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Companions of the Stone - Lesson 15

Companions of the Stone - Lesson 15

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Published by Ivan Yerzin

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Published by: Ivan Yerzin on Apr 26, 2009
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COMPANIONS OF THE STONECorrespondence Course in The Elements ofTraditional Western Esotericism Lesson 15
This lesson completes the symbolic journey started in Lesson 3,the descent of the Lightning Flash down the Sephiroth of theTree of Life. As Malkuth, the tenth Sephirah, corresponds tothe ordinary world of matter, this may be a good place toconsider the interactions of these studies with the realm ofeveryday life.There has been a great deal written about this interaction, muchof it nonsense. Some magicians have treated their art as thoughthe least contact with the ordinary world would defile it beyondrepair, and have held up an ideal of the magician as a saintlyhermit, utterly detached from the cares and desires of ordinarymortals. Others have presented magic as though its one purposewas to grant the fulfilment of every worldly desire to those tooinept to manage this through ordinary channels.The tendency of Western culture to go to moral extremes in allthings has warped far too much thinking in this area. It'sworth remembering, also, that magicians in the West have alwaystended to be poor and socially marginal; the fraction ofmagicians who have actually experienced any significant amountof wealth and power is about the same in the current magical andpagan community as it has been throughout Western history.Attitudes toward the material world thus have tended to containa great deal of longing or of sour-grapes attitude, and verylittle actual experience.Here as elsewhere, the path between the extremes tends to be themost useful. Although magicians interact with a wide range oflevels and realms of being, they also must function in the sameworld as other human beings, a world in which rent must be paidand groceries bought, relationships built and children raised.Like any other realm of existence, this world has rules of itsown, which the magician may be able to use or circumvent butcannot break. The mere fact of being a magician -- that is, ofhaving developed certain abilities in working with unfamiliarlevels of existence -- is no guarantee of success in the morefamiliar context of everyday life.-#-
This having been said, it is nonetheless true that competence inmagic can have a range of effects on the everyday world. It isequally true that the effects of practically oriented magic, ifnot carefully handled, can have unpleasant consequences as wellas positive ones.The successful use of ritual magic in any context depends on aclear grasp of the factors involved; this is not too difficultto achieve in a working involving, say, the astral level ofbeing -- the forces at work on this level can be quiteeffectively mapped out using the Tree of Life -- but much harderat the far greater complexity of the material level.The difficulty becomes greater still when, as often happens, themagician has not understood his or her own motives, or hasunresolved ambivalences toward his or her goal. Very often themost important source of "external" problems is, in fact,internal. Most people's frustrations and sufferings are afunction of their character rather than their circumstances, andit is one of the more destructive outgrowths of human self-deception that the more loudly a given person blames the rest ofthe world for his or her troubles, the more likely it is thatthe actual culprit is to be found within.In such a case a ritual working can easily backfire, and producean outcome quite different from the one outwardly desired. Thisis the reason that ritual work tends to be far more successfulwhen the person performing it has no emotional stake in theoutcome. It is also the reason that initiates of traditionalOrders were normally urged to leave practical magic alone untila certain level of self-knowledge and self-mastery was achieved.But this state of self-knowledge and self-mastery, the hallmarkof the work of inner transformation, is anything but neutral interms of the realm of ordinary life. On the one hand, thefaculties of imagination, will, and memory are not preciselyuseless in everyday terms; a lack of one or another of these isresponsible for a fair percentage of the total bulk of humanmisery in the world. On the other hand, self-knowledge andself-mastery are excellent weeding tools for removing the sortof internal conflicts, mixed motives and ambivalences that causeso much failure in and out of a magical context. At the sametime, both of these effects will also build toward levels ofmaturity and perceptiveness at which practical magic, when it isappropriate, can be performed with success.Magic is a much more complex matter than either fairy tales ormodern American folklore would have it, and the results ofmagical training in terms of the everyday world partake of thatcomplexity. Neither fantasies of omnipotence nor misunderstood-#-
notions of ascetic withdrawal are of much use in this context;common sense, and a recognition both of human fallibility and ofhuman potential, have much more to offer. 
 Malkuth: Matter and Meaning
Malkuth is the realm in which the polarization between subjectand object is at its fullest. This is one reason why Malkuth issometimes seen as a "fallen" version or aspect of Daath, whichis the expression of the union of Chokmah and Binah, objectlessWisdom and polarized Understanding. In Daath the primarypolarity is horizontal, between powers on the same level of theTree; in Malkuth, it is vertical. It is the realm in which thevision of the purely mechanical -- the process with no"inwardness" -- becomes possible for the first time. (It iswhen Malkuth consciousness is carried back up the Tree that moreabstract "mechanics" become conceivable.)Malkuth often seems, to beginning students of this form ofesotericism, to be something to be escaped, or controlled, ortransmuted. The problem with this attitude is indicated by twovery important, and all too often overlooked, properties ofMalkuth. These are summed up in the sayings that Malkuth sitson th Throne of Binah, and that Malkuth causes an influx to flowrom the Prince of Countenances in Kether. Malkuth is not merelythe passive receptacle of all the other Sephiroth: it is not inquite the same position as Matter in certain versions ofNeoplatonism.Although, in one sense, Malkuth is the last Sephirah to beemanated, in another sense the whole Sephirotic structuremanifests outside time before, as it were, it manifests in time.In one sense, the entire Tree manifests simultaneously, and theSephiroth are interdependent. In yet another sense, Malkuth andKether are like the poles of a battery. It is their polaritythat causes the current of manifestation to flow. This is whyaction, and presence, in Malkuth is magically so important. Aslong as we are alive, while we tread the Path, we tread it inMalkuth. Our actions in Malkuth express inner forces -- andgovern and shape them as well. To the extent that we areasleep, we are passive to inner forces, and express themunconsciously in our lives and activities. To the extent thatwe act with conscious intention, we are awake, and our actionsin Malkuth cause readjustments and realignments in the innerrealms. The student will find much to consider in the theme of"fourfoldness" that extends through all the Sephiroth of theMiddle Pillar. Malkuth may be the realm of the four Elements --but those elements are rooted in the fourfold structure ofKether, and its reflections throughout the stations of the-#-

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