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“The Secret Teachings of All Ages” by Manly P. Hall: Part 9 – The Universe in a Grain of Sand

In “Chapter XXXV: The Theory and Practice of Alchemy, Part I,” Manly P. Hall states:

One of the great axioms is, “Within everything is the seed of everything,” although by the simple processes of Nature it may remain latent for many centuries, or its growth may be exceedingly slow. Therefore, every grain of sand contains not only the seed of the precious metals as well as the seed of the priceless gems, but also the seeds of sun, moon, and stars. As within the nature of man is reflected the entire universe in miniature, so in each grain of sand, each drop of water, each tiny particle of cosmic dust, are concealed all the parts and elements of the cosmos in the form of tiny seed germs so minute that even the most powerful microscope cannot detect them. Trillions of times smaller than the ion or electron, these seeds—unrecognizable and incomprehensible—await the time assigned them for growth and expression.

(pp. 499 – 501)

As I read this, I was reminded of the opening lines from William Blake’s poem, “Auguries of Innocence”:

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour

What I find so fascinating about this is that both Hall and Blake expressed this concept long before modern physics would bring us chaos theory, the idea of a holographic universe, or the ability to view particles at the sub-quantum level. It almost seems like modern science is in the process of validating ideas that existed within the realm of metaphysical thought for centuries. For me, this is exciting. For too long, spirituality and science have existed in opposition to each other. I genuinely believe that humanity’s future lies in the possibility of uniting science and spirituality; essentially, an alchemical marriage of sorts.

That was all I had to share about this. I hope you found the quotes as inspiring and thought-provoking as I did. Thanks for stopping by and sharing in my musings. Stay safe.

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The Library of Esoterica: Witchcraft

This is the third book in Taschen’s “Library of Esoterica” series. These are art books that explore esoteric fields of study through art. While this volume was not as good as the first two—Tarot and Astrology—in my opinion, it was still an interesting read.

The book is a collection of essays, which augment the artwork presented in the book. Pam Grossman sums the text up nicely in her Foreword.

What follows is a kaleidoscopic, wide-lensed look at depictions of witches throughout history – both as we’ve imagined them and as they self-identify. The tome spans time and space, gender, and geography. You’ll find real rites and contemporary rituals in its pages alongside wild, unbridled visions by artists through the ages.

(p. 6)

In the essay “Art is a Spell,” also written by Grossman, she establishes a parallel between artists and witches, which I found interesting.

Like a witch, the artist conjures, shapes reality, manifests. The practice of magick is sometimes referred to as “the arte magickal” or “the dark arts.” That there is a kinship between those who craft magick and those who conjure art is undeniable. And sometimes they may be one and the same, and the Venn diagram of artist and witch collapses and melts into its own magick circle.

(p. 446)

And this succinctly sums up what the strength of this book is—a blending of art and magick that demonstrates how one influences the other. Because, there is no question that throughout history, art has inspired those on the spiritual path, and likewise, spirituality and mysticism have been an endless source of inspiration for artists across all mediums.

I think that’s all for this post. Going to keep it short. Thanks for stopping by, and have an inspired day.

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“The Secret Teachings of All Ages” by Manly P. Hall: Part 8 – The Worst Disease

In “Chapter XXXII: Rosicrucian Doctrines and Tenets,” Manly P. Hall states:

The Rosicrucian medicine for the healing of all human infirmities may be interpreted as a chemical substance which produces the physical effects described or as spiritual understanding—the true healing power which, when a man has partaken of it, reveals truth to him. Ignorance is the worst form of disease, and that which heals ignorance is therefore the most potent of all medicines. The perfect Rosicrucian medicine was for the healing of nations, races, and individuals.

(p. 464)

At first pass, this might seem like a harsh statement, especially when one considers the plethora of physical ailments and the devastating effects they have on individuals. But if we step back and reflect, the veracity of this assertion becomes evident. The fact is, we do not know about that which we do not know. In other words, we are ignorant of our own ignorance. If you don’t recognize and acknowledge that there is a problem, then it is almost certain that you will not take any steps to rectify that problem. For example, an alcoholic who does not see that he or she has a problem with drinking will never take the first step toward recovery. Ignorance, therefore, like addiction, is one of the most insidious of diseases, and often individuals fail to become aware of the problem until the damage is done.

