Nature Soul

Today, instead of opting to tour a rich capitalist’s immense mansion here in Asheville for fifty bucks a head, I chose Nature at the North Carolina Arboretum. Parking cost me eight dollars for the entire day. It was a powerfully moving experience of Soul. The arboretum is just outside of town, nestled in one of the most beautiful locations in the surrounding area. If, indeed, there are vortices of energy in this area, this is certainly one of them. I’ve felt uplifted and full of energy the entire day.

When we arrived, a very polite gentleman greeted us and gave us some basic information before we began our ascent up the hill to where the arboretum is located. Upon entering the gate, one senses the powerful energy of Nature cleansing one of the stresses of modern life. Huge stonework on either side form retaining walls that look more like the walls of a giant’s abode. Beautiful trees and plants line the winding road leading to the main area.

We parked and walked to the exhibit center, where the current theme is Wicked Plants, which was bizarre, yet fascinating, in a Tim Burton sort of way. Basically, it’s all about poisonous plants, although there was one room that had a theme of psychoactive substances. If you get a chance to see this exhibit, do so. It’s very interesting.

Next, we exited the building and began strolling through the gardens. Words cannot describe it! The way the air feels in such an interconnected place is amazing, as I’m sure any gardener knows. I spent most of my time snapping photos; I probably took close to three hundred. Many of them will grace the pages of this blog for some time to come.

 I’m fascinated by the way garden designers use plants, stones, and water to create. Of course, they are simply mimicking the Anima Mundi, for She is the original genius behind it all. The stone and water are just as alive as the plants, in my estimation.

After seeing a map of the gardens, I was struck by the design of the walkways. They seem to have a sacred geometrical theme, which made it all the more fascinating.

The best part of the visit was seeing the bonsai exhibition. I can’t describe it, so I’ll show you some of my photos of these amazing things:

Those are just a few of the many pictures of bonsai plantings.

Now, can you feel the Soul?


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Asheville Soul

We’re hanging out in Asheville this week, taking advantage of all the good vibes. CBS did a piece in 1996 about this place, calling it a “New Age Mecca.” There’s a lot of good stuff going on in Asheville. The Anima Mundi is doing amazing things here. The Indie of Asheville provides a really good rundown on this amazing place.

I’ve got to get a map or GPS or something! I got lost twice today! I guess I’m just following the vibes. 🙂

We stopped in for dinner at Neo Cantina, a really great Tex-Mex joint in Biltmore Square. It was an amazing meal, filled to the brim with Soul. The service was excellent. I highly recommend it.

Asheville would be a great place for writers to live. I’m sure there are many here, since the artist vibe is so powerful. It would be a great place to drink in the Soul of the place and allow it to permeate one’s work.

Tomorrow, we plan on visiting the North Carolina Arboretum to check out their Wicked Plants exhibit.I’ll try and provide an update.

There are mystics who claim that powerful vortices of energy exist around the Asheville area.

Since moving to Waynesville, NC, not far from Asheville, Page Bryant (who was spiritually told to leave Sedona to come here) has written the definitive metaphysical book about the area, The Spiritual Reawakening Of The Great Smoky Mountains. According to Bryant, there are many vortices (bioelectric energy points) spread across the planet. These vortices could be compared to acupuncture points on the human body. They are junctions of crossings of ley lines, or meridians, that cover the earth’s surface. Some of these vortices are dormant, much the same as dry river beds, while some are awake or awakening. There are twenty-four active vortices between Black Mountain and Waynesville, and many more power spots. This is one of the most concentrated number of vortices and power points anywhere in this country…over 24 major ones (!

I have to admit, to someone of my Soulish bent, this is pretty intriguing. The spirituality of the Cherokee Nation, who inhabited these mountains for centuries, is called Keetoowah. It is still strong in these mountains. A people who were so in touch with the environment surely knew the significance of this place.

Anyway, my imagination is running wild here this week! 🙂


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My Story

I began my spiritual/philosophical quest as a very conservative Christian in the late 1970’s. This was, of course, after the typical teenage tomfoolery of the early to mid-70’s. I suppose I was always a Truth seeker; I simply didn’t know where to begin. I had been fascinated with esoteric matters from the age of about 12, however. Around age 18, I began attending a very conservative Christian church, met my wife, and married at age 20. Coming from a working-class background, I slaved in factories to make ends meet. This was a difficult life. Being always, a voracious reader, I began reading philosophy, first a Christian thinker named Francis Schaeffer. He made a lot of statements against thinkers like Heidegger and the Existentialist movement, which was pretty much over by that time. This led me to investigate Existentialism. I began with Kierkegaard, which was no day in the park. From SK, I ended up reading most  Existentialist thinkers from the past, including people like Augustine, Pascal, Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, Heidegger, Sartre, Camus, et al. The list is long. I read this kind of thing for years. In the process, I earned my B.A. degree in Philosophy.

The sad part of this story is that I injured my back on the job around 1982 and suffered with pain for a long, long time. In 1987, I experienced a ruptured disk, the first of 3. To make a long story short, I underwent 4 back surgeries and was put on Social Security disability in 1992. Losing my job brought about a Dark Night of the Soul. But, I suppose, in retrospect, it was a great blessing.

During this time, I was reading everything I could get my hands on about philosophy and spirituality. Then, I met Carl Jung. His books changed my life and challenged my worldview. I began to see through what I had been experiencing. Later, about 1995, I started reading James Hillman and Joseph Campbell. These were very big influences on me.

I was on disability until I graduated college in 1998. Since I had been a computer hobbyist from the early-80’s on, I got a job doing computer support. Over the years, I have gained enough experience to get me where I am now. Today, I am a systems administrator in a high-performance computing data center. It’s a good job and I’m thankful, but it is not what I wanted to do with my life.

Thanks to all my readers for visiting this blog. You guys are great!


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The Principle of Gender

Gender is in everything; everything has its Masculine and Feminine Principles; Gender manifests on planes (The Kybalion).

This seventh and last great Hermetic principle reveals the truth that gender is manifested in everything in the Universe.  The words “gender” and “sex” are not the same in this Hermetic teaching. The word “gender” is taken from a Latin word meaning “to beget; procreate; to create or produce.” According to The Kybalion, sex is merely a manifestation of gender on the physical plane of organic life. Gender is concerned solely with creating and producing.

Gender manifests on all planes of Being. Don’t think as much of positive and negative, or even male and female. Think more of Taoism, of Yin and Yang, of two manifestations of the same underlying reality.These are complementary opposites, not two forces at war with each other, but two realities that weave a tapestry of interconnectedness throughout the Universe.

