“… jealousy, desire and the appetite for procreation share the same origin, which is the suffering of being. it is the suffering of being that makes us seek out the other, as a palliative; we must go beyond this stage to reach the state where the simplel fact of being constitutes itself in a permanent occasion for joy; where intermediation is nothing more than a game, freely undertaken, and not constitutive of being. we must, in a word, reach the freedom of indifference, the condition for the possibility of perfect serenity.”
houellebecq – the possibility of an island.
10. A vision evoked by use of the Tree is, in fact, an artificially produced waking dream, deliberately motivated and consciously related to some chosen subject whereby no only the subconscious content, but also the super conscious perceptions are evoked and rendered intelligible to consciousness. In a spontaneous dream the symbols are drawn at random from experience; in the Qabalistic vision, however, the picture is evoked from a limited set of symbols to which consciousness is rigidly restricted by a highly trained habit of concentration. It is this peculiar power to turn the mind loose within determined limits which constitutes the technique of occult meditation, and it is only to be acquired by constant practice over a considerable period. It is this which constitutes the difference between the trained and untrained occultist; the untrained person may be able to detach consciousness from the control of the directing personality and thus allow the images to rise, but he has no power to restrict and select what shall appear, and consequently anything may appear, including a varying proportion of subconscious content …
Dion Fortune, The Mystical Qabalah, from the chapter titled ‘Practical Work Upon the Tree’.
I think it’s worth taking some time to closely examine four elements from the Tables of Correspondences which head each chapter of the Fortune work.
Firstly, virtue and vice, apparently immediately understandable, but as Fortune states, vice is an overplus of the virtuous quality. On reflection, balance is, therefore, of supreme importance.
Secondly, with regard to the four kingdoms, I think by confining ourselves to Asiah and Yetzirah (the material and astral planes respectively), we may be able to concentrate more clearly on certain aspects of each Sephirah, which will hopefully enable a balanced foundation.
To this end, the mundane chakras (of the Kingdom of Asiah) are planetary representations, obviously with astrological associations. Do remember, however, that Asiah is the material plane. Similarly, the angelic choirs (of the Kingdom of Yetzirah) also have other associations. It is important to note though that these ’natural energies’ are presenting as inhuman. They are not mirrors OF OUR, or TO OUR existence, rather illuminations, not entirely beyond our capacity to understand, but requiring that we seek instead of display.
To each Sephirah …
The virtue is discrimination
The vice is avarice and inertia
The mundane chakra is the sphere of the elements – ie Earth.
The angelic choir are the Ashim, souls of fire.
The virtue is unselfishness
The vice is unchastisty and lust
The mundane chakra is Venus.
The angelic choir are the Elohim, gods.
The virtue is truthfulness
The vice is falsehood and dishonesty
The mundane chakra is Mercury.
The angelic choir are the Beney Elohim, sons of gods.
You are in a wood; it is dark, but you know the place. If you walk, keeping to the path between the trees, you know that you will emerge on to the flat plain. You know a lot of things.
It sounds different at night. You are accustomed to sunlight and fresh green leaves. Now you can hear owls calling and the small, shuffling sounds of nocturnal forest animals.
You keep going.
Sure enough, just as you step out on to the plain, you see the temple of Malkuth in the distance. It glows, illuminating the night sky. You can see better now. Malkuth is there in front of you, shining in the darkness.
It begins to rain. You pick up your pace and find yourself in front of the temple door in moments, shivering.
As you open the door a blast of orange heat hits you. It’s welcoming, warm, casting everything in a candlelit hue. For the first time you notice that the Ashim are singing the candle flames. They dance in a hypnotic rhythm atop large columns of translucent wax. As they gutter and sway you can hear their voices, discern a few words. The language is unfamiliar to you, in places, in whole, you don’t know. You know a lot of things but not everything.
And she’s there, surrounded by this moving, warm singing, seated on her throne. She beckons you forward. Near to her, on the double cubed altar, sit’s a box. She takes it in her hands. You can see it quite clearly. It is made of wood, dark wood, inlaid on top with an equal armed cross; perhaps it is silver, maybe mother of pearl, the light reflects off it so that it shines and throws its shape as shadows onto the walls around you, through you.
She beckons you again and holds out the box to you. There are letters you do not recognise engraved around the sides, finely worked, they look old and mysterious. You want to touch them. Yes. You want to touch them, because she is running her fingers over them and speaking, but not through voice, she is communicating with the wood, through the wood; the box is speaking in an ancient tongue with no tongue.
What is the box saying?
What do you understand about the box?
She lays it down on her lap.
Do you want to take the box?
Is she offering the box to you?
Do you know?
Are you confused?
What are you going to do next?
The voices of the Ashim rise, to a burning crescendo. You do not have much time to make a decision.
She pushes the box towards you. You do not know what is inside it or what it represents, but you take it in any case.
It feels heavy, as if it might be lined with lead or contain something very weighty. As your hands close around it you find yourself shrinking. At first you barely notice, just a mild sensation in your skin, but then it becomes impossible to ignore. You are shrinking at a rapid rate and the processes is speeding up. The box is growing smaller with you. Suddenly the Ashim’s voices stop as you become enveloped in darkness. There is a loud ping, right in the centre of your ear drum, and then a blinding white light. You gulp a considerable amount of air; it tastes sweet, filling your nostrils and the front of your brain behind your forehead. The white begins to recede, being replaced by a bright yellow green, the colour of new rose leaves. You are looking directly at a rose leaf. It is very soft and waxy.
