We may thank the Polish speaking Lithuanian born poet and Nobel laureate Czeslaw Milosz for helping us consider our place in the world—perhaps, as he suggests, more powerfully defined by language than longitude and latitude. From his perspective, “Language is the only homeland.”
The Western Mystery Tradition, a teacher-to-student conveyed legacy of the hermetic arts, is itself a repository of many homelands presented as uniquely expressed symbolic languages. You are no doubt familiar with several: Alchemy, Astrology, Qabalah, Tarot and Gematria to name a few; and several extent cultures upon which they draw deeply for content and form: Babylonia, Chaldea, Egypt, Rome, Judea, Greece, Sumaria, Persia, Arabia, Europe, Canada, Latin America and the United States.
Fluency is possible with practice through careful associative listening and repetition. And none of us begin the journey, on a waking level, as native speakers! The accent of our parents and community, the filter of our own ego and the ever present self-delight of the mind is always present to strengthen and corrupt understanding. We arrive in this world, each of us, in a pre-lingual, but not unconscious state! Do we claim Plato’s notional Ideal world as our native grammar? The rational fragments of the Pre-Socratics? Jung’s archetypes and alchemy? Freud’s seething cauldron of the libido?
Medieval Alchemical Signs of Grimoire Magic Book, Volume 2 and 3
Linguists help us appreciate the structure of language. The hermetic arts possess a comprehensive syntax and grammar (mostly comprised of symbols, shapes and colors) the intelligibility of which is revealed by association (not memorization or allegiance per se) through practice and repetition. The experience of learning a musical instrument or apprenticing to the journeyman sculptor come to mind as comparable processes. Fluency follows the rudiments. We ignore the rudiments at our peril if it is the harmony of fluency we long to enjoy.
It is interesting to observe how airline pilots, everywhere, always communicate with other pilots in English. No exceptions. By adopting a common language for communicating position and weather, the prospects of remaining safe are enhanced. There is no similar concern for safe travel in the world of the Hermetic Arts! Dangers can be missed at the expense of the less experienced traveler as Fool.
It helps to keep in mind, the astrologer, alchemist or tarot reader—in a waking state, cannot know if their inferential interpretations are applicable or off-point– BEFORE the person asking a question (as client, penitent, disciple or patient) is able to confirm or refute the interpretation. In other words, only the inquirer is able to ratify the work product of the practitioner (priest, elder, therapist, healer, astrologer, life coach). The intended beneficiary, thereby, becomes the giver–this is what we call “magic”! It has always been so. The gospels are replete with this important axiom of transformation: consider the Beatitudes, the Widow’s mite, the acknowledgement of the Wise Men from the East–and Luke’s admonishment, “Physician heal thyself”. Or, Wordsworth’s inspiration penned with this verse–“The Child is father of the man”, as it appears in his poem of 1802, “My Heart Leaps Up When I Behold”.
The hermetic arts are likely to be more easily mastered if the goal is fluency not prognostication. The Astrologers’ Folio is about learning linguistic arrangements of symbols as the syntax for soulful dialogue—understood as a trilogy of self and two voices: one voice speaking from the depth of our waking awareness—and one voice from the complex homeland of our non-waking awareness as intermediated by the meek, let it be Self.
It may be unity we yearn for–it may be the pursuit of what is integral that calls to us; to become whole may require us to consider identity to be plural. The United States of America has stamped the coin of the realm with this preoccupation: e pluribus unum. Out of many, one. The Yankees, it is fun to be reminded, have no exclusive claim on worldview. If we try to translate e pluribus unum into Hawaiian–we learn there is no translatable equivalent! This should allow us to smile. It is the reason we open this inaugural blog of the Astrologers’ Folio with an image of the Tower of Babel.
We can now relax and enjoy the process. If the pursuit of the hermetic arts edify, meaning, we become more prescient about the powers of compassion and love in every human heart to transform subjective experience in and out of Time, we move ahead. If no, we should put our pencil down and revisit the stories of Icarus, Sisyphus, Cain and Abel, Castor and Pollux or Romulus and Remus, as you prefer. We may not achieve wholeness by faith, but we will never lack for content to assuage the mind.
Early in the 19th century CE, the great poet (and opium user) Samuel Taylor Coleridge introduced to the language the word “adeptship”and thereby enriched the lingua franca of the Western Mystery Tradition. The first steps in this direction, migrating from Fool to Adept, will likely entail these qualities: our steps shall be un-rehearsed (by faith), non-linear (by intuition), and silly as a Fool’s ego (so the Trickster’s point of entry might be sensed if not observed directly). Strange talk? Perfect.
Much to learn. Welcome to the domain of the Astrologers’ Folio. We bid you peace.
A Reference of symbols, charts and definitions important to Western Mystery Tradition studies is listed as Post No. 900. Enter “900” in the Search box to be directed to this location.
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