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The 8th Sphere

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posted on Dec, 17 2013 @ 04:32 PM
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reply to post by Bybyots
 


I don't want to downplay the Picatrix but I think that you may be over emphasising it's influence in some respects. Which, is not to say it did not have tremendous influence. If I can take you back to the Toledo School, the Picatrix was translated in the 13th century, already by that time, from around the mid 12th century, you have an adundance of Arabic and Ancient Greek texts being translated into Latin. Not only that, but you have scholars, mostly clerical, admittedly, flocking to that school, as well as all the other Spanish seats of learning, from all over Europe. Gerard of Cremona alone translated in the region of 97 texts, including, Geber, but also Avicenna, Aristotle and Ptolemy. So these works were circulating in the minds of scholars well before the arrival of the Picatrix...but as I said before, the Picatrix is interesting in that it was first translated into the vernacular, meaning that it had the potential for popularism. Vernacular literature, from around the 12th century onwards is just booming out of the Languedoc. Combine this with what historians call the 'medieaval literacy drive', you have a growing audience for more populist works, compendiums of information that appeal to lay-men. I think that the Picatrix falls more into this genre but in doing so, it opens up scholasticism to whole new audience and away from the Church's monopoly. That, to my mind, is a very important developmental influence, society wise, giving rise to both state and private educational establishments, as well as more individualistic learning.

Anyway, to put that to one side, as you state, the book is a drawing together of various works. I read some of the passages in it today online, and noted that much of the astrological works, relating to the 8th Sphere, are drawn from Thabit ibn Qurra. This is telling because Thabit developed many of Ptolemy's ideas of geo-centricity. He was also a highly esteemed physician, both in his own time, and in the West during the Middle Ages. Thabit was a Sabean, usually identified as a Harranian which was the Hermetic branch of the sect. He is a fascinating mind in general, but what I found interesting about the 8th Sphere stuff was that the use of astrology for diagnostic purposes is pretty much similar to that practiced in Sumer, and more or less identical to that detailed in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Most notably, where it refers to dark and light influence, that is pure Dead Sea Scrolls. According to the DSS, if you possess 6 parts light, to 3 parts dark, you're a good egg. 8 dark, to 1 light, and you are a scoundrel, doomed more or less. In Sumer, they tend to make more allowance for character shaping...the DSS seem less vague about that side of things though they are more concerned about how all that manifests itself in physical appearance.

There is also, I suspect, a strong Egyptian influence in terms of the perception of the Moon, and I wonder if that correlates in some way with the Theosophists interest in the book...I'm not sure though.

In terms of the Russians, by chance, I picked up an interesting book yesterday, quite unrelated in general to this thread, it is called 'The Hermits' (by Peter France), but there is a long section regarding the Russian Startsy. According to the introduction, unlike much of Northern Europe, Christianity did not arrive in Russia through conquest, but by invitation. The story goes that in the 10th century, Prince Vladimir of Kiev decided to find a religion suitable for his people and sent out emissaries to assess the options. Judaism was considered to rigid, Islam was a no, no due to the prohibition of alcohol, and western christianity was altogether without colour. Then they attended liturgy at Aghia Sophia in Constantinople...

'We knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth, for surely there is no such splendour or beauty anywhere on earth. We cannot describe it to you; only this we know, that God dwells there among men and that their service surpasses the worship of all other places. For we cannot forget that beauty..."

That is really insightful if you think about it...and on another level, the Startsy followed the traditions and teachings of the desert fathers of Egypt, via Byzantine Cyprus. I think, if you take a little of the emphasis off of Greece and reposition it in Egypt/Cyprus, you may get more connectivity. I don't think Plato is as central to all this as you may feel he is...in my opinion.

I tell you what does intrigue me though about the influences on the Picatrix, a group I'd never heard of before...


