Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Butterfly Language, Sumer, and the Plane of Immanence, (Slight Return)

Butterfly Language is an excellent blog that readers of the Oz Mix will likely want to check out on a regular basis.  It's written, constructed and published by Valerie D’Orazio frequently.  It came across my radar when RawIllumination.net posted a link to the first installment in a series about Jack Parsons, one of Aleister Crowley's magical sons and the inventor of solid rocket fuel, titled: An Alternate History of Jack Parsons, Part I: Warrior Lord of the Forties.  Ms. D'Orazio uses a technique called Imaginative Cognition (IC), she learned writer from Walter Stein, to intuitively embellish the narrative and offer insights.  The writing is entertaining, engaging, and thought provoking.  I'm reminded of one the more enjoyable Crowley biographies: Magician of the Golden Dawn: the story of Aleister Crowley, by Susan Roberts which took great liberties imagining the Magus' interior states, thoughts and emotions.  D'Orazio is more transparent about her process and that honesty makes for a stronger invocation.  Another interesting and novel feature are the links to popular culture images and tropes to illustrate this alternate history.  I would like to see more writing like this in Thelemic literature because it seems a creative and valid way to effectively explore, expand and communicate the 93 current.  After all, I suspect much of Crowley's artistic output could accurately be described as Imaginative Cognition.

* * * * * *
Well, I stand up next to a mountain, chop it down with the edge of my hand.

 - Jimmi Hendrix, Voodoo Child (Slight Return)

Earlier we spoke of the plane of immanence as an open-ended environment, a framework where concepts arise, live and proliferate; meet up, connect, and give birth to experimental offspring; mutatis mutandis  Every major thinker posits their own plane of immanence for ideas and thought experiments to flourish and find means of expression. The introductory linguistics of Crowley's and Gurdjieff's systems were presented as examples.  Deleuze conceives of a plane of immanence of the age.  We will observe what that looks like from here: the plane of immanence as it encompasses systems of Initiation; the transformation into the all-worlds sympathetic, post-human condition.

Some Deleuzian commentators make note that the French word plan means both plane - as in a geometrical plane, and plan - forming a strategy, and suggest that Deleuze intends the pun.  We see Deleuze's pun and raise him a gravity defying vehicle, to wit: the plane of immanence = an airplane for traveling through the macrodimensions of the labyrinth, the hidden recesses of the soul, the parts of the brain we don't use because they are mostly dormant, however, they appear immanent, always there, if unseen and unnoticed.  This reads like what they say about bardo spaces - we are always there, always in the bardo, in a between-lives state moving from one relative point of stability to another; like being on a subway train or an airplane flying over the ocean.  We acknowledge at least 3 meanings of the phrase "plane of immanence:" 1) the abstract geometrical plane where concepts are born, grow up and procreate, 2) a plan, a strategy for evoking and invoking the limitless possibilities of our future becomings, 3) an airplane of immanence, a vehicle for traveling anywhere and everywhere the mind can conceive and beyond. " A vehicle for Deleuze's " lines of flight."  I had a dream, crazy dream ... anything I wanted to know, any place I needed to go." (Led Zeppelin, The Song Remains the Same, a musical expression of the plane of immanence)  We note the magical pun with the element Air = intellect; the airplane of immanence = a linguistic plane- we get there with language.

What follows is a quick sketch, albeit a very incomplete fragment, of the plane of immanence as it regards Initiation, from this biased reporter.  In modern times, this plane begins to assume its current reach with the emergence of works by Friedrich Nietzsche and Arthur Rimbaud in the latter half of the Nineteenth Century.

As I attempt to thumbnail on paper this plane of initiatory immanence, a young women walks into the coffee shop sporting a large hawk with outspread wings tattooed across her upper back and shoulders.  The hawk being a foremost iconic symbol of Thelema: "I am the Hawk-Headed Lord of Silence & of Strength; my nemyss shrouds the night-blue sky." Liber Al 3:70.

Synchronicity as affirmation.

Nietzsche conceived a new form of humanity, perhaps a life beyond the human.  He suggested that a vast gulf, or abyss exists between what we are now and what we can become.  He also suggested a revaluation of all values.  Contemporaneously, Arthur Rimbaud, steeped with knowledge of the Hermetic Arts, poetically fleshes out and describes this abyss in A Season in Hell with glimpses and snapshots of the life beyond in Illuminations. Rimbaud recognized the power of linguistics: "Rimbaud had outlined his fantastic self-ordained mission to 'change life itself' by means of a totally new kind of language, by means of magic." (Bertrand Mathieu).  Bob Dylan and Patti Smith are two contemporary artists profoundly influenced by Rimbaud and his mission.

Crowley made "Crossing the Abyss" the second and final attainment in his magical system of making the immanent actual. This follows upon the "Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel", magickspeak for learning how to communicate with a highly intelligent, non-human guide.  Scientific materialists might call it learning to active different parts of the brain or unlocking hidden strands in the DNA code, and they could be right.

Apart from Crowley, this abyss has been explored in literature by Robert Anton Wilson, Thomas Pynchon, Phillip K. Dick, Kenneth Patchen, James Joyce, Kenneth Grant, Flann O'Brien and probably others that I'm leaving out.

