Category Archives: Imaginal

Henry Corbin, Shaikhism, and the Spiritual Light Body

From Spiritual Body and Celestial Earth Chapter Two, Part 4

  1. Hūrqalyā, Earth of Resurrection


The specific nature of the doctrine is already indicated in the terminology that leads Shaikh Aḥmad to make a strict distinction between two terms currently used to designate body: there [91] is the body considered as organic, animated body (jasad), and there is the body considered as corporeal mass or volume (jism).54 In our Shaikh’s anthropology it is established that the human being possesses two jasad and two jism; they represent a twofold accidental body and a twofold essential body, according to the following schema:

(1) There is the first jasad, which we shall call jasad A, and which is understood as being the element body, material and perishable. It is the apparent body of each one of us, the one that we can see, touch, weigh, recognize. It is an accidental and perishable formation, a com und of sublunar physical elements.

(2) There is a second jasad, which we shall call jasad B; it is hidden and occult from our sight in jasad A; it also is an elemental formation, but differs from the first in that it is not composed of perishable terrestrial elements—those, that is, of our material Earth—but of archetypal elements, the subtle elements of the “Earth of Hūrqalyā.” This second jasad is, there­ fore, a formation belonging to the intermediate world, the world of the barzakh; consequently, it has dimensions, but, unlike the first jasad, it is not an accidental body but an essential and imperishable body; it is the subtle elemental body, the body of “spiritual flesh,” caro spiritual.

(3) There is the first jism; let us call it jism A. Unlike the two jasad, it is not an elemental body; it belongs neither to the terrestrial Elements nor to the subtle Elements. It resembles jasad A for, like it, it is accidental, not everlasting. It resembles jasad B in the sense of being, like it, a formation of the intermediate world. However, it does not arise from the subtle elements of the Earth of Hūrqalyā (from the region, that is to say, which corresponds there to the terrestrial climate of the cosmic Occident); it originates from the celestial matter and Heavens of Hūrqalyā (from the region, that is, corresponding to the Spheres, to the celestial climate of the cosmic Occident). It is the subtle celestial body, the astral body, destined to be reabsorbed.

(4) There is the second jism, which we shall call jism B, and this is the essential subtle body, archetypal, eternal and imper-[92]ishable (jism aṣlī aqīqī); the spirit is never separated from it, for it is what constitutes the eternal individuality. One can say of it that it is the corpus supracoeleste in man.55

At first sight, this schema strikingly resembles what we find in the writings of the Neoplatonist, Proclus. The idea of these different bodies, in which the soul is clothed, and which correspond to different levels of being, reproduces the concept of the oxaTa (okhēmata) or “vehicles of the soul” which the Neoplatonists were so prone to meditate.56 The doctrine of the astral body (soma astropoiedes) or okhmata-pneuma is so fundamental in the spiritual family to which Neoplatonism belongs that it immediately calls for many other references, notably the “perfect body” (soma telion) of the Mithraic liturgy, the “immortal body” (soma athanaton) of the Hermetic Corpus,57 and finally, for this is what it suggests, this is its aim and object of aspiration, the idios daimon or oikeos daimon,58 the personal divinity or guardian Angel to whom the adept is entrusted on initiation, and which makes the terrestrial human being the counterpart of a celestial being with whom it forms a whole. This, in terms of Mazdean theosophy, is Fravarti, Daēnā, the transcendent “I,” the celestial alter ego.

We know the terms of the question in the case of a Proclus: a compromise had to be found not only between Plato and Aristotle, but also between the Peripatetic tendency of Neoplatonism and the Stoic psychology of the pneuma.59 Besides, two traditions concerning the “astral body” had to be reconciled, both alive in Neoplatonism. Of these traditions, one represents the astral body as attached permanently to the soul, the other represents it as acquired or assumed by the soul during the soul’s descent from the upper regions, and as having to be abandoned by the soul in the course of its reascent.60 Proclus succeeds here in achieving a synthesis, the homologue of which is found in the Shaikhite doctrine; for him it consists in accepting the existence of two ox a okhema (okhēma). These are:

(1) the higher okhēma which is original, congenital (sumphnes), the one that is called augoides (luminous, auroral) or astropoiedes (astral). It is the proton soma (original body) in [93] which the demiurge has placed the soul. It is immaterial, impassible, imperishable. What corresponds exactly to it in Shayikh Aḥmad Aḥsā’ī’s terminology and concepts, is the jism B, which is called the archetype original, essential (jism aṣlī ḥaqīqī): it is the real or essential human being, man in the true sense (insān ḥaqīqī).61

(2) The okhēma pneumatikon, or lower “pneumatic” vehicle, which is a temporary adjunct, composed of four elements: it is the subtle body or vehicle of the irrational soul; like the latter it survives the death of the body, but is destined to disappear or be reabsorbed. What corresponds to it is jism A, an accidental formation issued from the Heavens of the barzakhī or hūrqalyī intermediate world.

light bodyThis question of the subtle body, of the vehicle of the soul, (Macrobius’ luminosi corporis amictus, Boethius’ levis currus)82 has persisted and will persist, will always be meditated, so it seems, as long as Neoplatonic thought survives. It reappears among the Byzantine Neoplatonists (Michael Psellos, Nicephoros Gregoras) , the Cambridge Neoplatonists (Ralph Cudworth, seventeenth century) and, let us now add, among our Neoplatonists of Persia.

But in Shaikhism, the themes of meditation grow more complicated. While Proclus was able to reconcile the two traditions—of an original and imperishable okhēma and of an okhēma which will end by being reabsorbed or detached from the soul—it can roughly be said that Shaikh Aḥmad Aḥsā’ī proceeds simultaneously to affirm the existence of a twofold imperishable okhēma (jism B and jasad B), and of an okhēma pneumatikon (jism A), a nonpermanent subtle astral body. The complication of this schema can, it seems, be attributed to the need to safe­ guard the exegesis of Qur’ānic data concerning eschatology in general.

These data taken literally, as they were understood by the literalist “orthodox” of Islam, presuppose that the body of terrestrial flesh, jasad A, is resurrected, or “returns” just as it was. For philosophical meditation, this material identity has always represented an insurmountable contradiction, all the more fruitless in that it stems from an insufficient understanding of the [94] problem. For the physical impossibility to be proven, the question demands that one rise above the realm of empirical sensory evidence and the corresponding mode of perception. At that very point, the work to be done is to transmute the latter into its spiritual truth; it is not to find a way of escape into allegory and its abstract residuum, but to establish a “hūrqalyī physics.” This is the very thing that makes possible the schema of the fourfold body we have just outlined. In effect, though jism A, the accidental astral body, is finally to disappear (like the okhēma pneumatikon of the Neoplatonists)—for, while being a hūrqalyī jism, it is nevertheless accidental—it will be replaced by another “vehicle,” subtle and permanent, which is a body at the same time elemental and essential, a body of “spiritual flesh,” constituted by the subtle archetype—elements of the celestial Earth of Hūrqalyā. In this way, the state of wholeness, homo totus, always comprises, as in Proclus’ system, a twofold okhēma. This concept is properly that of the Iranian Neoplatonists and in a way reinforces that of the Greek Neoplatonists.

khidrHere then, very briefly, is the Shaikhite conception of the eschatological process: everything which is accidental body (jasad A and jism A) will eventually disappear. Everything which is essential body (jasad B, and jism B) is assured of survival. Jasad A is the coarse elemental body in which the descending soul clothed itself on reaching the terrestrial world. It is not essential, merely an accidental coating. It perishes and is decomposed, each element returning to its source and blending with it—a fact of ordinary observation. Now, what leaves this perishable body at the moment when the Angel of Death comes to gather up the soul is a twofold thing: the essential original body (jism B, okhēma symphyes), which is the permanent basis of the eternal soul (ḥāmil li’l-nafs), but at this point enwrapped in that accidental subtle body (jism A, okhēma pneumatikon) in which the soul had clothed itself in the course of its descent towards the terrestrial Earth, on passing through the intermediate world of the barzakh. This also is a formation of the intermediate world; however, as we have already said, it is constituted not from the subtle matter of the elements of the [95] Earth of Hūrqalyā, but from the subtle matter of the Heavens of Hūrqalyā. It likewise is an accidental formation. These two jism (A and B) survive, together forming the state of eternal human individuality and experiencing in the interworld either the joy and sweetness of the “Occidental Paradise” (the flavor of this expression unexpectedly recalls the “Pure Earth” of Buddhism) or, on the contrary, the despair of a Hell immanent in itself. This applies to individual eschatology as such. But what enters at this point is an extremely complex interpretation of general eschatology, that is, of the events closing our Aeon and preluding a new cosmic cycle.

