Sunday, March 30, 2014

‘Here cometh April again’

“Here cometh April again, and as far as I can see the world hath more fools in it than ever.”

Charles Lamb

Frankly, this is as much for keeping track of my own calendar as anything else.

April 1 – New York City Mythology Roundtable: Discussion on The Book of Symbols, 7 p.m. at Caffe Dante on MacDougal Street in the Village. Bring your copy of the book.

April 2Drisha Institute for Jewish Education’s mixed program (lecture, workshop, et al.) on “Prayer: What Are We Doing?” Starts at 6:30 p.m. 37 West 65th Street in Manhattan.

April 1-4 – Nightly discussion on Appellatio Fraternitatis, newly published philosophical literature by the Rosicrucian Order. 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Rosicrucian Cultural Center, located at 2303 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard in Manhattan.

April 5 – “Taste of Yeats” at New York University’s Ireland House in the Village. No part of the day’s program is focused particularly on Yeats’ spiritual life, but any discussion of his life and work, I figure, would at least touch on the esoteric themes of his writings. Regardless, it should be a great day. Registration is paid in advance.

April 5 – “Life Against Death,” the third of four lectures by Eugene Schwartz in the In the Midst of Life: Understanding Death in Our Time series at the Anthroposophical Society’s New York City headquarters at 138 West 15th Street. 7 p.m. $20 admission for non-members.

April 9 – “The Origins and Offshoots of the Hierarchies and Humans,” the eighth of the 10-part Spiritual Beings and Their Work lecture series at the Anthroposophical Society. 7 p.m. $20 admission for non-members.

April 10 – Current Events Evening Talk led by Serguei Krissiouk on “Ukraine’s Fierce Struggle for Freedom,” concerning the historical, cultural, political, and spiritual causes of the current international crisis. Anthroposophical Society. 7 p.m. $20 admission for non-members.

April 14 – Opening Night of the f r e e spring semester at the School of Practical Philosophy. 12 East 79th Street in Manhattan. (Also available elsewhere in the United States.) Click here for info.

April 14 – Full Moon Meditation. I have participated in a few of these since last summer, and it’s still a pretty exotic experience. No ritualized, memorized, canned prayer, but something far more primal and true. 8 p.m. at the Rosicrucian Cultural Center.

April 15 – “A History of Dream Interpretation: Finding Meaning in Dreams from Ancient Cultures to Modern Societies” with Dr. Stanley Krippner. 8 p.m. at Observatory, located at 543 Union Street in Brooklyn. $12 admission.

April 17 – “The Last Supper Seder Transformed for Our Time,” is a clarion to eradicate all forms of enslavement everywhere. Anthroposophical Society. 7 p.m. Donations welcome.

April 21-25 – “The Sacred Circle of the Year: Ancient and Modern” explores the Rosicrucian approach to the pre-Christian and Christian-era calendars, namely the eight-fold cycle of the year. Facilitated by Steven A. Armstrong, nightly from 6:30 to 7:30 at the Rosicrucian Cultural Center uptown.

April 26 – Builders of the Adytum’s “Vibratory Attunement Ritual.” Yeah, me neither, but I’m going to check it out. Four o’clock at 71 West 23rd Street, 12th floor, in Manhattan.

April 30 – Illustrated art lecture by David Lowe titled “The Face of Christ: the 1400s from Giotto On.” Leonardo’s The Last Supper, Michelangelos The Last Judgment, and Raphael’s The Transfiguration, among other masterpieces, lead us deep into the origins of Rosicrucianism. (Mr. Lowe will lead a gallery walk at the Met on May 3.)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

‘The Book of Symbols at Mythology Café’

At the meeting next Tuesday of Mythology Cafe, the New York City Roundtable of the Joseph Campbell Foundation, the group will discuss that wonderful publication The Book of Symbols. Written and compiled by skilled hands of the Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism, and published by Taschen in 2010, The Book of Symbols runs more than 800 pages and delivers hundreds of illustrated lessons on how man has harvested meaningful symbologies from the natural world and ages of human culture. It’s difficult to describe; I’ll have to dig up the review I wrote of it four years ago for some magazine or other. The book is a masterpiece, and I have found it useful countless times in aiding my own understanding of symbolisms in various esoteric contexts. It’s all here: the mystical, the practical, the mythological, the factual, the astral; animal, mineral, vegetable; the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s an amazing document.

The meeting will take place April 1 at Caffe Dante, the historic nook on MacDougal Street near the corner of Bleecker in the Village. Just a block west from our old haunt. Will begin at 7 p.m., and likely conclude at nine. (I am a little anxious to see this new Dante. It closed for renovations three months ago, and I have not seen the new look yet. It was such comfortable and comforting space, with its incredible, illustrious history.... Well, we shall see.)

