Book Club Post

The Cosmic Doctrine: The Logoidal Relationship to the Manifested Universe

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

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

Assigned Reading:

Revised Edition:  Chapter 19, “The Logoidal Relationship to the Manifested Universe,” pp. 89-91.

Millennium Edition: Chapter 21, “The Logoidal Relationship to the Manifested Universe,” pp. 121 through the end of the second paragraph on p. 124, ending with “…the positive evil of the manifested universe.”


As we proceed further into Fortune’s discussion of human evolution, more and more of the concepts already discussed in the Cos. Doc. will be brought into play, because our evolution as individuals and as a species does not take place in a vacuum.  We are able to be what we are, and to evolve in the way we do, because the Earth and the solar system more generally have passed through long cycles of evolution before we came on the scene.

Our minds and their capacities were built by the labors of the Lords of Mind; the bodies we indwell and the planet we live on were shaped by the Lords of Form; the basic patterns of this solar system were laid down by the Lords of Flame; these first three swarms were able to become what they are, and to build the solar system as it is, because of the work of the Solar Logos—and behind the Logos we can dimly glimpse its own vast evolutionary history as a Great Entity and a traveling atom, with the emergence of the Rings, Circles, and Rays of the Cosmos as the background to the Solar Logos itself.

To make sense of this short but intricate chapter, it’s important to remember that the Solar Logos is the mediator between the Cosmos and the solar system it has created and conditioned.  The Logos is fully conscious of its solar system and everything within it. It is not conscious, though, of the Cosmic background that works through it.  In terms borrowed from human psychology, the Cosmos affects the Logoidal subconscious, and the Logos becomes conscious of the Cosmic influences affecting it only when those influences flow through it to affect its solar system.

This, as Fortune explains, is an important part of what the swarms of Divine Sparks do. As each swarm proceeds down the seven planes of the solar system, passing from world to world and accomplishing its subjective evolution on each world in turn, the swarm takes some factor in the Logoidal subconscious and embodies it in itself and the worlds it inhabits.  On the way back up the planes, in turn, the swarm awakens into objective consciousness on each plane and becomes consciously aware of the factor that it has established—and when it returns to the Logos, the Logos becomes conscious of the same factor. The entire arc of evolution within a solar system is thus the process by which the Logos of that solar system becomes conscious of everything that it embodied unconsciously during its long journey up and down the rays as a traveling atom.

There is a rhythm to this process, however, and it’s one we have already encountered in other contexts in Fortune’s grand metaphor.  The Logos alternates between positive and negative periods, or to put things another way, it spends some periods focused on objective awareness of its solar system and other periods in a subjective condition of absorption in Cosmic realities. Fortune compares this explicitly to the human process of reincarnation. The sending out of the swarms is equivalent to the process of incarnation; their return to the Logos is what we call death; and the period between one swarm and the next, when the Logos contemplates what it has learned and is withdrawn into its own consciousness, is equivalent to the state human beings enter into between lives.

It’s a useful metaphor, worth close meditation as a way to help the student understand the relationship between the Individuality (the part of the self that endures from life to life) and the Personality (the part of the self that comes into being with each new body and dissolves at its death). Another metaphor is also worth considering, however, because the dance of the Logos and the swarms of Divine Sparks is also closely parallel to the human experience of waking and sleep.  We wake up each day and enter into objective consciousness, go out into the world, and encounter whatever we encounter; at day’s end, when we go to sleep, we settle back into subjective consciousness, and our dreams are dim echoes of the processes by which we absorb the experiences of the day into our mental structure.

(This kind of nesting of metaphors, by the way—in the present example, waking and sleep = life and death = the positive and negative phases of the Solar Logos = the positive and negative phases of the Cosmos—is very common in occult philosophy.  To the occult teacher, having an abstract notion of some Cosmic process doesn’t mean much; the goal of occult teaching is to enable students to understand such processes, and that inevitably means finding comparisons and metaphors for them in the realm of ordinary human experience. Of course that makes the use of metaphor inevitable.  You can replace each of the equals signs in the equation above with the words “is metaphorically equivalent to” and yield a more accurate result.)

Of course there’s a reason why Fortune focuses on life and death as her core metaphor in this chapter, or more precisely several related reasons. First of all, very few people worry that when they go to sleep they won’t wake up the next morning; in Western industrial societies, the same thing is not true of death, and getting past the mistaken notion that equates death with absolute extinction is an important step in occult education. (As she points out in one of her essays, it’s something that should be taught far more widely than it is.) Second, if you understand reincarnation, you understand a great deal about the overall trajectory of the soul through time, and this makes it a good deal easier to assess your current life and figure out what to do with the challenges and opportunities that confront you.

On another, deeper level, understanding where you’re going is useful if you’re going to further the process of getting there, and that’s what the next section of the text is meant to do. Here Fortune talks about the goal of all the backings and forthings of swarms and incarnations.  For the Logos to awaken fully to its own potential, as already noted, it needs swarms of souls to act out in objective consciousness everything the Logos contains in its subjective consciousness, so it can experience its own internal content objectively, as though standing outside itself. Each time a swarm of Divine Sparks does this, in turn, the subjective content of the Logos that the swarm is sent out to make manifest becomes part of the objective solar system. In Fortune’s terms, it becomes a new set of tracks in space, and so the solar system forever after mirrors that part of the Logoidal mind.

At the endpoint of this process, everything in the Logoidal consciousness is manifest throughout the seven planes of the solar system. The creation has become an exact copy of its Creator; more precisely, it has become the sevenfold body of its Creator, the perfect outward expression of the Solar Logos. In terms of Fortune’s quirky but devout Christianity, this is the coming of the Kingdom of God.  Before then—and in her view we have a long way to go until that time arrives—the words of the teacher she liked to call the Master Jesus are relevant: “The Kingdom of God is within you.”  In Fortune’s terms, the Divine Spark that guides the seed-atom at the center of your sevenfold body is in rapport with the Solar Logos, and expresses through you as much of the Logoidal nature as you have evolved the ability to work with. Until the process of unfolding the Logoidal nature is complete, that’s as close to the Logos as you can come.

And after the process is complete?  Having awakened to complete objective consciousness of its own nature, the Solar Logos directs its attention to the Cosmos, where it can now begin a new phase of activity, about which we can grasp absolutely nothing.  All the tracks in space that formed the solar system have been synthesized into the Logoidal mind and exist as realities on the Cosmic level, and so they no longer function within the solar system. The solar system therefore dissolves back into formless atomic movement, which Fortune calls the “Night of Brahma” in the Millennum edition and the “Night of God” in the revised edition.  There will be a new day following that night—the entire logic of Fortune’s system requires this—but here again, we cannot even begin to understand what it would be like when the Solar Logos, having absorbed another vast array of new experiences from another round of Cosmic experience, settles back down into the dream of the solar system to process those experiences and rebuild the solar system in their image.

Here again, though, as above, so below:  the vast cycles of experience through which the Solar Logos grows and evolves are mirrored in the cycles we undergo as individuals and as souls.  At the end of each life, we withdraw from material existence so that we can bring together the lessons of a life’s worth of experiences, and prepare for a new cycle of experiences in a new incarnation.  In the same way, at the end of each evolution, we withdraw from manifest existence entirely so that we can bring together the lessons of hundreds or thousands of lives in many different forms, and prepare for a new cycle of experiences in a new evolution.

Why is this necessary?  In the last part of this chapter, Fortune explores some of the reasons behind the alternation of periods of manifestation and periods of dissolution, and in the process lays the foundations for crucial points discussed later on in the volume.

The pause between each swarm—the Lesser Night—is necesary because the Logos needs to synthesize the experiences the previous swarm has brought to it. This allows each new swarm to begin its journey with a richer set of reaction capacities than those that went before it. Since each swarm has the task of bringing part of the Logoidal consciousness into manifestation in harmony with what has already been manifested, its members need to begin their journey with all the experiences of the earlier swarms in their subjective consciousness. In the language of Fortune’s metaphor, it takes time for the Divine Sparks to come into rapport with the rhythm of the Logos, and while that takes place, the solar system sleeps.

The substance of each of the seven planes, however, is not just sitting there waiting for the Divine Sparks to set it moving in new ways. One of the basic principles of Fortune’s metaphor is that once set in motion, tracks in space keep moving, and so all the forms created by previous swarms are still in place, potentially or actually, waiting for souls of the next life-wave to inhabit them. This is problematic for two reasons—the first being that, as we’ve just seen, each new swarm of Divine Sparks begins its descent into matter at a greater level of complexity than the last, and problems ensue when the newcomers build bodies of matter that naturally moves in ways better suited to less complex souls.  This is retrogressive, and forces a certain degree of deformity on the incarnated souls.

The second reason is even more serious.  Part of what shapes the matter of each plane is the working out of the Logoidal ideas by previous swarms, but from the time of the Lords of Mind onward, part of it is epigenesis—the free play of Divine Sparks exploring their own possibilities and those of the plane they inhabit. The Logoidal ideas are profoundly simple, but the reaction-capacities of the souls who embody those ideas are immensely complex and by no means always appropriate either to the Logoidal ideas or to any given plane of manifestation.

This, as discussed earlier in these commentaries, is the origin of positive evil—not the negative evil that is the thrust-block of Cosmic inertia, but evil in the ethical sense of the word. In a sufficiently complex consciousness, epigenesis becomes what in ordinary speech is called “free will.”  It’s easy to misunderstand this.  Epigenesis happens any time you have one process that produces random results and another process that picks and chooses among the results, in terms of some set of preferences or goals.  The result is one kind of freedom—movement toward a desired set of ends via unpredictable paths.

Epigenesis develops into “free will” when the picking and choosing process turns back on itself, and the preferences or goals are reinforced or discarded depending on the results of actions guided by the first kind of epigenesis. We all do this:  “Now that I’ve tried this, I realize that it was a bad idea all along.”  The result is a second kid of freedom—movement toward unpredictable ends via unpredictable paths.  That second kind of freedom is the source of creativity and novelty in the world, but it is also the source of positive evil, since epigenesis that becomes recursive and changes its own goals can run off the rails into self-destructive and self-defeating modes of thought and action.

All these vagaries are eventually synthesized by the Solar Logos, but “eventually” takes its sweet time arriving.  Meanwhile, positive evil shapes the substance of the seven planes of the solar system, and each swarm that makes its pilgrimage down the planes has to deal with substance that has the habit of moving in directions shaped by epigenesis—and by positive evil. The resulting wrestling match between the Logoidal idea expressed by the Divine Spark and the various modes of positive evil woven into the substance of the various bodies can be observed in action in the ethical literature of every culture and era.

