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“Kether, the first Sephirah, is a center of light, and in the Qabalistic Cross, it is attributed to a center positioned slightly above the crown of the head. It refers to that higher genius or it which, not yet fully incarnated within, broods above, a silent watcher. It is for each of us the source of inspiration and freedom and enlightenment. It is life itself.”
From Israel Regardie, The Middle Pillar: The Balance Between Mind and Magic, ed. Chic Cicero and Sandra Tabatha Cicero (Woodbury, MT: Llewellyn, 2012 ), 72.
“The ninth sphere or Sephirah on the Tree of Life is that of the Nephesh, which means the animal soul. It is the sphere proper of the animal instincts and urges, which may in truth be called the Freudian unconscious — that which was conscious at one time or at one stage of development but which has since been lost to consciousness. It is regarded as comprising all those psychic faculties which are not conscious. All the various automatic, habitual, and routine actions; all the things that we say and do ‘without thinking’ and all the thousand things we never really ‘do’ at all, these processes are assigned to the unconscious realm, to the principle of Nephesh. To it is related the cerebellum, the hind section of the brain, and it is intimately connected with the glandular and sympathetic nervous systems. As such it is that part of our being which regulates the circulation of the blood, the pulsation of the heart, our digestion and respiration. All the promptings of desire and the urges of passion that spring unbidden within us, have their seat in Nephesh. This is the underworld of the psyche through which we get comparatively close to nature, to the elemental side of life. It is the undermind in which function the primary instincts of self-preservation and reproduction. It is the seat of the sex instinct itself. The Jungian concept of the unconscious might be the approximate term for this side of life, as is held by the Freudian school, whereas the much abused word superconscious would be distinctly descriptive of the Supernal Sephiroth of the Yechidah, Chiah, and Neshamah corresponding to the Jungian unconscious.”
From Israel Regardie, The Middle Pillar: The Balance Between Mind and Magic, ed. Chic Cicero and Sandra Tabatha Cicero (Woodbury, MT: Llewellyn, 2012 ), 36.
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).