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Symbolic Correspondence Systems

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick,alt.pagan.magick,alt.occult.methods,alt.mythology,alt.psychology.jung
From: nagasiva@luckymojo.com (nagasiva yronwode)
Subject: Symbolic Correspondence Systems (was Scrutinizing Aleister Crowley...)
Date: Thu, 02 Nov 2000 23:08:18 GMT

50001101 Vom 

regarding symbolic association systems (inferred or fabricated) and 
ceremonial rituals of visualization for achieving mystical goals; 
how they're found, made, and used.

thelema@supanet.com:
>>> { read 777 which is a monumental table of correspondances; so
>>> essential to workings 90% of occult authors us it in some form
>>> or another.

nagasiva:
>> ...[Crowley's'] "777"
>> correspondence table is a mass of faulty over-generalization
>> attempting to shoe-horn a multitude of cultural facets into a
>> single cultural lattice (and badly). he did not himself recommend
>> this work as anything more than an example of what he was trying
>> to achieve as far as correspondence-systems for ceremonial magic.
>>
>> neither did he originate this document (having received it from his
>> mentor, Alan Bennett), nor does it constitute a very major portion
>> of the works of occult authors (your "90%" is a ridiculous assertion).

leslie_moore@my-deja.com:
> In spite of Crowley's faults, Dr. Paul Foster Case praised 
> "777" as the best work in it's field.

as a personal correspondence-system for subjective visualization,
any crude construction based on approximations of global symbols
(like "777") can function as a complex lattice for symbolic 
recognition. however, this says nothing about its relation to actual 
cultural facets, the complexity that is excluded by virtue of 
shoe-horning it to fit, or how it might change one's consciousness
to use it as a map for spiritual orientation.

don't get me wrong, I LOVE the challenge of collaging cultural symbols
together. unlike some, I revel in Crowley's attempts, for example, to
correlate the Lurianic Tree of Life with the Chinese Trigrams and what
makes them (Tao, Yin, Yang), as within "The Book of Thoth". 

however, it seems to me that attempts to construct correspondence 
lattices from mythological systems (especially incompletely understood 
ones) and the later attempt to presume some Jungian archetypal truth 
which underlies them in the psyche is flawed by virtue of including 
the premise as part of its method. at some point the 'archetype' notion
seems to fall apart in the same way that the ideas surrounding the 'key'
to dreams falls apart based on the variability of individuals' psyche
or the cultural origination process. certain forms and contents with
regard to symbolism just don't match up no matter what is attempted (and
this should be the method by which the archetype theory is countered --
a good example that we've recently been discussing in other forums 
being gender assignments that certain cultures make with astronomical 
or celestial bodies).

what seems more valuable to me as regards the use of some kind of
ritual correspondence system for visualization is the construction of
a PERSONAL symbol-set (whether this is based upon anything in one's 
own culture or *not*). this would correlate more directly with a single
cultural symbol-system, whether that be a coherent mythology or some
cosmological symbol set.

to elaborate....

many ceremonial magicians don't seem to understand that this working 
symbol set (by which visualizations are interpreted and set into 
coherent confirmation) may be constructed beforehand from a 
predetermined artificial construct as that from some occult authority 
or based upon any historical or even FICTIONAL narrative, abstracting
qualititative symbolic associations based on selected interpretations
OR it may be constructed as a result of active dreaming or visualization
processes from a body of ritual records (one's own or those which are
created by others). 

what I have encountered in the descriptions by ceremonial magicians 
(related to their favoured interpretation systems that are often
held to be sacrosanct "mysteries" such as may be found in certain
tarot decks and other ritual tools) is that there is some single
cosmic 'key', a perfect symbol set or set of correspondences. the
way that these are arrived at is seldom described, and my impression
(open to correction) is that by and large, as with religious
scripture, they are seized upon by cultists as valuable without a
good deal of experimentation, passed down through generations with
a reputation of authority, and value based on who created them or 
what traditional authorities have said about them. 

