If they would just let go of the whole idea complex they would be liberated from this kind of minutia. Belief kills the spirit, spirit transcends belief. I wanted to say that.
Then somebody mentioned Bruno and Dee. Since I suggested that you read Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition it's ironic that so little time was spent on Bruno, on the other hand, I recommended that you read the book so you should be well informed about Bruno. For me, Bruno, we just didn't get into that particular historical episode because I wanted to tell you about the Rosicrucian enlightenment, but the thing to remember about Bruno was his discovery about the infinitude of the cosmos and that by an act of unencumbered observation, I mean how many people had looked at the night sky before Bruno and they had not seen what he saw, which was infinite space and suns hung like lamps unto the uttermost extremes of infinity. By an act of pure cognition, he was able to destroy an entire cosmological vision that had limited and confined the human soul for millennia. That's half of his story. The other half is that he was burned at the stake for refusing to back down from this. It's a model for us all: trust your perceptions trust your intuition and then accept the consequences because this is what existential validity must be.
As far as the relationship between Dee and Bruno, the relationship is that they were both derivative of the school of magic that can be traced back to Henry Cornelius Agrippa Von Nettleshine who was another model for Faust. Agrippa wrote De Libro Quatro De Occulta Philosophia, four books of occult philosophy, and that was the core work for European magic. All European magic can be traced back to the Agrippan system and Agrippa was the direct student of the Abbot Trithemius of Spawnheim that we mentioned yesterday as the source of all the magical codes of the middle ages. If you're interested in a brilliant but fictional treatment of John Dee and Giordano Bruno, I'd like to recommend a novel to you. It's called Aegypt, it's by John Crowley, the same gentleman who wrote Little Big which is a wonderful novel about the magical interface between two worlds. But his book Aegypt, fully half of the book is given over to a wonderfully rich retelling of the relationship between Bruno and Dee. Some people have wanted to say that Dee and Bruno actually crossed physical paths in London but I've looked into it and they missed each other by about two weeks. Bruno was setting sail for England as Dee was setting sail for France and the Rosacrucian enlightenment episode that I talked about.
Then someone asked about tantra and the contrast between the imaginative internalized invocation of the anima or the animus, depending on your own sexuality, and that contrasted with something that actually happens between two people. We didn't talk that much about the concept of the alchemical wedding, or the chemical marriage is another way of putting it, but this is the Western resonance to the Eastern idea of tantra and it is the idea that sexual energy, being the rawest and most accessible energy to the organism, can be channeled into a higher spirituality. It's entirely so, the problem is that of all paths this is probably fraught with the greatest difficulty because sexuality is such a debased coinage in the modern world. In other words, you have to make your way with great care and great purity of intent into this. In Eastern tantra that is actually practiced in this physical manner there is usually the admonition is that you should have no attachment to your tantrica, that the relationship should be entirely given over to the technical details of this union and of course it has to do with the forestalling of orgasm and the raising of energy within the organism.
In the chemical marriage, in the alchemical marriage, due honor is given to the importance and uniqueness of the other person, in other words it isn't the idea of the temple prostitute who serves as the vessel for this process but there's actually an effort to keep individual indentities and individual dignity, in some sense, together and this is, the higher up the mountain you go, the steeper it becomes and when you begin to scale the heights of alchemical or tantric sexuality the fall back into the nigredo can be shocking indeed so that's just an admonition, it's not designed to scare you off, it's just to say that in an age as sexually obsessed as our own, you have to do as the I Ching says, "inquire of the oracle once again if you have purity of intent."
Isn't there also a healing between the two?
Yes, it's a complete alchemical system and the energy is passed between. This is probably the highest completion that is possible. The ideal of romantic love, and I don't want to digress too much into this, but the ideal of romantic love was introduced into Europe in the 1400s and earlier at the Anjovan(sp?) court of Eleanor of Aquatain by troubadours and this troubadour tradition can, scholarship now reveals pretty convincingly that this is an esoteric Sufi system. It also occurs in Indian teachers such as Chitania(sp?), who is the guy that the Hare Krishnas go back to. The radical teaching of Chitania was that you could achieve ecstasy not by sitting in yoga, but by dancing and singing on street corners. It's now pretty clearly shown that Sufi, the penetration of Sufi ideas into Bengal was happening at the same time that these Sufi ideas were coming across from North Africa and into Spain and Southern France. So, it's a tremendously old and vital tradition but you have to be careful - the romantic impulse is a real double-edged sword. It has been ever since the early 19th century because, you know, the rise of romanticism, as that term is normally understood, meaning those movements in art and literature of the early 19th century, the rise of romanticism was a response to the dehumanization that was going on at that time. The rise of industrialism and the retreat into cities more massive than any that had ever been built, did you want to say something?
