Saturday, August 28, 2010

Angels & Demons: Duality & Paranormal Phenomena

I mentioned the Neoplatonists in earlier articles. The Neoplatonists believed in the concept of a world-soul, which they also also acquired from Plato. They called this the Anima Mundi. This world-soul or Anima Mundi was the realm from which emerged the gods and daimons. The Anima Mundi is also equal to Dr. Carl Jung's collective unconscious and I also believe it is Dr. Huston Smith's Intermediate Plane or Dr. Henry Corbin's Imaginal Realm.

The Soul of the World, collective unconscious, or Imaginal Realm-whatever noun we choose to identify this magical place with-cannot be known directly. The daimons, myths, and gods that emanate from this realm are, in a sense, metaphors for one another. It is also useful, I believe, to imagine the Anima Mundi/Imaginal Realm as the beautiful, calm reflective surface of a crystal-clear mountain lake on an enchanting Autumn night. Using this imagery, picture that the images on the surface of our lake are actually empty-or not "really" on the lake-but the surface of our magical lake can reflect everything. Then I think we have a good metaphor/analogy for Jung's collective unconscious/Anima Mundi/Imaginal Realm.

In other words the gods, daimons, and myths of the Imaginal Realm are not in the Imaginal Realm etc.--they are the Imaginal Realm etc. One thing that using the placid surface of a lake for our analogy to the Imaginal Realm that may give a false impression of this place is the sense of calm and serenity it gives. In fact, it is a dynamic, tempestuous place that constantly branches into "our" world-its tendrils leaping into the physical plane, the mental plane (our thoughts/imagination) and our psycholgical complexes and dreams.

The philosophy of alchemy gives us one of the most refined embodiments of the Anima Mundi. Mercury (Mercurius) personified a dynamic, living spirit in the physical matter and also the unconscious itself. "The mythical figure of Proteus, a favorite image of the Renaissance, represented a combination of the sea image and the personification: as daimonic offspring of the sea-god Poseidon. Proteus is the shape-changer par excellence-always himself, yet always appearing as something else."

"When Jung spoke of images, he referred especially of course to those archetypal images we encounter as daimons and gods. We must not be misled by the word "images" into thinking of them as somehow unreal. We should, on the contrary, approach them as Jung approached daimons like his Philemon-"as if they were real people" to whom he "listened attentively." He did not, we notice, treat them as literally real, as we (mistakenly) treat hallucinations or (correctly) treat people in the street...He treated them as metaphorical beings, as if they were real people. And it is this metaphorical reality, as (if not more so than) literal reality-as real as Philemon-that he called psychic reality." Daimonic Reality, Patrick Harpur, pp. 47-48.

There are two benefits for thinking of the Anima Mundi instead of the collective unconscious as the prime metaphor for daimonic reality. The first is that the Anima Mundi evokes the notion of the soul, with all of its religious and mystical implications as opposed to psyche which has been denuded of these connections by almost everyone except Jung and a handful of other thinkers. The second benefit is that the Amima Mundi suggests a plane of being that is as much "out there" as it is "within us," as opposed to how the "unconscious" part of the collective unconscious suggests as area of being that can be reduced to psychological factors.

W.B. Yeats wrote: "If all our mental images no less than apparitions (and I see no reason to distinguish), are forms existing in the general vehicle of Anima Mundi, and mirrored in our particular vehicle, many crooked things are made straight." From the human standpoint, the soul is a microcosm which is also composed of a deep, abstruse collective level or world-soul where all of the separate, individual souls meet. From the world-soul/Anima Mundi's point of view it is a macrocosm, a complete impersonal world which has the ability to paradoxically be made known in a personal manner (duality again--microcosm/macrocos, personal/impersonal) as individual human souls. Jung realized that the deeper we dig into our souls, the unconscious unfolds-turning inside out: "At bottom the psyche is simply the world."

The word "animism" is used, by and large, in a derogatory manner by Western society towards traditional societies-all of which, even if they don't have an intellection for it, perceive Anima Mundi. This is because Western culture, long ago, denied any sense of anima in Nature thus taking soul out of it and debased Nature to dead matter reacting in accordance with sterile mechanical laws. To cultures which are animistic, Nature reveals herself in all her glory as thourougly daimon-haunted. These people recognize the sylphs of the air, the genii of forest and mountain, numina of trees and streams etc. The amazing variety of daimons associated with certain places also have their opposite numbers in places of habitation, such as ancestral spirits and the "kinder and gentler" household gods. To people in animistic cultures no part of mundane reality is without the sacralization of everyday living or without a daimon who has to be awarded its share unless one wants to invite misfortune and mishap into their lives.

