Friday, May 10, 2019

We Die into Our Imaginations

I recently came across a provocative speculation about the growing literature on near-death experiences, their relation to "vision", and the relationship of vision to art. This is from a professor of philosophy and religion, Jeffrey Kripal, reflecting on such a near-death experience recounted by Elizabeth Krohn. This seems to me particularly relevant to Yeats's A Vision and his art in a number of ways, so that I will quote at greater length than I normally would.
The modern near-death accounts are made possible in their increasing number and depth by the advances of biomedical technology, which can “pull us back” from further and further into the death process. This might look like a minor observation, but it has major implications for how we think about the near-death literature as a whole. What we have in the near-death stories, after all, is essentially a new mystical or visionary literature made possible by new biomedical technology....
     The English expression “to have a vision” is very helpful here, as it can mean two very different things. First, it can name a more or less passive process. “To have a vision” in this sense is to be given something, as in a dream. But the same phrase can also name a process that is much more active, that is about creating and projecting something and then working toward actualizing that projected vision in the future. Here, “to have a vision” is to make something actual that was previously only potential. As such, it is more akin to writing, directing, and then projecting a movie. When I refer to the modern near-death literature as a visionary literature and write of our vision-work here, I intend both meanings: something is received or revealed, and then something is created out of the gift. I mean to suggest that these revelatory visions of our own deeper nature are also projects that we must engage with and act on; that these need our attention and intention to fulfill their purpose; and that they are finally about us changing us.
     We can think of the entire history of religions in this way. We can think of it all as a long series of science fiction movies—with the scenes painted on the walls (of the caves, of the churches, of the temples), and all of it inspired by countless and quite real supernatural special effects (like precognition and auras). For thousands of generations, we have been born and then died into these running science fiction movies, changing the scenes and stories as we go, largely unconsciously and gradually, but sometimes dramatically and, seemingly, all at once.
     Not surprisingly, the religions have always known something of this, if in a largely implicit, unconscious, or at least unexpressed way. This is why they have so richly supported and funded the arts, not for art’s sake, but for the vision’s sake. They understood very well that it is the image and the story that ultimately define a community’s worldview and religious experience. We do not have to share any of those values or beliefs (that is, we do not have to believe their movies) to see that they may well have been on to something very important, namely, that it is the image and the arts that largely determine what we see and what happens to us in the death process and in the afterlife, at least in the “near-death” zones from which we sometimes return.
     In short, we die into our imaginations, be these psychological, cultural, or religious. We die into our own personal and collective art....
     If any of this is close to the truth, and I think it is, the conclusion is as obvious as it is shocking: if we want better death experiences, it would do us well to make better art. If we want to be in a better science fiction movie “there,” it would serve us to make better science fiction movies “here.” Toward this same end, we might even decide to take up the modern near-death literature and create new art, i.e., new meditation and prayer practices out of it. We might use this literature and these reports to imagine what death might be like for us, or better, what we might want it to be like. By doing so, we could take more responsibility for our own visionary displays and work with them, as in a lucid dream, here and now before we die. We could not just “see visions.” We could also “have a vision”; that is, we could possess a vision of the future and consciously act on it as our project. We could decide for ourselves which paintings we want to die into.
     If we were really smart, we would also create practices that taught us that none of these forms of the imagination are literally true, that they are all “ours.” We might then seek the artist behind all the art, the projector behind all the movies. We might even wake up from our own dreams of life and death, however real they might seem at the moment.
Jeffrey J. Kripal, Professor of Philosophy and Religious Thought at Rice University,
in:
Elizabeth G. Krohn, Changed in a Flash (Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 2019).
     Yeats's descriptions of the "bardo", the states existence between death and rebirth, in A Vision include differing levels and kinds of dream state, particularly in the first part where the soul deals with understanding the foregoing life. One in particular, which he calls the Phantasmagoria, is connected with "those among the dead who imagine themselves 'surrounded by flames and persecuted by demons'" and to the ghost in a Noh play who cannot stop believing herself "surrounded by flames" (AVB 230–31, CW14 168). All, however, take place within a construct where the enveloping dreams are created out of the soul itself and the community it is part of, both the "timeless and spaceless community of Spirits which perceive each other" ("Seven Propositions"), and also the community of our earthly life, particularly at the level of culture, art, and religion.
     Kripal suggests that artists contribute to the afterlife experienced by their society by forming the individual and collective imagination, which Yeats also suggests in poems such as "The Tower", where he states:
I mock Plotinus' thought
And cry in Plato's teeth,
Death and life were not
Till man made up the whole,
Made lock, stock and barrel
Out of his bitter soul, 
Aye, sun and moon and star, all, 
And further add to that
That, being dead, we rise, 
Dream and so create
Translunar Paradise.
I have prepared my peace
With learned Italian things
And the proud stones of Greece,
Poet’s imaginings
And memories of love,
Memories of the words of women,
All those things whereof
Man makes a superhuman
Mirror-resembling dream. (VP 415, CW1 198–99, 2nd ed. 202)
Plato bans the artists from his republic because they create only lies or imitations of the true forms, but Yeats sees the artists as giving access to those forms, even if what is created is "a superhuman / Mirror-resembling dream" that reflects ourselves back to ourselves. Life and death are both included in the human visionary act, created from the imagination of the "bitter soul". In A Vision A, Yeats goes as far as to suggest that "time and space [are] the work of our ancestors", in the sense that the souls of the dead who do not reincarnate and "have found an almost changeless rest" are responsible for the "least changing things" in the universe, represented by the "Fixed Stars" (AVA 158, CW13 128) or the translunary world of traditional thought, while the living and the reincarnating dead create together the sublunary world. But Yeats's thought is fixed on the "Translunar Paradise" he will create through the art of Renaissance Italy and classical Greece, love poetry and memories.  
     In "Sailing to Byzantium" his inspiration is Byzantine mosaics and he asks the "sages standing in God's holy fire" to "be the singing masters of my soul" and to help form his existence once he is no longer "fastened to a dying animal" (VP 408, CW1 193, 2nd ed. 198). He asks them to "gather me / Into the artifice of eternity", recognizing that eternity is experienced through the artifice created by the soul and its song.
   