That is what the Greater Night clears away. When all the reaction-capacities of the Cosmos are taken up into the Logos and synthesized, the seven planes of the solar system dissolve into uncoordinated tangential movement. It’s as though the Solar Logos will hit the reset button for the solar system and bring everything back to its original simplicity and purity, so the new Day of God or Brahma can begin with a clean slate.  Until that happens—and in Fortune’s view, at least, that time is still long ages in the future—we have to contend with the legacies of the swarms that came down the planes before us, for good or ill, and work out our destinies and that of the solar system in that context.

Notes for Study:

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

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

Questions and comments can also be posted here for discussion. (I’d like to ask that only questions and comments relevant to The Cosmic Doctrine be posted here, to help keep things on topic.) We’ll go on to the next piece of the text on March 11th, 2020.  Until then, have at it!


  1. “devine sparks” is this what GWYDION created on his magic (EINION)anvil when HE he by the law of CYRAITH brought into existence his fortress “THE MILKY WAY”

  2. My guess is that Dion Fortune would have loved that image! Thank you.

    The Mabinogion has an enormous amount of magical lore in it — and not just the Four Branches, though they’re packed full of serious occult teaching. I’m currently meditating my way through the story of Peredur, and — well, let’s just say there’s going to be at least an essay and possibly a book coming out of it.

  3. We have now reached the point where I don’t even understand the comments, but I do like to pop in occasionally to let you smart folks know I’m rooting for you and to encourage you to keep going.👍

  4. I was reading the Barddas of Iolo Morganwg and I’m not sure which part of the text jumped out at me and said “Your world is a matrix”. For all its faults, The Matrix was a thematically intriguing film: the premise is that the human race is being farmed by evil robots from cradle to grave while thinking they are living in the world as we know it. A few smart characters figure out how to jump out of the system and see the world as it really exists. Sometime last year, while meditating on various recurring dreams about being trapped in high school and college, it occurred to me that all incarnation here on Earth is a form of testing ground. Of course the real tests are not to be judged by who dressed in the finest couture, who landed the most attractive spouse, or who kept the most money flowing into their bank accounts. Even in dreams, I’ve noticed the significance of deceptively innocuous decisions: whether to fight the army of enemies or to call in one’s patron deity, whether to steal the shiny thing offered in the dream bazaar or to leave it alone, whether to hurt and cheat or to say “I don’t do that anymore”.

    Also, I don’t think people (in our culture especially) realize the importance of sleep. Sleep, in my opinion, should be viewed as sacred.

  5. I’m reading Scripts People Live, and I immediately saw a connection between scripts and games, and the deformities forced onto incarnated souls via the molds built by previous life swarms. What else is a script but a stereotyped reaction that trades personal capability for short-term survivability in an imperfect world?

  6. Back in the early ’70s, Lin Carter’s Adult Fantasy Series (AFS) published the Four Branches of the Mabinogion, as told by Evangeline Walton, in four volumes. You mentioned earlier that you have a good number of the AFS in your personal library. Do these include the Walton books? If so, what is your take on Walton’s rendition of the story?

    Your response to Bela Rheeth indicates that there is more to the Mabinogion than the Four Branches. I’m curious as to what this is.

    By the way, there is a computer game entitled “Rhiannon: The Four Branches” that is a ghost story set in our own time that is based on the Four Branches.

    P.S. I avidly collected the AFS when they came out, and I still have the entire set.

    Antoinetta III

  7. Your Kittenship, to understand Bela Rheeth’s comment you’d have to be up to speed on the medieval Welsh legends in the Mabinogion. As a Druid, well, that kind of comes with the job title, white robe, golden sickle, etc. 😉

    Kimberly, good. There are some very clear discussions of reincarnation and the nature of human existence in Barddas, and yeah, it’s a matter of learning through experience — which you can also spell “testing.” One Triad I find particularly worth meditating on is this: “To attain Gwynfydd” (the luminous life, the level of being beyond incarnation in dense matter) “it is necessary to be all things, to know all things, and to suffer all things.”

    Cliff, I like that. Yes, exactly — and the process of turning a script from an automatism to a conscious option is the same as the process of reshaping the substance of a plane so that it’s suited to the soul that inhabits it.

    Antoinetta, I’ve got Walton’s series, among many other volumes of the Adult Fantasy Series — I hope someday that whole series gets brought back out again exactly as it was originally issued, with Lin Carter’s introductions. Walton’s tetralogy is a very solid work of fantasy fiction based on the Four Branches. There are many translations of the Mabinogion around, though, so I’d encourage you to consider picking one up someday and reading all of it — because, yes, there’s a lot more to it than the Four Branches.

  8. Dear Archdruid:

    Is there any reason to believe that the entire AFS could be re-issued as it originally was? Mine is obviously 50 years old, and showing the effects of time. If it could be printed on acid-free paper, this would be best.

    Antoinetta III

  9. Greetings all
    I must admit that I find the Cosmic Doctrine disorientating, however the comments of JMG do clear up a lot of things. I feel I am trying to climb up a slippery slope and sliding all the way down very often…
    I guess that Dion Fortune intended it to be that way. As we say in French: “un perpetuel recommencement…”

  10. There is the interesting and relevant dream/hallucination/vision of C G Jung during a bout of very dangerous illness in which, while mounting the steps to a temple hollowed out of a vast black rock floating in space above the Earth, he felt his personality being stripped away -unpleasant experience – from him, leaving him with his what he felt to be essence, ‘the sum total of what I had done and really was’ rather than the accidental facts of his earthly existence.

  11. Interesting comment about epigenesis and free will. This idea and section reminds me of the eastern meditation technique Secret of the Golden Flower and the idea of turning light around. Are you familiar with it?

  12. First, it is good to be back discussing the “Cosmic Doctrine.” Thanks JMG and all the participants.

    This chapter really reinforces for me the importance of having some type of contemplative/meditative practice in one’s life, such as “the review of the day” and discursive meditation. These practices seem to be what the Logos is doing when during the lesser “Night” it “meditates upon the concepts presented to It as the fruits of that evolution, thereby modifying Its own consciousness. And each succeeding swarm of Divine Sparks receives the impression of the modified Logoidal consciousness.”

    By reviewing what we have done each day and consciously deciding how we did things as we wanted or deciding how to do them better the next time, then as we sleep our subconscious mind is modifying the swarm that is our bodies to go out the next day and experience these newly developed “reaction capacities.” This process of contemplation that created new “reaction capacities” is another way to understand how “thoughts are things.” If we do not spend time reviewing what we have done and deciding how we want to change, we then become stuck in our habits, both physical and mental, our “tracks in space,” and we do not evolve as each day passes. Affirmations and visualizations, as discussed in these blog posts, are some good ways to modify these old “tracks in space” that are now “retrogressive” for us. The goal is to consciously be aware of and direct our epigenesis as much as possible each day of our lives.

    Finally, I fully agree with Kimberly about the importance of sleep [and not just because it is the only place I get to experience flying:-) ].

  13. So far I’ve thought of another correspondence: meditation corresponds to sleep and death, in the sense that in meditation we withdraw our attention from the outer waking world to ponder on themes that help us to become acquainted with and slowly integrate the hidden, subconscious aspect of ourselves and usually hidden aspects of the larger world as well. I might have something more to add as I work through the chapter and your commentary. Thanks as always for your guidance through the Cos Doc!

  14. First, I’d like to thank you again for this discussion, and also for Magic Monday, what a wealth of information. My context for this month is that I just read Franz Hartmann’s “Magic: White & Black”, while all of January was devoted to slowly meditating through Franklin Merrell-Wolff’s “Philosophy of Consciousness Without an Object.” Both of these have a lot of resonances with CosDoc, though they are all peculiar in their own way.

    This is quite an interesting chapter. My attention was drawn especially by the exposition of the development of consciousness on page 122 (Millennium ed.) So, the Logos, in order to see himself, projects the universe, which is a complex set of reaction patterns (and of course, this is so because the Cosmos is also a complex set of reaction patterns, the Logos just doesn’t know it yet.) In creating this image of himself (the Universe,) he creates a mirror that itself grasps towards self consciousness. As the reaction patterns become conscious of themselves, they become conscious of the Logos, the Logos is aware of them and becomes more conscious of himself, as the Universe is really the emanation of the Logos. The Logos then becomes aware of the Cosmos, because the Cosmos is reflecting through him into the Universe, and vice versa. And of course it’s fractal, the Universe is actually composed of swarms of reaction patterns, each of those swarms is composed of individual reaction patterns which are also composed of smaller reaction patterns. What an image.

    So, us humans, being sets of reaction patterns, constantly changing and evolving, can chart our course for the fulfillment of our ultimate destiny by setting up tracks in space of self observation. This is the key. We do not have to wait for death to review our patterns, we can meditate upon the fruits of our reactions and modify our consciousness here, now, and every day. This is one reason that True Philosophy is practice for death, the practice of death, the practice of dying while alive.

    You say “For the Logos to awaken fully to its own potential, as already noted, it needs swarms of souls to act out in objective consciousness everything the Logos contains in its subjective consciousness, so it can experience its own internal content objectively, as though standing outside itself.” This brings to mind a quote that my mentor, Art, once said. “Art exists, I am.” Reflected again in FMW: “Before objects were, Consciousness-Without-An-Object Is.” Art was sure to remind us that the meaning of “existence” comes from the Latin ” ex- ‘out’ + sistere ‘take a stand’” – to stand outside of. The image that the Logos (the Source of Light) creates through a Ray of Emanation, the object that exists in time in constant flux, is outside of the center, while the Seeing, the Light, is what Is. However, it seems to me that what FMW points to by “Consciousness Without an Object” is beyond the Logos, beyond the Cosmos, it is both Transcendent and Immanent, more like the Unmanifest, and is Here, Now, more Real than the constantly changing Universe of Objects, which, though unreal in a way, does actually exist.

  15. Neither monotheists nor atheists believe in reincarnation, and I think that’s why they have so much in common with their intense fear of death and their rejection/objectification of wild spaces called “nature” despite the fact all environments are nature, including concrete and rebar buildings full of cubicles. A friend of mine is dying of cancer. This poor individual is going through physical turmoil I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, and I don’t have a great deal of compassion for my enemies. This is all happening because people have been told they need to stay alive as long as possible. YOLO: You only live once — or at least that’s what I used to think when I was atheist.

