quotes

On cyclic development

It will doubtless be asked why cyclic develoment must proceed
in this manner, in a downward direction, from higher to lower, a course that will
at once be perceived to be a complete antithesis to the idea of progress as the
moderns understand it. The reason is that the development of any manifestation
necessarily implies a gradually increasing distance from the principle from
which is proceeds; starting from the highest point, it tends necessarily
downward, and, as with heavy bodies, the speed of its motion increases
continuously until finally it reaches a point at which it is stopped.

Guénon the crisis of the modern world chapter 1, page 7/8

Runes and the spirit

Völuspa

18. Breath they had not,
spirit they had not,
character nor vital spark nor fresh complexions;
breath gave Odin, spirit gave Hænir,
vital spark gave Lodur, and fresh complexions.

63. Then Hænir will choose wooden slips for prophecy,
and the sons of two brothers will inhabit, widely,
the windy world – do you understand yet, or what more?

Larrington translation

Tripartite soul

I actually intended to post a reply to a post in the new PYHÄ blog, but the (translated) quote from a text of the Asatru group that I am member of became so lenghty that I decided to make this a post in the logbook. Do read Ensio’s thoughts on Dumézil’s tripartition and the soul too.

This soul is a complex concept, both regarding symbolism and way of thinking. In
the first chapter I wrote about the fact that the soul in the Northern tradition
is threefold: she consists of the önd (the principle of the universal gnosis or
wisdom), óð (that which raises rational aspects – the driving force of the ego)
and finally lá (that which controls the passions – material and sensitive
preservation). These three elements were laid in man by the Gods OdhÍ­nn, Hoenir
and Lodur. These three aspects of the soul are, like an umbillical cord,
connected to eachother and supersede the human aspect. This umbilical cord is
symbolised as a tree or as fire. […] Because önd stands centrally immobil, she
is uncreated, because she is Universal, and therefor belongs to the domain of
the Gods, even though she is in the Divine human. Í“ð on the other hand is the
principle of know-it-all’ity, a false reflection of önd, and over and over again
tries to put itself in the place of the primal principle. It is the engine of
daredevilry when it is disconnected from the Divine Assignment or Primal Law.
However, if óð places itself at the service of the principle of the universal
gnosis, then it can be the elevator of the third aspect, lá. This is where óð
has an elevating working (the fire from Ginunga gap) and lá is the descending
principle (the ice from Ginunga gap). But if both temper eachother by their
obstruction and place themselve in the service of the Universal Gnosis (the
Primal Law), then the urges will be sublimed, the rationality focussed, and the
unity of the aspects of the soul can be restored according to the right
propertions, being: the life-preserving aspect and the aspect of intellectuality
under supervision and in full harmony with the aspect of Wisdom.

On law

Because people have formulated law to their own liking as precept for judges, with which they remove themselves from the true justice and of the soul that is connected with the body in eternity. They accuse eachother and are being accused, they practise mutual hatred instead of mutual love, peoples-hate instead of peoples-love, ignorance instead of knowledge, and because of that ignorance they breed misery and disaster, raised by their unability, because they are inexperienced with the truth and full of shrewdness. That is why the heavens are free of such laws.

Oxford Hermetica, fragment III

Hermes to Tat: on Aletheia

Just a few weeks ago, a Dutch book with translations of Hermetic texts has been published by the Bibliotheca Philosopha Hermetica. It follows the translations of the Corpus Hermeticum and Asclepius and contains the Stobaeus fragments, the Vienna and Oxford fragments, the Testimonia of Scott and some other texts. I already had the Stobaeus fragments in the English translation of Walter Scott, since in this publication the language in which the text is found is published next to the translation. The Stobaeus fragments are in Greek and now that I am rereading them, it occured to me that the fragment IIA (Stobaeus III, II, 31 – Nock/Festugière III, 4-8 and book XV in some versions of the Corpus Hermeticum) which is often called “Hermes to Tat: on Thruth” is full of the word “Aletheia”. Since I don’t believe that colleague Tapio Kotkavuori has anything Hermetic in his blog yet, I thought it might be appropriate to make a short post on Hermes on Aletheia.

