Beginning a spiritual path is tough. To do so is to try to adopt new ways of thinking while simultaneously trying to cast out old ones. We’re trying to rework our own internal emotional signaling system — which can lead to tremendous emotional peaks and valleys. It’s almost like trying to dance while simultaneously having a neurosurgeon operate on the part of your brain that controls motor function. Accordingly, emotional turmoil and emotional growth can often go hand-in-hand on the spiritual path. This is incredibly tough, incredibly confusing, and can lead to some common stumbling blocks for the spiritual aspirant. One of them comes back to this initial impulse that I addressed in a previous post: the temptation to suppress the negative and undesirable emotional aspects we discover within ourselves.
“[Manly P.] Hall realized, perhaps more deeply than any other scholar of his time, that the ancients possessed extraordinary powers of observation — ways of understanding the correspondences between the outer natural world and man’s inner state — that were equally potent, and equally worthy of study, as their gifts for calendars, architecture, reason, and agriculture.”
— Mitch Horowitz in ‘Occult America’ writing on Manly P. Hall
We tend to think of ancient people as being intellectually inferior. We have a certain chauvinism about our own intellectual capabilities as modern people. We condescendingly assume that because these “forgiveably simple” people believed in such absurd things as the flat earth, they were similarly too simple to comprehend the mechanistic origins of our Universe. Accordingly, we dismiss so-called “ancient wisdom” as being primitive. Why were these people so simple; so primitive? Well — naturally — because they didn’t have modern technology. They didn’t have iPhones, GPSs and Starbucks. We tend to believe we’re smarter than the people of antiquity because our lives have come to be defined by the intellectual achievements of other people. We are surrounded in our day-to-day lives by the intellectual achievements of great minds that have come before us. But we, then, impute to ourselves a degree of intellectual superiority because we are modern people, who have adopted a modern understanding of the world and who are living in an age of heightened scientific and technological advancement. But how many of us actually understand how these things work? Despite the whole of human information being available through the internet, how many autodidactic learners are there in the world today, consuming this sea of free and immediate knowledge to expand their own minds? A scant few.
I am not an enlightened person. I’m not even sure I qualify as a spiritual person — at least not in the common understanding of the term. I have certain intuitive estimations about the nature of the world around me. I suspect they’re true, but I don’t know. I suspect that God exists, and that He is everywhere, but I don’t know this. As much as I wish I could maintain a straight face while attempting to feign false pity, and aim to “inspire” others to ever greater heights in their spiritual endeavors, I think the route of honesty is perhaps the better route to take — albeit the less inspiring route.
Psychedelics are spiritual steroids; they are highly effective in their ability to bring the spiritual seeker to higher states of consciousness. By forcing open the spiritual energy centers, they produce profound mystical experiences. However, spiritually-minded people shouldn’t find it too difficult to understand that the physical, material plane is not all that exists. We are more than a physical body. We also have an etheric body. Much like steroids can produce incredible changes by augmenting the performance of the physical body, so, too, can psychedelics augment the capacity of the etheric, spiritual body. However, just as steroids can leave long-term, lasting damage on the physical body, so can psychedelics have long-term, lasting damage on the etheric body. Once again, yes, psychedelics are very effective at producing profound mystical experiences — but their effectiveness is not the measure which should determine whether or not they are safe.
A previous post on the practical explanation of symbols (in particular, the symbols of Tarot, Astrology, Alchemy, and Kabbalah) as a means for emotional and spiritual growth, seemed to garner a few common reactions. While the post addresses the way in which our subconscious mind quite naturally assigns universal images to particular abstract concepts, it didn’t dive too much into the details. As a result, a few readers seemed to walk away from the post thinking it spoke of symbols in purely subjective, personal terms. In fact, the effect of symbolism and archetype on our subconscious is more of an “objective” phenomenon that can be standardized and leveraged for spiritual awakening.
Posted below is an informational video from Hermetic Academy on the topic of Hermeticism.
Hermetic Academy is an online home study course that covers the full breadth of western esoteric philosophy: Hermeticism, Astrology, Tarot, Kabbalah, Gnosticism, Rosicrucianism, and much more is covered in this extensive body of coursework.
It aims to rekindle an interest in western spiritual philosophy in the modern age. Even if one isn’t inclined to inquire further about Hermetic Academy, the video lays out the foundations of Hermeticism, its origins, and the way it is similar and dissimilar to other, more popular schools of spiritual teaching.
A practical explanation of the benefits of spiritual symbols
A sensible person might ask, “What on Earth does Magic, Tarot, or Ritual have to do with spiritual awakening? How does studying number and color and tone help me on this spiritual path? What does the Tree of Life have to do with anything? It doesn’t even look like a real tree!”
Why symbols and rituals? Well, because spiritually-minded people are a bunch of grown imbeciles who like to play dress up and stare at absurd abstractions, right? Those spiritual types are just suckers for all sorts of silliness and pageantry… or maybe not.