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 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 now out of print), the Wirth deck (available in several versions), or any of the Marseilles decks are suitable.
“Chapter 6: Magical Equilibrium” (Greer & Mikituk, pp. 75-82).
With this chapter we take a step further toward the realms of magical practice. Here, as in the previous chapter, Lévi gives only two keywords: Tiphareth and Uncus. Tiphareth is the sixth sphere of the Tree of Life; Uncus means “hook” in Latin. And the third? That’s yours to choose. Read the chapter several times—you’re going to do that anyway—and select a word that sums up some part of what this chapter has to teach. Use that for your third title. Once again, there are no wrong answers, and the only way to fail is not to do the work.
The central theme of this chapter, the astral light, is in Lévi’s view the medium through which magical workings have their effect, and also the medium in which the visions of seers and prophets take shape. To become conscious of the astral light, and to be able to participate consciously in shaping and directing it, is to rise into the highest reaches of human capacity. To remain unconscious of it, and to be unconsciously shaped and directed by it, is to stumble blindly through life, pushed this way and that by invisible forces for purposes equally concealed. This latter condition, it bears mentioning, is the ordinary state of human existence in our world. It can be transcended, but that takes work.
Lévi begins this chapter’s exposition with a glance back to the threefold symbolism that has been central to several chapters already. I know a certain number of readers will bristle when faced with the first sentence, “The supreme intelligence is necessarily reasonable,” but that maxim needs to be understood from the perspective of Lévi’s usual subtlety. He is not making an argument or presenting a proof but offering a first postulate from which reasoning can proceed. Assume, he says, that everything that happens in the world is guided by the reason of the supreme intelligence. Then it becomes clear that there are two ways the supreme intelligence can act: it can make things happen, or it can let things happen. If the divine intelligence is identified with Kether, the first of the ten spheres of the Tree of Life, the two options just noted are the next two spheres.
When the supreme intelligence makes things happen, created beings like you and me have no choice in the matter; we call the result “necessity,” and Cabalists call it Hokhmah, Wisdom. When the supreme intelligence lets things happen, then created beings have the power to choose, within the limits of their nature; we call the result “liberty,” and Cabalists call it Binah, Understanding. Both these principles of action are present in everything that happens in the other seven spheres of the Tree, which define the levels of existence that human beings can reach. There are always things over which we have no control at all, and things over which we have some degree of control. The reason current debates about free will versus determinism general get nowhere is that neither side is willing to consider the possibility that the world combines necessity and liberty in varying degrees, that free will is never absolute and that determinism always leaves some wiggle room.
The ternary of reason, necessity, and liberty in the divine realm is reflected in a comparable ternary in the human individual: destiny, will, and power. Destiny is the equivalent of necessity—in Levi’s terms, it is “the inevitable chain of effects and causes in a given order.” Will is the capacity of the individual to choose freely, however great or small that capacity may be. Power is the intersection of will and destiny, and represents the ability to bring these two into harmony. This is in fact the measure of your personal power: the more you can bring your will into accord with your destiny, and use your destiny as a vehicle for your will, the more powerful you will be, in magical terms as well as in everyday life. Conversely, the more often you ignore the chains of cause and effect your own actions set in motion, and direct your will toward goals that your actions prevent you from achieving, the less power you will have—and, by the way, the more miserable your life will be.
These two ternaries mirror each other, and so point in different directions. The divine ternary of reason, necessity, and liberty can best be represented by an equilateral triangle pointing up: reason is the unity, necessity and liberty the binary that unfolds from it. The human ternary of destiny, will, and power can best be represented by an equilateral triangle pointing down: destiny and will are the binary which is resolved into power. There are important differences between these two forms of ternary. The latter kind, which resolves two into one, is the kind most often met with, and also the kind generally given to students as a training exercise: here’s a binary, resolve it! The former kind, which resolves one into two, is called by later occultists in the same tradition “the Ternary of the Great Arcanum.” (A hint? Why, yes. Make the most of it.)
The human ternary is important enough here that Lévi brings in several examples. Here’s Moses in the wilderness, striking the rock to provide water for the Israelites. A miracle? Lévi’s take on it is subtler. The water was there all along, he suggests, and Moses used his staff as a divining rod to find it and free it so that the Israelites would be able to survive. Notice the broader application. The water was already there in the rock strata: that’s destiny. Moses wanted to find it: that’s will. He used the knowledge he’d gained as a pupil in Egyptian temples and as a pupil of his father-in-law Jethro in Sinai, and got the water flowing: that’s power.
Power can be set in motion by bringing opposites into contact. Every electrician knows this—you have your positive wire and your negative wire, hook them up to opposite terminals of a machine and it runs. Does Nature abhor a vacuum? Not at all—watch the way that every natural thing rushes into a vacuum, as though they’re crazy in love with it. In physics as in romance, opposites attract. Equally, power can be set in motion by embracing one end of a binary, so that others embrace the other end. You can see this at work in flirtation; too many young men get nowhere with women because they’re too obviously eager for feminine approval. Disinterest and disdain, artfully used, are far more effective.
The same principles apply in subtler and more magical contexts as well. The human body, in Lévi’s view, has three primary centers of contact with the astral light: the brain, the heart or solar plexus, and the genitals. (In fact it has many others, but these are the three that Lévi’s system of magic uses.) Why the uncertainty in the middle center? The heart center and the solar plexus center are distinct—in terms of anatomy, the cardiac plexus and the solar plexus are some inches apart—and they have somewhat different functions, but most people find it easiest to develop one or the other. Lévi will have more to say about these centers later on, though he will rarely be as explicit as he is here.
The goal of a certain part of magical training, as Lévi understands it, is the state that he calls lucidity. A person in this state can perceive the astral light directly, and can also shape and direct it to some extent. Many of the powers of magic unfold from this mastery of the astral light. Remember that the astral light is the life force; healings jolt the body of the sick person back to health by supplying it with adequate life energy. There is a system of healing theory and practice hinted at, sometimes in great detail, in Lévi’s work, and this is one of the passages where he is most explicit. From his point of view, the presence of pathogenic microbes in the body is not the cause of illness but an effect of a weakness of the life force. Insufflation, the magical art of breathing the astral light into a physical object, is one way to cope with this. (It can be learned from old books on Mesmerism.)
The astral light, however, is in Lévi’s understanding simply one set of vibrations moving through the cosmos. Physicists in Lévi’s time thought of those vibrations as taking place in a substance called the luminiferous ether; nowadays that’s spelled “four-dimensional spacetime” and has somewhat different mathematical properties, but from a magical perspective the two are the same. Electricity, light, heat, and magnetism are other vibrations propagated through that same subtle medium. Here our text offers a useful hint. Any of these other vibrations produced by mechanical means are dead energies. and interfere with the workings of animal magnetism or, for that matter, magic. They cannot be shaped by will and imagination; they simply proceed from their source until they gutter out.
The vibrations given off by the human organism are living energies, and may be consciously directed by imagination guided by intelligence. So, though Lévi does not mention this here, are energies from natural sources, a category which can include certain things created by human beings. Candle flames, for example, have so persistent a place in religion and magic precisely because they give off living energies, which can be shaped by will and imagination. The devout Christian who lights a little wax candle in a chapel and then kneels to pray in its presence, for example, is using magic to amplify the effect of the prayer, generating a little extra living energy by way of the candle flame. The Druid tradition that certain rites must be performed “in the face of the Sun, the eye of light”—that is to say, outdoors beneath the open sky in the hours of daylight—applies the same principle in a different way.
But it is the vibrations given off by the individual human being that Lévi wants to talk about here. Those vibrations form what Swedenborg called the personal atmosphere and most modern writers call the aura. This atmosphere is not cut off from the ebb and flow of the astral light more generally. Quite the contrary, it is constantly giving off vibrations that affect others, and constantly being influenced by vibrations received from others. This constant exchange of influences has a potent effect on human consciousness. The example Lévi uses is of course erotic attraction.
Love, he says, is one of the great instruments of magical power, and it is forbidden to the mage. Here he is being even more evasive than usual. The love that is one of the great instruments of magical power is love in the the broadest sense of the word, the whole panoply of emotional attraction that draws people toward a person, a movement, an ideal or anything else. The other great instrument of magical power is hate in the broadest sense of the word, the equal and opposite panoply of emotional repulsion that turns people away from any of the things just listed. The mage participates in each of these, but always deliberately, with full awareness of the balance of forces.
The love that is forbidden to the mage, as Lévi is careful to point out, is the kind that involves drowning consciousness in the tides of the astral light. This is the normal state of most human beings, of course. Symbolically speaking, the mage dons the woolen cloak of Apollonius of Tyana and stands outside the astral atmosphere of his contemporaries and his culture, breathing a thinner if purer air. Getting to that state is one of the goals of the system of training Lévi presents in the second half of his book. Notice, however, that isolation from the astral currents is not enough by itself. The witches of medieval legend achieved the same isolation as Apollonius, but used it to plunge into the lurid sensuality of the Sabbath. The lesson here is plain: the vessel once emptied must be filled with some other content. It is not enough to banish; one must also invoke.
