Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Special Thanks to the HOGD and The Ciceros's my favorite time of year. The Summer Solstice is upon us and love and hope are in the air. During the month of June, many of us in the Golden Dawn celebrate the aspirations of the Adept, the Light of the Divine, and the giving of thanks for the work we have been able to accomplish through the rights of Corpus Christi. This year many of us would like to extend a special thanks to some special members of our community...the HOGD and Chic and Tabitha Cicero for their constant dedication, hard-work, love for the community, and continuous dedication to helping the spread the Light of the Golden Dawn amongst the true seekers of Light.

Although my name is on the list below I would like to extend a personal, heart-felt thanks to the HOGD, and the Ciceros, especially Tabitha as she has been a beacon of Light to so may women in the modern Golden Dawn. Thank you for your constant inspiration.

Here's to another amazing year of magic!

Nosce te Ipsum,

V.H. Soror FSO

Monday, May 21, 2012

To Infinity And Beyond!

(Picture by person's fractal art is awesome! buy some!)

In my last post I discussed the ramifications of separating science and mysticism and its effects on contemporary society. Today I would like to offer an interview with my good friend, fellow mage, and fellow blogger Frater J.C. one of the contributors over at The Rosicrucian Vault. I have the pleasure to have personally known him for many years and not only does he posses and deep and fruitful knowledge of The Royal Art, but is one of the most learned and intellectual people I have met. He also has his degree in mathematics and wrote his senior dissertation on the  famous mathematician Georg Cantor who I am slightly obsessed with due to his research into infinity and his work and discoveries with the transfinites (the hyper-link will take you to a nice over-view). My interview with J.C. covers some of these concepts and their links to magic, mysticism, and The Golden Dawn as well as one of my favorite subjects Sacred Mathematics. Enjoy!

Nosce Te Ipsum,

VH Soror FSO

                    Interview With VH Frater J.C.

FSO: Sacred Mathematics is an integral part of the language of many esoteric/mystic traditions and especially in the Golden Dawn. When did you first start to make connections between the intricacies of mathematics and magic? How has your relationship with mathematics and magic matured over time?

J.C.: Sacred Geometry permeates every corner of our tradition.  You and I see it, others may or may not.  I like your use of the term “Sacred Mathematics” as it lends itself to concepts that are outside the scope of, yet include, Sacred Geometry.  Quite frankly, my interest in sacred mathematics has run parallel to my work in the occult.  I can’t think of a time I was interested in one and not the other.  When I was a teenager, my focus was on Golden Dawn work and at the same time I had an obsession with Hebrew Gematria.  My relationship with Sacred Mathematics has been nurtured each step of my personal progression in this work, but it is really the last five years that I have really begun making what I would consider useful, practical use of the concepts of Sacred Mathematics.  Prior to this I was immersing myself in the symbolism looking for something.  Part of the problem is that there is little to nothing on the practical use of most of the theoretical ideas of Sacred Mathematics available.  What I have been able to make use of has been through a lot of work and testing of certain applications.

FSO: As a scientist/magician and someone who has studied her fair share of math I have often though to myself that mathematics has an extremely elegant way of expressing universal ideas that are on the border of being able to be expressed intellectually and also living in that abstract world. A world it seems, above the intellect that connect us to higher states of consciousness as if it is a doorway into a higher realm. Can you speak on this a bit. Do you agree/disagree...what has been your experience?

J.C.: Well, mathematics is a language.  And just as any language is meant to be able to order thoughts and communicate them to other sentient beings, mathematics does this in its own way.  Mathematics can explain what the English language cannot, what Hebrew cannot, what any other language cannot.  It can be used to explain everything from the mundane to the abstract, from things that exist in the material plane to things that very clearly cannot exist in Assiah.  The great thing about mathematics is that if there is no known jargon or formula to explain something, some mathematician will add to the corpus of mathematical concepts, and thereby add to the language of mathematics.  In that respect, mathematics is a language that is constantly growing and evolving. As with meditating with any symbol, color, energy, one can meditate upon any mathematical concept.  This is particularly natural to do with mathematical models.  Meditating upon, say a square, or even something like a system of ideas such as Calculus can lend itself to comprehending the natural ideas to which those systems or models correspond to in the world around us, and even in higher dimensions.