I would compare the way that most occultists adopt correspondence
systems with the way that many religious accept the authority and
scripture of their religious forebears: without much scrutiny or
experimentation with alternatives, dogmatically. there is not the
aura of science to their use, but is instead that of faith, of
'revealing the cosmic mysteries', when what is REALLY revealed is
a certain neurophysiological and/or psychospiritual region -- one,
I contend, among VERY MANY UNEXPLORED ALTERNATIVES.

the best way that I can imagine proceeding is dependent upon one's
preferred method of ritualism:

	* experimenting with preconstructed systems and comparing
	  and contrasting their results

	* entering into nonordinary or trance states and then
	  intuitively constructing such systems oneself, exploring
	  nuances and alternatives within one's own preferences,
	  comparing and contrasting the results obtained.

from what I have seen (and obviously this is skewed based upon the
types of individuals who present the data in the realms in which I
have found it), traditional occult orders (like the Golden Dawn,
the OTO, OTA, et al) promote association systems that at LEAST have
the capacity to produce, amongst those who use them in visualization, 
qualities of arrogance, egotism, self-delusion, and self-aggrandizement, 
even while these qualities themselves may be eshewed or condemned. this
may be a snare or trap of the method or it may be a facet of the type
of symbolism and attendant theory that accompanies the symbols *combined*
with the method used.

group ceremony as described by members of these organizations tends to 
take the form of adhering to predesigned ceremonies and symbolic 
association schemes, "fitting one's experience into" whatever construction 
that traditional authorities have presented. this is quite simliar to
consulting dream books and trying to interpret one's nightly experience 
within the framework presented. as anyone knows who has done this, some 
dream books are more or less successful at providing meaningful lattices
that can be applied to situations in one's waking life (regardless of 
whether these all correllate with one another! which they need not). 

that is, given that

	a) visualization during trance and interaction with symbolic 
	   entities and themes within one's visualization produces
	   some kind of change in the ritualist (some maintain that 
	   this is a result of revelation, other a natural result of 
	   the application of what is revealed)
and 
	b) which symbolic association system is used actually does 
	   make a difference as regards what changes may be effected

it would seem important to have a vast database of reliable evidence
regarding the changes any particular symbol system effects in the 
ritualist (let alone any particular method of ritual or visualization).

when attempting to choose any set of symbols, the criteria one uses to
make this choice may have an affect on the consistency of results.
attempting to reconcile all terran cultural systems (as Crowley and
his predecessors tried to do) or to reflect any particular culture's
religious or mystical symbols (as the Golden Dawn groups seem to have
done in reflection of the Christian Bible and largely Christian
interpretations of Jewish mysticism) is not IN AND OF ITSELF VALUABLE,
from what I can tell. in fact such selections may merely reproduce 
qualities both valuable *and* problematic within these cultural 
contexts. the sexism, simplistic understanding of any particular aspect 
of the psyche, or cultural biases against or for particular human 
qualities inherent to the symbolism may become emphasized or 
underscored through the use of these association schemes.

what I suggest as alternative methods for use by individuals and groups
corresponds more with my own preferences and should in no way be
considered a suggestion of some Final Key or Best System. for individuals 
I recommend the alternative of finding ways to manipulate their states of 
consciousness which proves reliable, relatively secure, and devoid of
too many habituating elements (some psychoactives are therefore 
distinctly problematic for some individuals, for example).

engaging creative rituals including these methods, one may therein
artistically construct an association system that conforms with one's
own preferences, reflecting any traditional or personal, historical 
or fictional elements which one finds contains the ideals and/or
principles one thinks will assist one to achieve one's goals in self-
adjustment. having created such a system, one may then set about
mapping out the general visualization 'world', if you will, having
interactions with any entities presumed to inhabit this dimension of
one's psychology (or interpretation of the spiritual world, for those
who see it as ontologically separate from one's body) and making
small tweaks in the system thusly constructed based on exploration.
 
for groups, I would recommend something similar, except reaching a
group consensus regarding the constructed symbol system fabricated.
a (perhaps advanced) working version of group visualization activity
would be the integrated ritual encounter of each person's individual
interior psychospiritual 'landscape', in turn, or melded.

these suggested ritual methods may help avoid psychological bias
toward certain systems heavily-weighted due merely to traditional 
use or, in the case of individual ritualists, to peer pressure.

reviews welcome.

blessed beast!

nagasiva
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