Alchemy: Raven’s Head

Nigredo – dal manoscritto Viatorium spagyricum, Herbrandt Jamsthaler, (1625)

In the “furnace of the cross” and in the fire, says the “Aquarium sapientum,” “man, like the earthly gold, attains to the true black Raven’s Head; that is, he is utterly disfigured and is held in derision by the world (Jung 353)…

There is much more to be said about black than what has been said. The blacker the black, the whiter the white will be. The blackest black provides the most fertile incubator for transmutation. It is said by the alchemists to be as a raven’s head (caput corvi). It is not that black is to be identified with literally, as we see in suicides; it is symbol, image. Remember, all is image.

The raven is a harbinger of death, the dying of the common, the old ways, the old paradigm. From this thickest of blackness, a diamond will be born. Many people believe that diamonds are formed from coal. This, however, is a popular misconception. Geologist, Hobart King, says the majority of the world’s “diamonds…were formed in the mantle and delivered to the surface by deep-source volcanic eruptions” (Hobart King, How Do Diamonds Form?). Creation takes place deep within the earth’s mantle, where black is absolutely black, where carbon material is pulverized beneath the continental plates, some ninety miles below the earth’s surface. The temperatures there reach at least 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. After being ground to the blackest powder, the earth creates these wondrous stones and thrusts them back up to the surface. As above, so below. This is a powerful image of how the Nigredo works within the human psyche. At times, our lives are thrust deep into the unfathomable depths of the Underworld, where we are crushed, pulverized, and annihilated until we are black as the raven’s head.

 The Nigredo is the ultimate process of deconstruction. Where health once was, now there is only sickness; where happiness and meaningfulness once were, now there is only intense melancholia and nihilism. The Latin word, nihil, literally means “nothing.” One becomes as nothing when one encounters the raven. Where life once was, now there is only death. James Hillman writes, “Like a black hole, it sucks into it and makes vanish the fundamental security structures of Western consciousness” (Hillman 1626). Furthermore,

Black breaks the paradigm; it dissolves whatever we rely upon as real and dear. Its negative force deprives consciousness of its dependable and comforting notions of goodness. If knowledge be the good, then black confuses it with clouds of unknowing…(ibid.).

The purpose of the Nigredo is to plant us firmly in the darkness and in the depths of the Underworld. This prepares us for the next stage of transmutation.

Works Cited

Hillman, James. Uniform Edition of the Writings of James Hillman
Volume 5: Alchemical Psychology, Kindle edition. Dallas: Spring, 2013.

Jung, C.G. Mysterium Coniunctionis: An Inquiry Into the Separation and Synthesis of Psychic Opposites in Alchemy. trans, R.F.C. Hull. The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, Vol. 14. Princeton: Princeton, 1963.

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Alchemy: Nigredo

Only in a physically reduced worldview, a worldview reduced to and by physics, can black be called a non-color, an absence of color, a deprivation of light (Hillman 1553).

What is it in the human psyche that views the color black as somehow evil? We associate black with evil, with death, with the morbid and the macabre. Think of how many examples there are in our culture, our language, our phrases, and our art of black representing the negative, the corrupt, the hideous, and the malevolent. We contrast it with the purity and holiness of the color white since white represent the white light of God and all his holiness. The properties we ascribe to white are absent in black. Black ends up being the privation of white, as the Church Fathers believed evil to be the privation of good.

In his book, Alchemical Psychology, James Hillman says the distinction between the two colors arose in the fifteenth through the seventeenth centuries, the so-called Age of Light, where Reason was also coupled with the color white (ibid.). Hillman makes a stunning statement concerning European and American racism that, I must admit, had never really registered with me before:

Northern European and American racism may have begun in the moralization of color terms. Long before any English-speaking adventurer touched the shores of West Africa, fifteenth-century meanings of “black” included: “deeply stained with dirt; soiled; foul; malignant, atrocious, horrible, wicked; disastrous, baneful, sinister … ” When the first English-speaking sailors spied natives on West African shores, they called these people “black” (ibid.).

Why else would this have occurred, if not for the moralization of a color that appears many times in Nature? But why would the disdain for the color black ever arise in the first place? Apparently, the first time the word, “white,” was used to describe an ethnic group was in 1604, according to Hillman (ibid.). By this time, sailors had already traveled to what they later called  the “dark continent” and had attached all the stigma that had been linked with black to the inhabitants they met there.