    Two older women I was close to died in 2019, one of cancer that had been recently diagnosed and one of organ failure. Both of them died peacefully after their bodies rapidly began closing up shop. There was no battle or heroic surgeries in either case as they were 73 and 81 years old respectively. If I get to choose the way I die, of course I’d rather die without a battle. I was actually physically there for the 81 year old’s death. About a year before, we had a conversation about my beliefs about death. I had recently read and meditated on Dion Fortune’s Through the Gates of Death, so I said I believe it’s like falling asleep, dreaming awhile, and waking up in a new body. I honestly believe that brief conversation helped tremendously. Dion Fortune’s good works have the power to reach through time. When death came, it was quite clear that it was accepted, and in its odd way, beautiful.

    It follows that a culture that cannot respect death cannot respect sleep. JMG, I’ve had much fodder for meditation when you said something to the effect of “our culture is clinically insane”. I think much of that clinical insanity is the result of not allowing ourselves to sleep. Our oil-addicted, motoring-obsessed culture is always trying to throw an accelerator on everything, and that means chemical assists such as coffee-sugar drinks and Red Bull. There’s this anxious fear that getting a reasonable amount sleep means somehow missing out. I have a theory that becoming a domestic companion animal such as a cat or dog is often the last phase of animal incarnation before incarnating as a human. This might serve to explain why dogs and cats sleep so much: they are building their astral bodies while dreaming. I believe I have memories (more like foggy vignettes) of being a cat several times. Also, to Dan, isn’t it funny I wrote an entire musical album called The Dream of Flight while atheist? I love those goofy flying dreams. I wrote an essay about dreams with plans to tackle the subject further:

  16. I had put Cos Doc down and have skipped back to Mystical Qabbalah, so my thoughts on it are now strongly coloured by where I am in that text, but it seems to be bringing in a good depth, as I have just finished Malkuth and am starting the chapter on the Qlipoth.

    Sleep and dreaming (and presumably also death) are not just rest and review states, they also appear necessary to free up space (disk defragment… Remember when we were supposed to do that?) in our brains while it sorts through what is worth remembering and what isn’t. And that reminded me of learning about nematodes and fungi – without them doing the big breakdown job, we’d be overcome with organic wastes in mere months in a productive field or forest.

    Malkuth corresonds to the anus in the body – again, where our wastes build up, we die (a terrible painful death). The Qlipoth are the wastes shed from the cosmos. But we know from our modern agricultural experiment, and many others that failed before, that if you try to “throw away” that waste rather than allow it to process back into nutrients, you first poison where you threw it away, then later you starve. Fortune writes of the stormed magic process she knew at the time of Abramelin the Mage deliberately incoming the Qlipoth after careful preparation – good sanitation and magical equivalent of proper carbon nitrogen ratio, aeration and moisture, I presume. Avoiding the Qlipoth entirely is dangerous in the long run too, just like all our dreams and our death. Our Little Nights.

    I’ve been more interested in the correspondence of that Rest with the rest in conscious, microcosmic events, needed to digest a large book or topic in a course of study, or break from a tough conversation or decision. Sometimes that feels like laziness or indecision, but it seems instead to be Cosmic Law. Lately I’ve been in a funk as I have been angry at myself for not “overcoming my weaknesses fast enough since I’m aware of them” and all my geomantic readings have Tristitia in my triplicity (rookie, only shield chart for me 😉). I feel like this is the task of Tristitia – a conscious Little Night.

    Slightly larger scale, ‘the toilet backed up on the floor stinking’ feeling as China’s effect on the economy becomes painfully clear with Coriv-19, the Wet’suwet’en protests heave Canada, the US Iowa Caucus debacle, Russia and US shale admit they’re peaking, etc… Seems similar. Or culture’s qlipothic contribution of outdated bad ideas that while not positive evil in their time, things maybe we had to do to learn, are now seen to be unbalanced. It’s all out there on the floor, very few people are going to be able to continue to pretend it actually goes away when you push a lever anymore. It’s about to get quiet, I think. There’s a lot of waste though, and the process was not prepared properly, so I think there will still be a lot of anaerobic stench and disease transmission, but some of it might finally start to compost… We can use insight from what previous civilizations – swarms – left us to choose to get this processed for the next one, using that metaphor:

    Cosmic compost:
    1) keep the carbon to nitrogen ratio right – too much raw energy (nitrogen) and you lock up the nutrients for later in the decomposes, or lose it. Don’t rush around madly – Don’t Panic. Too much form (carbon) stifles the reaction. Now is not the time to adhere to laws for the sake of laws.
    2) not too wet or too dry. Too much emotion and screaming is the worst – stinky muck. Too little and the stuff will just sit there unchanged (but that’s easier to fix with careful addition).
    3) add new waste to deal with in batches, or turn a big pile all at once when it starts to cool to get more air in. Let everyone process a bit, but then introduce a few new ideas or tasks when they’re ready, don’t keep trying to stir it, that’ll slow composting too, and/or mix your processed with your raw. Is prefer little batches, a bunch of conscious, Tristitia Little Night’s rather than a wholesale process the whole big pile at once with a grand Societal Death, myself!

  17. Antoinetta, many of the novels in the original series are long out of copyright, so it would simply be a matter of getting permission from the estate of Lin Carter to reprint the introductions he wrote. A small publisher with a backlist-centered strategy could do much worse than to look into such a reprint series.

    Karim, I’m quite sure she did in fact intend that. This is a tremendously difficult text, and it takes repeated readings to let it do its work and teach you new ways to think.

    Xabier, fascinating. I hadn’t encountered that. It certainly makes sense in occult terms…

    Docshibby, very much so, and yes, I think you’re right that there’s a connection.

    Dan and SLClaire, good. Yes, meditation adds another layer to the set of nested metaphors.

    Isaac, for what it’s worth, my take is that yes, Merrell-Wolff’s “consciousness without an object” is prior to the Cosmos, and indeed — as I remember MW’s text — it is the Unmanifest in Fortune’s metaphor, that which alone is real, and which is (but does not ex-ist) before her prime duality of space (the void) and movement (that which differentiates itself from the void).

    Kimberly, I think lack of sleep is an important factor! Another, not unrelated, is the very common modern habit of eating diets too low in carbohydrates and calories to support normal brain function. The unwillingness to nourish and be nourished fits neatly with the unwillingness to rest and be rested: it’s all rooted in a rejection of physical embodiment and its needs, a more than Gnostic attempt to flee from material existence nto an imagined realm of abstract arbitrary perfection.

    Sara, a fine meditation on the theme. Thank you for this.

  18. Dang, the comments are good today. Isaac Hill and Kimberley Steele’s comments just made me realize that while I’ve frequently ruminated on similar themes, I’ve always been thinking that I was the Logos in the microcosmic version. (atheist hangover maybe). But “I” am a swarm to my higher self logos! And the metaphor is still exact – I’m many often conflicting thoughts and ideas that evolve separately and in clusters.

    Though in a fractal view, my personality is logos to my short term actions and beliefs, which I can process consciously, by thinking, like this – ruminating the way I usually do while doing chores and biking kids around. To work on stuff at the deeper level, to let my higher self process during life, that is maybe advanced meditation on occult symbols because of their higher, more universal resonances; astral work, directed dreaming… Magic that uses the subconscious. Sometimes we do it spontaneously in dream or otherwise.
    But otherwise – this is why we *must* still die, no matter how enlightened or Good or Not Ready. There’s just no other way to turn that heap. And so on up the fractal chain…

  19. Out of the whole book, the thing Fortune wrote that made the biggest impression on me, was how you should visualize being dead, so that when you do die, you aren’t confused and can adjust smoothly.

    I’ve been practicing it a bit. I imagine I am in a grave in complete darkness. It seems to be therapeutic. The topic of one’s own death, has some PTSD elements to it, where you unconsciously don’t want to think about it, and will quickly change the subject. Those topics seem to be blind spots where you might make the wrong decision because you aren’t seeing reality clearly. So coming to terms with one’s own death and having a neutral or positive feeling about what comes after could become a source of power.

    Imagining that death is like dreaming.
    A ghost could be the dream of the dead person. An echo that they keep reliving.

    I don’t have any experiences of ghosts, but a few weeks ago, I was imagining that there might be tracks in space of the people who lived their whole lives in my house before me. Just then my roommate got spooked because he had the distinct impression that someone walked behind us through the kitchen, and that was just what I was imagining.

    In the last few weeks I’ve been pretty stressed about the Coronavirus. I’ve been trying to become pregnant, but pregnancy makes one immunocompromised and the pneumonia could cause miscarriage. This has had me quite conflicted about continuing to try. I’ve done everything I can to prepare, supplies for quarantine, making tinctures, etc. That eased my mind a little bit, but the deeper nagging stress has been the thought of myself or my loved ones suffering and dying. Meditating on my death and on acceptance of fate that is out of my hands has been helpful. I accept that what is meant to happen will, and it may not be what I want.

    Also, it’s disorienting because no one I know is worried about it. I’m feeling more alone that ever, like I’m in a sea of blind people, confounded by the fact that practically everyone I know is into communism right now. It does seem like they have a gaping blind spot. I was talking to someone about the possibility of supply chain collapse and food shortages, and he said, “we’re about to be able to 3D print food, so it’ll be fine.”

    There is this book Waking up to the Dark, by Clark Strand, about how profoundly our lives have been affected by the invention of the light bulb. It’s also about his experiences meeting a dark Mary entity. It’s a very wonderful book. It seems that we are so addicted to the light (growth, expansion, do more, get more, less sleep, express yourself, optimism!) like moths to a flame, the dark side has become atrophied.

  20. “The resulting wrestling match between the Logoidal idea expressed by the Divine Spark and the various modes of positive evil woven into the substance of the various bodies can be observed in action in the ethical literature of every culture and era.”

    This is so true of fairy tales, especially, and it does not seem to matter what part of the world they are from. I was reading a weird Japanese fairy tale where a greedy monkey tricks a hardworking but gullible crab into planting a persimmon seed which later becomes a tree, then kills the crab and steals the persimmons after they finally ripen. The monkey gets his comeuppance just as (non-Disney version) Cinderella’s greedy sister and mother get theirs in the end of that eponymous story, the same as a million other folk tales.

    As to diet, yes, this is a bit off topic but I sadly don’t know of anyone who hasn’t done some battle with dysmorphic attitudes towards eating. There are a whole lot of us not eating anywhere enough complex carbohydrates and yeah, the person who came up with the 1500 calorie or less a day diet was a sociopathic misanthrope. To bring it slightly more on topic, diets create a Ring-Chaos and the whole self goes into fighting normal instincts to simply eat until full.

