With this post we continue a monthly chapter-by-chapter discussion of The Doctrine and Ritual of High Magic by Eliphas Lévi, the book that launched the modern magical revival. Here and in the months ahead we’re plunging into the white-hot fires of creation where modern magic was born. If you’re just joining us now, I recommend reading the earlier posts in this sequence first; you can find them here. Either way, grab your tarot cards and hang on tight.
If you can read French, I strongly encourage you to get a copy of Lévi’s book in the original and follow along with that; it’s readily available for sale in Francophone countries, and can also be downloaded for free from Archive.org. If not, the English translation by me and Mark Mikituk is recommended; A.E. Waite’s translation, unhelpfully retitled Transcendental Magic, is second-rate at best—riddled with errors and burdened with Waite’s seething intellectual jealousy of Lévi—though you can use it after a fashion if it’s what you can get. Also recommended is a tarot deck using the French pattern: the Knapp-Hall deck (unfortunately out of print at the moment), the Wirth deck (available in several versions), or any of the Marseilles decks are suitable.
“Chapter 14: Transmutations” (Greer & Mikituk, pp. 132-138).
Having discussed one set of popular beliefs about magic in the previous chapter, Lévi proceeds to explore another in the present one. His strategy here is straightforward. Having devoted the first part of the book to explaining what magic is and how it works, he goes on in the second half to explore specific branches of magic well known to the folklore and popular culture of his time, in order to show how the astral light shaped by will and imagination account for the traditions and practices of magic his readers knew about.
In this chapter he tackles one of the most challenging of these, the traditions of shapeshifting and lycanthropy. It so happens that all around the world, there are legends of people who are able to transform themselves into animals of various kinds. The werewolf of European folklore is only one example of the type, though it’s the one that came first to mind among Lévi’s readers. In the middle years of the nineteenth century, werewolf stories were still common in the French countryside. A few centuries earlier they were even more so, a pervasive presence in folklore and literature all over western and central Europe.
By the way, you’ll want to ditch the notion that werewolves do a furry version of the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde switcheroo, remaining basically human except for the ultimate bad hair day. That idea entered the modern imagination by way of one of the classic monster movies of the black-and-white era, The Wolf Man, and it showed up there due to the limitations of cinematic special effects between the wars. Your classic European werewolf isn’t satisfied with the kind of half measures that Lon Chaney made famous in that film. In the folklore Lévi is discussing, werewolves literally turn into wolves.
Or do they? This is where things get interesting.
Lévi brings our attention, first of all, to several interesting points. The first is that werewolves are, or at least in early modern France were, not merely a matter of fables and delusions. People saw them, chased them, killed them and were killed by them. Serious scholars, judges, and government officials headed inquiries into local accounts of werewolf activities and decided that there really was something to it. It’s easy for readers now, three and four centuries after the fact, to insist that everyone in early modern France must have been a superstitious fool, but that’s simply a way of dodging uncomfortable evidence. Something really was happening.
What was happening, however, did not involve human beings physically transmogrifying into wolves. It’s not just that there’s no known way for something like that to happen, and plenty of good biological reasons why it can’t; the core issue is that the evidence doesn’t support that claim. Our text outlines three of the crucial pieces of evidence: victims of werewolf attacks were smothered, not torn to pieces by fangs; werewolves who were hunted down and wounded by the local authorities never left a wolf (or human) corpse on the spot of the apparent killing; and very often the person suspected of being the werewolf turned up dead at home the moment the marauding wolf-form was dealt an apparently fatal wound somewhere else.
It is quite well documented that under some circumstances, certain people can project a phantasm of themselves far away from their actual, physical location, and this phantasm can be seen and spoken to by other people. Lévi cites two cases of the kind that were exhaustively researched by the Catholic Church; some decades after his time, the noted psychical researchers Edmund Gurney, F.W.H. Myers, and Frank Podmore published a hefty two-volume study titled Phantasms of the Living that discussed the same phenomenon in rigorous detail, with an abundance of case studies. In occult jargon, this phantasm is called the astral body, and methods of shifting consciousness into the astral body and traveling in it while the physical body remains in trance make up a standard part of occult training in some modern and traditional schools. Do these methods work? Yes, and anyone who is willing to do the necessary training can find this out in person.
Nearly all modern occult systems teach students to project an astral body that resembles their own physical bodies. Ancient systems of occult training had other habits. The further back in time we go, the more the evidence suggests that the standard practices for astral projection involved animal forms rather than human ones. Go back far enough, into those archaic times when the religious imagination of our species followed what Joseph Campbell liked to call “the Way of the Animal Powers,” and the art of taking on an astral body in animal form seems to have been a core practice of many shamanistic traditions. Some of these, in some parts of the world, managed to survive to more recent times.
Trace the werewolf lore Lévi discusses back as far as the records go, and one of these traditions comes dimly into view: a warrior society among the Indo-European tribes far back in antiquity, which took young men from their homes into the wilderness to master the art of communing with wolf-spirits and taking on the astral forms of wolves. It’s worth taking a moment to reach back in imagination across the millennia and call to mind pounding drums beneath the full moon, trees reaching up black clawing fingers toward the starry sky, shadowy forms dressed only in wolfskins and paint dancing in the night and then tumbling to the ground in trance, to race through the woodland in phantasmal wolf-forms until the pale predawn stars call them back to their sleeping human bodies.
Even in those distant times, the wolf-cult was on the fringes of tribal society; it’s doubtless no accident that the same word means “wolf” and “outlaw” in Indo-European languages as far removed as Old Norse and Ancient Hittite. By the days of ancient Greece the descendants of those archaic cults survived in a hole-and-corner fashion in isolated regions, giving rise to spooky stories of lykanthropoi, literally “wolf-men.” More than a millennium later, similar traditions lingered in isolated corners of western and central Europe, to flicker out one at a time under the pressure of religious dogmatism and cultural centralization. If any trace of the old wolf-mysteries survived to the nineteenth century, the passionate quests of French and German occultists for archaic traditions failed to turn up the least trace of them.
None of this should be particularly surprising to those of my readers who know their way around research into the odd corners of European folk religion; put the old wolf-cult in the context of the traditions surveyed in Carlo Ginzburg’s fine books The Night Battles and Ecstasies, and they don’t even seem all that unusual. In Lévi’s time, by contrast, very little of this context was known, and it speaks well of him that he was able to see through the legend to the archaic trance experiences and astral journeying at its heart.
Of course we don’t tend to think of trance experiences as something that other people can watch, much less consider the possibility that the phantasm of a wolf projected in trance can kill and be killed. Our culture tries to draw a hard line between the material world, which we think of as real, objective, and “out there,” and the world of dream and trance and vision, which we think of as unreal, subjective, and “all in your head.” That division is very familar and very comforting, and it’s a good enough generalization for practical purposes that people can go through their entire lives without noticing the places where it breaks down—where what seems to be “out there” actually belongs to the realm of consciousness, and what seems to be “all in your head” got there by way of the efforts of another mind.
In medieval and Renaissance France, the print of the werewolf’s paw marked one of the places where the line between objective and subjective realities broke down. In twentieth century America, flying saucers marked another such place. There have been, and will continue to be, many other examples. As Carl Jung pointed out in his incisive essay “Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Sky,” these interminglings of objective and subjective realities, of the world of facts and the world of dreams, trances, and visions, are especially common in times of severe collective stress. France in the medieval and Renaissance eras was such a place, as was twentieth-century America, and of course the same is true today.
Yet our text goes in a more challenging direction, suggesting that the interpenetration of the visionary and mundane spheres goes on all the time, and that the extreme cases where that interpenetration becomes impossible to miss are simply the most obvious end of a continuum of interactions that affect most of us most of the time, especially in our human relationships. “We act through our imagination on the imagination of others,” Lévi suggests. Thoughtful observation of other people, especially when they are affected by the deeper and more unreasonable emotions, strongly suggests that he’s correct.
It’s worth noting here, by the way, that psychiatrists figured this out themselves in the course of observing the relationships between their patients and themselves. One of the things that happens reliably in the course of therapy is what old-fashioned Freudian therapists call “transference”—the patient literally transfers his various emotional complexes onto the therapist, so that the latter becomes now the father, now the mother, now the rival, and so on through the litany of human relationships. This is useful, because the canny therapist can figure out what the patient is transferring and so gets to look under the hood of the patient’s relationships, but it has a downside: countertransference, when the therapist begins doing the same thing to the patient.
It was partly through watching transference in action that Jung came up with his broader theory of projection, in which most human relationships are at least partly mediated by each person projecting some more or less archetypal image on the other. The projection of the shadow, in which people project all their own faults onto someone else, is the part of this theory that has gotten the most attention, but there’s more to it than that, of course.
What Lévi is discussing here is nothing less than the medium through which magic functions interpersonally. The world that we experience through our senses is not as real, objective, and “out there” as our cultural presuppositions insist; it is a co-creation of the objective and the subjective, the outer and the inner, the mundane and the archetypal, and it can never be anything else. When rationalists insist they are perceiving the objective world exactly as it is, they’re doing nothing of the kind—they’re projecting a subjective emotional state not that different from rigor mortis onto the inkblot patterns of experience, and then extracting from those patterns a content that they themselves put into them.
When mages choose to invest this or that part of the world of experience with this or that subjective energy, they’re doing the same thing, but they’re doing it deliberately, causing change in conscious experience in accordance with will. In the chapters ahead, Lévi will take this same insight in other directions—but he’s also got some warnings to offer first.
Notes for Study and Practice:
It’s quite possible to get a great deal out of The Doctrine and Ritual of High Magic by the simple expedient of reading each chapter several times and thinking at length about the ideas and imagery that Lévi presents. For those who want to push things a little further, however, meditation is a classic tool for doing so.
The method of meditation I am teaching as we read Lévi is one that is implicit in his text, and was developed in various ways by later occultists following in his footsteps. It is a simple and very safe method, suitable for complete beginners but not without benefits for more experienced practitioners. It will take you five minutes a day. Its requirements are a comfortable chair, your copy of Lévi’s book, and a tarot deck of one of the varieties discussed earlier.
