An unhealthy life of thought and feeling will not fail to obstruct the path to higher knowledge. Clear, calm thinking, with stability of feeling and emotion, form here the basis of all work. Nothing should be further removed from the student than an inclination toward a fantastical, excitable life, toward nervousness, exaggeration, and fanaticism.
one precaution is necessary, failing which it were better to leave untrodden all steps on the path to higher knowledge. It is necessary that the student should lose none of his qualities as a good and noble man, or his receptivity for all physical reality. Indeed, throughout his training he must continually increase his moral strength, his inner purity, and his power of observation.
This small book contains a series of essays first published in the German-language Theosophical organ Lucifer-Gnosis during the first decade of the twentieth century. According to the preface by Steiner’s widow, the series, which took as its point of departure the text of Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment, was aborted by the cessation of Lucifer-Gnosis and the transfer of Steiner’s organizing efforts to his new vehicle Anthroposophy.
The stages invoked in the title are Imagination, Inspiration, and Intuition, corresponding in Theosophical jargon (not much used here) to the Astral, Etheric, and Causal planes. This sequence involves increasing abstraction from the empirical world of matter, along with a refinement of psychic processes and a turning-inward of the senses. A certain amount of implied standardization in this account may be misplaced. For example, Steiner writes that “Astral beings can also be ‘tasted’ or ‘smelled.’–Only what constitutes in the actual sense the physical element of tone and sound is almost wholly lacking in the real imaginative world” (51). Yet in one of the most significant visionary accounts from Steiner’s own period, it is written: “And there cometh an interior voice, which sayeth to the seer that he hath trained his eyes well and can see much; and he hath trained his ears a little, and can hear a little; but his other senses hath he trained scarcely at all, and therefore the Aethyrs are almost silent to him on those planes” (Liber CDXVIII, 4th Aethyr).
Both the preface by Marie Steiner and a supplementary piece of front matter by Rudolf Steiner–the latter copied from the preface of the 1914 reissue of Knowledge of the Higher Worlds–are concerned to mitigate and downplay these articles’ emphasis on the importance of firsthand instruction from an accomplished occult practitioner. Even in the body of the original text, this issue is raised with some sense of tension:
“As has been frequently mentioned, it is owing to the special conditions of our time that these things are and must be published. But also, on the other hand, it must be ever again emphasized that while it has thus been made easier to acquire occult knowledge, sure guidance through an experienced occult teacher is not yet to be dispensed with.” (46)
That “yet” suggests that Steiner was already looking forward to the position taken in the later writings of the front matter, where he hopes that an occult mentor “will assume the same position in spiritual schooling as a teacher occupies, in conformity with modern views, in any other field of knowledge” (xiv). Still, if my experience is any guide, the autodidact in occultism is at a great disadvantage compared to those with personal instruction and proper initiation. The traditional emphasis on a preceptor is understandable, even if it carries its own hazards in a secular world where authentication of such figures is bound to be dubious. [via]
The signs of the occult script are not arbitrarily invented; they correspond to the forces actively engaged in the world. They teach us the language of things.
Rudolf Steiner, How to Know Higher Worlds
I am indeed the Angel of Death; but I am at the same time the bearer of a higher life without end. Through me thou wilt die with thy body still living, to be reborn into an imperishable existence.
Rudolf Steiner, How to Know Higher Worlds
I am that very being who shaped my body out of thy good and evil achievements. My spectral form is woven out of thine own life’s record.
Rudolf Steiner, How to Know Higher Worlds
Natural, rational life is the basis of all genuine spiritual development
Rudolf Steiner, How to Know Higher Worlds
An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for June 11th, 2014
Mihai Mihu’s LEGO diorama for “Lust” from Dante's Inferno
- “The Householder’s Guide to Form and Deed” — Scott David Finch (author of A Little World Made Cunningly), Spiral Nature
“After putting myself in too many people’s shoes, and seeing the world through everyone else’s eyes for too long, I start to become a warped and weary alien to myself. I no longer recognize my own face and I need to recharge. This is when I head to my studio to sit.”
- “How to Become a Living Douche! The Impressively Embarrassing Occultism of EA Koetting” — Thad McKraken, disinformation
“I have to confess that what I’ve found mindblowing about exploring the Occult is that the church has slandered it as being daemon worship, and because of that, a group of gothed out weirdoes have decided that they love the idea worshipping Satan. Even though the Occult doesn’t actually involve that (it’s about mastering your daemons and making contact with your Holy Guardian Angel), they’re just going to make it about that anyway because they’re just…so…hard.”