FSO: Do you think that the study of mathematics can deepen our skills in magic? Do you think that this lies only in the area of Sacred Mathematics, or do you think this extends into the more mundane aspects of math?

J.C.: Sacred Mathematics is practiced by everyone in the Golden Dawn tradition whether they are aware of it or not.  Every time someone performs a pentagram ritual, a hexagram ritual, a qabalistic cross, among other things, they are engaged in Sacred Mathematics.  When one meditates upon the point, line, cube, and beyond, they are engaged in Sacred Mathematics.  These practices certainly are employed by many effectively, so that is evidence Sacred Math can indeed enrich the experience in this tradition.

FSO:What areas of mathematics do you think are indispensable to magical training? What areas of mathematics do you think someone could study in order to deepen thier knowledge and understanding of magic?

J.C: I think there is a lot of work that can and should be done in the area of Sacred Geometry.  It is a virtually dead art because so few are engaged in it.  Constructing and meditating upon mathematical figures is a powerful method for gaining deeper insight into the nature of these figures which are prevalent in our tradition.
As far as the study of mathematics, I think only those with the inclination toward mathematics are going to pursue such studies to a degree that they can generate something useful.  However, just because it takes a mathematical mind to construct, say, a complex geometric figure such as a icosahedron, that doesn’t mean someone else couldn’t gain something from the work and research of someone that can construct and immerse their mind in such a figure. Aside from the specific subject at hand, I think the greatest benefit from the study of mathematics in this area is the corresponding cultivation of the mind.  The lack of a well developed intellect, in my opinion, lends itself to poorly constructed thoughts and ideas (which often leads people to form false beliefs) that seem to stereotype of what is called “new age.”  Truth is important, and the study of mathematics is a historically effective method for cultivating the mind to be able to derive truth from any study, including esoteric subjects.  This is largely why so many important philosophers, and even occultists, had a relationship with mathematics.

FSO:  Now, there is a very interesting mathematician by the name of Cantor whose theorems you have studies in great detail. He postulated that not only does infinity exist it exists in different measures, i.e. that there are larger and larger infinities that exist (at least in mathematical terms) Have you found there to be any connections between these ideas and magical theories? Do you think the knowledge that there progressively larger infinites could alter or change our understanding of magic in anyway?

J.C.: The work of Cantor might be significant to me, it might be significant to you, but they are rather advanced mathematical ideas that probably won’t fit into the tradition as a whole, as only those who study the subject in depth can really think about and meditate on the spiritual significance such ideas.That being said, I think meditating on infinity as a simple idea is useful and would recommend it to anyone.  You don’t have to study Set Theory and the Transfinites to get something out of a meditation on the infinite.For me, meditations on the concepts and models of infinity has had an impact on my mind, creative thinking, and my personal connection with the Quintessence.  That connection it fostered with spirit also seemed to feed back into my connection with being able to have a deeper conceptual understanding of the infinite and the transfinite numbers.On the flip side, there is evidence that practices of mysticism have actually had a direct impact on the development of this specific branch of mathematics.  There was a specific practice of “Name Worshipping” that flourished in Soviet Russia, which served as a simple, private form of Christian worship as publically practicing Christian worship was met with severity, up to and including death.  The practice of Name Worshipping had a influence on the philosophy of existence for certain Russian mathematicians, which had an impact on their work and development with the concepts from Cantor’s theory of the infinite. 

FSO: What would you say are the differences and similarities between the ideas of infinity expressed in mathematics and those which we contemplate in esoteric thought? For example do you think that we are dealing more with the concept of Absolute Infinity in our magical studies? Do you think that the ideas of the transfinites can be used to explain things such as the realms of the Sephrioth which are infinite worlds unto themselves which in some opinions become more and more vast as you ascend up the Tree of Life?

J.C.: I wouldn’t draw any connection between the Sephiroth and the infinite, as the Sephiroth are specifically defined to be the numbers 1 through 10.  This is not just through arbitrary correspondence, but to say that the Sephiroth are those numbers.  I would attribute the concept of infinity to realm of the veils of negative existence, particularly to Ain Soph (“without limit,” or infinity). Numbers are numbers.  However, in academic mathematics the focus seems to just be on the quantitative aspect of a number, whereas in esoteric studies there is more of a focus on the qualitative aspect to a number.  Historically these two halves of a whole used to be as one, but I don’t foresee them becoming reunited any time in the near future, with the exception of the few who have an interest in both.