As we know, the principle of gender manifests in the human Soul. Consciousness manifests as the masculine element; the unconscious as the feminine element. In alchemy, the conscious psyche corresponds to Sol; the unconscious to Luna. Physical sex between man and woman is a symbol for the intermingling of these two, which is called coniunctio or coitus.

The sacred marriage, the ‘coniunctio’ or ‘coitus’, refer to the union of our divine spirit with the soul, and finally with the body. By way of speaking we could say that in common man the spirit, soul and body are kind of separated from each other, although they are working with each other. But when the Great Work has been completed, the divine spirit has been brought ‘down’ to shine through the soul and body and unified itself with them, so they all form one and the same ‘body’ (

The Gospel of Thomas puts it this way:

When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then you will enter the Kingdom (Gospel of Thomas, 22).

Finally, the entire Universe follows the principle of gender. According to The Kybalion,

. . .all creative manifestations, upon the planes of the spiritual, the mental, and the physical, there is always in operation this principle of Gender–this manifestation of the Masculine and the Feminine Principles. “As above, so below; as below, so above.” And more than this, when the principle of Mental Gender is once grasped and understood, the varied phenomena of psychology at once becomes capable of intelligent classification and study, instead of being very much in the dark. The principle “works out” in practice, because it is based upon the immutable universal laws of life.

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The Principle of Cause and Effect

Every Cause has its Effect; every Effect has its Cause; everything happens according to Law; Chance is but a  name  for  Law  not  recognized;  there  are  many  planes  of  causation,  but  nothing  escapes  the  Law (The Kybalion).

I find myself saying, “This must have happened for a reason,” all the time. This is why. Things don’t just occur; there is no such thing as pure chance, just as there is no pure determinism. These kind of polarities are always paradoxical and are merely two faces of the same phenomenon. There is no pure causal determinism just as there is no pure indeterminism.  

According to The Kybalion,

A careful examination will show that what we call “Chance” is merely an expression relating to obscure causes; causes that we cannot perceive; causes that we cannot understand.

The etymology of the word “chance” relates to the idea “to fall,” as in the fall of dice. When dice are thrown, they fall a certain way, not because there were no determining causes, but because we are not able to perceive them by relying on our physcial senses. If one examines the situation thoroughly, one will find that many causes contributed to the way the dice landed.

Chance is just another way of saying we don’t understand the causes behind a certain occurrence. There are laws existing on the planes of matter and laws existing on higher planes. The laws of the higher planes affect entities on the planes of matter. We may not have knowledge of these, but that doesn’t mean they’re not real.

There is no such thing as pure coincidence. Again, such a concept violates the principle of polarity. C. G. Jung, as we know so well, formulated the idea of Synchronicity, which he defined as “temporally coincident occurrences of acausal events.” Jung believed these seemingly unrelated events could be connected because they share meaning. The idea implies an underlying web that includes all Reality, an interconnectedness that permeates the Universe, which Jung called the Unus Mundus, or “one world.”

Cause and Effect deals merely with events.” An “event” is “that which comes, arrives or happens, as a result or consequent of some preceding event.” No event “creates” another event, but is merely a preceding link in the great orderly chain of events flowing from the creative energy of THE ALL. There is a continuity between all events precedent, consequent and subsequent. There is a relation existing between everything that has gone before, and everything that follows. A stone is dislodged from a mountain side and crashes through a roof of a cottage in the valley below. At first sight we regard this as a chance effect, but when we examine the matter we find a great chain of causes behind it. In the first place there was
the rain which softened the earth supporting the stone and which allowed it to fall; then back of that was the influence of the sun, other rains, etc., which gradually disintegrated the piece of rock from a larger piece; then there were the causes which led to the formation of the mountain, and its upheaval by convulsions of nature, and so on ad infinitum.

Hermeticism teaches that humans can transcend cause and effect entirely, just as the principle of polarity is transcended. With enough experience on the higher planes, the student can rise above the planes of materiality and live as he or she is meant to live, i.e. a life of transcendence, not being moved about as a piece on a chess board, and not carried along by every whim of the herd. Transcendence means creating your own Reality!

Hermeticism teaches that such Masters cannot transcend the laws of the higher planes, only the planes of matter. These Masters use their knowledge of the laws of the higher planes to transcend the planes of the material word. So mote it be!

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The Principle of Rhythm

The Principle of Rhythm states that

Everything flows out and in; everything has its tides; all things rise and fall; the pendulum-swing manifests in everything; the measure of the swing to the right, is the measure of the swing to the left; rhythm compensates (The Kybalion).

Like all of these principles, rhythm is ubiquitous in Nature. There is a rhythm to everything in our world. I was thinking the other day about planet Earth, how She breathes in and out just like we do. The ocean tides and atmospheric air currents are but two examples of how our planet breathes. The changing of the seasons are another example. Rhythm’s footprint is truly everywhere.

According to The Kybalion,

The Principle of Rhythm is closely connected with the Principle of Polarity. . . Rhythm  manifests  between  the  two  poles  established  by  the Principle of Polarity. This does not mean, however, that the pendulum of Rhythm swings to the extreme poles, for this rarely happens; in fact, it is difficult to establish the extreme polar opposites in the majority of cases. But the swing is ever “toward” first one pole and then the other.

We wake up everyday and see the Sun rising, beginning its climb to the top of the sky.  Eventually, however,  old Sol realizes that not all is progress, so He begins to descend until, finally, He sleeps for awhile, just as we do. But then the process repeats all over again the next day.

What would we do without rhythm? Life would be impossible, for there is nothing that does not exhibit this principle in some way. Our entire Universe possesses rhythm. Think of the planets orbiting their stars, the cycles of moons, even down to the tiniest subatomic particle, rhythm holds our Reality together.

Beginning with the manifestations of Spirit–of THE ALL–it will be noticed that there is ever the  Outpouring  and  the  Indrawing;  the  “Outbreathing  and  Inbreathing  of  Brahm,” as  the Brahmans word it. Universes are created; reach their extreme low point of materiality; and then begin their upward swing. Suns spring into being, and then their height of power being reached, the process of retrogression begins, and after æons they become dead masses of matter, awaiting another impulse which starts again their inner energies into activity and a new solar life cycle is begun. And thus it is with all the worlds; they are born, grow and die; only to be reborn. And thus it is with all the things of shape and form; they swing from action to reaction; from birth to death; from activity to inactivity–and then back again. Thus it is with all  living  things;  they  are  born,  grow,  and  die–and  then  are  reborn.  So  it  is  with  all  great movements,  philosophies,  creeds,  fashions,  governments, nations,  and  all  else–birth, growth, maturity, decadence, death–and then newbirth. The swing of the pendulum is ever in evidence (The Kybalion).