We see validation of this claim in our current world. Social media, biased news sources, and “smart web search” technologies have created information silos that keep people ignorant about the broader spectrum of views and ideas, the result being the fractured, angry, and mistrusting society in which we all live. Never, it seems, have we been in greater need for the “perfect Rosicrucian medicine” that would provide for “the healing of nations, races, and individuals.”

I challenge everyone to keep an open mind in these strange days. Things are changing, and they are changing rapidly, and it is in our best interest to be as thoughtful and reflective as possible. It is certainly OK to adhere to a belief, but at least validate it by considering an opposing idea.

Thanks for reading and thinking. Have a great day.

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The Library of Esoterica: Astrology

This is the second book in Taschen’s “Library of Esoterica” series. These are art books that explore esoteric fields of study through art. So far, I have been thoroughly impressed with these texts.

In addition to the stunning illustrations, the book provides an historical overview of astrology’s development, as well as some information about the symbolism behind the signs and planets.

Of all the esoteric practices, astrology is perhaps the most ancient, developed by the peoples of the earliest known cultures: the Sumerians, the Babylonians, and the Egyptians. Long-ago civilizations throughout Africa, the Islamic lands, Asia, and South America, documented their study of the stars and planets and created a shared and interconnected mythology. Astrology, in some form, has been ritualized in nearly every ancestral tradition around the world.

(p. 10)

It is not surprising that both astrology and astronomy developed along with calendar systems, which were important in agricultural societies.

For many, the advent of astrology – and astronomy – occurred alongside the development of calendar systems tied to agricultural seasons and their feasts. In ancient Egypt, for example, the annual flooding of the Nile created a discernable pattern of events: the star Sirius, the brightest in the sky, would appear in the east just before sunrise, heralding the arrival of the waters.

(pp. 18 – 20)

After Copernicus advanced the heliocentric model of our solar system, science distanced itself from astrology; but artists and writers continued to draw inspiration from the practice.

But all was not lost post-Copernicus. While astrology was cut loose from astronomy and science, its practices and lore spread to places where mystery was still permitted – literature, art, and psychology – where it animated and inspired the work of artists and thinkers including Goethe, Byron, Blake, and eventually, in the 20th century, Carl Jung.

(p. 41)

One fact that I found particularly interesting was that “during World War II, both the Axis and Allied forces used astrologers, especially for propaganda purposes.” (p. 45) Having studied propaganda in school, I can envision how governments could employ astrology to bolster their “information.”

I personally feel that practices like astrology are more valuable as tools of self-exploration than as predictors of events. This method of using astrology is tied to the field of psychology.

The advent of psychology in the 19th century changed the practice of astrology from being mostly a predictive tool that looked toward the future to an interrogative tool for exploring the inner, rather than outer world.

(p. 497)

To conclude, this is a beautiful book and a nice addition to any personal library. I suspect I will be returning to it again and again. Thanks for stopping by and have a great day.

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“The Secret Teachings of All Ages” by Manly P. Hall: Part 7 – Inaccuracies in Ancient Texts

In “Chapter XXVIII: Qabbalistic Keys to the Creation of Man,” Manly P. Hall cites the following:

Prof. Crawford Howell Toy of Harvard notes: “Manuscripts were copied and recopied by scribes who not only sometimes made errors in letters and words, but permitted themselves to introduce new material into the text, or to combine in one manuscript, without mark or division, writings composed by different men; instances of these sorts of procedure are found especially in Micah and Jeremiah, and the groups of prophecies which go under the names of Isaiah and Zachariah.” (See Judaism and Christianity.)

(p. 398)

The importance of this statement cannot be overstressed. Many ancient texts are considered to be absolute truths, either the exact words of the author, or sometimes, the exact words of the Divine. Add to that the fact that translations of text in ancient languages do not capture the details of the original words, and it becomes evident that what we read today in English translation may be vastly different from an original scroll that appeared on the desk of a scribe for copying over a thousand years ago.

Now, this does not mean that we should reject ancient texts, or dismiss reading them because they are in translation. We should of course read these texts. But, we should do so with the understanding that we may need to work a little harder to get to the essence of what the original author was trying to convey. In other words, we must always read critically.

I think that is all I have to share on this topic. Thanks for stopping by, and keep reading interesting stuff.

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“The Secret Teachings of All Ages” by Manly P. Hall: Part 6 – Elemental Beings

In “Chapter XXIII: The Elements and Their Inhabitants,” Manly P. Hall discusses the beings that are said to inhabit invisible realms associated with the four elements: earth, air, fire, and water.

