Cronus Swallows His Children

Saturn, Jupiter’s father, devours one of his sons, Neptune, by Peter Paul Rubens



Cronus was the youngest of the twelve Titans, the offspring of Gaia and Uranus. Cronus took his own sister, Rhea, also a Titan, as his wife. The union of Cronus and Rhea was a very special one. They produced several of the most powerful gods in the Greek pantheon: Demeter, Hades, Hera, Hestia, Poseidon and Zeus. Hesiod tells us in The Theogony that Cronus was very cunning. He was the most terrible of all the Titans (ll. 116-138). Cronus hated his father, Uranus, because he was cruel to his children. Cronus’ mother, Gaia, pleaded with her sons to punish Uranus for his evil ways. Cronus was the only one willing to do the deed. She fashioned a sickle with jagged teeth, made from grey flint and gave it to Cronus. When Uranus came to lay with Gaia that night, Cronus emasculated him with the adamantine sickle and threw his members into the sea.

Cronus and his wife, Rhea, became the most powerful gods at this time, beginning what is known as The Golden Age in Greek mythology, a primordial era of peace and prosperity. At some point, it was prophesied by Gaia and Uranus that one of Cronus’ children would overthrow him. To prevent this, Cronus swallowed each of his children at the time of their birth. When it was time for Zeus to be born, Rhea devised a plan to deceive Cronus and save her son from being devoured. Rhea gave birth to Zeus on the island of Crete. She gave Cronus a stone wrapped in swaddling clothes, which is known as the Omphalos Stone, and kept Zeus hidden from his father in a cave. Thinking it was his son, Cronus swallowed the stone.

When Zeus was fully grown, his grandmother, Gaia, gave him an emetic that Zeus administered to Cronus, causing all the children he had swallowed to be vomited from him. The Omphalos Stone was also spewed forth. Zeus placed this stone at “Pytho under the glens of Mount Parnassus to be a sign to mortal men” (Wikipedia). Finally, Zeus and his siblings overthrew the Titans and became the supreme gods.

The myth of Cronus swallowing his children speaks to the idea of wholeness, integration, oneness, etc. It is the nature of the psyche to be multifarious, being composed of many forces and powers we call archetypes. Movements toward oneness, such as Jung’s ideas of integration and individuation, are allusions to the myth of Cronus swallowing his children. Jung’s idea of integration seems influenced by Christian monotheism, which also attempts to swallow all others in a quest for the One God. In the psyche, the many powers must cease their individuality and be integrated into a supreme Self in the fully-individuated human being. There is no room for the variegated powers and forces to manifest themselves as themselves.

When Cronus swallowed his children, they were in a dark place, comparable to the unconscious. When monotheistic movements swallow all other gods, they are banished to the darkness of unconsciousness, where, if continually suppressed, they eventually rear their heads as complexes and diseases.

We are creatures imbued with many powers within us. If we ignore them, we fall into great peril. Let us not be like Cronus.

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A Critique Of Centering

We hear much about so-called centering prayer, centering meditation, the centering of the Self, etc. These kinds of discussions would also include mandalas, of which C.G. Jung was so fond of, a form of spiritual and ritual art that Jung borrowed from Hinduism and Buddhism, and appropriated for his psychological ideas. Here is his own description of their meaning for him:

My mandalas were cryptograms concerning the state of the self which was presented to me anew each day…I guarded them like precious pearls….It became increasingly plain to me that the mandala is the center. It is the exponent of all paths. It is the path to the center, to individuation (Memories, Dreams and Reflections, p. 196).

Also, he did not believe the path to individuation was a linear one.

I began to understand that the goal of psychic development is the self. There is no linear evolution; there is only a circumambulation of the self (ibid.)

The idea of a psychological center bothers me. I am a firm believer in the Hermetic Principle of Correspondence, as above, so below. We humans are many Microcosms, each one corresponding to the Macrocosm, the cosmos, and the more subtle worlds of Being. Just using the example of the cosmos and our own microcosm, what we learn about stars, planets, galaxies, moons, etc. corresponds to the particular Soul that we are. There are many Persons within us, just as there are many stars and planets in the heavens. I don’t see a center, but many centers, centers within centers, ad infinitum.

There is much agreement that our Universe is acentric. So, applying the Principle of Correspondence, we are also acentric. This is why Jung’s theory bothers me. If we are acentric, there is no single Self at the center of our Being, which we are moving toward.

I believe the centering idea stems from the Western overemphasis on monotheism, of which I have written about in The Death of Monotheism. There has been a notion in scholarly religious circles that monotheism is the end-product of thousands of years of religious evolution. In other words, polytheism would rank as a primitive form of thought. But is that really the case in Nature, since our Principle of Correspondence would apply to all avenues of human thinking? Jung himself demonstrated the multifariousness of the human psyche, giving individuality to all the archetypes.

Jung’s insistence on integration of the various personalities into a lone Self is very bothersome to me. All these archetypes have many things to contribute to us; we should not be waiting on their dissolution, when they are to be assimilated into a singular centricity. The wonders of Nature do not seem to be not moving toward a singularity, why should we? As above, so below.

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Happy Holidays!

I would like to wish all my readers much happiness this holiday season. Have a very Happy New Year too!

Yule Lads in Dimmuborgir, Photo by lusinemarg

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The Crumbling Of Christianity

Destruction of Pompeii, by
Ivan Aivazovsky (1817–1900)

Let us face the truth: the Christian myth, if not already dead, is dying quickly. The symbols of the religion that once captured the hearts and minds of people everywhere have lost their power in our world. Many people I know are Christian in name only; their lives do not reflect the faith that once shook the Roman Empire to its roots. There are a few that still display the love for others that Christ taught, but these are rare individuals, indeed.

It didn’t take Christianity but a few hundred years to begin laying the foundation for its own demise. The emphasis on apologetics, the dogmatic decrees of the first Church councils, and the politicization of the Church by the Emperor Theodosius I, in 380 A.D. made the young religion rigid and imperious, taking on many of the traits of the empire for which it became the official belief system.

A phenomenological look at the symbolic efficacy of Christianity in its infancy shows that it was empowered by archetypal forces that only occur to such an extent at the dawning of a new epoch in human history. The story had been told many times before. We have heard the similarities with other religions of the virgin birth, the dying-and-rising god, the many similarities with the Egyptian god, Horus, etc. All such tales possess amazing archetypal energy. That is why we still discuss them thousands of years after their creation. There is still residual archetypal power remaining in them, albeit quite diminished (If you’re interested in reviewing the similarities of Christianity with other religions, check out the first Zeitgeist film).

The more Christianity became rationalized, rigid, and literalized, the less Soul it possessed. Its once-powerful archetypal symbols were dilapidated. Its adherents became more and more vulnerable to the onslaught of unconscious forces, which will destroy the person who walks through life unshielded from them in any way. We see this almost daily in our era, a true sign that our society has lost the archetypal protection we once enjoyed. That is why Joseph Campbell taught us to find our own myth, for this is what mitigates the terrible abyss of unconsciousness that we are all potentially susceptible to. Christianity was supposed to have prevented this, but a myth without the power of its symbols is no longer viable and must either be revamped or abandoned.

There was a chance for Christianity to regain its lost vigor during the Renaissance. The rediscovery of the culture of ancient Greece brought about lost ideas of polytheism, art, religion, and democracy, that, if these had been incorporated into the Christian milieu, would have reinvigorated its dying symbols. Credit must be given to thinkers, such as Marsilio Ficino, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, Giordano Bruno, et al. Bruno went to his death attempting to revitalize Christianity with fresh ideas and new symbolic vigor. Church officials wanted him dead, probably because they feared his revolutionary ideas would influence the masses to such an extent that the Church would lose its political power.

Today, Christianity lies broken and fragmented in thousands of different forms. Its once powerful story of humans gaining salvation is marred by all conceivable forms of absurdity. Some believe the end of the world is nigh, and that a figure called the Antichrist will soon rise up and enslave us all; some believe that the King James translation of the Bible is the only translation sanctioned by God; some believe a city of gold, the New Jerusalem, will descend bodily from heaven and land on the surface of the earth, as if this golden city were some kind of interdimensional spaceship; and the Roman Church has been disfigured by scandals of pedophiles in its ranks. I could go on and on. The idiocy is beyond belief. While the world yearns for a new set of efficacious symbols that will transform our lives, Christianity continues to fall by the wayside on the road of human history.