For your work on this chapter, take Trump XIV, “La Temperance.” Your first task is to study it and get familiar with the imagery. Sit down, get out the card, and study it. Spend five minutes doing this on the first day you devote to this practice.
Your second task is to associate a letter with it. Lévi gives you two options, the Hebrew letter נ (Nun) or the Latin letter O. As noted earlier, you should choose one alphabet and stick to it. The sound values aren’t of any importance here, nor is there a “right” choice. You’re assigning labels to a mental filing cabinet. Most people can make the necessary association quite promptly, but spend a session exploring it. Sit down, get out the card, and study it. Relate it to the letter in any way that comes to mind.
The third and fourth sessions are devoted to the titles Lévi gives for the card: Sphera Lunae, Sempiternum, and Auxilium. Sit down, get out the card, and study it. How does Sphera Lunae, “the sphere of the Moon,” relate to the imagery on the card and the letter you’ve chosen? That’s one session. How about Sempiternum, “that which endures for all of time”? That’s the next one. How about Auxilium, “help”? That’s the third. Approach these in the same way as the concepts you explored in earlier meditations.
Don’t worry about getting the wrong answer. There are no wrong answers in meditation. Your goal is to learn how to work with certain capacities of will and imagination most people never develop. Stray thoughts, strange fancies, and whimsical notions do this as well as anything.
Sessions six through the end of the month are done exactly the same way, except that you take the concepts from the chapter. Sit down, get out the card, and study it. Then open the book to Chapter 14 of the Doctrine and find something in it that interests you. Spend five minutes figuring out how it relates to the imagery on the card, the letter, and the three titles. Do the same thing with a different passage the next day, and the day after, and so on. If you run out of material for meditation in this chapter, you can certainly go back to the previous chapters and review what they have to say.
Don’t worry about where this is going. Unless you’ve already done this kind of practice, the goal won’t make any kind of sense to you. Just do the practice. You’ll find, if you stick with it, that over time the card you’re working on takes on a curious quality I can only call conceptual three-dimensionality: a depth is present that was not there before, a depth of meaning and ideation. It can be very subtle or very loud, or anything in between. Don’t sense it? Don’t worry. Sit down, get out the card, and study it. Do the practice and see where it takes you.
We’ll be going on to “Chapter 15: Black Magic,” on August 10, 2022. See you then!
I’ve got some thoughts I’m collecting about this chapter, but for now, two thoughts:
1) If I remember correctly, in Druid Revival lore there is an idea that some people have a type of animal associated with them that’s linked to them that others can learn to see. I forget the name of it. This chapter and post makes me want to review that, maybe I read about it in the Dolmen Arch.
And 2) When you were planning this Levi book club, did you intentionally plan to post this about lycanthropy on the day of the full moon (today)? 🙂
Very synchronistic that I’ve been watching documentaries about Skinwalker Ranch. I hope you have had a chance to read about it.
As a kid the werewolf was my favorite mysterious creature. I had a german shepherd/wolf mutt that bit me when I was a kid(my own fault), and from that point I hoped that I would gain werewolf powers.
Solid post. Cheers on the Ginzburg mention. Part wolf myself, and felt compelled to interject that not all werewolves are of the evil variety (some battle demons!).
“Your classic European werewolf isn’t satisfied with the kind of half measures that Lon Chaney made famous in that film.”
Semi-off topic: You have talk about Lon Chaney, so I’ve remembered that there was a “spanish Lon Chaney”. Here an article about him:
I remark this phrase: “What attracted him to the werewolf was the idea that evil can lurk in the heart of anybody. A clerk, a priest, a banker, the beast lives in the heart of all of them.”
Please forgive me for the crassness of the question, but regarding the werewolf lore…
When you say smothered, you mean as the lycanthrope bites your neck, he cannot cut through your skin but can force the closing of your air pipes? Or is it that it sits on top of you can you cannot inflate your lungs? Is this related to the Old Hag phenomena?
Jbucks, you do indeed remember correctly; your animal equivalent is called a cydfil, and it shows the second-sighted what you’re going to be reborn as, because of your vices. Interestingly, George Macdonald’s fine Victorian children’s novel The Princess and Curdie uses that as a plot engine. As for the full moon, no, I didn’t plan it — things just worked out that way. I trust you’ll step outside and howl at it this evening!
Dmekel, no question, werewolves are seriously cool. Unfortunately it takes more than getting bitten by one to master the art of projecting a transformation body.
Fra’ Lupo, duly noted, and yes, I recall that fascinating bit from Ecstasies.
Chuaquin, hmm! Thanks for this. I wasn’t aware of Paul Naschy at all — a sad lapse on my part.
CR, the information I have doesn’t say.
A fascinating chapter, and a great analysis, thank you!
Other than the Ginzburg books you mention, do you have any recommendations on learning more about what we know about the Proto-Indo-European wolf-cult or associated phenomena, whether the author was aware of the association or not?
So far, the best discussion I’ve found of it is Kris Kershaw’s “Odin: The One-Eyed God and the (Indo) Germanic Mannerbünde”, which is really fantastic all around, and shares a great deal of the comparative history/archaeology/mythology on PIE-derived warbands and their changing societal roles, but does so from a wholly materialist viewpoint.
(To be clear: I have *zero* interest in trying to emulate those guys – they killed their own puppies as an initiation ritual. I’ve just had some fruitful meditations on their relationship to Norse mythology and think there might be more there).
1. Would projection of phantasm and astral projections be broadly similar in nature then?
2. Given that the planes are discrete and not continuous, could projections of phantasm be some sort
of point of contact then?
In 1994, in my country, Mauritius, there was a terrible cyclone that ripped through the country
and caused important damages and power cuts that lasted for several weeks. And guess what!
Mysterious werewolves known here as Loup-Garous were on the prowl in several towns and villages.
Those loup garous were also known as “Touni Minuit” which can be translated as “naked at midnight”.
I swear I am not making this up. Those werewolves terrorised mainly the women folk who reported being
suffocated at night in their beds. The country was up in arms, the police and men patrolled the streets
at night to chase off the werewolves.
Whole areas in towns and villages spent many nights awake and alert. I met several women who reported
nightly visits from werewolves. I had no reason to question their sanity or honesty. With a twist of modernity,
at times the werewolves phoned beforehand to inform their victims that they were coming tonight!
Once at home I received such a phone call but alas nothing unusual occurred when midnight struck.
I was disappointed at the time. With friends we went at night in the afflicted regions to see what was really
going on. We never saw anything unusual. After some time the phenomenon vanished and thankfully
no-one was hurt. Public authorities, psychologists and sociologists all agreed that this was a case of
mass hysteria at work here.
Whilst reading your essay, it seemed possible to me that some local folks had been practicing some
magical techniques on the unsuspecting public.
There was the bizarre case of a woman from France who was plagued by appearances of her own doppelganger. Her name was Emilie Sagee and she was alive during the 19th century. From IndiaTimes:
“Emilie was only 32-years-old at this point. She was attractive, smart, and in general well-liked by the students and staff of the school. However, curiously, she had already been employed in 18 different schools in the past 16 years, Pensionat von Neuwelcke being her 19th workplace. Slowly, it started becoming clear why Emilie couldn’t keep her position in any of the jobs for a long time.
Emilie Sagée had a doppelganger—a ghostly twin—that would make itself visible to others at random moments. The first time it was spotted was when she had been teaching a class of 17 girls. She had been normally writing on the board, her back facing the girl, when out of nowhere a projection like entity that looked just like her appeared. It stood right beside her, mocking her by imitating her movements. While everyone else in the class could see this doppelganger, Emilie herself could not. In fact, she never came across her twin, which was just as well for her…”
Here is the rest of the article:
Castaneda described, in the beginning, how he became a crow, with guidance of his teacher and use of entheogen. Later, his dreaming practice involved going to real places with his dreaming body. He also mentions an extraoridinary event when he awoke in his dreaming body thus sort of disappearing from his “real” body.
This relates to the lore of out of body experiences (OBE), which are sort of a next level to lucid dreams. However, while lucid dreams are relatively common and easy to achieve, OBEs are hard and rare. So I am sceptical about the statement that “anyone who is willing to do the necessary training can find this out in person.”
OBEs further relate to near death experiences, e.g. a person who is in hospital being operated on – seeing himself from the ceiling while supposedly being on the edge of death.
It seems that it can be inferred that astral body projection requires a state of mind far removed from ordinary state: it is not enough to take a strong psychedelic or to dream but a way must be found through this strange and uncontrollable scenery to an area on the other side where a certain rules begin to apply bringing you back to the vicinity of reality, while at the same time perhaps being in the vicinity of death.
Finally, there is the issue of “the other”, also explored by Castaneda and also a subject with its own wider lore. The other, or a double, or doppelganger – a ghostly duplicate of a living person. Sometimes described as a superhuman power of a magician who can be at two places at the same time. But more often it is something that happens to someone who doesn’t understand what is happening or why and who is severely (at least mentally) threatened and harmed by this events. So it seems as if it is something that happened unconsciously, a freak accident. I am talking about how I found it described in works of art (Murakami’s novel “Sputnik Sweetheart”; anime series “Serial Experiments Lain”) because, again, in real life this is so rare as to be practically unheard of.
To summarize my views: Astral body projection is a fascinating phenomenon. It is real i.e. something that really happens. It can work both with animal and human shape. It is colored with dark tones of something detrimental, dangerous and harmful. It is a rare, fringe occurence, out of reach of most people, like being a billionaire or over hundred years old.
In one of the Sumerian myths, the Epic of Gilgamesh, there is a line by Gilgamesh accusing the goddess Inanna of turning a former lover into a wolf. It’s been cited as the earliest mention of a werewolf, but I’m wondering if something else is going on.
Are you aware of cases where it happened that someone else caused a man to become a werewolf and by what mechanism it could happen? Can one person (a goddess in this case) form the astral projection and cause someone else’s consciousness to go into it? Maybe she just taught him how to do it and he turned himself into a wolf? Apparently she turned other lovers into various other animals as well.
Thanks for your thoughts on this!
I haven’t read the chapter yet, but have been looking at the Tarot card of Temperance. Knapp-Hall puts a yin/yang symbol in the shield, and that was confusing.