Thursday, March 14, 2019

A Reader's Guide to Yeats's "A Vision"—Update and Discount

 A Reader's Guide to Yeats's "A Vision" is available now from Amazon in the US and in the UK, with slight savings, but also with good previews of the early chapters. They use the e-book version, which includes colour in a few of the diagrams.

http://www.yeatsvision.com/images/ARGYV-flyer.png 
Click here for a link to the full flyer
Discounts of 30% are available by ordering directly from—
Liverpool University Press, with the code: LUP30
or Oxford University Press (in the US and the Americas), with the code: ADISTAS

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Credo



My friend from Asia has powers and magic, he plucks a blue leaf from the young blue-gum
And gazing upon it, gathering and quieting
The God in his mind, creates an ocean more real than the ocean, the salt, the actual
Appalling presence, the power of the waters.
He believes that nothing is real except as we make it. I humbler have found in my blood
Bred west of Caucasus a harder mysticism.
Multitude stands in my mind but I think that the ocean in the bone vault is only
The bone vault’s ocean: out there is the ocean’s;
The water is the water, the cliff is the rock, come shocks and flashes of reality. The mind
Passes, the eye closes, the spirit is a passage;
The beauty of things was born before eyes and sufficient to itself; the heartbreaking beauty
Will remain when there is no heart to break for it.

Robinson Jeffers

Friday, February 8, 2019

A Reader's Guide to Yeats's "A Vision"

A Reader's Guide to Yeats's 'A Vision' has just been published.
UPDATE AND ORDER DISCOUNT

JUST PUBLISHED by Clemson University Press
a new introduction to the context and system of A Vision

A READER'S GUIDE TO YEATS'S A VISION

CONTENTS
Background
1 Overview: The Book of A Vision
2 Genesis: Making and Remaking A Vision
3 Background: Antecedents and Assumptions
Foundations
4 Presentation: Gyres and Geometry
5 Spirits: Determinism and Free Will
6 Being: Human and Divine
Structure
7 The Faculties: Action and Pursuit
8 The Principles: Reality and Value
9 The Daimon: Opposition and Essence
10 The Divine: One and Many
Process
11 The Circles of Life: Wheels and Rebirth
12 The Twenty-Eight Incarnations: Lives and Phases
13 After Life: Understanding and Preparation
14 History: Cycles and Influx
Epilog
15 Reframing A Vision
Appendix: People in Phases

The cover art is by Jaff Seijas.