It may be possible to revamp the old religion, but many of its metaphors seem lifeless at this point. I am fond of some forms of Christian mysticism, however. Mystics like Meister Eckhart, Teresa of Avila, and Jacob Boehme wrote some incredible things. The problem was, these types of thinkers were always on the fringes of the Church, always in danger of being ostracized or excommunicated for their beliefs and practices.

The Epoch of Soul may bring a new form of religion. I don’t know. Perhaps the masses will finally come to the realization that one’s own myth in life is meaningful, powerful, and can bring us all together, once and for all.

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World Of The Fifth Sun

Photo by Theilr

The solstice of 2012 is nearly upon us. We have heard all the theories about what will take place. I find many of them to be ridiculous. Those who are viewing this event mythologically will, I believe, be profoundly blessed. There is an amazing story being told here by the Anima Mundi. The prophecies of the Maya were not meant to be taken literally! But that’s just like our rationally bent culture, to take a beautiful myth and turn it into bits of scientific data.

All the dying-and-rising-god myths have been based on what occurs during the Winter solstice. For millennia, it has been a profound time of reflection and meaning. This particular solstice is special. According to Mayan elder and priest, Carlos Barrios,

Mayan Day-keepers view the Dec. 21, 2012 date as a rebirth, the start of the World of the Fifth Sun. It will be the start of a new era resulting from and signified by the solar meridian crossing the galactic equator and the Earth aligning itself with the center of the galaxy (What the Mayan Elders are Saying About 2012).

This particular kind  of solstice only occurs every 26,000 years. In my view, this coming Friday will be the beginning of a new epoch for humanity, one which will bring us to greater consciousness and greater clarity concerning our mission here on this planet. It will be what the Mayans call the World of the Fifth Sun.

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The Suffering Of The World Soul

Weeping Woman, by Vincent Van Gogh

Too many people have been analyzing their pasts, their childhoods, their memories, their parents, and realizing that it doesn’t do anything-or that it doesn’t do enough (James Hillman).

For many years, we who have wanted more of life than football games and the latest reality TV show have been focused on our own, for want of a better nomenclative, “spiritual development.” Certainly, there is a place for that in life, but there comes a time when our focus must be shifted to a higher priority. Our world is in dire straits. Our people, the people of our planet, are aching for a new paradigm. The higher priority of which I speak is caring for the Soul of the planet, the Anima Mundi.

We have seen the end result of a positivistic, myth-denying, sacrilegious mindset that allows bankers to run roughshod over those less fortunate; that encourages corporations to advertise to the point of brainwashing people into endless buying of nonsensical products; that influences people to bring assault rifles to public places in the hope of massacring as many as possible. Our society has become psychotic. Our culture should be uprooted and plowed under, so that a new one can take its place, albeit gradually. Of course, we should not hope for a Utopia, for that will never come to pass. We must not be naive. With the eyes of Imagination, however, we can see a time when better lives and a better planet is possible.

Robert Sardello wrote:

The individual presented himself in the therapy room of the nineteenth century, and during the twentieth the patient suffering breakdown is the world itself . . . The new symptoms are fragmentation, specialization, expertise, depression, inflation, loss of energy, jargoneze, and violence. Our buildings are anorexic, our business paranoid, our technology manic.

Since the advent of modern depth psychology, individuals have been focusing mostly on their own journey of the Soul, which is perfectly fine, as long as one remembers there is a greater good, i.e. the psychic health of the World Soul. Of course, caring for one’s individual Soul contributes to the health of the World Soul. We simply must be cognizant of this fact and not fall under the illusion that our own well-being is primary. Remember the words of alchemist and philosopher Michael Sendivogius:

Maior autem animae pars extra corpus est ( The greater part of Soul is outside the body)

The evil and ugliness we see in our world are psychopathologizations of the Anima Mundi, symptoms that provide clues as to Her psychic state of affairs. Traditionally, patients were treated with forms of inter-subjective therapies, and even group-related therapies, but the world remained external to these. Many patients have made tremendous progress. Millions are in better shape today than possibly anytime in history. Certainly, there are many troubled people out there, and many who purposely choose to follow evil. For the most part, however, humans have achieved astounding and wonderful things in the past few hundred years. It is now time to shift our focus to healing our world. In this, we heal ourselves. The separateness of objective and subjective notions will fall by the wayside. Dualistic ideas like the so-called mind/body split will vanish as we begin to see that our Universe is interconnected and interrelational.

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Musings On The Sandy Hook Shootings

Photo by Jiri Hodan

First of all, let me say I am awash in grief over this incident. My heart goes out to the parents of these precious children.

Every time a mass shooting occurs, the cause-and-effect people come out of the woodwork. Some say it’s because of violent video games; some say it is due to violence in movies; and some claim all we need to do is ban the sale of firearms. I think it goes much deeper than any of these, much deeper than anything rational. There is no direct cause for something this heinous in the human experience. Such acts result from a very long process of deanimization of our culture. By the term, “deanimization,” I mean the removal of Soul from the human experience.

The following quote from C.G Jung, which I used in my article, The Loss of Myth, applies to this situation:

. . .the individual who wishes to have an answer to the problem of evil, as it is posed today, has need, first and foremost of self-knowledge, that is, the utmost possible knowledge of his own wholeness. He must know relentlessly how much good he can do, and what crimes he is capable of, and must beware of regarding the one as real and the other as illusion. Both are elements within his nature, and both are bound to come to light in him, should he wish — as he ought — to live without self deception or self-delusion (C.G. Jung, MDR, pg 330). 

These shootings we have seen for a number of years are not effects of direct causes. They are, rather, pathological symptoms of our culture. 

I proposed in the aforementioned article that those who have not erected sufficiently protective mythical and symbolic barriers  are more prone to allowing the tsunami of unconscious forces, which include some very evil phenomena, to wash over us. This is what religion once accomplished for Western culture, but no longer does, since it has adopted most of the thought-patterns of those who attempt to banish symbols and myths from the minds of all of us. I am referring here to fundamentalists of all religions, who hold the world’s most powerful and cathartic symbologies and mythologies in utter contempt. I am also referring to those adherents of scientism, who see no worth in things of the Soul at all. They have made a Faustian deal, where Soul has been given in exchange for scientific and materialistic knowledge. 

Notice I used the word, “allowing” in the above paragraph. There is a choice involved here. One can very consciously give oneself over to the left-hand path. One decides to be a follower of evil. Once open to these forces, one’s actions are not one’s own. Evil is not simply the Augustinian privatio boni, the privation of good; evil is a very real phenomenon. The adherents of scientism will never explain it rationally.

Just as Perseus used Athena’s polished shield to view Medusa’s hideous reflection without being turned to stone, so we reflect upon images and symbols to better understand the evil within us, without giving ourselves over to it. This is the purpose of the Shadow archetype, in Jungian terms. We are protected by the myths; they have a mitigating effect on the power of the unconscious forces. We live without them to our demise. 

I don’t know the circumstances of the shooter‘s life. He was obviously insane. But how many insane people became that way because of a privation of Soul? How many became that way because they chose to follow evil? It is a deep mystery why someone follows after darkness to the exclusion of light.

Our culture has failed miserably. We must realize, and soon, what we’re doing and correct it. We must restore the things of Soul to our society. We must reconnect with the Sacred. We must, once again, emphasize the importance of what we once called a “classical education,” where Classics studies and the Humanities were primary. We once studied the myths of our culture and had them ingrained into us. Now, we are inculcated with math and science so that corporations can make more profit from us.

This evening, my prayers and thoughts are with the families of the victims of this most heinous act. May your hearts be filled with the peace that passes all understanding.

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The Gods Are Calling

Margarita and Woland, by Julia Dolgorukova

It is possible that the day in which we live is the most crucial in human history. At no other time has mankind faced the complex issues our generation does. No other period had the ability to bless or destroy the entire populous, as we do today. This planet could

either be a wholesome hospitable world for all, or a torturous hell for many. This is not a new message. Many have warned us before.