The astral light is after all the medium through which move the passions, the instincts, and the social drives. Its constant pressure seeks to draw the intelligent individual back into patterns of behavior well established long before our species evolves. It is necessary, as Lévi points out—those patterns ensure the survival of the community and the species—but it is also fatal, in more than one sense. The word “fatal,” after all, means “having to do with fate,” and much of what we call fate in human life is a function of the astral light in its effects on human consciousness. Since it so often overwhelms the fragile structures of human intelligence and leads individuals into actions that benefit the species and the community at their expense, of course, it is very often fatal in the colloquial sense as well.
The astral light, “that torrent of universal life” in Lévi’s phrase, is thus the source of significant dangers to the inadequately trained. Magic is not for dabblers! To become conscious of the astral light without first learning how to control it—which means learning, in the first place, how to control oneself, and in the second place, how to control one’s personal atmosphere or aura—is to risk mental imbalance. Our text notes appropriately that there are people who seek this out deliberately, “who renounce the empire of reason and who love losing their will in the pursuit of reflections of the astral light.”
Certain kinds of pseudospirituality and debased magic, in Lévi’s time and in ours, have this as their goal, though it’s usually dressed up in other verbiage. Teachings that instruct you to surrender your will to disembodied forces, or to drown the thinking mind in intoxications, chemical or otherwise, fall into this category; so, of course, does straightforward demonolatry, the worship of malign spirits. (As Lévi points out, one of the tests that can be used here is to look for signs that a system generates the symptoms of bipolar disorder in people who aren’t predisposed to that illness.) These approaches also have the drawback that they attract spirits of various kinds, which can play merry hob with a mind that’s used to handing over control to another’s will.
The alternative, the way of magical power, is founded on equilibrium. In certain initiatory schools, even at the present day, equilibrium is called the Royal Secret. This title has a great deal to teach. Equilibrium is the Royal Secret precisely because it is the foundation of effective power. It is because mages know how to balance forces against each other, and abide in the point of stability in the midst of them, that Lévi calls them the kings of science. The hexagram, in magical symbolism, is the emblem of equilibrium; it balances a rising triangle against a falling triangle, a force descending into manifestation with a force rising out of manifestation.
Equilibrium is what makes liberty possible. If you are entirely subject to a single force, it will sweep you away with it. If you leap from that force to an opposing force, you will be swept away in the other direction. If you get outside the play of forces entirely, there you sit, without a motive force to move you one way or the other. Find the point of balance between the contending forces, by contrast, and you can shift the balance subtly to move one way or the other as you will. This is the secret of the Sanctum Regnum, the holy kingdom of the mage. It is learned, as Lévi says, by learning to combine opposites without having one neutralize the other.
Does all this seem confusing? There’s a reason for that. The two triangles mentioned earlier, one rising and one falling, make up the Vau of the Great Arcanum, the middle term of the riddle of the Sphinx. In this chapter Lévi is doing his level best to explain the Great Arcanum without actually explaining it in so many words. The old motto of the alchemists is applicable throughout this book, but in this chapter above all: lege, lege, lege, relege, ora, labora, ut invenies—“read, read, read, reread, pray, work, so that you may find it.”
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 VI, L’Amoreux, “The Lover.” 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 ו (Vau) or the Latin letter F. 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 two titles Lévi gives for the card: Tiphareth and Uncus. Sit down, get out the card, and study it. How does Tiphareth, Beauty, relate to the imagery on the card and the letter you’ve chosen? That’s one session. How about Uncus, “hook”? That’s the next one. And the word you chose as the third title for this chapter? That’s the theme of the fifth session. Approach it in the same way.
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 6 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.
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 7: The Flaming Sword” on December 8, 2021. See you then!
The part about nature and a vacuum reminded me of something I wrote in an essay for the Open University Cities and Technology course. With the development of suburbs – in their enthusiasm for the countryside, they built over it. 🙂
On page 77, what is the ‘intermediary of a pythoness’ about? Did I miss something – because that felt like it came out of nowhere. 🙂
Interestingly, I arrived at the lesson on equilibrium from an entirely different source…”Christianity got over the difficulty of combining furious opposites, by keeping them both, and keeping them both furious.” – G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy
From a first reading of the month’s installment, two points leapt out at me. First, as the fist ternary of Reason-Liberty-Necessity aligns with the supernal triangle of Kether-Chokmah-Binah, does the human ternary of Destiny-Will-Power then correspond to the ethical triangle of Cheesed-Geburah-Tiphareth?
Secondly, in your discussion of equilibrium, you said: “Find the point of balance between the contending forces, by contrast, and you can shift the balance subtly to move one way or the other as you will.” The term “contending forces” immediately brought to mind the first qliphoth Thaumiel, one of whose names is “the contending forces.” What is Thaumiel lacking that equilibrium possesses?
Hello. Hope you are having a good day. I am a bit confused about how to do the study/meditations. Am I supposed to be doing discursive meditation or study the cards and make notes? Do I stare at the cards while doing the meditations or just try to imagine them in my mind’s eye?
Many Thanks May many blessings come your way!
A lot of heavy stuff is getting dropped in this chapter & your intro to it!
— Some initial thoughts… on some of the darker implications hinted at here.
I noticed this last week…when reading over Captain Beefheart’s 10 Commandment’s of Guitar playing
[ http://www.beefheart.com/captain-beefhearts-10-commandments-of-guitar-playing/ ]
“Old Delta blues players referred to guitar amplifiers as the “devil box.” And they were right. You have to be an equal opportunity employer in terms of who you’re brining over from the other side. Electricity attracts devils and demons. Other instruments attract other spirits. An acoustic guitar attracts Casper. A mandolin attracts Wendy. But an electric guitar attracts Beelzebub.”
… This made me think of David Lynch’s & Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks tv show & books. In it the sound of electricity is often a harbinger that the Black Lodge is at work.
The character Hawk says this of the Black Lodge :”There is also a legend of a place called the Black Lodge: the shadow self of the White Lodge, a place of dark forces that pull on this world. A world of nightmares. Shamans reduced to crying children, angry spirits pouring from the woods, graves opening like flowers.”
In the world of this fiction the presence of electrical forces is almost never a good omen.
& finally that thought collided with things JMG has mentioned here… namely that electricity seems to draw some of the types of beings you don’t want to work and involve yourself with.
To tie this in with some of the overarching themes of Ecosophia / and ADR, could all the electricity in the world be in part responsible for the grisly conditions in the astral and all the “static”. Static is one type of electricity.
I was thinking of writing these thoughts down for a possible future essay and then read this, so wanted to share. It seems timely.
*Those “who renounce the empire of reason and who love losing their will in the pursuit of reflections of the astral light.” -This reminded me straight away of Rimbaud’s “systematic derangement of the senses”.
“A poet makes himself a visionary through a long, boundless, and systematized disorganization of all the senses. All forms of love, of suffering, of madness; he searches himself, he exhausts within himself all poisons, and preserves their quintessences. Unspeakable torment, where he will need the greatest faith, a superhuman strength, where he becomes all men the great invalid, the great criminal, the great accursed–and the Supreme Scientist! For he attains the unknown! Because he has cultivated his soul, already rich, more than anyone! He attains the unknown, and if, demented, he finally loses the understanding of his visions, he will at least have seen them! So what if he is destroyed in his ecstatic flight through things unheard of, unnameable: other horrible workers will come; they will begin at the horizons where the first one has fallen!” -Arthur Rimbaud
On another note I’m looking forward to meditations on the two triangles & more.
Is “The Lover” a typo? It’s “The Lovers” in all my decks…
The Lover is right.
On a TDM deck (Tarot de Marseille) the french title is “LAMOUREUX” or L’AMOUREUX” which is singular.
I have some older TDM decks with english titles from B.P. Grimaud and the trump number VI is always translated as THE LOVER
So, this is a little off topic but there is a bit of synchronicity between today’s chapter and my life.
I am falling in love with someone – wow talk about a magical change in my consciousness.
The last time that happened (~20 years ago) I handled it so badly and the relationship blew up in my face. I was so filled with fear that I would screw it up, I totally succeeded in screwing it up.
But, in large part because I have been reading your post on magic and spirituality, this time things are going differently. I can focus on the things I can control (my actions, reactions, my expectations etc.) and let the things I can’t control unfold in the way they are going to unfold. (will she be attracted to me?, will she return my affections? Ect.) I am calm and can enjoy her company when I am with her. I don’t know where this will end up but I am determined to enjoy the experience as it happens.
John, I can’t thank you enough for what you do. Seriously.
This post and chapter are giving me a lot of ideas for meditation. I suspect the solar plexus/heart binary corresponds to mage and mystic respectively? I think I’m more of a solar plexus dominant type. I’m also thinking all the binaries discussed here can be mapped together in a meaningful way. The L’Amoureux tarot card is interesting with that thought in mind. Thanks for the post!
Lately I’ve been feeling the spirit of 76 very strongly in the astral light, and it’s great to finally have an explanation. This is apparently what humanity needs even though it would be personally disastrous. Come to think of it maybe that goes for the moths who were drawn to the experimental mRNA flame as well? What a terrifying thought!
My guide has been telling me on no uncertain terms to steer clear of mass movements. I’m not even allowed to own a red hat. I’ve been resisting the temptation to collect more tools and supplies, and am actually considering paring down the collection in order to reduce my karmic drag.
It appears I’m being groomed to help on the subtle planes, where I will probably be much more useful anyway. The images on the cards are moving like you said and my strong emotions are getting easier to check. I’m still struggling with intentional acts of will but the arc of progress is undeniable. Thanks for pointing me in the direction of the elevator instead of having to take the stairs.