Courtesy Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York

The organizers ask that we bring our books along, as there will be group discussion. “Choose 3 to 5 images from The Book of Symbols. Subjectively engage with each image/symbol. Prepare to share your critical and intimate encounter(s).”

It’ll be a great night.

Monday, March 24, 2014

‘Another Spring: the rebirth of thought and character’

Another Spring

Attune with the Changes
That Are Taking Place

By H. Spencer Lewis

The springtime of the year is close at hand, and it makes one realize that the freshness of the coming life and the vitality that is in the air signify a period when we should cooperate with nature’s processes of rebuilding and recreating, and become new men and women.

I like to think of the picture painted by one of the old mystics when he said that as springtime came he wanted to plant in the garden of his soul a seed of life, a seed of kindness and tolerance; that he would watch it carefully through the spring showers and high winds; mature it until summertime, then protect it against the heat of the sun and the great showers. In the fall, when it has become a great thing, he would bless it and enjoy its beauty and magnificence through the winter months, taking it closer to his bosom, keeping it warm, and letting it vitalize him during the close of the year.

Plant a Seed in Your Life!

Each one of us can plant such a seed at this time of the year by knowing that with the coming of spring come many opportunities to attune ourselves with the changes that are taking place. We can change our natures, our dispositions, our ways of thinking and doing things, and become new in many ways.

We really can clean house this springtime and rid ourselves of many superstitions, false beliefs, habits, and traits of character that clutter like weeds in a garden, and keep new plans, thoughts, and ideas from growing strong and beautiful.

Humans are constantly evolving, and it is for this reason that systems, doctrines, dogmas, and creeds, which served so well in the past, seem to be obsolete now.

It is not because we are less considerate of the higher things of life; it is not because we are less religious, less devoted to high ideals principles, or less moral; but it is because we have evolved to a different level of understanding. We feel sure that it is the higher understanding of those things necessary in life that builds character and makes for right living and divine attunement.

As evolving beings, we have changed from what we were a hundred years ago; we are not less spiritual, but more spiritual; we are not less devoted to principles and ideals, but more devoted to higher, broader, more understandable ones.

Continuing Cycles

In these clashes between the customs and thoughts of the past and those of today, there is more than this mere difference of opinion; there is the difference of continued evolution. Yet evolution is not only a thing of great cycles or eons of time, but of days, hours, and minutes. In the twinkling of an eye, we are told, many wonderful things can occur. In the passing of a few hours at night there may come a change in the life of any of us through a dream, a vision, or just a good night’s rest. And truly in the passing of a year, with its cycle of material changes and the effects of nature’s process of unfoldment, there can come to each of us modifications of understanding and viewpoint which will broaden and enlighten us and make us conscious of the grander aspects of life and our relation to the universe as a whole, instead of to only a small part of it.

Therefore, I plead for the rebirth of thought and character at the springtime of the year. I plead for a conscious, willful agreement with nature’s processes and a determined change in our individual natures. Let us rise above our local environments and find in ourselves a divine attunement with the entire universe so that we will not remain merely a part of the place or condition in which we happen to exist.

This is my thought these springtime days, and this is the thought that I would have you take under consideration for weeks to come, until it takes root in your consciousness and manifests in everything you think and do.

With a change of thinking and a broader aspect of consciousness will come a widening of your ability to live with understanding. You will find that there is a broadening of your whole life, that you are becoming more receptive to the blessings of the universe, more successful in your undertakings, more enlightened in your aspirations, and more truly inspired in your conceptions. Such a change in your nature, outwardly manifesting in many ways, will be noticeable and will attract to you those who are like yourself, repelling in a passive way those who cannot agree with you.

Soon you will find that the rebirth of the springtime has brought you into the summertime of joy and Peace Profound. Then, through the fall and winter, you will enjoy life as you have never enjoyed it before. With the ambitions, anticipations, exhilarating introspection known only to the true mystic, one who has passed through self-crucifixion and self-resurrection, you will look forward to the coming of another spring.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

‘Explore the Appellatio Fraternitatis’

The Rosicrucian Order has five nights of workshops planned for next week to bring to life the meanings of the Order’s new writings, the Appellatio Fraternitatis, in the tradition of Rosicrucianism’s founding documents printed in the early 17th century. (If you didn’t know, this year is the quadricentenary of the publication of Fama Fraternitatis in Germany. I have been meaning to write about this for three months—and hopefully will do so by year’s end—but it is difficult to collect my thoughts of this hefty subject.)

