Principles of Hermeticism, 5/15 Version

1. We practice analogical thinking, which is a mental as well as creative and embodied skill. It is a whole way of being in the universe, and it changes everything. It has only a little to do with ideas that are easy to grasp like horoscopes or spellcasting, little more than it has to do with, for example, gardening or auto repair. Still, if you like the idea of possibilities like these, you will like this way of thinking (assuming you understand that there will be sacrifice), and one way in is as good as another.

2. We practice analogical thinking in a tradition, thinking about the symbols that have come down through history, the paths they’ve taken as they come down, and the ways that people have thought about them, understood them, and lived lives shaped by them. We understand the tradition by searching out this trail of symbols until we are a part of it.

3. We affirm that this tradition is, analogically, also a kind of hollow conduit. There is no inner secret that can once and for all be revealed, so there is no possibility of dogma. It is engagement with the process of interpretation that is crucial–interpretation, commentary, and also inspired expression.

4. We acknowledge that something about this process is itself a metaphor. There’s something about life which at its core is hollow, untouchable, and visible only in its incidental diversity. As above, so, infinitely and impenetrably, below, as usual.

2020 Hedge Notes

In 2020, a couple of my huge personal themes were metaphor and boundaries. This is a series of notes I wrote that seemed worth saving to revisit in the future:

1. Hedgerows. In England and probably other places, they used to separate everybody’s property from everybody else’s. But also, they were literally made of hedges and incredibly diverse ecosystems tend to exist in (h)edge environments. Due to the way that boundaries actually connect everything to everything else, they’re also crucial corridors for wildlife migration.

2. Boundaries, in general, interpersonal and otherwise, and their generative properties.

3. Limits, physical and creative, and the way that no one individual, unique thing can exist without them.

4. Learning that in qi gong/Chinese traditional medicine the viscera and fascia are considered, rather than just the stuff that happens to connect the organs, muscles and bones, to be the really important parts that conduct the life energy and must be healthy if anything else is going to work.

5. Learning that in the Chaldean oracles, Hekate was described as — as well as the Anima Mundi (world soul, uniting matter and spirit much like Psyche, the soul, unites mind and body) — *a membrane*. Meaning that her own being defined the boundaries of the created world, the distinction between the world of ideas and the world of form.

6. The letter X as a symbol of Hekate, representing the union of opposites but also, as it was used to mark boundaries, the idea of separation itself.

7. The critical faculty — the distinction between the conscious and subconscious minds which normally gives us the power as well as compulsion to judge whether ideas make sense before fully absorbing them. It can be sidestepped (though only partly) through dreams, hypnosis, metaphor and other hedge-walking arts.

8. The Via Negativa, path of what we can experience and conceive of only through absence and negation.

I can’t quite see what’s in the middle of that web, of course, but it still feels like kind of a big deal.