FSO: Lastly, I like to leave this last question open to those whom I am interviewing to take some time to share their own personal wisdom about The Great Work. What have been the most important lessons that you have learned on your there any knowledge that you think is important for others to know or to contemplate?

J.C.: Learn your basics, learn them well, and then find something that you can be passionate about, master that subject, and take it in new directions.  Reworking and rediscovering old papers, lessons and works will only carry us so far.  What is important, particularly in the Golden Dawn, is the development and establishment of further expressions of the tradition.  Make it fun, and make it meaningful to you, but do it in a way that will be useful to the progress of the tradition.  Otherwise, why bother being a part of a magical Order?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Separation of Science and Mysticism: A Detriment To All?

As many of my treasured readers may know I have been taking an abundance of mathematics and physics courses over the past two years while getting my Master's degree in bio-medical engineering. I am pretty sure at this point, that the ghost of Sir Isacc Newton has begun haunting my brain, scraping his chains through the halls of my cerebellum. For anyone who has taken at least Physics I and II and Calculus I and II, you will know that Newton pretty much has his named stamped on everything from his "Three Laws of Physics (which form the foundation from which most other physical laws/theories are defined) to "Newton's Method" ( a method for finding successively more precise approximations for the zeros of real functions in Calculus). For all intensive purposes we could say that Newton for the most part, invented Calculus ( although this is highly debated as another scholar during his time was working on the fundamentals of Calculus but from a different perspective). However, in terms of what we as students learn in university it is Isaac Netwon's principles in both mathematics and physics that govern the majority of material that is taught. But what is never spoken about is that Newton was also a famous alchemist and mystic. In fact, the majority of what we study in science and mathematics today were discovered by great intellects who were also mystics, alchemists, and magicians...Giordorno Bruno, Pythagoras, Plato, Poincare, Einstein, Descartes, Kepler, Bach, Roger Bacon, Pascal, Copernicus, Albertus Magnus, Geber, Paracelsus. This list is far from complete and leaves out the many mystical thinkers who have made great contributions to other important areas such as literature, music, and art that so highly influence us today.

Contemplating this and studying the universe from both a magical and scientific perspective it seems obvious to conclude that humans are functioning with limited knowledge on both sides of the fence. Limited because these famous scientists and mathematicians combined their work with techniques, and teachings that gave them a more complete understanding of the nature of reality which has now been separated from thier discoveries. Where they were praying, meditating, and connecting with the Spirit to uncover the mysteries of the universe and nature, we are left with the bare-bones of what they percieved. Where they were eating the hot, sumptuous pie just barely cooled from the oven, we are left with the crust (which is exceptionally tasty), but not the filling or its freshness. These masters were getting in touch with higher states of consciouness that helped them to uncover some of the many wonderful principles that we exploit today in our inventions, studies, experiments, and discoveries.

Albert Einstein for example, used to use a personal technique that he uncovered when he was working on the Special Theory of Relativity. He would sit in a chair with a metal ball and a metal bowl. Thinking of his question or what he was working on he would let himself drift off to sleep. Just before he would fall asleep he would enter that state of consciousness between waking and sleeping which is totally unbounded by the intellect, this is known by some to be transcendental consciousness, the dialectic, hypnogogia. In this state he would uncover the answers to the mysteries that he contemplated, unrestricted by the intellect, emotions, and sensations and attachments to the physical world. When he began to transition into the sleep-state the ball would drop into the bowl and wake him up so that he remembered what he uncovered. Although one of the world's greatest physicists, Einstein believed he could get in touch with the underlying unity of existence to unveil its true nature and make some of the most important discoveries to physics since Newton himself.