Anyway, Steven Armstrong will return to the Rosicrucian Cultural Center uptown for discussion and activities intended to explain what all this literature means, and to make it useful in life.

From the publicity:

In commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the issuance of the Fama Fraternitatis, the Appellatio Fraternitatis is a powerful call to understand and to manifest the Rosicrucian Principles in this crucial time in human history.

March 31 through April 4
Nightly from 6:30 to 7:30
Rosicrucian Cultural Center of New York City
2303 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard

This participatory workshop will explore not only the meaning of each section, but will also discuss ways of implementing each in our lives.

The first night we will consider the Preface and the Historical Background of the Manifestos.

The second night we will work with the Appeal for Spirituality.

The third night will center on the Appeal for Humanism.

The fourth night will deal with the Appeal for Ecology, and the Conclusion.

On the fifth night, participants will discuss the Imperator’s Discourse: Being a Thinking, Active, and Responsible Mystic.

Please read and meditate on the appropriate sections before each workshop.

The facilitator of this workshop, Steven A. Armstrong, M.A. Hum., M.A., M.Div., is a professional historian, philosopher, and teacher based in the San Francisco Bay area. He serves at the Grand Lodge in Membership Services; is an active member of both the Rosicrucian Order, AMORC and the Traditional Martinist Order; and has served as an officer in both Orders. His current areas of interest include how the Primordial Tradition permeates all world traditions, and the way in which the Rosicrucian and Martinist paths provide unique and unifying viewpoints on those traditions. The author of more than 30 published papers, articles and podcasts, and a lecturer for the RCUI, he is no stranger to New York City, as he received two of his Master’s Degrees at Fordham University’s Rose Hill Campus.

Friday, March 21, 2014

‘Obligation and opportunity’

The first event took place Wednesday night, but I didn’t get word of this series until just now. Drisha Institute, in midtown, offers a highly interesting program of workshops, prayer, and lectures in the coming two weeks that examines the act of prayer. From the publicity:

Prayer: What Are We Doing?

Prayer is both an obligation and an opportunity, yet we encounter many obstacles in prayer—practical challenges as well as theological ones. This series will discuss ways to understand what we are doing when we pray, and introduce practices that help us sustain concentration and cultivate presence of mind and heart in our prayer.

Wednesday, March 26
Wednesday, April 2

Workshops at 6:30 p.m.
Lectures at seven o’clock

Drisha Institute for Jewish Education
37 West 65th Street, Fifth Floor

Each evening will begin at 6:30 with a choice of workshops on practices that we might choose to introduce into our tefilla. Workshops will be followed at 7:15 by tefillat ma’ariv (with a choice of minyanim) and a brief break for refreshments. The evening will conclude with a lecture at 7:45 on approaches to the theology of prayer.

6:30 to 7:15 p.m. – Choice of Three Workshops:

Soul Connection: Meditations for Prayer according to the Aish Kodesh (with Mira Niculescu);

Trembling Joy: Quieting the Noise and Amplifying the Song of the Heart (with Rabbi Dani Segal); or

Niggun Ha’Lev: Melodies to Awaken our Hearts in Prayer (with Rabbi David Silber).

7:15 – Tefillat Ma’ariv
Courtesy Drisha
7:45 to 9 – Lecture:

March 26: Words Filled with Light: Hasidic Mystical Reflections on Kavvanah and Contemplative Prayer (with Professor Eitan Fishbane).

April 2: Prayer and Human Needs: R. Soloveitchik and Other Recent Thinkers (with Professor David Shatz).

There is no fee, but we welcome contributions to support our work. Pre-registration in not required, but we recommend pre-registering in order to sign up for your first choice workshop. For those who cannot attend, lectures will be live streamed as well as available for viewing after the lecture.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

‘Rosicrucian New Year’

Uraltes Chymisches Werk by Abraham Eleazer, 1760.

Vernal Equinox will arrive in several hours—12:57 p.m. local time—but if you’re at work, perhaps it’s better you do not countdown those final ten seconds and let loose the confetti and noisemakers.

Maybe read Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “The Sensitive Plant” on your lunch hour. Excerpted:

“And the Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast
Rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.”

Read all about it here.

Happy New Year.

Friday, March 14, 2014

‘See an introductory message on Martinism’

The Traditional Martinist Order has produced a four-minute video that briefly explains the thinking behind Martinism.

Also, there is a Facebook page where one might gain more insight into the Order. Click here.

