a subject (ie having “interiority”).

    The heart of the scientific method revolves around the striving to become free of the bias that being a subject entails, the “hereness” and “nowness” of the subject’s limited vantage point, in order to achieve this unlimited, god’s eye, objective vantage point. When this “freedom” from subjective bias is temporarily gained through an openly acknowledged mental trick (the method, if you will, of science) the “wilful suspension of subjectivity” as it were, it is capable of some accomplishment in adding to knowledge.

    But when the scientist, and the culture built around the process of science, falls prey to the idea that objectivity itself – ie, that god’s eye point of view – is achievable by humans, they may, too easily, fall into this “free” space, where “there is no law, and men are as gods”. (Or at least, “see” as gods).

  64. When someone is on the path to the comet, is there a point of no return or are they savable right up to the moment it happens? If there is a threshold, how long can they live / exist after crossing it before they are on their way?

  65. @CR Patiño
    CR Patiño said: There are nine Orders of Angels, figures of the nine Archetypes in God; and each one obtains a name corresponding to the property in God which it exhibits”, which then proceeds to explain in detail how Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones (all from the first hierarchy) have all the same essential properties, but are different in f how each pick one particular virtue and derive others from it.

    This is also taught in the Dharma religions. Master Nan Huai-Chin says all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas (although I’ve come to much prefer Meher Baba’s term Perfect Master as it helps emphasize such blessed beings are beyond the claims of any one religious or spiritual tradition) are completely equal in merits, excellence and virtues but they all have different “job duties” when it comes to functions in the cosmos and in helping spiritual aspirants. For example, chanting Medicine Buddha’s name/form transforms one’s own prana (chi) from karmic greed into generosity. Chanting Bhagavan (Blessed Being Perfect Master) Amogasiddha’s name helps heal one of a tendency toward ‘other-blaming’ ,resentment and revenge. I’ve come to think the U.S.’s hostile, cultural finger-pointing and political blaming sure could use a big dose of Amogasiddha’s transformative power right now.


    I own the first 2 of Boris Mouravieff’s Gnosis and am saving up for the third. Now you’ve definitely got me interested in reading them. Sigh…I have such a HUGE TBR pile. It seems never-ending.

  66. CR Patiño,

    I would agree with you that Christianity is returning to esoteric forms. Have you read “The Physics of Angels” by Matthew Fox and Rupert Sheldrake or “The Divine Dance” by Richard Rohr? I return to those as robust modern esoteric forms of Christianity. I have written down the texts you have offered on this page. If you have further texts that you could offer I would appreciate them…though my reading list gets longer every time I visit JMGs blog


    Though it is an insanely imprecise word, I too struggled with the “gnostic” interpretations which I will now reference as “demiurge” interpretations. I appreciate seeing you went through the same process. Its a weird road for sure. I wish I could talk to you about it some more as I am still just in the early stages of following a Christian path.

    JMG did mention starting a Christian henotheism blog. It is becoming more tempting as a way to sort my thoughts….but not now, too many things on my plate as it is.


    Very insightful. I too fell into the social justice movement and other such things. It is so easy to judge others so one does not have to look at oneself. Though those ideologies are so painful that it made me think I was working on myself. I have to think more on what you wrote.

  67. @Averagejoe: Have you ever read Ibsen’s Peer Gynt? A play that’s seldom performed but worth reading. What you are describing sounds a lot like the “button moulder” so much feared by Peer Gynt in the play: nobody likes the thought of losing their “Gyntishness.”

  68. Yorkshire. every bicycle rider is engaged in the attainment of balance. Do they all end up at the same destination?

    Walt, the unnerving thing is that Bowie may have had that in mind.

    Yorkshire, no doubt.

    Millennialseeker, keep in mind that what Fortune got to see of Asian spiritual traditions was the mess that the fashionable Theosophically minded pop-culture figures of the 1920s made of them! If she’s reincarnated in our time, she may well have different opinions. Thanks for the link!

    Panda, that’s complex. In Fortune’s way of thinking, Jesus is a person but the Christ is a principle, and so Jesus in tht temptation was affirming the complete submission of his human will to the will of the Christ-principle. Was he tempting himself? Certainly he must have been aware of everything he could do with the powers he had, so long as he set aside the will of the Christ-principle, and mastering that temptation would have taken a tremendous effort of self-knowledge and self-mastery. Glad to hear of the transcripts — I hope you get a good audience. (One hint: people behave themselves when you moderate the conversation fairly but firmly, and delete trolls without mercy.)

    Danielle, that makes sense.

    Pixelated, this is one of the reasons it’s fortunate that human beings like you and me don’t have the task of sorting out the destiny of souls!

    Scotlyn, the prospect of an edition of the Cos.Doc. illustrated with old Road Runner cartoons is enticing!

    Yorkshire, our text does not say.

  69. Freedom is found not by overturning law and limitation but by accepting them, internalizing them, mastering them, and thus becoming free to use them and work with them. To recognize this is to overcome the temptation of the Nadir, receive the initiation of the Nadir, and begin the journey to genuine freedom.

    This is going to take a lot of mental work because as you mentioned, current thought ridicules the ideas of limits providing freedom. A lot of thoughts, partly meditative, have been going through my head concerning limits and freedom though. One in particular is food. I know it’s been mentioned many times in this blog and on the Dreamwidth page how diet can influence ones abilities. I don’t recall specifically which areas it helped, but vegetarian diets can strengthen some abilities, while a diet with meat is required for magic. These are both limitations, and recognizing those limits can free a person to do something better on the higher planes.

    This recognition is something which I think makes occultism very powerful. Limits are encouraged, but limits which we are free to recognize and decide upon in order to free ourselves up in other ways. This is in some ways the opposite of many spiritual traditions which have specific limitations, whether food based (common with fasting in many religions) or ritual based, etc, and are often used to bring one closer to God in a way decided upon by others, and not ourselves.

    It also helps impress upon me the power of training the will, as you’d been doing on the Dreamwidth page. Training the will with these lower planes can easily translate to more freedoms in what we chose to do on the higher planes, and into what we later evolve into.

  70. Something Panda said gave me a thought,

    If one allows oneself to fall into the temptation of the penumbra it means not accepting the reality of limitation, and that will result in becoming a person of infinite unfulfilled desire, in other words an absolute he11 of unfulfillable craving. Dissolution might be the only solution.

    Now here is safety: align yourself with the will of God! An infinite adventure and you won’t be lost.
    Regarding the unsalvageable. In one other place I have seen a similar teaching. That would be Michael Denton’s books in which he does hypnotic regressions into the afterlife-between lives state. There it was explained as being quite rare, but some souls continue to do evil and do not seem to learn. They are counseled repeatedly and incarnate repeatedly into situations that their guides hope will turn them around. But when all seems to fail they are offered two options. The first is a kind of total reworking and reweaving of their soul substance. This is not appealing because it is thorough enough that their current sense of identity will not be retained. It is what most choose. The other option was some form of total dissolution.