The seperation of science and mysticism didn't happen during the Age of Enlightenment, but has been a part of intellectual thinking since antiquity and has affected our studies of mathematics and science from its inception. Pythagorean cults are a perfect example. Although no writings exist from Pythagoras himself (he beleived in the concept of "mouth to ear" that still lives in the Golden Dawn tradition today). We do know by cross-referencing the writings of his students that Pythagorous was a mystic, mathematician, musician, and astronomer who did not see the seperation between these subjects but instead viewed them as being bound by a unifiying principle. He taught unification with the Spirit though harmony, humility, honor, and the contemplation of the infinite through numbers and music. It wasn't until after his death that two "Pythagorean Schools" emerged, one that focused soley on his mathematical and scientific teachings and the other which focused soley on his spritual teachings. It seems that the separation of holistic knowledge into bits and pieces was fated from antiquity.

If we begin to research and study the life-works of many of the scholars listed above, it becomes quite clear that the physical knowledge that we have obtained from their works is but a mere reflection of the spiritual principles that they uncovered simultaneously. "As Above, so Below" is the great spiritual edict, or as many a Golden Dawn magician may say, "Kether is in Malkuth and Malkuth is in Kether". If we contemplate these teachings of pure math or physics or chemistry from the view point that there is a reflective side of these subjects, a new world, a more complete world, begins to open itself up to us.

The next thing that we may deduce (or debate) is that not only is the corpus of out scientific knowledge incomplete, but possibly the corpus of our magical teachings. Is it so far fetched, to look at the study of something such as electro-magnetic fields and associate them with the way that magical current flows during hand-on healing techniques? Chapter X of The Kybalion concerning polarity begins, "Everything is dual, everything has poles, everything has its pair of opposites; like and unlike are the same, opposites are identical in nature, but different in degree..." For those of you who may have studied electricity, current, and electric fields this may sound similiar to you. Protons and electrons have an equal but opposite charge. Protons having a positive 1.67*10^-19 charge and electrons having a negative 1.67*10^-19 charge. These elementary particles are governed by Newton's "Third Law of Action and Reaction" which states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Not only does this govern the movement of objects in the macroscopic realm but also the behavior of particles in the microscopic realm. The fact that these two particles are equal and opposite are the reason that atoms are held together and that molecules are made.Next comes what is known as an electric field where a distribution of charge (a bunch of charges bundled up together) causes what is known as an electric field. A single particle has an inner or outer pointing electric field, but it is the distribution of charge that causes things such as electric current.

Now let's look at this from an esoteric point of view. How many of you have under-taken the study of an energy healing technique or been the recipient of one and thought "Wow, I can feel this energy flow out of my hands" or "I can feel you touching me even though you are inches away from my body"? Is is so hard to make the connection that these energies may behave similarly to what we study in science? That there may be some type of energetic current or distribution of energetic particles causing this flow and that we may turn it on and off by at will? We spend a great deal of time honing our magical will in order to control these energies.Combined with a more specific understanding of how these energies work we could allow our will to turn into a sharply honed knife. And what about distance healing? Could quantum physics govern the principles of healing from far away? What about the discussions of the astral plane, where things such as time have no meaning? In the realms of quantum physics time is totally transcended, in fact the results that we receive from our experimental studies in quantum mechanics are totally dependent upon how we observe them because they deal with a plane of existence that is nothing but potential. Does this sound familiar?

Now this post is not meant to prove the connection between science and magic. I think that has been well written and well documented. The point that I am trying to make is that not only are we as a species of intelligent beings doing ourselves a great disservice by poo-pooing time honored and proven techniques (meditation, yoga, magic, etc..) that can help us to gain greater physical knowledge, but that we as magicians may not be utilizing all the knowledge that is available to us either. (Yes, I believe a physics book could be part of your grade material if used in the proper way) I have often heard it said by modern day mages that if science was only willing to take on the studies of esotericism our discoveries would grow exponentially. But I have rarely heard it spoken of the other way. However, over the past two years I have come to believe that when the separation of science and mysticism of an individual's teachings and discoveries takes place not only does the scientific community suffer, but spiritual community does as well. It makes complete sense that one should study chemistry along with alchemy, or physics along with ritual magic and meditative techniques. Knowledge is universal. It is one, it is not meant to be separated from itself into pieces. You cannot bake a pie with just a crust or just a filling, you need both. Please tell me your thoughts...

Nosce Te Ipsum

VH Soror FSO