  21. I thought the Jung was good: you may find it in his ‘Memories, Dreams, Reflections, which was dreadfully tidied up by his family and others, but is something one can always dip into and pull something suggestive out.

    It’s quite an image, being stripped of ones earthly trappings of personality to be left with the essence, the unvarnished truth of what one was or is, nothing hidden! Who could stand that test?

    He was very ill at that time and had the most vivid dreams or visions: when he came back to reality, his feeling was that it was dreadful to be back in the ‘shallow, box-reality’ of the everyday world, which he felt had been ‘deliberately set up for a purpose’ beyond his comprehension. He mentions somewhere that he had a dream which appeared to show the death and reincarnation of a friend, but he gave no details.

    I find Jung far more interesting than most of his followers or hangers on, and I suspect that it’s easy to get stuck at the stage of being obsessed with the interpretation of one’s dreams which can become self-referential and stagnant. At the same time, they do seem to be of the greatest importance sometimes.

    I still adhere to the gypsy distinction, told to me by my cousins, between ‘strong’ dreams which relate to fate, destiny and the divine, and the ordinary ones we all know.

    I’ve found the, very rare, ‘strong’ dreams are never really jumbled and chaotic but have a strong image and unique characteristic atmosphere, eg the ‘Tree of Life’ or the ‘Divine Light’ come to mind.

    It’s a great adventure we are on……

  22. I’m just going to sit back and grin. This series of book club posts may not field that many comments compared to some of the other things I post here, but it reliably gets some of the best and most thoughtful. Thank you all!

  23. Well, except for exceptionally erudite Welsh-mythology comments. Those I don’t understand. But comments about eating and sleeping—THOSE I understand.

  24. WRT fear of sleep – its not just fear of missing out, or not doing – but that is a big part. It’s the fear of self-knowledge that comes with it. If you remember your dreams – and maybe if you don’t, you merely wake up feeling disquieted – you’ll eventually be immersed in all your worst fears and thoughts and self-image. Depending on one’s inclination, the immersion into your most secret hopes and desires,your best self unfulfilled, is just as jarring. Or, in a world obsessed with only now, and complete control over the future, to have those dreams of the past, or futures you can’t control.

    Worse still, in dream or death, to realize you’re not alone in there.

    It is merciful to read Fortune before having to go through that experience at the end of life! The Treasure House of Images is not a place to enter from the door of fear, false certainty or complete credulity.

  25. My contribution to Dion Fortune’s sleep writings: In January-February 2020, I embarked on a new skills course, plus had reason to add electrolytes (magnesium, zinc, potassium) as a dietary supplement. My course forces me out of my comfort zone, which is my goal. In the past, sometimes I’ve noticed new dreams when I engage in a new activity, not surprising, of course.

    However, in January or February, I dreamed I got kicked out of an organization for–let’s say embezzlement. I dreamed I secretly grabbed a membership list and was perusing it. Afterwards, I received an email I was kicked out of the organization. During the days, I think I forgot completely about the dream. I don’t believe I was able to remember the dream during the day.

    Just this past week, Tuesday perhaps, early one morning while in that place between dreaming and waking, I re- dreamed the dream about getting booted from the organization. However, as I gradually came to full consciousness, only a couple of seconds or minutes, I dream-reviewed my earlier dream and then in dream state reverie, I mentally reviewed my email and realized I had not gotten kicked out of the organization at all. I suspect Dion Fortune would understand and could provide guidance. Dream one dream, put it on hold, then return to the dream and its resolution. A unique “pause button.”

  26. I recently read The Rosicrucian Cosmo Conception, by Max Heindel. Written a few decades prior to The Cosmic Doctrine, it helped immensely to better grasp this magnificent majestic cosmic vision & set of metaphors. The Secret Doctrine, by Blavatsky was helpful too. Two thorough readings of all JMG’s priceless book club posts & the book itself assimilated metaphors, cleared mental fog & shed light on the subject.

    My intention is to annually re-read the book & JMG’s posts. Memorization would be ideal for laying down tracks in space, however, that may require more than a lifetime. 😉 A most gracious thank you to our esteemed host & fellow cos doc travelers!

  27. (please delete previous reply)
    Hi JMG,

    I first read the book linked to below in the late 90s, in which, at vast personal effort, Darryl came up with the same conclusion (universal/solar system evolution/involution) from a ‘scientific’ perspective. Truly amazing to see it here with The Cosmic Doctrine too. Another guy I’ve read who seemed to get it was Franklin Merrell-Wolff – who I’ve just noticed was mentioned in a comment above too.
    I have been following these posts on and off, and bought the book, after your first post on it – though so much is dense to my understanding if I’m honest. It does seem to add some wider perspective to the ongoing pandemic we on the planet are experiencing and another ‘warmest month ever’ cry out for the planet for January. I’d prefer to stay alive for a bit longer and try and help humanity get through the next testing bit, but who knows what’s in store.

  28. Also, that comment of bela rheeth’s is starting to grow on me. It feels like it’s been beamed in from an alternate universe where evangelist Druids hold tent revivals in the South.

  29. When I was in my teens, some of my acquaintances blew their minds on acid; being an oddball, I blew my mind on the Upanishads. Decades later, reading chapters like ‘The Logoidal Relation to the Manifested Universe’ feels right at home to me, as I cannot imagine anything in the universe that does not go through the rhythm of inhale / exhale : expansion / contraction : day / night at some timescale or another. But I must say that the metaphor that Fortune has used is beautiful in relating these different sized “wheels” of Cosmos, Logos and “universe” (“solar system” in modern parlance). Of course, Fortune’s use of the terms “night of Brahma” and “pralaya” make me feel all the more at home with this metaphor.

    There is one thing, however, which seemed novel to me and for which I am very thankful. In Hindu cosmology, the cycle of the four yugas (ages) always starts with the best / most virtuous age (named Krita or Satya) and ends with the worst / most evil age (Kali – our present yuga), with pralaya as the final denouement. Of course, students of comparative religion or comparative mythology will say that nearly all cultures state that the world we live in is much worse than in ancient times – the exact opposite of the modern West’s “myth of progress”. But that’s not my point. Given that according to Hindu thought, souls gradually evolve in complexity (and also, presumably, in wisdom and therefore also in goodness) over millions of years, this cycle of ever-worsening yugas seems to operate “in reverse”. Nor have I ever found a philosopher / mystic who has come up with a good explanation: the reply is simply “that’s the way it is / this is the Lord’s inscrutable sport/play”). But now, CosDoc has come up with a good reply via the “forms” that replicate even after the pralaya and the “deformity” created by this retrogressive tendency against the ever-evolving “life swarms”, thus creating “positive evil” which intensifies until the slate is wiped clean by the “big pralaya”. All of a sudden, it makes sense to me. Not as though the universe needs to conform to our logic; but we need to have a universe that conforms to our sense of logic – otherwise, belief in an arbitrary, random or illogical universe/god will drive us mad.

    Oh, and since the topic of modern society’s “problem” with night and sleep, I thought that I would throw in a line from one of my favourite Hindu scriptures – the Devi Mahatmya. In the first story of the “great goddesses” (there are three such stories in the scripture), Brahma prays to the goddess Maya (literally “illusion”) who is awake during the time of pralaya; Vishnu, whose job it is to protect Brahma, is sleeping while two demons plot to slay Brahma. Among Brahma’s hymns of praise to the goddess Maya is the line “You are the dark night of periodic dissolution, the great night of final dissolution, and the terrifying night of delusion”. That line alone is worthy of many meditations!

    Finally, I note that nearly every toddler goes through a phase of being scared of going to sleep. It is during a time in which the child is engaging so much with the “outer world” – as opposed to the nearly total immersion in the “inner world” while in the womb – that they fight tooth and nail against breaking that bond with the outer world. And it is only later that they lose the fear of sleep, only to be replaced with a fear of the dark/monsters/the unconscious and then, only much later (sometimes not at all – especially in our society) embrace sleep and recognize its blessings. I don’t recall ever having seen young animals display this tendency – though I am happy to be corrected if anyone in the commentariat has observed the contrary.

  30. Co-signed with JMG on the quality of comments here — they are treasures, especially Sara’s.

    I’m a bit obsessed with this rendering of geologic time, which one can freely download as a hi-res poster:

    The cliché is true: life WAS simpler in the past. Two billion years ago, lifeforms were much more basic than lifeforms of only one billion years ago. Fast forward through a few major extinctions and every time, life gets more complex and diverse. Swarms descend and ascend once again, returning with grander tales to tell each time. Humans are obviously nowhere near the most complex or intelligent lifeforms of Earth, and civilizations that follow ours will prove we were primitive rubes in areas where we thought of ourselves as The S**t 4000.

  31. Australia as the land of dreaming…

    The largely Northern Hemisphere metaphor of the 4-stage lifecycle has never really worked for me to explain the seasonal progression in our landscapes. However – a cycle of 4 alternating but different stages of sleep/dreaming/consolidation and waking/exploration/growth – that makes more sense.

    One stage is harsh, hot and sunny – During this stage plants and animals mostly sleep (and presumably do their own consolidation in their dreams). The heat and UV rays break down the weakest of the growth that has occurred before. If there is soil moisture then there will be physical consolidation/composting, otherwise things don’t finish breaking down. A healthy ecosystem is adapted to this – it holds moisture, it holds partly decomposed debris until more moisture arrives, at worst low intensity fires speed up the decomposition. An unhealthy ecosystem doesn’t hold moisture so very dry debris builds up and blows away or burns in high intensity fires, a loss of resources to the ecosystem.

    The next stage is a season of mild growth, utilising the resources freed up in the previous stage and any additional water that arrives during this season. The growth is more maturation focused than new life, though some birth also occurs during this time. The amount of growth is limited by the resources freed in the previous stage. The ecosystem doesn’t cope well if excess resources were freed in the previous stage (eg in a high intensity fire especially if followed by substantial moisture) – in this situation growth will be aberrant. Death which occurs during this stage tends to lead to a quick break down and consolidation due to the presence of both warmth and moisture (does this raise the possibility of indigestion?).

    The next stage is cold and generally wet – the cold encourages everything living to slow down and go back to sleep and dream but is rarely fierce enough to end life. Mostly things just get put on pause for a while. The wet breaks down the dead and feeble through rot, aided by residual soil warmth which encourages the formation of compost. The wet builds upon the decomposition work already done by the sun and heat during the warm phase, if there wasn’t enough moisture at that time to complete decomposition. If the wet doesn’t arrive during this stage then things sort of freeze dry and are likely to be lost to the wind rather than composted and consolidated.