Around you an ornamental garden is arranged in a rigid structure. The smell is wonderful, lavender mixed with geranium and chlorophyll rising.
The Elohim are singing. Their voices sound like coloured rose petals. Some tones are soft pink, others fulgent peach, others deep crimson. The sound washes over you and, as you absorb it, you feel yourself begin to grow, sprout, re-establish. The singing nourishes this growth, strengthening you, allowing you to stand tall, push back your shoulders and feel your chest expand.
It is sunny here, in Netzach, that gentle, warm sun of late spring and early summer.
People move around you. They are smiling. You are welcome. Laughter trickles through the foliage in the garden.
The box does not feel so heavy now. You have time to take note of its features, and are particularly struck by the golden lock. Rays of sunshine land on the lock and reflect off it, casting a glow around the box that pools at your feet, your naked feet, attached to your naked ankles. You let your eyes travel up your body, your completely naked body.
Do you feel embarrassed?
If you look around is everyone else naked?
She is naked, the beautiful woman walking towards you. Behind her an escort of similarly naked men, oiled and shining in the sun.
Do you want to look away? They are all so gorgeous and they are smiling at you, looking at your naked body.
Would it harm you to let your senses stir in response?
The beautiful woman holds out her hands. Should you present the box to her?
In one of her hands you notice a golden key.
You approach her and she opens her arms to embrace you. All the scents and sensations of this place are contained within her body.
As she gives you the key you feel yourself begin to recede, slowly at first and then much, much faster. She whirls away from you, along with her retinue, and the whole rose garden, until it is just a speck in the distance, framed by black. You strain your eyes, but in a blink the whole lot is gone and you find yourself standing on a bridge, a rope bridge, swaying in a light wind. You cannot see anything under, over or around. The bridge moves under your feet. You are unsure what to do. If you try to walk one way the bridge begins to swing, and so you grip hold of the snake rope handrail.
And then the bridge evaporates. You do not know what you are standing on, all you have, the only thing you can feel, is the rope in your hand. You follow it mechanically, trying to balance the box, the key and your faltering blindness. You follow the rope. The only thing you can do is follow the rope. You realise you know nothing, not what is in the box or whether the key fits, or where you are going.
Suddenly, a flash of white light shoots into the sky, leaving a silver stain in the air. Then again, and again, big streaks that almost seem to rip the fabric of the reality around you. Sure enough, a tear opens up, right next to you, and you can climb through it, fall through it.
You find yourself on dried leaves. Autumn has come to this place, Hod, and is scattering the remnants of summer all about. There is a smell, an intense smell, of smoky fires, burned out, damped down. And a sound of soft winds fluttering. As the leaves fall they sing, the Beney Elohim, in orange , russet red, they are singing richness and circularity. As soon as one voice starts up, another joins it, cascading a beautiful melody, that goes round and round and round, until you are dizzy with the pleasure of hearing this fine tuning, singing up from the earth and down from the heavens.
A wind begins to swirl, catching up the leaves. It is a warm wind and, as it passes you, it kisses you on the cheek. You note the leaves are taking a shape, a very tall shape, human in proportion. Dried ferns provide long, wavy hair, large ivys, still green as they always are, a face, burnished beech leaves a torso and legs, small twigs of ripe yew arms and fingers. All over the being glistens with fruits, berries, husks of seeds that have been sewn. It is death and fruition and promise all at the same time.
When the being speaks, the words sound like the wind, you feel them rather than hear them.
“Open the box,” it says.
Do you want to open the box? You have the lock and the key.
You place the box on the ground. A small mound of moss cushions its position.
“Open the box.”
What do you think you will find in there?
Do you believe you already know?
“Open the box.”
Inside there is darkness, a vast expanse of inky black. There is no bottom, nor any sides. The dimensions of the box, internally, are huge. Little specks dance before your eyes. Some are bright blue, others metallic purple, others orbs of yellow – every colour you can imagine.
And it is your box.
As you focus on one particular speck it enlarges, comes towards you, emerges from the box. It hangs in the air in front of you.
“That is a galaxy of ideas,” says the being, “inside that galaxy there are planets, stars, moons. You can explore them.”
Another speck presents itself.
“Another galaxy of ideas,” the being explains.
There is a whole universe within your box.
“But remember,” the being continues, “there are good ideas, bad ideas, all sorts of ideas. It is up to you to decide what it is you want to want to explore, accept and reject. And in your search, keep in mind, BALANCE, for every truth there is a falsehood, for every promise there is a deceit. This is universal”.
You shut the lid. Your time here is over. You thank your guide, the hermaphrodite. He wishes you well. The box sinks into the mossy mound, remaining only in your consciousness. You can retrieve it at any time, from any place. It is your box.
And you also sink into the mossy mound. It’s soft, smells fertile, cushions you. Once again you are concealed and covered in blackness, the same blackness of the forest, where you started. You feel your back against the ground, the hard ground, your shoulder blades, you arms lying by your side, your legs stretched out in front of you. You feel them now, your body, heavy, relaxed. You feel it begin to stir, to come back to the room. Come back to the room. Come back to the room.