Friday, February 21, 2014
At the monthly meeting of BOTA tomorrow morning in New York City, a new curriculum will be introduced titled “The Elements in Tarot and Hebrew.” The group will begin with Air/Ruach.
Saturday, February 22 at 10 a.m., at 71 West 23rd Street, 12th Floor, in Manhattan.
Thursday, February 20, 2014
New York Open Center welcomes Musa Muhaiyaddeen for three lectures in the coming four weeks on Sufism, the mystical belief system in Islam.
Sufis, according to F.E. Peters, one of my favorite professors in my university days, “prefer the knowledge that comes by inspiration, to the exclusion of that acquired by study. Again, they desire neither to study such learning nor to learn anything of what authors have written on the subject; to inspect neither their teachings nor their arguments. They maintain on the contrary that the ‘way’ consists in preferring spiritual combat, in getting rid of one’s faults, in breaking one’s ties and approaching God Most High through a single-minded spiritual effort. And every time those conditions are fulfilled, God for His part turns toward the heart of His servant and guarantees him an illumination by the lights of understanding.”
From the publicity:
Sufism, The Mystical Path
Presented by Musa Muhaiyaddeen
6 to 7:30 p.m.
22 East 30th Street
New York City
Free and Open to the Public
As Musa explains, Sufism goes beyond all languages, religions and cultural backgrounds. This is a path open to all seekers of the unseen, those striving to connect to their spiritual inner life, to give new meaning and direction that is easily put into practice.
You can hear many of Musa’s talks on his website. His latest book, The Elixir of Truth, is available through Amazon and will be available at The New York Open Center.
If you have any questions please call: (610) 334-0796.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Two more great events coming to Observatory on two Thursdays next month that I can’t resist. On March 13 and March 27, Ms. Ava Forte Vitali, of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, will present illustrated lectures discussing the ancient Egyptians’ myths and rituals built around death, the afterlife—and beer. These are part of Morbid Anatomy’s Death and the Occult in the Ancient World Series.
From the publicity:
The Ancient Egyptian End of the World
and the Mythology of Beer
Illustrated lecture with Ava Forte Vitali
with free beer provided
by sponsor Brooklyn Brewery
Thursday, March 13 at 8 p.m.
Join us for a pre-St. Patrick’s Day celebration of one of the world’s oldest and most beloved drinks—beer! Ava Forte Vitali, from our Death and the Occult in the Ancient World Series, will give us a quick glimpse into a few of the gods, goddesses, myths, and ancient festivals associated with the drink, paying close attention to the “Ancient Egyptian Legend of the End of the World,” celebrated March 12.
Then stay and mingle with other like-minded enthusiasts and enjoy a few bottles on us, provided by our sponsor Brooklyn Brewery!
The ‘After’ Life: Death in Ancient Egypt
Illustrated lecture with Ava Forte Vitali
Thursday, March 27 at 8 p.m.
(Rescheduled from February 13)
When one considers “Death and the Occult in the Ancient World,” often the first culture that comes to mind is that of the ancient Egyptians. Known for their elaborate tombs, complicated religious texts, and captivating mummies, the ancient Egyptians’ fascination with death has captivated public interest for centuries. This lecture in our monthly series will introduce the mortuary beliefs, traditions, and archaeology of the ancient Egyptians, and will examine whether they were as morbidly focused as they traditionally have been portrayed.
Ava Forte Vitali completed her Master’s Degree in Art History and Archaeology, with a specialization in the Egyptian and Classical World, at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. Her research interests include the interaction of the physical and spirit worlds in ancient Egypt, archaeology of the household, and ancient Egyptian domestic and ancestor cults, on which her Master’s focused. She has excavated at sites in Egypt and Turkey, and is a Collections Manager for Greek and Roman Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She is currently writing a contribution on the arts and archaeology of ancient Egypt for an upcoming introduction to art history textbook.
Death and the Occult
in the Ancient World Series
This is a new series of monthly lectures, workshops, and tours that aim to examine the way people along the ancient Mediterranean interacted with the unseen forces in the world. Many basic ancient myths and mortuary traditions are known, but often this barely scrapes the top of a rich wealth of information and long history of interesting, engaging, and surprisingly weird traditions and beliefs. Through illustrated lectures, guided tours, and occasional workshops, we will strive to understand the different approaches that the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans employed to explain the world around them, and to challenge popular misconceptions held by the public today.
Through this series we hope to bridge the gap that often exists between academic disciplines and the public audience, bringing the two together in an approachable forum. Led by Vitali, this series will expand on topics including religion, art, archaeology, and texts, to further our understanding of both our world and theirs.
Monday, February 17, 2014
I try to remember to commemorate it every year, but sometimes I forget; while it isn’t even observed or remembered any longer—hasn’t been for decades—I still take a moment on The Magpie to bring to your attention National Brotherhood Week.
|Click to enlarge.|
Naturally, it was ripe for satire during the decade of Civil Rights oppression, race riots, political assassinations, war, draft resistance, women’s liberation, and the rest of it.
Tom Lehrer, the brilliant mathematics prodigy turned satirical songwriter extraordinaire, was a big part of my growing up. (If you know me, and can’t stand having me around, the credit largely belongs to Lehrer, Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Mad and National Lampoon magazines, and Monty Python, all of whom were amply represented in my childhood home.) So without further ado, here is the maestro, from That Was the Week That Was.
It’s been a long time since I last wrote about the value of Shakespeare and language to the art of transformation, but I witnessed something pretty spectacular the Friday night before last at The Players worth mentioning here.
The Players hosted a theater troupe from Cape Cod named Elements Theatre Company—and, yes, that’s elements as in earth, air, fire, and water—that performed an amazing “montage,” I suppose I’ll call it, of scenes culled from eight great dramas in a program titled “Labyrinth: A Legacy of Language.” It is part of this theater company’s year-long celebration of this 450th anniversary year of Shakespeare’s birth. These scenes were linked thematically by their explorations of love, trust, infidelity, vengeance, and remorse. They segued into each other obliquely, but effectively. My point is not to write a review, but just for your information the plays sampled, in this sequence, were: The Real Thing, by Tom Stoppard; A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams; A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen; The School for Scandal by Robert Sheridan; Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet, Titus Andronicus, and The Tempest by William Shakespeare. The goal was to present immortal moments of the Shakespearean stage and more recent writers’ words clearly influenced by Shakespeare. To showcase the immortality of these words. Words that were here before us, and will be here after we are gone. Words to be acted in “states unborn and in accents yet unknown,” to borrow from Julius Caesar.
|The simple set employed by the Elements Theatre Company|
at The Players in New York City February 7.
Anyway, after the performance (and an appreciated wine and cheese reception), a panel discussion delved into various implications of transformation in the processes of theater. For instance, there is the obvious external transformation of actors putting on their costumes and make-up. (Take your seat 20 minutes before the curtain goes up at Twelfth Night on Broadway, and you can watch that process.) There is an internal adjustment of the actor as he becomes the role and identifies with it even when off-stage. But there was this other progression they spoke of. Something I would liken to spiritual alchemy—a reorganization of the conscious mind to unlock its greater potential.
Getting back to the title “Labyrinth: A Legacy of Language,” the panelists spoke of language itself as key to the art of transformation. “Transformation is the name of the game!” said Louis Colaianni, a voice coach and author of How to Speak Shakespeare. The panel tore into the concept of “The Word Made Flesh,” to paraphrase St. John’s Gospel. (That actually is the title of another great project the theater company is working on. Click here and check it out.) “We’re in an age when speaking well is suspect,” Colaianni also said, “when it doesn’t sound like telling the truth. We need to foster a natural eloquence in the young.” Panelist George Drance related an anecdote about a friend prompting some laughter by speaking the phrase “burst like a pomegranate” in casual conversation. “No one talks like that!” came the predictable admonishment. “Well, we would if we could,” the guy replied.
Sunday, February 16, 2014
If you are the kind of thinker who hears the Divine in the language of geometry, then this news is for you. The National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America has just published a paper it received for review last spring that gives the world a new—fourth—class of convex polyhedra. In short, Plato, Archimedes, and Kepler have company, and his name is Goldberg. As you’ll see in the article below, these Goldberg variations (sorry, I couldn’t resist) are not true polyhedra solids, so “Goldberg” is a misnomer, albeit a well-intentioned one. It is believed this discovery can bring researchers closer to finding cures for a variety of viruses, if you’re curious about practical significance.
It’s not every day that something like this pops up, so for only the second time in Magpie history I’m going to reproduce an entire news story—replete with art—here, with thanks to The Conversation, the “academic rigor, journalistic flair” journal you all should have bookmarked for reference. Enjoy, and please discuss among yourselves.
After 400 years, mathematicians find
a new class of solid shapes
|Not so special anymore.|
The work of the Greek polymath Plato has kept millions of people busy for millennia. A few among them have been mathematicians who have obsessed about Platonic solids, a class of geometric forms that are highly regular and are commonly found in nature.
Since Plato’s work, two other classes of equilateral convex polyhedra, as the collective of these shapes are called, have been found: Archimedean solids (including truncated icosahedron) and Kepler solids (including rhombic polyhedra). Nearly 400 years after the last class was described, researchers claim that they may have now invented a new, fourth class, which they call Goldberg polyhedra. Also, they believe that their rules show that an infinite number of such classes could exist.
Platonic love for geometry
Equilateral convex polyhedra need to have certain characteristics. First, each of the sides of the polyhedra needs to be of the same length. Second, the shape must be completely solid: that is, it must have a well-defined inside and outside that is separated by the shape itself. Third, any point on a line that connects two points in a shape must never fall outside the shape.
