[Edit: See the edit comments in Death and Theosis Post that explains recent trials deeper into the furnace of putrefaction that tempered a bit of the hubris that underlies much of this post. I’ve decided to republish this post as a record to spiritual seekers who might accomplish a tangible degree of power and accomplishment. I profess as an example of personal experience, the Hierophant wasn’t blowing smoke:
Although the magical virtues can indeed awaken into momentary life, in the wicked and foolish hearts, they cannot rein in any heart that has not the natural virtues to be their throne.
I urge all initiates, neophyte and adept alike, beware the pitfalls of perceived success. It’s hard to remain virtuous and humble when you experience “success” and personal satisfaction in all you do for too long without trial. There is a huge difference between spiritual accomplishment and wisdom, between Conversation and Union. May we seek the former only as a steppingstone to the latter.]
Based on some feedback I’ve received from my last essay, I’d like to provide a quick update before starting a series on The Four Worlds of the Kabbalah and the role of abstract mentation.
It’s curious to me how many people read my previous testimony and immediately express sympathy for the perceived struggle. This is entirely understandable to me. I remember well the anxiety and fear that life-altering events could induce in me before Hermetic initiation. But it’s conspicuous that little recognition (if any) has been expressed regarding the underlying transformative power that conflict, struggle, and strife can be for those most interested in the personal evolution of Self towards Illumination.
So it’s become evident to me that I may have missed the mark on what I intended by my prior testimony. Allow me to clarify. Personal struggle doesn’t happen to an adept; it occurs in conjunction with the adept’s will and is invited in (no matter how extreme or potentially dangerous) because the adept knows the formula and understands how to welcome it effectively.
Struggle, strife, conflict–whether external or internal–these aren’t repellent situations that an adept merely tolerate. Rather, they are the areas of personal discovery that show the initiate to themselves. They are the crucible in which the metals of the alchemist are refined and prepared as a fitting vessel for Divine Potential. The Hermetic adept welcomely births them into external material experience from the hidden depths of their soul to reconcile internal dysfunction and become Illuminated.
To those initiates for whom Nature has graced with demonstrable proof of this understanding, the conclusion I’ve drawn is both natural, reasonable, and self-evident. However, for most of us, we yearn for much of our human lives to arrive at that point where hope, belief, and faith are no longer necessary for knowledge and understanding. And for others, your journey into the Greater Mysteries is yet on your first steps.
“How then,” I’ve been asked, “for the pre-initiate who is not in contact with their Higher Genius, does one make a decision to act or not in hopes of progressing their soul? How does a pre-initiate make choices to prepare for initiation?”
This is a good question, and I think the right one for almost every sincere aspirant to ask themselves.
First, if you’ve been paying attention, you should consider the possibility that whatever you think, whatever you plan,
whatever you feel about any particular decision, all the information you are using to base your judgment is based on severely insufficient data. When the lower mind tries to act, it does so out of a limited experience and little more than biological programming. Now, when what you are deciding has to do with what to eat, how to make money, who to have children with, how to stay safe, how to gain friendship and admiration of your peers, well, in that case, all that limited experience and biological programming comes in handy. That’s pretty much all it’s there for. (And for an excellent reason if what we want is the continuation of the human species!)
On the other hand, you may one day find a yearning in your soul that stirs the question, “How do I make decisions that are productive for the evolution of my mind and soul?” If this is you, then recognize that none of your prior experiences or biological programming is going to give you adequate wisdom from which to draw productive choices. The first step is in recognizing that this is the most likely situation. When you acknowledge this–that you cannot make an actual productive decision–then you stop getting in the way. By this I mean, you allow yourself to halt the obsession to figure out the best way toward Illumination. How can this be more productive? Because the real answers are so completely anathema to the natural mind and intuition that one would never find the Keys to the Gateway of Hidden Knoweldge by reason, passion, and intuition alone.
My advice to those pre-initiates yearning for Truth: turn from acting to listening, from speaking to watching, from doing to paying attention. Look for the breadcrumbs that will be laid out before the careful observer. I hope that this blog is a good example. Watch, listen and feel if that voice inside you desiring Illumination begins to recognize something between the lines of what’s illustrated here.
In the meantime… Preparation for initiation means gaining new experiences, knowledge, and wisdom from those who demonstrate understanding. So study everything you can consume about Kabbalah, Hermeticism, Alchemy, Mysticism, World Religion, etc. Not because any one of these holds the absolute truth or infallible answers. They don’t. Not in my book anyway. No occult system is prudent if reduced to a literal dogma that requires your untested faith or belief. Study them because once they are internalized, their models and concepts can be abstracted to impress upon the mind. This then will ripen the aspirant for the time when their wisdom can be used by the lower mind to motivate actual life decisions: “Oh yeah… I guess I do want to listen to the voice in my heart that says sell my company, take my less-than-optimal savings and risk everything at a career as a mystery author to get in touch with my inner creative side. Yeah. That’s more Illuminating to my soul than the safety, security, and regular paycheck.”
Or even… “Yeah. I’m ready to let someone I barely know guide me over the internet through the darkness of the inner workings of my mind and soul for the promise that I can come to understand who I am in this greater reality and how I might contribute to the Soul of Mankind.”
Naturally, one might reflect on my thoughts and challenge, “How does one know that by willfully welcoming life’s challenges one isn’t still acting from the lower mind’s underlying motives to gain control of the kingdom of its own making?”
In truth, if the ego acts, it is acting out of the lower intellect’s slavish causes… Until (gods willing) the point where you know yourself so completely (are initiated) and can discern the difference. When this happens, discernment is as simple a matter as knowing with skill how to garden if what’s required is food to sustain life.
Finally, in an attempt to clarify my advice–to observe over to act–don’t misunderstand my words as a call for stoic pacificism or apathy. It is not productive to sit back and never do anything. If you take anything away from this current essay, know that it’s not the actions that matter. It’s the understanding. Your Higher Genius is always in control. No matter what you imagine are your motives, whether prudent or imprudent, your HG is always the one in the driver seat. (It’s also the car, engine, and road itself, for that matter.)
It is not the task of the aspirant’s to succeed with nothing but right-action; Your job is to gain the understanding of all actions taken. The gold lies within the experience that follows struggle, mistakes, and missteps. The treasure is not the pre-earned superpower that grants one an ability to know what’s productive before an authentic understanding of Self and Reality is even achieved.
Choose to seek understanding above all else in all situations. Know Thyself.