Friday, March 20, 2020

Invoking the Daimon

Following on the from the previous post about how the spiritual being of two sexes manifests as a human of one sex and a Daimon of the opposite sex, one of the key things that this entails is that contact with the Daimon means contact with the opposite. For a psychologist this would entail interior self-examination and possibly some form of therapy or analysis; however, for a magician, the interior examination would be dramatized as visualizations and the therapy as ritual invocation. Within the Golden Dawn, the visualizations would be structured through symbols drawn from the complex series of correspondences attached to the Tree of Life, with the "meditations", "skrying", or "astral travel" using imagery from astrology, alchemy, and Tarot, gods from Egypt and Greece, and angels and the names of God from the Judaeo-Christian traditions. The rituals, whether fully fledged ones at the Order's temple, or personal and private ones, would involve the same attributions, present both in physical form (through cards, colours, costume) and through the active imagination of the participants. One of the ways of invoking a force was to imitate the associated divine forms through ritual and sacred acting, with robes and masks, but more important was the assumption of the god-form, with the "symbolic God-form held firmly in the imagination" (Israel Regardie, The Golden Dawn, vol. 3, 156)

One of the aims of the initiates of the Golden Dawn was an ascent on the central pillar of the Tree of Life, raising the "Human Consciousness and Lower Will [which should be located in Tiphareth] from falling into... the place of the Automatic Consciousness [Yesod]", as is the case in much of humanity. This also meant gaining greater contact with the higher spheres and a more direct flow from the higher levels, most immediately "the Higher Human Self and the Lower Genius, the God of the Man" but then the Higher Genius and beyond that the Angelic and Divine levels (see The Golden Dawn, 'Fifth Knowledge Lecture', especially 'The Microcosm—Man', vol. 1, 203–20, at 217 and 214; see on the Golden Dawn). Complementing the process of invocation of external powers, the Golden Dawn also taught evocation of forces from within the microcosm of the self.

WBY to Ezra Pound, July 15 [1918]. (ALS Yale)
Yeats frequently mentions the meditations that he associates with the symbols A Vision. The automatic script contains repeated though often unclear instructions to meditate, for example: "you will get all by meditation that you need"  (YVP1 440) and, for instance, Yeats writes of trying "to see Phase 26 in meditation & saw that stag with the crucifix between horns" (YVP3 94). When he sent the first drafts to Ezra Pound, he told him to "Read my symbol with patience ­allowing your mind to go beyond the words to the symbol itself — for this symbol seems to me strange and beautiful" (15 July [1918]). In his note on "The Second Coming", he fictionalizes the Judwalis as having "A supreme religious act of their faith is to fix their attention on the mathematical form of this movement" to achieve a moment of timeless contemplation (VP 824).

Michael Robartes and the Dancer (Cuala, 1922), note on "The Second Coming"

The Yeatses meditated on symbols associated with the Daimons of their children (YVP3 50-51), and it is likely that they also meditated on the subject of the Daimon and on their own personal Daimons (see also their Tarot readings involving the Daimons).

The hieros gamos or alchemical wedding, Rosarium Philosophorum (1550)

"The marriage bed is the symbol of the solved antinomy..."

Yeats's own female Daimon was reflected in part in the women in his life, not least George, and 'Solomon and the Witch' is one of his clearest tributes to his wife. The poem is a dialogue rather than the assumption of female voice and the witch is the Queen of Sheba,* who has cried out as a medium. Solomon interprets it as the crow of the cockerel that "crowed out eternity" ("Three hundred years before the Fall") and has crowed again now because, "Chance being one with Choice at last", he "Thought to have crowed it in again" (VP 388). This implies that the union of Solomon and Sheba has achieved the perfect fusion of the two lovers: "The marriage bed is the symbol of the solved antinomy, and were more than symbol could a man there lose and keep his identity, but he falls asleep" (AVB 52). The solved antinomy is the unity that transcends the duality of the antinomies which are intrinsic to our perception of reality. They have attained a state like that before "the ultimate reality, symbolised as the Sphere, falls in human consciousness... into a series of antinomies" (AVB 187)—or maybe "Three hundred years before the Fall"?
I see the Lunar and Solar cones first, before they start their whirling movement, as two worlds lying one within another--nothing exterior, nothing interior, Sun in Moon and Moon in Sun—a single being like man and woman in Plato's Myth, and then a separation and a whirling for countless ages... (AVA 121)
Even if Solomon does not fall asleep, however, there is not the perfect match of "imagined image" and "real image" —which is perhaps for the best as that is when "the world ends" (VP 388). Even so, the witch asks "let us try again" (VP 389).