 But this phenomenon was not unique to Western culture.

Disdain for black is not only contemporary, Western, and English. The color black in the Greek world, and in African languages also, carried meanings contrasting with white and red, and included not only the fertility of the earth and the mystery of the underworld, but also disease, suffering, labor, sorcery, and bad luck (ibid.).

Colors have always had symbolic significance in human cultures, but when white became associated with Caucasian Christianity, then those that didn’t fit into this group became laden with assumptions of evil, dishonesty, and disgust.

This is the working of a a very ancient archetype. Undoubtedly, unconsciousness is associated with black and consciousness with white, at least for the civilization of the past six to eight thousand years. It is indelibly etched in the human psyche. It is deeply connected to Nature, to the rising and setting of the Sun, day and night. We wake, we sleep. And sometimes we sleep the blackest of sleep, death. Death is the ultimate unconsciousness. 

In alchemy, black (nigredo) is the first stage in the magnum opus. The nigredo state is accomplished by work; it is not the original state of the soul, the prima materia. It is something that one has come to, and is a signal that one is ready to begin the journey. Just as coal has been worked upon by Nature to produce its black state, so is the nigredo soul a metamorphosis in progress. To get to this black condition, the soul has been working. It is in this condition that the real process begins.

How does one get to the nigredo state? In the language of alchemy, it is brought on by putrefactio and mortificatio, putrefaction and mortification. The original alchemical substances are subjected to these two processes to produce a blackened mass lacking all cohesion. Putrefaction is falling apart, decomposing. Mortification is a grinding down into smaller and smaller particles, to overwhelmingly punish and destroy. These two processes speak to the total breakdown of anything that is solid in one’s life. This is the soul pathologizing. It is a necessary step, even initiatory, that will eventually bring the gleam of gold to the soul. Hillman writes,

We can begin to see – through a glass darkly – why the color black is condemned to be a “non-color.” It carries the meanings of the random and the formless. Like a black hole, it sucks into it and makes vanish the fundamental security structures of Western consciousness. By absenting color, black prevents phenomena from presenting their virtues. Black’s deconstruction of any positivity – experienced as doubt, negative thinking, suspicion, undoing, valuelessness – explains why the nigredo is necessary to every paradigm shift (Hillman 1626).

Moreover, the nigredo state corresponds to Nietzsche’s assertion that nihilism is a necessary state one must arrive at before transformation is possible. I wrote about this recently in Nihilism as a Precursor to Transformation. The breakdown of all meaning is without a doubt one of the best examples of the nigredo. The soul brings one to this place of brokenness for a very good reason. In the blackest depths of the earth are where diamonds are born.

 

Works Cited

Hillman, James. Uniform Edition of the Writings of James Hillman
Volume 5: Alchemical Psychology, Kindle edition. Dallas: Spring, 2013.

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Aquinas and Spinoza: The Concept of God

Throughout recorded history, mankind has envisaged an ultimate being, omnipotent, omniscient, infinite. This being, which we call God, has been described in many different ways, in cultures all over the world. It seems there are as many ideas about God as there are stars in the heavens.

In this article, I will set my sights on the ideas of two very famous Western thinkers concerning the conception of God, these being Thomas Aquinas and Benedictus de Spinoza. Initially, an examination of Aquinas’ views will be undertaken. I will then proceed to Spinoza’s ideas of God. Comparison and contrast will be followed by a few thoughts of my own.

For Aquinas, God is, of course, the God of the Judeo-Christian tradition, the transcendent God of the Bible. The Bible, however, was not the only contributing factor in Aquinas’ thinking. The philosophy of Aristotle also played a major role in the formation of his concept of God. Seeing that Thomas was attempting to synthesize Aristotelian philosophy with Christianity, it is not surprising that Aristotle’s ideas are abundant in his writings. One need only look at the Five Ways, contained in the Summa Theologica, where God looks very similar to Aristotle’s “unmoved mover.”

The Five Ways, or five proofs for God’s existence, give us a good idea of what Aquinas thinks about God. He began by analyzing our everyday experience, such as motion, for example. His Five Ways conclude that God is

  • first mover
  • first efficient cause
  • absolutely necessary and independent being
  • ultimate being and goodness
  • super-intelligent being

But what do these descriptions really tell us about the attributes of God? For the answer to this, Aquinas’ via negativa, or “negative way”, will be used to arrive at some understanding of what Thomas is saying.