    The next stage is another season of mild growth, taking advantage of warming soils and some soil moisture (normally). The season has more of a (re)birth focus than maturation, though some things also mature during this time. Similarly to the previous growth phase, death which occurs during this stage tends to lead to a quick break down and consolidation due to warm moisture.

    So – the land over substantial portions of the continent spends much more time dreaming than most places – with little of the concentrated energy when awake compared to places that get a big Spring flush following harsh Winters or of a tropical area with a wet/dry pattern. Each period of growth explores slightly different aspects of life and experience, each period of consolidation breaks down the weakest growth in different ways. Also, since death occurs more evenly over the whole year in this landscape, arguably even the ‘awake/growth’ phases have aspects of consolidation (day dreaming?). Maybe there are more than four stages – maybe two or four extra stages each of which explore growth or consolidation in different ways – most indigenous calendars I have read about have at least six stages.

  32. I’m not sure I’m even half comprehending what you and Fortune are discussing here, but the following thoughts did occur to me–

    Do you remember discussing the old Irish game Fiddchell a few years back? For those unfamiliar, Fiddchell and related games are similar to chess, except that the board is circular. The pieces in the center are trying to reach the periphery, while those on the periphery are trying to prevent this movement. As I recall, you suggested this as a metaphor for the way that the enemies of the Gods attempt to prevent the movement of divine creative energies into the world.

    Who are the enemies of the gods? Titans, Fomorians, Jotuns, Qliphoth– primordial powers of chaos. In Fortune’s terms, isn’t this another way of saying left-over forms from a simpler iteration of the world, which freeze into place those new powers attempting to enter into creation?

    Synchronistically enough, a couple of days ago at a used book store I came across The Children of Odin, which is a lightly bowdlerized telling of the Norse myths for children written about a century ago. The author opens with the tale of gods building a wall around Asgard, to withstand the assault of the giants. And here is the image again– The giants are the primordial powers, seeking to stop the gods from working their will in the world. And it might be suggested that the response of the gods plays into the giants hands– they build a wall around Asgard, with the aid of a giant and at the suggestion of Loki, the half-giant, thus restricting their own freedom of movement!

    Thinking about it, the same principle seems to be at work over and over again. The managerial elite that you discussed last week, the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church, and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union are all examples of powers that became petrified and fixed into place over time, and so were unable to adapt to changing circumstances. All were stuck with forms better suited to earlier conditions; the one collapsed and the other two are collapsing as a consequence.

    The way that Traditional Chinese Medicine defines health as “the unrestricted movement of qi” also seems relevant to this point.

    Hmm, hmm, hmm. I think I’m going to need to reread this post and the relevant section in the Cosmic Doctrine several more times before I fully understand it.

  33. When I read the statement: “The sending out of the swarms is equivalent to the process of incarnation; their return to the Logos is what we call death”, what immediately came to my mind was C. G. Jung’s observations about the folly of modern Western culture regarding death and the obsession with perpetual youth instead of accepting death as a completion rather than a sentence. In Jung’s view, at mid-life, the adult should naturally be turning his/her mind more inward and start to develop wisdom rather than new experience. Rather like the arc of the Sun in the course of a day: following life’s apex (say, in an individual’s 40s), the person’s mind should turn towards the shorter route to the tomb rather than the long route back to the womb.

  34. Would you say druidism is a process philosophy? In it, is there a concept or symbol similar to Tao?

  35. “with the emergence of the Rings, Circles, and Rays of the Cosmos as the background to the Solar Logos itself.”

    Might the Rings, Circles, and Rays relate to the Lords of Mind, the Form, and the Flame? The more I read this stuff (eg, Heindel’s Rosicrucian Cosmoconception, Dion Fortune, etc), the more the differences fade out and the patterns or similarities grow stronger.

  36. Most often with these posts, it take so long to digest the material that I can’t respond in a timely manner. These week really isn’t too different until reading through the comments and having a day to let the ideas percolate.

    The metaphor of the universe having rhythmic cycles which we can find within ourselves, such as our sleep cycles is very powerful. I started off comparing it to the metaphor of the pendulum which so often is employed when looking at things which swing first one way then another. I recognized that it’s common to get lost in the end points, point a and point b. The swing, the arc is lost. It’s important to remember that the swinging of the pendulum is a physical representation of cycles, in this case, cycles representing time. Again, something which in our society we got lost in point a, the beginning, and point b, the end. Sleep is something getting more attention in society. It’s commonly acknowledged that we don’t get enough of it. So the common habit of trying to maximize something for efficiency is deployed. It’s determined that the perfect number of hours of sleep are eight. As usual, many get lost in those end points. Go to bed at 10pm, wake up at 6am. Rinse and repeat.

    As I was pondering this, I stared at my window upon the snow filled yards and roofs blanketed in snow. I recognized my lungs filling deeply with air, pausing for a moment, then exhaling before pausing, filling back up, so on and so forth. It clicked. Meditation is a practice we find mentioned a lot, and a huge part of meditation is focusing on the breathing. Connecting with the breathing.

    I read in a MovNat article that breathing is the simplest movement and the most overlooked. Most people aren’t aware how badly they breathe. And this simple act being overlooked results in many ailments. Focusing on our breathing helps slow things down. It helps us focus on the here, on the now. On the journey. It stops us from focusing on the end but instead on making each moment count.

    It also fills our bodies with the universe, and likewise fills the universe with ourselves. It’s a very connecting, a very grounding, a very physical metaphor too often forgotten. It’s a moment by moment representation of slowing down, pausing, and speeding up when the moment calls for it. It’s a unifying act and experience we all share. And as with so much in our society bent on speeding things up, so lost in our life.

  37. JMG,

    I was wondering if the Logoidal sleep period, the time the swarms return to the Logos, might be linked with what Evelyn Underhill refers to as the “negative epiphany” that some people experience, that is, a perception, a vision of the Cosmos as ultimately empty and utterly without meaning. In other words, it’s the period when God sleeps and thereby withdraws the fullness of His Presence from the Cosmos – the Void as a frighteningly cosmic vacancy. Or might the negative epiphany be the result of a Logoidal sleep of a lesser sort, a mini-Logoidal sleep? Or might it be something on a faster scale, a Cosmic sleep?

    I’m thinking of HP Lovecraft who seemed to experience a lifetime stuck in something of a negative epiphany. His vision was spiritual in nature and scope, to be sure, but it was certainly not a perception of the Cosmos as an ecstatic dance of life and consciousness, but rather as a cold, essentially lifeless, unfathomably vast emptiness. Perhaps this wasn’t a matter of any Logoidal or Cosmic sleep cycles, but was simply due to HPL’s own pinched, secular nature that perverted his spiritual perception, taking him only halfway to the promised land?

    Funny, but Edgar A. Poe also had his spiritual vision/epiphany – his prose-poem “Eureka” is basically his Cosmic Doctrine (he thought of it as his most significant work, no one else does). “Eureka” doesn’t really come across as a negative epiphany, but it does seem to underscore a longing for Oneness, but it’s a Oneness found in unconsciousness, oblivion.

  38. This makes me wonder, what really is the subconscious?

    I’m not clear on the difference between the lesser night and the greater night.
    What does it mean that the solar system sleeps between each swarm?
    What role do our little souls have as compared to the swarms returning?
    Is the greater night a complete dissolution on the material plane? Meaning no planets or suns?

  39. “Another, not unrelated, is the very common modern habit of eating diets too low in carbohydrates and calories to support normal brain function. ”

    Wow, that is a strange comment. I don’t know how to understand it. Can you elaborate?

  40. “The forthsending and returning of an evolutionary life swarm conveys the same harvest of experiences to the Logoidal Consciousness as the Individuality of a man receives from the incarnation of a Personality.”

    This is going on all the time in various micro-ways too, like anytime we learn something new. I got to thinking about my own actual (as opposed to metaphorical!) travelling experiences in various corners of the world – places that were substantially different to what I was familiar with at home. Going out on a journey to a new place, a new country, the trip is all about exploring, meeting new people, being exposed to different environments, cultures, social conventions. Everything just kind of hits me like a wave of energy. I’m being influenced by all these external forces that I don’t really understand at the time. Everything seems new, different, outside of me. The culture shock is because it is all so new and I don’t have much internal language to make sense of it all. This all gets processed a little, on the fly, out of sheer necessity, but it’s not until I withdraw from the trip and get back home that I can take the time to fully think about and reflect upon all the various experiences I had. That’s the moment where my journey becomes internalized and integrated into myself; it becomes a part of me. It transforms from a subconscious impression to a fully conscious realization. I believe in an earlier section Fortune mentioned that ‘creation takes place in a destructive phase,’ and this is what’s going on here. The energy of a new environment influenced me on the outgoing phase of my travels. On the return (destructive) phase it becomes locked and limited into a particular form that I now understand. This return phase would be like a little “Night of God” for me.

    “It will be seen, then, that the goal of evolution is the development of a consciousness which can unite with the Logoidal consciousness and pass from the phase of a reflected, or a projected existence—a phenomenal existence—to that of a real, actual or noumenal existence in the Cosmic state. This can be achieved only when the entire manifested universe is perfectly synthesised.”

    In a bizarre and interesting fractal way, we and the rest of created life are a key part of this process for the Logos – we’re the waves of thought in its mind that it sent out on this Cosmic journey to gather experiences and learn about itself, and the world in which it finds itself. As we reflect and process on what we have experienced, we lock those realizations into a form the Logos can understand and integrate into itself.

  41. Steve T,

    Your insight about the gods being ways to fight against the primordial chaos, especially with the metaphor of the Asgardians walling themselves off from giants of Norse mythology really impressed me. Last weekend I was reading through a book about world religions which brought up one of the older theories, that gods were a creation of society. The example of the Asgardian gods building a wall around their city certainly has a lot in common with this theory.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about society and civilization, how our modern lifestyles resulting in more urbanization and more disconnect from the world within we exist is creating a less resilient people which will ultimately result in our civilization, society, and technologies fading from existence. This can’t be the first time it has happened. It’s funny how we so often gravitate towards lifestyles which eventually lead to death. After considering the essay of JMGs, and Dion Fortune’s ideas from the Cosmic Doctrine, is the death of a civilization that bad of a thing? The useful ideas will hopefully have planted seeds to carry forward into the next. These are perhaps the seeds of gods.

    So many things to consider…

  42. @TamHob – your description of Australia’s seasons made a lot of sense to this former desert rat from New Mexico. I notice the traditional 4-seasons model doesn’t suit a Mediterranean climate – which other parts of the United States have – either.