- “Dreamscripts in the Waking World” — William Kiesel, The Brooklyn Rail
“One of the signs which has become a trademark of being in a dream is the inability to read the written word or at other times to decipher numbers on a clock face or elsewhere. Such figures most often appear to blur before the eyes. There are times when the oneiric traveller is blest with clarity of vision wherein the characters in the given instance are crystal clear, but such instances are typically rare. It is significant that there is a crossover between the experience of legible and illegible scripts in both the waking and dream worlds.”
“With the use of oneiric praxis, sigils of the wake world can be brought to the dreamscape, as well as drawing the dream texts upon the waking consciousness. No doubt the viewing of sigillic devices could produce the atmosphere of the dream in the waking consciousness of one unaccustomed to seeing such scripts.”
- “Caveat Lecter” — Houghton Library Blog [HT Harvard Library]
“Good news for fans of anthropodermic bibliopegy, bibliomaniacs and cannibals alike: tests have revealed that Houghton Library’s copy of Arsène Houssaye’s Des destinées de l’ame [The destiny of the soul] (FC8.H8177.879dc) is without a doubt bound in human skin.”
- “Earth’s backup: Sending religious texts to the moon” — Paul Marks, NewScientist
“The first artefacts to shoot for the moon could be three religious and philosophical texts. The Torah on the Moon project, based in Tel Aviv, Israel, has been courting private firms to deliver a handwritten Jewish scroll, the Sefer Torah, to the lunar surface. If they succeed, later flights will carry Hindu scriptures called the Vedas and the ancient Chinese philosophical work, the I-Ching.
Each document will be housed in a space-ready capsule designed to protect it from harsh radiation and temperature changes on the moon for at least 10,000 years.”
- “The Samuelson Clinic releases “Is it in the Public Domain?” handbook” – UC Berkeley School of Law [HT Boing Boing]
“These educational tools help users to evaluate the copyright status of a work created in the United States between January 1, 1923 and December 31, 1977—those works that were created before today’s 1976 Copyright Act. Many important works—from archival materials to family photos and movies—were created during this time, and it can be difficult to tell whether they are still under copyright.”
- “Handbook to figure out what’s in the public domain” — Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing
“This is probably the most esoteric question that normal people from all walks of life have to answer routinely; the Samuelson Clinic has really done an important public service here.”
- Book of Soyga or Aldaraia sive Soyga vocor [PDF], edited and translated by Jane Kupin, Twilit Grotto [HT Joseph H Peterson]
“Here begins the book Aldaraia in accordance with that which our authorities proclaimed to us; they were from God and from the celestial parts and it was revealed to them in the desert about celestial matters.”
- “The Self-Sacrifice of Our Own Individuality” — Michael Gilleland, Laudator Temporis Acti
“We perform our task correctly only when we don’t force our own mind into every ancient book that falls into our hands; but rather read out of it what is already there.”
- “The Anagogic Role of Sunthemata in the Sacramental Liturgy of Pseudo-Dionysius” — Jeffrey S Kupperman
“The Neoplatonic writings of the 6th century writer known as pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite have influenced, and continue to influence, Christian theologians and esotericists, amongst others, to this day. Typically, a handful of Dionysius’ topics are discussed: his angelology, his sacramental theology, and his treatment of the divine names are on the top of the list. This paper treats one of these subjects, Dionysian sacraments”
- “Occultic and Masonic Influence in Early Mormonism” — Joel B Groat, Institute for Religious Research
“The evidence of Joseph Smith’s close connection to occultism and Freemasonry, and how this influenced the origin and development of the LDS Church is not well known outside of scholarly circles. This article summarizes the evidence for Joseph’s personal involvement in both Freemasonry and occultism, and their influence on the Mormon religion.”
- “Christopher Lee makes heavy metal Don Quixote” — BBC News
“Actor Sir Christopher Lee is marking his 92nd birthday by releasing an album of heavy metal cover versions.
Two of the songs come from the Don Quixote musical Man of La Mancha, which was a Broadway smash in the 1960s.
‘As far as I am concerned, Don Quixote is the most metal fictional character that I know, the Hobbit star said.
‘Single handed, he is trying to change the world, regardless of any personal consequences. It is a wonderful character to sing.'”
- “Of course Thelema is satanic” — Thomas Zwollo, Spiral Nature
“Thelema rejects all these notions that enslave humanity to a deity that would demand certain beliefs and actions and punish those who disobey. Satan represents the rejection of this belief system and the exultation of the individual. Is Satan central to Thelema? No. Is Satan mentioned in Thelema? Yes, frequently.”
- “On the ‘itch’ within the Witch” — Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold, The Starry Cave
“I believe Traditional Witchcraft is a poetic reality humming the nocturnal mysteries of Night. I believe the Witch is concerned with Solace and comfort, the same solace we find resting in the Night. I believe the Witch is a creature tied to the land whose heart is a crossroad where the fire of Need gushes forth from the fountain of the soul like a veiled spring of fiery droplets of gold and silver.”
