Monday, December 31, 2012

Let Us Reason Together in Numbers For the Logos

Numbers According to Iamblichus

Plato said that no one could be a philosopher who had not studied mathematics.
Undoubtedly, this is partially a reference to the Pythagoreans. Having been a mathematical dunce until college (although not innumerate entirely), this is part of my penance, to work through Iamblichus’ treatise.

Luckily, this work supplies a beginner’s manual to understanding the significance of number, which plays a role in traditional astrology. Still, there is a lot to wade through here. For instance, John Michael Greer (Archdruid of North America) has pointed out that the Christian cross has the proportions of the square root of 2 and the square root of 5. The cross is an ancient symbol, one which Plato was familiar with when he wrote “the world soul is crucified”. However, it is not necessary (obviously) to be a Christian to discern the Logos inherent in the numbers. In our day, it may help if one is not exoterically Christian to see the significance of the numbers in constituting a pattern of the Logos.
Iamblichus touches on a great deal of this, in how the numbers intertwine, which require a beginner level in numeracy, but patience in working through the various relationships, and a meditative or mystical approach to thinking about them.

1. Any number can be created by adding Ones (even as fractions) or dividing by Ones, or multiplying by Ones. The One is therefore the Source and Sustainer of all things. If x = 2y, then x squared is four times y squared, which proportion in operation is preserved if one take 1/x and 1/y. There is no change in the nature or operations of the One. It is called the Provider because it has the power of staying the same, regardless of its extensions, and preserving both itself and those extensions. The ancients called it Prometheus or the Artificer of Life.

2. It is called the Hearth, because it is in the middle of things, that which is equal between opposing elements, and it keeps its equilibrium. In the middle of the four elements lies a Monadic fiery cube. It is called Proteus, because it assumes any form, but retains the properties of everything, as the Monad is the factor of each number.

3. It is called Chaos (mixture, obscurity, blending, Darkness), being Hesiod’s First Generator, but also called Chariot, Sun, Friend, Life, Happiness, Being, Order, and Concord. The numerical value of the Greek word Monad adds up to 361, the degrees of the circle, plus One. It is disposed to share itself with all things. It is not yet manifesting anything actual, but carries within it the principles conceptual togetherness of all things. It causes things to combine and co-here, and unifies that which is opposite. It is called Androgyne and Intellect, as well, and shares power with the Sun. It is the beginning, middle, and end of all size, quality and quanitity.

4. It produces itself out of itself, as well as producing all things, and is therefore “as if it were God or the principle of all things”. It maintains everything and forbids anything to change – it resembles Providence, alone of all numbers. It is particularly suited to resemble and reflect God, and it is closest to Him.

5. It is in fact the Form of Forms. As we will see, the Dyad is opposed to Form in a certain sense, and only from the One can the power come to maintain the Dyad. Because of this intellective and creative power, it is both Creator and Supreme Intellect.

What else is Iamblichus describing here, but a doctrine of the Logos? This Logos would be taken up and shaped by Christianity, and I would argue that the intention was to preserve “every jot and tittle” of the full-blooded pagan dogma of the Logos, rather than to change it in any respect, except to allow it to be “more itself”.

And it is clear that he thinks that multiplication by One preserves the same number is a truth with an esoteric meaning. Or, division. Mathematics are not, therefore, just mathematics, even the simple operations we don’t even think about. Yet Iamblichus will get into more complicated arrangements as he progresses.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Word Remains Within

American Christians generally use “logos” (if they use it) in the sense that Aristotle wants to use it:
For Aristotle, logos is something more refined than the capacity to make private feelings public: it enables the human being to perform as no other animal can; it makes it possible for him to perceive and make clear to others through reasoned discourse the difference between what is advantageous and what is harmful, between what is just and what is unjust, and between what is good and what is evil. (PA Rahe)
That is, when modern Christians use the word Logos, they predominantly conceive of “that which makes for argument, or logic”. This definition is by and large the regnant one, even among the classical Christian movement. Practically speaking, the Logos is thought of in terms of that which “makes sense” out of our logic, and connects us, through dialectic, to the mind of God.

Although I would not want to argue that this is not a dimension of Logos, I do say that it is an impoverished one. Philo, for instance, terms it the logos endiathetos (the word remaining within), while the Stoics (who influenced not to much St. John as Justin the Martyr) believed that the Logos was the generative principle of the universe. Philo, also, assigned to the Logos a kind of demi-urgic status. Surely St. Paul must have had something like this in mind when he described Christ as being the vessel and sum of the worlds, which He would recapitulate and return to the Father at the end of time.

The point here is that Logos is not merely an Aristotelian or Enlightenment concept of active, dialectical Reason, a spark of divinity that ensures our divine image and reflects some logical function of Christ’s ontological status. This would be to mechanize the Logos, or at least, trend in this direction. It would be to make the Logos merely a pattern filtered through right Reason (which, of course, it partly is).
Justin Martyr wrote the following:
I shall give you another testimony, my friends, from the Scriptures, that God begot before all creatures a Beginning, [who was] a certain rational power [proceeding] from Himself, who is called by the Holy Spirit, now the Glory of the Lord, now the Son, again Wisdom, again an Angel, then God, and then Lord and Logos.
The Orthodox want to argue that this “angel of the Lord” is actually the divine energies which one experiences in illumination (after purification). It is not a created being or merely external theophany (as Augustine is alleged to have thought) which is brought into and out of existence in order to create a saga of revelation, but rather, participation in the divine energies (the divine essence being reserved for God, forever, alone). “Being in the Spirit” allows one to experience this divine energy.