A verse in the Qur’ān (39:68) tells of the two “blasts of the trumpet” which are to be sounded by the Angel Seraphiel. This verse gave full scope to the speculative impulse of the Shaikhī theosophists. The Angel’s “trumpet” is, of course, a cosmic instrument. Each of its orifices represents the “treasure,” the original matrix from which each being has come forth, in this case the jism aṣlī, the subtle, essential, congenital body (jism B), the archetype of human individuality. The first sounding of the trumpet heralds the total reabsorption of the cosmos; each being reenters its source and sleeps there during an interval whose length is expressed as four centuries of our terrestrial duration (this of course does not refer to chronology or quantitative time). The second sounding of Seraphiel’s trumpet proclaims the Renewal of Creation (tajdīd al-khalq), a new cosmic cycle that assumes the character of an apokotastisis, a restoration of all things in their absolute, paradisic purity.63
In what then does the Event of this Resurrection consist? How can it be that the Earth of Hūrqalyā is at the same time the instrument and the scene no longer of the individual eschatology alone (the entrance of subtle bodies into the “Occidental Paradise”), but of the general eschatology? What they tell us is this: when the trumpet sounds for the Resurrection, the essential, original body, which is the support of the eternal individuality (jism aṣlī, jism B), reappears in its unchangeable wholeness (verus homo, insān ḥaqīqī). As for jism A, okhēma pneumatikon, which had merely lent a degree of opacity to the perfect [96] subtleness of the jism B, it does not reappear, or rather, it is completely reabsorbed into the all-luminous subtlety of jism B. As we have seen, these two jism departed together, at the moment of death, from the perishable, terrestrial, elemental body, jasad A. But what of the imperishable subtle elemental body, the body of “spiritual flesh” made of the elements of the Earth of Hūrqalyā, jasad B or jasad hūrqalyī?

alex greyHere Shaikhism introduces a highly original concept. This body, likewise essential, is made up of the subtle matter of the archetype-elements of the Earth of Hūrqalyā and is also a receptacle of the influences of the Heavens of Hūrqalyā; this means that it possesses organs of perception that are seventy times more noble and more subtle than those of the body of elemental flesh in which it is hidden and invisible. It has shape, extent, and dimension, and is nevertheless imperishable. Whereas the terrestrial elemental body, jasad A, perishes in the grave, jasad B, or jasad hūrqalyī does not depart from it at the moment of death in company with the essential man (insān ḥaqīqī), who is made up of the original subtle body enveloped in his other, provisional, subtle body. The jasad hūrqalyī survives, they tell us—survives “in the grave.” But at this point we should refer to a striking feature of one of Maeterlinck’s dialogues expressing the esoteric meaning of death, when the Shadow, a few moments before becoming the Angel of him whose death it is, declares: “They look for me only in the graveyards, where I never go. I do not like corpses.”64 The “grave,” that is, the place where the jasad B continues to be, is not the “graveyard,” but exactly the mystical Earth of Hūrqalyā to which it belongs, being constituted of its subtle elements; it survives there, invisible to the senses, visible only to the visionary Imagination.

Vision of this mystical subsistence is, therefore, itself a pre­eminent example of a psycho-spiritual event “taking place” in the Earth of Hūrqalyā. Here the difference between the schools of thought becomes apparent. Proclus held that the inhabitants of the high places of the Earth in Plato’s myth, the Phaedo were souls still clothed in their lower okhēma and awaiting their [97] complete apokotastisises. In a way peculiarly his, Shaikh Aḥmad also rises above the dilemma which would leave no choice except between the idea of completely disembodied souls (in contradiction with the idea of soul) and the idea of complete immortality of the irrational soul (Jamblichus). But when we come to Shaikhism, the doctrine of apokotastisis is amplified. It is affirmed, not only that the lower okhēma is stripped, but further affirms the reassumption of this other essential body, which is also a subtle vehicle, an imperishable, paradisic body, sleeping in Hūrqalyā, the Earth of Light whence it came. That is where the Angel took it in order to “hide” it in the terrestrial body of flesh, at the moment of conception.

Therefore, at the second sounding of the trumpet, this jasad B or hūrqalyī body, the body of “spiritual flesh,” is the body which the eternal, individual soul, conveyed by its original, essential, or archetypal body (jism B), again puts on its transfigured terrestrial raiment of glory. Now, this reunion and transfiguration take place in and through the Earth of Hūrqalyā. This celestial Earth, this “eighth climate,” is, indeed, what preserves the future “Resurrection Body,” since this Earth is its source; and for that reason also it plays the same role in the general eschatology, namely, that of “Earth of Resurrection.” It goes without saying that “orthodox” Islam has never been able to find its way in this theosophical physics; the Shaikhīs had to face difficult situations, a mass of objections, on the feebleness of which we need not dwell, since the premises remained on the very mental level which the Shaikhīs’ meditation aimed to surpass.66

Let us enter still more deeply into this Shaikhī meditation, which transmutes things into the substance of Hūrqalyā by contemplating them in that “Earth” and thus evolves a physics and physiology of Resurrection. We notice, then, that in this process meditation on the alchemical Work plays a capital part, and that the spiritual practice of alchemy continues in a discreet fashion even to our day in Iranian Shaikhism. The work of its founder reveals the need he exemplifies to interiorize the true practice in order to obtain from it the psychic reactions which are resolved in a mystical psychology of the Resurrection body.


The basic idea of alchemy for the Shaikhīs67 is that it alone makes it possible to conceive the resurrection of bodies as a consequence or corollary of the survival of Spirits. It makes it possible to pass from the one to the other and gather them into a single concept. To make this transition is to make at the same time a transposition (an “anaphora”) and a transmutation, which invalidate the rationalist philosophical arguments against resurrection, because these arguments are carried on on a level lower than the level on which the question in fact arises, just as, and for the same reason, the “literalist” concepts of orthodox theologians concerning the resurrection of bodies are equally weak.

From the beginning, let us remember Shaikh Sarkār Āghā’s beautiful and forceful maxim: one’s first concern is to become a Hūrqalyāvi oneself; one must be able and one must have been initiated to see things and beings, processes and events, “in Hūrqalyā.” The organ of sight is the active Imagination, which alone enters into the intermediate realm, makes the invisible within the visible visible to itself. It is thus the quinta essentia of all living, corporeal, and psychic energies. We hear Shaikh Aḥmad insisting strongly in his turn on the essential function of the meditant, active Imagination; as he says very definitely: the Imagination is essential to the soul and consubstantial (jawharānī) with it; it is an instrument of the soul, just as the hand is an instrument of the physical body. Even sensory things are known only by means of this organ, for it is to the soul what the Soul of the Heaven of Venus is to the Soul of the Heaven of the Zodiac.”68 One can therefore also say here in Paracelsist terms that the Imagination is the “astrum in homine,” “coeleste sive supracoeleste corpus.”69 And one can add likewise that the alchemical Work, because of the psychic effects it produces in him who meditates and interiorizes it, is essentially carried out “in the Earth of Hūrqalyā.” So in that sense, it can be said of alchemy that it works with the elements of the Earth of Hūrqalyā and “transmutes” the terrestrial elements into these subtle elements.

But for this to be true, the alchemical Operation must be really perceived and mentally actualized in Hūrqalyā, and it is [99] for this purpose that the appropriate organ of perception is necessary. This is why the alchemical Operation (‘amal al-ṣinā‘a al-maktūm), literally, that is, the operatio secreta Artis, is called the “Wise Men’s Mirror” (mir’āt al-ḥukamā’). “Of the Operation of the Elixir (‘amal al-iksīr),” writes Shaikh Aḥmad, “the Wise have made a Mirror in which they contemplate all the things of this world, whether it be a concrete reality (‘ayn) or a mental reality (ma‘nā). In this mirror, the resurrection of bodies is seen to be homologous to the resurrection of spirits.”70 The postulate is that one and the same spiritual Energy of light is just as much the constituent of the essence of what is qualified as material as it is of the essence of what is qualified as spiritual.71 Briefly, how it should be expressed is by saying that “Spirits are being-light in the solidified state (nūr wujadi dhā’ib) whereas bodies are being-light but in the solidified state (nūr wujadi jāmid). The difference between the two is like the difference between water and snow. Proof confirming the resurrection of the one is valid in respect of the resurrection of the other.” Now, the final result of the alchemical Operation is exactly this coincidentia oppositorum: once a body has been treated and perfected by this Operation, it is in the state of “solid (or ‘congealed,’ ‘frozen,’ miyāh jāmida) liquid.”72