- “The Rosicrucian Vision” — Christopher McIntosh, New Dawn Magazine
“The word ‘Rosicrucian’ is one that most readers will have heard many times. Yet if I were to ask for a definition of the word I would probably be given a wide variety of different answers. I might be told that it was something to do with esoteric Christianity, with alchemy, or with Cabala. All of these things are part of the answer, but not the whole answer.
So what is Rosicrucianism? For the time being let us call it a current of thought and ideas which has been flowing through history for at least three and a half centuries and probably quite a bit longer, sometimes underground, sometimes coming to the surface, but always pushing human beings towards certain goals. I say that we can trace the current back three and a half centuries because that was when it first came to the surface. So let us go back to that moment in history.”
- “Pagan God From Bronze Age Caught By Unsuspecting Fisherman In Siberia” — Yasmine Hafiz, The Huffington Post; from the it-has-the-innsmouth-look dept
“Nikolay Tarasov was fishing in a river near his home in Tisul, in the Kemerovo region of Siberia, when he caught something unexpected—and very old.”
“Museum curators dated the figure to over 4,000 years old. Carved in horn which was later fossilized, the Bronze Age figurine shows a pagan god.”
- “Circumambulating the Alchemical Mysterium” — Aaron Cheak, Reality Sandwich; an excerpt from Alchemical Traditions: From Antiquity to the Avant-Garde
“Alchemy may be described, in the words of Baudelaire, as a process of ‘distilling the eternal from the transient’. As the art of transmutation par excellence, the classical applications of alchemy have always been twofold: chrysopoeia and apotheosis (gold-making and god-making)—the perfection of metals and mortals. In seeking to turn ‘poison into wine’, alchemy, like tantra, engages material existence—often at its most dissolute or corruptible—in order to transform it into a vehicle of liberation. Like theurgy, it seeks not only personal liberation—the redemption of the soul from the cycles of generation and corruption—but also the liberation (or perfection) of nature herself through participation in the cosmic demiurgy. In its highest sense, therefore, alchemy conforms to what Lurianic kabbalists would call tikkun, the restoration of the world.”
- “Plaidoyer for historical-critical Steiner research. Using the methodological example of Rudolf Steiner as a possible character in the Mysteriendramen.” — David W Wood
“A main thesis of this paper is that one of the ways for Rudolf Steiner research to become more scientiﬁc is to proceed in accordance with a genuine historical and critical methodology. It attempts to show that even though some of Steiner’s chief critics support this method in theory, they often fall short of a historical-critical approach in practice. Using the example of the unresolved problem of whether Steiner could be a character in his own Mysteriendramen, the author provides a number of methodological, historical and biographical indications for approaching this problem. He tries to demonstrate the fruitfulness of this method by addressing the question of Steiner as a drama character from the new perspective of literary pseudonyms. In conclusion, he maintains that a scholarly historical-critical approach to spiritual science was advocated by Steiner himself.”
- “What Happens to the Brain During Spiritual Experiences? The field of neurotheology uses science to try to understand religion, and vice versa.” — Lynne Blumberg, The Atlantic
“Since everyday and spiritual concerns are variations of the same thinking processes, [Andrew] Newberg thinks it’s essential to examine how people experience spirituality in order to fully understand how their brains work. Looking at the bigger questions has already provided practical applications for improving mental and physical health.”
- “Intolerance and Fanaticism” — Michael Gilleland, Laudator Temporis Acti
“Men find it very hard to apply a little criticism to the sources of their beliefs and the origin of their faith. It is just as well; if we looked too close into first principles, we should never believe at all.”
- “Paradise Found: The ideal(ized) vision of Paul Gauguin.” — Daniel Goodman, The Weekly Standard [HT Arts & Letters Daily]
“Gauguin’s art depicts Tahitians as they are sleeping, worshipping, and engaging in other quotidian activities. But whereas Cheever, Chekhov, Roth, John Updike, and other literary artists used their keen perceptive abilities in the pursuit of sober realism, Gauguin put his artistry to the purpose of imaginative proto-surrealism.
Gauguin, who rejected European cultural and religious constraints, thought of himself as a savage in the eyes of the civilized world. Oviri (1894, his personal favorite amongst all his sculptures) and many of his other works were regarded as radical for a variety of reasons, not least because they subverted traditional, conventional ideas of feminine beauty.”
- “We need to talk about misogyny and sexism” — Psyche, Spiral Nature
“Equality. That’s the secret agenda, folks. Feminism isn’t about women first, it’s about women too.”