(Once I would have been worried about mixing Martinism with social media, but you know what? Martinist concepts are not sacred and secret. They are man-made, and they’ve been out there in several forms for many centuries. It is a code of uplifting, high-minded principles, for sure, so dull minds and small hearts wouldn’t know what to do with it, and that is safeguard enough.)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

‘An essential part of the spiritual path’

If you have yet to heed my advice to make Parabola magazine part of your regular reading, perhaps this excerpt from the Spring issue will convince you. It’s very rare I reproduce someone else’s writing in its entirety on the Magpie, but this essay below by Lee Van Laer is worth breaking convention.

Inner Wisdom
By Lee Van Laer

If one traces the roots of the word wisdom, one discovers that wis- is, logically enough, related to the word wit, and that both ultimately trace their origins back to an Indo-European root related to the Sanskrit veda (knowledge) and Latin videre (to see).
The -dom originates from the Latin dominus, master.

So wisdom is a mastery of seeing. But it must be referred to as a mastery of seeing from within, an inner vision or understanding. In traditional societies, and traditional religions, this inner wisdom or inner seeing was held as the most valuable kind of insight. Often attained through age, but not always by education, wisdom is presumed, in tradition and mythology alike, to carry an emotive content as well as an intellectual one; and it usually embodies itself in a venerated figure, a master clothed, more often than not, in robes of humility, which denote compassionate practice. Often the master also manifests a commanding physical presence; so his corporeal presence carries an equal weight with his emotional and intellectual capacities. Traditionally, he is wise who balances these three qualities.

Wisdom does not loom large in the modern psyche. It has been replaced by knowledge, which does not pretend to emotive value; in its least appealing forms, it even eschews such associations. It is strictly about things and the manipulation of them; and, unsurprisingly, it’s directed outwardly, towards the technologies of life and not their meanings. So we have many people who, externally speaking, are able but not wise; active but not prudent.

And perhaps this defines our society and our age as much as any other set of words: activity without prudence, or, imprudent doing.

To have prudence is to have foresight, to attend to. But attention is born from within, not from outward circumstances; and in the great esoteric traditions, as well as the traditional religions, attention is of a divine origin, not a worldly one.

The idea is hardly a new one. The great Sufi mystic and philosopher Ibn Arabi insisted that man’s duty was to extend his intellect beyond the territory of the everyday into the challenging and mysterious realm of divinely inspired wisdom. This inner seeing, Arabi tells us, is essential to the meaning of our existence: of man, he says, For the Reality [God], he is as the pupil is for the eye through which the act of seeing takes place. (1)

And it is no coincidence that Emanuel Swedenborg titled one of his greatest works Divine Love and Wisdom. Of wisdom and seeing, Swedenborg wrote:

... since what is wholly itself and unique is substance and form, it follows that it is the unique substance and form, and wholly itself; and since that true substance and form is divine love and wisdom, it follows that it is the unique love, wholly itself, and the unique wisdom, wholly itself. It is therefore the unique essence, wholly itself, and the unique life, wholly itself, since love and wisdom is life.

All this shows how sensually people are thinking when they say that nature exists in its own right, how reliant they are on their physical senses and their darkness in matters of the spirit. They are thinking from the eye and are unable to think from the understanding. Thinking from the eye closes understanding, but thinking from understanding opens the eye. They are unable to entertain any thought about inherent reality and manifestation, any thought that it is eternal, uncreated, and infinite. (2)

Arabi and Swedenborg shared a notable consonance of philosophy, as Henri Corbin has pointed out; and both of them, men with intellects and education unusual for any age, insisted that seeing—intelligence in the form of wisdom—was 
an essential part of the spiritual path.

Both of them, however, were referring to an inner intelligence, an intelligence born of a divine spark within man, with which they both had personal experience. Swedenborg called the arrival of divine intelligence in man the inflow; G.I. Gurdjieff referred to it as an influence. All of these teachers felt that man needed to open his heart—and perhaps his very soul itself—to this inward flow of a divine energy, which the Christians call Grace, in order to become informed—inwardly formed—in accordance with divine law. Only then can prudence be acquired; and only after that can action be wise.

Wisdom, in other words, is the outward manifestation of an inward quality, not the self-reflexive relationship of outward qualities to one another. In this sense, for right action to be possible every active must begin as a contemplative. Rather than separating them, contemplation and action must undergo a marriage that is born from an inner attention.
This is where the beginning of wisdom lies.

1 Ibn-Al-Arabi, Bezels of Wisdom (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1980), 51.

2 Emanuel Swedenborg, Divine Love and Wisdom, trans. George F. Dole (West Chester, PA: Swedenborg Foundation’s New Century Edition, 2003), 67–68.