With 39 diagrams. An associated glossary of terms and a bibliography are available here.

A Reader's Guide to Yeats's 'A Vision' by Neil Mann is published by Clemson University Press.
Orders are already shipping from Liverpool University Press for Europe—copies have arrived in Limerick!—and will shortly be available in North America through Oxford University Press.

There is also an e-book available through Liverpool University Press and, at current exchange rates, the sterling price is lower than the dollar equivalent in the United States, though still ridiculously high. The format is PDF and some of the diagrams contain colour for added contrast. Unfortunately the endnotes are not hyperlinked.

Amazon lists the book, but apparently does not have any stock and will not ship for some time. For Europe, copies are best ordered from Liverpool University Press.

An essential book for anyone starting out to read A Vision .... a must-have book for the serious reader of A Vision.     —    Colin McDowell


This is research-led teaching at its very best. As the "one deep student" of A Vision, Neil Mann is the perfect companion, and his is a lucid, patient, and uncompromising guide to Yeats's book of such strangeness, candor, and compelling dignity.     —    Warwick Gould


Neil Mann provides here a long-needed companion to W. B. Yeats's strange and fascinating text A Vision, to which he will bring a much-deserved wider audience. That for each subject addressed, Mann provides an overview followed by an array of further detail means that A Vision will become more luminous both to new students of Yeats and lifelong devotees. We are fortunate to have such a skilled and knowledgeable Vision scholar as Mann elucidating both the workings of Yeats's system itself and its centrality to his poetry.     —    Catherine E. Paul


One hundred years after the first months of the "miracle" that led W. B. Yeats to write A Vision, one of the twentieth century's most difficult treatises has found its first thoroughly reliable and enjoyable guide. In Neil Mann's elegant and comprehensive book, Yeats's "unexplained rule of thumb that somehow explained the world" is explicated without having its essential wildness tamed. Mann is one of the world's most knowledgeable scholars of A Vision, and he has given us a clear and readable book that is a model of balance and erudition. Specialists and general readers of Yeats will turn again and again to this guide with relief and pleasure. Thanks to all spirits that it is here!     —    Margaret Mills Harper





Sunday, January 6, 2019

Epiphany

Today is the Feast of Epiphany, commemorating the arrival of the "wise men from the east" in Bethlehem, bearing gifts of "gold, and frankincense, and myrrh" (Matthew 2:1–11). This story is given in the Gospel of Matthew, while most of the other elements—no room at the inn, the manger, and of the adoration of the shepherds—are drawn from Luke (the ox and the ass are later additions to the legend). Though many of us have become used to the fusion of the two—mainly through the hymns or readings associated with Christmas and the tradition of the nativity scene or crèche—in art, most of the old masters represent the adoration of the shepherds and the adoration of the Magi (kings or wise men) separately.

Sandro Boticelli, The Adoration of the Magi, ca. 1480, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C.
Yeats takes these two adorations as archetypes. In the notes to The Wind Among the Reeds (1899), he characterizes three speakers of the collection's poems:* "'Michael Robartes' is fire reflected in water", "Hanrahan is fire blown by the wind", "Aedh ... fire burning by itself". Yeats then goes on:
To put it a different way, Hanrahan is the the simplicity of an imagination too changeable to gather permanent possessions, or the adoration of the shepherds; and Michael Robartes is the pride of the imagination brooding upon the greatness of its possessions, or the adoration of the Magi; while Aedh is the myrrh and frankincense that the imagination offers continually before all that it loves. (Variorum Poems, 803)
The Wind Among the Reeds (London: Elkin Matthews, 1899)