Daimons also love to inhabit areas such as sacred graves, stone circles, tumuli, and holy wells. Perhaps the lights seen hovering over crop circles and tumuli (among other sacred sites), are analogous in some way to "modern" UFOs that are spotted over power generating stations, nuclear reactors, military bases and reservoirs. If this is the case we would have dualities with the ancient and modern: ghost/fairy lights (ancient) hovering over stone circles/tumuli (ancient). UFOs (modern) hovering over military bases/nuclear reactors (modern). The military bases, nuclear reactors and the like would play the part of our modern "sacred" technological sites which we worship, as animistic cultures worship at stone circles or sacred graves and the like.

Geographical locations where a high number of UFOs are seen are called "windows." Other Fortean phenomena also seem to favor certain locations or "windows" on occasion. A window is certainly a good name to describe an area where there is more permeability between daimonic and ordinary reality--the "daimonic" and "ordinary" being perhaps another duality that is essentially the flip sides of the same coin.

Daimons are famous for haunting "boundary" areas. The anthropolist Victor Turner called them liminal ("threshold") zones. These liminal zones and the daimons that haunt them occur in a wide variety of areas physical and mental-many of which can be thought of in the form of dualities: consciouness/unconsciousness, day/night, old/new (example: at the turn of the year) etc. Other liminal zones that daimons favor are crossroads, bridges, the bases of mountains, and shores. Mobile home parks and caravan sites are frequented by strange beings, UFOs and other Fortean phenomena more often than other areas where people make their homes-especially considering their usually smaller size. Could this be because they are often located in liminal (boundary/threshold) zones between city and country? Perhaps also because these areas are "home" and yet "not- home" to so many people? Could these examples also be yet more evidence of duality?--city/country, home/not- home? Whatever one thinks of the duality issue-one thing can be said for certain with regard to these quirky places: Many people know of a magical, enchanted place whether it is largely known or private where our so-called "laws" of space and time, matter and causality appear to be undermined; and for a time-usually brief we catch a glimpse of a hidden order of things.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Angels & Demons: Duality & Paranormal Phenomena

I think the daimons and the realities from where they have their origin have always been with humanity and quite possibly precede us. Plato and the people who arrived on the scene after him and tried to preserve (and expand on) his teachings have left us some of their thoughts about the daimonic/magical aspect of reality. In the Timaeus, Plato thought of the individual daimon as the element of pure reason in man-a kind of intelligent and wise spirit rudder to steer the ship of one's soul by. The philosophers we call Neoplatonists (they would have thought of themselves as Platonists) expanded on Plato's ideas about reality and daimons.

Wikipedia: "The philosophers called Neoplatonists did not found a school as much as attempt to preserve the teachings of Plato...The concept of the One was not as clearly defined in Plato's Timaeus (the good above the demiurge) as it later was by Plotinus' Enneads: however the passage in Plato's Republic (509c) in which the Sun is said to symbolize The Good (or the One) can be seen as ample justification for the late Platonist's view of the One-for here Plato calls The Good, "beyond essence," especially when this is placed alongside the range of attributes denied of the One in the Parmenides. The afterlife Socrates defines in Phaedo is also different from the afterlife of the person or soul in the Enneads. The soul returns to the Monad or One in Plotinus' works. This is the highest goal of existence, reflected in the process of henosis. In both the Enneads and Phaedo there are different afterlives: one could be reincarnated, one could receive punishment, or one could to to Hades to be with the heroes of old. This last one for Socrates was the highest ideal afterlife. This is in contrast to Neoplatonism's ideal afterlife of returning to the One or Monad. However, what is said in the Phaedrus (248c-249d) reconciles these two apparently conflicting views: for Socrates in this dialogue shows that a movement from life to life (including periods in Hades) is part of a much greater cycle that culminates in perfection and a divine life."