Our foul moods and hateful behaviors are also products of The Principle of Rhythm. Some Hermeticists believe it is possible for one to transcend The Principle of Rhythm and The Principle of Polarity. They claim that consciousness can be raised to a point above the pendulum-swing of the unconscious plane of existence, allowing it to pass beneath. One remains above the fray, so to speak. The advanced Hermeticist polarizes himself or herself at the desired pole and remains there. For example, one can avoid hate by raising one’s consciousness to a vibrational level where one is polarized on the side of love at all times. This, I believe, is how people like Jesus lived.

This sort of high-level operation is done via the Imagination, since the possibilities are infinite on the plane of the mundus imaginalis. Our world will dramatically change when humans learn to enter the higher planes via the Imagination. May it happen quickly!

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The Principle of Polarity

Everything is dual; everything has poles; everything has its pair of opposites; like and unlike are the same; opposites  are  identical  in  nature,  but  different  in  degree;  extremes  meet;  all  truths  are  but  half-truths;  all paradoxes may be reconciled (The Kybalion).

The best example I can think of to explain this principle is the flow of electrical current, which requires equal and opposite charges, positive and negative. Both charges are needed for an effective flow of current. Remember the principle of correspondence, “As above so below; as below, so above. Just as electricity requires both poles for efficacy, so does Soul.

Think of temperature. Where does heat end, leaving absolute cold? No matter how cold, there will always be some heat; no matter how hot, there will always be some cold. They are but two aspects of the same natural phenomenon, i.e. temperature. 

The research carried out by C.G. Jung shows clearly that humans are composed of both positive and negative elements. For Jung, all human beings have both male and female characteristics. For instance, all men have a female element abiding in their unconscious minds. Similarly, all women have an unconscious male element. One’s conscious attitude is usually dominated by those characteristics belonging to whatever sex one happens to be. The opposing characteristics, if not recognized by the conscious mind, can bring about many problems in the conscious attitude. For instance, a man who is not aware of his anima may experience irrational moods, peevishness, and bad temper. A woman who represses her animus may, for example, not respect the feelings of others because she is overly rational. For men, Jung called the female image anima. For women, the male image is the animus. These are Latin words which both mean “soul.” Anima is feminine; animus is masculine. If one set of characteristics is dominant, the opposite will manifest itself in dreams, possibly hinting at how the conscious attitude should be adjusted so that balance can be restored to the psyche.

In his personality theory, Jung begins with the distinction between what he terms introverts and extroverts. Basically, the introvert is characterized by a flow of energy inward; the concentration is on the subject. The extrovert’s energy flows outward, into the world; the concentration is on objects and other people. Every person has both characteristics within them, just as in the anima/animus doctrine. One of the two, however, will dominate the conscious attitude.

Each of these basic attitude types consists of four functions: thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition. As in the introvert/extrovert distinction, one of the opposites will be dominant. For instance, someone may be an extrovert who is thinking-oriented instead of feeling-oriented. This person might also be guided more by his intuition than his senses. Another may be an introvert who is feeling oriented, and who relates more to sensation. Using this procedure, Jung was able to study human beings in a more precise manner. The Myers-Briggs Personality Test, used by psychologists today, is based on Jung’s typology.

According to The Kybalion,

Light and Darkness are poles of the same thing, with many degrees between them. The musical scale is the same–starting with “C” you move upward until you reach another “C,” and so on, the differences between the two ends of the board being the same, with many degrees  between  the  two  extremes.  The  scale  of  color  is  the  same–higher  and  lower vibrations being the only difference between high violet and low red. Large and Small are relative.  So  are Noise and Quiet; Hard and Soft follow the rule. Likewise Sharp and Dull. Positive  and  Negative  are  two  poles  of  the  same  thing,  with  countless degrees  between them.

Think of notes of music, ascending and descending, and then circling round again. Each note is a level of vibration in the Soul, a level of Being. We are constantly changing because Reality is dynamic. Soul spirals around, in and out, up and down, from vibration to vibration, from one pole to its opposite.

How wise were the ancient sages to have formulated these amazing principles!

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The Principle of Vibration

The Principle of Vibration states that all is in motion; nothing is at rest; the Universe is dynamic!

The idea was known to Hermeticists centuries, if not millennia, before science finally confirmed it toward the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century. We now know that everything in the Universe is energy and that everything has a rate of vibration. This is not limited to material things either. There is an entire spectrum of energy, from the lowest form of matter to the Creator. Heraclitus saw this truth over two thousand years ago when he said, “Everything flows, nothing stands still.”

The  Hermetic  Teachings  are  that  not  only  is  everything  in  constant  movement  and vibration,  but  that  the  “differences”  between  the  various  manifestations  of  the universal power are due entirely to the varying rate and mode of vibrations. Not only this, but that even THE ALL, in itself, manifests a constant vibration of such an infinite degree of intensity and rapid  motion  that  it  may  be  practically  considered  as  at  rest,  the  teachers  directing  the attention of the students to the fact that even on the physical plane a rapidly moving object (such as a revolving wheel) seems to be at rest. The Teachings are to the effect that Spirit is at one end of the Pole of Vibration, the other Pole being certain extremely gross forms of Matter. Between these two poles are millions upon millions of different rates and modes of  vibration (The Kybalion).

This is an amazing statement. If this is true, then this principle is extremely important to those of us who desire to live to our fullest potential. If we could learn how to change the vibratory rate of phenomena, then we would be modern-day alchemists of a sort.

There is one basic “substance” in the Universe. In Hinduism, it is called akasa. It is understood as the basis and essence of all things. There are different forms of akasa, such as a chair, a book, a thought, a dream, an angel, Soul, etc. The difference between these is the rate of vibration of the particular reality. The All has the ability to fashion all things by controlling the rate of vibration. This is how all things came to be. Akasa is malleable and pliant to one who knows how to control the frequency, amplitude, and phase of vibrations.

Ayurveda literally means in Sanskrit, “the knowledge for long life.” It is a traditional form of Hindu medicine that has its origin in the Vedic Period in India. Ayurveda has a very intriguing view of the subject we are discussing here:

Ayurveda sees the world in a very similar way to the quantum scientists. Separation is an illusion: the quantum view of energetic connections between microscopic domains mirrors Ayurvedic principles of a holistic universe in which the fundamental elements (particles) of existence are ever present in a vibrational primordial “stew” in which all potential exists. Pulsating energies create existence and create the conditions we experience as we pass through each phase of our consciousness. We are manifestations of a greater power than we understand and have so much more potential than we realize. We are not the captives of a limited world view or set of external circumstances, our potential is limitless. We are created to be whole and healthy and have the gift of emotional intelligence, intellect and a sense of enquiry to help us feel the full range of human experience and to move our lives forward. Lofty sentiments, but this is why we are here. Misery, depression and joyless existence are poor options when the alternatives are so much better and within reach (The Akasha Field & Prana).

