work gnosis

Your greatest need is to clean out the enormous mass of mental and emotional rubbish that clutters your mind. You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life, work on controlling your mind. In most cases, that’s the only thing you should be trying to control.
—  Marc Chernoff

“We are living in a culture entirely hypnotized by the illusion of time, in which the so-called present moment is felt as nothing but an infinitesimal hairline between an all-powerfully causative past and an absorbingly important future. We have no present. Our consciousness is almost completely preoccupied with memory and expectation. We do not realize that there never was, is, nor will be any other experience than present experience. We are therefore out of touch with reality. We confuse the world as talked about, described, and measured with the world which actually is. We are sick with a fascination for the useful tools of names and numbers, of symbols, signs, conceptions and ideas.”

-Alan Watts: The Supreme Identity

“The squaring of the circle” is one of the most important interpretations and definitions of the Great Work of Alchemy. The Circle represents Unity, the First Matter of our work, and the Square represents the Four Elements of Nature which emanate from and return to the Circle. In Alchemy it is asserted that the metals are composed of the Four Elements, which the ancient philosophers called Fire, Water, Air, and Earth. The actual differences between the metals are the result of the particular proportions in which the elements are combined in the metals. Gold itself is the natural result of a particular combination of the elements. The other metals of Alchemy are also combinations of the elements. By extracting and purifying the elements in the base metals, thereby reducing the metals to their pure state of Prima Materia, and then by skillfully converting the actual proportions in the combinations of the elements which constitute the life of the metals, the metals can be transformed into gold. By purifying an object of the Four Elements we are left with a fifth element which we call the Quintessence and the First Matter of our work. In WoMan this fifth element is called his/her Spirit. Now in Mystical Alchemy the elements represent the human senses. Fire is the sense of sight, Water is the sense of taste, Air is the sense of smell, Earth is the sense of touch, and Spirit is the sense of sound. The fifth element of Spirit, unlike the others, has a direct link with our True Self, which is the Crown of our alchemystical work. To attain this fifth element we must first purify or deprogram ourselves. Then must we recreate or reprogram ourselves in accordance with our True Will. When the True Self is attained through its so-called purification, or, in other words, when we rise above the elemental senses, it is then that we are able to properly recreate ourselves, to reprogram our systems, or to recombine the elements to fit in with our new perspective. But first we must purify our systems; only then are we truly fit and freely able to properly consecrate ourselves to the Great Work, to reprogram ourselves in accordance with our True Will, and to effect the Supreme Transmutation. To deprogram ourselves is not really an act of elimination but of purification. In this case the elemental senses are to be purified. The senses, as commonly applied in the world, are material in nature, causing an identification of consciousness with the material plane at the expense of the spiritual. But we cannot realize our True Self if our senses are bound to the material world; they must become the vehicles of our True Self.

The Secret of Alchemy

Alchemy is one of the cornerstones of the Gnostic Esoteric  Work. In his writings, Samael Aun Weor unveils the secret of alchemy and  discusses its importance in detail. The metals that the alchemists refer  to are not things found in the world around us, but rather are substances  found within our own bodies and psyches. The core of the alchemists’ long  and cryptic discourses, when unveiled, is a straightforward sexual concept.  It consists of the transmutation of the sexual energies, or secretions,  through the practice of the sexual act between husband and wife, but without  ever wasting the sexual energies (i.e. never reaching climax or orgasm).  The idea of intercourse without reaching orgasm may seem at first unusual,  but if it is practiced correctly it gives us the ability to achieve self-realization.

In modern society the sexual energies and spirituality  going hand-in-hand seems like a contradiction. This is not so, however,  when sexual alchemy is performed correctly. A hermetic axiom states “As  above, so below”, and by practicing alchemy we are using the same  primary forces of creation that the Creator uses in order to bring everything  into existence, only we are using these forces at a different level of  being. Through sexual alchemy we create the esoteric vehicles and virtues  that enable us to reach the Divine. Transmutation gives us large quantities  of energy. Instead of the sexual energies being wasted through orgasm,  they are transmuted or transformed into a finer, more potent form of energy.  The physical, psychic, and spiritual energies that accumulate through sexual  transmutation are of an extremely powerful nature, and it is energy of  this quality that we need to successfully progress in the Gnostic Esoteric  Work.

