Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
The following two posts are a precis of a talk I gave in Toronto recently. While nobody can predict how the next century will unfold on the physical plane, the idea was to look at the consciousness shift that is slowly unfolding in all of us.
A problem with predicting the future is that you have to step beyond the familiar world, into a realm that for many people is hypothetical. We cannot understand what is happening politically and economically because our entire means of understanding such things is itself undergoing a shift. It will be a scary process, but it isn’t an entry into a perpetual psychic hell-world. It feels that way because a level of consciousness that we have not included collectively before is beginning to move in. And this is way more important than what’s happening in party politics, quantum biology, academic consciousness research or the global economy.
Previously, we have been moved by the idea of a Great Big God, even if we affirm our denial of Its existence. Islam is the most obvious example, as it goes through a paroxysm of trying to come to terms with something else imposing on the Islamic worldview. We should always remember that while radical Islamic wrath seems to be directed at us, if you study its roots you see that it stems from a feeling of invasion its own world has undergone. The concept dubbed “Westoxification” – Gharbzadeghi in Farsi – arose in the 1940s in the work of Ahmad Fardid, and spread into other Islamic countries. It was aimed at reducing or eliminating western influences, but along the way, like a snowball rolling downhill, it has picked up a deep phobia that the old God-out-there might not be what He’s supposed to be. And this spread to other Islamic countries. Anger of the type we see presented to us so often is an indicator of a deep-rooted sense of anxiety, just as Christianity in the US and to some extent in Canada sees itself challenged by analytical thinking, science and that dreaded hallmark of Thelemic tendencies, independent minds.
We aren’t going to come out of this phase any time soon, but I do suggest it has reached its intellectual peak. The religious right has, I think, hit the boundaries of its influence, and is experiencing the push-back. The Islamic world is far more complex, because different countries are at different stages of the whole business.
But I do assert that there is a slow, steady and inexorable change coming. Institutions cannot control us any more, except in superficial ways. All of the telecommunications scrutiny by the US, the UK and others has not really done a lot.
I don’t believe that the Illuminati, the 32nd degree Freemasons, Wall Street, the CIA, the Gnomes of Zurich and Frankfurt, the Bilderbergers, the Trilateral Commission or any of these other supposed powers behind everything really have a hope. I don’t say their members or presumed members might not be trying to run things, but I do insist the idea that anyone or any one group or cabal can control world affairs is now ridiculously impossible. The complexity is too vast for the greatest of human intellects, which means we also don’t know how to program our computers to do the job for us. I’m with Alan Moore, he of V For Vendetta, bless his tangled beard, when he says:
“Yes, there is a conspiracy, indeed there are a great number of conspiracies, all tripping each other up… the main thing that I learned about conspiracy theories is that conspiracy theorists actually believe in the conspiracy because that is more comforting. The truth of the world is that it is chaotic. The truth is, that it is not the Jewish banking conspiracy, or the grey aliens, or the twelve-foot reptiloids from another dimension that are in control, the truth is far more frightening; no-one is in control, the world is rudderless.”
At least, I’m with Alan Moore when we look at the world as the world. But somewhere along the way, maybe when I was about eight or nine, I noticed the world was just one of the places people live in. Many of us realise it’s just one of the places we hang out.
One reason I’m a Qabalist is that such people think there isn’t just one world, but four. And we exist in all them simultaneously.
Firstly, there is the world of Atziluth, a Hebrew word we usually translate as ‘Origins,’ or sometimes, ‘archetypal realm.’. This is completely beyond time and space, even if it comprehnds these concepts. It is totally beyond morality, or reason as we understand it, and all of the dualities we know about; liberal and conservative, right and wrong, black and white, coffee and cream, and so on. It just Is, or rather, It just Does.
You can know this in yourself. It’s the diametrical opposite of our regular world, which we call in Qabalah Assiah, or manifestation. It is about infinite potential and infinite energy.
Atziluth is exceedingly difficult to access. There are Rimpoches, Zenmasters or advanced Adepts fully tuned into it, and most occultists become familiar with flashes or intuitions from this world. But it doesn’t have its own website. It’s beyond all our conceptions and ideas. As occultists, we know little of it … and we value it highly.
The two worlds we need to know best are the pair in the middle, between archetypal Atziluth, and Assiah, the visible and tangible world. Right below Atziluth is B’riah, the world called Creation in English. That’s right – Creation is second. And between it and this material world of Assiah, is the world of Formation, or Yetzirah.
Everyone here is probably familiar with the Tree of Life with its 10 sephiroth and 22 connecting paths. But the four Worlds of that Tree are equally important, and more significant for understanding where we’re headed. You can, if you like, divide your private cosmos up into seven levels, or 14, or 23, but this system is time-tested, and I find it’s enough.
Now, what is this world of Creation like? It’s assigned to alchemical Water, and it usually seems profoundly still.
Yetzirah, Formation, isn’t still at all. It’s assigned to alchemical Air, and it’s perpetually in motion.
Yetzirah is known as the astral level, and it also includes virtually all aspects of what we call mind. Ninety percent of things people think are spiritual occurrences or magical successes, if they’re doing magick, are actually phenomena happening in some corner of Yetzirah.
If you’re with me so far, the primary thing to grasp here is that the old Qabalists weren’t crazy in using the word Worlds. They didn’t say levels, or stages, or some similar term. They recognised that to move from one to the next is to enter an entirely different way of looking at things and experiencing them. The worlds are concentric to each other, but most people go through life barely noticing the nature of the division between Assiah and Yetzirah. A very few enter into B’riah, and often it’s the scariest thing we ever encounter, and we block out the memory. I entered it for a short time one day in my early 20s, and wasn’t able to find it again for a couple of decades. You need to learn a new language, in a way, to make the transition.
Magical training in an order is about preparing the mind to deal with these transitions. We teach the language of symbols, and show people the way to understand it. Magicians are always aiming to go to the next step beyond where they’ve already been, and knowing how to do this without going more than temporarily nuts is a useful skill. This process culminates, hopefully, in what we call the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, or K&C of the HGA. Getting to this involves bringing the mind and our mental attention through and out of the world of Yetzirah. It all needs to be brought to the crystalline stillness of B’riah, so that it can be receptive to a powerful impulse out of Atziluth. Anyone at that point is a Chalice waiting for the entry of the Sacred Spear.
If you have the idea that Knowledge and Conversation is in any way related to some kind of verbal communication, then you’re still referring the experience back to the more familiar world of Yetzirah. There might be words communicated, but the essential experience is profoundly intimate, and beyond anything verbal.
So, what’s my point with the next hundred years?
There’s a school of thought, and I went to it for my own education, that says that we are creatures more of Yetzirah than of Assiah. It varies from person to person, but as human beings, we live in our visions, our thoughts, our dreams, our daydreams, our aspirations and oscillations …. and more so than we do in the world of sense and sensation.
And oddly, when we can calm the Yetziratic mind, we can find ourselves far more ‘in’ the world of Assiah, beholding its details in clarity.
Yetzirah is about division. Not the chaotic and seemingly aimless divisions of Assiah, but conceptual splits and partitions. Beyond that – above or within it, if you prefer – is the world of B’riah, which, when entered is about stillness and enlivened awareness..
Yetzirah – Formation, remember – is where we mostly live. B’riah, when we come to it, is what underpins that world as well as the actual ‘tangible stuff’ world of Assiah.
Continued in next post…