The Oracle of Delphi was called Pythoness or Pythia. That is the actual person giving the Oracles.
Yorkshire, that’s a great example! As for a pythoness, that’s a reference to the mode of magical practice mentioned in an earlier chapter, in which the mage has someone else scry the astral light for him — think John Dee reciting incantations while Edward Kelly stared into a crystal.
RPC, funny. Yes, that sounds like Chesterton!
David BTL, excellent! First, yes, exactly. Second, you’re paying attention; that turn of phrase was quite deliberate, of course. It’s by bringing the contending forces into equilibrium that the uppermost point of the triangle, which Lévi calls “reason,” comes into view.
Sunnysideup, start with study and move from there to discursive meditation. I recommend having the actual card in front of you when you do the practice.
Justin, fascinating. So musicians also see electricity as a dead energy! As for Rimbaud, well, Thomas Mann made what I consider an unanswerable riposte to that sort of thinking in his novel Doctor Faustus.
Pyrrhus, nope. In French it’s “The Lover,” l’amoureux rather than les amoureux.
Skyrider, given the card we’re studying, it’s not off topic at all. Congratulations, and I’m delighted to hear this.
Youngelephant, it’s subtler than that — there are also heart-centered occult paths and solar plexus-centered mystical paths.
Whiskey Pete, you’re most welcome. At this point I’m beginning to think that despite all the troubles of the present, the future may brighten soonerr than I expected.
Of all the Levi posts you’ve done so far, this one seems to me to be the most packed with meaning thus far. It will bear re-reading and re-reading again.
Coming to mind immediately for me is the old prayer, ‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference’. There are the three points of both triangles, right there.
When we move into the wise centre of our being, no longer bounced around from side to side by contending forces within us and around us, we begin to mirror more beautifully in our own soul the Divine Reason that sent us into this world, and to participate more fully and more grandly in its purpose. The incarnate, manifested trinity of the human soul mirroring the discarnate, unmanifest Divine, interwoven and perfectly balanced: thus I interpret the hexagram.
I’m still following along with these posts and making time to study the cards and the texts each morning. Thank you for your work and for making it available to us.
Thanks JMG that’s very interesting.
Couple thoughts on topics I brought up earlier in the book club:
I think this card is depicting the Dual Mother as discussed by Jung. In mythology, if I recall correctly, we see mother-wives. At least that is the case with Oedipus. The representation of the Dual Mother in mythology is interesting as well – often serpents, whales, and even sphinxes (if I recall correctly). And of course, the Dual Mother is a binary. I’ll be doing lots of rereading on these topics.
In the method of drawing the square within the circle I’m rolling with for now it takes 6 lines to get a lemniscate positioned in the northwest and southeast quadrants.
Anyone else notice how much this part of occult philosophy sounds like Marxism? Contending forces, making history in circumstances not of your choosing, necessity and freedom… Alexandr Voronsky even talked about love and hate: https://www.marxists.org/archive/voronsky/1918/church-state.htm. Just sayin’. 😉
(Voronsky’s articles are collected in a book called Art as the Cognition of Life – it’s the best theory of art and literature I’ve ever seen. I have a postgraduate certificate in art history, so I had to read some absolute junk on that subject.)
I have a lot to think about with this chapter, as usual, there are lots of strands to consider. But in terms of the two types of ternary, a few thoughts struck me about the first type.
The second type involves being able to see a binary, and seeing a binary clearly is the first step to resolving it, by finding that common thread between the two poles, or rather, to see the pole itself that two previously incompatible positions fall along.
The first type, where a binary descends from a unity, strikes me as being about that first move in chess, the breaking of an equilibrium where the first player decides how to break it with that first move. But actually not, because a game of chess already involves a binary, not a unity.
Maybe it is about creativity – how to put the first word on the plank page, or strike the first few notes on the piano and hurriedly write them down before the inspiration fades. And then the binary becomes clearer, once the idea is there, then it is a matter of seeing how that idea can be opposed.
The interesting part of these two ternaries themselves is that there are two layers. The text seems to imply that equilibrium comes from both sets of ternaries being balanced against once another. So the first type of ternary, I’ll call it the inspiration ternary (reason, necessity, and liberty), is purposefully and consciously intertwined in a hexagram with what I will call the resolution ternary (destiny and will resolved into power).
(It seems significant that this intertwining should take place, an alternative combination would be to line the bases of the triangles together to create a titled square.)
So in a given situation in human life, it doesn’t do only to resolve a particular binary, that is only one part of the equation. One then has to look for the actions of the inspiration ternary. That is perhaps what is meant by needing to fill the vessel once it has been emptied.
Now to figure out how to work this into practical life!
The discussion of reason, liberty, and necessity also reminds me of a seemingly similar discussion in Plato’s Timaeus: “For this world came into being from a mixture and combination of necessity and intelligence.” By ‘intelligence’ I believe Plato is referring to reason, if I remember correctly. I obviously have to re-read it in light of this chapter.
I’ll also echo Justin Patrick Moore, in this chapter, the astral light actually starts to seem quite dangerous! I know from my readings about revival Druidry that the solar is balanced with the telluric current, and here the associations given to the telluric current in the DMH seem to correspond with some of Levi’s notes about the astral light, in terms of how they relate to instincts and the passions.
This chapter also answers, perhaps, a question I’ve pondering. One of the symbols of the unconscious life of nowadays is the television. I don’t yet know if this fits, but the thought struck me that there is today few better symbols of being unconsciously swept up in the currents of the astral light. But then, I thought, what if I were conscious, and then chose in full consciousness to watch television?
Levi and yourself seem to answer that questions with this: ‘Our text notes appropriately that there are people who seek this out deliberately, “who renounce the empire of reason and who love losing their will in the pursuit of reflections of the astral light.”’
Can I say again how much I look forward to these book club posts!
Still getting used to a different keyboard, hence some typos in my post: A blank page, not a plank page. And a tilted square (a square rotated 45 degrees), not a titled square.
@Whiskey Pete: Your comment and this chapter have inspired some further reflections and questions.
“My guide has been telling me on no uncertain terms to steer clear of mass movements. I’m not even allowed to own a red hat. I’ve been resisting the temptation to collect more tools and supplies, and am actually considering paring down the collection in order to reduce my karmic drag.”
I’ve often had a good sense for cultural movements in the masses, and that has helped me make decisions to prepare for the future.
In Levi’s terms, that sense is probably related to being aware of destiny as it takes shape in the astral light, if I understand correctly. I always thought it prudent to therefore set the sails accordingly to the astral weather.
But your comment about not collecting tools and supplies is making me aware that such preparations are also about being swept up in other movements of the astral plane, and it doesn’t always make sense to do that. Especially as there are cross currents at opposition to one another. In Levi’s terms, perhaps I’ve been over too far on the destiny side of the binary and not over on the will side of things, therefore of less power.
I still need to ponder that further, as it isn’t yet clear to me, but I appreciate your sparking this train of thought.
Its Wednesday and we’ve got some interesting topics going on at the main Green Wizard’s website. Come join us and check them out.
First the new main page blog post for this week, takes on one of the popular myths in the prepping community, that being a prepper is meant to be difficult. It’s not and it should never be.
“Preparing Shouldn’t Hurt”
Next over on the Green Wizards forums, we have a question for everyone. With Fall here, what are YOU foraging from your neighborhood?
Then we have two posts of note, the first which takes information from a couple of people deep in the US supply chain who explain, its not as simple as the Media pundits say. There are deep issues with why we are seeing problems. If you are in a position in the chain, and can add your observations, we’d appreciate it.
“A Look At The Supply Chain Issues”
The second post is a look at the information we get now and how you can’t take it for face value anymore. Not all news is meant to be informed discussion. Some of it has a completely different agenda. Learn how to tell the difference.
“A Tutorial On Evaluating Information”
As always, if you haven’t yet, please join Green Wizards. Contact me at green wizard dtrammel at gmail dot com, to get your account approved. Or follow us on Facebook:
Green Wizardry on FB
Fulcrum was the word that came to my mind as a third title to this chapter. It can be the point of exquisite balance or provide a point to lever the opposing forces as needed. It can also tell you if you are out of equilibrium if you find your lever on once side or the other of the fulcrum.
“F”, the first letter of fulcrum is also the 6th letter of the alphabet, so a useful memory tool.
“On a TDM deck (Tarot de Marseille) the french title is “LAMOUREUX” or L’AMOUREUX” which is singular.”
Interesting…In older decks, the card was titled “the Choice” and showed two women, and there is still an element of that in its meaning..
Yes Yes Yes
OK, that I get.
I have been thinking about that a lot over the years, especially since 2016, so many Americans descending into madness, inflamed mostly unconsciously with the astral power of the Right or the Left. I’ve been very careful not to be inflamed by either, seeking somehow to find some creative balance using both. It has not yet been particularly creative but I certainly have felt increasingly powerful without either “motive force to move me.” My will is becoming increasingly aligned with necessity.
Read, read read, meditate read read meditate read write
“Equilibrium is what makes liberty possible. If you are entirely subject to a single force, it will sweep you away with it. If you leap from that force to an opposing force, you will be swept away in the other direction. If you get outside the play of forces entirely, there you sit, without a motive force to move you one way or the other. Find the point of balance between the contending forces, by contrast, and you can shift the balance subtly to move one way or the other as you will. This is the secret of the Sanctum Regnum, the holy kingdom of the mage. It is learned, as Lévi says, by learning to combine opposites without having one neutralize the other.”
