Magic = Spirit x Birth²
I place "attempting" in scare quotes, because one of the central points of this first letter is that no such attempt is possible. For one cannot try to play. There is no such thing as compulsory spontaneity. Except maybe at an Obama rally.
Really, the best I can do is to simply give up and find out, with the rest of you pslackers, where the windbag blows, because I sure don't know.
Nor do I have any authority, if that's what you're thinking! (And only a troll would think that.) To the extent that "authority" becomes present, I can assure that it's not coming from me. However, that doesn't mean the authority isn't fully real, if you catch his draft.
Thus, Letter I, the Magician, begins with the following well known crack by this mysterious master named Jesus: "The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but you have no idea where it comes from and not a clue where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."
What is the context of this puzzling statement, and what does it have to do with the Magician? Jesus has just explained that seeing what he calls the "kingdom of heaven" requires undergoing a "second birth," this one of spirit, not of water.
Now -- little sidebore here -- the further back in history we travel, the more concretely and palpably words such as pneuma, psyche, and nous are understood. In his classic The Discovery of the Mind, Snell writes that psyche, for example, is "the force that keeps the human being alive" and "forsakes man at the moment of death" (d'oh!). It is "breathed forth" and exits through the mouth or through a wound.
Likewise, nous may often "simply be translated as 'to see.'" Thus, Homer can say that the nous of a god such as Zeus "is ever stronger than that of men," which implies that it -- the divine intellect -- is a kind of "mental eye which exercises an unclouded vision."
More generally, Snell makes the important point that, instead of translating Homer to contemporary English, we really need to translate our own speech -- and by implication, our own way of thinking -- into the language and thought of antiquity.
The same holds true of biblical language, for when Jesus uses a word such as "wind" it has a palpable link to spirit and soul (breath). We don't know -- nor does anyone else -- where thoughts come from and where they blow.
So, as to how the Master knows these things -- i.e., the source of his mysterious authority -- he says that he simply speaks of what he knows and describes what he sees. You might say that the kingdom of heaven is what the awakened or illuminated intellect (nous) sees; or, this dimension called heaven "comes into view" with the second birth. There is no need to strictly define it before the birth, any more than you want to plan your child's life before you even meet him.
Spirit, birth², authority, heaven, intellectual vision. I guess we'll have to get to the end of the chapter to fully understand how these relate to the Magician, but in any event, Tomberg says that Jesus's words here are the key to opening this image, and that this image is the key to all the others. To put it inversely, the meaning of this image -- and of all the others -- is closed to the onceborn.
Tomberg says that the purpose of the arcana is to awaken the deeper layers of the soul. The image that immediately blows into my mind is the earth's atmosphere. Herebelow the air is usually pretty stable, punctuated by breezes and zephyrs, with the occasional hurricane or tornado thrown in.
But this is just an illusion, because not too far overhead we have the howling vortex of the jet stream blowing wherever the hell it wants to, and there's not enough xanax in the world to stop it.
Tomberg points out that the arcana are not just allegories, but authentic symbols. An allegory is a figurative and concrete representation of an abstract notion, and therefore involves the opposite of the cognitive movement Snell describes above. In other words, we want to go from abstract to concrete, not the other way around.
An authentic symbol, on the other hand, will simultaneously "conceal and reveal" (what I call "reveil") its essence, depending upon the depth of vision. (Remember Jesus's statement that he is simply describing what he sees, and the etymological link between sight and nous.)
So none of this is "secret." Or, to be perfectly accurate, it is an "open secret," but a secret that protects itself. The image comes to mind of a hybrid CD, in which one layer has the standard CD encoding, while a deeper layer contains the SACD encoding. A standard machine will read the CD layer, but know nothing of the SACD layer. It's there, of course, but for the standard player it may as well not exist.
You playa's out there may want to give that some thought, because there's a whole world of highdef information you're missing out on.
Now these highdef secrets are not "out there," so to speak, but rather, they inhere in here. This "kingdom of heaven" is within, don't you know.
However, it's like a field or a womb, a kind of generative matrix. And, just like a field or a womb, it needs to be fertilized. Yes, things grow in there, but not unless we become fertile. No fertility, no harvest, no bread, no eat. Again, very concrete, not abstract at all.
Assuming fertility, in order to conceive we will need a seed, a ferment, an enzyme, a catalyst, some yeast. Little help, please! The presence of these will stimulate our "spiritual and psychic life." Bearing in mind those literal meanings, they should make the windbelow a little more gnosisable.
Fertility should lead to birth. But that's not the end of it. Rather, as you parents out there realize, it's only the beginning. Furthermore, birth -- and prior to that, conception -- is the quintessential mystery, isn't it? And we are of course speaking both literally and literally, i.e., of both persons and of spiritual ideas (and their consequences!).
Again, spiritual ideas don't just come from nowhere. Rather, like people, they come from somewhere, we just don't know where. What we do know is that in both cases we need fertility (preconception), fertilization (conception), birth (concept), and nurturing (growth).
For Tomberg there is only one Mystery. We shall call this Mystery O for short. When our light strikes O, it breaks out into a rainbow-like prism, and this indeed is our proper prismhouse with all those mansions.
This prismhouse contains all the slackraments needed for further growth into and toward O. Each slackrament is a color in the heavenly reignbelow, and each color has virtually infinite shades.
I don't know why, but I am always entranced by this palette of colors, and our freakish ability to make these tiny distinctions in the realm of light.
Look at the many types of blues, for example. I remember Willie Dixon saying that you can get one type of blues from your girlfriend leaving, another kind when she comes back. One kind from being unemployed, another kind from having a job. You cry when you're born, but dying is no picnic either. That's just how it is down here in this world of fluctuation and enigma.
Well, we really didn't get too far today, did we? Oh well. You know what they say about the wind.