If we take our hint from the Orthodox, we might try thinking of the Logos as all higher states of being whatsoever (the lower ones being created by natural deprivation or distortion of the collateral states associated with Logos). The Logos is “Light” or “Life” – the “Kingdom of God”. Understood this way, Jesus was Himself the embodiment in full of the reign of God: He did not exhaust, but rather, fully expressed, the Logos.

The Logos is therefore a spiritual state of Being, a higher kingdom of existence, a noetic faculty of soul, the seeds of Creation, the divine image within, Right Reason, the Nous itself and all higher worlds (excluding God’s essence), the Logos Spermatikos and First Born before all Worlds, the Alpha and Omega and the end of time, and the way, truth, and life, which is the light of men.

It is clear that the emphasis in the West has been, for centuries now, upon the dialectical apparatus of the logical mind, and while divine certainty has been ascribed strongly to this (how else could David Hume die in such peace of mind?), it has tended to both arrogate and impoverish the depths and even the width of the human spirit and soul. Christianity itself has been implicitly guilty in this, because Western Christianity tends to think of God, when it does so at all, as a logically accessible entity that operates according to the strictures of common, rational thought; in practice, it is often reducible to the “structures” of thought.

With this is mind, next week we will begin our trip through Iamblichus’ arithmetic theology, showing how a “mysticism” of the numbers is possible that is revelatory of fundamental patterns in both lower and higher reality.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Hebdomads, Pentagrams & the Eternal Word

For handy reference, here is a simplistic table that is good to start with.
This is Iamblichus on the Hepdomad (7):
The reason for the seventh number being an object of reverence is as follows: the providence of the Creator God wrought all things by basing on the first-born One the source and root of the creation of the universe, which comes to be an impression and representation of the highest good, and he located the perfection and fulfillment of completion in the Decad itself, and the Creator God necessarily considered that the Hebdomad was an instrument and His most authoritative limb and has gained the power of creativity. For by nature, and not by our own devices, the Hebdomad is a mean between the monad and the decad, and the means between extremes are in a sense more authoritative that the extremes themselves, because the terms on either side incline towards the means…7 is the arithmetic mean between the tetrad and the decad (ie, in a sense between two decads, one potential, the other actual, since is half of the sum of both).
This excerpt should give a feel for what the Greek Platonists were doing – they believed that the symmetry and harmony of number was directly revelatory, through Reason (intellectual intuition, which we would term the noetic faculty), of the Logos.
In this case, Iamblichus’ short essays are worth reading – pick one of them & read the entire argument, mathematics & all, to get the feel for how they thought. Next week, I will present a summary of each of the numbers, although the above list will give you an idea of what it will look like.
For instance, the number Five represents Life: specifically vegetative Life (Six represents animal Life, and Seven, the living Soul of man). It also incarnates and mediates Justice – the proper balance. One immediately thinks of the “star” of Justice, the shire-reeve’s badge, five-pointed pentagram.
Here is Mouravieff in Gnosis III-
Below is the extract from Boris Mouravieff’s Gnosis III, pg 98,99 —As we have already indicated, the first of the three symbols that can be obtained from the Circle and the polygons is the Pentagram, or five-branched triple star. The study of this symbol-in-movement requires precise indication of the order in which  the student’s attention and his pen-point should pass from one to the other of the branch-points of the three stars through the intersections of  the lines that form them. This is how our numbered Pentagram is drawn (fig. 8): The Pentagram numbered in this way was revealed by the author during the lectures he gave at the Faculty of Letters in the University of Geneva. It was also published in the Summary of these lectures. We have already said that this symbol, taken as a whole, reflects the real positions of the elements and forces that form the Third Cosmic Octave. The student should apply the meanings of the Major Numbers to the corresponding figures and study them from this point of view. Here, he will come across the first difficulty: that of interpreting the terms characterizing each of the Major Numbers. In order  to interpret them, he must specially train himself to think ‘in harmony’ and not ‘in melody’, if we may put it this way. In other words, instead of a chain of reasoning he should form a bundle of ideas, of which each section should present a harmonious  chord. Then, and only then – keeping the meaning of the whole continually present in his mind – the succession of the figures as it is shown will enable him to make his thought and attention progress according to a precise order and so reach the desired goal. Except in a few rare cases, as long as the student’s mind has not attained the degree of training needed to enable him to pursue his research in an independent manner, this will require outside help. This is one reason why esoteric  teaching has always included an oral Tradition that vivifies the Letter of the written Doctrine.
The Numbers, properly contemplated, or truly contemplated at all, will lead us to God.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Christian Astrology & the Logos

Christianity inherited the Romano-Greco world. Try as they will, evangelicals cannot get back to the "simple Gospel" because there will be nothing there except the Postmodern World, which is located in the realm of the Dyad that self-consciously refuses union with the Monad (to produce the Triad). The only way for Christians to "go  forward" in any meaningful sense is to re-connect with Pagan roots, because "Paganism" was the last traditional culture that we had which can give the raw material with which to build a culture. To object that this is anti-Christ amounts to making "Christ" so small one cannot see him, & to ignore the possibility of baptizing culture, which is the whole basis of salvation in the individual sense, as well. Modern Christians cannot see that they have inherited the failed world of John Locke and his "blank slate", and that this world vampiricly subsisted by devouring the remnants of the "world that was". Hence, their dilemma - watch them twist in the wind. The Logos Tomeus (the Dividing Sword) of God are His divine patterns, which originate in eternity and are mediated through the Logos to material reality. These are based on numbers, which operate in a hyper-reality that they derisively term "mystical". In order to "save Western civilization", we must aim at something bigger - a recovery of what "Logos" means. Christ is not just a really cool dude who will live in your heart. He is the Lion of Revelation.