Here, then, are some themes for meditation which, amongst others, are suggested to us with a view to interiorizing the alchemical Work. Let us, for example, take silica and potash, opaque, dense substances corresponding to the state of the terrestrial, elemental body (jasad A). In the first place, having been boiled and liquefied, these two substances lose their opacity and become glass (potassium silicate), which is transparent; in this state the outer allows the inner to be seen through it; the hidden spontaneously shows through the apparent. Certainly it is still the lithoid substance, and yet it is no longer that. This state should be meditated as corresponding to the jasad B, which is the subtle, diaphanous body composed of the elements of Hūrqalyā. In refusion with the addition of a certain chemical, glass becomes crystal; crystal with the addition of the white Elixir turns into the “crystal which sets on fire” (a “lens”). At [100] this stage it corresponds to jism A (okhēma pneumatikon), that is, to the astral body which envelopes the essential original body (jism aṣlī, jism B), or eternal individual, and which, together with the latter, enters the “celestial Earth” at the moment when death separates them from the perishable elemental body (i.e., from jasad A). When the crystal is fused a second time with white Elixir, it becomes diamond. This is the same crystal, the same silicate in which the crystal was hidden, the same compound of mercury and sulphur, and yet it is no longer any of these. “And diamond, freed from crystal, freed from glass, freed from stone, corresponds to the believer’s bodies in this absolute Paradise.”78

This operation is confirmed by others. That, for instance, which is performed on pewter. Pewter treated with white Elixir turns into pure silver, the stage of jasad B. Treated with red Elixir, the silver becomes pure gold, the stage of jism A, which enters the earthly Paradise or celestial Earth. Treated again with red Elixir, the pewter-become-gold itself becomes Elixir, the stage of jism B, which, reunited with jasad B (the hūrqalyī body) and having assimilated the latter to its own subtlety, enters into the absolute Paradise.74

bodiesBriefly, the meditation that interiorizes the transmutations accomplished in the course of the real operation engenders the spiritual body, which also is a coincidentia oppositorum. It enters into the intermediate realm, into the psychic realm of subtle bodies through the active meditant Imagination, which, by transmuting sensory processes or events into symbols, itself activates psychic energies which radically transmute the relationship between soul and body. There is then a state, says Shaikh Aḥmad, in which “bodies perceive through their very essence (bi-dhātihā) the thoughts which are thought in the celestial world, as well as angelic Forms. Reciprocally, the Spirits dependent on these bodies perceive bodies and corporeal realities through their own essence, since their bodies, when they wish it, become spirit and their spirit, when they wish it, becomes body.”71 Therefore, meditation on the alchemical operation or meditation operating alchemically reach the result the formula of which is precisely [101] the definition we have heard, given by Moḥsen Fayẓ, of the world of the barzakh as “a world through which bodies are spiritualized, and spirits embodied.” And this is the perfect definition of the Earth of Hūrqalyā, as well as of the Events which are accomplished there and to which this mystical Earth lends its very substance.

But, of course, this “substantiation” occurs only through the presence of the adept to this mystical Earth where spiritual bodies alone can be present. That is why the constant principle here again is: solve et coagula. The Wise, writes Shaikh Aḥmad, dissolve and coagulate the Stone with a part of its spirit and re peat the operation several times. When they have treated it three times with the white Elixir and nine times with the red Elixir, the Stone becomes a living spiritual Mineral (or metal) (ma‘dan ḥayawānī ruḥānī), which exactly translates our Latin alchemists’ idea of the living Stone (lapis vivus)76. It is a body, but its operation is spiritual: it gives life to those “metals” which are dead. Meditate and understand this Sign, says the Shaikh, for such a body is precisely the Sign of the dwellers in Paradise, “for they have bodies in which exist all the attributes, laws, and actions of bodies, but such bodies enact the actions of Spirits and pure Intelligences; they perceive what the celestial Souls and angelic Intelligences perceive, just as the latter perceive through their own essence what Souls and bodies perceive.”77 Bodies such as these are made from the original clay (al-ṭina al-aṣlīya) of the emerald cities Jābalqā and Jābarsā, and they receive the influx, no longer of the Heavens of the physical cosmos, but of the Heavens of Hūrqalyā.18
Shaikh Aḥmad Aḥsā’ī’s own words have, we believe, conveyed what is essential in the doctrine. At some future date, we shall publish a study of the amplification by his successors of the theme of the spiritual body which is the body of resurrection. In so doing, we shall discover the constants in what might called the “metaphysics of ecstasy” common to all the Spirituals, and which bears witness to the permanence and identity of this interworld on which their similar experiences converge. The Shaikhs emphasize the idea of an essential archetype body (jism [102] aṣlī ḥaqīqī) which simultaneously possesses dimension, shape, form, and color like bodies in general, but which differs from them in one radical respect, namely that the appearance of the essential body depends on actions fulfilled and the inner states manifested by these actions.79 In our terrestrial world, our inner states are invisible and the aspect of what we do is limited to the outer, observable appearance, but in the celestial earth the same actions assume another form and inner states project visible forms. Some take the form of palaces, others the form of houris, or of owers, plants, trees, animals, gardens, streams of running water,80 and so on. All these forms and figures are seen and are real “outside,” but they are at the same time attributes and modes of being of man. Their transfiguration is the transfiguration of man, and they form his surroundings, his celestial Earth. Hence it can be said that the action is its own reward and the reward is the action “itself.”81

The ontological status of this celestial Earth is thus defined in terms comparable, to take but one example, to the fundamental doctrine of Swedenborg, who constantly reminds us, in formulations which vary very little, that “things outside the Angels assume an appearance corresponding to those which are within them.”82 All things that come into the Angels’ field of vision correspond to their “interior” and represent it; “they vary in accordance with these inner states, and this is why they are called ‘Apparitions’ (apparentiae), but because they issue from this source they are perceived so much more vividly and distinctly than the way in which men perceive terrestrial data, that they must rather be called ‘real Apparitions’ (apparentiae reales) since they really exist.”88 And the following formulation is perhaps the essential one: “the body of each Spirit and each Angel is the form of its love.”84 A Shaikhī saying echoes this fundamental thesis: “The paradise of the faithful gnostic is his very body and the hell of the man without faith or knowledge is likewise his body itself.”85 Or again, this saying which condenses the fruit of Shaikh Aḥmad Aḥsā’ī’s meditations on the “diamond body”: “Every individual rises again in the very form [103] which his Work (in the alchemical sense) has fixed in the secret (esoteric) depth of himself.”86

One can also understand how the idea of the celestial body or resurrection body expresses the idea of the human being in his totality, homus integer. By representing the human person in its transfigured state, it is henceforward far more than the physical organ of personal subjectivity in opposition to the world, since it is “its” world, its “true world,” that is, not a foreign, opaque reality, but a transparency, the immediate presence of itself to itself. From that point also we can understand how the representation of the original, spiritual body, the okhēma aymphyea of Neoplatonism, came to be connected with the idea of personal divinity (idios daimon) , the guardian Angel or archetypal “I” from which the terrestrial “me” originates. This again recalls an odd detail: Shaikh Aḥmad, when asked about the origin of the name Hūrqalyā, which has as strange and foreign a sound in Persian as in Arabic, answered that it was a word which came from the Syriac language (sūryānī) in use amongst the Sabeans of Baṣra, or more exactly, the Mandeans.87 Now the Earth of Hūrqalyā, the intermediate world of exemplary Real Images, is the homologue, both in Suhrawardī’s “Oriental theosophy” and in Shaikhism, of the Paradise of the archetypes of Yima, and it so happens that the close resemblance between the Var of Yima and the “second world,” or world of archetypes, of Mandeism (Mshunia Kushta) has more than once been pointed out.

And in all cases it refers to that same world in which the liberated soul, whether in momentary ecstasy or through the supreme ecstasy of death, meets its archetypal “I,” its alter ego or celestial Image, and rejoices in the felicity of that encounter. This reunion is celebrated in a Mandean text as follows: “I go to meet my Image and my Image comes to meet me, embraces me and holds me close when I come out of captivity.”88 Recently also, our attention was drawn to the a nity between the central hero of Mandean gnosis, Hibil Ziwa, and the young Parthian prince, the hero of the “Song of the Pearl” in the Acts of [104] Thomas.89 In this ancient gnostic book we find again the rapture of a similar encounter, when the young Prince, on returning to the East, his fatherland, discovers the luminous raiment he had left behind: “The garment suddenly appeared when I saw it before me like unto a mirror of myself. I saw it altogether in me and I was altogether in it, for we were two, separate one from the other and yet but one of like form.”90 And the Gospel According to Thomas declares: “When you see your likeness, you rejoice, but when you see your Images which came into existence before you, which neither die nor are manifested, how much will you bear!”91

Now we must return to that which is the archetype of the individual eschatology, and which was clearly described to us in the last part of the preceding chapter. The figure of the Angel Daēnā, the celestial “I,” as the daughter of Spenta Armaiti, the feminine Archangel of the Earth and of earthly existence, led us to make a connection that has seldom been pondered. It became clear to us that the filiation of the celestial “I” is verified as and when man assumes Spendarmatīkīh, the very nature of Spenta Armaiti, who is Wisdom-Sophia. Hence the relationship of man with the Earth, defining his present existence, was seen by us to be a Sophianic relationship, the full actualization of which is destined to come about in a meeting of the Earth with the “Abode of Hymns” (Garōtmān, the Iranian name of the celestial Paradise). Going on from there, not in the “historical direction,” but according to the “polar dimension,” we heard in a higher octave of the harmony of the worlds, the theme of the supracelestial Earth in the person of Fāṭima the Resplendent, Fāṭima-Sophia, who is the Earth of the pleroma of the deity because she is its Soul. We have since learned at the flowering of the spiritual body, which is the awakening and birth to the celestial “I,” takes place in the form of a meditation that transfigures the Earth into a celestial Earth, because, reciprocally, it is said that “the clay of every faithful gnostic was taken from the Earth of his Paradise.” Perhaps then we can begin to see no longer only what is the celestial Earth, but who is the celestial Earth.