Yeats says that "It is probable that only students of the magical tradition will understand" the elemental attributions, and it is clear that he is drawing upon symbolism that includes the astrological fire, associated with intuition and imagination, while water is associated with emotion and air with intellect. He links Hanrahan and Robartes further to the idea of possession—a more earthy association, but imaginatively as much the possession of learning—and to the idea of two different revelations: the unexpected angel appearing to the shepherds in their fields, opposed to the studied revelation of the star that leads the wise men to Judea, where it is then related to written prophecy. Neither revelation is better, and though the unburdened spontaneity of the airy imagination might seem superior, the dedicated mission of the Magi is an important part of the mystery too. What the shepherds may have gained by simplicity of heart, the Magi have gained through great learning, but both have arrived at the same truth.

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, The Adoration of the Shepherds, 1668, Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.

Yeats wrote his own story "The Adoration of the Magi" at much the same time (1897), and his three old brothers from the western islands of Ireland have qualities of both the shepherds and the Magi. Simple countrymen, they are inspired by a voice to visit Paris, in search of a place where they finally find a dying prostitute. The god Hermes speaks through one of them and tells them to bow down and hear “the secret names of the immortals” that “the immortals may come again into the world” (Variorum Secret Rose 168var; see Mythologies 2005 424n13), and the dying woman appears to give the secrets of religious mysteries, such as those Yeats was attempting to create at Lough Key: “she told them the secret names of the immortals of many lands, and of the colours, and odours, and weapons, and instruments of music and instruments of handicraft they held dearest; but most about the immortals of Ireland and of their love for the cauldron, and the whetstone, and the sword, and the spear, and the hills of the Shee, and the horns of the moon, and the Grey Wind, and the Yellow Wind, and the Black Wind, and the Red Wind” (VSR 170var). When Yeats revised the story in the 1920s, while he was writing the first version of A Vision, instead of these revelations of these ancient secrets, the dying whore gives birth to a unicorn, though the birth is unseen and supernatural and recounted by Hermes.
 
Georges Lallemand, The Adoration of the Magi, c. 1624, Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.

The revelation comes differently, but the import is ultimately the same—the advent of a new religious dispensation, which is first glimpsed by those who have the gift of grace or the result of preparation.

When Yeats looked back on his days in the Golden Dawn of the 1890s, he recalled:
We all, so far as I can remember, differed from ordinary students of philosophy or religion through our belief that the truth cannot be discovered but may be revealed, and that if a man do not lose faith, and if he go through certain preparations, revelation will find him at the fitting moment. I remember a learned brassfounder in the North of England who visited us occasionally, and was convince that there was a certain moment in every year which, once known, brought with it "The Summum Bonum, the Stone of the Wise." But others, for it was clear that there must be a vehicle or symbol of communication, were of the opinion that some messenger would make himself known, in a railway train let us say, or might be found after search in some distant land. (AVA x–xi, CW13 liv)
—————————————————

*Four names actually feature in the poems' original titles—Mongan is the fourth—alongside "the Poet"; these were later changed to a generic "He..." or "The Lover...".

Sunday, December 2, 2018

The Process of Incarnation

Though the human experience is at the heart of Yeats’s system in A Vision, he is unsure and unclear about the origins or first impetus towards human life. Why do some spirits enter space and time and become incarnated as human beings? Despite hints in the treatment of the afterlife, A Vision does not address the topic at all, but a draft intermediate between the two versions,[1] gives a slightly fuller account, which fits with the developed scheme in most details.