Monday, March 10, 2014

‘Full Moon on the fifteenth’

The Great Wheel, from A Vision
by William Butler Yeats, 1925.
“As the moon passes through the whole of the zodiac in twenty-eight days, the most ancient astrologers assumed that there were twenty-eight stages…within [which] lie many of the secrets of the ancients, miraculously affecting all things beneath the moon.”

Agrippa of Nettesheim
De occulta philosophia

Full Moon Meditation Saturday night at 7:30 at the Rosicrucian Cultural Center in New York City, located at 2303 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

‘Rosicrucian New Year celebration’

The Rosicrucian Order will celebrate the Rosicrucian New Year on March 20. Of course that is the day of the Spring Equinox, which will arrive just minutes before 1 p.m. This celebration, however, is scheduled for the evening at the Rosicrucian Cultural Center in New York City.

The Grand Master will be present, and will lead the group through meditations and reflections. From 6:30 to 7:30, there will be a workshop that will be open to the public. At eight o’clock, members of the Order will gather for the Rosicrucian New Year Ceremony, which I’m assuming will be held upstairs amid all the roses and gold of the Center’s beautiful meeting space.

The Rosicrucian Cultural Center is located at 2303 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard in Manhattan.

Friday, March 7, 2014

‘Spiritual Laws at Rosicrucian Center’

The Rosicrucian Cultural Center in New York City will host Dr. Lonnie Edwards again for discussions on “Spiritual Laws” next week.

Monday through Friday, daily from 3 to 7:30 p.m. The Cultural Center is located at 2303 Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard, at 135th Street, in Manhattan.

From the publicity:

It is important for us, as students of spirituality and mysticism, to become aware and acquainted with the tremendous resources that are available to make our lives more harmonious.

Once we learn to tap these inner resources, living will be an invigorating affair, continuing and picking up where we left off in previous life experiences, and thereby advancing and expanding the consciousness.

We need to keep foremost in our consciousness certain principles, conditions, and laws to gain access to spiritual tools and to arrive at permanent solutions to life’s challenges.

Through lectures, participation in meditation, and visualization exercises, we will be given the opportunity to experience the value of discussing these principles in a group setting.

Facilitating the discussions will be Dr. Lonnie Edwards, Vice President of the EGL Board of Directors, and author of Spiritual Laws that Govern Humanity and the Universe.

Click here for more on Dr. Edwards.

‘Public BOTA ceremony next month’

An interesting BOTA event planned for next month. From the publicity:

Vibratory Attunement Ritual
Saturday, April 26 at 4 p.m.
71 West 23rd St., 12th Floor

BOTA members, their guests, and the general public are invited to participate in this beautiful ritual of healing and transmutation by building patterns of harmony through ancient vibratory formulae of color and sound.

I have no idea of what this ceremony will entail, but if you think this sounds like New Age gibberish, I would just say that sound and color, as manifestations of mathematics, were handed down by Pythagoras and other giants of Classical Greece, and should be fairly easily understood as patterns for harmony. I’m going to check it out.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

‘Hermetic Studies program in Pennsylvania’

The ubiquitous Mark Stavish of the Institute for Hermetic Studies made the following announcement yesterday:

Mark Stavish
Over the last few months we have had inquiries asking if we would be willing to reinvigorate our bi-weekly classes in western esotericism, with emphasis on Hermeticism and the three principal Hermetic arts and sciences of magic, alchemy, and astrology. Our response has always been a firm ‘Yes, if there is sufficient interest and commitment from the students for something that runs once or twice a month for two or more years.’

As such, we are sending out this notice stating that if you are interested in monthly or bi-weekly programs of an organized and directed nature, for the study and practice of Hermeticism and the disciplines stated above, contact us. Meetings and attendant work would be held in the Wilkes-Barre area of northeastern Pennsylvania.

Dues and attendant obligations will be announced. Please contact us if you are interested, briefly state your background in any of the subjects mentioned, and your general geographic location (i.e., Scranton or Central NJ), and your ability to attend bi-weekly or monthly classes.

Please understand this is a structured program and does not allow for easy entry of new members after the first six months—and certainly not after the first year—so it is important that everyone be on board prior to its initiation.

In addition, Mark stated:

The course is going to be a highly condensed version of our first program that ran twice monthly for four years. This is ideal for those with some modest reading and limited experience in meditation and/or ritual rather than a complete beginner. It is also ideal for those wishing to establish their own local group, as it is aimed at the motivated learner, or the one most likely to establish a group and thereby be its first leader. This would be the essentials to get them started for general alchemical and qabalistic work, not a detailed study - there is not enough time for that. Emphasis will be on reading one’s own chart, and very basic horary astrology for asking questions and finding general elections.

Mark can be reached at: