Friday, October 19, 2007

An account of the scheme of Kenneth Grant's "Nightside of Eden"

This is more occult stuff, but the blog isn't becoming occult oriented. This should be a valuable contribution since "Nightside of Eden" is at this point rare and expensive, although if you shop around to established occult bookstores online instead of just checking Amazon you'll find some deals. So here it is.

The Nightside of Eden is based around a fundamental revision of the occult scheme of the universe known as the "Tree of Life". Glyphs of the Tree of Life can be found everywhere, just use Google images.

Although it's based off of ten sephiroth or spheres containing different stages of the manifestation of the universe the Tree of Life fundamentally refers to four worlds in the conventional arrangement. The first 'world' is the world itself as it is around us. The second world, the etheric world, is one step above this world, or rather is the hidden world immediately connected to ours. This is the place where auras are and where many facets of psychic communication happen. It's sort of an aspect of our physical world that's hidden but that can be easily accessed.

The next world is the mental world, which is not directly and easily connected to our world. I should say before going on that these 'worlds' aren't arranged in a way where one world is physically above another. Instead, it's better to think of them as being contained within the world around us itself, ultimately going down to the more and more essential aspects of the life that surrounds us. So the mental level is kind of another level of refinement beyond the etheric. It's called the mental level because the place within us that corresponds to it and can access it is the mind itself, specifically the minds' eye and the action of thought not directly connected to the outside world. In the physical universe it corresponds to the substructure behind objects as well as to essences and energies such as planetary energies and influences. Action on the mental realm is usually what is called Magick. Most actual magick takes place here and proceeds down to the physical world through the etheric world thereby making physical changes to the environment. There's also etheric magic but it's not nearly as effective because the energy of the etheric realm itself is fairly simplistic and primitive. Then there's the realm above the mental, which is where Nightside of Eden comes in.

The top realm is referred to as the archetypal realm, although this is somewhat of a misnomer because a lot of the things that Plato, who coined the term 'archetype' in his writings and who inspired many occultists of his day, referred to as archetypes actually exist on the mental level.

The archetypal realm could be said to be what underlies the archetypes of the things that we see around us. It's the thing that basically underlies creation and that gets back to the source of the universe. But there's a problem. People can get to the etheric and mental realms through work of an occult nature, self transformation, but there's an almost impenetrable barrier between the mental level and the archetypal level. The archetypal level is so different and so primal in relation to human experience that it almost cannot be accessed directly, by anyone, because the difference is so great. This disjunction between the archetypal realm and the mental realm is called the 'Abyss'.

Now, the way the archetypal realm is presented in occultism is that it's a realm of pure, refined, basic concepts, pure thought if you will, while everything below it is tainted with worldly complexity. The question comes up of how exactly the archetypal realm was able to manifest the mental realm. The Golden Dawn had a story where the Archetypal realm was God in heaven and humans lived in harmony with God and could access it before the Fall in the Garden of Eden, the implication being that people could get to a pre-lapsarian, Edenic, state by following occultism and rising through the spheres or worlds. But the experience of Adepts has proven that this is not so easily achieved. There have been Adepts that have gotten to the brink of the Abyss and haven't gotten to an Edenic state. Something more is required to access this, some sort of connection that bridges the gap between the archetypal realm and the mental realm.

This is where Kenneth Grant comes in. He looked at this, and looked at some writings of certain Adepts, and posited a fifth world between the archetypal realm and the mental realm. This world is a sort of negative world, a world that both does and does not exist in a sense, one that is only semi manifest. It's located within the break between the archetypal realm and the mental realm, in the area that occultists refer to as the Abyss. The Abyss, which is thought of as being a kind of one way street to destruction for everyone who tries to cross it to the archetypal realm is in this scheme of things the real portal to the archetypal realm. But it's not as simple as that. The negative world, or the Nightside world, is a copy of the tree of life, the Nightside of the Dayside of the tree, and therefore is a whole other world in itself, not simply a quick portal to the archetypal realm. The rays of the archetypal realm in this scheme of things create the hidden world of semi-manifestation first and then proceed into the world of full manifestation in the mental realm. What this means is that the sephiroth visible from this tree of life that make up what we consider the archetypal realm are an illusion, an abstraction placed there to round out things. Or rather it appears that they're there, because the world around us seems complete, but in reality what we see as the components of the archetypal realm aren't the real thing. The real thing is only available to human beings by ascending into the Abyss and navigating the negative world. There's also another aspect to this.

If the mental level is where magick is done because it's more essential than the etheric realms and the realm of everyday life, then the world that underlies the archetypes themselves, that actually gives birth to the specific archetypes, is that much more powerful if you can go there and work magick with it.

The realm of the Nightside is literally the world of the fall of Eden, meaning the world of the serpent. Therefore it's very dark in its character, as opposed to the light of the dayside of the tree of life.

1 comment:

Renegade Eye said...

A leap to mysticism, is a big one.