Plotinus is a very important person in Neoplatonism. Even though his teacher, Ammonius Saccas, was said to have founded Neoplatonism, it is Plotinus' Enneads that are the primary and classical document of Neoplatonism. To Plotinus, the individual daimon wasn't anthropomorphic, but instead, a living psychological principle that dwells within us and is transcendent to us. Here Plotinus appears to be in agreement with Dr. Carl Jung's later work-that there are beings (daimons), archetypes and a psyche beyond ourselves. Here is a bit of what Jung thought about his own personal daimon Philemon: "Philemon brought home to me the critical insight that there are things in the psyche which I do not produce, but which have their own life...I held conversations with him and he said things which I had not consciously thought...He said I treated thoughts as if I generate them myself but in his view thoughts were like animals in the forest, or people in the room...It was he who taught me psychic objectivity, the reality of the psyche." Dr. Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, pp.208-209.

The Syrian Neoplatonist Iamblichus (d. 326 AD) also added greatly to the study of daimons, in fact, modern investigators of the paranormal could learn a lot from the distinctions he makes between "phasmata." "For instance, while phasmata of archangels are both "terrible and mild," their images "full of supernatural light," the phasmata of daimons are "various and dreadful." They appear at different a different form, and appear at one time great, but at another small, yet are still recognized to be the phasmata of daemons." As we have seen, this could equally well describe their personifications. Their "operations" interestingly, "appear to be more rapid than they are in reality" (an observation which might be borne in mind by ufologists)." Patrick Harpur, Daimonic Reality, p.39.

Personal daimons, for the most part, prefer two different guises to appear in. They can manifest as glowing orbs of light or take on an angelic/wise-man/woman countenance. Napoleon's daimon both counseled and protected him--it could also be seen by him as a shining sphere, which he called his star, or would visit him as a dwarf dressed in red that would warn him of danger. I agree with Patrick Harpur that the two forms are different manifestations of each other--a duality--the star as an astral guide and a red-bedecked dwarf that warns to stay out of harm's way. The reports of personal daimons/guardian angels/spirit guides are hardly the only paranormal phenomena where the same principle seems to be at work, but taking on different forms that can often be looked at from the perspective of duality--one paranormal coin with two different faces, as I hope to show in upcoming posts. The second image is a drawing Carl Jung did himself of "Philemon."

All the best to anyone stopping by! Oh- that first image- that is a pic of me with my trusty dragon - his name is Mucho Caliente Breath;-)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Angels & Demons: Duality & Paranormal Phenomena

One of the best commenters in blogland, my friend Xdell at the Xspot , left a comment under the previous article that gave me the idea for the direction this series should go next. This is with regard to where paranormal phenomena come from, and how, and why they manifest as they do. Of course, there may not be much more than theorizing here, but I think we may be able to see some surprising patterns develop.

Here is one idea that I hope people who read this blog will at least entertain, even if they end up not agreeing completely, or at all with it. The more I have studied paranormal phenomena/Fortean phenomena over the years, the more convinced I have become that almost all-if not every one of them are produced by (a) human consciousness interacting with matter. (b) human consciousness interacting with non-human consciousness. (c) human consciousness interacting with both matter and non-human intelligence. Another way of saying this is that I think most, if not all, of these phenomena live through us. I also wonder if the human race is just as dependent on these other beings and levels of existence.

Here might-notice I said "might"-be some examples of a, b, and c above. Many of these phenomena may "overlap" categories: (a) noisy ghosts "poltergeists", crop circles, synchronicities, BVM (Blessed Virgin Mary) sightings, UFO sightings. (b) NDEs (near death experiences), channeling (Jane Roberts with the "Seth" material for instance), automatic writing. (c) UFO trace evidence cases and contact with UFO "aliens," encounters with elementals, gnomes, fairies etc, and trace evidence left behind from these encounters (fairy rings, missing time etc. -very similar to modern UFO reports quite often), cattle mutilations, "intelligent" hauntings, crop circles.

As you can see, these examples are by no means a complete list. When dealing with paranormal/Fortean phenomena I don't think there will ever be an end to the "list." I mentioned that some of these phenomena would straddle categories-this is due to the way one looks at them. Crop circles, for instance, could they be caused by some natural, but as yet unexplained process? Could they be caused by human consciousness interacting in some way with physical matter? Or could they be caused by some non-human intelligence interacting with matter and human intelligence?