Find the point of balance between the contending forces, by contrast, and you can shift the balance subtly to move one way or the other as you will. This is the secret of the Sanctum Regnum, the holy kingdom of the mage. It is learned, as Lévi says, by learning to combine opposites without having one neutralize the other.
This is the best explanation I’ve ever seen for why Hatha Yoga practiced properly is able to do what it does for spiritual aspirants. All 84 asanas operate on exactly this principle. You don’t need to ‘believe’ in it ala Rhonda Byrnes’ The Secret or as some Christians liked to claim while I was growing up in order to manifest whatever one wishes. Sadhguru has always said even if you do Hatha Yoga for the wrong reasons while yet correctly performing them you will gain exactly the balance between the forces in your own body and mind that I understand Lévi is talking about in this chapter.
Dylan, fascinating! I hadn’t thought of the Serenity Prayer, but of course you’re right — it’s a fine expression of the ternary.
Youngelephant, that’s certainly one way to read it, though the oldest tarot decks don’t include that feature:
Yorkshire, it’s the other way around. Hegel borrowed those points from German occultism, filing the serial numbers off in his usual way, and Marx got them from Hegel. I prefer the occult version; it’s not burdened with failed economic theories or, for that matter, Hegel’s endless babbling.
Jbucks, excellent! Those are worth following up. As for the astral light, yes, it’s dangerous — it is the sphinx on the roadway facing Oedipus, and it will gobble him up if he can’t solve its riddle.
David T, thanks for this.
Kay, that will certainly work!
Pyrrhus, interesting. The old Italian decks I know don’t have that feature, but I’m not a specialist on the subject.
William, good. Very good.
Panda, hmm! I hadn’t thought about hatha yoga in that context, but it makes sense.
JMG, The old tarot deck (L’amoreux) is very beautiful! Is it medieval?
The ternary is the point of balance that transcends two magnetic poles. Two ternaries inverted then is the the ability to work with magnetism in 3d. So what then is the transcendant point between Reason and Power? Hmmm….
“learning to combine opposites without having one neutralize the other”
This strikes me as an excellent descriptor of the moderation policies in operation on these blogs… which combine (or at least permit to converse) opposites who are never allowed to neutralise each other.
In my own small way, I have endeavoured to keep my own small social media presence open to people who (at least to each other) represent opposite “sides”, and encourage them to converse without neutralising each other.
This is difficult. But not, I think, impossible. 🙂
“The astral light directs the animal instincts and battles against man’s intelligence, which it tends to pervert through the lavishness of its reflections and the lies of its images, a fatal and necessary action which controls and renders even more deadly the elemental spirits and souls in pain, whose disturbed wills search for sympathies in our weaknesses and tempt us less in order to drag us to perdition than to become our friends.”
It’s as if Levi knew about TV and its effects firsthand.
Reminds me of my thoughts on the number six going off of the number exercise found in Lesson 5 or 6 in LRM.
“Star, the divergence of form from the original 4-5 senses creating a 6th sense/reality. Not reliant on the material plane.”
Don’t know how to feel about the number 6, it’s an odd number to me, when somehow 9 seems more balanced. 6 kind of feels a bit top heavy if that makes any sense.
Last month you used a Tarot card that was identical to my Wirth deck. This month it’s from a different deck. I wonder how you choose which deck to use. The oldest tarot deck, from which you provided an example in #23, is more clearly a ternary. As others have commented, I too found this chapter especially rich and dense. What’s “vav” got to do with it? I keep coming up with “va-va-voom!”
A friend and I were discussing one of Stephen Jenkenson’s recent interviews where he talks about “awake” and “a wake”. He focused on the “wake” portion in association with an event that often happens after someone’s death but he also talked about a “wake” as in the kind that a boat leaves behind it as a metaphor for a person’s life. All of a person’s life, warts and all.
As I was looking at L’amoureux it occurred to me that the young man in the center between two forces had basically turned around to look at the wake of his life as illustrated by the divided path. The two lines stretching out before him basically represented the various opposing forces of his life that mingled together between them and since he was at the fulcrum, he could steer his boat to maintain equilibrium or not as he chooses. If he turns around again to face the single path before him, he wouldn’t see the effects that the forces have on him, kind of a willful blindness maybe. It is only when he looks at his wake that he can steer to maintain equilibrium. This also strikes me as a mingling of destiny and will that produces the power to move the boat ahead.
Jenkenson ended the interview with an ancient prayer that seems also appropriate, if you are having trouble seeing your wake on a turbulent sea. “God help me my boat is so small and your sea is so immense.”
Really grateful for your taking my train of thought and steering it in this direction. Your reflections are immensely practical and of great value to me. My comment was a little obscured in order to not upset the PMCAI, but you make a great point about our consumerism-based collapse responses being just another step down the road that filled up our land, sky, and water with pollution. Never mind the mass graves of the 20th century.
That sphinx is more of a cause for concern than anything the communists could come up with on their own, and it will still be around long after they are gone. I need to switch priorities.
The human triangle of Destiny Will and Power reminds me a passage from the I Ching, from the Cauldron hexagram. “If a man succeeds in assigning the right place to life and to fate, thus brining the two into harmony, he puts his fate on a firm footing.”
The I Ching is directed at the “superior man” who seems to have many of the same qualities as the mage, The superior man is correct if they follow the Middle Way, between extremes.
“This is the secret of the Sanctum Regnum, the holy kingdom of the mage. It is learned, as Lévi says, by learning to combine opposites without having one neutralize the other” – that certainly struck a chord with me! I view the world through the eyes of a Hindu; but reading this passage made me immediately think of the three gunas (primary components or forces of the universe): the force of inactivity/dullness/inertia (tamas); the force of activity/passion/action (rajas); and the force of purity which is a balance of tamas and rajas but is superior to either and is altogether different qualitatively (sattva). And with this go the innumerable legends of persons who obtain some boon from either Shiva (the destroyer – embodiment of tamas) or Brahma (the creator – embodiment of rajas), thereafter creating some catastrophic imbalance (usually abuse of power) which can only be remedied by the clever stratagems of Vishnu (the preserver – embodiment of sattva).
Also, the concept of love and hatred being forbidden to the mage (at least, in their uncontrolled forms) reminds me of the Hindu teaching that the sage must learn to eschew both attraction (raaga) and repulsion (dwesha) in order to break the cycle of birth-death, as it is the actions that we engage in based on either attraction or repulsion which create karmas. Of course, the Hindu path of supreme detachment is not what the more magically-oriented Levi was driving for, but I do find it reassuring (though not entirely surprising) that there are such strong resonances between these two culturally divergent expressions of the same basic truths.
Thank you, JMG, for being a guide to others through Levi’s work. I, for one, appreciate it: I simply don’t ‘get’ occult philosophy written by persons from the Continent (e.g., French or German), but you seem to be able to get at least a few things to register in my Hindu-Celtic-Indigenous-addled mind!
Chuaquin, that’s a card from one of the surviving Visconti-Sforza decks, dating from around 1450 — Renaissance rather than medieval. They’re the oldest surviving tarot cards.
Isaac, good. A fine theme for meditation!
Scotlyn, heh heh heh. I see you’re paying attention.
SLClaire, I figured Plato was talking about TV in his allegory of the cave…
Copper, no, but don’t worry about that. The qualitative dimension of number is legendarily hard to talk about clearly.
Phutatorius, I just look up the card online and see what image strikes my fancy! As for vav, funny.
Kay, that’s an interesting and useful way of thnking about it.
Pete, I suspect a lot of us will be making a similar switch in priorities as things continue.
Tomriverwriter, excellent! Yes, very much so.
Ron, in Western alchemical language mercury is equivalent to sattva, sulphur to rajas, and salt to tamas — it’s a way of classifying things shared by both traditions. As for getting out from under the tyranny of unthinking attraction and repulsion, yes, that’s essential no matter what path you follow.
Thank you so much for this series JMG,
Your translation of this material is a godsend, and your commentaries are exceedingly helpful.
I have been working this material for some time on an adjacent path (93!) and repeatedly seem to be finding this chapters work challenging.
In particular, I also practice complete surrender to my wife, as she does with me. Who, in addition to being a flesh and blood human, is a very imposing metaphisical entity as well. Surrendering to _the all_ squares the circle of “pure will and pure surrender” simply for me. When it works right mutual surrender with my wife is the same as surrender to the all, or pure will, but that is far from always and I am chronically plagued with fears and doubts around this level of surrender to another.
Fear seems to often guard the entrance to initiation for me, so I struggle to decide if I am trying to walk two incompatible paths at the same time foolishly and at great risk, or simply haven’t figured out how this particular puzzle works yet and feeling that initiatory fear.
Thanks for any advice or insights you can share.
In the Knapp Hall card there are two roads that become one -another ternary. Also, in thinking about the Lovers, this makes sense in terms of marriage. Two fate paths become joined together. Yet it could also be read as one road that becomes two. Looking at in this way relates to the upwards pointing triangle that resolves into one, and then the descending triangle that resolves the point into two.
Another excellent albeit complex post. At a slight tangent you wrote; “ It can be learned from old books on Mesmerism.” Do you have any recommended authors and their respective books on mesmerism?