What does all this mean for us today? Nothing more nor less [105] than that very thing toward which we are going, which we shape, each one of us, in the image of our own substance. We have heard it expressed in languages both remote and nearer to us, in very ancient and also in modern contexts (we went from Mazdaism to Shaikhism). Very likely, the experiences of the Iranian Spirituals evoke in each of us comparisons with certain spiritual facts known from other sources. I would like to remind you here of the words uttered in the very last moments of his life by the great musician Richard Strauss: “Fifty years ago,” he managed to say, “I wrote Death and Transfiguration (Tod und Verklärung).” Then, after a pause: “I was not mistaken. It is indeed that.”93

At the boundary where the boundary ceases to be a boundary and becomes a passage, there comes the overwhelming and irrefutable evidence: realization does indeed correspond to the faith professed in the innermost part of the soul. One has only to remember the last bars of this symphonic poem, and one will understand the import of that realization in the present at the moment when the end becomes a beginning: all that was fore­glimpsed, all the struggle and secret hope borne as one faces a challenge—it is indeed that. The triumphal solemnity of the closing chorale of Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony: “O my heart, believe! nothing art thou losing. What is yours remains, yes, remains forever, all that was thy waiting, thy love, thy struggle.” One thing alone matters in the night in which our human lives are wrapped: that the faint gleam, the fiery light, may grow which makes us able to recognize the “Promised Land,” the Earth of Hūrqalyā and its emerald cities.


Corbin on Ibn ‘Arabī’s Theophanic Imagination

[The following is an excerpt from Henry Corbin’s amazing book Alone with the Alone: Creative Imagination in the Sūfism of Ibn ‘Arabī, Princeton: Princeton UP, 1969.]

1 . The Creative Imagination as Theophany or the “God from Whom All Being Is Created”

aloneIt will first be necessary to recall the acts of the eternal cosmogony as conceived by the genius of Ibn ‘Arabī. To begin with: a Divine Being alone in His unconditioned essence, of which we know only one thing: precisely the sadness of the primordial solitude that makes Him yea to be revealed in beings who manifest Him to Himself insofar as He manifests Himself to them. That is the Revelation we apprehend. We must meditate upon it in order to know who we are. The leitmotiv is not the bursting into being of an autarchic Omnipotence, but a fundamental sadness: “I was a hidden Treasure, I yearned to be known. That is why I produced creatures, in order to be known in them.” This phase is represented as the sadness of the divine Names suffering anguish in nonknowledge because no one names them, and it is this sadness that descended in the divine Breath (tanaffus) which is Compassion (Raḥma) and existentiation (ījād), and which in the world of the Mystery is the Compassion of the Divine Being with and for Himself, that is, for His own Names. Or, in other terms, the origin, the beginning is determined by love, which implies a movement of ardent desire (ḥarakat shawqīya) on the part of him who is in love. This ardent desire is appeased by the divine Sigh.

By an analysis in which he discovers the mystery of being in [184] the experience of his own being, the theosophist avoids from the outset the theological opposition between Ens increatum and an ens creatum drawn from nothingness, an opposition which makes it doubtful whether the relationship between the Summum Ens and the nothingness from which He causes creatures to arise has ever been truly defined. Sadness is not the “privilege” of the creature; it is in the Creator Himself, it is indeed the motif which, anticipating all our deductions, makes the primordial Being a creative Being; it is the secret of His creativity. And His creation springs, not from nothingness, from something other than Himself, from a not-Him, but from His fundamental being, from the potencies and virtualities latent in His own unrevealed being. Accordingly, the word tan u s also connotes “to shine,” “to appear” after the manner of the dawn. The Creation is essentially the revelation of the Divine Being, first to himself, a luminescence occurring within Him; it is a theophany (tajallī ilāhī). Here there is no notion of a creatio ex nihilo opening up a gulf which no rational thought will ever be able to bridge because it is this profoundly divisive idea itself which creates opposition and distance; here there is not so much as a fissure capable of growing into an area of uncertainty that no arguments or proofs can ever traverse. The Divine Breathing exhales what our shaikh designates as Nafas al-Raḥmān or Nafas Raḥmanī, the Sigh of existentiating Compassion; this Sigh gives rise to the entire “subtile” mass of a primordial existentiation termed Cloud (‘amā). Which explains the following ḥadīth: “Someone asked the Prophet: Where was your Lord before creating His (visible) Creation?—He was in a Cloud; there was no space either above or below.”

angelThis Cloud, which the Divine Being exhaled and in which He originally was, receives all forms and at the same time gives beings their forms; it is active and passive, receptive and existentiating (muḥaqqiq); through it is effected the differentiation within the primordial reality of the being (ḥaqīqat al-wujūd) that is the Divine Being as such (Ḥaqq fī dhātihi). As such, it [186] is the absolute unconditioned Imagination (kayāl muṭlaq) . The initial theophanic operation by which the Divine Being reveals Himself, “shows Himself” to Himself, by differentiating Himself in his hidden being, that is, by manifesting to Himself the virtualities of His Names with their correlata, the eternal hexeities of beings, their prototypes latent in His essence (a ‘yān thābita) this operation is conceived as being the creative Active Imagination, the theophanic Imagination. Primordial Cloud, absolute or theophanic Imagination, existentiating Compassion are equivalent notions, expressing the same original reality: the Divine Being from whom all things are created (al-Ḥaqq al-makhlūq bihi kull shay’)—which amounts to saying the “Creator-Creature.” For the Cloud is the Creator, since it is the Sigh He exhales and since it is hidden in Him; as such the Cloud is the invisible, the “esoteric” (bāṭin). And it is the manifested creature (āhir). Creator-Creature (khāliq-makh­lūq): this means that the Divine Being is the Hidden and the Revealed, or also that He is the First (al-Awwal) and the Last (al- Akhir).

Thus in this Cloud are manifested all the forms of being from the highest Archangels, the “Spirits ecstatic with love” (al­muhayyamūn), to the minerals of inorganic nature; everything that is differentiated from the pure essence of the Divine Being as such (dhāt al-Ḥaqq), genera, species and individuals, all this is created in the Cloud. “Created,” but not produced ex nihilo, since the only conceivable nonbeing is the latent state of beings, and since even in their state of pure potentiality, hidden within the unrevealed essence, beings have had a positive status (thubūt) from pre-eternity. And indeed, “creation” has a negative aspect, since it puts an end to the privation of being which holds things in their occultation; this double negativity, the nonbeing of a nonbeing, constitutes the positive act. In this sense it is permissible to say that the universe originates at once in being and in nonbeing.1

Thus Creation is Epiphany (tajallī), that is, a passage from [187] the state of occultation or potency to the luminous, manifest, revealed state; as such, it is an act of the divine, primordial Imagination. Correlatively, if there were not within us that same power of Imagination, which is not imagination in the profane sense of “fantasy, “ but the Active Imagination (quwwat al-khayāl) or Imaginatrix, none of what we show ourselves would be manifest. Here we encounter the link between a recurrent creation, renewed from instant to instant, and an unceasing theophanic Imagination, in other words, the idea of a succession of theophanies (tajalliyāt) which brings about the continuous succession of beings. This Imagination is subject to two possibilities, since it can reveal the Hidden only by continuing to veil it. It is a veil; this veil can become so opaque as to imprison us and catch us in the trap of idolatry. But it can also become increasingly transparent, for its sole purpose is to enable the mystic to gain knowledge of being as it is, that is to say, the knowledge that delivers, because it is the gnosis of salvation. This occurs when the gnostic understands that the plemulti successive forms, their movements and their actions, appear to be separate from the One only when they are veiled by a veil without transparency. Once transparency is achieved, he knows what they are and why they are; why there is union and discrimination between the Hidden and the Manifest; why there is the Lord and his vassal, the Worshiper and the Worshiped, the Beloved and the Lover; why any unilateral affirmation of a unity that confounds them, or of a discrimination that opposes their two existences as though they were not of the same essence, is a betrayal of the divine intention and hence of the Sadness which in each being yearns for appeasement in the manifestation of His secret.
The Creature-Creator, the Creator who does not produce His creation outside Him, but in a manner of speaking clothes Himself in it as the Appearance (and transparency) beneath which He manifests and reveals Himself first of all to Himself, is referred to by several other names, such as the “imagined [188] God,” that is, the God “manifested” by the theophanic Imagination (al-Ḥaqq al-mutakhayyal), the “God created in the faiths” (al-Ḥaqq al-makhluq fi’l-i‘tiqādāt). To the initial act of the Creator imagining the world corresponds the creature imagining his world, imagining the worlds, his God, his symbols. Or rather, these are the phases, the recurrences of one and the same eternal process: Imagination effected in an Imagination (takhayyul fī takhayyul), an Imagination which is recurrent just as—and because—the Creation itself is recurrent. The same theophanic Imagination of the Creator who has revealed the worlds, renews the Creation from moment to moment in the human being whom He has revealed as His perfect image and who, in the mirror that this Image is, shows himself Him whose image he is. That is why man’s Active Imagination cannot be a vain fiction, since it is this same theophanic Imagination which, in and by the human being, continues to reveal what it showed itself by first imagining it.