Tat is questioning his father Hermes Trismegistus on what is Thruth. The word used in Greek is “Aletheia”. Used as often as this word is “ouk alethes” or “not true”. The word “Aletheia” is translated in a different ways, “reality” in the beginning and “thruth” towards the end. Tat wonders what is true or real, and Hermes says that this is difficult, because everything that is made out of something unreal, cannot be real. “All things on earth then, my son, are unreal; but some of them – not all, but some few only, – are copies of reality”. Tat wonders that no man can think of reality than. Hermes replies: “There is no reality on earth; it cannot come into being here below; but none the less it is possible for some men to think truly about reality”, but that doesn’t change anything about the fact that there is nothing true down here. “[…] reality is the absolute and unmixed Good” and everything subject to change is not real., not even man.
This discussion continues for a while. Then Hermes says:

The Sun alone [is real] because the Sun, unlike allother things, does not suffer change, but continues to be as he is. Wherefore the Sun alone has been entrusted with the task of making all things in the universe; he rules over all things, and makes all things. Him do I worship, and I adore his reality, acknowledging him, next after the supreme God, as the Maker

To conclude I come to the not too readable picture above this post, which in Scott’s translation says:

Tat What then, father, can be called real in the supreme degree? – Hermes. He alone, my son, and none but He, who is not made of matter, nor embodied; who is colourless and formless; who is changeless and unalterable; who ever is. –

Aletheia, the source of all the goal of all.

On polytheism

I recently started the book The Myths And Gods Of India by Alain Daniélou (1907-1994). The book was originally titled Hindu Polytheism and now subtitled The classic work on Hindu polytheism. I don’t think there is polytheism, especially not in Hinduism. Polytheism is also often an ‘accusation’ against ‘pagans’. Some of the modern ‘pagans’ indeed do regard themselves polytheists, I definately don’t!
Let me start with two quotes from the book:
“The notion of divine unity is […] a fiction, a mental construction which is merely a projection of the living notion of individuality into the causal complex, a shaping of “god” to the image of man.” (p.35)
“In any form of ritual, of prayer, of mystical experience, man can approach only one of the manifest aspects, one of the several “gods”, never can he reach the vague Immensity, which, in any case, could bring him no comfort but that of nonexistence.” (p.36)
I wonder, did Daniélou not understand, does he contradict himself on purpose? These two quotes are close to stupidity or ignorance. I even marked the second with “duh” in the sideline. First, if the Divine is one, why would this “one” by man-shaped? Second, that the Ultimate Divinity is out of the human reach, does this mean that it is nonexistent?
“Whenever he carries any form of experience to its farthest limit, man has a glimpse of an unknowable “Beyond” which he calls divinity. This divinity cannot be grasped nor understood for it begins where understanding fails.” (p. 5). Beautiful!
“The theory of polytheism is based on a similar attempt. It is only through the multiplicity of approaches that we can draw a sort of outline of what transcendent reality may be.” (p.5)
Indeed, the gods are part of the Ultimate, therefor in my view, many gods does not necessarily mean polytheism. In the end, all is one, or in the words of Daniélou himself: “Whatever we try to worship, the worship ultimately goes to Him who is everything.” (p. 10). Exactly my idea!
Daniélou gives several descriptions of Divinity: transcendent reality (p.5), supreme cause (p.6), Brahman (p.7), nondual Immensity (p.7), Immensity (p.20), undifferentiated supreme self (p.8), the Soul” (p.16). This definately is a Hindu doctrine, so why does the writer deny it?
“The Soul is the sum of all the gods. “All the gods are this one Soul, and all dwell in the Soul.” (Manu Smrti 12.119/ [13])” (p.16)
A strange play of words this writer makes. I agree with the man, but what he calls (and proves not to be) “polytheism”, is not in my opinion, there is nothing outside of Brahman.
(For the rest, this is supposedly the ultimate work on Hinduism.)