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: Six Attempts at an Astrological Reading

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.

15 180
16 193
17 206
18 219
19 231
20 244
21 257
22 270
23 283
24 296
25 309
26 321
27 334
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 gives 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.

see also

Astrology of A Vision I

Astrology of A Vision II

Astrology of A Vision IV

Astrology of A Vision V