Sunday, December 9, 2012

Effing the Ineffable...

I came across the description in the title in the context of working in the Western Mystery tradition from the Masonic Society forum a while back and it pretty much sums up one of the major issues of working with the Mysteries.

The difficulty of transmitting the knowledge and experiences you have to others in a meaningful way.

There has been a fantastic outpouring in the past of artistic work around religious, spiritual and related experiences which in my opinion is one of the best ways of transmitting experience. In the Masonic context, the Tracing Boards, the Lectures on the Tracing Boards, the Lodge Room and the Rituals themselves outline the experiences that are Freemasonry in artistic and symbolic ways. The fact that the Lodge is not complete without some of these symbols being present is an indication to the importance of symbols to the practice of our Esoteric art.

My magic, as well as that of many traditions, relies on the ability to communicate with things that are beyond our understanding. God, Gods, Goddesses, Spirits, Platonic Bodies, the list goes on. We cannot begin to comprehend what they want from us. We may think we know, but we really cannot understand them. It is impossible for a Butterfly to understand an Eagle, or a Zebra, but we keep fooling ourselves as to our level of knowledge of what the powers we interact with want. We may think we know what we want from them, but the chances are what we get is what we need, not what we want. I have been crushed by the powers that be, only to be more than I was before, but unable to really explain it or articulate the occurrence to others. This is where the need for strong communication is required and the art of our science comes into play.

I undertook art at High School as part of my entry to University and I have not lost my appreciation of how art changes and influences us subconsciously. Perhaps this is the only way to impart true understanding of what we do in the Esoteric, by subtly interacting with images and themes at a level beyond the rational mind. I use the Masonic Symbols mainly and incorporate the structure of the lodge in my ritual work. This is because I am familiar with the symbols and it is my personal belief/culture/life system which I connect with. Use yours.

I am starting a new project built on this appreciation of symbolism that represents a more practical aspect of my magic. We'll see how it goes and hopefully I get some good results. Meanwhile, I encourage you to visualise what you have experienced and put it into the physical world (obviously symbolically, it would take years to fully represent some experiences) to impact with your everyday life.




  1. Great post, Fr MvdV - thanks :)

    Yes, it is clear we need to work beyond what we think we know and Art is a way to do this, both express and to 'understand', though that understanding is by definition non-verbal. I am reminded of two quotations on this topic:

    Writing on Christian mysticism Theodore J. Nottingham asserts that spiritual unfoldment does not come about “through intellectual or emotional development” but through “another state of being”.

    And from Bishop Spong:

    "Can a horse tell you what it means to be human? How can a horse get beyond the boundaries of being a horse and say what it means to be human? Why do we think a human being can say what it means to be God? And yet we’ve done that; we’ve done that and we said that we’ve got it so right that if you don’t believe it we’ll burn you at the stake. That’s a very strange idea."

    Thanks again, and pray you go well and deep in your new project :)

    1. Thank you Peregrin, the Horse quote is one of my favourites on this subject.

      The new project is slowly bubbling away and with the holidays almost upon us it should advance in leaps and bounds.

      Thank you again.