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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