Saturday, 2 February 2013


Shivabalayogi looked bored almost to the point of fidget. He sat, his legs under him casually not in an asana with his attendants watchful of the audience. There wasn’t many of us that day at the Bannerghata Rd. Bangalore, Ashram which was out near the Banglore Dairy I think, not that the taxis and the auto-rickshaws didn’t know about him because of the crowds that flocked there every Sunday for bajans or devotional chanting. During the bajan many of the crowd would go into bhava samadhi or divine trance in which they would see visions of gods and goddesses. I visited him a few times but not on those days as I didn’t want to complicate my sadhana and in India one gets blasé about phenomena. My father used to tell the story of a man he worked with that all you had to do was mention the name of a lake or river and he would exclaim - fished it. Life isn’t long enough to fish in all the spiritual streams of India still being in the neighbourhood it seemed rude to pass.


These collective phenomena are world wide and give great entertainment to the rationalist and the sceptical. I recall a great ebulliance of devotion and spiritual experience that centred round a statue of the Blessed Virgin at Ballinaspittle, Co.Cork, Ireland.
Pace Yeats, The Statues‘it moved or seemed to move’.

Pythagoras planned it. Why did the people stare?
His numbers, though they moved or seemed to move
In marble or in bronze, lacked character.
But boys and girls, pale from the imagined love
Of solitary beds, knew what they were,
That passion could bring character enough,
And pressed at midnight in some public place
Live lips upon a plummet-measured face.

Reading the banal Freudian type explanation from an initiate of the Golden Dawn and the psychopomp McGregor Mathers incidentally a relation by marriage to Henri Bergson, one is disappointed. There was an opportunity here for a disquisition on participation mystique or at least the induced Great Mind of A Vision.

I believe in the practice and philosophy of what we have agreed to call magic, in what I must call the evocation of spirits, though I do not know what they are, in the power of creating magical illusions, in the visions of truth in the depths of the mind when the eyes are closed; and I believe in three doctrines, which have, as I think, been handed down from early times, and been the foundations of nearly all magical practices. These doctrines are—
(1) That the borders of our minds are ever shifting, and that many minds can flow into one another, as it were, and create or reveal a single mind, a single energy.
(2) That the borders of our memories are as shifting, and that our memories are a part of one great memory, the memory of Nature herself.
(3) That this great mind and great memory can be evoked by symbols.
I often think I would put this belief in magic from me if I could, for I have come to see or to imagine, in men and women, in houses, in handicrafts, in nearly all sights and sounds, a certain evil, a certain ugliness, that comes from the slow perishing through the centuries of a quality of mind that made this belief and its evidences common over the world.


ktismatics said...

A hermetically informative and intriguing post. Not being adept in these esoteric matters I had to look up a number of references toward which you allude and gesture without explicating. Yesterday I started reading The Hermetic Deleuze by Joshua Ramey. Chapter 2, "Dark Precursors: The Hermetic Tradition," offers a quick tour from Trismegistus through Pico della Mirandola and Giordano Bruno. I don't know how much space Ramey will devote to more recent hermetic precursors of Deleuze.

Have you read The Infinities by John Banville? It's predicated on participation mystique, though the human vessels don't seem to be any more consciously aware of the gods' presence/influence than would a stone statue.

ombhurbhuva said...

I recollect John that we first met through a comment of mine on your ouroboros experience at the pond and the baraka of the blasted cotton tree. It is possible to take the powers, the spiritus loci in an ironic, as if, way and still be surprised. There were many cases of sceptics who came to Ballinaspittle and were moved by phenomena they hardly knew what to do with. Spittle in a place name refers to a hospital where people could be quarantined suffering from fever in medieval Ireland so the locus spiritus of care was established there.

John Banville as a reader of philosophy was playing with the Lewisian concept of a world which is very near to ours. The cars runs on salt water and there are steam trains and the dominant tense is a suspensive sempiternal present. The gods though are pale and peevish hands off voyeurs. I heard John the other day on the radio and he had no hope of eternal life only the moody half-life of a few sentences. He seemed wistful as though it were a tricky gear that he couldn’t engage. But the Platonic world of mathematics and the god moved planets he can feel. His novels are essentially Pythagorean or Euclidean in their solution by the means of construction. One doesn’t care for his characters but they prove something. What?

The Deleuze book is on Google. I see there is a chapter on The Politics of Sorcery. From Doctor Dee to Doctor Spin. Seems interesting.

ktismatics said...

I may need to read more of Banville to get a better feel for his world. That the comatose narrator was a mathematical genius seemed unconvincing and inconsequential, though maybe his resonance with the deep workings of nature made him an attractive avatar for Zeus. The steampunk technology too struck me as cosmetic, but I suppose you're right that it infuses the present with a medievality more conducive to the gnostic traversals. Banville writes a pretty line of prose to be sure, with sure command of the long form. Though his characters were seriously flawed he seemed fond of them all.

Per your advice I did secure a chunk of tree to commemorate the baraka; it sits on one of the bookshelves. Remarkably, the lightning-struck tree survived last winter, with perhaps a third of it leafing out. The outer rind continues to peel away from the core however, so its future is very much in doubt.

ombhurbhuva said...

The Book of Evidence is a good place to start with Banville. It has a real murder at the centre of it and a turn on the ‘only in Ireland’ trope. After Malcolm MacArthur had served 30 years and was freed he was seen in the audience of a meeting on the essayist Hubert Butler during which Banville was being interviewed by an Irish Times reporter. Banville left immediately after that fearing that a character in his novel was slipping out of his control after the fashion of At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O’Brien.