My friend is a teacher of the Western Mysteries. He recommended I read these two books as part of my spiritual studies: ” The True and Invisible Rosicrucian Order by Paul Foster Case” and ” Kabbalah and ” Psychology by Zev ben Shimon Halevi ” .
Are these two part of the Magic tradition you have studied, or is it a different?
Kay Robinson #30, I saw it the other way round – that the man came down the single path, has come to the fork in the road, and now it’s the moment of decision.
It’s funny how the two women have totally different attitudes in different decks.
Knapp-Hall: indifference – http://vampiretarot.com/tarot/knapp-hall/large/the_lovers.jpg
Marseilles: security patdown – http://vampiretarot.com/tarot/marseille/large/the_lovers.jpg
Wirth: commiseration – http://vampiretarot.com/tarot/oswald_wirth/large/the_lovers.jpg
Universal Wirth: disdain – http://vampiretarot.com/tarot/universal_wirth/large/the_lovers.jpg
I had a thought after reading the part about Chokmah being when the divine makes something happen and Binah being when the divine lets something happen. I am not sure how it works for the Marseille deck, but with Waite-Rider-Smith and Thoth decks, the Fool usually represents the path between Kether and Chokmah and the Mage/Magician represents the path between Kether and Binah.
Does that mean the mage wisely goes with the flow but that there is something foolish about going against the flow? It makes me think of Dion Fortune in “Everyday Occultism” talking about the vital move for the initiate being to fully surrender to “thine will be done”. I’ll have to give that further thought.
After a think, a practical point of equilibrium between Reason and Power presented itself. The Higher Self, Tiphareth, Beauty, of course. The point that mediates between the highest identity and the lowest, that aligns the Wilt That Thou Do with Thy Will. And of course, the point that represents Tiphareth in the Hexagram ritual is right there in the middle… of course, this is conceptual mapping, and the actual experience of Tiphareth or the HGA or whatever you’d like to call it is the real terrain.
btw, these chapters keep reminding me of Richard Rose’s work, (and of course he studied Levi and recommended that his students do so too.) I wonder if you’re familiar with his diagram of “Jacob’s Ladder.” I don’t know how to put a picture in here, but here’s a link: https://tatfoundation.org/jacobs_ladder.htm
Harry, I don’t recommend surrendering to Lévi, and don’t you dare even think of surrendering to me. Treat Lévi’s ideas as though you’re sipping coffee with the man in some cozy little Paris café, and you know from the smile on his face that anything he says might be a joke, or it might be a test of your ability to detect nonsense, or it might be the key to the Great Work.
Justin, a fine theme for meditation!
Averagejoe, insufflation and exsufflation are potentially risky practices because they involve your own life energy. For that reason I was deliberately cryptic in my comments about where to find it. Anyone who is willing to put in the work can locate texts on the subject in online libraries such as archive.org…but then it’s their karma, not mine.
Tony, I’m familiar with both of them. Case was teaching his own version of the Golden Dawn system, which is not to everyone’s taste but is certainly worth considering. Halevi (his real name was Warren Kenton) was an astrologer and a serious student of the Jewish Kabbalistic traditions, so his material is rather different from either the Golden Dawn/English school or the French school of occult Cabala. Here again, though, his books are well worth reading.
Chris, that’s an interesting theme for meditation. The French system doesn’t assign the trumps to the paths of the Tree, but you can certainly do that if you like.
Isaac, good. The diagram does indeed look like what you’d expect from someone who studied Lévi, but it also echoes Proclus and the Neoplatonists generally.
“The two triangles mentioned earlier, one rising and one falling, make up the Vau of the Great Arcanum, the middle term of the riddle of the Sphinx.”
Vau, from what I’ve found on the Internet, translates to “hook” or “and”. When Kay shared “fulcrum” as her third title, it made me think of the pivot point of a lever and the balance point of a scale. When I was meditating on Vau, which is shaped like a hook, I thought of a type of scale that my father used growing up (and he gave me the weight from), similar to the one pictured here https://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/search/object/nmah_1275886
The bar that connects the weight and the item being weighed is the pole that JBucks referred to, connecting two positions (so it is a “hook” and an “and” at the same time). But on this type of scale, the fulcrum is fixed and we (as mages) should be able to shift the balance one way or the other, so I thought maybe this doesn’t work as a good metaphor. But then I thought some more and decided that maybe the fulcrum of the Divine doesn’t shift, so this type of scale would represent the upward pointing triangle. I searched online to see if there was a scale that had a movable fulcrum and learned about bismar scales (pictures here: https://www.isasc.org/Tutorial/Scale-Types.html#Bismar) This type of scale would represent the downward pointing triangle.
Isaac had suggested a meditation theme of finding the transcendent point between Reason and Power. A “point” implies a unity and I think there is a stage in between the duality of ternaries and unity. JMG said that the two triangles represent the middle term of the Sphinx and the middle term of the Sphinx is a duality that gets resolved into a ternary (and Levi said it was the ternary of Pythagoras and Plato).
Pythagoras and Plato both had lots of triads. Pythagoras had a triad of harmony, identity, and perfection. Plato had a triad for the tripartite soul (made of the rational, the spirit, and the appetite). The rational part of the soul represents reason; reason (from Plato) and perfection (from Pythagoras) could both represent Unity.
Even though this made sense to me in words, my mind didn’t like it. This version of the hexagram didn’t mesh with the Macroprosopus/Microprosopus hexagram from earlier in the book. But if I took Isaac’s idea of looking at it 3D and considered each triangle the base of a tetrahedron, then the point centered above reason/liberty/necessity would be the Unity beyond Kether (Ain Soph Aur, perhaps?) and the point centered below power/will/destiny would be Malkuth. If you looked at that 3D image from the side, it would mesh better with the Macroprosopus/Microprosopus hexagram. (And it would make a Merkaba 🙂 ).
The image on The Lover card in my deck has the mage standing between a woman representing the Spiritual and a woman representing the Material. And above them all, Eros (Cupid) in front of the Sun, aiming his arrow at the mage. I can see this as the mage aligning his Personality with his Individuality, to be able to Love as the Divine wants him to. (But I can also see it as Plato’s tripartite soul, with the Spiritual representing Spirit (faith) and the Material representing Appetite (emotions) and the Sun representing Reason, which is a nice segue to The Chariot.)
I found this very interesting comparison in Wirth’s commentary (excerpt reformatted and translated):
If one envisions different modes for action of will:
– The Emperor exerts an imperative commandment, impetuous and of brutal character
– The Pope emits a gentle and patient will, which imposes itself by force of moderation
– The Lover is content to desire intensely, in a sentiment of profound affection. The love absorbs the will; it abstains from commanding, and in all-desiring, it prays in the initiatory sense of the word
What I find particularly interesting is the similarity here to the Order of Essenes philosophy. The notion of intense desire as the basis for change (which Wirth associates with the Lover) is very fundamental to their ideas.
So maybe I’m “cheating” a bit, but I read the chapter on The Lover in Oswald Wirth’s Magicians of the Tarot. It helped a lot. Wirth, in the this chapter at least, speaks very plainly. And after rereading this post I realized (JMG/you) say a lot of the same things. Wirth seems to speak generally while JMG/you seem to strongly hint at the generalities with details. The reread of this post made some things in my personal life more clear in respect to Destiny and Will.
I also meditated on the Jung angle on this card. I’ll share one highlight. I view the mother figure as representative of hate since we move away from our mothers as age, and the princess figure as love (Eros or desire works better, I think Lévi is playing a trick of sorts) since we move toward desire for the opposite sex. The young man is making the final gesture of the Qabalistic cross which seals the aura. From this angle, he’s rejecting both of the woman.
Just a testimonial for this magic stuff – I seem to be dealing with stress in a completely different way than in the past. I used to binge watch TV when stressed. Now I’m spending lots of time skimming old occult pdfs and cherry picking useful tidbits.
Also, this book club is profoundly fun – even while the world crumbles around us.
Hello JMG and everybody,
I am fascinated by this card and the chapter to no no end. The lover is not a spouse. The lover is not a fiancée. The lover is not a companion. The lover may appear in one’s life on the background of a marriage. Obvious disequilibrium is staring you in the face. As Alexandre Dumas famously said, “The chains of marriage are so heavy that it takes two to bear, sometimes three.” I can imagine quite a few ugly, unbalanced, and inharmonious situations stemming from this scenario… yet The Lover card is right there on the Middle Pillar… Tiferet… and the chapter 6 is titled Magical Equilibrium. Magical indeed… How do you reconcile all this?
Lots to chew on in this week’s chapter.
It’s probably because I’ve been reading Nietzsche (and reading about Nietzsche) of late that I can’t help but draw some parallels. The triangle of Destiny – Will – Power reminds me of will to power. Will to power would require a love of fate and that is present in Nietzsche as amor fati. It would also require will and, even though Nietzsche denies free will, he wouldn’t deny desires and drives. Rather, he sought to free them of what he saw as the constraints of morality. Thus, there might be a Nietzschean reading of the triangle which would be: learn to love your fate, learn to desire freely and you wield power.
The getting lost in the astral light also seems to fit with Zarathustra. Jung apparently believed that Zarathustra was Nietzsche being overwhelmed by an archetype and it was this that led to Nietzsche’s subsequent madness.