  43. Sara, true enough.

    Jen, I’ve had the same sort of thing happen. I’ve also forgotten a dream on waking, and then suddenly remembered it in fine detail several days later, apropos of nothing known to me. Interesting…

    Shivadas, I’m pretty sure Fortune studied Heindel’s book, and I know she studied Blavatsky’s — she was an active Theosophist for a while, when that was de rigueur. Both are worth reading, but both are quite long — one of the things that impresses me most about The Cosmic Doctrine is that it packs so much into so short a space.

    Jay, interesting. I hadn’t encountered Reanney’s book before — I’ll put it on the get-to list. Merrell-Wolff, on the other hand, I’ve read — and I think Fortune would have agreed with you!

    Cliff, sing it, brother bard! 😉

    Ron, I hadn’t thought about the connection between the cycle of yugas and the buildup of epigenetic evil, but you’re right — it makes perfect sense of that. Thank you for this!

    Kimberly, one of the things I find very comforting about occultism is that it constantly reminds me that there are beings as far beyond humanity, in terms of intelligence and wisdom, as we are beyond pond scum. The thought that we’re the smartest beings around would be hilariously absurd if it wasn’t so depressing.

    TamHob, fascinating. I’ve always lived in parts of the northern temperate zone where the standard four seasons make sense, so it’s intriguing to hear about your very different seasonal cycle — and to spin metaphors from that.

    Steve, that makes perfect sense. Each swarm, in Fortune’s terms, makes certain changes, but those then become stereotyped and turn into the obstacle over which the next swarm has to cross.

    Ron, yes, very much so. In an upcoming chapter we’ll be discussing metaphors that fit this even more precisely.

    Docshibby, Druidry isn’t really a philosophy as such, though many Druids use it as a basis for philosophical speculation. It’s an attitude, if you will, or an outlook. Some Druids make use of concepts like the Tao — for that matter, some make use of the concept of the Tao itself! Others have other ways of thinking about things.

    Arkansas, what a fine topic for your daily meditations!

    Prizm, sounds to me as though you’re doing a very solid job of absorbing the ideas in the Cos. Doc…

    Will, that’s complex. Since the negative epiphany is something that people can experience at any moment, it’s not part of one of the cosmic cycles Fortune is talking about, which come and go over vast periods of time. For what it’s worth, it’s a perception I’ve had quite often, but with a twist; I don’t find it depressing at all. A universe that imposes no rigid system of meanings on us is a universe in which we can find and make our own meanings — that is to say, a universe of freedom. To me, that seems exhilarating! I’d identify that experience with the opening sections of the Cos.Doc. — the recognition that all that exists is empty space and movement, and all the complexities of the universe we experience work out uitimately into patterns of space flowing endlessly for no reason other than it happened to start moving that way.

    Onething, the subconscious is all of the mental processes that have been going on so long and so smoothly that you don’t notice them any more. As for the lesser and greater nights, in terms of Earth’s history, we get a lesser night between major periods of evolution — my guess is that in her terms, the end of the age of the dinosaurs and the beginning of the age of mammals was a lesser night. The greater night comes when the material sun finishes its life cycle and shuts down.

    As for brains and calories, the brain uses a lot of energy — that’s why so much of the body’s heat is radiated from the head. If you eat a diet too low in foods that provide energy, you get what’s sometimes called “low-carb brain fog” — you can’t think clearly because your brain doesn’t have the fuel to think with.

    Stefania, yes, exactly. Our learning experiences are part of the process through which the Solar Logos comes to know itself.

  44. Yes on low carb fog, and give thanks for oatmeal. Or grits if that’s your cultural dish. Or for that matter, groats, in some other cultures. And give tenfold thanks for potatoes.

  45. The action / rest cycle described has suddenly made a lot of sense of my career path: over the last decade, I’ve had mentally and emotionally intense jobs followed by periods of unemployment. During the employed period I experienced masses of new experiences and learning, but no time to digest them. During unemployment, I’ve had time to contemplate the last job and integrate the experience into my worldview.

    If the previous forms that we struggle against are the product of the last lot of Sparks exploring their lives, then effectively those are the forms left behind by our ‘ancestors’. So we owe the last Sparks for bringing us to where we are, but also struggle against their traces to actualise our own potential. In our own way, we will leave a world behind that our own descendants will struggle against.

  46. JMG,

    All the more reason I can’t wait till your interpretive addition of the Cosmic Doctrine is released. I’ve honestly only made it through three or four chapters. What keeps me understanding is the decade plus I’ve been reading your blog and the notes you’re leaving for us here. It’s not the language which is hard to understand, but modern life has put a twist on things. I try hard to see the depth of things, but with the upbringing I’ve had, I struggle with anything that doesn’t leave things straightforward. What I am realizing with all of this Cosmic Doctrine though is, what is straightforward today is not straightforward tomorrow.

  47. JMG,

    Yes, but to say that it is common to undereat and eat too few carbohydrates is puzzling to me. I thought we ate too much?

  48. If each life in the existence of an individuality is equivalent to a day in our life, then there’s something intriguing which follows: it’s possible, and indeed required, for there to exist lifetimes devoted to a particular purpose which is necessary for the individuality, but has little or nothing to do with the lives directly before or after.

    I’m an amateur musician, and so my mind is linking this to my music: there are days when I spend a great deal of time on it, and others where it’s less important. There are days where I don’t play or listen to any music, but there are others where I spend hours on it. Then there are concerts; which involve many many days practising, building towards something climactic.Thus, given this metaphor, there exist climactic lifetimes where the individuality takes something it’s spent lifetimes working on, and does something remarkable with it, such as Mozart. Extending the metaphor of Mozart as a concert, concerts don’t happen every day: they’re fairly rare. After the concert, life goes on, so whoever Mozart is now, I’d expect music to be important to them, but not to the extent music was important to Mozart.

    It gets even more complicated though when the possibility of multiple hobbies is taken into account: if my last three days were extended into lifetimes, then there’d be one as an intellectual, lost in his head, who finds pleasure in books, not spirituality, and doesn’t like music, since both get in the way of understanding the world here and now; one as a mystic, to whom making sense of the world is an irrelevance and who is happy to exist without knowing, and to whom music matters only to the extent it shows higher realities; and one as a dedicated musician who doesn’t care much for either the intellectual’s overthinking, nor the mystic’s transcendental ideas, but finds joy in the act of making and hearing music, pure and simple.

    There are some continuities (such as copious amounts of tea, a love of old things, and enjoying good food), but after spending hours in the library Wednesday I didn’t spend much time reading anything Thursday or today (Friday), and while I didn’t play my saxophone at all Wednesday, and hardly at all yesterday, today I spent an hour on it, and several more listening to music. And although a degree of spirituality was present in each of the days, I took it further by far on Thursday, spending more time on it than I did today or Wednesday together.

    Each day (lifetime) makes sense if viewed as part of a whole, despite being incredibly different from each other. But without knowing the context of my life, given only those three days, I’d probably think they belonged to different people. I suspect the same thing can be true then of lifetimes, but with the added twist that most people forget what happened between lives.

  49. The more I read this, the more I realise that the Aboriginal Australians had this right from the very beginning with their “dreamtime”.

  50. And with that, I am also convinced that JRR Tolkein must have read the same source material as Fortune did, perhaps the theosophists, or been acquainted with it, as the concepts of the fallen angel Melkor, Morgoth’s evil becoming spread out and inbuilt within the earth “arda marred”, and finally, dagor dagorath, and the Second Music which would integrate it all. Fairly perennial philosophy, that crops up time and again, and probably a good reason for this.

  51. I feel i have somewhat caught up maybe enough to scratch the surface a little and provide something. This chapter is again seeming to encourage the reader towards an ethical life. On a surface level it seems to tend toward the well worn idea that the nature of our work determines our place among beings and forces that are in sync with the evolutions of logoidial consciousness or chief god. If great effort is put into our life works then our spirits will retain these works and remain strong even when the world is chaotic and god has left to meditate into the way of the planetary spirits. Perhaps this chapter encourages us to build concern around the vast power of the our chosen agency and the ability of our free will and highlights the importance of the everyday decisions we make…how will can influence the strengths of our various disciplines and shape the spiritual direction of our lives. Weakness leads into interacting with evil dynamically, such as wasting entire decades staring at screens filled with garbage and things connected with spiritual and cultural decline, failing to use the evil as a thrusting block at all. Interacting dynamically with positive evil must be avoided in favour of building on existing structures of discipline that were developed by previous swarms… before wayward forces held such strong ambition to hold heavy sway over the state of our minds and spirits.
    The veil hiding some forms of positive evil does seem to be thinning however presently. In America you can see this at play most recently, if you dare dip into daily news, in the form of Ricky Gervais presenting in the form of an archetypal Lord of Mind that has completed it’s work on planetary development and settled into the job of working at redirecting deviants turned in destructive epigenesis phases. Now twice he has addressed the absurdity of his own hollywood ilk. First gutting the entire centre left elitist audience at the golden globes by way of shocking comedic combat, and now pointing towards the hypocrisy of hollywood virtue signalling in outing Natalie Portman’s ridiculously narcissistic ploy of wearing a cape embroidered with female directors snubbed at the Oscar’s…the cape being made allegedly by a company employing impoverished workers from Bangladesh. This in my view is perhaps a good example of a Lord of Mind acting to recover those souls who have slipped into ultra individualism through too long of an epigenesis? Attempting to bring them back into the fold through public conflict and at the same time creating a warning for newer swarms (thesbian swarms 😉 to not repeat the behaviour. It is interesting that the power of comedians comes from so simple an art and can yet weild tremendous power in snapping cultural deviance into the public eye while screaming for its tranformation. And in such humiliating fashion that a shift in collective consciousness may occur. I guess poets used to able to do that too? But then the deification and worship of Movie Actors (although arguably coming to an end now) is relatively recent…
    Conversely I’ve heard say from lay people that even this public humiliation is in fact a ploy to redirect public anger safely by way of pre planned conflict so that no heads actually roll and certain narratives stay intact by way of light scolding… thereby retaining societal elements that would otherwise abandon ship. But do these people really have that much collective insight?
    It is very hard to tell.

  52. Hi John Michael,

    Fascinating as usual – with much to cogitate upon. It is funny you mention the cycles of awareness and absorption, because one of the reasons I left working for the big end of town was that there was rarely any time allowed for absorption. I felt that too much emphasis was put upon awareness – and in turn reaction. In the larger society I also observe reactions drawing from base responses. However, there are times when a considered response is called for, and absorption is then required. I believe the cycle we may be in now favours awareness over absorption, but I could well be wrong.