We are quite fortunate to be discovering these things at this moment in history. We are on the cusp of the next evolutionary leap in consciousness. As this quote states, our potential is limitless! We are beginning to understand things that will revolutionize our lives and the Earth.

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The Principle of Correspondence

Pont de Maincy (Maincy bridge) by Paul Cezanne

The Principle of Correspondence gives us the classic maxim, As above, so below; as below so above. This axiom is one of the most important ideas in all Hermeticism. According to the Hermetic Masters, there are myriad planes of existence, our material realm being the least subtle form of Reality. The Principle of Correspondence holds that there is always a concurrence between phenomena on higher and lower strata of existence. Higher planes are sometimes unknown to us; by this principle we can at least glean some knowledge of what we would otherwise be totally ignorant of. As above, so below is a universal axiom. It applies to all strata of Reality. According to The Kybalion,

The great Second Hermetic Principle embodies the truth that there is a harmony, agreement, and correspondence between the several planes of Manifestation, Life and Being. This truth is a truth because all that is included in the Universe emanates from the same source, and the same laws, principles, and characteristics apply to each unit, or combination of units of activity, as each manifests its own phenomena upon its own plane.

We humans are many microcosms, each one corresponding to the macrocosm, the cosmos, and higher, 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 worlds within us that we can travel to and from via the power of Imagination. Through correspondence, we can gain knowledge about many riddles of our existence.

In the time of Abraham, the teacher Hermes Trismegistus asserted that
all information about a man could be found within a single drop of his
blood and that within a man was represented the entire universe. He
formulated from this a principle which he called The Law of
Correspondence which stated: “Whatever is above is like that which is
below, and whatever is below is like that which is above” (Hortensia Galvis Ramz, The Law of Correspondence).

At age fifty-six, Emanuel Swedenborg saw his world  change forever. He began having dreams and visions where he talked with angels and other spirits, even those from the planets in our solar system. He adopted the Law of Correspondence and used it to interpret the Bible in meaningfully new ways. Swedenborg believed

The correspondence between spiritual and natural things extends to all
objects in the physical world. Light corresponds to wisdom because
wisdom enlightens the mind as light enlightens the eye. Warmth
corresponds to love because love warms the mind as heat does the body.
The various animals in creation correspond to the various affections in
man. Ultimately, all things correspond to and symbolize qualities in
God (Wikipedia).

Robert Fludd said, 

Man is a whole world of its own, called microcosm for it displays a
miniature pattern of all the parts of the universe. Thus the head is
related to the Empyreal, the chest to the ethereal heaven and the belly
to the elementary substance.

The Principle of Correspondence is very enlightening when thinking of the relations between various layers of reality. Our existence is like an onion. The more you peel back the skin, the more layers you find. The difference is, our Universe has infinite layers.

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The Principle of Mentalism

Creation of Light, by Gustave Doré (1832–1883)

According to The Kybalion,

The All is Mind; the Universe is Mental

In other words, The All, what we think of as God, The Infinite, which is beyond all understanding, is all and is in all. We cannot really say what The All is; only that it is The All. We cannot say The All is Soul or Spirit because The All supersedes these classifications. For the sake of analogy, however, we can say that The All has an Imagination, which encompasses all possibilities. Using infinite Imagination, The All imagines the Universe; the Universe exists in the Mind of The All and is therefore infinite. Now, because the Universe is imagined, does this make it any less real? Of course not. Reality always includes imagined things.

I don’t agree that The All is to be equated with Spirit. I see this as an attempt to define The All and that is impossible. In Itself, The All is unknowable; The All cannot be characterized as this or that.

Many great spiritual traditions distinguish between an unknowable Ultimate Reality, and a Reality as experienced in everyday human endeavors. The Hindu religion recognizes this distinction as Nirguna Brahman, Brahman with no attributes; beyond human understanding; and Saguna Brahman, Brahman with attributes and manifested in human experience as Ishvara, a more personal ruler of the Universe.

Even the great Christian mystic, Meister Eckhart, distinguished between the Godhead (Deitas) and God (Deus), the former being totally unknowable to human thought.

I see The All as a similar idea. It may be upon this point that a unified spirituality could someday be organized. That sounds very Utopian and I am not naive concerning such lofty aspirations. Hope, though, springs eternal in the human breast, to quote Alexander Pope.

The realization that the Universe is an imagined Universe, the very stuff that dreams are made of, causes us to understand that the dream-like nature of the material world makes all the situations and experiences we find ourselves exposed to are changeable, since we, being made in the image of The All, have the ability to transform or, in Hermetic terms, to transmute these experiences by entering into our Imaginations. Now do you see why I talk so much about Imagination? This transmutation is the same phenomenon as Magic, in the Hermetic sense.

The student and practitioner of Mental Transmutation works among the Mental Plane, transmuting mental conditions, states, etc., into others, according to various formulas, more or less efficacious. The various “treatments,” “affirmations,” “denials,” etc., of the schools of mental science are but formulas, often quite imperfect and unscientific, of The Hermetic Art. (The Kybalion).

I would interpret this “mental plane” mentioned in The Kybalion  as what we call the Mundus Imaginalis. These formulas discussed here are like the affirmations we use to create positive things to come our way. I think prayer may also be included here. The point is, though, that we have the ability to change our world through the Imagination.

Transmutation is a good word. It is very alchemically-oriented, which explains why alchemy has been so important to Jungian psychology the past one hundred years. I have written before concerning the Akasa, which is seen by Hindus as the basic element from which all material things are made. It is plastic and malleable and can be fashioned by Imagination. Of course, this is a metaphor for the malleability of Reality, and how we have the power of transmutation, if we learn the methods and execute them. As above, so below.

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The Seven Principles of Hermeticism

I plan on beginning a series of articles consisting of my thoughts on the seven principles of Hermeticism. I’m really just delving into them in detail for myself, but I am a mere neophyte. These articles will briefly state what I have to say on these topics as I traverse through them.

Usually, these short articles I write are simply musings and bits of thoughts. I began writing these small pieces in college. A philosophy professor of mine liked the Kierkegaardian idea of “philosophical fragments,” from the SK book of the same name. He required us to write, perhaps ten of these short pieces per term. The Danish word for “fragment” is smuler, which means “scrap” or “piece” as in “scraps of paper scattered on one’s desk.” Out of chaos arises some semblance of order, I suppose. I’ve found these to be a very good fit for blogging.