Last month, you recommended that I look for the connections between the Empress and the Emperor. So I first want to mention what I found with those two cards, then what the Lovers card shows.
On the Knapp-Hall deck:
They both are holding scepters, but they are in opposite hands. The left hand for the Empress and the right for the Emperor. This could mean the active and the passive use of power. There is a cross on the Empress’ scepter, which could relate to the quaternary of the Emperor.
Someone said that the bird with the Empress is the phoenix. This is also the bird on the cube of the Emperor. The Emperor sits on a cube with three faces showing while his crossed legs look like the number four. There are six faces to a cube, so this might be a reference to card six, the Lovers. However, the Empress sits on three steps. Maybe the three steps of the Empress are the three missing faces of the Emperor’s cube.
But now with the Lovers card, I wonder if the woman with wings is the Empress. (I’ll have to do more thinking about Knapp-Hall’s meaning of wings.) What I am definitely seeing is a man with an angelic woman on one side and a Dionysian woman on the other. The two women’s hands and heads are both arranged so that they make the upper triangle of Reason, Necessity and Wisdom. The man is creating a downward-pointing triangle of Destiny, Will and Power that is revealed by the white trim on his collar and wrists. The wrists cross at the solar plexus, too.
Are the two women an indication of two kinds of love? One love is a love of God and a shunning of earthly love, while the other kind of love is the raw, passionate earthly love. The man in the middle is walking between these two loves using the downward pointing triangle. This seems to be a common theme in the tarot, that we strive upward but are pulled downward. Maybe this conflict is built into the universe as a thrust block to help us reach higher and higher levels. If so, I can’t imagine the incredible conflicts that entities far greater than us are facing. That’s a bit frightening.
Thanks for offering us your time and wisdom with this book series.
Hi John Michael,
Fascinating. Did you note that cupids arrow points almost exactly between the two young lovers (as distinct from at either of the young lovers)? I also note that the older priest or nobleman on the left hand side of the trio is acting in such a way to guide the young bloke in the middle, whilst the appealing and hopefully accommodating young lady on the right hand side acts as if she were making a solid case. All the while the young hapless bloke in the middle is swept along.
Incidentally, the six concepts in the two triangles overlap really nicely. Hmm.
The clear definitions you provided for the words: Destiny, Will and Power, are superb. 🙂 Thanks! However, it’s forever a challenge to find the mid-point in the competing forces and exercise some will and thus set in motion changes and stuff. It takes a fair bit of energy to accomplish, and there are times you get dragged back all the same. Yes, all very unfortunate, but part of the greater.
Mate, another epic storm dumped even more rain over the farm during the past few days. Still, as the English are wont to say: Mustn’t grumble. 🙂 How is your autumn going is it getting colder? On a slightly unrelated topic, have you been watching the crazy goings on with the industrial fertilisers? It’s a bit of a worry, and most people have no idea what trouble is brewing. Yikes!
I didn’t see the women of the card as The Lover. I saw the mage as The Lover and, to do magic well, he needs to balance the spiritual and the material.
(I could be way off, though. I am still have plenty of meditations to do…)
Or maybe the Lover is Eros/Cupid…
OK, last post until I sit down and meditate properly. Love is Aphrodite/Venus. But Venus was considered the light-bringer, which is Lucifer, which Levi mentions in the chapter as the snake in Genesis. So not Lucifer that people confuse with Satan, but Lucifer the off-spring of Sophia. And on the card, Love is in front of the Sun (so bringing the light…)
Lots to ponder… Thank you for your thought provoking question!!!
I read this chapter as a warning. If I understood correctly, good and evil are both produced by God, and God resides in the equilibrium between the two. They are both necessary.
Nature loves a void and if an action goes too far to one side of equilibrium, whether towards good or evil, a void is produced on the other side and something will rush in to fill it. If saints producing miracles results in devils being particularly active, then the warning is this: You may learn to move the astral light in any direction you wish, but be aware that equilibrium will reassert itself one way or another. So remain as close to equilibrium as possible. Don’t do anything miraculous and flashy. Stay subtle, with slight nudges only and understand the consequences of what you do.
I’m wondering it that is correct, however, because it means that if I want to produce some good, it’s OK to do an evil and let equilibrium do the work. That can’t be right. Where did I my reasoning go wrong? More meditation!
The lover stands at a crossroads, confronted with a choice. To make a choice sets the Will in motion.
He stands between two figures: a earthy woman on his left — Wirth calls her a bacchante — and a noble woman (in the Knapp card, an angel) on his right.
Cupid is poised above, aiming his arrow directly at the crown of his head. Some decks show it aimed at his heart.
This looks like he must choose between spiritual development and physical satisfaction.
Can he not choose them both? Aren’t they both worthy images, symbolic hooks upon which to hang his alchemist’s robe?
He embarks on the great work, uniting spirit and matter. The queen/angel and the bacchante are two forms of the soror mystica, joining him in the opus.
At the point of equilibrium, his moral choice is to serve Beauty in both its material and spiritual forms.
Unity through Love.
A further thought was that the Higher Self obviously doesn’t transcend Kether, but it is the point of equilibrium between Reason and Power, or Kether and Malkuth, and instead of pointing either up or down, it points inwards (towards the observer.)
I have not yet begun my study of Neoplatonists, but do you recommend any of Proclus’ works in particular?
Rose also recommended Hubert Benoit as a source for understanding what he called “Triangulation.” Benoit was a psychologist and a student of Zen, but I can see how he got Levi’s influence, directly or indirectly.
@RandomActs: these seem like fruitful meditations! Your comments have helped me see things a little more clearly.
@Karma and everybody:
You are absolutely right. This card has layers and layers of meaning… yet one of them has got to be a simple one… what most people think of when you say, “The lover”. Also, these are old cards. Historically, monogamy was about avoiding paternity fraud and ensuring proper inheritance rights, not necessarily, about sexual fidelity per se. In the past, people considered the possibility of a lover who supported a family structure that otherwise would had been unbearable. What looks like disharmony on the outside brings harmony to all involved. To create this magical equilibrium one, of course, has “to know, to dare, to will” and, above all, “to be silent”. Am I off-track here and simply ascribing some noble properties to the act of marital cheating? Yes? No?
Oof. I just realized the astral light is basically an exercise in hypnosis for most human beings. I now realize I have lost years in varied degrees of hypnosis. That’s what the Uncus/hook key word is about (imo). People set hooks into each other and pull each to and fro. Also “[on the] hook” is a dating term. Think of a fish caught on a hook. The fish can go towards the rod which increases the chance of capture or away from the rod which tires it out. Best not to bite. According to Wirth, and I think Lévi as well, we want to consciously hypnotize ourselves with a wholesome desire passed on from higher planes.
This hypnosis angle plays into masculine/feminine subtle bodies as well. It was particularly a problem for me at times since I’m astrally negative/feminine by nature but physically male.
If you don’t mind me asking, which denomination of the Hindu commonwealth do you belong to? Any of the four traditional ones (I guess it might not be Smartha, because AFAIK, converts are not accepted in this denomination), or the newer ones like RK Mission, Chinmaya Mission, ISKCON, etc? As a born Hindu, conversions to Hinduism, and that too in Western countries, is something that I’ve heard of, but far less frequently than conversions into Buddhism or some mystical branch of Christianity from atheism/agnosticism, which seem to be the default state of religion in the West to a significant extent.
“Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), the country’s top aerospace and aviation manufacturer, has developed the Scorpius family of systems that scans a sphere of the operating environment for targets and deploys a narrowly focused beam to interfere with multiple threats across the electromagnetic spectrum. The high-tech weapon is categorized under “soft protection” because it doesn’t cause physical harm. Instead, it disrupts the operation of electromagnetic systems, such as radar, electronic sensors, navigation, and data communications.”
Off topic, but I thought you would get a kick out of it. Retrotopia’s maser based anti-drone system now exists.
Random, a fine meditation!
Paul, good. Wirth is very much in Lévi’s tradition, and though Hamner would have insisted otherwise, so is the Order of Essenes.
Youngelephant, one of the reasons I’m doing these book clubs is precisely that this kind of sustained exercise in reflection is one of the few reliable sources of refuge when the world crumbles, as of course it does from time to time.
Kirsten, what a fine theme for meditation!
Simon, good. Nietzsche is very much worth considering in this context since he was pushing certain themes in Western philosophy as far as they would go — or further.
Jon, excellent! A good solid meditation. Remember that entities who have evolved beyond our level have greater wisdom and power, and so can handle greater discords.
Chris, one of the more interesting details in this card is that where the arrow points varies from version to version. The Knapp-Hall Cupid points straight at the young man, for example. You were mentioning difficulties in finding a stable point of balance, I think! As for weather, we had a robust storm last night, and yes, it’s getting chilly — down to 36°F last night. The fertilizer situation — well, we can discuss that in a week or two. It’s worth close attention.
Myriam, definitely more meditation, but there’s a straightforward solution. There’s no shortage of evil in the world, and you don’t have to keep the equilibrium internal to yourself! You can balance your good actions against someone else’s evil ones, and seek resolution that way.
Goldenhawk, another fine meditation.
Isaac, I find his Elements of Theology well worth the time and patient reading it requires. Thanks for the tip about Benoit!
Youngelephant, good. What differentiates hypnotic trance from other states of consciousness?