The Ninth Sphere: Transmutation

Sexual transmutation through the practice of sexual alchemy  has often been referred to in Gnosis as working in the “Ninth Sphere.”  The number 9 esoterically represents the work with the sexual energies.  Card number 9 of the tarot, “The Hermit”, signifies the alchemical  work. The 9th sephiroth of the Kabballistic Tree of Life is Jesod. Jesod  means “Foundation”, and it is in this sephiroth that the sexual  forces, which are the living foundation of our physiology, gravitate. The  Gnostic teachings stress that it is impossible to attain self-realization  without working in the Ninth Sphere. Birth, one of the 3 Factors for the  Revolution of Consciousness, denotes the creation of those vehicles and  virtues that enable us to achieve “yoga”, or union, with the  Divine. To “be born”, however, is an entirely sexual matter,  and involves working in the Ninth Sphere.

Awakening of the Kundalini:  One of the main objectives of the alchemical work is the awakening of the  Kundalini, that powerful, serpentine energy of Oriental philosophy that  is found at the base of the spine. The Kundalini is currently found dormant  in most people, but it is only through its awakening and subsequent ascent  through the spinal canal that it is possible to achieve true Birth. As  the Kundalini ascends, vertebra by vertebra, through each of our lunar  bodies, it results in the awakening of the spinal chakras, the creation  of the solar bodies, and the manifestation of inner virtues. To awaken  the Kundalini, and to subsequently keep it ascending, requires great amounts  of energy. This energy is obtained only through the practice of sexual  alchemy. Contrary to what many schools believe, meditation alone is inadequate  to awaken the Kundalini. The Kundalini is sexual in nature, and meditation,  although being a very powerful technique to obtain information, cannot  provide the quantity nor the quality of energy needed to awaken the Kundalini  and make it rise along the spine.

The Merits of the Heart  and the Ascent of the Kundalini

The awakening and ascent of the Kundalini is governed  by certain universal laws that must be adhered to. These are not blind  or mechanical laws, but rather conscious laws. The Kundalini is under the  control of the Divine Mother and the fires of the heart, and only develops  through work in the Ninth Sphere and by the merits of the heart. These  are merits obtained through a process of sanctification and purification.  The Kundalini will not rise even by a single vertebra if the merits of  the heart required for that vertebra are lacking. These merits are obtained  through the daily observation, comprehension, and elimination of the negative  psychological elements constituting our ego. By disintegrating these psychological  defects a degree of consciousness is freed, and virtues opposite to the  eliminated defects are then manifested. This disintegration process, however,  requires a special kind of energy. This energy is to be obtained through  sexual transmutation and working in the Ninth Sphere. In addition, sacrifice  for humanity is required in order to earn the “cosmic capital”  which gives us the right to eliminate the ego and obtain the merits of  the heart. Currently we all have many karmic debts, and we pay back these  debts through sacrifice for humanity. This is why the Three Factors for  the Revolution of Consciousness (Birth, Death, and Sacrifice) are absolutely  necessary for spiritual growth, and why we must practice them in a balanced  manner.

A complete study of alchemy, the Ninth Sphere, the Kundalini,  and the merits of the heart involves a great deal of further explanation,  much more than can be presented in just a few paragraphs. The investigation  of these topics requires both intellectual and intuitive comprehension,  and also a need to change out way of thinking and feeling. This is done  in a gradual manner and with an open mind. Through the practice of the  psychological techniques that Gnosis offers, we become more receptive and  increase our ability to grasp the profound concepts contained in the Gnostic  Doctrine.

The personality and the things of the senses have to be sacrificed in order that the Higher Self may manifest; there can be no dispute on this point. All the Initiates have declared it to be so. We are inclined to think that, having sacrificed the personality, we shall be bereft of all things. This is because the mind of the West still clings to its habit of believing that the death of the body ends existence. So we believe sub-consciously that the death of personality ends enjoyment of the fulness of life. We forget that the merchant who sold all he had was able to purchase the Great Pearl. True, he had realised all his assets, but they were re-invested in something of far greater value. The Gospel story implies that he bore off the Pearl in triumph. So it is with us if we make the sacrifice of the things of the senses that permits of the incarnation of the Higher Self in the physical body.
—  The Training and Work of an Initiate, Dion Fortune

Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus)

Salvador Dali, 1954.