Just as visible Nature is populated by an infinite number of living creatures, so, according to Paracelsus, the invisible, spiritual counterpart of visible Nature (composed of the tenuous principles of the visible elements) is inhabited by a host of peculiar beings, to whom he has given the name elementals, and which have later been termed the Nature spirits. Paracelsus divided these people of the elements into four distinct groups, which he called gnomes, undines, sylphs, and salamanders. He taught that they were really living entities, many resembling human beings in shape, and inhabiting worlds of their own, unknown to man because his undeveloped senses were incapable of functioning beyond the limitations of the grosser elements.

(p. 329)

The association of the beings to the elements are as follows:

  • Gnomes inhabit the elemental sphere of earth
  • Undines inhabit the elemental sphere of water
  • Sylphs inhabit the elemental sphere of air
  • Salamanders inhabit the elemental sphere of fire

It is important to note that these elemental spheres are not the elements we find in our physical world, but exist beyond our perceived reality. This is why elementals can only be perceived when humans are in states of heightened or altered consciousness.

Many of us have been introduced to these elementals through literature and the arts. Hall mentions a few examples.

Literature has also perpetuated the concept of Nature spirits. The mischievous Puck of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream; the elementals of Alexander Pope’s Rosicrucian poem, The Rape of the Lock; the mysterious creatures of Lord Lytton’s Zanoni; James Barrie’s immortal Tinker Bell; and the famous bowlers that Rip Van Winkle encountered in the Catskill Mountains, are well-known characters to students of literature. The folklore and mythology of all peoples abound in legends concerning these mysterious little figures who haunt old castles, guard treasures in the depths of the earth, and build their homes under the spreading protection of toadstools. Fairies are the delight of childhood, and most children give them up with reluctance. Not so very long ago the greatest minds of the world believed in the existence of fairies, and it is still an open question as to whether Plato, Socrates, and Iamblichus were wrong when they avowed their reality.

(p. 330)

It would be about 25 years later than when Manly P. Hall wrote this text that J.R.R. Tolkien would publish his famous trilogy, The Lord of the Rings. This would become the quintessential example of elementals in modern literature and a source of inspiration for generations. It would appear that interest in elemental beings has not waned, but increased.

I suppose the best way to end this post is to quote Gandalf from The Fellowship of the Ring as he describes how astounding he finds the earth elementals: “Hobbits really are amazing creatures, as I have said before. You can learn all that there is to know about their ways in a month, and yet after a hundred years they can still surprise you at a pinch.”

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“Sonnet 43: When most I wink, then do mine eyes best see” by William Shakespeare

When most I wink, then do mine eyes best see,
For all the day they view things unrespected;
But when I sleep, in dreams they look on thee,
And, darkly bright, are bright in dark directed.
Then thou, whose shadow shadows doth make bright,
How would thy shadow’s form form happy show
To the clear day with thy much clearer light,
When to unseeing eyes thy shade shines so?
How would, I say, mine eyes be blessed made
By looking on thee in the living day,
When in dead night thy fair imperfect shade
Through heavy sleep on sightless eyes doth stay!
All days are nights to see till I see thee,
And nights bright days when dreams do show thee me.

This is an interesting sonnet for me, because it appears that Shakespeare is contemplating the nature of reality as it pertains to one’s state of consciousness. On the surface, he is praising the beauty of his beloved as it appears to him while dreaming and compares that to his beloved’s appearance in waking reality. But what strikes me about this sonnet is the repeated mention of words like “shadow” and “form.” I get the sense that Shakespeare is alluding to Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, that what we perceive as real is more like a shadow of the divine form cast upon the wall of a cave. Was Shakespeare likening the fair youth to an archetypal form of supreme beauty that we cannot fully comprehend in our normal state of consciousness? I don’t know, but it is definitely something worth considering when reading this text.

That’s all I wanted to say about this poem. Comments will be open for two weeks after post date, so if you have any thoughts you would like to share about this poem, feel free to do so.

Cheers!