    Did you just write that perhaps it wouldn’t be a bad idea for people to consider using critical thinking skills and then live consciously by making active decisions? Nice one! 🙂

    So is the text suggesting that with ‘free will’ comes risk? And that the risk is inherent in the journey? Very astute.

    Heavy going stuff!

    My brain is a bit sore this evening because as well as reading and cogitating upon your fine essay, I have been busy using the old brain to do an upgrade on the solar power system. Not a bad idea that I have done so too, because one of the battery interconnectors was displaying signs of heat damage. I’ve now doubled the voltage in the basic system and thus halved the stress the system was occasionally experiencing. All good though, but exactly like life, this renewable energy stuff is complicated.

    The rains have returned here. Yay for rain, although it is looking very wet outside now and working on the solar power system in the rain was not fun at all. Mustn’t grumble though. Spring is just around the corner for you! Winter is a great time for seed catalogues. 🙂



  53. Hi John Michael,

    I enjoy this series of essays too.

    Talk of the Mabinogion reminded me of the ‘house sprite’ (please forgive me if I have called the entity by an incorrect name). For some reason the encounter with that particular entity in the story has always stuck in my mind. It was a cheerful and cheeky entity, and I have this memory that it recalled the fun times that once went on in the formerly empty house. It is such a lovely idea that our physical creations and the occupation of those buildings could attract entities. You were discussing architecture last week, and the spiritual side of our buildings is a fascinating, but rarely considered topic.



  54. A universe which imposed a rigid meaning, would be as boring as facing a canvas or sheet of paper which allowed no happy accidents in the painting, and to which viewers of which could only respond in one way ( I suppose Soviet official art tried that).

  55. Patricia M, in my case it’s rice — chalk that up to a Japanese-American stepmother. Either way, though, huzzah for brain food!

    Kfish, I think most people have their fallow periods, the periods in which it’s necessary to just kick back and process things for a while. As for wrestling with our ancestors, yes, exactly — and I find it’s very helpful from time to time to think about what our descendants will think of what we’re leaving behind for them.

    Prizm, this material is very heavy going. I hope my commentary will be helpful to people, but when push comes to shove, there’s no way to escape the challenge of stretching your mind to embrace a very unfamiliar way of thinking about things.

    Onething, the diet-products industry spends billions of dollars a year in ad buys and media campaigns to make you think that. Did you know that there are a couple of reams of controlled double-blinded studies, dating back decades to the days when science wasn’t as corrupt as it is now, showing that dieting only works as a means of weight loss for a small percentage of the population? So we’ve got vast numbers of people starving their brains in the fond hope that they will lose weight by doing so, and since they never lose more than about five pounds (and then put it all back on even if they stay on the diet), they’re a captive market for more products…

    Will, yes, that does indeed follow.

    Peter, tribal cultures with a long memory normally have a very good grasp of such things. As for Tolkien, I’m convinced that something important has been left out of his biographies. He knew way too much about the occultism of his own time, and drew heavily on it in the creation of his legendarium — did you know, for example, that his history of Numenor is a lightly reworked version of H.P. Blavatsky’s very idiosyncratic version of the Atlantis legend? Given the dates, this didn’t come from Golden Dawn member Charles Williams — Williams and Tolkien only became close after Williams moved to Oxford in 1939, and the first draft of the Akallabeth was finished by 1937 — so it looks very much as though Tolkien had connections with somebody in the Theosophical and occult scene in Oxford in the 1930s, and learned a fair amount from that source. I don’t think it was Owen Barfield, since he was a follower of Rudolf Steiner and I haven’t found any significant Steinerian influence in Tolkien; the questions of who, where, and when remain unanswered — but the thing very clearly happened.

    Ian, it is indeed very hard to tell, but I think you’re on to something important here. Ethics are an important part of what Fortune has to say, but not in the sense of following some fixed set of rules — those are the tracks in space laid down by the past, which each new swarm has to confront and adapt to its own needs. I see Ricky Gervais as engaged in that work, pointing out to people caught in a rule-following morality that they really do need to look at things from a broader perspective, and examine their own behavior just as closely as they examine the behavior of those they like to denounce.

    Jeff, interesting. What I’ve seen is precisely the opposite: the Neopagan movement is in freefall, and witchcraft-themes shops, businesses, and festivals are shutting down right and left. I’m not sure if the Atlantic is catching onto a trend just as it’s fading out, or if there’s the beginnings of a countermovement to the general decline.

    Chris, why, yes, that was indeed what I said. 😉 As for the house sprite, hmm — I’m trying to place that in the Mabinogion. Can you remind me?

    Xabier, you know, I think Socialist Realism art is a very good metaphor for that kind of vision of the world — flat, stereotyped, and totalitarian…

  56. JMG
    “The Logoidal ideas are profoundly simple …”

    I wonder if some of my personal experience has been related to our reading the Cosmic Doctrine, if so it happened very early on in the discussion. I am still grateful that I had a dream which informed my understanding and practice of the Sphere of Protection. My SOP starts by addressing ‘the sun’ in its singularity above my head, as if at noon.

    The dream could have come first I think and was a turning point. In the dream I was able to refute the suggestion that I had cornered myself, or had been finally cornered in a very tight place. (In GB we have bijoux modern housing schemes with very tight turning circles for cars – I still call them cul-de-sacs, a term from childhood). My dream was in one of these little suburban settings. I can still feel the strong sun on my head that day. I was able to answer a knowing sneer – I had met those characters before in different guises – with; ‘No this is a very good day to turn around’.
    Metaphor works in mysterious ways!😊
    Phil H

  57. @JMG this was in preceding chapters, but I’ve been hung up on the epigenesis origins (well also the seven rays, but that doesn’t fit in with this topic) – as the motions of the Cosmos do have a fractal nature, and it looks to my mind like Hollings adaptive cycle, I have had an okay time finding metaphors in processes at more familiar scales to help understand (like sleep, or compost…). But she says epigenesis arises because the swarms are waiting on the planet, as the preceding swarm is still on the one on the next plane up. They’ve got nowhere to go, so they play. I’m having trouble finding a metaphor at my scale for that in ecological science or human life, and I’m wondering if she’d have used a different one, if she’d been writing today?

    She relied on the knowledge of physics and astronomy, and psychology, of the day. Today I think…if epigenesis is free will, the way positive evil can occur… and it builds up in the manner described by Ron in the Upanishads…it sounds like genetic mutation?

    In the Selfish Gene (maybe one of the most backasswards misunderstood of all scientific books), Dawkins explains it as though genes have consciousness, and sometimes, when they develop a new mutation, they can “choose” to get themselves passed on during cell division or reproduction, despite not being adaptive for the larger organism or species in all sorts of tricky ways (think of the way cancer cells trick and evade our bodies). Selection doesn’t just occur at the level of what works better or at least doesn’t kill the unit of reproduction, the way we usually think. Genes can develop goals radically at odds with the survival of the rest of the genome, and hence, their “host” itself, in much the way selfish people can work at odds to the rest of their society but still profit by it.

    The recapitulation of evolution by developing embryos is so analogous to the way swarms affect each new swarm; spandrels and “useless” organs like the appendix, their baggage we still deal with – genetic mutations thus like epigenesis, allowing disease and birth defect, and those genes that work against the rest of the genome can be positive evil building up, accumulating in a bloodline or a species, being selected out only when too severe? It doesn’t quite follow though… I have to be missing something.

  58. JMG,

    What would you suggest to someone whose current personality has a deep distrust of their own higher self? If one spent an entire life suffering so that the divine spark (or for that matter the solar logos) could gain experience, or one was paying the bill for previous personalities who got off free of experiencing the consequences they should have experienced, or one got hit with soul-crushing events with seemingly no care at all to the well-being of the personality, is it unreasonable for the personality to become wary of the higher self?

    And how to overcome this? Or maybe not? Maybe the higher self wants to experience anger and hatred from it’s own personality? Or wants to experience the difficult task of growing into acceptance of the sacrificial lamb role? I’m guessing the answer is that the personality sees it all wrong and everything is just as it should be, but to the personality, that doesn’t really help at all.


  59. “For the Logos to awaken fully to its own potential… it needs swarms of souls to act out in objective consciousness everything the Logos contains in its subjective consciousness, so it can experience its own internal content objectively, as though standing outside itself.” This reminds me of the creative process, whereby the artist (be it a writer, composer or visual artist) is “possessed” by a creative idea/image until it is “exorcised” by making it manifest in the world of the senses – and then the artist is relieved of the burden and can move on to the next creative idea/image. At least, that’s how I experience it.

  60. There is, perhaps, nothing in art less like reality than ‘Realism’, whether ‘Soviet’, ‘Marxist’, ‘Social’ or ‘Hyper’.

    A brush drawing in ink by a Chinese or Japanese scholar can have a far more real essence and knock the Realists flat.

    As a formula, however, it does enable the ‘artist’ to churn out large numbers of pieces without any inconvenient need for inspiration or sensitivity – like a factory.

    Onwards, Comrades!

  61. About the metaphor of the Aesir walling themselves off – Norse culture made a lot of the disinfection between “gard” (pronounced “yard”) and “utgard”, which, having read where that term occurs, I translated as “Beyond the Pale” in class. Within the Gard (or Garth or Yard) was the house and its outbuildings and the garden and the place where all the work of the household was done, and of course where they slept and ate. Think of a medieval manor, although the head of household was an independent chief, not a feudal lord. The term “gard” was attached to the inhabited worlds of their 9 worlds: Asgard” was walled by definition, as was Midgard, where humans live, usually translated as Middle Earth.

    When Loki and Thor went adventuring together there was a reference to “Loki Utgard” as if he were different from As-Loki, accepted in Asgard.

  62. Phil H, fascinating. Thanks for this!

    Sara, I’m not sufficiently up on modern genetics to have much to offer there, but in terms of evolutionary ecology, perhaps we can think of it as the buildup of genetic variation that plays so large a role in the punctuated equilibrium we see in the fossil record. You have a population of, let’s say, little ratlike mammals scurrying about in the forest, diverging genetically in various ways but staying small and ratlike because the climate of the late Cretaceous is fairly stable and there are so many hungry dinosaurs. Then an asteroid comes strolling by, and boom! The big dinosaurs are gone, the ones that survive are busy figuring out how to be birds, and all that genetic variability combines with a drastic opening up of niches to cause an explosive radiation of new taxa, each of which — because it starts with a very small population under fierce selective pressure — has relatively little genetic variation. Then the Paleocene settles in, the variations begin to pile up, and the rather less ratlike mammals are on their way to bat-hood and horse-hood and so on. Does that seem workable as a metaphor?