The Arabic phrase Ikhwan al-Safa (short for, among many possible transcriptions, Ikhwān aṣ-Ṣafāʾ wa Khullān al-Wafā wa Ahl al-Ḥamd wa abnāʾ al-Majd,[4] meaning "Brethren of Purity, Loyal Friends, People worthy of praise and Sons of Glory") can be translated as either the "Brethren of Purity" or the "Brethren of Sincerity"; various scholars such as Ian Netton prefer "of Purity" because of the group's ascetic impulses towards purity and salvation.

A suggestion made by Goldziher, and later written about by Philip K. Hitti in his History of Arabs, is that the name is taken from a story in Kalilah wa-Dimnah, in which a group of animals, by acting as faithful friends (ikhwan al-safa), escape the snares of the hunter. The story concerns a ring-dove and its companions who get entangled in the net of a hunter seeking birds. Together, they leave themselves and the ensnaring net to a nearby rat, who is gracious enough to gnaw the birds free of the net; impressed by the rat's altruistic deed, a crow becomes the rat's friend. Soon a tortoise and gazelle also join the company of animals. After some time, the gazelle is trapped by another net; with the aid of the others and the good rat, the gazelle is soon freed, but the tortoise fails to leave swiftly enough and is himself captured by the hunter. In the final turn of events, the gazelle repays the tortoise by serving as a decoy and distracting the hunter while the rat and the others free the tortoise. After this, the animals are designated as the "Ikwhan al-Safa".

This story is mentioned as an exemplum when the Brethren speak of mutual aid in one rasa'il, a crucial part of their system of ethics that has been summarized thus:

In this Brotherhood, self is forgotten; all act by the help of each, all rely upon each for succour and advice, and if a Brother sees it will be good for another that he should sacrifice his life for him, he willingly gives it.[5]





The Brethren regularly met on a fixed schedule. The meetings apparently took place on three evenings of each month: once near the beginning, in which speeches were given, another towards the middle, apparently concerning astronomy and astrology, and the third between the end of the month and the 25th of that month; during the third one, they recited hymns with philosophical content.[6] During their meetings and possibly also during the three feasts they held, on the dates of the sun's entry into the Zodiac signs "Ram, Cancer, and Balance"), besides the usual lectures and discussions, they would engage in some manner of liturgy reminiscent of the Harranians.[7]


en.wikipedia.org...

I am really loving all the implications of that




posted on Dec, 17 2013 @ 04:49 PM
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reply to post by KilgoreTrout
 




I am really loving all the implications of that


Me too. Thank you for the incredible post. I am sort of stunned at the moment and I am going to have to read through a couple of more times to get my bearings and digest what you have contributed.

Thanks again, KG.




posted on Dec, 19 2013 @ 04:19 PM
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Bybyots
I am sort of stunned at the moment and I am going to have to read through a couple of more times to get my bearings and digest what you have contributed.


How's that going?

My feet are barely touching the ground at the mo'...but a couple of things dropped into my lap today that I wanted to pass onto the pair of you...both Egyptian...

Firstly, the Dendera Zodiac...


The zodiac is a planisphere or map of the stars on a plane projection, showing the 12 constellations of the zodiacal band forming 36 decans of ten days each, and the planets. These decans are groups of first-magnitude stars. These were used in the ancient Egyptian calendar, which was based on lunar cycles of around 30 days and on the heliacal rising of the star Sothis (Sirius).

Its representation of the zodiac in circular form is unique in ancient Egyptian art.[citation needed] More typical are the rectangular zodiacs which decorate the same temple's pronaos.
Denderah zodiac in real colors

The celestial arch is represented by a disc held up by four pillars of the sky in the form of women, between which are inserted falcon-headed spirits. On the first ring 36 spirits symbolize the 360 days of the Egyptian year.

