Light, Shadow, Darkness (3)

Previously: (1) and (2)

The Golden Dawn conceived of the relationship between microcosm and macrocosm as working through light. The Neophyte Grade and Adeptus Minor ritual in the GD both emphasize “being brought to the Light” or “L.V.X.,” representing “an ACTUAL FORCE which although independent of egoic man can be generated by man through the use of his consciousness to bring about CHANGE AT WILL!”[1] Meanwhile, the sphere of sensation (microcosm) connects and relates to the macrocosm by sending out “a thought-ray from [one’s] Spiritual Consciousness, illuminated by [one’s] Higher Will” to that part of the microcosm/sphere of sensation that corresponds to the appropriate supernatural reality in the macrocosm. From there, the ray back to the sphere of sensation, allowing the magus to perceive beyond oneself.[2] To use a more modern, computer-based analogy, the magus prepares a local simulation of the macrocosm within one’s mind (Talker or Ruach).[3] That simulation emerges through the magus’s internalization of a particular symbol system. GD maguses would, of course, use the GD symbol system. The Ruach “sphere of sensation” is the local client (say, the copy of World of Warcraft you have installed on your computer, acting as the microcosm) which communicates with the actual, corresponding force in the macrocosm (the actual World of Warcraft on Blizzard’s servers), and you communicate your actions through your client to the server that then communicates back to your client, apprising you of what happens. The GD frames this action in terms of light that the magus communicates from within the soul/Ruach out into the universe. And as Jan Fries notes, we ground our magical utilization of visualization in the active and intentional use of imagination.[4]

Thus far, I suppose I haven’t really identified what light is other than to connect it to intelligence, to imagination, and to divinity. In general, the inference appears to be that light is the emanation of divinity and the mind, but mind points to something more encompassing than just intelligence or cognition. Given the intersection with the imagination, I would argue that the light reflects that faculty of sapience that joins perception to conception, reaching out into the world(s) and returning to us. In a way, such a view reflects a synthesis of the old emission theory of vision and modern intromission theory.[5] Nor have I really identified what darkness is other than by gesturing to how people typically Other it to light. Bruno and other authorities connect it to matter, especially in the sense that matter reflects the substance (hyle) that light inheres within through form (eidos, idea, image). Bruno points to how matter provides the occasion for which the light casts a shadow, and I understand Bruno as conceiving of shadow in such instances as referring to our awareness (apprehension and intelligence) of objective reality through our senses and imagination.

At the same time, light is an energy, an active motive force that spurs or causes change and transformation. We visualize shafts of light descending from Kether/God Soul/Crown down through our spines (Middle Pillars, our core chakras) and energizing the magical self. T. Thorn Coyle frames light as occupying a second term with darkness as part of The Limitless, and we perceive light and darkness as separate things even as they are part of some great whole.[6]

I see light, darkness, and shadow intersecting with the three bodies or souls of the Self. In the Anderson-derived tradition, these three bodies are Fetch, Talker, and Sacred Dove or God-Self. Within GD-derived systems, these bodies are Nephesh (Fetch), Ruach (Talker), and Neshamah (and presumably Chiah and Yechidah) (God-Self).[7] Regardie identifies the Sphere of Sensation with the aura, corresponding in Anderson’s system to Talker.[8] The imagination’s relationship to art—both as abstract practice, making art, and that which is produced, artworks—points to not only Sidney’s view of imagination enchanting the world in our con-perception (our simultaneous conception and perception) but also to Martin Heidegger’s and Theodor Adorno’s view of art as constituting alternative worlds that we immerse ourselves within. Since art functions in these ways, our own experience functions in much the same way, and that experience includes not only the world we live within (and the artworks we may immerse ourselves within) but also ourselves, which coincides with Carl Jung’s and Jerome Bruner’s arguments regarding psychological bases for our experiences.

The transfiguration of the world reflects its enchantment (and corresponding disenchantment). A mentor of mine once described transfiguration as light entering into and transforming mundane matter into something more. Such a description reflects the Christian Transfiguration where Jesus is the physical Jesus but radiant. He drew on the chalkboard a rectangular figure, a ray of light intersecting with that figure and “transfiguring” it much as Jesus had been in the Gospels. My mentor framed transfiguration as an action often occurring in art, wherein otherwise mundane events were transformed in a way to lend them significance and meaning, rendering them, as I would term it now, as enchanted. He framed this process as akin to a ray of light infusing the otherwise mundane experience or object.

Of late, enchantment and disenchantment have been topics that polytheists have often taken up.[9] In a fundamental manner, enchantment points to the view that reality has a wondrous side, that the world has meaning and significance beyond its merely material level. Transfiguration renders a thing into being an enchanted thing. Some ray(s?) of light has penetrated and infused the thing with imaginal power. Transfigured nature is a spiritual nature. The transfigured person is a magical, wondrous, spiritual being.

Next Time: Irreality and Enchantment

Image: Eclipse (public domain)

[1] Monnastre, xviii. Monnastre’s emphases are all Monnastre’s.

[2] Israel Regardie, The Golden Dawn, 6th edition (St. Paul: Llewellyn, 1989), 107-8.

[3] I use ruach via the Thelemic model. See “Tree of Life: Parts of the Soul,” in Thelemapedia: The Free Encyclopedia of Thelema.

[4] Jan Fries, Visual Magick (Oxford: Mandrake, 1992), 20-1, but passim throughout Fries’s many books.

[5] The emission theory framed vision as the eye sending rays of light out into the world which would penetrate and bounce off of things before reflecting back into the eye. In comparison, radar is an emissive form of perception.

[6] T. Thorn Coyle, Kissing the Limitless: Deep Magic and the Great Work of Transforming Yourself and the World (San Francisco: Weiser, 2009), 2.

[7] “Tree of Life: Parts of the Soul.”

[8] Regardie, 92. Cf. Coyle, 56.

[9] For example, see the search results for enchantment at Gods & Radicals.

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