The reason I am not giving a "d" category of non-human intelligences only interacting with matter is that I am thinking that the very fact we humans observe a certain phenomenon-crop circles-for instance-means that we are in some way interacting with the phenomenon by simply just noticing it and trying to explain it. Some might consider this "cheating", but I think the reason I am doing this will become more evident as this series progresses.

I would also like to use Huston Smith's ideas about the "Primordial Tradition" from his book Forgotten Truth to represent the 4 levels of reality I will refer to in this series. In this book, Smith talks about the Great Chain of Being and how it begins with the Infinite level of Spirit (God Unmanifest, Godhead) and proceeds down, or "devolves" to the Terrestrial level (Body, physical reality). This can also be thought of as "devolution" from Absolute Unity, Infinity, Eternity, and Truth down to the state of Duality, Finiteness, Temporality, and Falsehood.

The very highest level of reality is the Noetic Absolute. This is the realm of the Godhead, Spirit, and the Infinite Source of all Creation. This level is the Alpha and the Omega of all existence. It is beyond human language to describe-this level of Spirit must be experienced to know it. It is also somewhat paradoxical, as it is beyond all form, but is "pregnant" with every form of existence.

The next level "down" is the level of the soul: God Manifest. Huston Smith calls this the Celestial plane. This is the plane of the knowable aspects of God. It is also the plane of the archetypes or "first forms." I believe many paranormal events have their origin at this level of reality.

The next level "down" is what Huston Smith refers to as the Intermediate level of existence. This is the level of the world in all its invisible aspects: Mind and the Vital Principle. This would also be the "astral" plane and the "Imaginal" level of reality. I think that quantity-wise, if not quality-wise, most forms of paranormal phenomena and experience originate with human minds/imaginations interacting with this Intermediate or Imaginal level of existence.

The final level is the most self-explanatory. This is what Smith calls the Terrestrial level, and is simply the level of our physical reality here on Earth. There is a "mirroring" of all of these levels of reality in human beings: Spirit= the level of the Infinite; Soul= the Celestial/Archetypal level; Mind= the Intermediate/Imaginal/Astral level; Body=the Terrestrial level. All these levels of reality are accessible to human beings-the only thing is not many experience the Celestial and Infinite levels.

I will close this post with a wonderful bit from Patrick Harpur's Daimonic Reality (pg. 35) that explains some more about the where and why of the beings (daimons) that inhabit these other levels of reality: "Daimons were essential to the Gnostic-Hermetic-Neoplatonic tradition of philosophy-which was more like psychology (in the Jungian sense) or a mystical discipline than the logical excercises that philosophy became. But the daimons of myth evolved into a sort more suited to these philosophies, whether angels, souls, archons, thrones, or powers- many of which later infiltrated Christianity. Ever flexible, the daimons changed their shape to suit the times, even becoming abstractions when necessary (the Neoplatonic henads for example) but preferring if possible to remain personified...Never quite divine nor quite human, the daimons erupted out of the Soul of the World. They were neither spiritual nor physical, but both. Neither were they, as Jung discovered, wholly inner nor wholly outer, but both." To be continued...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Angels & Demons: Duality & Paranormal Phenomena

"This world of Imagination is the world of Eternity; it is the divine bosom into which we shall all go after the death of the Vegetated body. This World of Imagination is Infinite, and Eternal, whereas the world of Generation, or Vegetation, is Finite and Temporal. There Exist in that Eternal World the Permanent Realities of Every Thing which we see reflected in this Vegetable Glass of Nature. All Things are comprehended in their Eternal Forms in the divine body of the Saviour, the True Vine of Eternity. The Human Imagination..." William Blake A Vision of the Last Judgment

Consider: An encounter with a man whom my friend Terry Robinson wonders if he was actually an angel saves him from drowning. Another poet, and friend of mine, Stephen Morrissey has an excellent blog and series of poems, Dream Journeys that would fit right into this new series I am going to do here! There are also other poems of Stephen and Terry that these gentlemen kindly let me post here at My Favorite Monsters under the "poetry" label-and also by their names.

