Reflection on Performing the Middle Pillar Ritual

So this is the thing. I’ve been reading about fringe, esoteric and occult traditions – from anthroposophy to Zoroastrianism – for twenty years. I’m also a professional historian of medicine and philosopher, versed in ideas like the anima, archaeus, pneuma, vital force, chi, prana, Od, orgone, etc, etc…But here’s the rub – I have no experience as a practicing healer or occultist.

The opportunity arose this week to finally change that fact and I took it. In truth, the opportunity was always there and I never seized it…

The Middle Pillar is a really basic magic ritual – it is derived from Qabalah with a western spin by way of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn; And particularly, more recently (since 1938), by way of Israel Regardie. It’s a simple process – a combination of breathing, visualization, and incantation (chanting). But it’s a process!

So much of occult ritual and ceremony has been written about and rendered into theory, but its practice is what is key. However much one tries to distinguish or unify these paths and their philosophies – they are all, by virtue of the universality of practice, one. Too much reading, intellectualizing, and thinking – these are, as in life, dangerous. They take away from the too often forgotten fact of life – that it is lived, experienced, inhabited.

All these occult traditions are, in a way, about presence and mindfulness. About being, moment to moment. The theory and contemplation are fine, but they can only really add details and depth to doing. True gnosis comes from habit, and even then it is a real effort to grow and find “enlightenment”. Time and energy are required.

The Middle Pillar reminded me of this – of the existential essence of the esoteric. I step onto a path armed with a deep body of knowledge – but in order to move forward, it may be as much a question of forgetting than of knowing.

As I suspected long ago when writing about vitalism and its history – all is breath. As we breathe, so do we live. And create…

This is, beyond all the complexities of history, terminology, and theory, all we need to know (nous).

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5 Responses to “Reflection on Performing the Middle Pillar Ritual”

  1. Jeff Says:

    Absolutely agree. To me, the seeming complexities of history, terminology, and theory serve as impediments towards a deeper awareness, and ultimately a living grasp of the subject in question.

    But that’s where we’re at, a long storied tradition of study and learning. However, is it founded on the right presence and posture so to speak? Or from the very outset of Western historical and indeed scientific study we’re we aborted, compromised?

    And having come this far, are we not stuck in old patterns, old ways of conceiving of the so-called problem? Hence, to me, the Omphalos Cafe. I chose the name, having carried it around with me for years and years, because of its almost complete lack of associations for most people. Certainly, those with a modest level of erudition will recognize the term and perhaps even have an intellectual slot in which to buttonhole it, but the majority are in the dark as to ‘meanings.’ Those latter are my intended audience, to my thinking.

    The educated set invariably strive to label and ultimately dismiss it, to my thinking a natural result of the working of the mind mixed liberally with pride and the idea of superiority when it comes to intellectual one-ups-manship.

    I usually don’t know how to respond to these types, and actually don’t really give a hoot. As you write: ‘as we breathe, so do we live… ‘ understand and create.

    Thanks for your numerous and much appreciated comments, Necro.

    Jeff

  2. The Necromancer Says:

    @Jeff: And thank you for the same, mate. What you say here carries some real weight. Gravitas. For it’s the presumed and pigeonholed meaning of a term or theory that weighs it down — burdens it when newness and creativity are what is in demand. We are left with the dilemma that we can add meanings to words, but we can’t take them away…

    Pride is important too. I might say hubris…That Crowley-esque (although he just played along with what society gave him) way in which these things can, dangerously, become the motivation or script for an epic ego trip. But that’s precisely what one is trying to unlearn — your focus on Buddhist modes seems ideal here. A renunciation of sorts. Desirelessness. And a coming into harmony. These require humility, not hubris. And not a Catholic supplicating humility, a bowing down. But rather an awareness, a willingness to be fully grateful and gloried in the quotidian.

    Anyway, all just words. And ideas. Better to just breathe, baby, just breathe…

  3. Jeb Says:

    I look forward to watching this project develop with interest.

  4. The Necromancer Says:

    @Jeb: Thanks. Actually working on an essay connected to this project. Details to follow soon…

  5. Jeb Says:

    Nice. Not an easy thing, I think. I am certainly making a mess, but not a huge concern as I appear to be learning something.

    Be interesting to see how your background in history of medicine helps with language and description. Two issues I seem to be hitting straight away at least.

    I know early 20th century history of psychology will certainly provide answers and hopeful at least partial solutions to above issues.

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