This imagination can be termed “illusory” only when it becomes opaque and loses its transparency. But when it is true to the divine reality it reveals, it liberates, provided that we recognize the function with which Ibn ‘Arabī  endowed it and which it alone can perform; namely, the function of effecting a coincidentia oppositorum (jam‘ bayna’ l-naqīḍayn) . This term is an allusion to the words of Abū Sa‘īd al-Kharrāz, a celebrated Ṣūfī master. “Whereby do you know God?” he was asked. And he replied: “By the fact that He is the coincidentia oppositorum.” For the entire universe of worlds is at once He and not-He (huwa lā huwa). The God manifested in forms is at once Himself and other than Himself, for since He is manifested, He is the limited which has no limit, the visible which cannot be seen. This manifestation is neither perceptible nor verifiable by the sensory faculties; discursive reason rejects it. It is perceptible only by the Active Imagination (Ḥaḍrat al-Khayāl, the imaginative “Presence” or “Dignity,” the Imaginatrix) at times when it dominates man’s sense perceptions, in dreams or better still [189] in the waking state (in the state characteristic of the gnostic when he departs from the consciousness of sensuous things). In short, a mystic perception (dhawq) is required. To perceive all forms as epiphanic forms (maẓāhir), that is, to perceive through the figures which they manifest and which are the eternal hexeities, that they are other than the Creator and never­ theless that they are He, is precisely to effect the encounter, the coincidence, between God’s descent toward the creature and the creature’s ascent toward the Creator. The “place” of this encounter is not outside the Creator-Creature totality, but is the area within it which corresponds specifically to the Active Imagination, in the manner of a bridge joining the two banks of a river. The crossing itself is essentially a hermeneutics of symbols (ta’wīl, ta‘bīr), a method of understanding which transmutes sensory data and rational concepts into symbols (maẓāhir) by making them effect this crossing.

An intermediary, a mediatrix: such is the essential function of the Active Imagination. We shall have more to say of it further on. The intellect (‘aql) cannot replace it. The First Intelligence (‘Aql awwal) is the first determination (ta‘ayyun awwal) that opens within the Cloud, which is itself the absolute theophanic Imagination. The intermedia between the world of Mystery (ālam al-ghayb) and the world of visibility (ālam al­shahādat) can only be the Imagination, since the plane of being and the plane of consciousness which it designates is that in which the Incorporeal Beings of the world of Mystery “take body” (which does not yet signify a material, physical body), and in which, reciprocally, natural, sensuous things are spiritualized or “immaterialized.” We shall cite examples to illustrate this doctrine. The Imagination is the “place of apparition” of spiritual beings, Angels and Spirits, who in it assume the figures and forms of their “apparitional forms” ; and because in it the pure concepts (ma‘ānī) and sensory data (maḥsūsāt) meet and flower into personal figures prepared for the events of spiritual dramas, it is also the place where all “divine history” is accomplished, the stories of the prophets, for example, which have meaning because they are theophanies; whereas on the plane of sensory evidence on which is enacted what we call History, the meaning, that is, the true nature of those stories, which are essentially “symbolic stories,” cannot be apprehended.

Talking With Coatlicue on the Way to Quetzalcoatl

March 19, 2016



The other morning as I awoke, I felt the urging of my High Self, Samuel, to enter into conversation. He suggested that I do my usual yoga and pranayama exercises in order to warm up and clear my systems, which I did. Then as I entered into my post-pranayama meditation and communication stream, Samuel told me that if I wished to, he would arrange for me to speak with Coatlicue. And, of course, I said, “Yes!”

Some of what we discussed remains a bit blurry at this point, but the gist of her message was that if I chose to do so, I could continue Gloria Anzaldúa’s project beyond the point where she unfortunately left off at the time of her death in 2004. I’ve been getting a similar message from various spirit sources for some time now, but up to this point I was clueless concerning what exactly this might mean. Beyond that, I feel a bit daunted at the prospect of putting myself in her shoes and continuing her journey in this way. I can’t imagine such a process going unchallenged, yet I do feel that the calling is legitimate and important.

What I learned from Coatlicue was that Gloria had gone quite far in overcoming the Shadow-Beast stage of her initial confrontation with Coatlicue when she began work on the project of “putting Coyolxauqui together again.” What this means, in short, is that at a certain point in her liberation project Gloria had begun to identify with Coyolxauqui, the daughter of Coatlicue. As the story goes, while Coatlicue was pregnant with Huitzilopochtli—the Aztec Sun-God of War—Coyolxauqui recognized that her brother-in-utero was destined to bring about the end of the feminine world order up to that point. Huitzilopochtli would bring around a patriarchal military order that would lead to untold death and destruction. And such certainly seems to be the result of Huitzilopochtli’s reign, which is just now at a critical crossroads.



Upon recognizing Coyolxauhqui’s fratricidal (and consequently matricidal) intentions to murder her brother in utero to prevent such a drastic outcome and overthrow of the world order, Huitzilopochtli caused his own premature birth, leaping from the womb of Coatlicue and dismembering and beheading his sister Coyolxauqui, tossing her head into the heavens where it now reigns as our moon. From this tale of cosmic sibling rivalry Anzaldúa put together a restorative project of putting Coyolxauhqui together again and bringing about a new, reborn feminine source of power (the rebirth of the feminine that many see as the primary quality of the shift from the Age of Pisces to the Age of Aquarius).


So far, so good. But what Coatlicue then suggested to me was that this restoration or remembering of Coyolxauqui was a very important but ultimately transitional process of social healing. The “Rebirth of the Feminine” that one might imagine as the consequence of “putting Coyolxauhqui back together” is a restorative moment paving the way for the unification of the masculine and the feminine. This bisexual unification should be the ultimate goal for today’s spiritual activists. And the figure best prepared to stand in as the representative of such a project is not Coyolxauhqui but Quetzalcoatl.




My job, then, is to present Gloria’s Coatlicue-Huitzilopochtli-Coyolxauhqui in as much detail as possible, highlighting the cosmic logic behind this family drama, and then to develop in as much detail and clarity as possible what the new reign of Quetzalcoatl might look like. Quetzalcoatl is the best figure for such a cosmic-social transformation because He/She represents the manifestation of the cosmic unification of the masculine and the feminine as well as all other logics of social polarity. Being the dragon figure, the winged serpent whose home is both the Heavens and the Earth, Quetzalcoatl represents the next stage of healing cosmic consciousness, the Yin-Yang fusion of all oppositional factions into a movement of planetary liberation.

So this is what I plan to do as I move forward in this development of Anzaldúa’s project of healing the cosmic Self. This is the next moment on the path of cosmic bridging that Gloria sought throughout the last decade of her life.



From Out of the Matrix of Airy Nothing: Night Thoughts on the Theoretical Constructions of Universes

September 26, 2015


Late last night as I was doing the dishes before bed I happened to glance off to my left and saw two or three light beings in the passageway from our kitchen to the living room. I was immediately captivated and asked them to identify themselves and, before they could even answer, I already knew that they were angels. At my suggestion, they then grounded each of us in the Golden Light of Grace and invoked the Greatest Good for All Beings.

They then asked me to gaze into their light and take in both what they had to say and the energy that they emitted while saying it. Their light was relatively subtle in terms of brightness but very warm and comforting in terms of tone. I had the sense of floating and soaking in a warm, comforting bath filled with luscious, radiant light as I stood there transfixed at the sink.

Once I settled into the flow of things, they told me that despite the fact that I would not be able to give my presentation on fairies at the Serpent Mound gathering today, this day would nevertheless be an important one for me in terms of spiritual cognitive development. At first I thought I was projecting this thought onto the moment, but they stopped me and assured me that the message was indeed coming from them and not from some insecure inner part of my self.

They didn’t go into detail but suggested that today I would find a new path out of the intellectual impasse I have found myself in during the past few weeks and in many ways for nearly a decade. I had no idea what this might mean, but still basking in the warm glow of the energetic transmission, I felt secure in the message and what it would ultimately mean.