The alchemical androgyne, Conceptio, Rosarium Philosophorum (1550)

The lot of love

A similar image of the perfected love dominates "Chosen", a poem fully in a female voice, speaking in terms at once Platonic, astrological, and astronomical.
The lot of love is chosen. I learnt that much
Struggling for an image on the track
Of the whirling Zodiac.
The pairing of lots and choice goes back to Plato's 'Myth of Er' in the Republic, which Plotinus refers to in his consideration of whether the stars cause destiny or merely record it (Ennead II.3). In the  astrological practice of his period there was an array of derived points called 'lots', often now referred to as the 'Arabic parts', though actually Hellenistic in origin (in Latin pars/'part' means degree as in the 360 degrees of a circle). These include the 'lot of Fortune', the 'Lot of Spirit', and the 'lot of Eros' or of love, which can be calculated for each individual chart and as such are fixed with the horoscope. Within Yeats's cosmology the birthchart is both fated and chosen—we can only be born at a moment that expresses our character but our character chooses our moment of birth (see on the 'The Seven Propositions' and 'Astrology and the Nature of Reality'). The 'whirling Zodiac' represents this descent into incarnation.

The horoscopes of WBY and GY with their Lot of Fortune (circle with saltire cross), Lot of Spirit (circle with vertical line), and Lot of Eros (circle with a heart). WBY is  night birth, so according to traditional rules his Lots are calculated differently from those of GY, a daytime birth. (For further consideration, see

The voice then speaks of a man, who whirls on the turning circuit of the zodiac:
Scarce did he my body touch,
Scarce sank he from the west
Or found a subterranean rest
On the maternal midnight of my breast
Before I had marked him on his northern way
And seemed to stand although in bed I lay.
This traces the constant motion of the zodiac to the western horizon where the sun, a planet, or a lot sets and its apparent passage 'under the earth' to the nadir or midnight, its northern point (as noon or the meridian is the southern point for those in the northern hemisphere). Noon and midnight form the vertical axis of horoscope ('seemed to stand'), but the zodiac keeps turning until the particular degree comes to the point where it rises in the east:
I struggled with the horror of daybreak,
I chose it for my lot!
The word 'struggle', used in the poem's second line, is repeated with the concept of chosen fate: Lot as Chance or Fate and Choice or Destiny become one, as in the love of 'Solomon and the Witch'.
If questioned on
My utmost pleasure with a man
By some new-married bride, I take
That stillness for a theme
Where his heart my heart did seem
There is a form of union, female and male, human and Daimon, both centred in the heart of the Tree of Life or the still point at the centre of the horoscope (just as the Daimon is positioned at the centre of the Wheel of the Faculties and Principles).
And both adrift on the miraculous stream
Where—wrote a learned astrologer—
The Zodiac is changed into a sphere.
With the union of Lot or Chance and Choice, fate and free will, the zodiac of time becomes the sphere of eternity, the realm of Daimon, and the cockerel of "Solomon and the Witch" can crow eternity in again.

Venus setting (lower right) in a shaft of zodiacal light (solar system dust illuminated by the sun, along the line of the zodiac), with the Milky Way arching over the upper part of the photograph.

If Yeats seeks to contact his own Daimon, he is seeking the female element of his own individuality. The internal is projected outwards, here as the relations of sexual love, whether Sheba and Solomon or the voice of "Chosen" with her man, yet in many ways this is a symbol of what is taking place on the inner planes.
Pope Pius XI said in an Encyclical that the natural union of man and woman has a kind of sacredness. He thought doubtless of the marriage of Christ and the Church, whereas I see in it a symbol of that eternal instant where the antinomy is resolved. It is not the resolution itself. (AVB 214)
The resolution would be the impossible fusion in the androgyne which symbolises the unity and wholeness that would be both consummation and extinction.

* Although "the Witch" is not identified explicitly as the Queen of Sheba, the poem opens "And thus declared that Arab lady..." which seems to make it a continuation of "Solomon to Sheba", first published in 1918. The earlier poem ends:
Sang Solomon to Sheba 
And kissed her Arab eyes,
"There's not a man or woman
Born under the skies
Dare match in learning with us two,
And all day long we have found
There's not a thing but love can make
The world a narrow pound." (VP 333)
The epithet of "Witch" may be Yeats's allusion to P. B. Shelley's "The Witch of Atlas", dedicated to his own wife, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. It is interesting to note that the Witch of Atlas creates her own androgynous companion, "by strange art she kneaded fire and snow / Together" to form "A sexless thing" that "seemed to have developed no defect / Of either sex, yet all the grace of both".

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