A young mother notices her 3 year old daughter has run off from the garden where she was playing. The mother looks around frantically and to her horror sees the young girl sitting on the nearby railroad tracks-a train is coming. "As she raced from the house screaming her daughter's name, she suddenly saw a striking figure, clothed in pure white, lifting Lisa off the tracks. While the train roared past, the glorious being stood by the track with an arm around the child...When the mother reached the daughter's side, Lisa was standing alone." Daimonic Reality by Patrick Harpur, pages 37-38.

And what of these incidents: "Or the Petropolis, Brazil, report of October 25, 1957, in which we are told that a girl dying from cancer was saved by a fantastic operation performed by two men who came from the sky. Or the case of "Dr X," the French doctor who observed two strange objects near his house in October 1968 and was subsequently cured of a large hematoma and of a form of paralysis." Dimensions, page 154 by Dr. Jacques Vallee.

And what on Earth are we to make of these encounters/incidents?: "Driving home in a company van the evening of March 17, 1978, Englishman Ken Edwards saw a strange figure on top of an embankment...It descended the steep hill at an impossible right angle to the ground, and before walking across the road and straight through a chain link fence as if it wasn't there, turned to face the van and shot narrow beams of light from its eyes into the cab. A power surge burned out all of the major components, Edwards' watch stopped, and he showed Hough [Peter Hough-a respected UFO researcher] marks on his hands that had been clutching the steering wheel which resembled sunburns. He soon began complaining of stomach pains, and was found to be riddled with cancer, and died at 42. Maybe he would have anyway, if he and something unknowable hadn't crossed paths, but like Barbara, his widow, told Hough, "A thing that can burn skin, stop watches and destroy an expensive radio might well be capable of harming a human being." Rigorous Intuition by Jeff Wells pages xiv and xv.

And this?: "Last July 20, Vince Weiguang Li delivered an Edmonton newspaper that carried a lengthy feature on the Wendigo, "a terrifying creature in native mythology that has a ravenous appetite for human flesh. It could take possession of people and turn them into cannabalistic monsters."

"Li abruptly quit his job and took a bus across the Canadian prarie, where he beheaded and cannabalized 20-year-old Tim McLean. "I just don't know what to think of it, quite frankly," says the pieces author, and Windigo expert, Nathan Carlson. He'd documented numerous cases of people believing they were "turning Windigo" who would beg to be killed "before they started eating people." At Li's first courthouse appearance, the only words he spoke was a soft, "Please kill me." also from Rigorous Intuition pg. xv

And this?: "On 16 November 1963 four young people were walking along a country road near Sandling Park, Hythe, Kent. Seventeen-year-old John Flaxton was the first to draw attention to a bright "star" which seemed to be moving over the woods at Slaybrook corner. The group grew alarmed when the "star" started to drop towards them. As they ran for safety they became aware of an oval-shaped golden light floating above an adjoining field. They stopped running-and the light stopped moving. They felt they were being watched."

"Up until now. the encounter is typical: the anomalous light heralds the advent of some visitation-a ring of fairies perhaps or a blond "spaceman" with a stirring message for mankind. Instead, "the glowing disappeared behind the trees, and the next thing the young people knew was that a dark figure was stumbling across the field towards them. It seemed to be completely black, human-sized but with no head [and] have wings of the kind associated with bats...The youngsters are convinced they saw a ghost. Mervyn Hutchinson, eighteen, said it was like a bat with webbed feet and no head." Daimonic Reality: A Field Guide to the Otherworld by Patrick Harpur, page 44.

The 1963 sighting in England, that Patrick Harpur talks about, gave me a bit more of a pause than its very creepy nature would already suggest. It happened 6 days before the Kennedy assassination in Dallas, Texas (or the 1963 coup d' etat for some of us conspiracy researchers!) "over the woods at Slaybrook corner," and involved an entity very reminiscent of Mothman . Now many people who believe in, and investigate such things believe the Mothman is an apparition that presages death, similar to the Black Dog or the White Lady. Maybe my ponderings on this case are "out of left field." However, I do believe in the reality of these (and thousands upon thousands) of other paranormal/Fortean phenomena. I also believe that human consciousness (at all of the levels of existence it can access) interacts like it is a web -spun within and without the threads and skeins of gross physical matter, and other, more subtler forms of matter which I definitely think exist too.

So I ask myself, "WTF is going on?" The first image is William Blake's The Ghost of a Flea, painted circa 1815-1820. The second image is one I saw on a discussion forum so I don't know who did it- another mystery! To be continued...