The immediate context for this message involves the reading I have been doing of my own past notes and books involving some of the High Theory I have explored during the past few decades, in particular that of Karl Marx and Carl Jung. Earlier this week in preparation for teaching my Theory class on Marx’s notion of the dialectical progression of the forms of capital (in Capital Volume I, Chapter One) I reread a portion of my chapter on Marx in my book The Abyss of Representation. I was immediately drawn back into the ecstasy of that theoretical mindset and for two days or so felt a bit giddy at having come up with such a concise and compelling account of Marx’s theory. I started wondering what it was that made me give up on dialectical thought in the first place and whether there was reason to rekindle this passion at this point in my development. Even in the midst of this intellectual giddiness, nevertheless, I had a deep understanding that this would not in fact be the direction of my new understandings. “But why was I drawn back into this dialectical giddiness if not to rekindle the fervor?” I wondered.

Then yesterday, having just finished reading Jung’s Answer to Job the night before, I reread my notes concerning Jung’s book Aion and my earlier attempts to find a space in which I could draw Jung’s work together with Gloria Anzaldúa’s later work, which operates within a deep Jungian framework. Again as I reread Aion I was wondering how to rekindle this engagement with Jung and find a way to apply this particular schematic framework to Anzaldúa’s theorizing. But just as with the Marx material, before I could even get settled into thinking in detail about this project my daimon suggested that such a move on my part would be a mistake. I would be doing an injustice to Anzaldúa’s work, which resonates from within a deeper space of social commitment than does Jung’s, and would miss out on the opportunity this moment offers to put Jung’s system to the test.

Not knowing what this might mean, I went to bed feeling a bit disappointed and frustrated because I had been so excited about this chance to get back to my academic writing. In the early morning hours, though, I was woken up by Anna, who could not sleep. We got into a wonderfully engaged and energetic discussion of these topics as well as others, and during our conversation I found myself being fed certain ideas by the angels who has visited me last night. I said these things aloud as they came to me, elaborating on them in the excitement of the early morning hours.

The gist of what I realized was that my work should not revert to the intellectual paths I had earlier pursued but rather, no matter how much I might yet again be excited by them, to bring myself into a deep recognition of an element of these intellectual systems that started to dawn on me almost a decade ago but which I had not pursued in the midst of my life-changing pursuits in shamanism and visionary development. I should begin to develop a way of talking about and characterizing the totalizing effectivity of systems of thought. I will now attempt to begin that way of talking by trying to explain what I mean by totalizing effectivity.

Back around 2006 or 2007 I had come to an important realization concerning such systems of thought in my work as a teacher and scholar of critical theory in an academic setting. What I had come to realize over the decades of my involvement with Theory was that, ultimately, each and every theoretical system is in effect an allegory. What I mean by this is that whether we are talking about Marxism, psychoanalysis, feminism, or deconstruction, each of these theoretical systems creates an allegorical frame of understanding that operates by means of key terms and concepts that translate whatever subject matter we seek to analyze into the terms of that particular theoretical system. This insight became all the more important to me when I also realized that the particular theoretical framework with which we might choose to analyze any given content reflects either consciously or unconsciously our own predispositions—or, at least, should.

The question arose for me whether the particular theoretical systems that I found most alluring actually pertained to the world either as it is or as I would hope it might become. In other words, why would I choose a cynical and endlessly critical thought system that might not in fact reflect the world I would like to see? Do I really believe, for instance, there really is no deeper reality than the apparent surface phenomena that I perceive? Do I really believe that all imaginative constructs can be reduced to the various concatenations of our “desiring machines”? Is there really nothing more to see in, say, the works of Martin Heidegger than various willful mystifications seeking release from the bounds of western rationality? Is that cigar really nothing more than a symbol of a penis? Does the statement (accompanying the image of a pipe) saying “This is not a pipe” really in its ironic stance undoing a few thousand years of representational fallacies?

If, then, each and every particular theoretical system is nothing more than an allegory, we are confronted with two realizations: one, I have no objective reason to profess one theoretical system rather than another other than my own predilections; and two, once you are operating within the terms of a theoretical system, there is no objective way out, no objective way either to accept or defy the terms of that system. Reality is what it is in terms of psychoanalysis because of the terms of psychoanalysis—not because psychoanalysis offers us the True path into understanding the phenomena that confront us. The question remains, however: Does psychoanalysis provide me with the terms and frames of understanding that do justice either to the world I see around me or the world I would hope to see? If not, why operate within the terms of psychoanalysis? Or Marxism? Or alchemy?

And so over the subsequent years I more or less distanced myself from adhering to particular theoretical constructs as I began pursuing a more phenomenological engagement with (but not necessarily a Phenomenological explanation of) the experiences, textual and otherwise, that I encountered.

But in the early hours of this morning I realized another aspect of theoretical systems that had eluded me in the past. I had earlier recognized that each theoretical system constructs its own universe of meaning for deciphering the aspects of experience under study. But I continued to imagine this expression—constructs its own universe of meaning—in fairly conventional terms. I took this statement concerning allegory in allegorical terms. In other words, the “universe” I was talking about simply referred to a conceptual system of thought, a collection of ideas that one might use to make sense of other ideas. These universes were simply abstractions taking place in certain people’s heads. What I realized this morning, however, was that theoretical systems construct their own universes in fact. In other words, allegories are not simply stories we might or might not tell but actual constructions of actual states of being. In other other words, words create worlds—real worlds.

I came to a phenomenological understanding of this fact as I underwent a profound visionary experience in which I saw whole universes growing into existence simply through the elaboration of different thought systems. I could actually see and feel these different worlds come into being, taking form from out of the matrix of airy nothing, as I passed from one mode of theoretical allegorization to another. I saw a world pertaining to Marxist concepts and logical processes come into being as a definite world operating according to Marxist laws of nature, a world that would have definite concrete effects on its inhabitants. I saw a Freudian universe come into being, and a Jungian one, an Anzaldúan one, a Kristevan one, an Einsteinian one, a Blavatskyan one, and so on. And this is what I meant earlier by the phrase totalizing effectivity: Any given theoretical allegorical system effects reality in its totality. Note that I say effects rather than affects. In other words, theoretical systems bring into being total universes that comply with the terms of those systems. This is a level of effective multidimensionality, the ideational effecting or bringing into being of multiple co-existing universes each consistent within the terms of each allegory.

In other words, theoretical constructs have real-world consequences. Multiple theoretical systems have multiple real-world consequences.

One thing that this means is that we are responsible for and to the universes we create through our conceptual elaborations. As we bring into being these various universes from out of the matrix of airy nothing, we have a duty to the inhabitants of such universes, including ourselves. As Henry David Thoreau wrote: “The universe constantly and obediently answers to our conceptions; whether we travel fast or slow, the track is laid for us. Let us spend our lives in conceiving then.”

So the earlier question still obtains: Why would I choose to live in a universe as described by Nietzsche or Lacan or Moses or Marx when I could inhabit the temples of Heidegger’s Greece, the nirvanas of Buddhism, or the Other-World passageways of Irish understanding?


Shanti Shanti Shanti

Naiad Season

March 15, 2015


After two of the harshest winters I can remember (harsher even than my winter in Finland 2012-2013), this year’s spring has come in like a cosmic miracle. One fine moment heralding spring’s arrival was my chance to teach Thoreau’s “Spring” chapter of Walden once again, this time at exactly the moment when the ice and snow were melting, revealing the patented forms of the Artist who made us all. But even more inspiring was my conversation this morning with the Naiads.

The Naiads—the freshwater nymphs of the springs—are always present and conversant, of course, even when the spring waters are flowing beneath rather than above the surface of the earth. But this morning, with at least ten acres of our property madly flowing with newly replenished springs, the Naiads were absolutely giddy in celebration of the birth of the new year (which in older times began in March).

I was walking around the meadows, creeks, springs, and ridges of the property all morning while my son Kivi was sleeping strapped to my chest in a Snuggli pack. As we approached each newly-refilled pool of spring water, the water fairies or naiads began singing and chattering more excitedly than I have ever heard them before. I was very happy to be able to combine this moment of parenting and spirit talk, knowing that in this experience Kivi was receiving an energetic bath of a sort just as I was.

While most of my conversations with the fairies this morning concerned myself, they did assure me that anyone who patiently tries to can tune into the celebration of the naiads at the springs. Naiads, I have learned, are far more outgoing with humans than are most species of fairies, which might account for all of the myths and folk legends concerning the seductiveness of these water fairies. While I take this to be somewhat of an embellishment, this much seems true: if you learn to open your heart in as ego-less a way as possible to the spirits of nature, you will eventually—perhaps after lots of internal self-harmonization—be able to join in their springtime celebration and song.


My Christmas Gift from Turehu

Christmas 2014

orbGiven the solemnity and joy for many people on this particular holiday—at least for those who actually celebrate it as a Holy Day—I thought that it might be good for me to do some yoga, meditation, and ceremony of a sort. It is a day of renewal and in many ways represents the true New Year. So as my wife and son, Anna and Kivi, continued sleeping, I got up determined to do some “traditional” shamanic journeying on this Christmas Day.