First of all, God, as first mover, cannot undergo change from potentiality to actuality, therefore God must be totally actual. From this we can conclude that, since only material things can move from potentiality to actuality, God cannot be material or corporeal, thus God is incorporeal, according to this line of reasoning.

God, as first efficient cause, cannot have a prior cause, therefore God is self-existent. God relies on none other than Himself for His existence (Aquinas believes God is sexless, but is usually referred to in the masculine sense). Since there are no accidents in God (since accidents must have some cause other than themselves), God is His essence.

God, as absolutely necessary and independent being, is similar to the previous argument. God cannot not-be, therefore God’s existence is necessary, not contingent.

According to Aquinas, God, as ultimate being and goodness, cannot be more or less good; God is the supreme Good. God cannot possess more or less being; God is supreme Being and the source of all being.

God, as super-intelligent being, cannot lack knowledge or intelligence, and God is the director of all non-intelligent natural bodies, such as the planets and the stars. Herein, we also see the providence of God.

In addition to these, Aquinas also asserted that God wills Himself, and, In willing Himself, He wills the existence of all creatures. Furthermore, God is the creator, and the Christian doctrine is one of creatio ex nihilo, creation out of nothing.

Spinoza’s God, overall, is radically different. He does not initiate his investigation by reasoning from common, everyday experiences as Thomas did. In his work, The Ethics, Spinoza puts forth a set of definitions from which he proceeds to reason. His definition of God is as follows:

By God, I mean a being absolutely infinite–that is, a substance consisting in infinite attributes, of which each expresses eternal and infinite essentiality (Spinoza 45).

The entire argument rests on his idea of substance, which he defines as “that which is in itself, and is conceived through itself, in other words, that of which a conception can be formed independently of any other conception” (ibid.). A substance, by this definition, is entirely independent, i.e. it relies on nothing else for its existence. Unlike Aquinas, who draws a distinction between finite substances and infinite substance (God), Spinoza posits a single substance, which he called God. All other things are properties of God, thus meaning, basically, that God is the totality of all things. Hence, Spinoza is espousing a form of pantheism.

Spinoza was critical of some Christian thinkers’ advocation of both a finite and an infinite substance. Aquinas had assumed the two were not “univocally substantial” (Jones 199), meaning that finite beings and God are not substantially the same. Spinoza reasoned that, if finite beings are not substantially the same as God, why, then, are they called substances? He saw this as absurd. A substance, as previously mentioned, is that which has its existence in itself. Spinoza believed that Aquinas put forth this assumption in order to satisfy Christian dogma, for Christianity taught that everything must be dependent on God for its existence, and that certain of these “finite substances” required individuality, viz. humans. This was done to avoid a monistic absorption into an all-encompassing One, such as is found in Hinduism (Jones 200).

Spinoza also believed that more than one substance inferred more than one universe, and this was nonsense to him. He believed our universe is infinite itself. There is no need to pass beyond it to discover God, as Aquinas taught in asserting a transcendent God (ibid.). 

Although Spinoza equated God with Nature, he does make a distinction between substance and the properties of that substance. A property of substance is anything that is not substance. There are two kinds of properties, which Spinoza called mode and attribute. Spinoza said that mode is the “modifications of substance, or that which exists in, and is conceived through, something other than itself” (Spinoza 45). Attribute is “that which the intellect perceives as constituting the essence of substance” (ibid.). Descartes had posited thinking substance and material substance. In Spinoza, these become attributes of the one substance, God. Aquinas put forth a multitudinous array of substances, but with Spinoza these become modes of God. God possesses infinite attributes, but thought and extension are the only ones we can know, these being basic determinations of the one substance. Modes are individual, particular modifications of substance. “What in earlier language was called the world, Spinoza now calls the modes of God’s attributes” (Stumpf 242). God is expressed in Nature as different modes of either thought or extension, but everything is God, nevertheless–Deus sive Natura.