Notwithstanding, the next seven smulers will deal with the following Hermetic principles, taken mainly from The Kybalion.

1. Principle of Mentalism
2. Principle of Correspondence
3. Principle of Vibration
4. Principle of Polarity
5. Principle of Rhythm
6. Principle of Cause and Effect
7. Principle of Gender

The Kybalion is pretty cool, although I do find its language to be a bit outdated. It was written anonymously in the heyday of Spiritualism (1908) and not long after the origin of the so-called New Thought movement. Much of the terminology is a little odd to me. I will undoubtedly exchange ideas on Soul for “Mentalism,” for instance. This will also give me a chance to do some updated research on quantum physics, since it is discussed somewhat in The Kybalion during the presentation of the seven maxims.

As a precursor, it might be a good idea to read my article, The Emerald Tablet.

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Practicum of Soul

Now that we know a few things about Soul and her movements, what can we do with this knowledge? In my own journey, I try to keep in mind the Hermetic axiom, As above, so below; as below, so above. This keep me thinking about correspondences between Nature and the Higher Planes, the microcosm and the macrocosm. I try to think mythologically when experiencing the world. I try to “see through,” as Hillman called it.

This makes for an interesting day. One of my favorite natural phenomena to meditate on are trees. They have an amazing story to tell, if you will only listen. When I think about trees, I am always reminded of Tolkien’s Ents in Lord of the Rings. The imagery of the Ents in the books are amazing. The movies are good, but there is nothing like seeing them in their native habitat, the Mundus Imaginalis.

One of the best things we can do to enter the world of Soul is to read, especially fiction. There are so many good authors who are true sojourners of the Imaginal. They are very gifted at painting images in our minds. I’ll never forget the experiences I had while reading books like Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series, or Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov. When reading Tolkien’s, The Hobbit, I was transported to the Misty Mountains and the Lonely Mountain. I trembled while walking through Mirkwood, and watched in terror as Smaug attacked the town of Dale. Reading is a form of meditation. It connects one with the deep things of Soul, the Archetypes. Some of the fondest memories of my life have been spent in places of the Imagination.

Painting and drawing are obviously other practices that cause one to enter through a magical door into another world. Just gazing at a work of art can bring one to this place. It is actually very easy to cross the threshold of the Mundus Imaginalis. There are dangers there, but we always have our Daimon to guide us.  

Walking is another wonderful mystical practice. I like to walk at night, especially when it’s very clear and the sky is filled with stars and planets. Then, I can think about the myths and stories of them as gods. Walking is a form of meditation that clears the mind and makes it more receptive to the things of Soul. Many famous thinkers walked daily. German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, walked everyday at 3:00 PM. One of my favorite quotes about walking comes from the Dane, Soren Kierkegaard. He said:

Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Everyday, I walk myself
into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness. I have
walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so
burdensome that one cannot walk away from it. But by sitting still, and the more one sits still, the closer one comes to feeling ill.
Thus if one just keeps on walking, everything will be all right.

Whatever activity that ignites the fires of imagery within you, stick to it. Writing, walking, and reading do it for me. Find what does it for you and follow your bliss, to quote the great Joseph Campbell. Image-making is Soul-making. As Keats said, “Call the world if you please the vale of Soul-making”.

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Can There Be Only One?

A Paradox, by Frances MacDonald, 1905

Literalism prevents mystery by narrowing the multiple ambiguity of meanings into one definition. Literalism is the natural concomitant of monotheistic consciousness–whether in theology or in science–which demands singleness of meaning. Precisely, this monotheism of meaning prevents mystery (James Hillman, Revisioning Psychology, p. 149).

In Western consciousness, we tend to demand an either/or. Perhaps it is our ideal of rugged individualism, that “all or nothing” attitude that we seem to have ingrained in us from childhood. Be a Charlie Hustle; give 110 percent!  In the context of religion and spirituality, most Westerners think that one is either a monotheist or a polytheist. I’ve heard religious people say things like, “You’re either for God or against God. You can’t sit on the fence!” I think it is narrow-minded to think in such terms. It is a product of our age-old monotheistic consciousness.

Psychologically, monotheistic consciousness attempts to force us down one path, usually the road that leads to egoism. Our self-interest is at the forefront of this mode of thought. For example, we dream of a day at the beach, when, suddenly, we are overwhelmed by a tsunami striking the shore. We are inundated and feel as if we’ve drowned. Monotheistic consciousness would try and get us to grab our dream dictionary and look up tsunamis, water, drowning, etc., to try and get the meaning of our dream. Instead of examining the image for what it is and phenomenologically meditating on it, we take the easy way out and grab our Jungian dream dictionary. I have news for you, Jung did not want us to buy the dream dictionary in the first place! If you want to see the Ego in action, Take a look at this example: Myths-Dreams-Symbols Dictionary.

Symbols can have a plethora of meanings, or, perhaps, no rational meaning at all. Some symbols are feeling-tones.

Unlike Freud, Jung did not believe a dream should be interpreted using “free association.” Rather, he claimed that one could come closer to the meaning by focusing on the specific images that the dream provides. For instance, one person might dream of an obelisk, and another of a Saturn rocket. Freud might claim that both are, in general, phallic symbols, and may allude to some sexual dysfunction, depending on the context of the dream imagery. On the other hand, Jung would want to know why one dream contained an obelisk and the other a rocket. This difference could affect the entire interpretation. In Jung’s words, “I concluded that only the material that is clearly and visibly part of the dream should be used in interpreting it.” A dream image, he says, can have many different meanings according to the dreamer’s associations. Because of this, Jung was vehemently opposed to any kind of “dream dictionary,” where the images are given fixed meanings.

The literalistic mindset should be the bane of all those interested in dreams and depth psychology in general. Literalism always occurs when the Ego is in control. This happens because Ego wants to be God. Remember the ubiquitous tagline from The Highlander: There can only be one! This is the cry of Ego.

An inflated consciousness is always egocentric and conscious of nothing but its own existence. It is incapable of learning from the past, incapable of understanding contemporary events, and incapable of drawing right conclusions about the future. It is hypnotized by itself and therefore cannot be argued with. It inevitably dooms itself to calamities that must strike it dead (C.G. Jung, Psychology and Alchemy).

Ego wants to be king and does not want you to think about mystery or paradox. Mystery is antithetical to it and anathema to Western scientific monotheistic consciousness. The rationalistic scientific mode of thought demands singleness of mind, singleness of meaning. That is why quantum discoveries have so shook the Western world. Ego doesn’t want to admit a wave-particle duality. Newton’s classical mechanics would suit Ego just fine.