[Please note that what follows is a lesson for me regarding following my own path to truth. Neither I nor any of my spirit guides have any intention of criticizing other shamanic paths. The point, rather, is to embrace all paths that lead to truth while being true to one’s own truths. May all beings prosper as they follow their appropriate paths. By the way, I love drumming but have just never been called to engage in it in my own practice.]

My intention on this day was to follow through with the advice that the Grandfather Tree in the forest on our ridge had given me about a week ago. On that day, as I was walking ceremoniously (and what for me could be called “shamanically”) through the forest, I was drawn to the Grandfather Tree along with some other spots I am often called to, although not always all together on the same particular day.

As I leaned into the tree with my forehead pressed against it, the Grandfather began addressing me. He began with his usual greetings and friendly words and vibrations—I rarely hear much more from him, although I often feel that I have gained some energetic wisdom during each of our visits. But suddenly and unexpectedly he said, “You need to undergo a shamanic journey.” Surprised, I asked him to say more.

“You need to undergo a shamanic journey. A journey involving soul retrieval. Long ago in a distant lifetime you lost a key element of your soul, and now you need to get it back. During this journey you will meet with a being who will offer you an object embodying your lost soul part. You must accept this object, swallow it whole, and then you will be restored after many lifetimes of deprivation and suffering. This particular Karmic trail is coming to an end.”

I was surprised to receive this advice, or, perhaps, more wary than anything else. For I had never done a journey for a soul retrieval before. And beyond that, I have always had more confidence in my shamanic work for others than for myself. I am often too self-conscious to see things as clearly as I think I should when it comes to helping myself, and so I often end up feeling a bit frustrated after doing some personal spiritual task.

drumA few days ago I tried to do such a soul-retrieval journey for myself, but with only partial success. I put on some shamanic drumming music and, after my ritual yoga and pranayama workout, lay down on my yoga mat and closed my eyes. Initially things felt great. I eased into the drumming rhythm, the heartbeat of the worlds, and quickly drifted into a dark and cloudy sleepy kind of space. I could tell that what was being prepared for me was a kind of projector screen, a backdrop for the visions that might come to me in this alternate dimension.

Soon I saw a faint glow in the center of my visual field. The glow grew a little in size but not much in intensity. At a certain point I noticed that within this growing glowing circle there was a winged being—an angel. I tried to make direct contact with this angelic being, but after a few seconds it began shifting shape. It then slowly dawned on me that the angel had changed form into the crocodile-headed humanoid god of Egypt known as Sobek.

sobekI have seen several classical Egyptian figures in my visionary journeys in the past few years, but never Sobek. In this visionary state I established an energetic communication stream with him, but I never heard him speak any clearly identifiable words. Eventually I simply drifted off into a dreamy, floating sleep, feeling wrapped in a warm and dark womblike atmosphere that seemed like an opiate haze. After twenty minutes of this comfortable, indefinite slumber, I awoke and realized that I had gone on a dream journey, but one that evidently will have to wait before I achieve any kind of enlightenment and meaning from it beyond the beautiful sense of comfort. The key point was that no being, not even this Sobek, had offered me anything that I recognized as an object that I should swallow in order to retrieve my lost soul energy ball. So I knew then that I would have to try again to journey into the proper environmental conditions for a successful soul retrieval.

Days went by without a good opportunity for such a journey when Christmas Day arrived. I woke up early and decided that my first gift to myself would be to attempt another retrieval journey and hope for better results at Christmas.

As in my earlier attempt on the day when I encountered Sobek, I began with my usual opening up preliminary exercises—yoga and pranayams—and then lay down on the carpet in our yoga room. Again I began to slip into a dreamy fantastic space, comforting and opiate in tenor. I called on my main spirit guide, Turehu—in her words, a “fairy of the highest order”—and asked her to accompany me on this journey, hoping that in her presence I might better stay awake and draw this figure to me who would offer me my lost soul ball. She began helping by speaking to me about the benefits and drawbacks of my previous attempt at soul retrieval. And then fairly quickly she stopped and suggested that this particular method of lying down with closed eyes might not be my proper journeying mode.

“What do you normally do when you journey, Gabriel?” she asked.

I told her that I usually sit in a yoga position on my meditation pillow and drift off into the Otherworld in that posture.

“Then why,” she asked, “are you lying down on the floor with your eyes closed when this is not your usual method?”

I had to admit that I was doing so because I had recently been challenged concerning my personal shamanic procedures, the suggestion being that I should follow more “conventionally-accepted” methods. This was, in fact, why during my earlier attempt at soul retrieval I had taken the corpse-pose and the drumming background as my approach.

Acknowledging that there is immense power in shamanic drumming, Turehu nevertheless then suggested that I take my usual position, given my success with that procedure, and ignore the criticisms, however well-meaning. So I got up and sat on my meditation cushion and immediately entered the Otherworld.

I could now see Turehu there, standing to my left—an indefinite yet beautifully warm human-shaped glow. Like the other fairies I have seen, Turehu is not at all some small flower-like being as we see in Disney movies but actually a humanoid form that is larger than the typical human. The typical fairy, as they have presented themselves to me, is seven to eight feet tall. And so this was how I saw Turehu on Christmas morning.

With Turehu at my side, I then peered into the mist of the Otherworld—the “Mists of Avalon,” as I now call it—that has come to characterize my current state of visionary encounter. I waited, hoping for the being that the Grandfather Tree had predicted to appear and hand me my soul orb and ask me to swallow it in order to repair my fragmented state of being. I again saw angels coming and going in the glowing center of the visual field, but none came forward to offer me anything.

At a certain moment a realization shot through me like a bolt of lightning. “Wait a minute—I have been waiting for some new, strange being to greet me. But what if the being I have been waiting for is Turehu herself?” As soon as I became conscious of this question, I also knew in my greatest depths that this was the truth. Here I had been waiting for some new being to approach and introduce itself when all along my beloved spirit guide Turehu was there by my side with a brightly glowing orb in her left hand.

orb2“It has been you all along!” I shouted, and Turehu smiled. She reached her left hand out to me, offering me the glowing orb.

retrievalI slowly and ceremoniously accepted it, lifting it from her hand and carrying it to my mouth. As soon as I placed the orb into my mouth—it appeared to be about the size of a billiard ball but with no noticeable densely material mass—I felt that lightning shooting once more throughout my being. This is a frequent experience when I encounter power beings and enter into an energetic continuum with them. But this was probably the most beautiful intense electrocution I had ever experienced. It shot throughout my whole physical body and soon I felt it shooting throughout my etheric, astral, and mental bodies and well. After a good thirty or forty seconds of this spirit energy charging through my being, I saw the orb slowly pass down through my esophagus, my stomach, and then take its place in the hollow pit in my Third Chakra, just below my sternum. It fit itself perfectly into this chamber and then its glow intensified and flowed throughout the various levels of my body, from physical to causal.

Turehu, now standing directly in front of me, then placed her hands on my shoulders and looked me square in the eyes.

“You are whole now, Gabriel. You are once more reunited with your soul essence. Over time you will come to learn in detail how you initially lost it and why it has taken this many lifetimes for it to be returned to you. But the main point for you to recognize is that you are now whole. You are complete. And nobody else’s definition of you matters unless it fits with the truth of yourself that you know in your very being. You now know what is true for you, what is your very own truth.

“This is why the traditional journeying posture would not work for you. That posture and the definitions that go along with it are appropriate for some shamans. But your own version of shamanism is growing out of your very being. That is the only appropriate method and definition for you—the one that comes from your connection to your Higher Self. This, in part, is what it means to be whole, to be complete.”

In tears I thanked her. I slowly opened my eyes and embraced a whole new Christmas Day and a whole new me.

Kachina Visions and the Expansion of Cultural Identity

This essay of mine just came out in the latest issue of Journal of Contemporary Shamanism! Here’s a PDF copy.


coverThis essay compiles several of the experiences I have recounted here in these blog pages concerning my experiences with the Kachinas who visit with me and instruct me.





Elk-Buffalo-Mastadon Vision

June 3, 2014

My shamanic journey yesterday (Monday, June 2, 2014) proved to be quite provocative, and I will try to recall the details and significance of it here.

elkAfter our usual preliminary chants and pranayama exercises, Anna and I went off into our own visionary and energetic experiences. I immediately felt the energetic rush that signals the address from a spirit entity with whom I might communicate. As I melted into the energetic communion, I noticed that this communicative experience was not simply a verbal and energetic exchange—my usual experience—but a dreamlike visionary one as well. I saw and felt myself walking or floating through a mountain meadow surrounded by steep spruce forests rising up at least a thousand feet from the high meadow valley. The meadow was a rich grassy plain.