But I am re-reading Lawlor’s chapter on the Golden Section where he says that Two is not an equal division, but the Golden Proportion. If both sides were equal, they would just cancel each other out. That really made my head spin, because Temperance is not the union of opposites where both sides are equal, but a union of dynamic opposites, where one side is a little more than the other… for the time being.
The Knapp-Hall card shows this by putting a little bit of gold color in the silver urn and a little bit of silver in the gold urn.
And then my head spun a little faster because the two pillars of the Cabalistic tree cannot be equal, either. Mercy and Severity shift back and forth, a little of each on either side. Okay, which means then that the Middle Pillar is not really there? It’s the result of dynamically adjusting to the changing of the two pillars?
The angel on the card is Michael, the angel of the sun, which is on the Middle Pillar. So is the moon, which is in a constant state of change, as is the earth.
Then there is Levi’s phrase, Sphera Lunae, which brings up the moon. The moon never appears the same, ever. The full moon lasts for a moment, as do the other phases. But a moment is not a quantity. A full moon doesn’t last 0.0001 second, or even 0.00000001 second. But it happens, and that moment is outside of time.
And accepting that these moments occur, as real as anything even though they aren’t quantifiable is much like accepting that there is this shifting harmony of opposites.
Egads, then perhaps the Ternary is also shifting as it relates to the Binary. The Empress does have the moon at her feet.
Jeff, Ginzburg and Lévi were my two main sources — well, that and a vast amount of werewolf reading during my insufficiently misspent youth. (I still have by heart a Slavic lycanthropy spell that begins, “In the ocean sea, on the isle Buyan, shines the Moon upon an aspen stump…”) I wasn’t familiar with Kershaw’s book, though I’ll have to correct that — werewolves are going to be a continuing presence in a fiction project I’ve got under way at this point, so thank you.
Karim, yes on both accounts. Thank you very much for the information about the Touni Minuit! That’s fascinating, and weirdly similar to werewolf lore from some Latin American contexts.
Kimberly, thanks for this. That’s a classic example of a closely related phenomenon.
Goran, quite a few occult schools make one form or another of out-of-body experience a standard requirement for progressing in their training system, and it’s rare for anyone to have too much trouble accomplishing that step. Out of body experiences generally are far from rare — a survey conducted by the Academy of Neurology, a scientific body, found that 53% of survey respondents had experienced one. I think you’re loading your own fears onto it; you might want to consider trying it and seeing for yourself.
Myriam, that’s fascinating. Yes, there are legends about people being involuntarily turned into werewolves — I recall stories from medieval Europe in which people cursed by saints for some violation of Christian practice got turned into wolves for their pains. I’m not sure how that works out in practice, though.
Jon, a fine meditation!
I’ve had several experiences of waking up outside of my body fighting ‘monsters’. The most recent one was the most striking. I thought I’d woken up in bed and I became aware of the presence of my separated partner in the house, which I thought was really weird. I was then thrown into the window by a shadowy figure of approximately her size and shape. I struggled with it for a moment before waking up for real. It felt like her, but I know she definitely doesn’t have the chops to launch such an attack and we were on good terms at the time. She was dealing with a lot of heavy emotions while she still lived with me, and I haven’t magically cleansed her old room yet. Could the residue of her negative emotions towards me have become animated and struck at me in this way? Or, could something else have gathered that negative energy around itself and come for me?
Full disclosure: I don’t usually read your High Magic monthly post, but I had a hunch to do so this time, and am so glad I did. So, you write: “The world that we experience through our senses is not as real, objective, and “out there” as our cultural presuppositions insist; it is a co-creation of the objective and the subjective, the outer and the inner, the mundane and the archetypal, and it can never be anything else.” I have been experiencing this lately in a very intense form. It started a bit before the pandemic, and intensified during it. Like many people, quarantine found me spending a lot more time online, involving myself in various communities formed around ecology and social action. Soon after I hung around and began to socialize with people in these virtual spaces, I began having long, powerful, lucid dreams involving walking, talking, and adventuring in other realms with them. There was a lot of overlap between the worlds–someone would say something to me in this dream world, and then say the same thing to me the next day in the “real” one, and vice versa.
I moved in and out of several communities in this way, each one conjuring up a very vivid dream-world which seemed to go on for hours night after night. I don’t know if you have read Susannah Clarke’s novel “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell”–it was a lot like that, where the characters spend all night dancing at fairy balls, which leaves them exhausted in the morning. In my case, the minute I disengaged from the group in question, the dreams stopped. In the past, when I had these experiences, I had thought I was experiencing some ultimate truth, and was receiving some message that I had found my people and true philosophical resting place. Now, I am ranging all over the place, and finding these astral hangouts everywhere. What’s boggling my mind is that in the end, they are all the same. There is no ultimate place to hang my hat.
What makes it more interesting is that I have been trying to find a new place to live, for the past year-and-a-half. I have been going all over the country and abroad as well, listening for that voice, that call from the earth, that inner knowing that this is the place I call home. Well, what is happening instead is that everywhere is calling to me; every place seems equally home. This may seem like good news, and maybe it is, but it has been very confusing, like you don’t know what to order from a very big menu. (Except that a lot of places in the U.S. have become so expensive that I can’t consider them.)
What do you make of all this? I am wondering if something shifted in me, in the course of a lifetime where I naturally do astral travel. I also suspect that something is shifting in the imaginal realms that we inhabit and co-create. In the end, of course, they come together. I just know that one moment I am sure I “know” that I have found the right place and the right people, and then it all shifts and I am disinterested or disillusioned, on to the next thing. We seem to be at a new level of what you call “the long descent,” and other people call “collapse.” Could something be going wonky in the other worlds that influence our daily rounds?
I am about halfway through a recently made movie (rented online) called The Cursed. It’s about a 19th century manor house family in France. The young son becomes a werewolf after his father and other surrounding landowners exterminate some gypsies who were camping on their land. Cursed… by the ghosts of angry Roma. The preteen werewolf is a modernized Lon Chaney, literally attacking and chomping people with his big pointy teeth.
Not scary. Not even slightly.
Last month, you mentioned the Golden Ratio on Krono’s scythe and I have been meditating and researching the Golden Ratio for the entire month. I haven’t quite got my meditation ready to share, but what you posted on the Golden Proportion for the Temperance card fits with what I’ve been working on, so I will try to describe it the part that fits with yin/yang.
The Golden Ratio/Golden Proportion can be represented many ways (a line, a triangle, a rectangle, etc.) It can also be represented as a spiral. You can make the spiral by using Matrameru (Fibonacci sequence) of numbers, 0 the point in the middle, then a rectangle (1), then another rectangle (1), and then a rectangle (2), etc, the spiral slowly getting larger (https://miro.medium.com/max/770/1*LHu2rIMDhBJa5ZEqUPrlsw.png). Or, you can start from the outside, with the first value being 1/phi^0, then 1/phi^1, then 1/phi^2, etc (https://mathcurve.com/courbes2d.gb/logarithmic/spiraledor2.gif). The first number (if you don’t count zero as a number) in the first spiral is 1. The end of the first spiral is the beginning of the second spiral, which starts with 1. (So the ending is the beginning!) A centrifugal spiral becomes a centripetal spiral, which then becomes a centrifugal spiral (which then becomes a centripetal spiral again). To me, this fits very well with yin/yang.
I have a different thought about how to interpret that the Moon’s phases don’t happen for a specific amount of time. I think the “amount” of time (0.001 seconds or 0.000000001 seconds or whatever) is a FORM. The time of the Moon’s phase cannot be expressed as a rational number because it isn’t a FORM. It is a FORCE (just like the Golden Ratio, phi, isn’t a rational number. It is a force (*the* force?) of creation. (Still meditating on that last bit, so subject to revision 🙂 ).
Anyway, thank you so much for your comment last month on the Golden Ratio. I have been enjoying the meditations you inspired.
Hi John Michael,
The title of the card sent a shiver up my spine. Don’t mind a regular small nip, and I can set limits upon myself. We make our own country wines, sake and mead, and the temperance folks would perhaps like nothing better than to ruin my fun. I never quite understood what that lot were selling, and anyway, wasn’t spiritual pride one of the deadliest sins? Just sayin…
Perhaps the temperance in the card instead refers to the older meaning of the word: to accept limits? That I reckon would be something that Lévi would teach, maybe not directly. Dunno.
Thanks for the laughs. The title below the picture of the wolfman was pretty funny. 🙂
For those very reasons, it works for me living in this quiet out of the way place. But you already knew that. 🙂 Transference is a real hassle, hubris is never far away, and possibly not something which would strongly impact upon yourself? Although I’m just guessing there.
Hi John Michael,
Have you by chance read Jack Williamson’s book ‘Darker than you think’. That was the first werewolf novel I’d come across. Do you have a particular favourite?
So after howling at the full moon last night, 🙂 I’ve had a chance to write some thoughts down.
The first line of thought is that there are a lot of resonances between the Temperance Tarot and the solar, telluric and lunar currents in the DMH, even though I know these come from two separate traditions. Silver and gold liquid (solar and telluric currents in flasks, or perhaps cauldrons) are being mixed by a being with a third eye, the third factor (the created lunar current?) who allows temperance between poles by eternally mixing and balancing these liquids.
Another line of thought is Levi’s discussion of The Golden Ass, which I read last year. Details now are a bit hazy, but in reading this chapter I was struck by Levi discussing this book in a chapter titled Transmutations, and I’m reminded now of the tale of Taliesin, and how he and Ceridwen kept changing shape into animals, and how each of these animals had symbolic meaning within the story.
Like Taliesin, Lucius, the narrator in The Golden Ass wants to change into a bird, but unlike Taliesin, Lucius is instead transformed into an ass. Transmutation into an animal seems to represent a phase that the character must go through, a set of limitations inherent in the animal form. Lucius the ass runs into a lot of trouble because he is unable to speak.
Unlike Taliesin, who can change form at will, and who is already fairly powerful at the start of the tale, Lucius strives for unearned power obtained by deception (he seduced the servant of a witch to learn her shapeshifting magic) and is turned instead into an animal which seems to best represent his real – subconscious? – position: the Fool.