Ego certainly doesn’t want you thinking about anything mysterious like Soul! If you’re a student of Soul, you are not being driven by Ego. Congratulations! Ego is the concomitant of monotheistic consciousness. Ego is merely one of many personalities in the psyche. 

Soul is mystery and paradox personified. If these are absent from our lives, we are soulless. I think there is much confusion in the religious world concerning monotheism vs. polytheism vs. monism, etc. These are philosophical abstractions that try and pin labels on both God and people. The mystery is that all is God and God is all, whether God be one, two, three, or millions! It is a paradox that God created all and is in all. That’s okay by me. I don’t require singleness of meaning. Our universe is an ever-expanding, whirling vortex of mysterious, beautiful Soul. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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The Suffering Soul

Ophelia, by John Everett Millais

Journeying into the depths of Soul is not always full of good feelings and positive thoughts. We forget sometimes that the very nature of Soul is to pathologize. In social forums where we discuss the things of Soul, I think we tend to lose sight of the darker side. In an attempt to uplift others, we concentrate solely on the affirmative.

In order to approach the psychology of pathology afresh, I am introducing the term pathologizing  to mean the psyche’s autonomous ability to create illness, morbidity, disorder, abnormality, and suffering in any aspect of its behavior and to experience and imagine life through this deformed and afflicted perspective (James Hillman, Revisioning Psychology).

Sometimes, we can be cruising along just fine. The future is looking bright and sunny; problems, if any, are minor ones. Then, suddenly, the bottom drops out and we are plunged into black, murky waters. There doesn’t necessarily need be a cause for it. Sometimes, the workings of Soul are unknowable. An attack of melancholia, an illness, or just a black mood can turn our lives upside down.

This is not uncommon. Soul often creates these maladies. If we are to be students of Soul, we must face them and attempt to phenomenologically see through them for what they are. Furthermore, we would not know much about Soul if it were not for its pathologies. Freud would have never discovered the so-called “talking-cure” and the via regia if not for the neuroses of those he treated. Jung would have never formulated his theory of dreams and the collective unconscious if he had not dealt with the most difficult cases while working in the Burghölzli psychiatric hospital. Soul’s tendency to exhibit symptoms of extreme abnormality and aberrant behavior is well-established, to say the least.

One thing that Hillman stresses in his musings on pathologizing (ibid. p. 71) is that it was not therapists, such as Freud and Jung, who brought Soul back to the forefront of our attention during the twentieth century. Rather, it was pathological symptoms of the Psyche that drove people to seek help from these therapists, and, then, turned a spotlight on the workings of Soul. The extreme repressive attitudes of Western society during the Victorian era, especially concerning sex, brought these maladies to the surface. Minds were perturbed, but, often, that’s what it takes for self-awareness to be gained. If it were not for these maladies, I would not be writing these words right now. I would probably still be repressed and guilt-ridden, and, who knows, possibly institutionalized. 

Like most things that actually work, fanatical adherents made psychotherapy into a cult and, perhaps, even a religion. Self-development in this new belief system led many to abandon the idea of pathologizing, separating Soul from its symptoms in the belief that we must simply “individuate” into a complete and integrated human being. It’s not that easy, folks. Soul will continue to exhibit its sicknesses and deformities. Hillman’s aim was to heal the rift between Soul and symptoms and, thus, return to Soul its proper place in human affairs. For too long, Spirit was over-dominant, for the idea of transcending the suffering of Soul is totally a Spirit phenomenon.There can be over-dominance of Body, Soul, or Spirit. We have witnessed all three in the past one hundred years.

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The Downward Gaze

When I was ten years old, I had a map of the ocean floor hung on the wall of my room. I was always fascinated with things hidden beneath the surface. My mind has always gravitated toward the depths of things. Little did I know how significant this would later be in my life. I have always sought out the secret things the rational mind cannot explain. I was mesmerized by Jules Verne’s book, Journey to the Center of the Earth. To this day, it electrifies my imagination. 

As a child, I devoured all the books I could find on unexplained phenomena. Of course, I now know why these things interested me so much. Soul was leading me downward. Little did I know that Imagination had attached itself to me in such a way that I was forever an explorer, rather a spelunker, of the caverns and grottoes of Soul.

In so far as we penetrate beyond Imagination we come to the sphere of the hidden things of existence. The gateway lies deep in our own soul and only after going through it do we find the spiritual and supersensible depths of existence which, imperceptible to normal consciousness, form the basis of perceptible things. Through imagination — provided that it does not give way to fancy but that man lives with things so that a comprehensive picture replaces his perception — he realizes how he forms part of the things. He knows that Imagination will not disclose the essential being, but Imagination is the pathway leading to what lies deeper than anything reason and ordinary science can grasp. Because of this a philosopher, Frohschammer, in a one-sided way calls the world’s basis its creative element, “the creative imagination in things”. So according to this philosophical statement, when from his normal consciousness man plunges into subconscious regions — and who will deny that imagination belongs there — he will become more closely related to the essence of things where imagination is more creative in the things than reason can render possible. In spite of the fact that this outlook is extremely one-sided, it is yet in closer agreement with what the world conceals, than a purely intellectual point of view — when man passes from his intellectual activity into the world of imagination — world of a thousand possibilities compared to the hundred his intellect offers — he feels himself leaving his every day world and entering the manifold possibilities provided by the subconscious. In comparison all surface experience seems merely a small extract. Or may it not be that life itself offers millions of possibilities, whereas barely a thousand are realized on the surface of existence, and these we perceive? One need look only at the spawn produced by fish in the sea, the countless seeds brought forth in life, and compare this with what later appears in life — with what becomes reality. This shows how in its depths life holds far greater riches than appear on the surface. The same thing applies when man descends from what his reason can grasp to the realm of Imagination. Just as when we descend from the realm of outer realities to that of manifold possibilities, do we plunge from the world of reason into the magic land of Imagination (The Hidden Depths of Soul Life, by Rudolf Steiner).

The depth of Soul is truly a magic land. Imagination is the magic elixir that will reveal all you need to know in this life. The Plant of Truth does not grow on the surface of the Earth. You have heard it said, I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence comes my help. I say to you, “Gaze downward into the depths of your very being and know yourself. Your help is within you.”

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The Archaic Renaissance

Most of us dream of a better world. Maybe not a utopia, but a better world than what we see today. It is possible because Imagination is without limit. The corollary example is our infinite universe. Propel your thoughts into space; imagine your are traveling at a very high rate of speed through the galaxies, past innumerable stars and planets. You travel on for several weeks, months, even years. Is there a limit to your trip, or would it take you on forever? Such is the journey of Imagination.

There is a war being waged against Imagination. The advent of The Enlightenment in the eighteenth century brought a tide of rationalism that sought to totally stamp it out. Anything having to do with Imagination it deemed “superstition” or “witchcraft,” borrowing tactics from the Church of earlier centuries. Propaganda became an important tool in the twentieth century against anything promoting imaginal areas of Reality. Even the word “myth” came to mean something false and illusory.

I’m not claiming that a secret cabal is carrying out a conspiracy to belittle Imagination. I see it as being more of an unconscious phenomenon, being accomplished, perhaps, by a sort of Dark World-Soul. Think of this mythically, not literally. Just as a Shadow archetype exists in the human Soul, so also is there an infernal archetype in the World-Soul.

That being said, the World-Soul is a creator, just as we are creators. The wanderings of Soul meander through all sorts of difficulties, just as a river is sometimes impeded by various protuberances in the flow. The water always finds a way through or around the obstruction, or, in the case of this threat to Imagination, the World-Soul is finding its way through or around the obfuscation.

What we have witnessed in our culture for the past one hundred years has been the World-Soul meandering around and through the obfuscations and obstructions formulated during The Enlightenment and carried on by the disciples of scientism and rationalism. We have a more sophisticated view today of the subject of myth, for example. No longer do we think of falsity when we hear this word used. Thanks to thinkers who indefatigably promoted the ideas of Soul, we can now enter into intelligent conversation about such topics without fear of reprisal.

We are living in the midst of an archaic renaissance. At no time in the history of humanity did we have as great a flow of information as we do now. No longer must we worry about being burned at the stake because of our ideas. We still have problems, but things are much better than they were in the days of Giordano Bruno or Michael Servetus. I call it an “archaic” renaissance because we have discovered that ancient knowledge of myth and Soul is much more advanced than what the Catholic and Protestant churches have inculcated us with, along with a good seasoning of Platonic and Cartesian dualism. The consciousness of humanity has been transformed in the past one hundred years to respect and honor the ways of the ancients.

Anytime in history that humanity has honored matters of Soul, there is a tremendous flowering of creation. The Renaissance period is the obvious example. The fires of creativity were quickly extinguished, however, by The Enlightenment and the Protestant Reformation. We have already seen many examples of creativity due to humans who dare trek the route to the mundus imaginalis. Some who come to mind are Albert Einstein, who valiantly trod the path of Imagination; C.G. Jung, to whom we owe much thanks; James Hillman; and many others. I believe we are on the cusp of the greatest effusion of Imagination this planet has ever witnessed.

So, you see, there is great hope for our future. There will always be the Dark World-Soul who will attempt to tear things down. We saw a perfect example of this in 2007-2008 with the housing collapse. The minions of greed tried their best to wreck the system. We will never see Utopia, but the fires of Imagination burn white-hot in us. We are creators!

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Soul Building

. . . a man prepares the foundation for a house; he gathers the
material, stone, lumber, hardware, and whatever is needed; then, he
proceeds to fit the separate parts together and, finally, he has a house
for a home. Every experience the Neophyte passes through is like a
piece of stone, lumber, or iron, used in building the “house.” The Soul
he develops, i.e., builds, will be according to the experiences he has
passed through; each experience becomes a part of the whole

Many people think of Soul as an objective entity living inside a body. This idea is a product of two thousand years of Platonic and Cartesian dualism.

Plato distinguished between physical entities and a world of Forms, which are the perfect original versions of all material objects. For example, since there are no perfect circles in the physical world, there must exist an Idea of a perfect circle somewhere in an ideal world. This ideal world make this world possible and intelligible. Plato said that Souls are prisoners inside bodies and are not freed from their incarceration until death separates the two.

In my own thinking, Soul is an imaginal and mythological perspective of human experience. As the quote above expresses, Soul is a house being constructed; perspective increases as one experiences life and cares for the things of Soul. It is not separate in any way from material bodies. Materials bodies are not prison-houses where souls are locked away until death. The material world is a glorious emanation of the Creator. Reality, which includes all manifestations of human experience, such as dreams and visions, is built of emanation upon emanation flowing from the font of all reality. The Soul is the light of the body. This light increases as we are more receptive to it.

We have discussed on this blog how the eyes are the windows to Soul. Jesus said, “The lamp of the body is the eye; if therefore your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light” (Matt 6:22, NAS). If there are no impediments in your vision, nothing to block your view of the unlimited possibilities of imagination, then your whole world will be filled with light. The Soul is not an object, per se, but it is a Light-Being, not in the sense of “being-as-thing,” but as “Light-Being-There,” to borrow somewhat from Heidegger’s use of Dasein.

The ancients saw the eyes as solar orbs, enlightening the body. Jacob Boehme said, “The Soul
is an eye in the Eternal Abyss, a similitude of Eternity.” To gaze into
the eyes of another is to gaze into the unlimited, unbounded depths of
Soul. The gaze need not be a literal looking into someone’s eyes.
This is the realm of the mundus imaginalis.

This Light-Being-There, Soul, is a gradual project that we daily tend like a garden. We must care for it, water it, pull the weeds, and most of all, allow it to bathe in the light. Of course, we know that Soul is not only light but also darkness, for it is the middle-ground between matter and spirit. From our reading of Jung, we know the Shadow will always accompany the Light. This is the middle way, the Golden Mean.

Ovid, in The Metamorphoses, tells how Daedalus warned his son to fly a middle course:

When he had put the last touches to what he had begun, the artificer balanced his own body between the two wings and hovered in the moving air. He instructed the boy as well, saying ‘Let me warn you, Icarus, to take the middle way, in case the moisture weighs down your wings, if you fly too low, or if you go too high, the sun scorches them. Travel between the extremes. And I order you not to aim towards Bootes, the Herdsman, or Helice, the Great Bear, or towards the drawn sword of Orion: take the course I show you!’ At the same time as he laid down the rules of flight, he fitted the newly created wings on the boy’s shoulders. While he worked and issued his warnings the aging man’s cheeks were wet with tears: the father’s hands trembled (Book VIII: 183-235). 

May the Creator guide you in your travels through the mundus imaginalis.

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The Infinite Depths

He who is born in imagination discovers the latent forces of Nature. . . . Besides the stars that are established, there is yet another — Imagination — that begets a new star and a new heaven (Paracelsus)

Gazing into the starry night sky is a peek into the infinite depths of Soul. The myriad stars and planets are but reflective metaphors for the living beings who populate the world of Soul. Without magnification, we can only see so far. We possess a tool that is far more valuable than the Hubble or Spitzer space telescopes. It is Imagination.

