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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

As Above, so Below – CREDO XXXIX

This significant phrase comes from the mysterious Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistos, an ancient text whose origin is disputed to this day. However, it fits Jung’s emphasis on the tremendous importance of thinking symbolically. Taking things literally is a form of idolatry, which is why our Teachers throughout history have spoken in parables, which can be read on more than one level.

I have discovered for myself that this is also true of words and, not only words, but things, as well. Take the word symbol itself. It comes from the Greek symbolon, and Latin symbolus, meaning to throw together or “put together.” In the case of a word, its meaning; in mythology, the message; in Jungian psychology, ego/Self. About twenty years ago, I asked myself, was there an antonym? It came to me in meditation – it is dia-bolus!! So that which gets united symbolically is separated by the diabolic process, which is anthropomorphized as “the Devil.” Hah! Gotcha! So, psychologically, it is a matter of denying all symbolic thought and growth of understanding through mockery and cynicism. Sure enough, Goethe in Faust has Mephistopheles introduce himself as “Ich bin der Geist der stets verneint!” I am the spirit which always denies!

As some of you already know, I then tried to think of a physical object that would demonstrate this. And I found one, a perfect one! What common thing, when you pull it up, makes one out of two and when you pull it down, makes two out of one?

The answer is a zipper! And the Transcendent Function is the wee tab or Mercury in disguise. Astrologically, Mercury is hermaphroditic (Hermes/Aphrodite). So in pulling the zipper up he becomes the positive Psychopomp, the leader of souls, (love that word!), and when he pulls the zipper down, the Trickster or worse!

From the moment I shared this with my darling, fun-loving husband Walter, he would put on his pants in the morning, shouting “Symbolos!” and at night, with a comic leer, “Diabolos!” Needless to say, this was a fun thing to relate at lectures, and I would caution the men in the audience not to get lost in the loo as they realized it all starts with the Freudian emphasis on the first two chakras.

Who says that Sophia sends us wisdom with delight – the Old Testament, that’s who.

Seriously, the Emerald Tablet contains an enormous secret: All archetypal processes are verbs and they function on all levels “as above so below.” The problem is that in order to talk about them, they have to be personified – to start with, gods and goddesses, as these processes were seen to be universal, hence divine. Zeus, Jupiter, and Santa Claus express the same process of benevolence and generosity, as does the planet Jupiter in any chart. Jung mentions one of the characteristics of an archetype as being a process.

Lately, I have sought for a physical object that can demonstrate how astrology works. It works through synchronicity, not the medieval concept of cause and effect. Last year, I finally found one: a pantogram! This is a wooden folding lattice-like device that enables an artist to write, say, the Lord’s Prayer, on the head of a pin. At one end he writes a legible script and the engraving point writes it at the same time in miniscule. You can look one up on the Internet.

Needless to say, with the help of a symbolic language of archetypal processes, which is my definition of astrology, I have a delightful time decoding things around my house and, in turn, they become my teachers. I learned from my paper coffee filter an aspect of the “Virgin Birth” – as my Moon is in Virgo, I get a kick out of the pure white paper used to hold the coffee. As you know, the Church Fathers of old were under Mary’s skirts like those old photographers under their black cloth with the camera on a tripod, asking all kinds of literal questions. They didn’t realize that every woman’s womb relines itself every month, so in that sense, every baby born comes in a virgin placenta!

Now, I am not trying to dumb down the highest and most sacred mysteries. Far from it! The wonder is that if we start with the things that are obvious and think symbolically, little by little, we can find the proof we need for those things unseen. The fabric of our cosmos would seem to be ONE and our ego consciousness thinks through duality, so putting two and two together is the secret. Nothing is hidden, we are blind!

As the mystic English poet George Herbert wrote:


TEACH me, my God and King,
In all things Thee to see,
And what I do in anything,
To do it as for Thee.

Not rudely, as a beast,
To run into action;
But still to make Thee prepossest,
And give it his perfection.

A man that looks on glass,
On it may stay his eye,
Or, if he pleaseth, through it pass,
And then the heav’n espy.

All may of Thee partake;
Nothing can be so mean
Which with his tincture (for Thy sake)
Will not grow bright and clean.

A servant with this clause
Makes drudgery divine:
Who sweeps a room as for Thy laws,
Makes that and th’ action fine.

This is the famous stone
That turneth all to gold;
For that which God doth touch and own
Cannot for less be told.


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