Then he goes through a bunch of unpleasant experiences for which he doesn’t have much control over, all the while hearing tales and stories, particularly that of Cupid and Psyche, which Levi discusses earlier in his book.
The third line of thought relates to what Levi writes about love, also in the context of The Golden Ass. Levi writes that this allegory “explains the most hidden secrets of love”, and later:
“The revelation of which we speak, and which we saw as a myth, is thus the doctrine of moral solidarity in love, which is the basis of love itself and is the only explanation for all holiness and all power.”
I don’t really have an answer for this line of thinking yet, only that this quote, and chapter, is related to my sense that several directions that may or may not be unified:
– all the “mini-tales” that Lucius hears during his adventure, including Cupid and Psyche,
– Lucius’ encounter at the end of the book with the goddess Isis and his subsequent initiation as a priest in her service,
– the final lesson in the Order of Spiritual Alchemy which is to do with unconditional love,
– and also perhaps what Krishna tells Arjuna about love in the Bhagavad Gita.
I will keep reflecting on it all!
@jbucks, et al.: Yesterday, before I read this, I had just finished listening to a podcast/vlog about The Moonies. I hadn’t considered the full moon aspect though of the timing of this post.
[ Here is the vid for anyone who is interested:
… it is from America’s Untold Stories, with Eric Hunley and Mark Groubert, a a really great channel that helps keep my mind occupied at work when I’m not listening to audiobooks or music: their channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/AmericasUntoldStories/videos ]
It’s interesting: when a turkish far-right terrorist organization calls itself as “Grey Wolves” and its symbol is a wolf howling. Political violence and a mythical animal together. Excuse me if I link to woke-pedia…
Just picked up the book Purpose and Desire by J. Scott Turner.
Just wondering if you have read it?
Sorry for of topic comment.
Eric in MD
Reading through Levi’s examples in the chapter, I was struck by how vulnerable people are if they aren’t doing SOP or LBRP each day. When Levi mentioned the danger of not isolating oneself, I took that to mean astrally, not necessary physically.
And then I wondered if a lot of what we label ADHD, anxiety, and depression involves the astral somehow. No so long ago Pow Wow practitioners in my state would source a person’s issues to non-material causes. And then modern medicine and now there’s a pill for that. Of course things have multi-variate causes but its interesting to think about.
I never looked at the Temperance card as having anything to do with the astral before, but of course now I can’t unsee it.
What I got out of my first reading of this chapter, is intentionality. Think and act with it rather than waiting around for things to happen.
Circe turned Odysseus’s crew member into pigs. Going by their conduct on the voyage, that was not a hard thing to do, as several writers who riff on Homer have noted. In popular fiction – one of Bujold’s fantasy novels, The Hallowed Hunt, a Temple sorceress, harassed by a soldier, made him think he was a pig. He promptly started acting like one. She told his horrified squadmates it would wear off by morning, but meanwhile, why not feed him a nice bran mash. That should count as a second form of shapeshifting, and it probably happens in real life, though not via sorceresses.
Patrick, the astral plane is a realm in which symbols are real. Those heavy emotions can take shape on the astral in the kinds of forms you describe.
Wolinda, there may not be a place that will give you that inner knowing. You may have to settle down someplace and make it the kind of place where you will feel at home. Yes, the inner planes are a mess right now, and so is the outer world — everything’s all a jumble.
Kimberly, I know the feeling. Most horror novels these days make me yawn.
Chris, it irritates the bejesus out of me that the prohibition lobby stole the word “temperance” and redefined it to mean “extremism.” As for transference, I’m used to it; one of the advantages of Aspergers syndrome is that I don’t get caught up in it when somebody transfers stuff onto me, and so I end up chuckling. Yes, I’ve read Darker Than You Think — to my taste, one of Williamson’s best.
Jbucks, a fine meditation! Baying at the moon is apparently good for you. 😉
Chuaquin, a good point. The organization the Nazis set up to try to launch a guerrilla war against the Allies in Germany after their defeat was also called the Werewolves.
Eric, I’m not familiar with it, no.
Denis, hmm! That’s plausible, and worth considering.
Patricia M, good! Two excellent points.
JMG, is the mystic Catholic tradition of bi-location (eg.,Padre Pio) the same as the projection of the astral body? From what I understand, Pio did go into a meditative state when he was bi-locating – there were quite a number of people who witnessed his presence, once even in NY city, when in fact, he was physically in his Sicilian monastery’s grotto.
I’m wondering if there’s another shoe left un-dropped here: “In medieval and Renaissance France, the print of the werewolf’s paw marked one of the places where the line between objective and subjective realities broke down. In twentieth century America, flying saucers marked another such place. There have been, and will continue to be, many other examples.” What examples, if any, are particularly prevalent today?
I’m considering one possibility, that I’ll have to go over to the other ecosophia blog to specify. I’m hoping you’ll tell me I’m completely off base.
Hi John Michael,
🙂 Glad to hear that about Williamson’s book, because I too enjoyed the story. Fantasy and sci-fi literature was better in the past. The narrative reliance on technology, bores me to distraction – and then I go off and do something else with my time. Please indulge me here, I tend to believe that was why the recent film (yes, I understand you don’t do visual media) Top Gun Maverick was such a good film. It told a simple story, really well, and pitted older technology against the newer, and found the newer to be wanting.
Yours is an undocumented feature! 😉 Mate, I have trouble shutting them all out, and the easiest thing to do was remove myself from the interference. It’s nice to think your own thoughts. And the general ether in the big smoke is complicated and messy right now, far more than I’ve ever experienced. The things I see and hear just surprise me. One side benefit of economic implosions is that physically everything is still there, but the social arrangements get a positive readjustment. Money can do weird things to people and relationships.
And yes, I am 100% with you. It is extremism of the direst sort, and the shadow that lot cast, and continue to do so, is an unpleasant act which reflects poorly upon them. The truly awful thing is that because the old definition was hijacked, it becomes yet another way that the power of limits gets further diluted in the culture. As a society we are bonkers about that subject, truly, utterly, crazy.
Well, that’s my rant for the day! I feel much better now. Thanks for providing the forum. 🙂 Hope you are having a delightful summer.
Jeff: I believe Claude Lecouteux’s books are well-cited regarding werewolves, even for the occultist viewpoint.
We so often refer to children as living in their own world, often I think wistfully, wishing we could go back to that so called naive mind. Levi was very familiar with the Bible, and no doubt Matthew 18:3 was pressed upon his inner world and left an impression.
My wife and I are raising our third child now. Each time I’ve been impressed with their ability to follow their passions and not be so influenced by the world around them, so often able to take delight in bugs crawling across the sidewalk in a city, stopping right there to watch and observe.
A lot of what you’ve been writing over the years to a large extent has touched upon this topic, in particular that we can still exist in this world and society yet not be taking part in it to the same extent that others are. To understand, so much more clearly, now that there is a world within other peoples heads that are being impressed upon ours, shaping how we view the world and react to it, and the feedback loop like the currently changing climate just further makes that impression seem as reality.
All of that world which had collectively been understood has been crashing down around us in the past years, with the Covid 19 pandemic being a large part of what allowed people to take a step back and realize they didn’t want to be so impressed upon. People have realized they have other values now, like spending time with their family, and conversing their time and money, snowballing into the Great Resignation we are experiencing.
Obviously, there was a magic at work which had caused Western Civilization in particular, but also a great amount of global humanity to walk in one very similar direction. Is it now another magic causing this chaos as a great shift begins? Is this a type of shapeshifting of the gods?
I appreciate the depth of each of these chapters of Levi’s great work and the great effort you put into helping us navigate those depths. This particular chapter is touching on something which feels very substantially deep, or at least one that I am more prepared to reach into it’s depths.
Will, it’s closely related, and Padre Pio is another fine example of the long and distinguished Catholic tradition of bilocating saints. One of the reasons I don’t discount Catholic spirituality is precisely that the church has had so many holy people who displayed genuine powers.
Walt, I put through that comment of yours on my Dreamwidth journal before coming here. No, you’re not off base, and yes, the Covid phenomenon is another good example of the species.
Chris, I get the impression that the ethers are a hot mess here in the US as well. People seem unusually freaky, and not just because the wheels are coming off our economy and most people realize we’ve got a senile sock puppet going through the motions of running the show.
Prizm, excellent! “Shapeshifting of the gods” is a keeper. Yes, exactly; each great culture projects a certain vision of the nature of things onto the inkblot patterns of experience, and that becomes a world in which people live — until it starts cracking apart at the seams. Then new visions and new magics come into play, and all bets are off. Yes, that’s where we are now.
@S.T. Silva @31 re: Lecouteux on Werewolves
Thanks very much! I’ve only dipped my toe into Lecouteux’s work, but so far, I’ve found him a wonderful resource, especially since I’m particularly interested in Germanic mythology and folklore. I look forward to learning more from him.
When I hear/read about a Transmutation, I think about turning lead into gold, and not about turning men into wolves. 😉
Hi JMG. I’m not sure I see the purpose of astral projection. I’m sure it would be very interesting and displays certain mastery, but what is the intent so far as magical orders etc. are concerned. Is there a simple answer to that which I’m not seeing?
Walt, I couldn’t find your comment over there, can you point me to it?
This lycantropy reminds me when I was initiating myself into magical practices. I was seeing quite often a wyvern in my dreams: a magical creature that only exists in the astral. Then one night I was visited by a huge white wolf. It was so vivid, it scared me the shirt off. She just stared at me but I couldn’t figure it out what she wanted of me, eat me? use me? Definitely she was powerful and dangerous. I reached for the help of the wyvern and indeed he helped. The wolf stayed a little longer, then she went away. I think I have never been so scared by a dream. Weird dreams continued until I accepted the wyvern and we mixed our souls. I consider that period to be some sort of self initiation.
Now, reading today’s post, I wonder if the wolf might have been a representation of shamanism, or wild magic, while the wyvern is of high magic. I had the impression that I was rejecting other more dangerous paths to magic.
Maybe unrelated, but I wanted to share a bit of a revelation.