The world of active imagination is called by the Sufis alam al-mithal.

Alam al-Mithal roughly translates from arabic as “the world of similitudes”, also called Alam al-Khayal, “the world of the imagination.” This world, which is an intermediate between God and the manifest world, and is considered by certain veins of Islamic philosophers to be as phenomenologically real as the world we inhabit through our five physical senses.

This world is the world of of the subtle bodies, and provides a connection between God and It’s creations. It is thus, in this sense, that it is the “mystical world where all physical limitations are removed.” In this world, there are no set boundaries of time and space; this world, is perceived by its own related organs. In the same way that the physical world is perceived by the five physical senses, so is alam al-mithal perceived by its related organs, of which the Creative Imagination is the organ par excellence.

It is in this mystical world where communion and direction revelation and prophecy are given by God to his messangers and prophets (Dune Wiki).

 It is this world that Henry Corbin was fascinated with in his writings; he called it the mundus imaginalis. He wanted to distinguish “imaginal” from things “imaginary.”

Our physical world is filled with a plenitude of metaphors that, if seen with active imagination, can bring us wisdom and understanding about the many worlds of Soul. By allowing these images to speak to us, we can learn more about our world than the more traditional scientific method. This is the method used by Goethe, the scientist, in his quest to understand Nature.

In its time, Goethe’s way of science was highly unusual because it moved away from a quantitative, materialist approach to things in nature and emphasized, instead, an intimate, firsthand encounter between student and thing studied. Direct experiential contact became the basis for scientific generalization and understanding. Goethe’s contemporaries and several following generations, however, largely ignored his writings on nature. These works were seen either as subjective artistic descriptions written by a scientific dilettante or as a form of philosophical idealism that arbitrarily imposed intellectual constructs on the things of nature. Only in the twentieth century, with the philosophical articulation of phenomenology, do we have a conceptual language able to describe Goethe’s way of science accurately. Though there are many styles of phenomenology, its central aim, in the words of phenomenological founder Edmund Husserl, is “to the things themselves”‑-in other words, how would the thing studied describe itself if it had the ability to speak (Goethe, Nature, and Phenomenology, by David Seamon).

Phenomenology had much to do with Hillman’s articulation of Archetypal Psychology in the twentieth century.

Hillman’s approach is phenomenological rather than analytic (which breaks the dream down into its constituent parts) and interpretive/hermeneutic (which may make a dream image “something other” than what it appears to be in the dream). His famous dictum with regard to dream content and process is “Stick with the image” (Wikipedia).

Hillman can credit Henry Corbin with bringing the phenomenological approach to the study of Soul. It was he who took Heidegger’s ideas of Dasein and applied them to ideas about the intermediary regions of the mundus imaginalis.

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The Eight Theses of Giordano Bruno: Point 8, Body and Soul are One

The final point of heresy brought against Giordano Bruno reads thusly:

8) The opposition to the doctrine of St. Thomas on the soul, the spiritual reality held captive in the body and not considered as the form of the human body.

Bruno, for most of his career, spoke out fiercely against the Aristotelianism that had gripped the Church. His ideas on Soul, heavily influenced by Egyptian thinking and Hermeticism, were far from what Christian Aristotelianism taught. Bruno, in contrast to St. Thomas Aquinas, believed that Soul was part of the body, since all material things are divine. Aquinas taught that 

the soul is capable of existing apart from the living body after the death of the body. This might suggest that he is a kind of Substance Dualist, the soul being one substance and the body another, with the soul “interacting” as it were with the other substance, the body. However this picture fails to recognize the Aristotelian terms of the account that Aquinas provides of soul and body (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).

Bruno spoke thusly, concerning souls and bodies:

…since the soul does not exist without body and does not exist in the body, it may pass from body to body even as matter may pass from mass to mass (The Pope and the Heretic, by Michael White).

Bruno believed that the entire cosmos is one living organism and one substance.

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The Eight Theses of Giordano Bruno: Point 7, Anima Mundi

Point seven, in the Inquisitor’s list of eight theses against Giordano Bruno, for which the cardinals turned him over to the secular authorities to be executed, reads like this:

7) The allocation of a “both sensory and intellectual” soul to earth.

 This is an allusion to Thomas Aquinas’ ideas on the human soul. Thomas distinguished between the sensory, nutritive, and intellectual human soul:

We must assert, then that the soul in man is one in number, at once sensory, intellectual and nutritive.

The sense-soul does not owe its incorruptibility to itself but to the true fact that it is at the same time an intellective soul. Therefore when a soul is merely a sense-soul it is corruptible; when it has both sensation and intelligence it is incorruptible (De Anima).

Aquinas believed these characteristics applied to the human soul, not the Anima Mundi. Ever the rebel, Bruno rocked the cardinals’ world with his doctrine of the World Soul.


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The Eight Theses of Giordano Bruno: Point 6, Theurgy

The sixth point in the summary of heresy brought against Giordano Bruno by Cardinal Bellarmine and the Inquisition reads:

6) The designation of stars as “messengers and interpreters of the ways of God”.

Bruno, like Ficino, believed that one could draw down forces from the stars and planets. Since the heavenly bodies are living beings, and exert powerful influences on humans, one could, using the correct magical methodologies, attract the powers of the various planets and thereby change one’s circumstances. The classic example in this discussion is Mercury.

The planet Mercury, named for the Roman god, was called Hermes by the ancient Greeks. The Romans called it Mercury because it moved across the sky faster than any planet. Hence, Mercury was seen as a messenger of the gods. Bruno saw Mercury as possessing the following traits:

Mercury the herald’s staff bearer, wearing leather cap, wing-footed, youthful, most beautiful, virtuous, fast, energetic, agile, capable of flight, thrifty, changeable, wise, scribe, painter, singer, seer, discoverer, disputer, numberer, geometer, astronomer, divine; advancer into recondite matters, elucidator of hidden ones, clarifier of enigmas, interpreter of the gods, most eloquent messenger, reckoner of superb skill, the sun’s amanuensis, reconciler of gods above and below, fecund in either sex, appearing masculine to the male sex and feminine to the female, arbiter of divine powers, inventor of the cithara, fully endowed in all skills and arts: be present, Arcas, Tegaeus, Memphisian, Egyptian, Athenian, Palladian, Olympian (Translation of Giordano Bruno’s Cantus Circaeus, Tomas Zahora, 2004).

By paying homage to Mercury through various means, one could, according to Bruno, draw down these powers into the human sphere.

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