The Great Work

The true Mason is not creed-bound. He realizes with the divine illumination of his lodge that as Mason his religion must be universal: Christ, Buddha or Mohammed, the name means little, for he recognizes only the light and not the bearer. He worships at every shrine, bows before every altar, whether in temple, mosque or cathedral, realizing with his truer understanding the oneness of all spiritual truth. All true Masons know that they only are heathen who, having great ideals, do not live up to them. They know that all religions are but one story told in divers ways for peoples whose ideals differ but whose great purpose is in harmony with Masonic ideals. North, east, south and west stretch the diversities of human thought, and while the ideals of man apparently differ, when all is said and the crystallization of form with its false concepts is swept away, one basic truth remains: all existing things are Temple Builders, laboring for a single end. No true Mason can be narrow, for his Lodge is the divine expression of all broadness.

There is no place for little minds in a great work. Man’s status in the natural world is determined, therefore, by the quality of his thinking. We can only escape from the world by outgrowing the world. Death may take man out of the world but only wisdom can take the world out of the man. As long as the human being is obsessed by worldliness, he will suffer from the Karmic consequences of false allegiances. When however, worldliness is transmuted into Spiritual Integrity he is free, even though he still dwells physically among worldly things.

—Manly P. Hall

I keep thinking about spirits. place-spirits, land-wights, call them what you will. and in particular city spirits.

see, the thing is [and I can’t pretend to know quite how this compares to rural areas, because I am at heart and by lifestyle a city girl] there are just so many of them. you can’t just say ‘the spirit of London’ and have done with it - there is I think a spirit of London in its entirety, but that’s too massive and complex and so very Other and I can’t communicate with it directly - because it’s not that simple.

there’s neighbourhood spirits. and they interlock and intermingle with one another in webs I’m only starting to get a feel for. and they are separate - or at least if not wholly separate from then not wholly the same as - the spirits of the land itself. of the soil and the rock and the grass and the sky. the spirits of the trees. the flora and the fauna. the rivers. the lakes. the ancestors. the Dead, whether resting or restless or merry or glorious.

and then there’s the house-wights, the spirits of houses and offices and businesses. the hearth-spirits. spirits that are half-inherent and half-created - growing and evolving with the history and inhabitants of their Place. and the spirits that are organisations, institutions, in their individual characters, more than the sum of their parts, that may reside in a certain place but are not defined by it. my old college had a spirit, as does each line and each station of the Underground.

I suppose I feel there’s a kind of reductionist, human-centric view of the spirit world that says, one place has one spirit. that London would have this one London-spirit and that is that. all done and dusted. but I don’t think the spirit world can be mapped like that. it’s an infinite regress of complexity, more and more wherever you look. the more I understand, the less I am sure I know.

spirits are multitudinous and complex and they are individuals and also interlinked - as we are all of us interlinked. humans and spirits exist in symbiosis, co-evolution, whether we are conscious of it or no. and if we’re going to understand one another, if we as humans are going to engage with the spirit world, we need to appreciate that. appreciate that to say 'spirit’, as though the spirit of London and the spirit of the Northern line and the spirits that inhabit the cracks and crannies of Mornington Crescent station and the spirit of the earth it’s built in and upon are all the same class of being, is fundamentally flawed. appreciate the multi-dimensional nature of that world. come to that world on its own terms. with a little humility and respect for the enormity and complexity of the beings we share our world with.

we as humans are only a tiny part of the equation. it’s good to remember that.