Nietzsche also referred to the revaluation of values as transvaluation because they are values that go far beyond the current ones.  Crowley made the transvaluation of values a primary theme in his Book of Lies.  Looking for that quote, I became startled with another hawk synch:

Zoroaster describes God as having the head of the Hawk, and a spiral force. It will be difficult to understand this chapter without some experience in the transvaluation of values, which occur throughout the whole of this book, in nearly every other sentence. Transvaluation of values is only the moral aspect of the method

- Book of Lies, commentary on chapter 42

Slight return to the plane of immanence timeline: Madame Blavatsky formed the Theosophical Society in 1875, the same year Aleister Crowley was born. This began the process of making the spiritual path more democratic and self-reliant; advocating an eclectic approach to esoteric practices and strategies for the genesis of the post human animal condition.  Crowley first published his system in the Equinox beginning in in 1909.  In it, right near the beginning in Postcards To Probationers, he claimed to be able to produce "Christs" (Leary's C6) with his methods.  If you entertain the notion that this is possible, then you're open to the plane of immanence.

Right around the same time, or shortly after, G.I. Gurdjieff emerged upon the scene in St. Petersburg and Moscow, introduced to the intelligentsia by P.D. Ouspensky.  Both men absorbed Nietzsche. Using and expanding upon many of the philosopher's ideas, Gurdjieff takes up the production and development of a new kind of human in a completely different, but complementary fashion than Crowley.  Cross-referencing the two radically different systems can prove very useful to understanding both of them.  Once, in a monastery, I saw a drawing of the Enneagram superimposed upon the Tree of Life.

Lady of Largest Heart

The slight return of the plane of immanence refers to the fact that both Crowley and Gurdjieff said that they were presenting a revival of an ancient tradition.  Both these teachers crossed paths with the Yezidi, an extremely ancient culture that archeologists have dated back to at least 12,000 B.C.  Crowley was very specific about the ancient influence: "Aiwaz is not (as I had supposed) a mere formula like many angelic names, but it is the true most ancient name of the God of the Yezidis, and thus returns to the highest Antiquity. Our work is therefore historically authentic, the rediscovery of the Sumerian Tradition."  Aiwaz or Aiwass was the name of the non-human entity that dictated the Book of the Law to Crowley.  He referred to this entity as his Holy Guardian Angel.

Lady of Largest Heart is the name of second oldest known poem in the world.  It was composed by Enheduanna, a High Priestess of Sumer and daughter of the first ruler in that land, Sargon, in homage to the Goddess, Inanna.  I recently discovered this in a wonderful book called: Inanna, Lady of Largest Heart: Poems of the Sumerian High Priestess Enheduanna by Betty De Shong Meador.  Enheduanna was passionately devoted to Inanna her whole life and was responsible for elevating her  to the position of supreme deity.  The first poem ever recorded, also by Enheduanna, Inanna and Ebih, tells how Inanna put down an uppity male god challenging her domain who manifested as a mountain. The Hendrix quote above encapsulates what Inanna does in the poem.  I am fascinated by the coincidence that the first verse of Voodoo Child (Slight Return) channels the world's oldest poem.  The poem was translated well after his death so he couldn't possibly have been consciously influenced by it.

The first lines that Meador quotes from Enheduanna greatly resembles Crowley's image of Babalon as she appears in the Thoth Tarot XI called Lust or Strength:

child of the Moon God
a soft bud swelling
her queen's robe cloaks the slender stem

             * * *

 steps, yes she steps her narrow foot
on the furred back 
of a wild lapis lazuli bull

and she goes out
white-sparked, radiant
in the dark vault of evening's sky
star-steps in the street
through the Gate of Wonder

In her poems and hymns, Enheduanna reveals Inanna as a complex goddess with multiple natures. Describing how Inanna was understood by the Sumerians, Meador writes:

"In these poems we see that the very being of this goddess infuses and vivifies all nature and natural processes.  She is the divine in matter,  As such, she sustains the ebb and flow, the relentless paradoxical reality of the natural world.  She exists between blessing and curse, light and dark, plenty and want, goodness and malevolence, life and death.  Harsh is her reality may seem, it is the Real every living being must encounter."

Cosmic Trigger, the book where I first encountered the dynamic duo, Crowley and Gurdjieff, begins with parables from traditions that strongly influenced author Robert Anton Wilson. The first anecdote comes from the Sufis.  The second story tells of the goddess Ishtar's descent into the Underworld.  Ishtar is the Babylonian version of Inanna.

On page 156 of Betty Meador's book, she traces the Tree of Life to the second poem, Lady of Largest Heart:

Inanna in this poem 'spans the tree of heaven / trunk to crown.' Likewise the central symbol of the Assyrian Ishtar is the tree that Parpola says 'contained the secret key to the psychic structure of the perfect man and thus to eternal life.'  The tree appears in medieval Judaism as the Tree of Life of Kabbalah, a primary symbol of Jewish mysticism.

Inanna, Lady of Largest Heart is a must read for anyone interested in studying the roots of Thelema or for anyone interested in seeing how the power of the active feminine can change the world.  "Well I stand up next to a mountain, chop it down with the edge of my hand.  Pick up all the pieces and make an island, might even raise a little sand."