I wanted to add, the question was about healing, and I think there's a tremendous difference between Indian and Tibetan tantric systems. You ought to practice in Taoism in terms of single copulation and dual copulation, in the Taoist system self-healing is of paramount importance before you can even consider dual copulation. Dual copulation is then begun, then again other considerations come in, but the Tibetan and Indian systems where Dakinis and various deities are invoked in the process of their alchemical union, it's really quite different from the Taoist system which is devoid of beliefs in gods.
That's a good point. You know, yesterday I talked about the alchemical stages. When you have reached the albedo, the final whitening of these processes, that final whitening is, from a higher prospective, a new nigredo and you must always build and build again. So you have to be fairly confident that you have already realized a certain portion of yourself before you embark upon these tantric double experiments. Because a lot of tantric text reads very vampiratical, I mean, it's all about expelling the semen and then sucking it back in and it's like an energy war. It turns into black magic. The losing partners in this deal are just left a withered husk and this is not a higher completion to be sought for.
You're correct, there are supposedly, whether they're myths or documented stories, about a Chinese Empress who caused the deaths of more than a thousand men because of her vampirism.
And it was sexual in nature?
It was sexual in nature.
Just a couple of other points here. The gentleman here who had nothing to comment or wanted to sit it out reminded me, since we were talking about the Valentinian system this morning, my favorite archon, besides Sophia who's so interesting because of the little story about how she made the universe, but the 12th archon in the Gnostic system is a unique entity, I don't know of another religious system that has this notion. The 12th archon in the Valentinian system is called The Watcher. That's all he does. He does not put into the system at all but is the witness and somehow this creates a validating dimension that is very important. I just want to affirm that the watcher is a very strong platform on which to stand. I mean, would that I could learn to keep my mouth shut. Would that we all could. So, the watcher is a good archon to keep active on your inner altar.
So, then, the future occurs three times on the list. We don't have a lot of time, but what I would like to say about it this morning is, if you extrapolate all that has been said here then you should see that, remember how I said that one view of alchemy is that the alchemist intervened in natural process in the role of a catalyst. For those of you who aren't chemists, a catalyst is something that causes a chemical reaction that is going on anyway to precede at a faster rate but the catalyst is not consumed in this process, it simply accelerates it. And if we think of nature as a great alchemical furnace that continuously reproduces and brings forth wonders, then must it not be that humanity is the yeast of the gain alchemical rarefaction and that human history is the process of catalyzing the alchemical condensation. If we look back into nature, before the advent of speaking and writing human beings in the last 15,000 years, what we see are very leisurely processes. The speciation of a single plant from another can occupy 50 or 60 thousand years, it never happens more quickly than that. And the grinding down of glaciers from the poles, these are processes that take hundreds and thousands of years.
With the advent of human beings, an entirely new ontos of being, an entirely new category of becoming is introduced into the entire cosmos, as far as we know, because we cannot verify that there are other self-reflecting beings in the universe and this new ontos of becoming is what I call epigenetic, as opposed to genetic. All other change in the living world, in the world of bios, of zoa, occurs through genetic change, random modification of the genome which is then subject to random selection. But with the advent of speech and writing, epigenetic, means outside of genetics, epigenetic processes become possible and time accelerates. One way of thinking about what is happening in this cosmos is that it is a gradual conquest of dimensionality by becoming, or process, we hardly have a word inclusive enough.
The earliest forms of life were probably slimes on certain kinds of clays, self-replicating molecular systems and then certain portions of this chemistry became light sensitive and then there was the sense of the division of light and darkness which generated the notion of here and there on some tremendously basic level within these early organisms. Once you have the concept of here and there, motility, the ability to move, the cilia that dot the surface of protozans and stuff like this are elaborated and a new dimension enters the picture, the dimension of time, because notice that a journey from here to there is a journey from now to then. And then, as more refined perceptual apparatus arose, and more refined systems of moving animal bodies arose, a steady conquest of dimensionality occurred. The movement of animals onto the land and so forth.
Well then, at the advent of memory, and memory must be mediated by language except at a very crude, instinctual level, memory is a time binding function. It's a way of somehow taking the past and calling up it's essential properties so that they are co-present with the given moment of experience. It's one thing at the level of the song and dance of pre-literate peoples but once you begin to chisel stone and write books then you're into the epigenetic domain in a big way. And once you cross the threshold into the world of electronic media and that sort of thing, once you achieve powered flight, once you can hurl instruments outside of the solar system, these are time binding functions and the alchemical intent, recall, was to accelerate nature's intent toward perfection and the alchemists all believed that nature was growing toward a state of unity and perfection, that given millions and millions of years, everything would turn to gold, everything would find its way toward the Platonian one.