- “Congo: A Group of Chimpanzees Seem to Have Mastered Fire” — World News Daily Report; from the fake-news-but-wouldn’t-it-be-wild-if dept.
“It is however, the first time that a group of these primates develops some technical concepts as elaborate as these on their own. A few individual apes seem to have originally developed a rudimentary technique of rather poor efficiency, but the group gradually improved it through experimentation and observation over the last few months. They are now able to create and maintain a fire, which they have been using mostly to scare off predators and cook some of their food.”
- “On the Seventh Day, We Unplug: How and Why to Take a Tech Sabbath” — Brett & Katie McKay, The Art of Manliness
“Taking a weekly Tech Sabbath allows us to step off this wheel of endless sameness. It’s a ritual that pushes us out of the norm, to pursue different activities, and use different parts of our brains. In so doing, it refreshes and rejuvenates our minds and spirit. It provides the motivation to unhook our wired craniums from the matrix of cyberspace and explore the pleasures of the real world.”
- “Kircher & Schott’s Computer Music of the Baroque” — Phil Legard, Larkfall
“Here is a piece of music, which was composed with a sort of 17th century computer called the Organum Mathematicum, devised by Athanasius Kircher and fully described by his pupil and assistant Gaspar Schott”
- “Mihai’s Inferno: The 9 circles of Hell made in Lego” — The Brothers Brick [See also Boing Boing, MOCPages]
“Mihai Mihu completed a series of creations depicting the 9 circles of Hell. While staying true to the theme of poetic justice served to the sinners, Mihai portrays the punishments through his own interpretations. The recurring architectural elements and portrayal of the sinners tie the scenes together in a way that’s easy for the viewer to transition through. In this short interview, the builder talks about his project and the individual circles of Hell.”
- “Techne: The State of the Art” — Damien Wolven [HT Joshua Madara]
“If we really think that whatever kind of mind we generate from these efforts is going to be anything like us, then we’re probably in for a big surprise. We have to be prepared for—as opposed to scared about—the possibility that any machine intelligence will have vastly different concerns from us. “Occult Wisdom” means knowledge hidden from those who don’t know how to look for it and, without an understanding of how these new minds will experience our world, humanity will never know everything we might.
As I’ve explored these ideas, over the years, I’ve found that the most valuable approaches have often come from the intersections that others might overlook. The intersection that’s been most useful to me is at the center of weird science, philosophy, religious studies, pop-culture, and magic. I’ve written articles, taught classes, and organized conferences arguing that “The Magical” is one of the most useful-but-underused tools we have for rethinking and understanding these ideas.”
- “The Flaw Lurking In Every Deep Neural Net” — mikejuk, Slashdot
“If a deep neural network is biologically inspired we can ask the question, does the same result apply to biological networks? Put more bluntly, ‘Does the human brain have similar built-in errors?’ If it doesn’t, how is it so different from the neural networks that are trying to mimic it?”
- “We Aren’t the World” — Ethan Waters, Pacific Standard [HT Eleanor Saitta]
“The potential implications of the unexpected results were quickly apparent to Henrich. He knew that a vast amount of scholarly literature in the social sciences—particularly in economics and psychology—relied on the ultimatum game and similar experiments. At the heart of most of that research was the implicit assumption that the results revealed evolved psychological traits common to all humans, never mind that the test subjects were nearly always from the industrialized West. Henrich realized that if the Machiguenga results stood up, and if similar differences could be measured across other populations, this assumption of universality would have to be challenged.
Henrich had thought he would be adding a small branch to an established tree of knowledge. It turned out he was sawing at the very trunk. He began to wonder: What other certainties about “human nature” in social science research would need to be reconsidered when tested across diverse populations?”
If you’d like to participate in the next Omnium Gatherum, head on over to the Gatherum discussions at the Hrmtc Underground BBS.
The Mysteries: Rudolf Steiner’s Writings on Spiritual Initiation, selected and introduced by Andrew Welburn, the 1997 hardcover from Floris Books, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.
“Rudolf Steiner wrote and spoke extensively on the lasting value of the ancient Mysteries as an essential source for understanding the Christian experience. His view was that modern rationality did not banish the deeper patterns of spiritual initiation but was rather, in the very foundations of our thought, a transformation of early Mystery structures and processes. We should therefore look to the Mysteries for an illumination of our spiritual, intellectual and religious history as well as for insight into our evolutionary future.
This collection of extracts from Steiner’s books and lectures includes his account of the mystical and mythical patterns of the ancient world, the pre-Socratic and the Platonic philosophers, the initiation Mysteries of Egypt and the Orient, and finally his commentary on the Apocalypse of St. John. Around this collection, Welburn examines the Mystery school against the background of their time, and their relevance to Christianity and the world today.” — flap copy