There is little similarity between Aquinas’ God and Spinoza’s God. However, Spinoza was, indeed, referring to God as ultimate reality and truth, a tradition, according to W.T. Jones, that can be traced back thousands of years, even before Plato (Jones 202). Aquinas, and all other Christian philosopher, did the same, even though their views were vastly different from Spinoza’s. Metaphysically and epistemologically, Spinoza’s complex web of reality functioned the same as Aquinas’ infinite and transcendent substance, in that God is the source of existence for whatever there is, and that He is the font of all infinite truth. That is about as far as it goes in discussing similarities between the two men, except maybe to say that both offered so-called proofs for God’s existence, and that both conceptions of God seem to be ingenious solutions to philosophical problems.

There are many contrasts. I will only touch on a few of the most obvious. First, Aquinas eschewed any form of pantheism. Being a Christian theologian, he believed in a deity that transcends this space-time universe. He held that God is both transcendent and immanent, this being the teaching of the Church Fathers. Spinoza’s equation of God and Nature is heresy in his eyes. This is probably the most glaring difference. All others will stem from this source. For example, we have already discussed the distinction Thomas made between finite substance and infinite substance (God). Spinoza consider this absurd, as previously mentioned. The Christian God of Aquinas is a loving Father who sympathizes with the suffering of His creatures. Spinoza’s God is a system of cold, abstract assertions, a vast geometrical network of “implicatorily related” truths (Jones 194). For Aquinas, God is the creator of the world. Spinoza claims that a God who wills to create would be limited, and therefore not perfect.

In my own thinking, I tend to shy away from any attempt whatsoever to claim what God is. I am more comfortable with the via negativa. In this, I respect Aquinas, but do not share his dogmatic assertions on the nature of God. I also do not believe one can arrive at true knowledge of God through rational means. I think there is truth to be found in all cultures, religions, and philosophies.

Both conceptions of God are rather cold and abstract for my taste. Whatever ultimate truth may be, I hate to think of it as being so impassive. Aquinas speaks of the stars and planets as non-intelligent natural bodies. I reject this. In my thinking, all natural bodies possess soul in some way, and thus have some sort of intelligence, what Aristotle called entelechy.

Honestly, I do not find either man’s God as being very intelligible. I suppose Aquinas’ God is more comprehensible, simply because our culture is so saturated with Christian teachings. Notwithstanding, I find his teaching quite unpalatable. Spinoza is too systematic, as is Aquinas for that matter. It strikes me as pointless to attempt to treat God or reality systematically. I have the same problem with Hegel.

If knowledge of God does indeed stem from ratiocination, then Spinoza has a firm grasp of the matter. He seems to carry things to their logical conclusion much better than Aquinas, who is biased by Church dogma. I am thinking here of Aquinas’ failure to see the contradiction involved in distinguishing between finite and infinite substance. Of course, Spinoza was not under theological constraints, as Thomas was.

Spinoza is to be commended for his free-thinking. It must have taken much courage to break with the Jewish orthodoxy of his fathers to go in search of truth on his own. That is most likely the path to God, in my estimation, unlike Aquinas, who wrote under the watchful eyes of the Roman Catholic censors. I wish Spinoza would have realized that human reason does not seem to get us any closer to knowing God.

If humanity ever arrives at true and certain knowledge of God, which I seriously doubt will ever occur, then it will be through individuals who are able to express themselves freely, without fear of reprisal from authorities. There is no other way.

Works Cited

Jones, W.T. Hobbes to Hume. Fort Worth: Harcourt, 1969.

Spinoza, Benedictus de. The Ethics. New York: Dover, 1955.

Stumpf, Samuel Enoch. Socrates to Sartre: A History of Philosophy. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1982.

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Entelechy and the Will to Power

Ship’s Motif, by Alfred Jensen (1859-1935)
In The Entelechy of Animatter, I presented my ideas concerning how the soul serves as the entelechy of all things. Entelechy is the realization of potential. In Aristotle’s thought, soul gives form to matter, thus bringing about the actions necessary for the potential within a thing to come into realization, to be what it is meant to be. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin once said, “Entelechy is inside of you, like the butterfly is inside of the caterpillar…”
 

Form and matter, as in Aristotle, cannot be separated; they can only be distinguished. In other words, they are a holistic entity that I have called animaterial. Anima, or entelechy, provides form for the material. In this way, all things come-to-be to fulfill their destinies.