I’m understanding, the more I look into it, that the nature of the manifested is multi-faceted. It’s not just that the same word or the same image can have different meanings in different contexts. It’s not just a simple metaphore, where I replace one concept with one image in a biunivocal relationship. At least in the astral, a single manisfested image has several meanings at the same time.
The only way I can try to explain this is thinking of a mother who is also a wife and a daugther. She is not mother sometimes, wife when she’s with her husband and daughter when she’s with her parents, but she’s all these things and more all the time. It’s only when ‘I’ interact with her, the way I address to her, that her response fits one of these patterns. Depending on what I say, she focuses on one of her facets and shows that facet to me. It’s amazing how the fearsome mother and the fragile child are there simultaneously.
Visions of the astral are the same, once you separate the images from the reflections, they mean multiple things, and all the meanings are true. It’s me who naively was picking one single meaning, so I could express it in a few sentences and be satisfied with the answer.
No. There’s a pletora of answers, a spectrum. I usually pick one of the answers and try to live in the easy to understand world that this answer creates, but I am realizing that I can try to accept multiple answers altogether and live in a blurry complex world that is taking shape as I move forwards.
So, instead of trying to find the single solid concept behind a dream or a vision (seven starving cows can only mean seven years of hunger, right?), I’m now trying to build a multilayered concept out of them, as if every image was a deck of cards, and a sequence of images was an impressive mixing of different decks, and all the combinations within the realm of what is possible, since there are definitely more than one possible combinations, are its full manifestation.
Still working on it, this is incredibly hard for me. Reductionist science and black novels teach the opposite: to remove all the wrong combinations until only one emerges as the Truth (TM).
I think this is one of the lessons in Dion Fortune’s ‘Cosmic Doctrine’ and I am finding the same lesson here.
Re bilocation, again from my fluff reading,
“If you could bilocate, you could be attending a Council meeting and taking a nap at the same time.”
“I can do that without bilocating.”
Delightfully insightful essay. Looks like your intensive study of werewolves during your childhood came in handy for this chapter, eh, JMG?
I don’t have anything profound to say except that one of the things that are common (and that I find attractive) about my three most favourite cultural mythologies – Hindu, Celtic and North American Indigenous – is the figure of the “shape-shifter”. I have never taken the phenomenon literally, but I am easily able to keep it within my own realm of suspension of disbelief. It feels right; it feels true at a deeper, metaphorical level. Perhaps it is easier for me to do this than others, for as an amateur astrologer, I am always seeing the manifestations of the various planets in each person’s character, as well as my own various moods, relationships, and stages of life. We humans are remarkably amorphous beings! And I see the ability of projecting non-human forms via werewolves, berserking and the like, as real.
Just a little reaction to Kimberly (#10): one of my family members is a connoisseur of the horror genre. I have learned from her that in recent years (including the present) there has been an explosion of popular horror TV series. I have briefly watched a few just to see what’s spooking the public theses days. What I have noticed is a preponderance of big old houses (some derelict, some not, but all emanating a vibe of previous opulence now fallen into decadence) which has been cursed by an owner/resident a few generations back as consequence of some horrible personal violation. If one takes the “big old house” to represent the nation, I am starting to think that the collective unconscious of the US and Canada (maybe the West in general) is perceiving that not-so-recent violations of our national ethics are festering and that the “spirit of the nation” is screaming ever-louder at us to rectify these violations. Just my take on it.
Ecosophian, so do I, but Lévi apparently had other ideas!
ShadowRider, it’s mostly a stunt. Its benefits are, first, once you’ve done it you have no further questions about the reality of the nonphysical; second, once you’ve done it you have no further questions about whether you’ll be around after your material body dies; and third, it requires sustained work for most people to accomplish, so occult schools use it to weed out those who aren’t willing to put in the necessary effort.
Abraham, interesting. I could see that, about the wolf. As for multiple facets and multiple answers, yes, exactly — that’s a crucial insight.
Patricia M, ha!
Ron M, there’s a great bit in Pico de Mirandola’s writing where he imagines God handing out all the various qualities and characteristics to all the animals. Adam’s at the very end of the line, and when he gets there, God says, “I have no specific quality or characteristic to give you, so the gift I give you is that you can become whatever you choose, for good or ill.” Amorphous indeed!
@Princess Cutekitten #37,
My comment is in the “Open (More or Less) Post on Covid 49” comments, on page 3 (currently). My dreamwidth handle is “walt_f” so the underline might have got in the way if you tried to text-search the name. Here (if it works) is a direct link to that page.
How do occultists view sleepwalking? I did it as a child until I was about 5 (both terrified and amused my parents with it), but apparently adults are capable of it. Is it an astral phenomena?
Lycanthropy is a kind of melancholy making the affected persons wander at night-time, visiting the tombs and the deserts like wolves, and come back in the morning as their human figure and stay at home. In any case, they have ulcerated legs and feet because of falls on stones and thorns; they have dry eyes and tongue and feeble vision… Some patients avoid speaking and remain silent and sad while others try to converse with people.
Johannes Actuarius, Therapeutike Methodos c. 1350
I found this over on the Ask the Past blog. I remember something similar in Webster’s play, The Dutchess of Malfi. In both cases a non-supernatural explanation for the condition.
Regarding Astral Projection… I’ve certainly done this in dreams. It was kinda uncomfortable for me as I walked through someones else’s house, here in town, that I’d never been in. Anyway ummm I then visited said neighbors house and discovered that the dream was a pretty good description. (They wanted me to move furniture…. ) I was like “Oh you really do have that table and paintings of Native Americans all over your house.)
How do I do this on purpose in a waking state not a dream state? Shadow Rider asked what the point of Astral Projection is, being able to see things you otherwise couldn’t’ is one good reason. I’ve had enough happening with it while dreaming that I’d like to be able to make it happen at Will… And be able to trust that I’m not just imagining it.
JMG could you please link in a couple of How to Guides with this?
So I just went outside under the full moon in the country side of Western Massachusetts where I live and tried Astral Projecting….. The Results.
1. When you try to create an astral body somewhere other than where your physical bum is planted you quickly realize what did throughout the day to make current physical body (bum) in distress/uncomfortable. (Ate too much cheese.)
2. So I built a cabin in the woods and there is a rock outcropping by the stream that goes by the cabin, and all the nights I’ve slept in my cabin…. from 1:00 AM-5AM there is this woosh, woosh, sound. It’s coming from the land itself, like the American continent itself is speaking. When I think about why tribal music follows the drum beat that it does, I think it’s to follow that woosh, woosh of the land. It sounds like rocks that moving like a sea of sand.
When I astral project in my sleep, particularly in my cabin, the path my spirit takes follows that woosh, woosh of the land. TONIGHT when I tried to deliberately astral project, I tuned into that Woosh, Woosh, more than a little bit…. And it’s frightening. People say Hadley Massachusetts has bad vibes and it’s only particular places around Hadley. The mountain top here is safe, but down in the Chesterfield Gorge but two miles from here there is something terrible. That terrible does find it’s way to the top of the mountain from time to time…. Holly Bushes planted around buildings seem to keep it away.
3. Creating a new astral body elsewhere takes some talent. I can get a vague inkling going, that’s half blind. I think the energy/challenge in astral projecting is creating an awareness around the neo-body astral being created. I had nowhere in particular to go tonight, so I tried getting a good look at my own head. Or just project myself off the deck into the lawn. (I aiming to keep my human form when I astral project… If I can’t manage that then a general orb will do. I don’t want to aim for an animal form because I’m a bit human/orb bias.)
4. I think this is the most telling observation I learned tonight, when you try to create an astral projection, you bring everything along with you from the skull you’re incarcerated in. This includes your shadow and anger. I thought I had my anger under control. When I astral projected, that frustration, anger at a lack of a sex life….. things young men today lack en-masse…. kept me from opening the eyes of the astral projection. So that astral form kinda wallowed around like worm. And the underside of the orb-form I was aiming for burned.
5. It seems when you astral project the capacities of the astral body you’re projecting, aren’t necessarily going to have all your human capacities….. this includes reason. This goes back to JMG talking about bringing skills from one life to the next. Animals are pretty close to us in terms of spiritual development, I think this may be why Animal forms are common for astral projection, as they’re easier… closer to the average.
6. Astral Projection, seems an essential tool for moving from one incarnation to the next. Like it’s teaching you how to pack the mental things learned in one life and bring them to the next. Like learning stuff is great but if you don’t pack it into the astral body suitcase or whatever goes to the next life, it might be awkward digging it all back out.
7. Astral Projection seems to also inform you when all your human relationships are too shallow. Because when I tried astral projecting, first question I asked was “Who do I want to go visit because I want to be with them?” Then I asked “What do I want to go do?” I play the Trumpet can I get my astral projection to do that?
Temperance, pouring between vessels, water to wine to water to wine. The disjuncture between the alignment of the vessels and something someone said earlier about the planes not being continuous, the mental click. Jesus, when he occasioned this transmutation was acting by his will by grace upon the will of the crowd through the astral light to change the perception and experience of the liquid; not water growing hair and sharper teeth, but people feeling the drink just the same! Acting by imagination on the imaginations of others. I guess in the long run he got what witches got for their intoxicating astral-material presence… does being worshiped before or after provide small or great comfort while on the cross, before the jeering crowd?
So now I see the Temperance angel representing that movement across to another plane to do the work, and the returning. And the full moon lunar cycle– both the change and the continuity together; the fluidity but also the Siempre of the fluid cycle calling to me not to get stuck, and to look for work in one plane to help transmute situations in another. and also to remember that the hope for balance is not in sticking at a false rigid middle point but in the knowledge that the Siempre of the cycling leaves always the door open to balance, balancing force.
Love and moral solidarity in love, freedom in limits, grasping for power leading to empty marble ruin while generosity spreads greatness through cyclical feedback loops flitting through the unseen realms and bringing consequences back drafting along with them where-when they cross back over, consequences which rigormortised materialists refuse to see, assuming in their half-blindness that the loveless one manipulating to gather riches would end up rich.