So, now we live in a world that appears to be on the brink of its own death or extinction and the reason we make that assumption is that our bridges are burning behind us. We see no way back to the world of the hunting and gathering pastoralists of the high Paleolithic of the Saharan grasslands. We see no way back to the Gothic piety of Europe with over 30 million people in it. Our bridges are burning and our religions, Islam, Judaism, Christianity, the major Western religions persistently insist that we are caught in a tightening spiral of ever increasing speed that is carrying us toward an unimaginable confrontation with something which they call God, the second coming, the messiah, you name it. As cool-headed a rationalist as Albert Toynbee, when he sat down to write a study of history, he finally had to face the question, "what is history for?" And the best he could come up with is "history must be about the entry of God into the domain of three-dimensional space."
Well, we don't know what God is, let's not call it God, let's call it the philosopher's stone, let's call it the Sophic Hydrolith, and I believe that the chaos of our world, the apocalyptic intuition that informs our religions and our dreams is because ahead of us in time, and now not that far ahead of us in time, is something, taking a page from the mathematical concern called dynamics, we can call an attractor. The attractor lies ahead of us in time. The universal process is not driven by a downward cascade of Cartesian causuistry(?) that's the scientific notion and it leads to a universe of entropy and heat death millions of years in the future but what we see around us is a continuing and accelerating complexification as human beings, machines, eco systems, the solar system itself is beginning to knit itself into a tighter and tighter organization. I believe that alchemy provides the best metaphors for understanding this. Nature is the great alchemist par excellence and we, as its minions through history, are accelerating the condensation of being toward the unimaginable so that in my system, my way of thinking, there's ultimately a semitary(?) break with ordinary history and I call it all kinds of different things, but here this morning, the transcendent other.
The transcendent other casts an enormous shadow across the lower dimensional landscape of time. The stirring of the earliest life forms in the Devonian seas caught the call and every step that has been taken since then has been ever quicker, ever quicker toward the transcendental other, it beckons us and history is haunted by this thing. History is the shock wave of eschatology. History is a process that lasts, let's be generous, 25,000 years, the wink of an eye in geological time, and in that 25,000 years religious rise and fall, governmental systems, teachers come and go and there is a sense of being caught in a whirlpool that is spinning us toward fusion with the unimaginable. This is why the skies of Earth are haunted by flying saucers, they aren't coming from other solar systems, they are sintillas, remember this alchemical term - sparks - they are sintillas being thrown off the alchemical quintessence which lies like a great attractor at the end of time and the purpose of science and techni and electronic media and information transfer and all of this stuff is to knit us together, to dissolve our boundaries and to bring us to a point of singularity where language fails, where we lean over meanings' edge and feel the dizziness of things unsaid.
And this lies now, I believe, within our lifetimes, within the lifetimes of most of us, this is actually going to break through. I'm like one of those people carrying a sign that says "repent for the end is near." It's as nutty a position as you can possibly hold. That's why I suspect it has a reasonable chance of being dead on. So, that is the point of talking about alchemy and this melding, the production of the quintessent and all that. It is because we are a gnat's eyelash away from a full confrontation with the transcendent other. Our dreams are haunted by it, our reveries are filled with it. If we take a psychedelic drug, it's revealed before us in all its splendor. This is the force that is pulling us inexorably toward completion.
I remember once in a psilocybin trance I expressed concern about the state of the world and the nous spoke, the logos spoke, and it said "no big deal, this is what it's like when a species prepares to depart for the stars." This is the, we are in the birth canal of a planetary birthing. And as you know, if you come upon a birth in progress, you would never dream that this is the culmination of a natural process. It looks like a catastrophe of some sort. There is moaning and groaning and screaming and thrashing and blood is being shed and there is a feeling that the walls are closing in and yet it is inscripted into each of us as a microcosmic reflection of the completion of human history. And not only human history, because we are simply the hands and eyes of all life, all process on this planet.
The Gnostics believe that the Earth is like an egg and that a moment will come in which the egg must be split asunder. I love to quote the Grateful Dead, "you can't go back and you can't stand still. If the thunder don't get you then the lightning will." That is what we are being funnelled toward, that is the message of alchemy. That is the quintessence of the human enterprise, the biological enterprise. I like to recall the Irish toast "may you be alive at the end of the world." And we have a real crack at it. It's not a pessimistic vision. It's the most optimistic vision that one can suppose and I think that's where I'd like to leave it this morning.
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