    I believe we err when we try to judge others too harshly in this absurd condition in which we find ourselves. There is the “Get out of he11 free” card, after all. It is this: ‘Judge not that ye be not judged.’ Amazing how few people have noticed this incredible tool.

    The Law of One teachings, a channeled source, says we are on this level of being until we understand good and evil well enough to polarize and make a choice. Very few have done so, or I guess they then leave. We here are very used to the confusion and muddle. Makes sense, too, of that scripture in which God says, Be hot or cold, but if you are lukewarm I will spit you out of my mouth.

    What it means is that lukewarm souls are immature, need to go back in the oven for some more baking.

    So what about those who choose evil? Well, they graduate to the next plane but its not a nice place – unless you want to try your luck there. It is very hierarchical with much dominance and groveling. But according to the Law of One, those beings progress in wisdom until they reach a (ha,ha) limit beyond which they cannot progress and they are very wise and experienced beings at this point so they see this – at which they make a complete turnaround.

    I think this makes sense as evil is a form of insanity/blocked awareness. Why would anyone persist in that forever?

    As for those heaven’s gate sillies, what a person thinks they believe in this life of blindness mostly isn’t that serious. I imagine that when they died their souls were greeted by the usual parties of relatives and spirit guides / angels and got a scolding.

  71. Onething wrote “Kevin Anderson, I have a Chromebook laptop. Chrome browser.” in response to my recommended instructions on seeing comment numbers.

    I am not familiar with a Chromebook, but I have used both Chrome and Chromium browsers on both Windows and Linux computers.

    In this case, try clicking/tapping on the three vertical dots in the upper right to open the Settings menu, and then select “More tools” followed by “Clear browsing data…” At that point, I’d suggest you try having only the option for “Cached image and data” turned on and clear for just the past hour. Then reload JMG’s page.

  72. Hi John! I’ve been rereading Cos Doc, so I may have some anachronistic questions. If so, should I post them in the original post, the most recent cos doc post, or just accept I’ve missed the boat?

    For this time, I’ll post my questions here. Maybe others will find the review to be useful. In particular, I’ve been pondering the nature of projected reality vs cosmic reality, since everything really is a just space moving. My best guess is that it’s a question of structure? Like, maybe cosmically originating movements work a certain way and have certain ways of affecting each other, but can’t effect “projected reality” in the same way that I can’t converse with an ant, or a hand can’t move a thought (or course, I already see holes in my own examples – sign language, for example). My guess is that, at base level, since it’s all movement in space, we can say that all reality can directly affect other reality, and the distinctions we are making are practical in nature.

    Secondly, why is the projected universe said to be reflected (in planar ordering etc)? What are the consequences of this? Also, is her notion of projected reality / reflected reality speak to the notion that we can only ever interact with our thought form representations of reality, and not reality directly?

    Thirdly, I’ve been wondering of the Logos – does it have any friends of its own stature? Sounds lonely out there with nothing to do but contemplate oneself and one’s children. It seems odd to me that the first ever objective consciousness that Fortune attributes the Logos happens after its Aeons of cosmic journeying. Just a quirk of her metaphor, perhaps? I have a hard time imagining that the Logos could become what it did without earlier having objective consciousness.

  73. Reading this chapter, I was put in mind of my twenties, which were the nadir of my life so far.

    Besides the powerful desolation that I felt, I also recall feeling a strong desire to escape into video games and the virtual, which promised that I could be a Spartan warrior or a racecar driver or a space marine or what have you, all without effort, and with no barrier to moving from one role to the next. (The flip side, of course, was that I felt completely inadequate at dealing with the realities of adult life.)

    There was also an odd compulsion to… the closest I can come to describing it is to say, a compulsion to keep sorting through the trash. If I read this 20,000 word social justice tirade, listened to that podcast, watched this Youtube video, read that blog (and none of it very good), I would find something to justify my time in the wastelands. Some experience that I could not get anywhere else, that would redeem the time I’d wasted. The trap was, it all just kept going and going, essentially without end.

    The first desire was at least understandable. I haven’t known what to make of the second one, but within the context of the Cosmic Doctrine, I’m wondering now if this was another aspect of the lure of the Penumbra. Maybe it’s something that happens after the initial promises prove to be false – you’re left desperately searching for some shred of that original luster.

    One question that occurs to me is, is the Initiation of the Nadir something that humans have to experience in multiple lifetimes? I don’t know what I experienced in previous lifetimes. Will I have to go through something of the sort in my next incarnation?

  74. A possibly facile comparison, but… in relation to the Penumbra, I couldn’t help thinking of all the orbiting space-junk out there, and the Kessler effect. And then I also thought of the ocean-junk in the great Pacific garbage patch. How those “failed” physical remnants of human ingenuity are drawn together in a very Ring-pass-not way, through the laws of physical manifestation down here on the physical plane.

  75. Danielle, certainly. Gnosis by Mouravieff helped me a great deal. It also gets into the Demiurge stuff, which is very real, and the difficulty in grasping Cosmic Law as “One”, while preserving the moral universe. Our host is spot on (he normally is) when he says our plane is as it is for a good reason – humans are a kind of bottleneck of sorts, and lots of paths open us, lots of mirrors flipping stuff around – a gymnasium for souls, as the Greeks would say. A lot of my difficulty went away when I realized that (again as JMG puts it, from a different angle), the everyday human mind on its own is not capable of grasping absolute. There would always, always be another more infinite God behind the Demiurge to discover, and one would be stuck in a dichotomy between Pistis and Gnosis. It’s absolutely true that as St Paul affirms “there be those called gods”, who are much, much more intelligent than we are, and indeed there are many beings that are intelligent, and not all of them share a moral perspective we would recognize. There are scavengers and trickster beings, and also independent agent beings, some few of vast intelligence or even lordship over certain planes, which impinge on us. It is not for nothing that the Scripture refers to the prince of the power of the air, or the Lord of this World. It’s actually all in the Bible, at least by indirect allusion, we are just good at not noticing it. It’s also scattered through theological writing, at least the angelic states and orders are. You should be very encouraged! I hope your journey is blessed – it will certainly not be dull! I will happily share whatever I’ve gleaned with a fellow traveler and learn something also – JMG has set the bar high for generosity – let me know if you want to correspond and how to contact you. I think it’s encouraging that a Christian henotheist and a Druid polytheist can actually communicate to (at least my) benefit. Thank you JMG, may your beard flourish indefinitely, as long as you wish. The cosmology of CosDoc is actually very, very reminiscent of Mouravieff’s Gnosis.

  76. Happy Panda – they go really well with CosDoc. The claim is that it is the oral tradition taught to the disciples, and preserved in the East, reformulated for communication to modern mentality. It’s not an accident that Steiner, Mouravieff, and Tomberg were all working contemporaneously, and now we have to add, Dion Fortune in the Anglo world. As I follow along, I keep thinking, yup, she is talking about the same “thing”. Just from a different perspective. JMG is right, the Pythagorean cosmology is preserved in both. I need to start CosDoc for an intensive comparison.

  77. John,
    This post has really struck a chord with me. It seems to me there are two significant goals that stand out in the journey (there will of course be many more), in completing the human phase of existance. One is that the individuality needs to become self aware. Secondly that the concept of “limitation” needs to be understood and accepted, although I think the word “restraint” is more helpful. Despite the limits of being human, there is still the opportunity to act appallingly without restraint. The need for self restraint can be learnt, through Karma, but also through a spiritual or religious life. Only once one has learnt the value of restraint, “just because I can, doesn’t mean I should”, can someone be in a position to leave the human phase and enter the “luminous life” which by its very nature has significantly less limitations. And of course restraint is linked to the will.
    Regards Averagejoe

  78. John–

    Something else occurred to me. Tying this week’s discussion on the Penumbra in with something you noted in the Kunstlercast interview, I was thinking about the illusion of freedom from limits as Fortune lays out and the comment you made about the illusion of perfectibility in our (American) political system. It seems to me that the latter is a specific manifestation of the former. Rather than accepting the limitations of humanity and dealing with the fact that we will, as we always do, have to muddle through things, we seek the bright, shiny utopia the the “right” policies have prevailed and All Is Good. This, of course, can prevent us from taking prudent actions and seizing certain opportunities, as they are deemed unworthy or simply not seen.

    Seeking clean, abstract truth is certainly something I’ve been guilty of in the past. One of the things I’ve found as I’ve continued my spiritual practice is that in these last few years, I’ve slowly learned to let go of that sort of thing, accepted a certain amount of muddling-through (both for my own part as well as the world around me), and focus more on the broader perspective of my own soul’s development (what I’m here to do) while loosening my attachment to the tempests of society around me. If nothing else, my stress levels have improved! I have a long, long, long way to go, of course.

    So the illusions of which we speak are things that we can recognize ourselves, but we are limited (!) in our ability to convey that knowledge to others, who have to make their own choices, just as we have to allow them to make those choices. We all muddle through, each according to his or her ability and willingness to hear.

  79. @ CR Patiño

    Thank you for your comments. Regarding the Unknown Death, yes, as you pointed out and as JMG mentioned in his reply to my comment, evil beyond all hope of redemption is only true in the rarest of situations. For most people there is still hope even though in this and many other lifetimes they may make mistakes. I was thinking and hoping that this was the case, which is actually why I mentioned Jesus eating with tax collectors. I was trying to make the same point that you did – that most people who do evil do so out of ignorance and still have the possibility of repentance. I’m sorry if that point didn’t come across very clearly in my comment.

    @ Pixelated

    I think we have been thinking along the same lines in puzzling out this chapter. How am I supposed to approach evil in the world? And how should I expect to be treated by other people for my own shortcomings? I agree with you in thinking that it is some very murky territory to contemplate, and dividing the world into simple rights and wrongs is not really helpful. In my further meditations I came up with a few different ways of approaching these questions. The Bible mentions not to judge others before taking a good hard look at ourselves and our own actions which are probably just as faulty as those of other people. Stoic philosophy points out how it’s a waste of time to worry about other people’s actions, as only our own behavior is subject to our control anyway. The Cos Doc shows that it’s pointless to fight directly against evil as that only locks it into place. Fortune describes how to instead use the evil as a thrust block from which to push off and create something new instead, using one’s power in a constructive sense. Since most people are still capable of being forgiven and are not truly ‘Evil’ in any final or irreversible sense, and only act in misguided ways out of sheer ignorance of the Cosmic order, it’s probably best to approach them (and ourselves!) with a sense of forgiveness. I find that to be a very comforting thought – it reminds me that the entire cosmos, including all of us, is really held together by the mind and power of the Solar Logos, and I would have to mess up in a truly spectacular and award-winning way over many lifetimes to be removed from it. And as JMG pointed out, it’s fortunately not up to us to figure this all out anyhow, so probably best to just be concerned with myself and my own actions within the limited confines of my human brain.

    I’m not sure if I can assemble all of those thoughts in to any kind of moral philosophy, so I’m probably just going to go back to my usual sort of muddling through as best I can, while continuing to contemplate it all.

    And sorry to hear you have been having a terrible winter! I hope things get better soon.

  80. @pixelated, in response to: “or is it just that my Individuality hitched a ride on the comet and this is what the dissolution feels like”

    Of course none of us, from the outside, can tell you that, but you can. If you are capable of this sort of self reflection, your true self is not yet lost, no matter how far a detour you may have taken. Unless you happen to be a philosophic zombie playing a game of ASCII ping pong with me, but again only you can tell which one it is.

    You say you come from a scientific background, so I think you will like this meditation. Help yourself:

    No matter how cold you feel, there’s warmth in you. No matter how low the thermometer falls, there’s warmth around you. If you climb the tallest mountain and get caught in a blizzard, there’s warmth. If you dive into the deepest pit of the ocean or fly over the highest cloud, there’s warmth. Even if you cross the South Pole in the middle of winter and bury yourself under 30ft of ice and snow, you will find warmth there. Then there is the Outer Void; it is Zero Kelvin there.

  81. Thank you Mr. Greer for your reply. Explaining mental sheaths etc in terms of souls made a lot of sense to me. I actually could understand the Cosmic Doctrine better that way. Maybe I am a more concrete thinker or some other kind of thinker in these postings.

    I wonder if Fortune was gearing her CD to a specific sort of thinker. I tend not grasp the obvious and see things differently. It helped me with Mainstream media to keep asking questions of their assumptions. It also irritates the blank out of my former friends.

    I guess I have squirrel logic or something.

    About space, I couldn’t understand Musk’s preoccupation with going to Mars. I guess it is an escape valve for what is going on on earth.

    I always liked comets – I thought of them as disruptors to the status quo. They appear and everything goes nuts. Then a new paradigm happens. How did they end up being the takers of empty souls?

  82. Dear JMG and fellow Ecosophians

    Thank you for this; and I really love your soul / bodybuilding metaphor!

    Reflecting on the six-pointed star (As Above, So Below) and relating that to what DF discusses in relation to the cosmos.

    So it’s like the Solar Logos is the “ego” of the cosmos, which exactly correlates to a human’s conditioned (egoic) self; albeit on a different level and extent of gnosis, wisdom and understanding.

    The human ego being on the “lower” plane usually has an immense fear of death (not understanding that it is merely a means of transition), and/or loss of identity, with the fight and/or flight response kicking in.

    (Thinking about those attached to their cultures, religions, countries etc and resultant wars due to that excessive attachment.)

    How different would LIFE be then, if one’s “individual” will was aligned to the Cosmic Will (i.e. with zero fear of perceived death or loss of identity)… because, as you’ve suggested, there is freedom within perceived limitation.

    For others, their will to live a physical existence may appear to have left them – or they’re maybe not attached to form – and their souls hang on by a thread to their physical vessel; until finally released from the “burden” of their body.

    And maybe it’s because they’ve learned their lessons on a soul level. Maybe they came to this plane for a specific purpose and reason, and that purpose has been served. They’ve “done their time” so to speak – and all they really want to do is return to Source.

    Maybe the perceived loss of will to live (on the physical plane) is a will to live or be on another plane of existence. Ascension I suppose.

    And ultimately, isn’t this then Life or energy (bits and bytes of the Solar Logos) returning back to IT self… for renewal / recycling / downtime?

    You are right. There is power in form… and that power is the realised soul, or spirit – knowing itself as one with all – yet manifested as a seemingly singular entity (within a physical vessel / body).

    …and all it takes is to dig deep and remember that.

    Or not.

    But either way, to fully BE and accept what is, here and now, is freedom.

    Thank you for your gems of wisdom, shining brightly as always.

    Waves of LoVe ~


  83. Prizm, excellent. The whole point of our text is to encourage readers to think, and in particular to grapple with ideas that are not supported by popular culture. One of the great secrets of the law of limitation is that you gain freedom by choosing limits, rather than having them chosen for you — because then you have some ability to choose which limits affect you, and very often you can free yourself from one set of limits by accepting another set of limits.

    Onething, that analysis of the penumbra makes a great deal of sense — limitless cravings without any hope of fulfilling them would, I think, make a very good first draft of Hell. As for the people in Heaven’s Gate, I hope you’re right!

    Jake, post ’em in the current month’s post — and remember that you have this month and next month only, before we’ve finished the Cos.Doc. and go on to something else. Your first two questions have the same answer: this is a metaphor, and Fortune intends you to build up those images in your mind and then think about them, because they’re meant to train the mind rather than inform it. Some of the details are hard to make sense of in any rational manner, because (ahem) they’re metaphors. As for the Logos, every star you see in the heavens is the body of a being of the same general type as our Solar Logos. All the stars in the visible heavens are only a small fraction of the Logoi who have proceeded out to the seventh Cosmic plane — and there are six other Cosmic planes, equally thickly populated. As for objective consciousness, remember that you became a fully formed human being in your mother’s womb while in a state of purely subjective consciousness. The first section of the Cos.Doc., similarly, describes the conception and gestation of the Solar Logos.

    Cliff, if Fortune’s teaching is anything to go by, each soul undergoes the temptation of the Nadir in as many lives as necessary, until the soul rejects the Penumbra and turns its attention inward/upward. If you’ve experienced the temptation, turned away from it, and begun work on your own spirituality, you’ve passed that marker and from now on it’s a matter of clearing your remaining karma and preparing yourself for the next step in your spiritual evolution.

    Helen, that’s not facile at all — as above, so below! The piling up of junk in orbit and in the ocean reflects, with perfect accuracy, the piling up of junk in the Penumbra.

    Arkansas, thank you! As far as I know there’s no evidence that either Fortune or Mouravieff knew about the other’s work, so the most likely explanation for the similarities between them is that they were both describing the same realities, using the terminology of their own traditions.

    Averagejoe, yes, exactly. Exactly.

    David BTL, spot on. The flight into abstraction, the attempt to pretend that the world of manifestation can be made perfect if we only bludgeon it over and over again with the right abstractions, is an immense factor in US political life, and now more so than ever. It’s a stage the soul has to pass through, a stage that communities have to pass through, and (just possibly) a stage that our species has to pass through — a case could probably be made that the so-called Axial Age and its aftermath, leading up to today, represents the temptation of the Nadir on a species-wide level. But we’ll see.

    Neptunesdolphins, Fortune’s work is indeed oriented to a particular kind of thinker. Remember that this was originally the advanced course of study for students of hers who had already worked through an extensive course in Western occult philosophy and the Cabala; that would filter out people who weren’t well suited to such things, and it would also develop certain habits of thought in those who persevered. As for comets as the garbage trucks that haul lost souls to the Cosmic landfill, I’m not sure where that idea came from, but it’s certainly an evocative metaphor.

    Tanya, a fine meditation on this lesson’s themes!

  84. JMG,

    I agree with other posters that this may be the best series of posts on your blog. Thank you for it.

    My meditation goes however in the direction of “unit of consciousness [which] escapes universe by transcending law, because law is consummated in perfect obedience, it becomes the nucleating centre of a new Logoidal Sun, this is the mystery of Godhead”..

    I am reading and re-reading your book on Path of Wisdom (under idea that I need to know more about Western tradition, and Tree of Life symbols and allusions are near universal for occultist in the West) and it strikes me how close it is to the Sun symbolism of Tiphereth; the six sphere is sun-like and since it reach in infinite and also perfect Balance and rejection of Pride (which lead to humility before lawful cosmos).. I think there is lot going on here, below surface of that one sentence.

    The most direct reading of it would be that Cos Doctrine indicate a viable path from small seed of Imagination in Ruach can be kindled into blaze of next Sun. We could make a correction to Crowley here: not that each person is a star, but each initiate could become (in process of evolution) a new star.

    There is obviously more, but putting it into coherent form would make it rather too long for blog comment.


  85. Frequency of Unknown Death – Failed and defunct souls

    For what it is worth, this discussion recalled to my mind the words of one of the original Church founders, Origen, in the early 200’s stated that:

    “In the end, everyone, including even Satan himself, will ultimately find Salvation.”

  86. @Stefania, CR Patiño thank you for your kindness – but I was being rather cheeky 😉; I am not so (intellectually) concerned with the status of my soul as pointing out that as soon as the idea of an Unsavable Group came up, many of us rush to try to figure out who those Other People might be! Which of course reflects exactly what the social politics of our day is.

    I notice the trick, because my lifelong search had been to try to figure out what was making me Unsavable today, and learn how to get myself out of the Unsavable Group, myself. Since the rigidity of the Groupthink right now is very high, and I became a very publicly involved figure in my own world (the universe thinks it is very funny, and sometimes it relishes taking some time setting up a good joke), and the consequences of violation are to be metaphorically hurled from society into the realm of the damned, it has been a difficult wavelength to be tuned into!

    No one can escape entirely outside the society they are in, or the personality – the meso- and microcosm of this metaphor – but it can be tempting to give them both up as a bad job and delude oneself into thinking you’ve done so, or could. It’s a temptation that is the opposite of pursuing infinite goodies, and looks more like the people who line up to walk into The Nothing in The Neverending Story .

  87. A memory that was sparked from the discussion was back when I started college, it was in a psychology class I believe, we were having a discussion about needs in our life and how they limit us. Most people were thinking along the lines of chores, homework, money, etc.. one girl bellyached about her need to breath, to eat, to sleep. I was flabbergasted, and immediately thought “you sound as if life itself is a problem” since those are such basic needs.

    When thinking about it from the perspective of limits, those are certainly limits of the physical body. Perhaps a person unhappy with those limitations would complain about them and question the need for them. It actually seems like those complaints about the limits have progressed to complaints about not being able to have everything, that we have to die.. you know, just basic realizations that life indeed has limits and we need to learn to flow within them.

  88. Is it generally true that limits on the lower planes will open up limitations on the higher planes? It seems for example that a lot of things, such as changing diet, establishing a budget, fewer kids or not marrying at all, just for starters, are limits we can impose on the physical plan which open lots of opportunities on the higher planes…

    As I am typing this though I’m realizing it restricts some opportunities as well, such as not having a wife and/or kids would make it harder to emotionally understand what it is to have a family. I guess I answered my own question! Thanks 😉

  89. The utter refusal to accept limits has another interesting side effect, one which I suspect will be a theme for several months of meditations on my part: It means refusing to accept responsibility for the past! The past is a limiting factor: if you accept the limits you have two options: stand by what you said and did, or admit that you were wrong. But if you don’t accept limits at all, then you can embrace a third option: refuse to grapple with what you said or did at all.

    The way so many people act as if they can say or do whatever they want, and ignore what they said and did in the past makes so much more sense: it’s another symptom of our culture’s frantic efforts to ignore any and all limitations…..

  90. Keeping up the space theme, I see our first forays off world 1960s through to the 80s in a much more favourable light to the ones being proposed and being undertaken today. We discovered so much about ourselves then including that look back at the ‘blue marble’ of home. For instance this idea of a silent nadir immediately echoed for me the Apollo 8 mission when they first orbited the moon and knew they were going to hit a period of radio silence as they experienced the far side close up for humanity’s first time. Quite a moment:
    The ‘Earthrise’ picture is always worth a meditation. 🙂

  91. JMG, as a follow up to your response to Cliff – What is the relationship between clearing one’s karma and developing a mental body? I know it’s a good subject for meditation, but I don’t have the nature of the relationship between them pinned down, and therefore think I’d be flailing in the dark if I attempted to tackle the topic.

    Hmm..maybe Understanding all of one’s karma leads to creation of the mental body, because the goal of being human is to develop self reflective knowledge, and our “selves” are build ups of karma. When one understands their karma, they have developed self reflective knowledge as far as they can, and the self understanding leads to creation of the mental body.

    Am I in the ball park?

  92. The connection to “Major Tom” makes me think of the quote, which I now find is from Norman Vincent Peale: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”

    A sober reading would be “Try to do great things; even if you fail, the effort will bear other fruit,” which is true at least sometimes. But the Temptation of the Nadir suggests another possible reading.

    Thankfully, I think most people don’t actually want the moon, or the stars: at most, they want a big house, a fat wallet, their name in the papers, lots of sex, etc. Crude and prurient goals, perhaps, but hey, at least you might be able to get them. Given a lifetime or two of indulgence and another three or four of frustration, most souls should realize the folly of chasing every whim and eventually learn to moderate their desires.

  93. I think all of those artificial “persons” known to us as corporations are penumbral in their very essence; where else is there a greater refusal to accept limits (regulations, perhaps) than in the corporate sphere? I mentioned Peer Gynt earlier, which is a play that features trolls. I hope I’m not being one with this comment. If I am, I’m sure JMG knows how to deal.

  94. @JMG @neptunesdolphins

    JMG said:

    Fortune, like Pythagoras, believed that the mainstream belief was wrong and that individual souls were reborn. Since the soul is composite, in Fortune’s view — it consists of several different portions, variously named — you can say that she also believed in multiple souls; many of the things that modern polytheism classes as souls, however, trad occultism classes as bodies (e.g., the astral body and the mental sheath).

    Om Swami, Sadhguru and several other teachers I follow agree with Ms. Fortune. Of all the videos I’ve watched probably the two clearest on this is Om Swami’s and Sri Rohit Arya’s. Sadhguru’s Death book is clear on this as well. According to all of them what gets reincarnated is your karmic history and your vasanas (habits, likes and dislikes). This is why each persona you take on is never quite the same as the prior ones. But it’s never quite different either. Om Swami says it’s like a pebble falling down a mountainside. The pebble starts collecting dust, snow, leaves, etc. The end result of which is one’s latest “personality” incarnation. Each new rebirth has to re-gather anew from the latest available dust, snow, leaves, etc.

    Master Nan had disciples who would constantly whine about not being able to remember their past lives like some of his other disciples and were envious and bummed out about it. He just laughed and said it didn’t matter because all they had to do was look at their current life’s likes, dislikes, habits, etc. The stronger the like/dislike/habit in their current life – the higher the chance it cropped up in your past lives too. Even to the point of people repeating the same exact JOBS, professions and hobbies they would take up – life after life after life after life….etc, etc, etc.

    @Onething, @JMG

    Onething said:

    If one allows oneself to fall into the temptation of the penumbra it means not accepting the reality of limitation, and that will result in becoming a person of infinite unfulfilled desire, in other words an absolute he11 of unfulfillable craving. Dissolution might be the only solution.

    Now here is safety: align yourself with the will of God! An infinite adventure and you won’t be lost.

    JMG said:

    Onething, that analysis of the penumbra makes a great deal of sense — limitless cravings without any hope of fulfilling them would, I think, make a very good first draft of Hell.

    What you both said is deeper than at first seems from what I’ve contemplated upon. There is an equal danger on the opposite side of fruitless, lawless, limitless expansive, craving. Master Nan Huai-Chin and other Dharma teachers I follow say it’s equal and opposite harm is falling into the Hinayana – ie. extremist non-action. If Penumbra is a lawless attempt to fulfill everything. It’s opposite is not acting to fulfill anything at all. Extremist renunciation if you will. Non-action that isn’t coming from transcendent wisdom born of a fully Objective Consciousness but rather from fashionable ideas of what non-action living must be like. The entire “going along with everything Mother Nature allows” to such an extreme that these people will not even lift a finger to help another sentient being who might genuinely need it, because, “Hey! Why Bother?! it’s all just Mother Nature play acting for eternity anyway!” (leela). Which in one sense is of course true. But in another sense, for the majority of people living their lives going around preaching this to themselves it’s not true – and it’s especially not true of them according to Master Nan.

    Master Nan strongly criticized such “spiritual people” in China because he says they’re actually following pop-culture Neo-Buddhist, Neo-Daoist, Neo-Confucian ideas they have about what living Wu Wei (non-action) actually is. He said China these days is filled to the brim with such wrong-headed people. Wu Wei is quite fashionable there among the spiritual-minded literati apparently….especially among the Chinese PMC class whom were the main wellspring of his students and purchasers of his books (Master Nan’s books would routinely hit China’s bestseller lists whenever he published a new one). If he was criticizing mainland Chinese for that right up to the year he died (2012) – what does it say about the rest of us I wonder. A (apparently former) bastion of Dharma treasury teachings is being debased by pop-spirituality.

    This error is so fundamental that the Buddha said there are beings far greater than humans who make this same error of falling into this wrong-headed kind of fruitless, non-action for eons of Big Bangs.

    I think Sadhguru would agree with Master Nan’s criticism. A Blessed Being (Bhagavan) can relinquish non-action without hesitation and step in and act if or when circumstances call for them to do so. Sadhguru has gone so far as to say that An Enlightened Being has more karma than others. [No joke. That is the exact title of one of his Youtube videos].

    I have mused maybe this is what Jesus was implying when he told his disciples to “be in the World, but not of it.”. My guess is his advice is probably closer to the real meaning of Wu Wei than the kind that Master Nan saw among his fellow Chinese these days.

  95. Hi John Michael,

    The term “irksome burden” has a sort of moral or value judgement to it, that kind of turns me off, and candidly I have not felt that way although I understand the context in which it is used here. To accept limits though and to then employ will with form is the only way I can I understand to expand the wiggle room of free will. Other less eloquent ways of stating this matter is: Understanding that you can get off the couch and do something of your own choosing. 😉 Not always an easy thing to do.

    Ah, we are in serious lock down again. The goals I guess, are noble. The sacrifices as usual are absurd. The benefits are gained by a few, whilst the costs are heaped upon others. And the outcome is vastly uncertain. Ah, history as usual.

    Hey, decline continues apace down here. This one is seriously troublingly bonkers: Australia loses another oil refinery, leaving our fuel supply vulnerable to regional crises. In all the hoopla over the health subject which dare not be named, this decision barely rated a mention – but it’s kind of important.

    You know I’m actually concerned for the state of the biosphere, and I would be happy to see such acts of decline occur, if they were balanced with serious thought and action for the sort of future that such acts will produce. But maybe I’m asking for too much? Oh well.



  96. @Happy Panda,

    Very insightful! I find it quite possible both traditions are talking of the same phenomena.

    @Danielle the Permaculturist.

    Thank you for your comment, I have added your sources to my list (which keeps as well growing). The text I shared was either from the Celestial Hierarchy book (whose online source I already shared) or from the Trisagion. I will be posting a translation I received from my family in my Dreamwidth blog.

  97. Arkansas

    I am not sure if this is permitted here but the best mode of correspondence would be my email at

    I will look up that book you suggested to me.

    Could I ask you one question. In terms of the demiurge are you placing it in a league of higher beings which are incomprehensible to us? Something along thr lines of a trickster god? That hasn’t been a problem for me to accept. What was upsetting for me to accept was that The Source itself was evil. It led me down a paranoid David Icke style cosmology which was not helpful and stunted me spiritual growth as I was constantly worried about being tricked. Weird stuff I know and quite honestly a path I never ever thought I would entertain and would not like to again. But I am interested in not blocking off understanding this demiurge phenomenon and instead I wish to really tackle it head on.

  98. Jay Pine:

    Thank you for your comment and link. The video was very appropriate for its reminder that there are umbrae (shadows) that beckon to be explored and brought into our conscious awareness. Our lunar explorations at least in part were expressions of this impulse.

    I just came across this passage which seems relevant, regarding shadows and Fortune’s Initiation of the Nadir:

    “The Gnostic nature of the human vocation is evidenced by the presence, in all persons, of a sense of this world of shadows….The state of forgetfulness of Gnosis always carries with it a troublesome sense of privation, which will not be stilled until its one true object—instead of the many false and counterfeit ones—has been found again…all the desires persons feel, all their attempts to gain excitement, happiness and love from this thing or that experience, are but signs of a never-failing homesickness for the Pleroma, the ‘fullness of Being,’ which is the soul’s true homeland.”

    The Gnostic Jung and the Seven Sermons of the Dead by Stephan A. Hoeller

  99. @Pixelated
    > as soon as the idea of an Unsavable Group came up, many of us rush to try to figure out who those Other People might be!

    Funny. Do you recall the Lord of the Rings, perhaps? You may notice that Evil cannot truly create anything new, but to corrupt whatever already is: orks-> corrupted elves, trolls-> corrupted ents, etc. Even Morgoth and Sauron were some sort of corrupted valar if I recall correctly.

    It is not without irony that those in the process of degrading themselves and the society they inhabit have such fixation with casting to the outer void whatever fails to meet their expectations. It is not as if they truly hate Limits; the problem is rather that it is not *them* who *set those limits* in the first place.

  100. Prizm

    That reminds me of a story I heard from Alan Watts:

    When Mu-chou was asked, “We dress and eat every day, and how do we escape from having to put on clothes and eat food?” Mu-chou answered, “We dress; we eat.” “I don’t understand,” said the monk. “If you don’t understand, put on your clothes and eat your food.”

  101. Changeling, excellent. Yes, and since my current plan is to move on to Dion Fortune’s The Mystical Qabalah as soon as we’re finished with the Cos.Doc., we’ll have the chance to discuss that aspect of the Cabalistic theory in detail.

    Antoinetta, we can hope so! A great many mystics disagree with Origen, though.

    Prizm, I’ve noticed that it’s very often people who’ve grown up in a setting of privilege that end up upset because they have any needs (aka limits) at all, while those who have had to work with their hands tend to be much more comfortable with the basic conditions of human existence. As for your question, good — keep working on it. The more clearly you understand how to embrace one set of limits in order to remove another, the more readily you can use that as one of the keys to power.

    Anonymous, that’s a very good point. Thank you.

    Jay Pine, I think those space flights were the natural culmination of the trajectory of Faustian civilization, and our falling back to earth from them was appropriate. The attempts to rehash the same thing at this point make me think of aging guys who used to be athletes and are pretending they’re still in shape.

    Youngelephant, in the ballpark, but the situation tends to be more diffuse than that. There are basically two requirements that have to be met in order to pass through the human level of evolution; the first is the evolution of the mental sheath into a mental body, the second is getting enough of your karma cleared away that you don’t have any major outstanding debts holding you here; those two can and usually do overlap, but very often there’s plenty of karma to clear that has nothing to do with the mental body and plenty of work building a mental body that has nothing to do with karma.

    Slithy Toves, crude and prurient indeed, but they’re part of being human; we’re a crude and prurient species. It’s very true that having these things, and also longing for them and not getting them, are lessons that are to learned and then gone beyond.

    Phutatorius, that’s not trollish at all. Corporations are actually a good example of a concept Fortune discusses elsewhere, “the creations of the created;” they have no Divine Spark, which is why they have no conscience, and also why they behave in a mindless fashion, pursuing whatever goals they’ve been set even when those are no longer relevant or valid. The animated brooms in the old story of the sorcerer’s apprentice are comparable.

    Panda, remembering past lives isn’t all it’s cracked up to be — it very often involves a lot of embarrassment, as you realize how many times you’ve made the same dumb mistakes, and some degree of shame and horror when you remember things you’ve done that were much worse than dumb mistakes. As for the flight into non-action, there’s a word in the Western tradition for that — “quietism.” It’s a fairly common mistake, and of course a disastrous one.

    Chris, “bonkers” is the right word. Somebody is seriously not thinking…

  102. Well, this chapter lays a pretty clear foundation for why existence is cyclical in nature. Continued travel in any direction will eventually lead to flinging oneself beyond existence, out into non-existence in the void. Whether entities, beliefs, goals, or anything really, choose to participate in life’s cycles by ebbing and flowing with them to remain in existence or whether they choose to participate in those cycles by flinging themselves into non-existence is a choice each manifestation gets to make. What we don’t have any choice over is whether we will participate in and be limited by those cycles, one way or another. This puts suicide in perspective as one available choice, but a serious failure to ebb and flow with the lesser cycles within the greater cycle of an incarnation.

    I missed the implications in the concept in earlier chapters that the bounded universe of anything in existence (an idea, a dream, a project, a life, an ideology) has to cope with the processes and patterns laid down by all the previous cycles in that universe. An idea gets to build upon all the foundation that ideation has already laid, gets caught in whatever gunk and bad habits past ideas in the cycle established, and has to relate to the limitations the existing ruts now impose. If an idea wants to carve a different path, outside those ruts, habits, and foundations, it will have to manifest sufficient will-to-live to cause that to happen. A powerful will-to-live will quite naturally become irked by forms and ruts it cannot escape or alter.

    In terms of artistic ideas or projects, we call that powerful will-to-live “inspiration” or “genius”. Within the cramped universe of whatever tiny seed of an idea that inspiration started as, breaking out of those tiny ruts was a leaping into the void — the death of a tiny idea and the birth of a larger inspiration. Within the larger universe of that artistic medium’s thought patterns, that inspiration established new, unexplored ruts for other ideas to follow in their cycles through that universe. Within the even larger universe of human ideation, that inspiration was completely inside long-established ruts, appearing inevitable to anyone versed in the predictable cycles in the history of ideas. Will the will-to-live express itself by enjoying the existing tracks, carving new ones, or venturing out into a different existence? It wouldn’t have much will if it wasn’t free to make those choices.

    I’m thinking that any will-to-live probably enjoys coalescing in its first trip through the planes establishing brand new tracks; then enjoys following those thrilling tracks like children riding on a twisting water slide over and over; then enjoys the challenge of adventurously carving out new tracks to explore; then enjoys breaking out of its known existence in a surge of uncontainable inspiration; and then proceeds to repeat the whole process all over again.

    It’s sad that the will can lose track of the game it created and end up unwilling itself early, in a desperate attempt to beat the game. Will invented the game, so it could have stayed away from the limits of form if it had wanted to. But what fun would that be? And without some will willfully unwilling itself, there would be no risk, and thus no game! Maybe the will-to-live is more accurately the will-to-enjoy-being-limited-by-the-cycles-of-form.

  103. John,
    I have considered these matters further. It occurs to me that “self restraint” and “limits” are inversely related. The more self restraint one has, the more one is allowed to operate within extended limits, as progression up the planes happens. God for example, must have endless limits and yet must have the ultimate restraint. In essence, power brings self responsibility. Life seems to present endless opportunities to act with limits/self restraint, whether it be a teenage daughter challenging the parent’s authority or whatever. Incarnate life seems to provide us with every opportunity to learn the importance of limits/restraint.
    Regards Averagejoe

  104. @Danielle – words of wisdom from a Roman Catholic priest, in a novel, but worth repeating. “Loki will trick you, but Loki is a myth. God will never trick you.”

  105. @JMG – I understood The Mystical Qabala immediately, though the endless details, while interesting, are as overwhelming to me as the endless details and symbolism packed into the Tarot cards. But for me, the Cosmic Doctrine is totally opaque. I’ve tried. It seems like going from one to the other is like going from advanced calculus back to algebra. Or is that just the way my mind works?

  106. @JMG – the corporations as the brooms in The Sorceror’s Apprentice drew a chuckle – and the often-all-too-true image if Mickey Mouse in charge.

  107. I’m just thinking a bit further on this chapter and the nature of limits. It seems to me that limits exist on a spectrum. At one end are those limits that are all but impossible to remove or change. Death, for example – at one point our physical bodies are going to run out of steam and stop working. It doesn’t seem possible to make time run backwards, or to move faster than the speed of light. Then come limits that are very, very hard to change, but theoretically possible to overcome with the application of enough time, work and energy. Gravity comes to mind here – for most humans throughout history, gravity was a limit that could not be overcome, but along comes fossil fuel energy and industrialization and we discover that if we throw enough money and energy at this limit, we can overcome it, at least for a short time. Then are limits that are still hard to change, but being more socially-constructed, seem more flexible. Here I’m thinking about limits like the political system in one’s country, the differences in class between citizens, the attitudes towards race and religion. To overcome these limits is definitely possible, but take work on a very large, often collective scale in the order of social movements and revolutions. These sorts of limits often seem to be fixed in place, but then get to a point where they become intolerable to a certain critical mass of people, in that to accept them would pose a threat to one’s health, livelihood or safety. I think that’s when we see big changes take place in society. Next are limits that are possible to change with just a bit of hard work. Say I’m really bad at math, for example. It just doesn’t come easily to me, but with enough focused attention and work, it would probably be possible for me to get better at it. And at the other end of the spectrum, limits that are quite possible to change given only the slightest application of personal choice and will power. Let’s say I’m out of shape and it’s limiting my day-to-day activities. The application of a regular exercise program should be enough to modify this limit substantially.

    I think it’s a bit of an art form, whether you’re using practical magic or not, to recognize which limits affect you the most, as well as where to apply oneself on this spectrum of limits. To identify which limits should just be accepted and which should be challenged. Should I bother trying to get better at math, especially when there are other areas where I’m more naturally gifted? Each person finds him or herself in a unique situation with a particular set of limits which affect them. It’s pretty hard to make it to the gym, for example, when one’s city is constantly being bombed, or there’s a famine. In such a situation, the individual seems almost completely powerless against the limits which are affecting them. I would suggest that it’s probably best to go after the low-hanging fruit of limits first, the ones which one actually has the power to change, before making any attempt to move onto the limits which fall towards the middle and far end of the spectrum.

    I don’t think this is generally the approach that people take, though, which is why we see cryogenic freezing of corpses, nuclear fusion, quantitative easing, missions to Mars, and r/wallstreetbets!

  108. I read a poem this morning, and I suddenly read it as a description of the will “irked” by form.

    So, for anyone who might be interested, here it is:

    The Transparent Border, by John O’Donohue

    There is a strange edge to the wind today,
    Some irritation with the patient strain
    Of trees, the ‘willing to bend with anything’
    Trick of the rushes, the shoals of shadow
    Perplexing the lake and all the silent
    Aloofness of the stones, something
    Very old, perhaps, resentment towards
    These bog fields, each rooted in its dark
    Continuum and known to people by name
    And season, from which many stones
    Have been claimed to make houses
    Where they grow warm with human echoes,
    And the lake, to which the mountains come
    To mirror themselves, where the twilights linger
    Before night sends everything to rest;
    A resentment at the way they all somehow
    Slipped across the transparent border
    From idea into individual thing,
    Glistening with name, colour and form
    At the beginning, when the wind would have
    Felt breath was where presence lived.

  109. @Stephania

    The Serenity Prayer seems apt here: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the power(or courage) to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

    What a potent prayer.

  110. Christophe, thank you for this fine meditation.

    Averagejoe, excellent! Yes.

    Patricia, no, it’s not just you. I probably should have done them the other way around!

    Stefania, while going after the low-hanging fruit is a good idea in many cases, I think there are times when making a running leap toward something further off is the best starting move — if you get it, great, and if you don’t, you have a useful data point to keep in mind as you aim for something closer.

    Scotlyn, many thanks for this.

  111. @ JMG re: testing limits

    Thank you for your reply. I suppose everyone has a different level of risk that they feel comfortable taking, dependent on many different factors. When I was younger, my approach was more along the lines of ‘leap and the net will appear.’ The idea of taking a ‘calculated risk’ was not really part of my thought process at the time. Now that I’m older and have more responsibilities and more people who depend on me, my attitude towards pushing limits has definitely become a lot more moderate.

    I think the approach of going for the easy stuff first is about having success early on, building will, and freeing up power which can then be applied to bigger things. As I recall from the Order of Essenes course, the first task was merely to drink a glass of water first thing every morning – not exactly a lofty goal, but one that would slowly and steadily build the will if it was done every day, getting it ready to take on larger goals. In business: starting small and setting goals that are achievable, taking calculated risks as things grow. I suppose it all depends as to what exactly is at risk, what you stand to lose if you fail, and what resources you have available. Although failing is certainly a great way to learn (and one I rely on often!), crashing and burning is to me not really a desirable outcome. If one is has the inner and outer resources to get back up and try again, I think it can be ok, but there’s also the possibility of being put off from trying again at all.

    There’s also the risk of setting a goal so high, it prevents you from starting. A friend of mine has some pretty major health concerns which he feels are connected to his steady diet of caffeine and junk food. He has been saying for years that he’s going to do a lengthy water fast to ‘jump start’ his body back to health; but hasn’t actually done it yet.

    But there are definitely issues with the idea of starting small – if I let my fears control me, it becomes all too easy to start making excuses for staying within my comfort zone. I think that goes along with black and white thinking, though: I find this challenging; therefore I’m not going to try at all.

    A more moderate approach would be to set an ambitious goal, but then lay out a series of manageable action steps and get to work on those. The journey of a thousand miles…

    @ Isaac re: the Serenity Prayer

    That came to my mind as well when I was thinking about these issues! Very potent indeed.

  112. I am following gamely (way) behind you all – many thanks for your laying of tracks that are helping me along! 😀

    I have a question for JMG about an earlier section’s wording, and a meditation to share to any who might be interested.

    First, the question. Is there any relevance or meaning to the ongoing mis-pluralization of the word “evolution” found around chapters 15-19 or so? It keeps being represented as evolution’s rather than evolutions and the apostrophe sticks out and is so consistent in its sticking out that I thought I should ask. I know other readers have pointed out clues they’ve found to non-obvious meanings (I admit, I’ve not been granted access to any secret decoder ring at this time) so perhaps that’s one of these instances?

    Second, my reading online (yes, in a long moment of distraction, but it was good distraction apparently) took me to a story of a wolf pack called, of all things and highly synchronistic with our doings here, the Druid Peak wolf pack where I found a great connection with the first three swarms of Divine Sparks’ ability to connect with previously visited planes. Since the tale is a bit too long for the comment section, I wrote it up on my dreamwidth blog, accessible here:

    Please stop by if you feel so inclined!

  113. I’ve had another meditation on limits, and realized that truth as a category relies on limits. In order for something to be true, then it means there must be a division between things which are true and things which are false. Since this means not everything is true, the truth is a limited category. The other weird thing is that this means lies are also limited, for the simple reason that they need to be consistent, and lying inherently assumes a relationship to the truth. Rejecting limits then means rejecting the idea of there being “true” and also, because it’s defined in opposition to truth, of there being “false”! This explains the way so many people seem to have a weird relationship with truth, being unable to tell the difference between truth and false; or rather, unwilling to do so. It’s really amazing how many of the current pathologies of American culture are because we are refusing to deal with limitations.

  114. In re: Serenity Prayer:

    “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the power(or courage) to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

    The second part of this, “the power(or courage) to change the things I can” implies, that if something CAN be changed, that it automatically follows that it SHOULD be changed. The “wisdom” as referred to in this couplet only relates to being able to distinguish between what one can and cannot change, not the wisdom to understand whether a change should be done or not.

    Antoinetta III

  115. One weird thought I had is that comets usually, aside from the two weird interstellar comets, eventually return. I wonder if this then implies that most people who do reach the Unknown Death eventually return; possible tens of thousands of years later, but even so, eventually they can return.

  116. JMG: “Corporations are actually a good example of a concept Fortune discusses elsewhere, “the creations of the created;” they have no Divine Spark, which is why they have no conscience, and also why they behave in a mindless fashion, pursuing whatever goals they’ve been set even when those are no longer relevant or valid.”

    So in a sense, the nightmare singularity of the super-AI indifferent to the needs of its creators has already arrived.

  117. It is amazing how much crossover there is with the philosophy of Yoga, which uses ones own body to learn the lessons of limitation and freedom. They say eventually every Yogi comes to a point where they think they have mastered the Asanas, and that is where the greatest temptation to fall back into ego is waiting. My Yoga teacher says that the stiff people like me in the basic class are actually lucky because we are much more likely to learn the advanced lessons than flexible people who can breeze through it.

Comments are closed.