My mother told me of “cat people” who can assume the form of cats. Her mother and father (my grandparents) were from Montenegro. A very brief google search found this – not confirming her stories but showing how cats’ perception of the environment sensed a coming devastating earthquake. Their alarming behavior were taken by many as a warning to evacuate the towns and villages which saved countless lives as the story goes.
Forgot to mention that several movies were made based on the “cat people” story. Slightly tangent, does sexual energy (or whatever it is) provide the main impetus to access the non-physical?
I see what you mean about the Golden Ratio being a force. Thanks for that insight! The square root of 2 is a generating force that we see in nature. Phi is the creative force of Unity that expands and contracts (as you pointed out)—evolution and involution, just like fractals. You used the words, centrifugal and centripetal and that made me think that the Golden Ratio is fleeing the center and seeking the center at the same time. In other words, it is a force that is fleeing and seeking Unity at the same time. Wow.
The Pythagoreans and Plato, I think, called these proportions ”arretos” or unutterable. I see now why proportions were considered so important.
Also to everyone:
I’ve noticed something on the Hanged Man that has brought some insights. The two poles on which he’s suspended (in the Knapp-Hall and BOTA decks) have knots that equal twelve.
Twelve is the product of the Ternary and Binary. A product creates area, or space, or a second dimension. A sum increases a line and remains within that dimension.
If you add 3 and 4, you get seven. If you multiply 3 and 4 you get 12. But 12/7 equals 1.71428, which is about a 1% difference from the square root of 3, which is approximately 1.732. I don’t know if the ancients used 12/7 as a ratio for the square root of three, like they used 22/7 for Pi, but it is very close.
To the Christians, the Vesica Pisces was used to surround Jesus. And the length of the Vesica Pisces is the square root of three. So the number twelve on the Hanged Man reinforces the idea of self sacrifice.
Hi Walt, I found your fascinating question. Still thinking about it.
Patient Observer, goldfish are also sensitive to tremors that humans can’t feel—the Japanese used to keep goldfish as earthquake alerts. When the fish became agitated, it was time to run outdoors.
@Austin Walking (#46):
There’s a lot of strange old lore in and around Hadley, which you may already know as a resident of the place. it was founded by some of the “otherwise minded” as a refuge against Puritan doctrinal quarrels.
There’s the history of “Half-Hanged Mary” (Mary Webster) who was lynched by some of her fellow townsfolk on suspicion of practicing witchcraft and left for dead in the snow, but somehow survived her hanging.
Two of the famous regicide judges, Walley and Goff, who had ordered King Charles I beheaded, were hidden by the minister in Hadley (John Russell) from agents of King Charles II, who was seeking their execution. Later legend has Goff surviving up to the time of King Philip’s War (1675), and emerging from his hiding place to rally the men of Hadley for an effective defense of their town against Native attack. (See Nathaniel Hawthorn’s “The Grey Champion.”)
Hadley also figures in the current post on .
Chesterfield Gorge is new to me. It sounds like it might be another one of the “eating places” that can be found here and there in North America, which hate people and, according to old lore, lure them to their death. In a desultory fashion I collect lore about those “eating places,” so if you could say a bit more about the Gorge near you, I would be grateful.
Denis, I’ve never seen it discussed in occult literature. I think occultists generally ask their psychologist friends what causes it.
Rita, yep. There were plenty of rationalists back then, too!
Austin, W.E. Butler’s book Apprenticed to Magic has a good clear set of instructions; I haven’t really surveyed the literature, though, and there are literally hundreds of manuals on how to do it. If you’ve had experience doing it with dreamwork, however, you might want to get some books on lucid dreaming and do it that way — it’s a known variant. Thank you for the data points!
Observer, hmm! Thanks for this.
@Austin walking (#45):
It seems that my link didn’t reproduce: it was to the current post on Peter Muise’s blog called “New England Folklors,” on blogspot.
JMG have you ever astral projected?
lol sorry I rambled on about Astral Projection yesterday. Lucid dreaming is something I’ve always had some proficiency in… my sister does to. We’re compare notes quite often. The reason I want to learn to astral project while awake is because it would… well.. it would be quite a comfort to do so….
Some more things I’ve often thought in regards to astral projection over the years……
One problem that seems to arise with Astral Projection is object permanence.
One thing I’ve often pondered is that does every particle in the universe in fact move into the same future? We know time is malleable, via Einstein’s relativity… if any form of fast than light travel exits OR instantaneous communication as in Quantum Entanglement, (Which we’re pretty sure is a thing) causality in the universe is dead on arrival.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=an0M-wcHw5A (Sorry JMG it’s a video)
How does this relate back to astral projecting?
In order for your spirit or will…. or whatever to astral project something similar to quantum entanglement must be happening. IDK That means the speed at which you astral project must be happening faster than light speed. Even though Earth is a very short distance, you’re not projecting yourself into the future in all frames of reference….. in some frames of reference you’re projecting yourself into the very recent past. (Seconds ago) See video on how FTL effects causality.
I would like to thank you for enlarging my vocabulary – arretos, a beautiful word. The concept, however, of the unutterable nature of proportions predates the Greeks and had been discovered by the Babylonians – if not the Egyptians. You are familiar with a minute (or a “first”) and second – i.e. timekeeping or equally angle sectors of measured polygons or circles.
This system of ratios of numerals – what we call fractions of numerals extends without limit. In both timekeeping and angle sectors of measured polygons there are: Thirds, fourths, fifths, etc… the only reason that we do not use them is that they are too small for convenience.
What the Pythagoreans discovered first was the irrationality of the square root of 2. Their discovery of this fact may have been geometrically based but there is an equivalently algebraic description: the impossibility of writing the square root of 2 as any fraction.
I would like to ask a clarifying question if you have the time. When you say FORM are you referring to representation of a number or fraction by an given algebraic expression? There are numbers which I cannot describe in any way other than an infinite sequence of increasingly close approximations of ever elongating algebraic expressions. Yet, I could show that the sequence approaches the desired number, that it approaches no other number and that the rate of approach is as fast/slow as you wish it to be.
All I am really trying to say is that our number system is just a system. It has a logic; it has pathologies. For example, division by 0 is forbidden.
For example there are two representations for the number one: 1 and 0.999999999999………. etc – they represent the same number!
I’m back with the passage from The Dutchess of Malfi, written by John Webster around 1612, based on events of the previous century. The Doctor is talking of his patient, Ferdinand, the Duke of Malfi, who has had his twin sister killed for having married, and borne children to, her steward, who is a commoner. This, he and his brother, a Cardinal, have taken as a disgrace to the family. Since the crime he has been crazed.
Doctor, explaining to another man: ” A very pestilent disease, my lord, they call lycanthropia.
In those that are possess’d with’t there o’erflows such melancholy humour, they imagine themselves to be transformed into wolves, steal forth to churchyards in the dead of night, and dig dead bodies up: as two nights since one met the Duke, ’bout midnight in a lane behind St. Mark’s church, the leg of a man upon his shoulder; and he howl’d fearfully: said he was a wolf: only the difference was, a wolf’s skin was hairy on the outside, his on the inside: bad(e) them take their swords, rip up his flesh, and try: straight I was sent for, and having minister’d to him, found his Grace very well recovered.
Yet not without some fear of a relapse; if he grow to his fit again I’ll go a nearer way to work with him than ever Paracelsus dream’d of. If they’ll give me leave, I’ll buffet his madness out of him.”
Interestingly, this passage seems to combine the medical theory of humours–melancholy being attributed to an excess of the humor known as black bile–with the supernatural theory that lunacy is caused by demons that can be driven out of a patient with beatings. The author does not enlarge upon the treatment “minister’d”, presumably some combination of substances believed to reduce the bile or to increase the other humors to restore balance. Beatings of course require no explanation.
The Doctor, however, is something of a fool. He convinces himself that he has achieved dominance over his patient and is surprised and beaten by the Duke as a result. Webster does not seem to wish the audience to believe the Doctor’s theories because it is important to the plot for viewers to realize that the Duke is driven to madness by a guilty conscience rather than some medical or supernatural cause. The play is set in Italy, regarded by the Protestant English audience as a hotbed of superstition, churchly hypocrisy and sexual sin. The play contains frequent mentions of the supernatural, including witchcraft and ghosts, but no actual instances of clearly supernatural events. It is also interesting that the lycanthrope in this instance is not believed to attack the living but only to dig up dead bodies, with cannibalism implied.
In any case we see that the rational explanation from the 14th century has persisted into the seventeenth century, yet it is still not incongruous to bring up possible demonic possession as an alternate explanation.
That’s strange that people getting up and walking around while they are sleeping isn’t something ever mentioned in occult literature. I’m assuming its something that people have always done. Oh well. I don’t see it as a psychological problem contained in the brain, but I guess the solution would be drugs of some sort, if so.
Meditating on the card and the pitchers remind me of the word vessel and how it is used in Christian works. A pitcher’s function is to hold and then pour out what is inside. The angel seems to be demonstrating that a vessel can share its contents with another in a way that defies known reality.
I’m still trying to make sense of what appears to be skin showing as an upside down triangle.
JMG, is it possible to use this aspect for espionage?
I have read a long time ago the soviets have done all sort of occult like experiments.
@Rita # 57: Wow! “Theater of blood.” I don’t meet many people who’ve read or even heard of “The Duchess of Malfi,” and you seem to have done more than just a shallow reading.
I have a great deal of experience with astral projection. Much of my experience came about when I went on antidepressant drugs at the age of 17. The drugs amplified my normal tendency to jump out of my body, and being a teenager, I had many episodes, some of which I guess could qualify as adventures. My friends and I were once at an all-ages night club and several of them saw me in two places at once. It freaked them out. I did not meant to do it.
I deliberately avoid astral projection these days for the most part. It happens naturally when I am in a shallow sleep state. Though my daily Sphere of Protection guards me from most of the nasty entities who want to get in on the action when I astrally project, it cannot protect me from everything/everyone. My normal dreams are enough, I think, and from what I can discern, there isn’t a huge difference between astral projection and dreams. They are not the same, but they are birds of a feather.