I noticed that I was walking along with some other creatures of some sort but was not trying to make out who or what they were as the guiding voice narrated the significance of my experience. The voice said, “You are surprised to find that the foundation stone of your practice is still here beneath you when you thought you had melted it into your being.” At this point I saw a stone rectangular slab about two feet by three feet wide and a foot tall, the kind of stone slab that serves as the front doorstep for many old farm houses here in southeastern Ohio, stones carved out of the local landscape.

I suddenly shifted out of the dreamlike flow, telling the being speaking to me that this must all be too dreamlike, that I should snap out of this dream and gain better focus. But the voice told me that this dreamlike experience was exactly what I needed to experience rather than some more purely intellectual verbal exchange. So I relaxed into the dream vision and let the spirit voice continue.

He went on with the narrative. (I have a sense of the entity being male, but I had not yet sought the being’s identity other than my recognition that he gave off an atmosphere of calm assurance and comforting wisdom.) “You are surprised that you have not yet melted your foundation stone into your being and your practice, and you find yourself standing on this stone, comforted by its stability.” With these words I saw myself standing on the stone, yet the stone, curiously, was moving along with the procession through the high mountain meadow as if carried by some liquid or airy flow. Perhaps the stone was suspended on a magnetic field that allowed for its hovering motion.

The voice added, “You see around you the antlers of thousands of Elk,” and once he said this I noticed thousands of white sticklike things rising up from the ground. I only now recognized them as antlers rather than old tree branches. “You are walking through the ancient Elk graveyard, which is very sacred ground, and you are re-establishing your ancient connection with the Elk Spirits.” Aha, I thought, this is exactly what I feel, although I had not before now been conscious of this strange yet familiar feeling of belonging and kinship in this cemetery landscape.

antlers“You are happy to be reunited with your Elk family, and it is here that you find yourself still drawing from the power of your foundation stone. Your Elk family are in fact Buffalo, and you now see your ancient connection with the Bison Spirits of the Planet.” As my Spirit Guide said this I saw the elk transform into buffalo as I walked among them in the procession.

buffaloAt this point one of the large buffalo in front of me turned and faced me in a gesture of recognition and address. I acknowledged the buffalo and then felt myself morph into a buffalo, my head growing large, long, and heavy, my eyes dropping to the sides of my skull, and my nose dropping down to form a long, low snout. (I had had this same morphing experience about five years ago in another visionary experience, which was my first shape-shifting experience that I can remember.)

I realized then that it was the Buffalo who had been speaking all this time. As he spoke I felt the comforting assurance of being in the presence of an ancient soul connection. The Buffalo continued, saying “I give you your pearl, your precious Inner Gift,” and he slowly handed the large pearl, the size of a mango, over to me. As I reached out to accept the pearl I saw that it was emanating an intense and comforting light and energy. But before my fingers even reached it I saw it transform into our Taos Stone, the sacred stone we had retrieved two years ago on a previous spirit venture. The buffalo spirit said, “This is your sacred Foundation Stone, the inner pearl of your being, and you are now ready to reacquaint yourselves with its power.”

As I took the stone from the Buffalo Spirit he transformed into a mastodon and said, “Of course, your true path lies with the mastodon spirits, those with whom you walked this earth so long ago.” I then saw all of the Elk-become-Buffalo of the procession now shift into Mastadon spirits and I felt a deep soul memory of knowing this spirit plane very intimately. I remembered my Mastadon vision of two years ago in northwest Missouri and realized that this, too, is a deep part of my soul memory now making itself available to me on this current spirit path.

mastadonI embraced the Taos Stone, knowing that very soon it will begin to unlock its secrets and I will once more know its powers and its purpose in our lives as Anna and I move forward on our path. I felt an overwhelming sense of belonging and purpose and began crying in gratitude for this precious gift of myself back to myself. The Mastadon Spirits and the sacred terrain of the mountain meadow retreated from my visionary space and I was once more sitting with Anna meditating in our living room, thankful for this moment of what Carl Jung would call sacred individuation, the homecoming of a crucial part of my being that has before now lain hidden in my unconscious field of experience.

Callador, the Elfin Representative, on the Infinite Nature of the Human Being

Astral Seed Series: Entry #2 — Other Astral Seed Entries: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

[The following is a recent transcript of a channeling I did in August with Callador, representative of the Elves on our property who are teaching us how to engage the Portal systems here.

This is one in a series of posts I was asked to put up concerning the develoment of Etheric and Astral Body development in the growth of the Human Being. For a related earlier post, see here.]

August 2013

Hello, Gabriel. This is Callador.

The initial stage of your attunement with us as we guide you on your way in understanding is your connection with us on an energetic level. What we are helping you to come to understand is that your particular sense of physical limitation is simply a concept that allows you to operate in the three-dimensional world’s account.


What the energetic attunement allows for is for you to feel a loosening up of the limits of physicality, loosening up of the limits of the body so that, in the analogy we provide you with, your basic building blocks making up these bodies more or less loosen up and start to disperse like billions of floating bubbles into the atmosphere around you, filling a larger space.

Imagine this to be the loosening up of the physical body, the sense of awareness of the boundaries of the physical body, so that you can expand out as if there are no limits to who you are. Once we have allowed you to stretch through the limits of your Etheric bodies, then we will take you on to the Astral level so you can feel the limits of your Astral existence. This for many people is very hard, which is, of course, why we help you with it. Then ultimately we will move on to the Mental body.

Each of these bodies is important for the experience of the portals. Each of these has its own dimensions, its own experiential realm of understanding, and it is through these bodies that you become more and more knowledgeable, more and more acquainted with the dimensions of the portals as you become more familiar with the more local, let us say, dimensions of the portals, and what this means for you in your Physical, Etheric, Astral, and Mental bodies.

We will then invite you to explore the dimensions of the portals themselves. You will be meeting the various beings with whom you can only communicate on the level of these bodies. We are capable of communicating through all of them, as you are yourselves. We have not chosen to communicate with you on a physical level because that tends to be fairly disturbing and, in the end, unnecessary for our present purposes. We do not yet see a need for such material manifestation before you. We trust that you understand the valid nature of your connection with us, trust in the valid nature of our communication together. We are working with you in ways you can understand—or at leat feel, that dimension of feeling that extends your mental awareness—primarily physically but also astrally and mentally. You’ve already experienced these dimensions and we will work with you on them further. So if you can be sure to focus as we work on these levels of your experiential being, you will grow in ever-increasing awareness of who exactly we and the other entities you are meeting with are.

You’ve been learning about the notion of the imaginal realm through the writings of Tom Cowan and Henry Corbin. We are extending your understanding of that notion itself. There is not simply one imaginal realm beyond the physical, although this simple notion in itself is a very important step as humans attempt to understand the realms beyond their immediately culturally-determined consciousness. There are many layers, many dimensions of the imaginal realms. There are multiple universes. You will gradually grow to be conscious all of these in time. We simply ask you to relax, primarily to allow yourselves to trust yourselves, have faith in yourselves. You know that this is a task that has much to offer you.

Those of you who tune into these developmental experiences in turn will have much to offer the planet in its own development in its task of raising of consciousness. This will inevitably help the planetary healing in its stages of evolution, and you will play a major role in this should you choose to continue. Interested people such as yourselves are coming into the awareness that this can come about once humans increasingly acknowledge and accept their infinite natures.

We Elves do quite a bit of work, of course, on our own in relation with the Fairies, the Angels, the other elementals and devas. But the human has a particular relationship to these multiple layers of existence that here is unique. We do not share the same relationship, although it is much closer than say other entities such as the Angels. The Angels, of course, can also take on physical being, but it is the experience of humanity that will allow the planetary being to achieve a higher level of meaning, not because humans are privileged but simply because humans are humans.

Humans represent a particular point on the expansion consciousness of self. What it means to be human is far greater most humans currently understand. You two are coming to recognize this, although each of you will discover far, far greater dimensions of what it means to be human. The initial dispersal of the physical boundaries is the beginning of the opening up of the sense of the human, of moving beyond perceived limitations that seem to compromise and comprise the notion of the human. The human is an infinite being, as are all beings. You can join in the divine essence as you are a manifestation, an extension, an expression of the divine essence.

The work you are doing currently, the various philosophical Theosophical traditions you explore, are very important for cognitive understanding and more importantly for the cognitive justifications for the work you’re currently doing with us and with other entities. You are beginning to understand that there have been many other humans who have followed this path. They have been called many things. The beings that you have been drawn into into alignment with have gone by many names. There have been many projects engaged in, some successfully, some less so. But the main point is that you are here now—you are willing, you are excited—and so as you meditate, work with this expansiveness. We are with you to aid you in this, but it is the expansive self, the expansive sense of self that you yourselves will initially be working on.

This is an experiential learning tool, but it also helps you conceptually in what you have the experienced. You have the grounding for the concept. It is no longer simply an idea. This is no longer simply some presumed fantasy state. This is in fact an extension of your own understanding through experience of who and what you are in the infinite capacities of who and what you are in yourselves.

Thank you. We look forward to the work we are doing together. Be at one; be at peace.