Nietzsche’s idea of the will to power is similar. I interpret “will” to be the entelechy, the coded blueprint within all humans that brings them to complete realization, but not a place of stasis. We are forever in flux. “Power” is the ability to operate in the earth as a creator of one’s life and one’s values, completely free from any external authority. Complete freedom, however, does not mean Utopia. These humans are engaged with suffering, the body, and the earth. They have willed their souls to grow the seeds within until they become towering redwood trees.

With great passion, Nietzsche writes,

For believe me! — the secret for harvesting from existence the greatest fruitfulness and the greatest enjoyment is: to live dangerously! Build your cities on the slopes of Vesuvius! Send your ships into uncharted seas! Live at war with your peers and yourselves! Be robbers and conquerors as long as you cannot be rulers and possessors, you seekers of knowledge! Soon the age will be past when you could be content to live hidden in forests like shy deer! At long last the search for knowledge will reach out for its due: — it will want to rule and possess, and you with it (The Gay Science, sec. 283)!

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Nihilism as a Precursor to Transformation

An illustration from Jules Verne’s essay “Edgard Poë et ses oeuvres” (Edgar Poe and his Works,1862) drawn by Frederic Lix or Yan’ Dargent.

 

How many of you have encountered the experience of nihilism, as in the experience of total skepticism of any meaning concerning life and existence? Have you yet peered into the yawning abyss of nothingness, that your life means nothing, that the world and its laws and moralities mean nothing, that there is no objective basis for truth? According to Nietzsche, if you are to be transformed from a mediocre member of the masses into a fully individuated human, then the encounter with nihilism is a dire necessity. Nietzsche writes,

Nihilism as a psychological state will have to be reached, first, when we have sought a “meaning” in all events that is not there: so the seeker eventually becomes discouraged. Nihilism, then, is the recognition of the long waste of strength, the agony of the “in vain,” insecurity, the lack of any opportunity to recover and to regain composure–being ashamed in front of oneself, as if one had deceived oneself all too long…Thus, disappointment regarding an alleged aim of becoming as a cause of nihilism: whether regarding a specific aim or, universalized, the realization that all previous hypotheses about aims that concern the whole “evolution” are inadequate (man no longer the collaborator, let alone the center, of becoming) (Nietzsche 12).

 

Nihilism is a transitional stage in the process of overcoming oneself. Many times, the thinker will arrive at the edge of the Maelstrom (Poe’s metaphor, not Nietzsche’s) after deciding that all is meaningless. The Maelstrom makes one giddy, its potency is overwhelming, its possibility incomprehensible. Frightened by the roaring, gyrating turmoil, most turn away, commit suicide, or live the remainder of their lives in torment. What they don’t understand is that the Maelstrom is a means of transformation. Nietzsche referred to this form of nihilism as “passive nihilism.” The “active” nihilist is the one who recognizes the Maelstrom as an avenue to greater things, to be what one is meant to be in the earth. One must, with all abandon, leap into the whirling vortex of energy! This is the overcoming of nihilism. Yes, it is extremely dangerous, but the value of what you will become is overwhelmingly richer than the danger that ensues.

This quote from Edgar Allan Poe is powerful:

It may look like boasting — but what I tell you is truth — I began to reflect how magnificent a thing it was to die in such a manner, and how foolish it was in me to think of so paltry a consideration as my own individual life, in view of so wonderful a manifestation of God’s power. I do believe that I blushed with shame when this idea crossed my mind. After a little while I became possessed with the keenest curiosity about the whirl itself. I positively felt a wish to explore its depths, even at the sacrifice I was going to make; and my principal grief was that I should never be able to tell my old companions on shore about the mysteries I should see. These, no doubt, were singular fancies to occupy a man’s mind in such extremity — and I have often thought since, that the revolutions of the boat around the pool might have rendered me a little light-headed (A Descent Into the Maelstrom, by Edgar Allan Poe).

The Maelstrom possesses a certain hypnotic appeal that is not easily ignored. This is the call of the Anima Mundi, an invitation to be metamorphosed from mediocrity to remarkability. The soul’s primary purpose in existence is to bring all animaterial entities, not to a static state of completion, but to a dynamic state of continual metamorphosis. This is the secret of the earth. We are here to meet our amazing destinies, but we must will it to be so. This is the will to power.

You might ask, “Isn’t this just more idealism?” No. These are earth-processes, entirely endemic to this natural world. All that we require to be remarkable human beings is here in this world, our home. There is no need to posit any other world, i.e. a metaphysical world, as the cause of this world. Our destiny is here. So, go ahead and take the leap! 