I weaned myself off of antidepressants at age 22. I found that I could still do astral projection if I wanted to do it, but it wasn’t every night like it was when I was on the drugs. I believe antidepressant drugs (tricyclics) cause the half-sleep state that enables me to hang out on a certain level of the astral plane that people call “astral projection”. Overall, I perceive that level to be scummy. Though there are good things about it, it is rife with malevolent entities, especially one breed I have named the “impersonator” because they masquerade as people or animals you know in order to trick you into interacting with them. Impersonators have difficulty maintaining the facade and they often look deformed or amorphous. I would rather not interact with them at all. Not all trickster entities are malevolent, however impersonators are typically malevolent or at the very least, confused and toxic as a result of that confusion.
As for the haunted house trope in dreams and what it symbolizes, I did a brief analysis of it on my blog if anyone is interested. https://kimberlysteele.dreamwidth.org/64104.html
Chola3–the US was also experimenting with “remote viewing” for espionage. I heard a speaker many years ago who had been a participant in studies done at Stanford Research Institute, funded by DOD. Participants were given some instruction about a location (maybe map coordinates–it has been a long time and I don’t recall the details). They were supposed to send their consciousness to the location then describe and/or sketch what they had “seen”. I think the conclusion was that the results, while interesting, were not reliable enough for military purposes. I suppose spy satellites make it irrelevant unless information on the interior of buildings or tunnels was needed.
Professor Charles Tart was doing experiments on out of body viewing in the late 1960s at U. California, Davis when I was a student there. Someone told me that one experiment involved being in a room in which a series of numbers were on a high shelf or somehow out of sight from the bed. The subject was supposed to move out of body, view the numbers and report what they were. I haven’t read anything about this project. Wasn’t really interested in such things at the time.
Thank you very much for sharing your insights on the Hanged Man and 12/7.
Twelve is the number of constellations in the Zodiac and I’ve read some articles that relate the Zodiac signs to Heracles’ 12 tasks and then relate that to evolution. In my research on the Golden Ratio, I’ve read some articles on types of musical scales. The chromatic scale is 12 notes; the next note (the 13th) is the same as the first note, but on a higher frequency (a higher octave). So maybe if you work through the 12 tasks/stages of evolution, you complete a cycle, but you also level up?
And dividing the 12 Zodiac signs by the 7 planets must mean something, but I haven’t figured out what yet. 😉
It makes sense that arretos is much older than Pythagoras. If I were a betting man, I’d say it was an antediluvian concept! It would be nice to see the word in Egyptian for irrational numbers, if such a word existed. But I believe you when you tell me that it is older.
As far as irrational numbers being a force, RandomActsofKarma got me thinking about it. From what I’ve read in Lawlor’s book, I think it really is a force, like gravity. It’s a principle, such as the principle of expansion. I know that sounds weird, but something in my intuition says that RandomActsofKarma is on the right track.
Rita – 62
IIRC, The book “Dying to be Me” (a great book with lots of objective data to support the reality of astral projections) mentioned, IIRC, that some ER doctors place objects on top of high cabinets (out of sight unless someone is on a ladder). If a patient reports an out-of-body experience, the doctor asks to patient to describe what may have been seen on the cabinet. Seems crude but an effective to way verify astral projection in ordinary reality.
Regarding non-physical entities, I believe that they have nothing to offer us of any value so best to ignore them. I do not wish to be indebted nor be owed any debt in these matters.
1) Mr. Greer – I think that you got me this time: I really might be loading my own issue here, except I don’t think that it’s fear, but rather a frustration. I have been trying to achieve an OBE (astral body projection) on and off for many, many years, in vain. So I admit that this is an important part of the reasons why I believe them to be hard and rare. I also think that I might be mostly at fault for my failure, since my attempts were always haphazard, with no definite instructions or plan, lacking discipline and persistance. But I still want to try it and see for myself. For that purpose, please link some (more) manuals if you can.
However, I’ll have to also stick with my point (yes, I am being contradictory, but I think it fits the subject): astral body projection, while being an integral (and essential?) part of human identity, is as the same time a freak occurence that happens very rarely and is hard to master. Yes, it happens to a great deal of people once or thrice in their life, by itself. And yes, some (or even most) people could manage to produce it willfully by following some system. But even them (you say in response to ShadowRider, #41) do it as a stunt, once, and then give up on it? Why give up on something so marvelous? My supposition is that it is because they can’t continue exploring it, because it is so difficult, and/or maybe so dangerous, in any case definitelly so occult. And that’s why it is even more rare then it is common.
2) How does Trump XIV, “La Temperance” relate to the subject of astral body projection?
3) @Patient Observer (#49), the information that I found (though don’t remember where) is that, yes, it is unused sexual energy that transmutes into energy necessary for this. This also explains why Catholic church manages to produce bilocating individuals – it’s not because of spirituality, it’s because of celibacy.
Ugggh! I never put the 7 planets, 12 signs together before. We have the area, 12, which is a product of 3 and 4 while also having 7 planets moving within those twelve houses. The 7 planets, and 12 signs and houses reveal the tasks for us in this incarnation, like Hercules, so that we can evolve upwards, at higher frequencies like music. Uranus and Neptune mix things up though.
Phutatorius 60–I wrote a graduate seminar paper on the observation that despite an abundance of rhetoric about magic in the play — such as the exclamation “Witchcraft in her rank blood”, there is no actual magic or supernatural appearances in the play. Surely not because the audience would have doubted such devices–it was written for the King’s Men, the king being James I who famously wrote about the reality of witchcraft. Writing such a paper involves multiple readings, not just of the play itself but of the history of beliefs and attitudes of the time. Never had a chance to see the play.
Joseph #56, there’s a load of memes about how dividing by zero breaks reality. 🙂
Goran #66, I guess being poured from one vessel to another would be a decent symbol of astral projection.
I might not be using the best verb for this, but Plato thought the dodecahedron (12-sided shape) ‘represented’ the Cosmos, one side for each of the Zodiac signs. I don’t think Uranus and Neptune have to “mix things up”… older versions of the Cabala used to associate the Zodiac with Chokmah. (And something else for Kether… I have to go look that up.) So Kether to the Zodiac to the 7 classical planets… more to ponder. But I am still on my Golden Ratio quest you inspired last month, so this will have to wait. 🙂
When I used the word Form in my response to Jon re: the Golden Ratio, I was referring to Form/Force a la Cabala (Mercy and Severity). It is not quite the same “Form” as a Platonic Form, which I think is what you are referring to. But sort of the same, in that there isn’t a rational number that can describe the Golden Ratio (so we assign a symbol to it instead of a number). I would like to ask you about .9 repeating representing 1. It is something I had a discussion/disagreement with (many decades ago) with someone who could not explain it to me, so maybe you can. I understand the mathematical proof that shows that .9 repeating equals 1, but if that is “true”, how can there be asymptotes? The whole point of an asymptote is that the value approaches but never equals. I don’t see how you can have .9 repeating = 1 AND also have asymptotes.
It would be maybe a cooincidence, but last time I dreamt I had my “astral body” leaving my material body and travelling in the Universe…It was a very strange dream; I usually don’t dream on this theme.
I had previously posted a metaphor to correlate The Cosmic Doctrine with the Cabala (as presented in Levi’s High Magic and JMG’s Paths of Wisdom), which incorporated a Greek theogony.
In the last High Magic book club post, @JonGoddard commented on Kronos’ scythe being sectioned by the Golden Ratio . I have been meditating on how Kronos and the Golden Ratio are related and have updated my metaphor to incorporate some new insights. Most of the original metaphor is unchanged (some of the diagrams on page 6 and 7 have been revised, page 20 has been added). The new section, starting on page 37, is a metaphor describing creation through Phi (the Golden Ratio) as an aspect of force.
In addition to thanking Jon Goddard for sharing his insights which prompted my series of meditations, I would also like to thank Andrew Skeen, who assisted with some illustrations for the new metaphor and recommended Agrippa as a source for my research on the Muses.
As before, I don’t consider this metaphor “right” or “done”. I already have some meditation themes that will result in more revisions and additions. I attribute much of my learning and growth to JMG and his commentariat, so I am sharing this in hopes that some of you may have time to read it and provide feedback, or share a metaphor of your own.
You can download my metaphor (and leave comments 🙂 ) at the Sane Polytheism Dreamwidth page here: https://sanepolytheism.dreamwidth.org/3843.html.
(PS to @Jon Goddard:
I was reviewing my notes on the Muses and had copied this passage from The Canon by William Stirling:
“And since it was a postulate of the philosophers, that the tradition or passage of the spirit or soul of God from heaven to earth was effected through the Zodiac and seven planets, so they alleged that the Cabala was transmitted through the mouths of the Patriarchs and the Messiah Christos, who personified the planetary system. According to the old cosmic arrangement, the universe consisted of three stages, the Empyreum, the seven planets, and the earth in the centre. This order we may call God, the Universe, and Man, and the cabalistic steps or degrees, embracing these three divisions, may be said to express the hypothetical agency through which the spirit flowed down to earth, and was first incarnated in the human body of the hypothetical creature, Adam.”
I didn’t even remember this quote; it didn’t relate directly to the Muses so I copied it because it obviously seemed important, even if it wasn’t relevant to what I was working on. And then you posted on 12/7. And then I found it in my notes. So thank you for my next meditation theme!)
@rita 68 I HAD read it, and later I saw it performed in a modern (ugh!) production in San Francisco sometime around 1990 — that really disappointed me: I was not impressed with a naked duchess wrapped in duct tape. So there was a lot of magical fakery in the play. I can believe it. It’s interesting that you’d have chosen that particular play for a graduate seminar.
I wrote about my experience with a shaman doing an ecstatic trance workshop here before. Back in 2010, I did this workshop which the shaman in which one of the exercises was the Horus trance (I mistakenly referred to it as the Thoth trance here) in which you twist your body into a very off-balance position before entering the trance. The position is supposed to help you experience flight. In the trance, you are supposed to take the form of a bird, fly through an eye, and enter into a world where your ideals are made manifest.
This sounds like the taking of an animal form described in this weeks’ post.