Siliconguy, okay, here we go. Over the next decade or so, expect similar technologies to be used to fry military electronics across the board — and the consequences are much greater than most people realize, since everything beyond 1950s military technology uses electronics…
Viduraawakened #58: no, I don’t mind you asking (as this forum seems to be a very ‘safe place’ and I’ve got to know you quite well through your many interesting comments – which I thoroughly enjoy, BTW). Mine was not a ‘conversion’ pe se, but circumstances ended up me being totally surrounded by orthodox Brahmins for many years when I was intensively studying Karnatic music during my youth. They all simply accepted me as one of their own and I totally related to virtually everything religiously and culturally. I ended up marrying into a Pushtimarga family (both Iyengar and Pushtimarga are Vaishnava subsects [vasishtadvaita and shuddhadvaita, respectively] – not to be confused with ISCON). Suffice to say, I’m a pretty weird guy!
JMG, I think a case could be made that all states of consciousness below the Abyss are a hypnotic trance. The trances might exist on a spectrum of unconscious-conscious. At the stage of the Lover we achieve lucidity of the diaphane and then have the ability to make a conscious Choice about what we want to be hypnotized by. Hopefully we choose to hypnotize ourselves with something virtuous from the higher planes. And of course this is what invocation is all about. We make our Choice and then invoke help from the astral light to achieve it. I expect we also have the ability to make conscious choices every time we purify bits of our diaphane even before the state of lucidity.
You’re not telling us that the temperature was “-36 F” last night, are you? Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish a bit of linguistic dash from a mathematical minus-sign. 😉
@Siliconguy – and this is published where? Does Israel Aerospace Industries think the Palestinians can’t read? Let alone Iraq, Iran, et. al. Oy, veh!
I have been reading ‘The Mystical Qabalah’ by Dion Fortune lately. She commented that ‘the Qabalah, the Tarot, and Astrology are not three separate systems–They are one, and none can be understood/fully used without the others.’ I wondered if this was Levi’s view as well, and if he has any elaborations along these lines.
I can see some of the linkages between Qabalah and Tarot, but am a bit fuzzy on the links between these and Astrology– A lot of meditation is likely required to elaborate this picture!
I have followed along with the commentaries and comments, though I haven’t made time to read the original text – finding it hard enough to make time for reading, meditating and praying on scripture. However, allow me to post here the following study by example, which may shine some light on the fulcrum between liberty and necessity, will and fate (I hope the links and Unicode come through!):
Ilias 12:104: ὃ δ᾽ ἔπρεπε καὶ διὰ πάντων.
He [Sarpedon] stood out (ἔπρεπε, eprepe) among all.
Pindar, Isthmian Ode 5:14: θνατὰ θνατοῖσι πρέπει.
Mortal aims befit (πρέπει, prepei) mortal men
Matthew 3:15: οὕτως γὰρ πρέπον ἐστὶν ἡμῖν πληρῶσαι πᾶσαν δικαιοσύνην
[John the Baptist tried to deter him… Jesus replied:…]”it is proper (πρέπον, prepon) for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”
Hebrews 2:10: Ἔπρεπεν γὰρ αὐτῷ…τὸν ἀρχηγὸν τῆς σωτηρίας αὐτῶν διὰ παθημάτων τελειῶσαι.
It was fitting (Ἔπρεπεν, eprepen) for him [God]… that he … should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered.
Prepein means originally (in Homer) to stand out, to call attention by being taller or braver or more handsome than others. In Classical and New Testament Greek, the impersonal form is found much more often and normally translated “it is fitting”. I understand that to mean literally “among several choices, this one stands out, this one is more beautiful than the others”.
The “fittingness” seems, for mortal men, to hold the balance between will and fate, as Pindar says. What I find profound is that Jesus applies this verb to himself (and to John), and the author of the epistle to the Hebrews applies it to God the Father. So even in what you call “the divine realm”, this concept of “fittingness” holds a balance between liberty and necessity.
Emmanuel Glodstein #44 If you use the Fu Hsi arrangement of the I-ching, it also fits with those other 3, giving a balanced quadrinity. You don’t need to study them all in depth, it just really helps knowing they are all part of a whole
@Siliconguy @JMG @Patricia M
(still off-topic, apologies and I’ll make it short then) – is this one of the intriguing ways through which we have a war that istarts with drones and aircraft carriers, but ends up with infantry and horsedrawn artillery, as you suggested on last week’s post?
Esteemed Archdruid, I’m a bit late to the study and discussion this week. An interesting chapter to me, and one which made more sense and which dwells in my metaphorical belly with more equanimity than some of the previous chapters. Particularly enjoyed Levi’s discussion of Equilibrium.
Delighted to see you using a Marseilles Tarot card for your exemplar card this session, as that is what I’m using, and some of the previous chapter discussions about the cards were a bit off-putting for me due to the Marseilles cards being oftentimes less “embroidered with details” than some of the other ones. Not sure quite what to make of it, but here goes: please note the TWO left hands of the young woman!
As a former copy-editor, I suspect it’s just an “ooops” but these cards have had LOTS of eyes on them for a long time, so it’s also reasonable to say that the left hand on the right arm of the blonde-haired woman is deliberate and therefore some sort of symbol of significance. The old notion of someone clumsy being labeled as having “two left feet” comes to mind. Any “handy” (!) comments on this from you, JMG, or any of the commentariat would be very welcome.
Youngelephant, fair enough. In that case, agreed.
Lathechuck, nope! I’ve fixed it.
Emmanuel, Fortune wasn’t an astrologer, and an astrologer could have set her right about that. The Cabala has connections with astrology, but there are astrological functions and concepts that don’t really map onto the Cabala, and vice versa. Mind you, Lévi wasn’t an astrologer either…
Aldarion, thanks for this! As you see, it came through intact.
Bryan, that’s a fascinating point. Have you meditated on it?
@JMG – I figured Fortune was no astrologer when she said that her melancholy, wimpy, repressed Hugh Paston was a “watery Aquarius.” Uh-uh. Pisces. For what it’s worth, I figured her realtor, Wilfred Maxwell, as a Gemini, and of course, Ted Murchison is a Taurus. She said outright that Rupert Malcolm, MD, was Aries, which made good sense. But, of course, she was hitting the elements there.
JMG@#70 asked: “Have you meditated on it?” Oh yes indeed, I have!
“The Left Hand of Darkness” by Le Guin came up immediately. That has led to musings on gender, sexuality, and related threads. Also, the whole concept of “handedness” bubbled up as being of interest. “She’s left-handed” suggested itself to me also as a wry joke!
I mentioned copy-editing. I’m one of those fairly-rare folks who can (or at least in the past could; my capability is fading with age) expose eyes to a page of text and IMMEDIATELY see the mis-spelled word or out-of-place punctuation. By “immediately” I’m talking less than a second. Oddly linked with how I learned to read, perhaps; mostly self-taught, at a fairly early age. Words as words, not collections of letters, is how I learned and how I still see.
One of several quotes that leapt out when re-reading Chapter Six after examining the card was: “The occult laws are often diametrically opposed to common conception.” Yes, we commonly assume that a person has a right hand and a left hand, but are we willing to consider other possibilities? 😃
So yeah, for such a seemly-simple card, I’ve glimpsed the entrance to SEVERAL rabbit holes down & through which to explore. Won’t run out of meditation topics this month, anyway!
All the best to all!
I have been meditating and pondering and reading and reading and reading, trying to figure out who/what The Lover is.
At first I tried to use a Christian lens, since Levi had mentioned Lucifer, but there are many many many variations of Christian cosmogony and nothing seemed to fit.
Since I am learning about Greek deities, I decided to research Greek cosmogony (thinking that there would be less variation than the Christians have). They might not have as many different cosmogonies, but gosh, what they do have is full of inconsistencies. (Is a deity a parent, a sibling, a spouse, or an offspring of another deity? Why, possibly all of the above, it seems.)
What I did learn that is relevant is that in the older Greek cosmogonies, Eros was NOT the offspring of Aphrodite. He was actually one of the primordial gods.
I tried to find a cosmogony where he would be third somehow (to fit with Vau). There is a version where he would be, but that would make Chaos Kether and that didn’t feel right.
And then I learned that there is Cronus and there is Khronos. Cronus is a Titan; Khronos is a primordial god (Time, or Unending Time, depending on the source). Khronos and Ananke (Inevitability, or Necessity) made Chaos, Aither (Light), and Erebos (Darkness). (This part doesn’t fit with the Spheres on the Cabala that I can figure out so far, but maybe it fits with Ain Soph and such. It might fit with Cosmic Doctrine stuff, too. More meditation required.)
And then Khronos and Ananke (or maybe just Khronos; sources don’t agree) made the Cosmic/World Egg. When the Cosmic/World Egg broke, it broke into two parts… Ouranos (Heaven) and Gaia (Earth). And out of the egg came Protogonos (also called Phanes) (also called Eros) (also called Bringer of Light) (also called First Creator).
So on the card, Eros/Phanes/Protogonos is in the one with the arrow. The woman with the wings represents Heaven; the woman without wings represents Earth. The man in the middle… the mage?
But Eros/Phanes/Protogonos fits better as Kether and this card is Vau. So I still have lots to figure out.
If you want to read snippets of Greek cosmogony (from Orpheus, Hesiod, and Aristophanes), this has it all in one place: https://sacred-texts.com/cla/af/af10.htm
Just one more quick thought before this post is wound up.