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“To a Moth Seen in Winter” by Robert Frost

There’s first a gloveless hand warm from my pocket,
A perch and resting place ‘twixt wood and wood,
Bright-black-eyed silvery creature, brushed with brown,
The wings not folded in repose, but spread.
(Who would you be, I wonder, by those marks
If I had moths to friend as I have flowers?)
And now pray tell what lured you with false hope
To make the venture of eternity
And seek the love of kind in winter time?
But stay and hear me out. I surely think
You make a labor of flight for one so airy,
Spending yourself too much in self-support.
Nor will you find love either nor love you.
And what I pity in you is something human,
The old incurable untimeliness,
Only begetter of all ills that are.
But go. You are right. My pity cannot help.
Go till you wet your pinions and are quenched.
You must be made more simply wise than I
To know the hand I stretch impulsively
Across the gulf of well nigh everything
May reach to you, but cannot touch your fate.
I cannot touch your life, much less can save,
Who am tasked to save my own a little while.

This is a sad yet beautiful poem about searching for love in the waning years of one’s life.

The primary metaphor that Frost uses is the Winter Moth. This type of moth becomes active in November and December, when the males and females of the species mate. Because winter as a season symbolizes the end of a cycle and death in a human lifespan, the Winter Moth symbolizes a person who knows that death is near, but cannot help longing for the love and companionship of another.

While the general symbolism of this poem lends itself to individuals in the later years of life, I feel that the poem speaks to everyone. None of us knows how long we have on earth, and the pandemic has demonstrated just how fragile and ephemeral our existence truly is. So essentially, we are all Winter Moths, seeking that brief connection with another soul before we die, that warmth of love in the coldness of our harsh reality.

I come away from this poem knowing that I must never take love and life for granted. My relationships with the people I love are what matters most in my life. I hope you take the time to strengthen your connections with those who matter most in your life.

Thanks for stopping by, and may you find warmth and happiness in your life.

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Thoughts on “The Guest House” by Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

(Translation: Coleman Barks)

I decided to offer my thoughts on this poem because for me it embodies the feeling of gratitude that we should all embrace during this time of thanksgiving.

These last couple years have been difficult. I don’t think there is a single one of us who has not faced challenges and uncertainties the likes of which we never imagined. And as I look around me, I see this collective stress and anxiety manifesting in our society and in our behaviors toward each other.

I propose that we look to Rumi’s wisdom and try to understand that everything we are going through is just part of the human experience. And if we stop and think about it, it is an amazing experience. Although I have dealt with sadness, tragedy, pain, and an array of negative emotions, I have also known incredible joy, love, wonder, and contentment, and so much more. One of the greatest skills I’ve learned is the importance of gratitude. I have so much to be grateful for, and no matter how bad things have gotten, and they have gotten pretty bad at times, there have always been aspects of my life for which I could be grateful.

I hope as you read this, you will pause and reflect. While things could be better, they could also be infinitely worse. If we keep that in mind and remain grateful for the good things in our lives, I believe we can begin to shift our cultural trajectory.

Wishing you and yours abundant joy and happiness.

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“Sonnet 42: That thou hast her, it is not all my grief” by William Shakespeare

That thou hast her, it is not all my grief,
And yet it may be said I lov’d her dearly;
That she hath thee, is of my wailing chief,
A loss in love that touches me more nearly.
Loving offenders, thus I will excuse ye:
Thou dost love her, because thou know’st I love her;
And for my sake even so doth she abuse me,
Suffering my friend for my sake to approve her.
If I lose thee, my loss is my love’s gain,
And losing her, my friend hath found that loss;
Both find each other, and I lose both twain.
And both for my sake lay on me this cross:
But here’s the joy: my friend and I are one:
Sweet flattery! then she loves but me alone.

In this sonnet, Shakespeare is addressing a love triangle. Essentially, the fair youth, who is described as the speaker’s “friend,” has become romantically involved with the speaker’s mistress. What is most interesting is that the speaker seems less sad about losing his mistress than he is about losing the love of the fair youth. There are a couple ways to interpret this. On one hand, the argument can be made that the speaker has a romantic relationship with his friend, and that this relationship means more to him than his heterosexual relations. But another way to look at it is that Shakespeare is trying to convey the importance of friendship and camaraderie. While sexual relations may come and go, the deep bond of friendship is something rare.

In the final couplet, the speaker states “my friend and I are one.” Regardless of whether you interpret the friendship as a romantic or a platonic relationship, what is evident is the deep connection the speaker feels for his friend. Being as one, his friend’s happiness is essentially his own.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing in my musings. Have an inspired day.

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