On an inner circle, one finds constellations, showing the signs of the zodiac. Some of these are represented in the same Greco-Roman iconographic forms as their familiar counterparts (e.g. the Ram, Taurus, Scorpio, and Capricorn, albeit most in odd orientations in comparison to the conventions of ancient Greece[4] and later Arabic-Western developments), whilst others are shown in a more Egyptian form: Aquarius is represented as the flood god Hapy, holding two vases which gush water.[citation needed] Rogers noted the similarities of unfamiliar iconology with the three surviving tablets of a "Seleucid zodiac" and both relating to kudurru, "boundary-stone" representations: in short, Rogers sees the Dendera zodiac as "a complete copy of the Mesopotamian zodiac".[5]


en.wikipedia.org...

Secondly, the Indestructibles...


The Indestructibles is the name given by the Egyptians to refer to two bright stars that always could be seen circling the North Pole. Today we know them as Kochab, in the bowl of the Little Dipper (Ursa Minor), and Mizar, in the middle of the handle of the Big Dipper (Ursa Major).

The Egyptians believed that the unmovable area the stars circled was heaven. The pyramids were built to align north with a single, perfectly aligned vent. The shaft itself, built into the structure, started at the chamber of King Khufu, and ending at the outside. The shaft was built at an angle, so it could always see The Indestructibles. Their naming "Indestructibles" is directly related to the fact that they encircle heaven. The Egyptians built this vent in the pyramids in order to ensure a perfectly (although recent researches have rendered them not completely perfect) aligned path towards heaven. Because the builders who built those pyramids participated in the act of easing the King or Queen's path to the Indestructibles, they too were guaranteed a position in heaven.


en.wikipedia.org...

I'd like to expand more on why I think that these are significant but I just have no time...plus, perhaps it is better that you play about with information first without too much leading from me.

Another thing I should have pointed out before...in Ancient Egypt, weaving was a male occupation, therefore, the Moon deity was male...Osiris, otherwise known, of course, as the god of the Underworld.



posted on Dec, 19 2013 @ 05:10 PM
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reply to post by KilgoreTrout
 




How's that going?


Slowly. Projects like the one that developed the OP create a sort of centrifugal force that whips me out in to other areas of interest once they are finished. The best part is that those areas I always find to be reverberating with the same force so I find myself learning about the same stuff whether I like it or not.

It could take weeks for this all to moulder down and start to fertilize any real thoughts on the whole thing.

I am really interested in why certain types of information seem to struggle so hard on its journeys through different cultures and how human politics influence its dissemination. It always circles around the same stuff I suppose, or the same few things; in this case important information about our past hidden in the proprietary cant of "secret societies".

That's what the Ikhwan al-Safa make me think of, a proto-benevolent-brotherhood, ala the Freemasons or even certain Sufic sects I have heard of. One of the things that has always struck me about "fraternal orders" and "benevolent societies" is that much of what they vow to uphold for one another, when society will not I guess, is/are the basic features of human dignity; having someone around to bury you when you die has always been a biggie, and they also usually have a vow to "visit the suffering". That sort of thing.

I don't know, of course, I'm rambling but like I said, could take weeks. What stuck with me most was thinking about the Ikhwan al-Safa and groups like them and how humans just sort of know how to set that all up no matter what part of the world they come from.

I guess in a way I am becoming interested in management systems theory and economics, game theory too. I want to know how and why we organize ourselves like this. I want to understand the politics and economies that are involved in information sharing. I think these days they are starting to call it Library Science.

Anyhow, I'm going to put up a thread here pretty quick on another secret society: The Magi. turns out they might have been packing a secret-information payload that had to struggle as well.


edit on 19-12-2013 by Bybyots because: . : .



posted on Dec, 20 2013 @ 07:43 AM
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Bybyots
I am really interested in why certain types of information seem to struggle so hard on its journeys through different cultures and how human politics influence its dissemination. It always circles around the same stuff I suppose, or the same few things; in this case important information about our past hidden in the proprietary cant of "secret societies".