    Myriam, there are no wrong answers in this test. William Butler Yeats wrote at some length about the complex relationship between the personality and what he called the Daimon and Fortune calls the Individuality, and yes, bitter and angry relationships between those is one of the many options. The personality goes through all kinds of changes in its relationship with the Individuality until finally awakening comes and the personality realizes that it has been the Individuality all along without knowing it. So don’t worry about it — let yourself feel what you do in fact feel, and trust that it’ll work out in due time.

    Ron, that’s a pretty good description of some modes of my creative process as well, so I think you’re on to something.

    Xabier, granted!

    Patricia, interesting. That makes a lot of sense.

  63. @JMG yes! Yes actually, that shifted something in my brain… I could grok that build up of diversity/diverse actions, but I fell down at how that led to the ability to conduct positive evil, and arise because they were stuck in place, as an outgrowth of the natural cosmic order. I think it goes like this:

    In a mature ecosystem, all the niches have been filled, species are well matched to their habitat. Species can no longer migrate to empty niches, but the presence of the capacity for genetic change inherent in living things keeps pushing for more changes, so we start to see the weird and horrible things we experience as evil in Cordyceps fungi, parasitic wasps, greater variety of parasites of all kinds, and/or intense fragile over-specialization – as the only niches left to take genuinely new variations are ones you create by displacing or consuming other creatures.

    Some ecosystems deal with this by gradually absorbing the disruption, it becomes contained – the adaption of trees to fungal parasite diseases by “retraining” as mycorrhizae. These climax ecosystems have tremendous capacity for diversity, like the Amazon, old growth western North America–unparalleled in stages without the development of capacity to exploit these niches within niches. But, they are also vulnerable to catastrophic loss in ways simpler systems (earlier edaphic) high in generalists following less complicated relationships are not. They have so many extreme specialists, eventually, you will get a cascade of extinction when the balance is upset.

    This maps well to other scales: onto our own body’s genetic flexibility as we age (loss of stem cells, locked up new neuron and immune system response capacity), as well as our societies as they complexify once there are no new frontiers to draw new resources from or expand into.

    The metaphor today for the progresion of swarms on the outgoing arc could best be the primary succession sequence of Clements – the dune and glacial progression from lichen and moss, grades and rushes, nitrogen-fixing shrubs, trees…. And as they head back up again, secondary succession of Odum (old fields), or Gleason’s retort Clements, showing much less clear cut primary succession at glacier toes when a mixture of species from different (primary) seral stages are able to colonize at once, which can generate novel types of communities at any given edaphic condition.

    I’m not sure if that helps anyone else at all – but thank you for indulging my own play mashing up my socially acceptable educational background with dense occult topics no one in meatspace will discuss with me!

  64. “Onething, the diet-products industry spends billions of dollars a year in ad buys and media campaigns to make you think that. Did you know that there are a couple of reams of controlled double-blinded studies, dating back decades to the days when science wasn’t as corrupt as it is now, showing that dieting only works as a means of weight loss for a small percentage of the population? So we’ve got vast numbers of people starving their brains in the fond hope that they will lose weight by doing so, and since they never lose more than about five pounds (and then put it all back on even if they stay on the diet), they’re a captive market for more products…”

    There’s an even worse element: MSG appears to cause weight gain*, and I have some anecdotal evidence that this is the case as well.** The thing which makes this even more entertaining is that it’s everywhere in low calorie foods, since the processing needed to get rid of all the calories makes it unpalatable. So, of course, it makes perfect sense that people who go on diets can never lose weight, and may even gain weight…..


    **My anecdotal evidence is that there are loads of people in the US who are significantly fatter than people in Canada, and it’s far harder to avoid MSG while in the states. My usual heuristics for telling what foods are safe works well enough in Canada, but in the US I need to check everything, and even then, lots of restaurants use it, while in Canada few restaurants use it, aside from fast food places.

  65. The discussion of our society’s Gnostic undertones raises an intriguing thought I hadn’t noticed before: in occult terms, our society rejects the etheric and astral planes, but not the mental. This is odd, since it implies our “materialism” isn’t really a rejection of everything non-material. Given Western cultures love of moral dualisms, of course it had to adopt one here, and given how our culture treats the material, it would be very easy to adopt a rejection of the material plane in favor of the mental plane.

  66. Sara, interesting, and Initiation is like when succession is sped up by a gardener, as permaculturists seek to do. Or in the case of indigenous land management where disturbance and succession can be balanced like a symphony.

  67. A recurring theme it appears(to me) on reading your exposition of the
    Cosmic Doctrine and interpretations of comments subsequently by others is the Constant interplay of night and day on both cosmic and sidereal ephemera of which we are some small
    part. Being emphemera nutrition of MIND,BODY and SOUL(ENAINT) is of the utmost importance as alluded
    to by yourself that of food(BWYD) ,SLEEP and introspection for if we are merely the “SPARKS(GWREICHION).we need physical,emotional and spiritual sustenance and in the spirit of our forefathers and language i offer
    BYWYD(LIFE)and taking the Y out of
    BYWYD gives us BWYD(FOOD) i.e
    Y BWYD(FOOD) is LIFE and also given the lateness of this comment (and hour) perhaps the following would be pertinent

    attb.TALIESYN (6’th C—who knows)

  68. Re: Tolkien: I’ve seen a comment somewhere (probably Rod Dreher’s blog) that one of the reasons why C.S. Lewis converted (back?) to Christianity was because some people in his friend circle got into occultism sometime in the 1920s and had bad experiences, and Lewis and Tolkien were both in the Inklings, so that’s a plausible vector.

    Of course, it’s also possible that Tolkien was also drawing off past life experience/an existing current in space, or whatever other process is responsible for the creative gate to the mysteries, and just backed into something eerily similar to existing occult lore – that does seem to happen sometimes. I’d put my quatloos on the former, though.

    As for the actual post itself and the passage it’s commenting on, I am inclined to defer to Someone’s words from years ago: “the universe is fractal; it is self-similar at every scale”.

  69. Sara, thanks for this! Yes, that works — and trust me, it’s helpful to have someone else with a background in evolutionary ecology to toss ideas such as these back and forth.

    Will, that’s a very good point. Our culture has tried to erase everything between the mental and material planes, and so inevitably you get people fleeing to one or the other to reduce the tension caused by the disjunction between them.

    Bela, good heavens. I didn’t know there was anyone out there doing the old Welsh Cabala! Thank you for this.

    Username, that would make sense. As far as I know, Lewis got the considerable occult material in his planetary trilogy partly from medieval Platonism and partly from Charles Williams, who (despite the claims of some of his more orthodox fans) was a serious occultist — the guy served two terms as Hierophant of a Golden Dawn temple, and you don’t get that job by dabbling. Tolkien, though, clearly had extensive contacts sometime in the 1930s with Theosophical teachings; run-ins with that in the 1920s might well have set the stage for that.

  70. Hi John Michael,

    Thanks for confirming my thoughts!

    Well, to be honest I have not read the source documents. I’d be certain that you have! The first I came across the story was Evangaline Walton and her interpretation of the work, and there may have been a bit of poetic license added into the story.

    The house sprite made an appearance after the intrepid adventurers found themselves in an empty land – presumably after the flooding / tsunami swept over the island. They stayed at the house for maybe a couple of years. It’s a long story and I may have erred in my recollections, but I rather enjoyed the story as their surroundings were written about as if they were somehow less solid than they appear to be today. Strange occurrences took place, and giants strode the Earth.



  71. RE: Aesir and Asgard

    Norse mythology may have a lot to offer in conjunction with the with the Cosmic Doctrine. I’ve seen some references to the nine realms and the Tree of Life, referred to as Yggdrasil, with a strong resemblance to the Kyballistic Tree of Life.

    With regards to Loki, he’s an utterly fascinating figure. The realization that he is half-giant, and is allowed within the walls of Asgard helps to explain the “Loki Utgard” as if he were different from As-Loki, accepted in Asgard” reference. It also would make sense that he is symbolic of the primordial and as such is testing the breaches within the Norse civilizations walled in society. An agent of chaos if you will, similar to chaos as described in the context of the Cosmic Doctrine. Granted, I could be totally off in my understanding.

  72. Hmm, on the subject of theosophy, I have a quote here from Krishnamurti describing a moment of gnosis,

    “Just then there was a car passing by at some distance; I was the driver, the engine, and the tyres; as the car went further away from me, I was going away from myself. I was in everything, or rather everything was in me, inanimate and animate, the mountain, the worm, and all breathing things.”

    It seems in this spiritual experience there is no difference between nature and civilization, no alienation from nature, whereas much ecospiritual discourse maintains that humanity is alienated from nature.
    What to make of this ?

  73. Having more-or-less caught up after a busy few months, it’s good to be back! These posts–and the CosDoc worldview itself–are really helpful, especially as I try to get free of the remains of Protestant Work Ethic that insist that I always have to have A Goal In Life. It’s nice to be reminded that experience and thought can be valuable in and of themselves, not just as stepping-stones to some larger thing.

    @Will J: Also preservatives/corn syrup/etc. Anecdotes aren’t data and all that, but I went over to the UK last year, and noticed that the average person was in better shape, and I myself remained so, despite no shortage of food or any low-carb anything. (Cream teas may be, to paraphrase Franklin?, proof that the gods love us and want us to be happy.) Part is average portion size, part is that people walk more, but I also think the MSG/hydrogenated/etc aspects play a big role.

    I know low-carb brain fog well from both my prep school days and my LARPing now, when I’m so busy that I don’t realize I haven’t eaten until I’m wondering why I’m so dumb/grumpy/etc, and then either realize what’s wrong or a friend smacks me upside the head and hands me a granola bar. (Hunger also makes anxiety worse, and eating is good for it–if nothing else, digestion gives your body a thing to focus on that’s not OMG THERE’S TOTALLY A LION SOMEWHERE–which is a real…inconvenience…because anxiety is also an appetite suppressant.)

    @Kimberly: I’m with you about sleep. I think it’s related to fear of missing out and fear of being alone with your thoughts. I’m slowly becoming better about both of those, but it’s tough.

    And on death: three of my four grandparents have ended up dying of strokes/heart issues just as symptoms of dementia were beginning to get noticeable. I don’t know what’s up with that, but it’s an interesting note given what you mention, which I agree with.

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