The weird thing for me was that I took the form of a jet – not an animal, a machine. In this form I could not pass through the eye to the other world. As I noted when I wrote about this previously, the Shaman conducted some Socratic method with me and I came to realize the lesson was that as long as I viewed myself as just an organic machine – a body with no soul – I could not develop spiritually. This was an ideology-shattering experience that I needed to escape materialist dogma.
My question is (and understanding that concepts like astral bodies are always provisional and secondary to the the experiences we use them to explain) did I shapeshift into a machine with my astral body? Is that something other people have experienced to your knowledge?
I think there are two kinds of infinities. There is a countable infinity and an uncountable infinity. In this world, the world of Malkuth, we rely on the countable infinity. But we can grasp the uncountable world too, the world of quality, where numbers are not just a series of things. It is a difference between quantity and quality.
So, if we have a function, such as 1/x, we know that as x approaches infinity it will reach zero. But we also know that there is no countable number that will really make it zero. Mathematicians, scientists and engineers all quickly dismiss the distinction because, in effect, it really is zero. To them, 0.99999999999 really is 1. But they will admit that it’s only an approximation, albeit a good one.
It’s the same with the full moon. The quantity tells us that it never really hits a full moon, but the quality tells us that it does.
Speaking of transformations, I “chanced” upon an insight into the Genesis symbol that I found as disturbing as it was revealing; actually, I find, much of what Levi writes, therein, to be disturbing, though not because of his cultural suppositions.
But, anyway… please, could you provide me some etymological background on the French word you guys translated as “embraces” in this quote: “Moses symbolizes it as a tree which is at the center of the terrestrial Paradise, and which is near, which even embraces with its roots, the tree of life; ”
A bit late in the comments, but something I want to mention.
All this talk of bodies of transformation depicted in pop culture reminds me of a rather unusual example that no one else seems to have picked up AFAIK… the (in?)famous anime and manga Jojo’s bizarre adventure.
In this manga/anime characters who work with Hamon, a technique of manipulating life-force with breath, eventually with enough advancement develop a a spirit that is considered a individualised expression of their life-force called a “Stand.”
Stands share a lot of similarities with bodies of transformation. They can only be seen by other “Stand users”, they are controlled mentally by the user,and the user experiences any damage done to the stand. The major differences from real bodies of transformation is that they take on bizarre forms, they aren’t affected by sunlight, and they can affect the physical world in impossible way like punching through walls, stopping time or allowing the user to turn their body into tentacle like strands (it’s called bizarre for a reason)
Austin, I make it a point not to talk about my own spiritual experiences.
Rita, fascinating. Thanks for this.
Denis, occultism deals with the extraordinary. Sleepwalking is fairly normal.
Chola, both the Soviet Union and the United States invested a lot of money into trying to use psychic abilities for espionage. The results, to judge by what got declassified later, were fascinating but never reliable enough. Sometimes they got remarkably exact hits, but more often they got garbage, and it was never possible to tell which was which without using more orthodox means of intelligence collection — so they ended up going back to the more orthodox means.
Kimberly, many thanks for this.
Goran, come on. In response to your previous comment I gave you a link to a study showing that astral projection is anything but rare. If you’re going to ignore that and simply go on insisting that you’re right because you’re right, there’s not much purpose in continuing this conversation, now is there? If you really want to experience astral projection, then choose any one of the dozens of available manuals — it doesn’t matter which one — and do the practices in it every single day, without a break, until you succeed. That’s how people learn how to do it. If you’re not willing to do that, on the other hand, why, then I’d suggest that maybe you should reflect on why that is.
Chuaquin, belief in coincidence is the most widespread superstition of the age of science.
Karma, thanks for this!
Chris, that’s fascinating. Yes, it sounds like you took on the astral form of a machine.
Name, can you tell me which page that quote is from? That would help me find the French original.
J.L.Mc12, hmm. Yes, it sounds like someone is borrowing from shapeshifter lore.
@Jon Goddard re: #76
Right. The exact moment of the full moon is an infinitesimal instant that literally cannot be measured, at least not in the material realm (since it would be smaller than the Planck time and any attempt to measure it would turn your clock into a black hole). But the full moon, of course, is an astrological aspect – which means it has an orb of validity. Since it’s the luminaries involved, we can say that’s eight degrees to either side, and since the moon traverses about twelve degrees a day, that’s basically 32 hours during which the moon is “full enough/”
This notion of “close enough” is actually necessary. Reductionistically speaking, the actual number, say, 76 occupies an infinitely small point on the number line, sitting there between 75.9999999… and 76.000000…0001 (where that final 1 is the hypothetical infinity-eth decimal place). The same with sqrt(2), or pi, or any other number you care to pick. Yet these particular numbers clearly have meaning, and there’s a point at which any given number is close enough to the number in question to, for any real-world purpose, effectively be the number.
(In other words, numbers have orbs, just like astrological aspects do. Typically the terminology used to refer to a number’s orb is “significant figures” or “significant digits”. If I say “to three significant figures, pi = 3.14,” what I’m really saying is that “pi is somewhere between 3.135 and 3.145 and for the purpose I have in mind for it, I don’t need to get any more precise.”)
P. 34 In the copy I have. It’s in the introduction, the first full paragraph (beginning with Yes), just before Levi introduces the Hebrew letters. I’m interested to understand the relationship between the trees that embrace signifies. I.e., the lovers embraced (attraction) or A braces B, while B braces A (mutual support) or A touches B (entanglement) or an AB fork (common root) VS. incidental contact (non explanatory proximity)
On a related note: I am puzzled with the phrase “ideal yod” from p. 58, just below the yin/yang graphic. The qualifier ideal implies a contrast class, which implies a range. While I’ve never quite understood the doctrine of the name: yod, I always thought of yod as pure but that’s not an argument, just a confession of ignorance. Perhaps, Levi means that the phallus the principal raised was charged with the idea/name, (what sometimes Levi refers to as dogma or what the Nominalists thought of as essence) that was necessary and sufficient for the fulfillment of it’s creation?
“When the principal being became the creator, he raised a yod or a phallus, and to give it a place in the full uncreated light he had to dig acteïs, or a pit of shadow, equal to the dimension determined by his creative desire and attributed to him by the ideal yod of the radiant light.”
PS: Aryeh Kaplan, Sefer Yetzirah: The book of creation in theory and practice, in the introductory section gives a more detailed account that complements Levi’s for how Ain Soph dug that hole, and especially into what it was dug.
Thank you. Please, don’t think my questions are nit picking about preferences in translation. I have a sincere interest in understanding the information given by way of answer.
Any of the Metamophosis postures form Belinda Gore, Ecstatic Body Postures: An alternate reality workbook, will result in shape shifting within 15 minutes. Although, It’s likely best not to approach these spirits as play toys.
Name, thank you. In the original, that sentence runs as follows:
“Moise le représente sous la figure d’un arbre qui est au centre du Paradis terrestre, et qui est voisin, qui tient même par se racines à l’arbre de vie.”
As for “the ideal yod,” why, I’d consider that a fine theme for meditation!
I don’t speak French or Hebrew or Latin or Greek. In fact, my failure to learn any of the classic languages forced me to give up my first major as a classicist.
Could you give me your sense for what Levi had in mind when choosing the word embrace?
Though this is my first encounter with Levi, I’ve read a considerable amount and thought even more about the she-bit-the-apple story. I’ve even got notes on a book, I’m going to get around to writing someday, about an exoteric reading of Eve, which takes the story at face value, then discusses the psychological dispositions necessary to enable her reasoning processes.
Interestingly enough, Levi hit on the two main conclusions I had drawn out of my analysis: Eve was unable to distinguish truth from falsehood; after all, the serpent lied. So, God, who is usually understood to have made her perfect, didn’t have in mind that the ability to know truth was a virtue of perfection. Levi (p. 59) puts it this way: “To make truth manifest, he made doubt possible.”
Secondly, following from the fact that even the most perfectly created among us were unable to rationally determine the truth value of the serpent’s dialog, together with the fact that Eve trusted the serpent (an unknown agent) over the relationship she had with God (who they walked with daily, whereby she wasn’t even able to recognize the truth that God was God– a maladaptive psychological disposition, to be sure) demonstrates that rational decision making is an insufficient psychological disposition to successfully navigate our landscape.
Given points one and two, I drew the conclusion that we live not in a rational world but a moral one. Levi states it thusly: “Each individuality is thus perpetually perfectible, since morality is analogous to the physical order” p.53. So the best strategy for living a good life is to sharpen one’s moral intuitions rather than one’s intellectual faculties.
But, anyway… I digressed!
The point I wanted to have addressed was the way Levi juxtaposed those two trees, in the center of the garden, together with the shells, whom populate a hole called Earth, changed the entire way I’m thinking about what we are and where we’re at.
Name, I have no idea what Lévi had in mind. I have Aspergers syndrome, remember, and one consequence of that I’ve learned to live with is that I don’t know what other people mean by the words they choose.
Thank you for reminding me to (and how to) catch my own fish.
In the wee hours of the morning, I found ideal yod.
It was right there under the soapy bath water; I guess I was too busy trying to get my old, yellow, rubber ducky to squeak.
The contrast class to ideal yod is dust: dry and void. It’s range is 78, It’s virtue is ternary. It’s exaltation the cornerstone of the kingdom of heaven, a throne fit for an Emperor.
I’ve managed to write a poem expressing what I’ve learned from Levi, thus far.
When you’ve found Alice– 10 feet tall
walking all along the watch tower
she answers you that…
when the rooster is down in a hole
and you’d like to fly away
sing a forth song I know
because nothing else matters
to pigs in Zen
I appreciate you, bro.
It was kind of hilarious to read the story of the young girl who, after hearing about some sexual perversions explained to the littlest details, goes herself to try such perversions. What makes it funny is the whole dissertation of Lévi about how can such an inocent girl turn herself into a pervert.
Now we only miss exactly what kind of perversions were they (probably common sexual practices nowadays), but of course Lévi won’t tell, least be we tempted to reproduce them. He has no problems explaining rituals to invoke the devil, though. He might be thinking that we are all too scared of the devil for even trying.
We have a saying around here that explains better: “Culo veo, culo quiero.” The ass I see, the ass I want.
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