“For the adept to be cut off from his roots, from contact with the vitalizing and necessary basis of his Unconsciousness, will never do. He must unite and integrate the various levels of his entire Tree (of Life). His task must be to train and develop the titanic forces of his own underworld, so that they become as a powerful but docile beast whereon he may ride.” (Israel Regardie)

Many people are estranged from the occultist because love is not his outstanding characteristic. The difference between his attitude and that of the lover of humanity may be likened to the difference between the person who keeps animals as pets and the one who breeds them for show purposes. The latter sets out to bring the species to the highest degree of perfection of which it is capable, and with that end in view, he is ruthless with the individual. The standard of training in the higher degrees is very exacting and few achieve it; these few are those whom tradition regards as super-human. But they are not super-human, they are human beings developed to the highest pitch of which the human vehicle is capable. Such excellence in any walk of life is obtained only as the reward of arduous labours, and these leave their mark on the adept. He travels too fast for the average humanity, and they resent it; but of those souls who delight in great adventure he is the chosen companion and beloved friend.
—  The Training and Work of an Initiate, Dion Fortune

The Importance of Motive

The analysis of motive generally demonstrates them to be basically selfish, regardless of how unselfish they may appear.  Only those who assume the study of occultism with the highest and most unselfish motives can hope to succeed in this the supreme science. In the present age nearly everyone has ulterior motives, most of which center around the aggrandizement of the individual not-self, mistaken for the Self. We desire power that we may be recognized as powerful; we desire wisdom that we may be recognized as wise; we gravitate about important people in the hope that we may shine a little with their reflected glory; we seek to be virtuous that one man may say to another, “there goes a godly person!”

To the average person it is inconceivable that greatness should not promenade. And yet an analysis of the men and woman who have become great-either in spiritual or material affairs-reveals, in the majority of cases, humble retiring individuals whose greatness is never offensive. Those who study occultism, hoping thereby to improve their material condition, fail utterly. Before power can be safely entrusted to man, he must become supremely indifferent to it. Perfect unselfishness is perfect consecration to the service of the One Universal Self.

Manly P. Hall, Spiritual Centers in Man

Image Credit-Johfra Bosschart, Lion and Griffin (1968)

The occultist who is going to undertake any serious work in his chosen subject must be perceptive, must be able to be sensitive at will, and must have a working knowledge of ceremonial magic. To say otherwise is to say what is not true, for occult science is very much more than a system of ethics based on a belief in super-physical planes of existence, the Masters, and reincarnation.
—  Dion Fortune

Moved into my new studio after a long period of landing from teaching in Vienna… and happy to finally have space and time to resume the therapeutic activity and meditation of painting. Here is ‘Sun II’ in the works…

The Power of Continuity

The candidate must understand the importance of continuity. The curse of the modern world is its inability to finish the enterprises which it begins. As a child starts several things but completes none of them, so the child-mind in man vacillates from one activity to another. Failure to achieve is the result of scattering the power of the mind over too great an area of endeavor. Man can cultivate no quality more essential to his spiritual well being than that of finishing what he begins. Success can never be achieved in the material world without at least a reasonable development of the power of continuity. In matters pertaining to occultism, the same is true.

A person who studies several lines of philosophy may call himself broad minded, but if he carried none of these lines to a successful culmination, he is in reality “scatter brained.” Again and again such a person turns off and tries a new road, when just a few more steps upon the old one might have brought him within sight of achievement.

Manly P. Hall, Spiritual Centers of Man

Image Credit- Alchemy by Heretic-azz

The initiate may accept his lot with a calmness which amazes men whose impulse it is to curse or pray according to their nature, but his acceptance does not necessarily imply passivity. To accept one’s fate without murmuring does not pledge one to make no effort to better it. Knowing the power of concentrated thought, the initiate makes use of it in all the problems of life. His method, however, is not that of direct attack in which he “wills” the change of the unpleasant condition, but is directed to bring about certain changes in his own consciousness, for he knows that it is his own temperament which is the real instrument of karma. It is only through those factors in his own nature which react that karma can affect him. He knows that certain conditions come to him in order that they may provoke certain reactions in his own nature, and according to his handling of these reactions will be his karma, even in the present life. When he has harmonised these reactions, he has worked out his karma.
He knows, therefore that although he cannot determine the conditions under which his life must be lived, he can determine his reaction to those conditions. It is this fact which he bears constantly in mind in all his dealings. It is this realisation which enables him to raise his head above a sea of troubles and view them from the standpoint of cosmic law and spiritual principles. Although he cannot command the conditions to which he awakens from the sleep of birth, he is nevertheless the master of his fate, for he can manipulate those conditions in such a way that they shall bear him whithersoever he will, just as a ship can tack against a head-wind; and the worse the conditions and the stronger the wind, the swifter his progress.
—  The Training and Work of an Initiate, Dion Fortune