That's what the Ikhwan al-Safa make me think of, a proto-benevolent-brotherhood, ala the Freemasons or even certain Sufic sects I have heard of. One of the things that has always struck me about "fraternal orders" and "benevolent societies" is that much of what they vow to uphold for one another, when society will not I guess, is/are the basic features of human dignity; having someone around to bury you when you die has always been a biggie, and they also usually have a vow to "visit the suffering". That sort of thing.


There are stories within folklore from around the world that hold the essence of the 'child of the widow' narrative, amongst others. Pre-settlement, there seemed to be little concern for burial, exposure to the elements was an adequate enough means by which to dispose of the dead, but when we keep to the same place all year round, that causes innumerable problems, plus, there are the emotional factors, and those seem to have steadily gained prevalence influencing both practice, ritually, and belief systems, spiritually.


Bybyots
I don't know, of course, I'm rambling but like I said, could take weeks. What stuck with me most was thinking about the Ikhwan al-Safa and groups like them and how humans just sort of know how to set that all up no matter what part of the world they come from.


It fascinates me too, some of it is far more simpler to comprehend than others, the desire for comradeship and for others to understand you, hence the seeking out of like minded others. But what never quite sits right with me, is the whole 'secret society' aspect of it in less complex cultures. Certainly I can understand it in terms of protection from state and church, but where those structures don't exist, you still find 'secret societies', which suggests something else, something far more primal.


Bybyots
I guess in a way I am becoming interested in management systems theory and economics, game theory too. I want to know how and why we organize ourselves like this. I want to understand the politics and economies that are involved in information sharing. I think these days they are starting to call it Library Science.


Almost everything is about economics...religion, politics...all economics. The story of Cain and Abel is about the economic conflict between pastoralism and agriculture, that is just a repetition of the same conflict-narrative told in Sumer about Dumuzi the shepherd and the farming god Enkimdu, which in itself is dervived from the conflict between Winter and Summer. Changes are made dependent on the environment, and upon the prevailing economic situation. Similarly, when we look at stories such as Beowulf, Percival, Njal...etc etc, we see the same basic narrative restructured to meet the needs of the current conditions and the people being assimilated, but introducing a new philosophical/economic mind set. Eventually, all becomes eclipsed by a single version of events as all become indoctrinated to that economy of belief...which takes us back to Horselover Fat's vision in Valis



posted on Jan, 4 2014 @ 04:25 PM
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reply to post by Bybyots
 


I am reading a book by W J Stein (The Ninth Century and the Holy Grail) as part of a project that I am working on. Stein was a student of Rudolf Steiner, and it kind of struck me that there was a similarity between Stein's attitude to the Grail and that of Thomas Aquinas. I had a little look on line, and sure enough, it seemed that Stein was an Aquinas fan.

www.eleggua.com...

However, he seems to have ignored what Aquinas himself realised after he received a revelatory vision of Sophia in December 1273..."all I have written seems to me like so much straw compared with what has been revealed to me." He had, by his own admission, completely ignored the 'Feminine Principle" in all his work until She revealed herself to him. This change of stance led to him being denounced before the Paris Condemnations in 1277. This quote sums up his attitude to the feminine prior to that..."As regards the individual nature, woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active power of the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex; while the production of a woman comes from defect in the active power" ...and of women in general, as well as the general attitude of the church at the time.

I wonder whether this is perhaps an over all shortcoming of the Theosophists and the Anthrosophists...while acknowledging Sophia, they have this over hang of 'Holy Roman', as well as Imperial misogyny that blinds them to certain aspects of the esoteric teachings.

This comes into play when you look at the heresy persecutions, particularly those brought against female mystics, Marguerite Porete springs to mind, and the twin routes of knowledge of Greece into Medieval Europe, one via the returning Crusaders and translated by the Roman Church or devotees of that church, such as Cosimo de' Medici, and the second, as we have discussed, via Islamic traders and Spain. One sanctioned (and by necessity editorialised), the other suppressed (and by equal necessity protected within secret societies).

