Living between realms: Embodying

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embodying

Second in series of three articles ‘Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering.’ – Carl G. Jung, from Psychology and Religion: West and East   In the first article, we saw that what Carl Jung viewed as the path of becoming an authentic individual, involves much more than changing our philosophies, beliefs or correcting our ‘errors of thought’. Deep and lasting transformation of our being involves processes that shape us at the core. Such change has to be imprinted on a body level; it has to be embodied to be lasting. We saw that for this to occur, requires that we ‘stay close to […]

Hermes Trismegistus

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hermes trismegistus

Hermes Trismegistus is the central figure of the hermetic tradition of Alchemy. Trismegistus means ‘thrice great’ or ‘thrice hero’. There are many speculations on the significance of his name, but no real conclusions. A reference to a deity going by the name of ‘thrice great’ was found on a clay tablet written in Mycenaean Greek, dating back to between the 16th and 12th centuries BCE. In Hermeticism, Hermes Trismegistus is regarded as an enlightened being who was reincarnated several times. His earliest incarnation is said to have been a contemporary of biblical Adam. Or in other accounts, Abraham. While he is said to have lived […]

Emerald Tablet

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emerald tablet

The Emerald Tablet, also known as the Tabula Smaragdina, is an original alchemical text attributed to Hermes Trismegistus. Despite the fact that it was written somewhere between 500 and 800 CE, many centuries after Hermes’s supposed last incarnation. However, this kind of discrepancy is something we often encounter with so-called ‘holy texts’: the actual author attributes authorship to ‘the spirit who really wrote the book via divine possession.’ Many alchemists regarded the Emerald Tablet as the foundation of alchemy. Numerous serious and profound thinkers and alchemists rendered translations of the text and wrote commentaries on it. Including Sir Isaac Newton, whose translation is available here […]

Overworld

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overworld

The overworld resembles what is called ‘heaven’ in many traditions. It is the place where beings such as gods, angels, spirits and holy ancestors dwell. In shamanism, the shaman’s soul leaves her body in a state of trance and she travels to either the underworld or the overworld. Usually for the purpose of healing others. In contrast to the underworld, the overworld is a place of brilliant light, ‘high up’, light as a feather, transcendent and spiritual. Many traditions posit these ‘peak experiences’ as the goal, including humanistic psychologies and new-age spiritual traditions. In contrast, the tradition that became modern depth psychology, including Neo-Platonism and […]

Underworld of shadows

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shadow

‘What has no shadow has no strength to live.’ – Czeslaw Milosz, from his poem Faith ‘Love crowns you and crucifies you’ Shadow is the darkness that my simple act of being here casts across the earth. The more I walk in the light, the starker my shadow. It is the evil I am, but which I don’t see. The vehement energy with which I deny my evil reveals its presence in me. Especially, the evil in others that pains me so, reflects its hidden shadow in my own being. Sometimes I catch a glimpse of it. But usually, without noticing, I cover over what I […]

Alchemical meditation

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Alchemical meditation

‘Meditation is not a matter of trying to achieve ecstasy, spiritual bliss or tranquility, nor is it attempting to become a better person. It is simply the creation of a space in which we are able to expose and undo our neurotic games, our self-deceptions, our hidden fears and hopes. We provide space through the simple discipline of doing nothing.’ – Chogyam Trungpa, from The Myth of Freedom Meditation is something we do To change our lives we have to change what we do and how we live. We soon become saturated by the cultures into which we were born. This is true whether we […]

‘Seeing’ the world

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Seeing the world

‘Arrogance and habitual patterns are obstacles to experiencing drala.π In order to discover magic in the world, we have to overcome the individual neurosis and self-centered attitudes that prevent us from experiencing the greater vision beyond ourselves.’ – Chogyam Trungpa, from Shambhala, the Sacred Path of the Warrior Description of the world It is striking how people often behave in ways that are contradictory to the truths they proclaim to believe in. Of course, we easily notice this in everyone else, but rarely see how we do it ourselves. But this simply illustrates how much of what we do and say are ripples emanating from […]

Crafting a sense of soul

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soul-making

‘[P]sychic reality can only be grasped through non-rational awareness … [by] the fool (in the positive sense) … who does not follow a straight path, who surrenders the security of a rational, one-sided attitude … [whose] spontaneity is not destroyed by the tension between opposites, and so can follow every path, without being determined by reason or collective norms.’ – Françoise O’Kane, from Sacred Chaos Spirituality and transcendence Most of the various schools or centres of spiritual and metaphysical teachings breed cultures of goal-directedness, of achievement, of levels of advancement and hierarchies, of progress and of linear formulas for how we should change or be […]

Fear – our first teacher

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Opening to fear

‘The importance of fear has been given too little true psychological attention. … The biblical statement that fear is the beginning of wisdom is significant. … Fear is not merely something wrong, to be overcome with courage … but is rather something right, a form of wise counsel. … Love stirs fear. At the deepest level of fear eros appears. … Fear seems an inherent necessity to the eros experience; where it is absent, one might well doubt the full validity of the loving.’ – James Hillman, from The Myth of Analysis Opening to fear Fear is a most common emotion. Yet, few of us […]

Living by the sword

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soul-making

‘I want you to acknowledge that your anger is un-fucking-justified. I want you to acknowledge that he who fights by the sword, fucking dies by it, Tommy. … If you pull that trigger, right? You pull that trigger for a fucking honourable reason. Not like some fucking civilian that does not understand the wicked ways of our world, mate.’ – From Peaky Blinders, Season 3, Episode 6: Alfie Solomons speaking to Thomas Shelby as Shelby holds a gun to Solomons’s head, enraged at his betrayal which led to Shelby’s son having been abducted by mortal enemies. ‘The wicked ways of our world …’ Wish there […]