“learning to combine opposites without having one neutralize the other”
It may seem a commonplace, but I have long found the humble “cauldron” or ordinary pot on the cooking stove, to be of this nature.
It “intermediates” fairly effectively between fire and water, such that the fire cannot dry up the water and the water cannot put out the fire, and the essence of both can be combined (in, say, soup) without either neutralising the other.
Now, it strikes me that I have just introduced a concept, “intermediation”, of which, as we know, there is such a thing as too much.
Back to meditate on this some more.
Anyway, at these gathering where these high flights of magical symbol and meaning are being discussed, you are likeliest to find me in the kitchen, “intermediating” some soup, or something like that. 😉
Finally read the chapter this morning for the first time and wish I had done it last week to participate in the discussion. For the first time I could make an immediate connection between the chapter and the card and what is occurring out there vs. in here. Of course there are going to be deeper levels to go with it but it was nice to have something click at the first go.
Levi’s explanation of the astral light in this chapter seems to have suddenly turned on the ability for me to see energy around people. I feel like I can sense the cleanliness and color of what someone is carrying with him now. Is that weird? I don’t know what to do with this information but when I think of the interactions I had with people over the last day, I now can sense that about them.
Thank you for providing the commentary which gives me much to journal about as I read and reflect.
Sorry for the rather late reply.
Your experience seems to have been rather interesting – there aren’t any other cases I know of who joined the Hindu family the way you did. I’m from a Smartha family, so I guess my religion is somewhat different, but yes, it’s nice to see a non-Hindu enter the Hindu fraternity. As for the weirdness part, I guess all of us on this forum, including our host, are weird in at least some way, so you’re probably not alone.
Maybe you’ve all tried this before, but arranging the first six Tarot cards on a table into the six points of a hexagram and studying them as a whole has revealed much. Indeed, so it has when arranging them into the other numbers we’ve encountered thus far.
“Since I am learning about Greek deities, I decided to research Greek cosmogony (thinking that there would be less variation than the Christians have). They might not have as many different cosmogonies, but gosh, what they do have is full of inconsistencies. (Is a deity a parent, a sibling, a spouse, or an offspring of another deity? Why, possibly all of the above, it seems.)”
Thanks for this! It has provoked a few thoughts about possible connections to the Oedipus plays, which I seem to be continuously drawn to exploring.
In Paths of Wisdom, JMG mentions that it takes many metaphors (some overlapping) to try to understand the Cabala. So, I’ve revisited the Cosmic Doctrine metaphors and the Paths of Wisdom metaphors and read lots of new-to-me metaphors from The Secret Teachings of All Ages (Manly P. Hall) and lots of variations of Greek Mythology online.
Chronos and Ananke were frequently depicted as having snake-like bodies, encircling the World (or Cosmic) Egg. One of their offspring was Aether (heavenly light or spirit). From CosDoc, tracks in space create Spirit, which eventually creates the Central Sun. So perhaps Chronos and Ananke were tracksin space. The Central Sun, in turn, creates Cosmic Atoms which eventually can become Great Organisms, one of which became our Solar Logos. (And also in this metaphor, the Zodiac is created as Cosmic Atoms orbit the Central Sun/Rays and Chronos in art is depicted with the Zodiac, so Chronos being involved in this part of Creation fits well.)
Great Organisms orbit around the Central Sun, but development of Great Organisms is inward. In Hall’s metaphor (if I understand it correctly), our Solar Logos started off as a circle filled with pure spirit (Aether or Ain). The Solar Logos withdrew from the circumference of the circle (condensing inward), which created an Abyss. As the Ain drew itself in, limitation increased, creating Ain Soph and then Ain Soph Aur and then Kether. Kether is perfect Unity, undifferentiated Spirit.
Previously, I had read descriptions of Kether’s emanation into the Garden of Eden as ‘fiery water’, but one of the sources I read recently (can’t remember which, sorry!) described it as ‘fiery mist’. I like this description much better… I can see it as a nebula beginning to glow (the beginnings of a star) or as a muggy atmosphere of lightning, ammonia, hydrogen, methane, and water creating the first amino acids.
The Cosmos had a Cosmic Egg; each man has an Auric Egg. It seems that Kether should have an Egg, too. Perhaps Kether’s Egg is the World Egg and Cosmic/World Eggs have been muddled together like Khronos and Cronus. Kether’s Egg is an undifferentiated Unity. When it breaks open, one half becomes the Heavens (Ouranos), one half becomes the Earth (Gaia), and to mediate between the two is Protogonus/Phanes/Eros. Ouranos can be Chokmah; Gaia can be Binah; Solar Logos is Kether.
The Worlds get confusing to me. A World has ten Spheres (Kether, Chokmah, Binah, et al). There are four Worlds (Atziluth, Briah, Yetzirah, and Assiah). According to some, each World has a full complement of ten Spheres. Hall describes them as concentric spheres within Kether, so Kether encircles all the other Spheres, Atziluth’s Chokmah encircles all the Spheres except Kether, Atziluth’s Binah encircles all the Spheres except Kether and Chokmah, and so on. Within Atziluth’s Malkuth is the world of Briah. Within Briah, all of Yetzirah, etc. And, in Hall’s metaphor, the exterior World’s Malkuth is the next World’s Kether.
Kether’s element is Air (Spirit). Chokmah (Yod) is Fire; Binah (Heh) is Water. Chokmah/Binah (Gaia/Ouranos) make Eros (Vau), whose element is Air. Eros is androgynous (or hermaphroditic) and balanced, like Kether. It makes sense that Eros/Vau is Tiphareth in the middle column of the Cabala (though that doesn’t follow the Lightning of Creation of the Cabala). I found an image online where rather than Malkuth being the Kether of the next inner World, it is Tiphareth that is the next World’s Kether. I don’t know how well that will tie in with the rest of Levi’s book, but I like that metaphor a little better than Malkuth being Gaia’s Kether.
I am still pondering the other Worlds. It would be neat and tidy if Atziluth is Lord of Flames (to include the Greek Primordial gods) and Briah is Lords of Form (to include the Greek Titan gods) and Yetzirah is Lords of Mind (to include the Olympian gods), and eventually I’ll see if I can do a correspondence between the Primordial and Titan gods/goddesses and the Spheres.
Two other interesting tidbits I’ve learned:
Zeus wanted to create stuff, so he swallowed Protogonus. He then had a child with Persephone; Protogonus was reborn as Zagreus. Zagreus was killed by the Titans. Zeus saved Zagreus’ still beating heart and swallowed it. He then had a child with Semele; Protogonus/Zagreus was reborn as Dionysus.
Pherecydes of Syros considered Chaos to be like water, something formless that can be differentiated. Imagining Chaos like that made some of the metaphors easier to see.
And, in the appendix part of CosDoc, Fortune wrote “There are two of the ancient god-forms which can be called easily to mind as being readily alignable with the Essential Self… These two god-forms are Horus and Eros. Of them the former could stand for the Divine Spark, the latter for the seed-atom… This supernal Eros is far removed from the popular conception which identifies him with Cupid. He represents here the essence of Man which is Eros plus Anteros and springs from the Cosmic Egg like the philosophic concept of that Eros who was one of the earliest of the Greek gods. This cosmogonic Eros was the earliest force bringing order out of Chaos and he presided at the Council of the Gods and rules over the minds of gods and men.”
In researching Sophia, I came across this:
“The Son and Spirit are similar in that they both proceed from the Father, and both are sent into creation to bring wayward creation back to the Father. And yet the Son and Spirit are distinctly different in that they are fundamentally complementary, as Adam and Eve are complementary and not redundant, as two Adam’s or two right hands would be redundant.” https://holysophia.com/
It made me think of your “two left hands” question. 🙂
In this post you said:
“The astral light is the medium through which move the passions, the instincts, and the social drives. Its constant pressure seeks to draw the intelligent individual back into patterns of behavior well established long before our species evolves. It is necessary, as Lévi points out—those patterns ensure the survival of the community and the species—but it is also fatal…..”
This sentence reminded me of The Cosmic Doctrine and the swarms of Divine Sparks / travelling atoms that arrive and depart in waves. Each wave builds upon the paths initially created by the first wave. Are the patterns of behavior that the astral light always seeks to draw us into the patterns established by prior waves of Divine Sparks?
If so, my guess is that the patterns are necessary for survival (e.g. lust leading to procreation) but our role is to continue on our path of evolution.
I’m becoming concerned when Levi says that passion is not allowed to the mage. There is no doubt that we fall in love in an illusion, one that Jung labelled the anima and animus. But as you (quite brilliantly) point out, these are the subjective experiences of instinctual drives. Humans pair-bond. It is our instinctual nature, that we cannot escape no matter how hard we try. Levi seems to be saying that a mage has to be superhuman — stronger than our instincts — but that is nonsense of a Christian sort. We should model ourselves on the divine, but not expect to act solely divinely.
I have been pondering your comment about passion. Perhaps Levi’s use of the word has a different connotation than what we are used to, either because we are reading a translation or because he was writing in a different time.
Mirriam-Webster’s second definition of passion is “a strong feeling (such as anger) that causes you to act in a dangerous way.” It is the third m-w definition that would apply to “human pair bonds”.
If Levi was intending the second definition and not the third, perhaps his use of the phrase might not be as bothersome?
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