Works Cited

The Will to Power. Friedrich Nietzsche. Trans. Walter Kauffman and R.J. Hollingdale. New York: Vintage, 1967.

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The Benefits of Boredom

L’ennui, by Gaston de la Touche

In 1964, Isaac Asimov peered down through the corridors of time to 2014 and made the following prognostication:

…mankind will suffer badly from the disease of boredom, a disease spreading more widely each year and growing in intensity. This will have serious mental, emotional and sociological consequences, and I dare say that psychiatry will be far and away the most important medical specialty in 2014. The lucky few who can be involved in creative work of any sort will be the true elite of mankind, for they alone will do more than serve a machine (Visit to the World’s Fair of 2014, New York Times, August 14, 1964).

Asimov believed that extreme boredom would be the result of the over-automation of society. This, however, has not occurred as quickly as he surmised. He was correct that boredom is “spreading more widely each year and growing in intensity,” but it is not due to over-automation. Rather it is because we have lost our souls and need to find them again.

What causes boredom? Friedrich Nietzsche did not believe it was a disease. Rather, he believed that the “flight from boredom is the mother of all art” (qtd. in Safranski 23). In other words, the experience of boredom is the impetus, sine qua non, in the creation of art. The imagination is stimulated by the onset of boredom and subsequently devises creative work to alleviate it.

For thinkers and all sensitive spirits, boredom is that disagreeable “windless calm” of the soul that precedes a happy voyage and cheerful winds. They have to bear it and must wait for its effect on them (Nietzsche 108).

There are different kinds of boredom, no doubt, but what Nietzsche is referring to here is existential boredom. The soul and the world have no meaning. One knows not where to turn, what to do. This type of boredom is an encounter with existential angst. It forces one to face nothingness, the possibility of a meaningless existence.

This experience is a thoroughly modern problem, especially after Nietzsche’s declaration that “God is dead.” In throwing off the shackles of idealism and two-world theories, the modern thinker met existential nothingness head-on. Life, therefore, was experienced as boring, meaningless, nihilistic. The soul brings about this state to compel one to discover one’s true purpose in life, among other things. By looking inward and examining oneself, nihilism can be overcome and true meaning can be found. The one who embarks on this quest will, at journey’s end, find “a happy voyage and cheerful winds.”

So, Asimov apparently did not understand the great benefits of boredom. Instead of viewing the increase of boredom as damaging to the psyche, Asimov should have realized its value.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Gay Science. Trans. Walter Kauffman. New York, Vintage: 1974.

Safranski, Rudiger. Nietzsche: a Philosophical Biography. Trans. Shelley Frisch. New York: WW. Norton, 2002.

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Call of the Daimones

Aeneas and the Sibyl, by John Martin

When the daimon calls, one must answer. I get these incredible urges to read, write, soak up every bit of wisdom and knowledge from those who have followed their daimons before me. I regret the times I have not been pulled in this direction. There are several selves within, however, which compel all of us. I have written of this before. My primary ones are the philosopher self and a computer technologist self. There is also a musical self there, as well. The philosopher archetype is the most potent and compelling of the three, as this blog is testimony to. The technology self has provided me with a career, although I have felt for years that I missed my calling. The folly of youth and life’s circumstances have confined me and my ideas to this medium, not that it is unworthy, only that I long for time to write books, travel, and glean more than I currently am from the world. The philosopher daimon has an insatiable appetite!

Of course, we all possess many selves. Some are just more dominant than others. While I am in one of these modes, I am totally consumed with the subject matter at hand. 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?

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Time for Art

Portrait d’Aristide Capelle, by Richard Heintz

To the introvert, there can be no creative insight without time spent with oneself, with one’s daimon. Time is so precious, especially as one grows older. In youth, it seemed devoid of meaning; life was so carefree and frivolous.There was so much time to do whatever one desired. But now, it races by at a breakneck pace. Having the ability to spend sufficient time with oneself is a privilege reserved for either the unemployed, and thereby destitute, or the very wealthy. The working-class, even if intensely moved by the Anima Mundi, must be excellent time-managers in order to bring forth any innate creative gifts. Even then, it can in no way be equal to those who devote everything to their art. In the end, however, some creativity is better then none at all.

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