Yeats starts with the solar pair of Principles, Spirit and Celestial Body, which form the central core of the individual existence:
The Spirit is the Conscious Self which is always one, but this Self holds within it, when we consider it as perfect, all of our conscious selves, and it is those other selves that are the Celestial Body.[2]
Here Spirit is seen as Self, but as a partial expression of a fuller whole, the Celestial Body, which contains all that the self can be. Together and in union, they are a form of perfection:
But Spirit and Celestial Body so united are timeless, the selves are limited and changeless, possessing as in a single moment what the natural self unrolls in its endless pulsations,* each at once unique and universal, Daimon not man.[3]
The timeless archetype is here identified with the Daimon, which ties the elements together neatly—perhaps too neatly. Yeats was always tempted to codify and find correspondences, then forced to change position because of evidence or instruction. The contrast of the eternal moment of self-possession[4] with the natural self as the unwound skein of life beating to the time-keeping rhythm of the heart is reinforced by a footnote to “endless pulsations”: “ ‘I give you the end of a golden string, only winded into a ball, – it will lead you in at Heaven’s gate, built in Jerusalem’s wall.’ Blake.”[5] In Yeats’s misquotation of Blake, the archetypal self is the long threads of many lives wound into a single ball. Parts may be unspooled in time and space as individual incarnations, or wound up again into the eternal instant.[6]
But seeing that this motionless world according to Parmenides and the most recent† speculation is alone completely real, what brought the natural man into existence? Nobody has ever answered that question, and my instructors, like all that have gone before, accept evil as part of the structure of things.[7]
This is the key question—why does the Spirit leave the perfection of its union the Celestial Body and start the natural process? The use of “evil” here is disconcerting, but Yeats generally appears to use “evil” in a profoundly amoral sense, both in the system and elsewhere, and the implication is that the emergence of “natural man” is a kind of imbalance or fall from the perfection, a move from unity to duality and multiplicity.[8]
All that they can do is to say the something which they call the Passionate Body lures the Spirit from its bride, the Celestial Body, and saves the Celestial Body itself, from solitude.
This luring is effectively the Spirit’s attraction to experience, to contact with what is not itself, other spirits and Daimons, hence the saving of the Celestial Body, which remains separate, from solitude.
After comparing all the descriptions of it [Passionate Body] scattered through the automatic script or spoken in sleep, I can but define it as abstract multitude, though there is but one technical term of my instructors that describes it – Destiny. Destiny is that which forces from within, his peculiar bias, that which makes him different from all other men.
The Spirit is thus lured by Destiny, which Yeats proceeds to link with the term as used in the Hermetic Fragments and which he consistently identifies as lunar/antithetical and individual in opposition to objective Fate. He then goes on to identify the Passionate Body with matter in the Hermetic sense.
The Passionate Body is no doubt called passionate because the source of emotion and volition. It cannot differ greatly from what Hermes calls matter – “matter having no quality nor form of its own to make it visible, is in itself wholly invisible”. The Spirit which alone contains within itself time and space and all other categories “ripened” it – a word used by my instructors doubtless because of their association of sun with the Spirit – into the objects of sense, each a symbol or correspondence of some articulation of the Celestial Body.
The Spirit thus lured to the Passionate Body, fructifies and ripens it into the objects of sense, partially reflecting attributes of Celestial Body. (This incidentally provides a clear rationale for the Yeatses symbolic method, as the relation of the sense objects to the timeless truths of Celestial Body is by “symbol or correspondence.”) The Passionate Body is the particular and phenomenal manifestation of Celestial Body’s archetypal articulations.
The objects of sense are called the Husk, because when perceived they are already dead or separate, something cast off by the growing seed.[9] The Passionate Body itself is the present, a moment of time as distinct from the eternal present of the Celestial Body, and is contrasted with the Husk or past. The Spirit offers the timeless Celestial Body as our aim or as the future…. The Husk is, I think also the past, and within the Husk and the Passionate Body the Four Faculties originate and complete their circles.
Husk is the final aspect of the Principles and elsewhere more properly refers to the senses themselves, though without the limits of bodily sensation, but bound intimately to Passionate Body. The Passionate Body, the thread unwound in time and space, gives the ever-shifting present in contrast to the Celestial Body’s wound ball concentrated in eternity, which yet appears as a future set against the present and past of the sensuously directed Passionate Body and Husk.[10] The Faculties are introduced as originating “within” the Husk and Passionate Body and completing the whole circuit of their action there too, but even here we are not given any idea of the process involved and Yeats may have felt unable to supply what was not in the script.[11] A card-file entry summarizes that the tinctures “ ‘Anti and Primary come at birth’ ” (YVP3 248)[12] and by implication the Faculties arise when the spiritual being of the Principles becomes incarnate, that is, enters “the exclusive association with one body” (AVA 221, CW13 183).[13] In a draft he notes as part of “certain interactions of Faculties and Principles” that “the Faculties are drawn out of the Husk by Spirit and share the Husk’s abstraction,”[14] implying thus the interaction of spiritual consciousness or mind (Spirit) with sense or “light” and incarnate consciousness (Husk). The Faculties are the tools for dealing with incarnate life and take over almost entirely, so that, although “the Principles are the innate ground of Faculties” (AVB 187, CW14 137) or their “Roots,” during incarnate life they are largely in abeyance, operating only at an unconscious level.