I am of the mind that the Soul of the World has been working towards this moment for millennia. I am not saying the universe is deterministic, that the Anima Mundi has everything planned out. I see history as being both free and determined, a synthesized modus operandi that supersedes these categories.

She operates as we operate, for She is our Collective Soul. She moves through the Earth via the Gods, or, as Jungians tend to call them, the “archetypes of the collective unconscious.” Remember, Soul is composed of both conscious and unconscious. Jung mostly discussed the individual side of things, but he was aware of the collective aspect of Soul, as well. The Gods carry out the imagined Reality of the Anima Mundi throughout the planet. Indeed, there is both a personal and collective manifestation of this. I am mostly interested in the collective phenomenon of Soul.

For thousands of years, the Gods have either been largely ignored or downright forgotten. Much of our lack of consciousness involves our forgetfulness. We have pushed the Gods aside in favor of science, technology, capitalism, and political power. This seems to be nearing an end. Things are changing, gradually, but noticeably. The Gods are calling to us. Their voices grow louder everyday, as we move forward in the stream of Time. All one need do is watch the evening news and you will see evidence for this. The collective archetypes manifest themselves daily. The Gods demand to be heard. We cannot continue to collectively repress them without our having to face dire consequences. Just as we, to our dismay, individually repress things within our own Soul, we can repress things collectively. As above, so below.

Sadly, the archetypal Shadow has reared its head yesterday, in the form of one who totally identified himself with this dark god. Just as the individual Shadow needs to be dealt with, so does our collective Shadow. We must not continue to ignore these events!

Let us take a moment to remind ourselves that the Anima Mundi and her Gods are not literal Beings, as we usually tend to anthropomorphize such powerful images.

Let us imagine the anima mundi neither above the world encircling it as a divine and remote emanation of spirit, a world of powers, archetypes, and principles transcendent to things, nor within the material world as its unifying panpsychic life-principle. Rather let us imagine the anima mundi as that particular soul-spark, the seminal image, which offers itself through each thing in its visible form. Then anima mundi indicates the animated possibilities presented by each event, as it is, its sensuous presentation as face bespeaking its interior image–in short, its availability to imagination, its presence as a psychic reality. Not only animals and plants ensouled as in the Romantic vision, but soul is given with each thing; God-given things of nature and man-made things of the street (James Hillman, “Anima Mundi,” Spring, 1982).

The repression of the Gods came about because of a radical shift toward monotheism that began to gradually occur in ancient Greece, possibly with Xenophanes of Colophon. In his poetry, he criticized Homer and Hesiod for belief in a pantheon of Gods. Of course, monotheism was already prevalent in Zoroastrianism and Judaism prior to this. The Greek religion, from what we know, however, was polytheistic. It was only with Xenophanes, and later Parmenides, that this began to change. By the time of Plato, the Gods had become abstracted as he searched for the absolute Good and the absolute Truth. Plato was beginning to move toward a monotheistic approach that would come to dominate all of Western society.

I believe the era of the rebirth of the Gods began when Nietzsche declared, in The Gay Science:

God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. Yet his shadow still looms. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it (Nietzsche, The Gay Science, Section 125, tr. Walter Kaufmann)?

At this point, a paradigm shift occurred. The collective Soul was changing, as She heard the lamentations of the long forgotten Deities. These types of changes do not happen overnight. Time is the handmaiden of Soul. I believe that Nietzsche’s Daimon knew exactly how to inspire the great man to write these words that signalled a new day on the Earth. May we heed those long forgotten voices and revivify our world and our people.

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The New Myth of Global Individuation


History and anthropology teach us that a human society cannot long survive unless its members are psychologically contained within a central living myth. Such a myth provides the individual with a reason for being (Edward Edinger, The Creation of Consciousness, Jung’s Myth for Modern Man, 1984, p.9).

For millenia, we humans lived largely estranged from each other. Most of us were unconscious of our peers around the world. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, this began to change. Gradually, the wide world became more and more accessible and its people were able to better communicate, mainly as technology grew more and more sophisticated. We could say that technology has brought about a greater collective consciousness. There is no doubt this is true. The advent of the Internet has accelerated this phenomenon. We are much more aware of each other today than at any point in history. It is an amazing time to be alive!

Our society has adopted a myth that science and technology is the path to truth and freedom. I see this as part of the destiny of planet Earth. The Anima Mundi seeks global consciousness; all individual Souls will gain awareness of each other. She is using technology to bring this about. There are those who would try and drive a wedge between science and Soul, but this is a waste of time. Science is simply another story we tell; technology is its handmaiden. These tales are used by Soul just as effectively as the Greek myths of long ago were used to lay the foundation of Western culture.

This movement toward global consciousness began in the nineteenth century when the telegraph was invented. In a book entitled, The Victorian Internet, author Tom Standage argues that the real qualitative shift in global communications occurred when use of the telegraph became widespread. The ability to communicate across great distances was the greatest boon to global awareness since the invention of the printing press.The advent of the Internet was a huge quantitative shift in global communications.

We know from studying depth psychology that Soul is composed of many constituent elements, or archetypes. Most of the time, these are unconscious of one another. The World Soul is similarly composed. It is made up of all the billions of individual Souls on planet Earth. We are beginning to become more aware of each other as the distance between us diminishes daily. This is quite similar to what C.G. Jung envisioned as health for the troubled psyche, i.e. integration of the various constituent parts. He called this individuation. This is occurring on a global scale.

Everyday, we communicate with people all over the world. Bits and packets fly to and fro around the globe, fueling the evolutionary process that will eventually enable a leap of human consciousness. When we are more aware of each other, we are able to love each other. When we love each other, war will end and greed will be a thing of the past. This is the new myth we have formulated. Listen closely to the story…….

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The Death Of Monotheism

Sunflower head, by Takkk

In his greatest work, Thus Spake Zarathustra, Friedrich Nietzsche
proclaimed that “God is dead.” This means several things. First of all, the philosophical abstraction known as “God” to institutional
religion, especially Christianity, has met its demise in Western culture. Secondly, it means the dualistic metaphysic of Plato is no
longer viable. It also means the point of centrality (monotheism) that once undergirded Western culture has been ripped away.  After Nietzsche, because we didn’t know where to turn, we were left teetering on the brink of a dark abyss, of which Soul is the bridge across.

Giordano Bruno, in the sixteenth century, showed that there is no center to the universe at all. According to the Hermetic maxim of correspondence, we can also claim that there is no center to God, the universe, or the human Soul. The concept of centrality has fallen away gradually in human thinking. After concluding there is no center to the universe, thinkers realized this was not only a physical characteristic of Nature, but of Soul as well. The idea was actually a projection of what we believed existed in God and Soul. Eventually, however, the projection was withdrawn and we were faced with the stark reality that God, Soul, and Universe are all acentric and polytheistic realities.

The multifariousness of Nature is manifested in all Her creations. The above photo is but one example. This beautiful sunflower head is metaphorical of the living Beings that compose our Souls and the World Soul. There are many such examples in Nature, if we were more aware of them.

The Copernican theory did manage to make the Sun the center of the solar system instead of the Earth, but it still required a center. Bruno opposed this and claimed that we live in an acentric universe. This is the predominant theory today. The concept of centrality is a product of a control mentality. For example, having a central figure as the head of a religion or state to promote and perpetuate control. When a center is required, there is usually a lack of freedom in religion, society, or nation.

When released from the tyrannical imperialism of monotheism by the death of God, man has the opportunity of discovering new dimensions hidden in the depths of reality’s history. He may discover a new freedom to acknowledge variousness and many-sidedness. He may find, as if for the first time, a new potency to create imaginatively his hopes and desires, his laws and pleasures (David L. Miller, The New Polytheism, p. 3-4).

The proclamation of God’s death paved the way for a new epoch of freedom. If centrality suggests control, acentrality suggests theological and psychological liberty. “The death of God gives rise to the rebirth of the Gods” (ibid.). We are a privileged group to live in the Epoch of Soul.

Humans have always been polytheistic in nature. The word, polytheism, is a way to explain the plurality of living Beings that compose each and every person. Make no mistake, they are real Persons. Monotheism, on the other hand, is the promotion of a single, central figure at the center of the human Microcosm, which we call the Ego. The overinflated Ego is the Minotaur at the center of the maze of existence that consumes all others that challenge his authority. It is a male character because monotheism is very much a patriarchal phenomenon.

Polytheism is just as much a social phenomenon as it is a theological phenomenon. The idea of polytheism is inherent in the democratic ideal. The implication here is that there are many voices having a say in matters, rather than what occurs in totalitarian societies. True human nature demands democracy. Because we have many Voices within us, the best form of government for humans is to include the many voices of the people. As above, so below.

Our true nature as multifaceted selves leaves no room for an autonomous, overruling entity. Our identities are not fixed because we are composed of many equally real, but distinct personalities. Variety is the spice of life!

I would like to remind my readers that Reality is
paradoxical in nature and that one truth, such as the truth of our
polytheistic nature, does not totally exclude what truth there is to be
found in monotheism. Reality is paradoxical, meaning we can
simultaneously adhere to seemingly contradictory truths and not be
inconsistent.  The truth of the One and the Many has long been a problem
for Western philosophy. For me, it’s not a problem at all because I
believe one can hold such views in dialectical tension.

Most of the ideas I write in support of have long been neglected in the
West. There have been overemphases  on matter, the body, monotheism,
spirit, etc. I try to give a voice to those truths that have been
ignored for such a long time. Also, I try to reject an either/or
mentality in an attempt to see Reality in synthesis.

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Soul Is The Twilight Zone

There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition. And, it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone (Rod Serling).

That’s right, you’ve heard those words many times before; Rod Serling, in his unique way, providing one of the opening monologues for The Twilight Zone. It never struck me before, but these words are a wonderful description of Soul. Perhaps Mr. Serling had this in mind when he penned these words. I don’t know, but there is a lot of truth packed into them.

First of all, we are quite familiar with the three dimensions of tangibility. The fourth dimension is time, and all four together are usually taken to be what physicists call “spacetime.” What would a fifth dimension be like? Rod Serling tells us it is “beyond that which is known to man.” This is no different than Heraclitus’ attempted description of Soul:

You could not discover the
limits of Soul even if you traveled by every path in order to do so; such is
the depth of its meaning (qtd. in The Presocratics, by Philip Wheelwright, p. 72).

Soul is “as vast as space and as timeless as infinity.” Same idea. Soul is limitless. It is the most important idea that has ever arisen in the human imagination. In this fifth dimension, time and space are totally meaningless. They are mere creations of the human mind that facilitate the framing of our experience of the three dimensions. In other words, time and space mitigate the vastness and infinite nature of Soul in order that we might live day-to-day lives and interact with this world. In this way, we see our lives as having some semblance of “normality.” But, all the while, we have this churning, infinitely powerful Maelstrom at the very core of our being.

The Twilight Zone is not a physical location we can travel to via spacetime. “It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition.” This is a perfect description of what Plato called The Metaxy, which I have discussed before in this forum many times, especially in my article, On The Wings Of A Dream. It is also the same as Henry Corbin’s idea of Mundus Imaginalis. The Twilight Zone is Soul.

Serling’s usage of the word, “twilight,” in naming his show was probably not an accident. Serling was a very learned man. Undoubtedly, he knew the implications of the word. “Twilight” is half-light, half-darkness, the dusk of the day. Is it the “in-between” state, or The Metaxy. Soul is the middle-ground between light and darkness, Spirit and Matter.

He names it as “the dimension of imagination.” That is Soul in a nutshell, if one could describe Soul in a nutshell.

Image is the irreducible element in experience. Conversely, the essence of experience is condensed and carried within images. According to Omer, images “both mediate and constitute experience” (2008). Images are the glue image (Soul And Soullessness, by Karen Jaenke).

Soul is imagination, a cavernous treasury—to
use an image from St. Augustine—a confusion and richness, both. (James
Hillman, Revisioning Psychology, 1975).

Serling says “it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge.” These are excellent metaphors for light and darkness, the light of knowledge and the blackness of fear in the depths of human being. Soul is that whirling Vortex that pulls everything down into the depths and, simultaneously, raises everything up into the heavens. Soul is a metaxical tourbillion
that primarily exhibits a rhizomal motion. It simultaneously expands consciousness outward and inward, away from and toward one’s fellow humans.

Watch a few episodes sometimes. When you do, think about these words and see if you agree with my assessment of this wonderful emanation of the Soul of Rod Serling.

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Music And Magic

Music 11, by Shkoder11

We know the gods enter our consciousness through music. Using music in religious ritual is a very ancient practice and is very effective. One aspect of Soul is how, through skilled musicians, waves of denser and lighter air produce sounds, which fall upon our ears and resonate to certain vibrational frequencies in our bodies. Since our bodies are not separate from our minds, Souls, or Spirits, these sounds affect our whole being in different ways. Our moods can be changed, our emotions enlivened or deadened, and our very consciousness can be altered for good or bad.

To demonstrate the way certain cultures (Hindus and Buddhists) view music, the ancient Chakra system is shown below. Each chakra corresponds to a part of the body, a certain color, and a musical tone. The most interesting thing to me about chakras is that they are said to be vortices of power and energy. It’s like saying they are like mini-Souls throughout the body.

Chakra Color Note
Root Red C
Sacral Orange D
Solar Plexus Yellow E
Heart Green F
Throat Blue G
Third Eye Indigo A
Crown Violet or White B

There is a treasure-trove of music in the unconscious. It contains all the music you’ve ever heard in your life, in addition to collective tunes that exist as archaic remnants of your ancestors’ music. Certain types of music appeal to some because of a certain ancestral voice within them. Sometimes, I hear the songs of the Scotch-Irish and Celts, as well as Appalachian folk music, bubbling up, at times, into my consciousness. I also am very moved when I hear Gregorian chanting, as well as the medieval sounds of  troubadours and trouvères.

Music, like anything Soulish, is beyond comprehension. The ways in which it moves us is mysterious and deep. All the various archetypal gods have their own musical styles. Think of all the different genres of music as ruled by a different archetype. The archetypes can greatly influence one’s mood. Sometimes, the music of the archetype, one is in the grip of, will appease the god and the mood will dissipate. For instance, why do the Blues help one who is depressed? It seems paradoxical, but it works. Music wrought in hardship and suffering is always helpful in alleviating that suffering.

I’ve always wondered why music written while under the influence of drugs is usually better than if drugs were not used. Think of all the great music of the sixties and seventies, and most great music in general. I would rather listen to the Aerosmith of 1973 than today’s version. Their music then was superior, indeed. Think of Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, Ray Charles, et al. I realize some drugs can be destructive. Those songs just seem to have so much more Soul.

Basically, Music is Soul. James Hillman wrote that Music is one of the three bridges between the conscious and unconscious, the others being mathematics and myth (Soul’s Code, p. 94). In this role as Mediatrix, Music is Soul.

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Descent Towards Solstice

Stonehenge at Winter Solstice, by Mark Grant

Sol sets so early this time of year, as we descend toward the Winter Solstice. During this season, there is still some archaic residue deep within us that mourns the loss of the Sun toward the end of each day, and each day it is one minute sooner. Our Souls make an early descent every evening into darkness. Our ancestors must have feared that Sol, upon setting, would never return. Occasionally, there is still a feeling of dread as the darkness enshrouds us in cold, black night.

Of course, this is written from the perspective of someone dwelling in the Northern Hemisphere, and whose ancestors have always dwelt in the Northern Hemisphere. I’m sure the experience is somewhat different in other parts of the world, but moving and meaningful, nevertheless.

There are common motifs that run through all of us upon experiencing the solstices. They are not a thing of past “uncivilized” tribes and peoples. The experiences have never ceased to move human beings who are sensitive to such matters.

Personally, this time of descent has for most of my life been a time of melancholy. It is nothing new. A descent into darkness rarely brings feelings of good cheer. As sunlight grows dimmer and its duration shorter, the time comes for furthering one’s experience of Soul and its depths.

For thousands of years, human beings have dealt creatively with their feelings of despondency, as Sol daily creeps lower and lower in the sky. Ancient peoples erected sites all over the world to both inform when the solstices would arrive and for their celebration. For instance, the reason why we celebrate Christmas is not because this is when the infant Christ was born. We celebrate because the Sun begins its ascent out of darkness and into light.

Solstices and equinoxes are a time of connection between the heavens and
the earth, the personal and the divine, the inner and the outer, the
material and the spiritual, and even a time when contact through
mystical experiences is made more possible. It is a beautiful time,
which unfortunately we as a humanity have lost touch with, as did other
cultures who degenerated in the past and lost their spiritual
foundation (from The Significance of the Solstice and Equinox in Spirituality, by Belsebuub and Angela).

Yule Wheel

Our winter solstice should be viewed as a nexus between Light and Darkness, just as Soul is a nexus between Spirit and Matter. Instead, the holiday we know as Christmas has devolved into a a capitalists’ wet dream. This should be a holy and sacred time of year, as we await the birth of the Cosmic Son.

The ancient Egyptians, Mayans, Neolithic people of Ireland, and many
others, knew of the cosmic Son, its symbolic relation with the sun, and
the events which take place within and in a someone’s life when a person
works to incarnate it. These events with all their symbology then
formed part of the teaching these divine figures gave and the spiritual
cultures or groups which formed around them (ibid).

The descent of Sol toward its nadir is an initiatory experience for us. It is a time of preparation for the return of the Light to the Earth. We undergo a cathartic process of transformation (a spiritual death) which prepares us for the birth of, what many have called, the Son of God. Part of this cleansing is dealing with depression and feelings of hopelessness.

All religions have derived from the cosmic experience of the dawn on the day of the winter solstice. When the Son of God is reborn in our hearts, it is like an infant that grows slowly, day-by-day. This phenomenon is repeated over and over, year after year, millenia upon millenia. It is highly sacred because it commemorates the first day of Creation. It reminds us that Light has once again incarnated in flesh, in us.

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The Animaterial Universe

Six-Winged Seraph, by Mikhail Vrubel  

Classical physics says that reality is actually little particles that separate the world into its independent elements. Now I’m proposing the reverse, that the fundamental reality is the enfoldment and unfoldment, and these particles are abstractions from that. We could picture the electron not as a particle that exists continuously but as something coming in and going out and then coming in again. If these various condensations are close together, they approximate a track. The electron itself can never be separated from the whole of space, which is its ground. (David Bohm, On Quantum Physics, 1987)

Animaterialism, in its basic premise, agrees wholeheartedly with this statement by David Bohm. Reality is one Whole and all the distinctions we think we experience are but abstractions from that whole and are therefore illusory. This is nothing new. For thousands of years, Hinduism has taught about the deity, Maya, which creates the illusion that reality is separate.

I am proposing (which is really nothing new either) that the enfoldment and unfoldment of Reality, spoken of by Bohm, arises from the agent of The All in our Universe, the Anima Mundi, or the Soul of the World. The Soul of the World is the Mediatrix between enfoldment and unfoldment, the Governess of this sacred, reciprocal process of Reality. It is She that weaves the cyclical web of the Universe, the Snake that eats her own tail eternally. It is She that makes manifest what we experience, both physically and psychically.

Bohm believed in what he called a Holographic Universe. He based this belief on his interest in holographic photography. “In a holographic reconstruction, each region of a photographic plate contains the whole image (Wikipedia).” Just as each region of the plate contains the entire image, Bohm believed that every particle in our Universe contains the entire Universe. This William Blake passage arises in my mind:

To see the world in a grain of sand,
and to see heaven in a wild flower,
hold infinity in the palm of your hands,
and eternity in an hour (Auguries of Innocence).

Enfoldment and Unfoldment is also connected to the Unus Mundus and the phenomenon of synchronicity, as proposed by C.G. Jung, who built on the foundation laid down by scholars like Giordano Bruno, who, in the late sixteenth century, said,

…the spirituality of all causation; the eternity of matter; its divinity as the potentiality of all life; its realization in the universe as a “formed” thing; the infinite whole and the innumerable parts, as different aspects of the same: … diversity and difference as aspects of one and the same substance (Giordano Bruno, Cause, Principle, and Unity, McIntyre translation)…

One of the most tremendously talented physicists of the twentieth century was Wolfgang Pauli. Pauli was also of the mind that Reality is complementary, but ultimately One. He predicted that the future would bring new ideas of this truth and that scientists would even begin to accept them. He understood the error of the alchemists, which I wrote about in The Paracelsan Slip, that brought about Descartes’ cleavage of mind and matter, and he saw the possibility that the discoveries of quantum physics could correct that egregious mistake:

It is true that the distinction of ‘physical’ and ‘psychic’ is inevitable in the empirical world of phenomena, and it was the mistake of the alchemists to apply a monistic (neutral) language to concrete chemical processes. But since matter has now turned into an abstract, invisible reality for the modern physicist, the prospects for a psychophysical monism have become much more auspicious (Wolfgang Pauli, Letter by Pauli to C.G. Jung of February 27, 1953. Letter 1526 in von Meyenn (1999), p. 49).

Even though our world is in continuous turmoil, the Anima Mundi has her feet firmly entrenched, one in Spirit and one in Matter. The Epoch of Soul has arrived. We stand on the cusp of the greatest Renaissance of humanity in the history of the world because Soul is healing the rift between all complementarities.

Addendum: I must add that this renaissance may include the creation of a new human species, what some have called homo integralis. It is uncertain at this point in human history whether homo sapiens sapiens will be able to extricate itself from the damage it has done to the earth. I remain cautiously optimistic. -Mark

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Soul Bridge

Demon and Angel with Tamara’s Soul, by Mikhail Vrubel

Carl Jung addresses the immanent aspects of God when he says “God is a psychic fact“. This internal God, as psychic fact, is the numinous, inarticulable core around which our psychic life spirals. Eckhart speaks of the “eternal abyss of divine being.” And from a psychotheological point of view this “eternal abyss of divine being” is also the “eternal abyss” of our own being (The Wholly Other, Jenna Lilla MA PhD).

The immanent aspect of The All is that “inarticulable core around which our psychic life spirals,” We cannot say definitively what The All is; we can only speak apophatically. We experience The All via the Vortex of Life. One might say, “The All is both immanent to us while simultaneously being transcendent to us.” Actually, it would be more beneficial to say, “The All is neither immanent to us nor transcendent to us.” The All is, simply, The All. 

Soul is a spiraling, an infinite Vortex of Life. Soul is a traversable wormhole that connects two dimensions (of a single, acentric, infinite universe) allowing intercourse between both. It is a good metaphor for the metaxical nature of Soul as intermediary between immanence and transcendence. Soul is always a bridge to another experience of Reality. One cannot experience Soul, however, by sitting idly by and twiddling one’s thumbs. One must leap into the Maelstrom and begin to spin. This spinning is like silk being woven into a brilliant, shimmering fabric. That is why we are here on this Earth, i.e. to spin and to be spun. Through this process of transformation, we will either become beings that glisten like the Sun, or the whirling will tear us to shreds.


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Animatter And Projection

Mikhail Vrubel.
Pearl Oyster.

We are animaterial creatures, simultaneously soul and matter, but most of us are not aware of it. We have had it hammered into us all of our lives that matter and mind are two distinct entities. Being animaterial creatures is an unconscious fact to us, therefore we project two separate substances. This is the source of all dualism.

Physicist David Bohm tackled the so-called mind-body problem by offering the ideas of what he called an implicate and explicate order:

This order is not to be understood solely in terms of a regular arrangement of objects (e.g., in rows) or as a regular arrangement of events (e.g. in a series). Rather, a total order is contained in some implicit sense, in each region of space and time. Now the word ‘implicit’ is based on the verb ‘to implicate’. This means ‘to fold inward’ (as multiplication means ‘folding many times’). So we may be led to explore the notion that in some sense each region contains a total structure ‘enfolded’ within it (qtd. in David Bohm, The Two Kinds of Order).

When I wrote Soul’s Maelstrom, I had the notion that we are, not only folding inward, but spinning like a whirling dervish (which, in my mind, is a beautiful symbolic representation of this phenomenon) toward each other and the All. The Ouroboros is yet another symbol for this truth. The spinning speaks to constant change, the river we can never step twice into. The explicate order, our ordinary material reality, emerges from the implicate order, or what I call Animatter.

Bohm believed that ordinary reality as we experience it, material objects as such, have been “unfolded,” the reciprocal of the enfolding that is continuously occurring in the Universe.

Everybody has seen an image of enfoldment: You fold up a sheet of paper, turn it into a small packet, make cuts in it, and then unfold it into a pattern. The parts that were close in the cuts unfold to be far away. This is like what happens in a hologram. Enfoldment is really very common in our experience. All the light in this room comes in so that the entire room is in effect folded into each part. If your eye looks, the light will be then unfolded by your eye and brain. As you look through a telescope or a camera, the whole universe of space and time is enfolded into each part, and that is unfolded to the eye. With an old-fashioned television set that’s not adjusted properly, the image enfolds into the screen and then can be unfolded by adjustment (ibid.)

The continuous enfolding and unfolding of all things transcends the notions of space and time. These are only abstractions, unconscious projections, just like the idea of two distinct substances. In all actuality, the Universe is an undivided whole, in constant spin, enfolding and unfolding, reciprocating from implicate order to explicate order, and then back to implicate order. The cycle is eternal. This is Soul’s Maelstrom.

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Muses And Daimones

Demon, by Mikhail Alexandrovich Vrubel

By means of personifications my sense of person becomes more vivid for I carry with me at all times the protection of my daimones: the images of dead people who mattered to me, of ancestral figures of my stock, cultural and historical persons of renown and people of fable who provide exemplary images–a wealth of guardians. They guard my fate, guide it, probably are it. “Perhaps–who knows,” writes Jung, “these eternal images are what men mean by fate.” We need this help, for who can carry his fate alone? -James Hillman

We all have different phases we get into. I, personally, have several predominant muses/daimones that have been with me all my life. Their influences upon me increase and diminish like the ocean tides. For example, from January to September of this year, my Philosopher/Mystic daimon held sway over me. I wrote more in that period than I ever have in my life, including when I was in college. It was an amazing ride! In September, I developed a case of Bell’s Palsy, which seemed to signal the waning of the Philosopher/Mystic daimon and the rising of a god of Music, a musical daimon. While I was writing all those articles, I listened to very little music, which was very odd for me. I have been a music fanatic and wannabe musician most of my life.This daimon has also waxed and waned throughout my life. These two gods never totally leave me, but their influences rise and fall continuously. I also have a computer technology daimon that led me to my current career. There are others, but these are the predominant gods that rule my fate.

While I am in one of these modes, I am totally consumed with the subject matter at hand. I am currently in the grip of the daimon of Music. I’ve been going back to my roots, listening to lots of old music that inspired me as a child to play guitar, and also listening to some bands I’ve never spent much time with. It’s very pleasurable, but I haven’t been concentrating too much on my studies or my writing. The god of Philosophy usually flourishes in mid-winter. Being shut in so much because of the cold weather puts me into a more contemplative state and my mind is flooded with ideas to write about.

This is nothing new. The Greeks wrote about this experience over two thousand years ago. The daimones are Beings who make up our Souls. They are intermediate entities that bridge the gap between physical and spiritual. They are angels who deliver messages to humans from The All. A character in Plato’s Symposium, Diotima, puts it this way:

All that is daemonic lies between the mortal and the immortal. Its functions are to interpret to men communications from the gods—commandments and favours from the gods in return for men’s attentions—and to convey prayers and offerings from men to the gods. Being thus between men and gods the daemon fills up the gap and so acts as a link joining up the whole. Through it as intermediary pass all forms of divination and sorcery. God does not mix with man; the daemonic is the agency through which intercourse and converse take place between men and gods, whether in waking visions or in dreams (quoted in Dodds, Pagan and Christian In An Age Of Anxiety, pages 86-7). 

One thing that interests me is that the World Soul, the macrocosm to our microcosm, is also, by course, subject to the influences of the daimones. What is this like? Is this why the world suffers times of great suffering or great blessing? Europe saw a Dark Age, but also witnessed a great Renaissance. The daimones can bring both good and evil. Can we influence these for good instead of evil? Is this why we pray?

I’ll be thinking about those questions in the future, but, right now, I have an old Allman Brothers album I want to listen to. 🙂


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Music is Soul-Medicine

Nymphs Listening To The Songs of Orpheus, by
Charles François Jalabert

Just as people sometimes self-medicate for conditions such as depression, they also use music to self-regulate their emotional states. Conversely, the music that pops unbidden into your head can be an indicator of your emotional state, a window into the soul revealing content of which you may not have been consciously aware (Earl Vickers, Music and Consciousness).

As far back as I can remember, music has been a major aspect of my life. My parents played music constantly on the stereo system. Two of my uncles played guitar, as well as my paternal grandfather. My brother and I learned to play guitar when I was about fifteen; he was ten. I was fortunate to be born in the age of technology, where I could lie in bed bed at night and listen to my little compact transistor radio. I recognized very early that my moods could be altered by listening to music.

Consciousness consists of a wide spectrum of moods and phases, which fluctuate constantly. I go through phases where my mind leaps with ideas to write about, usually something philosophical or psychological that I find intriguing. During this kind of phase, I am interested in very little else other than writing about what’s on my mind. I listen to music, but very little. At other times, I experience an intense desire for music, as much as I can fit into the day. This phase seems to be correlated with tougher life experiences, which very much include the experiencing of melancholy. The music is needed to help me cope with the hard times of life. This is why teenagers love music so much; it helps them through one of the most difficult periods on the human experience. I couldn’t have survived my teenage years without music. No way.

Music actually changes our conscious experience. It is just as sacred an experience as religious ritual. Most religions use music in their rituals because they know it transforms consciousness and propels us into Soulish realms. My audio setup and listening environment is like a shrine where holy things are brought forth.

Consciousness consists of a wide continuum of mental states, constantly changing in direction and focus. Music, like mind, is ephemeral, mercurial, always in motion, often flitting from one insubstantial thought to the next. Sometimes a single phrase can be evocative of a certain mental state. For example, in the Beatles song “A Day in the Life,” the wordless vocals following the phrase “somebody spoke, and I went into a dream” evoke an image of someone falling into a dream or trance state (ibid.).

What is it about music that changes us and enables us to travel to other planes of existence? 

The gods enter our consciousness through art. Imagination is the realm of the gods and we enter it through artistic experiences, such as listening to music. Of course, the better the art, the more powerful the gods’ influence upon us. For me, the more surreal the lyrics, the more my imagination is animated. I think it is because the rational mind is being totally bypassed. The unconscious mind knows exactly what is occurring; the rational mind, not so much.

More than any other malady, depression can steal one of Soul. Music is an infusion of Soul. Music is the best medicine I know of for depression and there are no side-effects.

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The Consciousness of Death

A healthy consciousness of death is not a fear of death, unless you take the word “fear” in the Old English sense of “reverential awe.” In the last two thousand years, we’ve been told by Christianity that death is an enemy. The Apostle Paul claimed that death is “the last enemy,” and something that must be defeated. Of course, he was referring to a resurrection in which all of the dead would be raised again to new life. I’m not certain whether Paul was writing metaphorically or not, but there is no doubt his followers have taken this idea very literally to the point where the idea of death creates an intense atmosphere of fear in the minds of most people.

We fear death because it is the most profound mystery of our existence, and we are terrified of the unknown. This is due to the unconsciousness of death. There are those who, it is said, have experienced death while still living. These no longer fear death, but recognize it as a transition and a widening of consciousness.

Death is an abstruse metaphor that most have lost sight of. Certainly, the physicality of death is that we fall asleep forever and the animatter of our bodies is processed by Nature and redistributed to other animaterial entities, as the Anima Mundi determines. This is only the superficial meaning. As with all things, there is another side of the story that must be sought in the depths of the depths.

In a sense, we die nightly. We sleep, or, more accurately, we fall asleep. Sleep is a going-down as death is a going-down. We plunge into the Underworld, as do also the dead. Sleep is an initiation, as death is an initiation. Death and the dreams of sleep are closely intertwined. As we sleep nightly, we are becoming more and more acquainted with, and more and more conscious of, death and the Underworld. Our death-vessel is daily being prepared, for we are born to die:

Life and death come into the world together; the eyes and the sockets which hold them are born at the same moment. The moment I am born I am old enough to die. As I go on living I am dying. Death is entered continuously, not just at the moment of death as legally and medically defined. Each event in my life makes its contribution to my death, and I build my death as I go along day by day (Hillman, 59).

There is an Underworld inside us. It is to that nocturnal world we journey every night, where we commune with the beings of that world: the dead, the imaginal, the gods, et al. By simply being born into these bodies, we are forced by nature to visit this realm in sleep, and thereby acclimate ourselves with the Darkness. For, without Darkness, there can be no Light. This is the truth of initiation.

The underworld isn’t just a place of darkness and death. It only seems like that from a distance. In reality it’s the supreme place of paradox where all the opposites meet. Right at the roots of western as well as eastern mythology there’s the idea that the sun comes out of the underworld and goes back to the underworld every night. It belongs in the underworld. That’s where it has its home; where its children come from. The source of light is at home in the darkness” (Kingsley, 68).

Sleep, albeit an unconscious state, provides us with a foretaste of death and thus brings some consciousness of death. Freud said that dreams are the via regia, the royal road, to a greater knowledge of the unconscious. Truth doesn’t come from outside ourselves, but from within. The Light is in the Darkness, in the Underworld, if we would only heed it’s call and be aware as we journey down the Royal Road each night.

Hillman, James. Suicide And The Soul. New York: Harper & Row, 1973. 
Kingsley, Peter. In The Dark Places Of Wisdom. Inverness: The Golden Sufi Center, 1999.

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The Delian Diver

Die Insel Delos, by Carl Anton Rottman (1797-1850)

We are already aware that the realities of Soul are unfathomable. Heraclitus taught us, “You could not discover the
limits of Soul even if you traveled by every path in order to do so; such is
the depth of its meaning” (qtd. in The Presocratics, by Philip Wheelwright, p. 72). Heraclitus may have been the first depth psychologist in Western history.

Diogenes  Laertius wrote,

they say that Euripides gave him [Socrates] a small work of Heraclitus to read, and asked him afterwards what he thought of it, and he replied: ‘The part I understand is excellent, and so too is, I dare say, the part I do not understand; but it needs a Delian diver to get to the bottom of it (Diogenes Laertius, 2.22).

What quality was inherent in a Delian diver that would make this metaphor more meaningful than, say, that of a diver from the island of Samos or Lesbos? What was it about Delian divers that made them better at uncovering hidden things in the deep places?

Another Laertian reference to Heraclitus’ perplexing statement reads thusly,

The story told by Ariston of Socrates, and his remarks when he came upon the book of Heraclitus, which Euripides brought him, I have mentioned in my Life of Socrates. However, Seleucus the grammarian says that a certain Croton relates in his book called The Diver that he said work of Heraclitus was first brought into Greece by one Crates, who further said it required a Delian diver not to be drowned on it (Diogenes Laertius, 9.12).

Here we have an allusion to the Delian diver being seemingly immune to drowning in the depths. Crates, apparently, had the same opinion as Socrates concerning the obscurity of Heraclitus’ philosophy. What are these qualities that makes a Delian diver the model for the investigator of Soul, the Soul spelunker (to use my own metaphor)? Is there something more to this metaphor than simply someone from Delos who is highly skilled at swimming and diving for objects of treasure at great depths?

The island of Delos, located within the islands known as the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea, was a holy place for the Greeks. It was the Ionians, who first arrived on Delos in the 10th century B.C., who made the island a religious sanctuary around the 7th century B.C.

When the goddess, Leto was searching for a birthplace for Artemis and Apollo, it is said she spoke these words to the island of Delos:

Delos, if you would be willing to be the abode of my son Phoebus Apollo and make him a rich temple –; for no other will touch you, as you will find: and I think you will never be rich in oxen and sheep, nor bear vintage nor yet produce plants abundantly. But if you have the temple of far-shooting Apollo, all men will bring you hecatombs and gather here, and incessant savour of rich sacrifice will always arise, and you will feed those who dwell in you from the hand of strangers; for truly your own soil is not rich (Homeric Hymn to Delian Apollo 51–60).

Delos was not rich in natural resources, but became the birthplace of two of the most important gods in the Greek pantheon.

Interestingly, according to Diogenes Laertius, Pythagoras’ prior reincarnation was purportedly a “Delian fisherman.” Not the same as a diver, but interesting, nevertheless.

The meaning of the name, Delos, is also intriguing. It alludes to the ideas of brilliance, visibility, and transparency. With this in mind, and in agreement with scholar, Francesc Casadesús Bordoy, the phrase “Delian diver” is a sort of oxymoron, i.e a Delian diver would be someone who could dive into the murky depths of Soul with a brilliant clarity of vision.

According to Wikipedia, “Apollo was an oracular god—the prophetic deity of the Delphic Oracle.” So, a Delian diver could also be connected to the powers of the Oracle, giving us the trait of the wisdom of foresight.

Delos was also the birthplace of Artemis, goddess of the hunt, wild animals, and the wilderness. She is the patron goddess of hunters. There is no greater hunt than tracking the mysterious and elusive reality we call Soul.

In summary, a Delian diver, being from Delos, is by definition connected to clarity and vision; Apollo, the god of oracular vision; and Heraclitus, because the metaphor is an oxymoron (a diver is at home in the murky depths of the sea, but able to find treasure because of their clarity of vision).  Heraclitus loved the paradoxical and this metaphor is an intriguing paradox connected to the hunt for Soul.

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Photo by Aleš Kocourek

My principal anguish and the source of all my joys and sorrows from my youth onward has been the incessant, merciless battle between the spirit and the flesh. Within me are the dark immemorial forces of the Evil One, human and pre-human; within me too are the luminous forces, human and pre-human, of God – and my soul is the arena where these two armies have clashed and met (Nikos Kazantzakis, Prologue to The Last Temptation of Christ).

In the past, I have discussed the idea of the Metaxy, how Soul is the meeting-place between spirit and matter. In Plato’s Symposium, Socrates argues that Eros is a daimon who is in-between god and mortal. Indeed, according to Socrates,

the whole of the daimonic is between god and mortal” (202d11-e1).

This state of “in-between-ness” is important in the history of religion and philosophy. Henry Corbin said the Metaxy is the realm of

alam al-mithal, the world of the Image, mundus imaginalis: a world as ontologically real as the world of the senses and the world of the intellect, a world that requires a faculty of perception belonging to it, a faculty that is a cognitive function, a noetic value, as fully real as the faculties of sensory perception, or intellectual intuition. This faculty is the imaginative power, the one we must avoid confusing with the imagination that modern man identifies with “fantasy” and that, according to him, produces only the “imaginary” (Henry Corbin, Swedenborg and Esoteric Islam).

As  Kazantzakis observes, it is also the battleground between matter and spirit. Soul is a mediator. Some alchemists believe that Soul can become disconnected and lost. It can either be trapped in matter or it can be so high in the ethereal that it is totally ineffectual. Their answer, in the form of their art, is to dissolve the dense and literal substance into something more gaseous (spirit or mind). This is equivalent to matter giving up a part of itself. Then, the gaseous is worked upon so that it condenses, thus giving up its part. This middle-region between these two processes is Soul. Arnold de Villa Nova (1235-1313) wrote,

For the solution of the body means the coagulation of the spirit and vice versa; each gives up something of its own nature; they meet each other half way, and thus become one inseparable substance, like water mixed with water.

In J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic story, The Lord of the Rings, the refuge of Rivendell, the Last Homely House, is a metaphor for this characteristic of Soul. It is a middle point on the journey between the relatively civilized lands of Middle Earth and the rawness of the Misty Mountains and wilds of Rhovanion. In Rivendell, one could rest from tribulation. Though all of Mordor was set against them, the travelers could enjoy solace and peace, free from the darkening clouds of warfare that were beginning to gather all around them.

The Soul is this place of rest. The opposites of matter and spirit are synthesized in Soul. This is one of the great truths of humanity that many have forgotten.

You feel there’s something calling you
You’re wanting to return
To where the misty mountains rise and friendly fires burn
A place you can escape the world
Where the dark lord cannot go
Peace of mind and sanctuary by loud water’s flow ( Rivendell, by Rush).

How do we get to Rivendell?  In an animaterialistic worldview, all matter is dynamic and full of activity, full of life. The Soul that infuses each of us is the same Soul that infuses the entire universe. It is no less a part of us than it is a part of our vast, infinite cosmos. Soul stands as the Metaxy, the Bridge to the Divine for all animaterial creatures. We build our Soul-Houses by daily becoming more aware of Soul. This comes by learning to think mythologically and utilizing Imagination instead of focusing on Aristotelian logic. Nature is our classroom in which Soul has many things to show us. All forms in Nature are symbols for us to assimilate until they permeate our animaterial bodies.

We also get there by treating others as we wish to be treated, not only humans but non-humans as well.

The more time we spend in Rivendell, the closer to God we become.

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Promethean Fire

Prometheus Carrying Fire, by Jan Cossiers

If we look more deeply into the story, we find that everything bestowed by Prometheus on mankind is connected with the human Ego, while Zeus is portrayed as a divine power which inspires and ensouls men in whom the Ego has not yet come to full expression. If we look back over the evolution of the earth, we find in the far past a humanity in which the Ego was no more than an obscurely brooding presence. It had to acquire certain definite faculties with which to educate itself. The gifts that Zeus could bestow were not adapted to furthering the progress of mankind. In respect of the astral body, and of everything in man apart from his Ego, Zeus is the giver. Because Zeus was not capable of promoting the development of the Ego, he resolved to wipe out mankind. All the gifts brought by Prometheus, on the other hand, enabled the Ego to educate itself. Such is the deeper meaning of the legend (Rudolf Steiner, Metaporphoses of the Soul One: Lecture 2: The Mission of Anger).

Prometheus is best known for his theft of fire from the gods. His name literally means, “Forethinker.” By obtaining fire for humanity, he enabled humankind to emerge from a slumbering unconsciousness that had lasted eons. The theft of fire is directly connected with the human ego, for by Prometheus’ gift, humankind began the journey toward developing ego and widening its powers. I see in this myth the warring of two modes of being: 1) the unconsciousness that Zeus desires to perpetuate; and 2) the consciousness of a strong and powerful Ego that would take humanity to the very threshold of the most perplexing questions in existence.  

The myth of Prometheus is analogous to the story of Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Both stories tell of the birth of human consciousness. Adam and Eve came to a knowledge of good and evil, while, in the Greek myth, humanity was bestowed the gift of knowledge of ourselves and the world. Both Prometheus and Adam/Eve were severely punished for seeking more knowledge. Prometheus, being immortal, was bound to a rock, where Zeus’ eagle would come everyday to consume his daily regenerating liver.

Why did the gods think the birth of consciousness was something that required such dire consequences? Perhaps they did not want us to become as gods ourselves, possessing conscious awareness of the Universe. Perhaps they foresaw the dangers of unleashing the fire of ego, with its concomitant ability to destroy the very world in which they had placed us.

This is a story of the human Soul and how it has developed through the ages. The same fiery ego that created nuclear weapons is the reason why I must remind you of this. In our ego-driven quest for knowledge, we sometimes forget how dangerous the overinflated ego can be.

Prometheus is traditionally seen as a great benefactor of humanity. He is known as the original source of technology and the useful arts. I think his theft of fire is more beneficial as the catalyst that sparked our thirst for self-knowledge.

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The Vortical Mix

One thing you’re certain of, when you’re whirling in a vortex, is that you’re there together with whatever else is spinning with you. This is the best aspect of the involutionary nature of collective consciousness, i.e. we are all together in this world of contradictions. As the Vortical Mix spins with increasing rapidity, we are drawn closer together.

Picture a cosmic mixing bowl. Several ingredients are added and the mixer is activated. The mixer goes round and round. All the ingredients lose their physical individuality, as they all become one. But when the final product is tasted, one can distinguish, for example, the cinnamon from the apple. So, in a sense, individuality is somehow retained. This is the mystery of the One and the Many.

Our planet is suffering birth pangs, awaiting for the Vortical Mix to be complete. There are those who do not desire this to come to pass. They have another agenda for the human race. The unfolding of the Anima Mundi, however, will trump selfish plans by those who seek to control us.

We are whirling now in the Vortical Mix. The whirling will continue until we decide that it is not such a bad idea to work together for our common good. We cannot become what we are meant to become without uniting.

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Romney’s 47%: Plutocratic Hypocrisy

Photo by Toby Alter

Mitt Romney recently was caught saying that 47% of Americans feel they are entitled “to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it — that that’s an entitlement.” The word, “entitle,” means ” to give a title, right, or claim to something ( He said this as if he and his followers were somehow above being entitled to anything. But we know this is false, since Mitt, and many of his comrades, were raised with the proverbial silver spoons in their mouths.

All people, not just Americans, are indeed entitled to everything we, as humans, need to survive. This is the gist of the principle of human rights. Where did the rich get the idea that their fellow humans were not entitled to a certain standard of living from so-called civil society and its leaders? It is a double standard, when it’s perfectly okay for the wealthy plutocrats to receive their entitlements, such as tax breaks and corporate welfare, but it is somehow wrong for those less fortunate to receive a minimum subsistence from the government. Who else will care for these? Certainly not the Mormon or Christian churches!

The Jesus Christ that Mitt claims to follow would have no problem giving these basic rights to all peoples. That is most obvious from the Gospels. I wonder if Mitt is really following Jesus at all, or if he’s just the stereotypical rich, greedy skinflint that wants everything for him and his rich friends?

I detest politics, but I detest more the denial of human rights to those who cannot help themselves.  

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Animaterialist Thinking

Coal Barges, by Van Gogh

When we think of thinking in our technological age, we think of the brain. But is the brain the only part of the body that thinks? I don’t think so. Thinking is performed with the entire body acting as a Gestalt. It is our Western tendency to view the body in fragmented terms. This is because we project our fragmented nature onto everything, including our own bodies. Because scientists have found the brain to be a computer, we believe it is the location of all thinking in the human body.

What is thinking? It depends on what mode of consciousness the question refers to. The World Soul reveals itself in various ways, according to whatever mode of unfolding is needed at a particular time. The two predominant modes of thinking are 1) the strictly rational, discursive type of thinking; and 2) the intuitive, immediate, and imaginal type of thinking.

Strictly rational thinking most likely involves the brain, since it really is a computer. Rational thinking is, of course, the most predominant type of thinking in Western society. It objectifies and attempts to dominate all things. It believes that all things are within its purview and under its control. This is because it is driven by an overinflated Ego. A mind ruled by analytical ratiocination is always in danger of becoming a mind that desires more power and more control over Nature, which includes the minds of others. I daresay that extreme attempts at ratiocination is at the root of all totalitarian ideology. That being said, rational thinking also is beneficial if used at the appropriate time.

Intuitive thinking is something we in the West are sorely lacking and are much in need of. I believe the entire body is capable of this mode of thought. This is what is romantically known as “thought of the heart.” In our tendency to focus on separate parts of things, we immediately think of “heart” as the organ that pumps blood throughout our bodies. I think “heart” refers to the core of our Being, that which makes us human. According to Henry Corbin, writing of Ibn Arabi’s teachings,

This power of the heart is what is specifically designated by the word himma, a word whose content is best suggested by the Greek word, enthymesis, which signifies the act of meditating, conceiving, imagining, projecting, ardently desiring–in other words, of having (something) present in the thymos, which is vital force, soul, heart, intention, thought, desire…(Henry Corbin, qtd. in The Thought of the Heart and the Soul of the World, by James Hillman, p. 5).

It is this power of the heart, this intuitive thinking, that is in reverential awe of Nature, and is in touch with spirituality and mysticism. It is this mode of thought that brings forth wondrous symphonies, poetry, art, and literature that deepens our awareness of Soul; and it is this mode of thought that will save our world.

Souls think because Souls are bodies and bodies are Souls. Soul is not located in any separate part of the body, as Descartes believed (the pineal gland). Soul and body are one undifferentiated mode of Being.

We need to restore this animaterialist mode of thinking. Our world is in dire need of it. James Hillman wrote,

…philosophy begins in a philos arising in the heart of our blood, together with the lion, the wound, and the rose. If we would recover the imaginal we must first recover its organ, the heart, and its kind of philosophy The Thought of the Heart and the Soul of the World, by James Hillman, p. 6).

Let us develop this mode of thinking in ourselves. The more of us that do so, the better chance our world has of surviving.

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