Just a thought...



posted on Mar, 26 2014 @ 05:59 PM
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reply to post by Bybyots
 


It is a little mind-blowing, I think...in terms of the finer points.


1 80th Chapter.
The Eight (1) were Your first manifestation (2),
until You completed these, You being Single (3).
Secret was Your body among the elders,
5 and You kept Yourself hidden as Amun,
at the head of the gods.



The material principle ("Tatenen" or "primeval hill") offers the land, not the seed, the creative principle ("Re", source of an eternity of everlasting life & regeneration). So Amun creates a material pre-condition (a matrix or space, field, realm of options). Primeval matter is made manifest by Amun out of Himself in His primeval time, which is a liminal, mythical, "cross-over" from the Single Amun (in non-ogdoadic pre-creation) to the Amun as "head of the gods" (in ogdoadic pre-creation and in enneadic creation).



Ramesside and Memphite theologies go a step further : the Nun is a manifestation of Amun (or Ptah). The 8th Chapter (the beginning of which is lost) ends with these words about Amun : "God with souls more powerful than those of the gods, because He is the One who remains unique, Divine, whose Name is hidden among the Ogdoad." Taken here a step higher (80), and more explicit, the present enclosure reaffirms this, but starts with the affirmation that the Ogdoad is a manifestation or transformation of Amun.



1 200th Chapter.
Secret of manifestations and sparkling of shape.
Marvellous God, rich in forms.
All gods boast of Him,
5 to magnify (1) themselves in His beauty,
to the extent of His Divinity.
Re himself is united with His body.
He is the great one in Heliopolis.
He is called Tatenen.
Amun, who comes out of the Nun,
to guide the peoples (2).

10 Another of His forms are the Eight,
primeval one of the primeval ones, begetter of Re.
He completed himself as Atum,
being of one body with him.
He is the Universal Lord,
who initiated that which exists.




Indeed, in this song, Amun is described in positive ("katapathic" - lines 3 - 17) and negative ("apophatic" - lines 18 - 28) terms. In the former, the immanence is affirmed and the "neteru" appear as sparkling manifestations of Amun, so many of His forms, each form becoming "greater" not through themselves, but in His beauty and perfection. In the latter, His absolute transcendence is put to the fore in terms of concealment, secrecy, hiddenness, un-saying and unknowing. In a pantheism, God and His attributes are identical and transcendence is undone. This is not the case here. Hence, our Amun theologians were pan-en-theists, for Amun is transcendent (as preexisting essence) and immanent (as the created existence of His forms, the "neteru" or Divine Names). Everything happens "in" Amun, in other words, nothing falls outside Him ("pan-en-theos", "all-in-God").

"Every being came into being when His being began being.
There is nothing outside Him."
Praise of Amun in the Decree for Nesikhonsu, 6, XXIth Dynasty (the "Credo of Amenism").

The division implied by the diad is applied to Amun Himself. Hence, our title for this chapter ("the Two Lands") is a metaphor for the bi-polarity of the Divine. Amun, on the one hand, equals created existence as a countless variety of manifestations (perfect as the "neteru" and imperfect as the rest of creation). On the other hand, Amun is unknown to both the "neteru" of creation as well as to the Ogdoad. Such a one-and-millions-theology was also at work in the Great Hymn to the Aten :

"You created the sky far away in order to ascend it,
to witness everything You created.
You are alone, shining in Your form of the living Aten.
Risen, radiant, distant and near.
You made millions of forms from Yourself alone :
cities, towns, fields, the river's course."
Akhenaten : Great Hymn to the Aten, 72 - 75.

The "noble" and "base" Divine Names of Amun are the ontological roots of everything in existence. Nearness and remoteness are thus both applied to Amun. Much later, we witness the same theological structure with regard to the all-comprehensive Name of God in the Koran, namely "Allah" and His Most Beautiful Names, which can also be divided in "perfect" and "imperfect".


www.maat.sofiatopia.org...




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