[1]       “Book III: The Completed Symbol,” NLI MS 36,272/24, typescript corrected in ink and pencil. Dating from ca. 1928, to judge from the description of the Thirteenth Cone: “The 13th cone or sphere is divided into three concentric spheres of which the innermost is, I conclude, the One…”
[2]       NLI MS 36,272/24, paged numbered 12.
[3]       NLI MS 36,272/24, paged numbered 13. Footnote text given in following paragraph.
Yeats first met Thomas Aquinas’s “Eternity is the possession of one’s self, as in a single moment” in Villiers de l’Isle-Adam’s Axël (Act 1, sc. 6), and repeated it with pleasure; see CW14 368n119, and Warwick Gould, Notes and Queries, October 1981, 458–60, and “The Mask before The Mask,” YA19 (2013) 15–16.
[5]       NLI MS 36,272/24, paged numbered 13 note. Yeats misremembers and misquotes a line from Blake’s  Jerusalem, “To the Christians,” as describing a wound ball rather than the imperative “Only wind it into a ball,” pl. 77 (WWB3 [321]).
[6]       This echoes the imagery of the “loose thread” “wound upon a spool” of “The Fool by the Roadside” and the mummy wound in its cloths of “All Souls’ Night” and the instants of time that are no more than “what Blake called ‘the pulsation of an artery’” (AVB 24, CW14 19)
[7]       NLI MS 36,272/24, page numbered 13; Yeats gives a footnote: “† See McTaggart in ‘Studies of Hegelian Cosmology,” Section 33 and in ‘The Nature of Existence,’ ” referencing the work of the philosopher J. McT. E. McTaggart.
[8]       This may derive from the sleep of 9 March 1928; Dionertes questioned “where did evil come from, why was it necessary for man to exist, until he got me to say that evil must be in the celestial body. He then said – the celestial body is evil. I had looked upon it as the reflection of the One. I then said – you mean the Celestial body is the Many? – He said –yes, if you want to think like that man – who the man was he didnt say. He said that the spirit is not only that which perceives the One but is itself the One. Its aim is to see itself as One in the celestial body, until at last there is only spirit or only celestial body. I said, can it perceive the celestial body or itself in that body without the intervention of the perceptions? He said, it seeks to identify itself with the celestial body, or with himself in that body, or some such words. He then said what seems to me important – the mind never identifies itself with a perception, and added ‘If you see your face in the mirror you do not identify yourself with what you see there though you cannot know your face in any other way. But with the face that is looking into the mirror.’” NLI MS 36,262/22.
[9]       Later, Yeats would refine this to say that Husk is sense, while Passionate Body is the objects of sense, though the distinction can be very nice.
[10]       In a similar way, the Thirteenth Cone appears as the future at the end of the series of twelve cycles or cones, despite being timeless. The attributions of time in this draft are the same for the Principles but different from those given to the Faculties in A Vision (AVB 191–92, CW14 140–41). The AS and notes give significant space to wrestling with these correspondences, although they do not illuminate much.
[11]       There are some further possibilities presented in the macrocosmic perspective offered in A Vision B (AVB 193–95, CW14 ???), where the tinctures are seen to originate in the Spirit/Nous and the Passionate Body/Soul of the World.
Principles give rise to the two tinctures: the first part of does not really fit—Passionate Body as the origin of the antithetical would make more sense, but the reference is definitely to Celestial Body (cf. YVP1 500, 12 June 1918).
[13]        “These attributes [i.e., the Principles], I am told, reflect themselves in the Four Faculties” NLI MS 36,272/24.
[14]       NLI MS 36,272/12, corrected typescript “Book Four,” page numbered 14, section 7. Draft of “The Completed Symbol,” section V (cf. AVB 195, CW14 143).

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Astrology of A Vision III

Marilyn Busteed, Richard Tiffany, and Dorothy Wergin were the pioneers of taking A Vision astrologically (in print, at least) and there is an exploratory, tentative tone to the work, characterized by the suggestion of three different methods to allot the phases. They offer equal "lunar" phases, unequal "solar" phases, and symmetrical, centred "lunar" phases.
 "There are 28 phases to equal the average number of days in the lunar month. 360 degrees divided by 28 yields 12.86 degrees per phase, a number roughly equal to the daily average motion of the moon. There are two methods of division.... This equal-phase method is the lunar method.
     "Since Yeats never designated [un]ambiguously how to divide the cycle into 28 portions, we have developed a method of division based on close correspondences between the phases and the signs of the zodiac.... This is the solar method of division." (p. 36)
This solar method allots a 30° sign to Phases 1, 8, 15, and 22, while the other phases receive 10° each, which is actually Yeats's standard alignment with respect to months and zodiac—in one place, he claims that it "is classification not symbolism", but it is used to map the phases to the gyres of history and the cycles of time in general (see this earlier post on the topic). Note that the alignment of the phases to the zodiac used by Busteed, Tiffany, and Wergin (BTW) is totally different from any of those used by the Yeatses (more on this in a later post) and that it does not with the physical zodiac, being anchored on the position of the New Moon.

The authors actually mainly use the "solar" method of division, establishing correspondence between signs of the zodiac and, where relevant, the threefold divisions of the zodiac signs, the decans (using triplicity rulerships).
(The third possible form of division, a variation of their lunar, equal division, is kept to an appendix: Phase 1 is centred on the conjunction of sun and moon [new moon], rather than starting with it, so Phase 2 starts at 6° 26' [6.43°] after the new moon's position.)

The next treatment chronologically is that of Ann Rogers in the journal Metapsychology, but I'll leave it till the end as it is not book length and divides differently from the other methods.


 Martin Goldsmith acknowledges and follows on from BTW:
"Since Yeats' system has twenty-eight phases, with no indication that any one phase is more important than any other, the most obvious method of division would be twenty-eight equal phases of 12.86 degrees each. The authors of Phases of the Moon [BTW], however, also developed a more complex system, which they termed the 'solar' system of division. It contains twenty-four small phases of 10 degrees each, and four large phases of 30 degrees each....
     "Approximating the angle between the Sun and Moon, I arranged these examples into 'solar' and 'lunar' phases, looking in particular to those areas around the expanded solar phases, since these are the areas of greatest discrepancy. The results of my study strongly supported the 'solar' system of division....
     "Perhaps the most exciting discovery presented in Phases of the Moon is the correlation between the Moon phases and the signs of the zodiac. The relationship is so solid that it would be no exaggeration to compare it to the age-old correspondence between the zodiacal signs and astrological houses." (pp. 19–20)
Goldsmith therefore follows BTW in making the phases correspond to signs and decans, but prefers to establish his own planetary associations and "rulerships"—
"Since the decanate rulers have proven unreliable, I haven't tried to tailor my phase descriptions to the traditional decanate system. The planetary 'rulers' that I have given each phase are meant to describe the kinds of energy one finds in that phase; they are not meant to establish some new system of rulership. In fact, I have often listed two or more planetary influences for one phase" (p. 22).

Dave Wilkinson also mentions BTW's Phases of the Moon and appears to refer to Goldsmith's work in rather mangled fashion as "Michael Golman's 1988 Moon Phases". He, however, follows BTW's lunar method. He gives no description of the division methods or the mathematics, just a table with rounded values based on 360 ÷ 28.
"From your natal horoscope, determine the number of degrees the moon lies ahead of the sun. Each Phase is approximately 13 degrees. Phases 1, 8, 15 and 22 are at the quadrants.

PhasefromPhasefrom
10 15 180
21316 193
32617 206
43918 219
55119 231
664 20 244
777 21 257
890 22 270
910323 283
1011624 296
1112925 309
1214126 321
1315427 334
1416728347
Wilkinson uses the Four Faculties far more than the earlier writers, and in that sense is significantly closer to Yeats, although he simplifies to some extent and invents meanings for the Faculties of Phases 1 and 15. He does not give any zodiacal connections or interpretations.

Bob Makransky follows the same route. He also divides the Wheel into twenty-eight equal sectors (BTW's "lunar" scheme), starting with the New Moon, and he does not align them with the zodiac. Instead he places the seven phases in each quarter under the rulership of one of the ancient planets, the sun, or the moon, following what is known as the Chaldean order, based on speed of apparent motion. Thus in each quarter, the cardinal phases are assigned to the sun, followed by Venus, Mercury, and the moon for the first triad, then Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars for the second triad. Makransky focuses on the Daimon and pays attention to the Faculties, using some manuscript and draft material.

Shirley J. Self also uses what BTW term the lunar division, giving the exact degrees, minutes, and seconds that are rounded by Wilkinson (12° 51' 26"; 25° 42' 51"; 38° 34' 17"; and so on). Like Makransky she pays attention to Daimonic dimensions as well as the Faculties in her analyses and even sketches thePrinciples, giving greater attention to the automatic script and drafts of Yeats's "Vision" Papers than any of the others.

Ann Rogers is the exception in this group in that my knowledge of her work is confined to a pair of magazine articles and, far more importantly, she does not envisage souls being born at either the New or the Full Moon:
"Presumably we do the system no violence by attempting that transformation in as straightforward a manner as possible: simply eliminating Phases 1 and 15 and making the wheel begin at Phase 2 and end at Phase 28. The 360 degrees that comprise a full circle will be divided by 26, allotting each phase 13°50.76'—a figure that this degree-division of Yeats' wheel some empirical justification, since the moon's daily motion through the Zodiac varies from 12° to 14°. The angular distance in degrees between the sun and moon in people's horoscopes can then be compared to the degree division of Yeats' circle, letting us give our own real-life examples with each phase.
     "Yeats dealt with the system's ambiguity through no such angular measure. He assigned examples to each phase mainly by guesswork. Only when he knew a person's horoscope could he try to place the person in the empirically correct phase. In fact, Yeats assigned to many of his examples phases that were nowhere near the actual astrological moon phases under which they were born.
     "Obviously, precise calculations had no place whatsoever in Yeats' work. Because he never divided his phases into degrees, he had to estimate even when assigning phases to people whose horoscopes he knew." (pp. 4–5)
Like some others, she assumes that Yeats was probably aiming for astrological accuracy but was too unfocused to calculate a chart even roughly—willing to put years of effort into redrafting explanations of the system, but unwilling to spend a few hours to assign the phases adequately.

The three systems proposed are put together in a diagram below. Though the differences are fairly clear, and depending on the size of your screen, it may be difficult to see any detail, so there is a larger version available to download.



Bringing the systems together underlines how the "obvious" way of applying A Vision's phases of the moon still requires judgment calls as to how exactly it might work. Certain angles allocate significantly different phases in the three division systems (for instance, at various points shortly after the new and full moons), others are very similar in all (just before the new and full moon), and most are just a little different. Yeats's moon, at 237 degrees away from his sun, is at Phase 19 in the lunar scheme, Phase 18 in the solar, and Phase 19 in the 26-phase scheme—it's just about feasible to think he was being careless in assigning 17 to himself. However, George Yeats's moon, at 312 degrees from the sun, is assigned Phase 25 in the lunar and 26-phase schemes, and 24 in the solar, all a long way from the Phase 18 that the Yeatses themselves used.