Platonic solids, the first class of such shapes, are well known. They consist of five different shapes: tetrahedron, cube, octahedron, dodecahedron and icosahedron. They have four, six, eight, twelve and twenty faces, respectively.
|Platonic solids in ascending order of number of faces.|
These highly regular structures are commonly found in nature. For instance, the carbon atoms in a diamond are arranged in a tetrahedral shape. Common salt and fool’s gold (iron sulfide) form cubic crystals, and calcium fluoride forms octahedral crystals.
The new discovery comes from researchers who were inspired by finding such interesting polyhedra in their own work that involved the human eye. Stan Schein at the University of California in Los Angeles was studying the retina of the eye when he became interested in the structure of protein called clathrin. Clathrin is involved in moving resources inside and outside cells, and in that process it forms only a handful number of shapes. These shapes intrigued Schein, who ended up coming up with a mathematical explanation for the phenomenon.
However, Schein believes that Goldberg’s shapes – or cages, as geometers call them – are not polyhedra. “It may be confusing because Goldberg called them polyhedra, a perfectly sensible name to a graph theorist, but to a geometer, polyhedra require planar faces,” Schein said.
Instead, in a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Schein and his colleague James Gayed have described that a fourth class of convex polyhedra, which given Goldberg’s influence they want to call Goldberg polyhedra, even at the cost of confusing others.
|Blown up dodecahedron.|
Craven said, “There are two problems: the bulging of the faces, whether it creates a shape like a saddle, and how you turn those bulging faces into multi-faceted shapes. The first is relatively easy to solve. The second is the main problem. Here one can draw hexagons on the side of the bulge, but these hexagons won’t be flat. The question is whether you can push and pull all these hexagons around to make each and everyone of them flat.”
During the imagined bulging process, even one that involves replacing the bulge with multiple hexagons, as Craven points out, there will be formation of internal angles. These angles formed between lines of the same faces – referred to as dihedral angle discrepancies – means that, according to Schein and Gayed, the shape is no longer a polyhedron. Instead they claimed to have found a way of making those angles zero, which makes all the faces flat, and what is left is a true convex polyhedron.
Their rules, they claim, can be applied to develop other classes of convex polyhedra. These shapes will be with more and more faces, and in that sense there should be an infinite variety of them.
Playing with shapes
Such mathematical discoveries don’t have immediate applications, but often many are found. For example, dome-shaped buildings are never circular in shape. Instead they are built like half-cut Goldberg polyhedra, consisting of many regular shapes that give more strength to the structure than using round-shaped construction material.
|Only the one in the right bottom corner is a convex polyhedra.|
However, there may be some immediate applications. The new rules create polyhedra that have structures similar to viruses or fullerenes, a carbon allotrope. The fact that there has been no “cure” against influenza, or common flu, shows that stopping viruses is hard.
But if we are able to describe the structure of a virus accurately, we get a step closer to finding a way of fighting them.
If nothing else, Schein’s work will invoke mathematicians to find other interesting geometric shapes, now that equilateral convex polyhedra may have been done with.
Saturday, February 15, 2014
The Rosicrucian Cultural Center in New York City will host Dr. Lonnie Edwards again for a week of discussions on “Spiritual Laws” later this month.
Monday, February 24 through Friday, February 28, 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.
Friday, February 7, 2014
I believe I will skip New York Pipe Club’s meeting next Tuesday to visit the Rosicrucian Cultural Center instead, where the Grand Master will present a virtual tour of Rosicrucian Park in San Jose, California.
“Rosicrucian Park is situated in an area that was once mostly orchards and farmland. Conceived in 1927 by H. Spencer Lewis, the Park now covers nearly an entire city block. Rosicrucian Park attracts thousands of visitors each year from all over the world. The Park offers a mysterious and beautiful combination of Egyptian and Moorish architecture set among broad lawns, rose gardens, statuary, and sparkling fountains. The peaceful environment, along with the spiritual essence of what Rosicrucian Park represents, creates a serene and harmonious ambiance sensed by its many visitors.” Read more here.
|Rosicrucian Park postcard.|
From the publicity for the event Tuesday:
A Virtual Tour
of Inspiring Rosicrucian Park
Tuesday, February 11
6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Rosicrucian Cultural Center
2303 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard
New York City
Explore the beautiful gardens, rich culture, and tranquil ambiance of Rosicrucian Park, the headquarters of the Rosicrucian Order, AMORC in San Jose, California. This presentation and discussion will include the history of the Grand Temple, Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, Planetarium, Research Library, Peace Garden, and the future plans for the new Labyrinth and Alchemy Museum.
Thursday, February 6, 2014
|Carl Gustav Jung|
These are some of the courses that will begin the week of February 24 and continue for five consecutive weeks.
Creativity and the Unconscious
In The Spirit in Man, Art and Literature, Jung discusses the relationship between analytical psychology and poetry in consideration of the creative process. Jung’s thoughts provide us with an opportunity to express ourselves as writers of poetry. In his discussion of creativity, Jung gives insights into how we are to approach and develop our creative selves, as reflections of the unconscious in its dynamic movements. Poetry as an expression of the Heart supports our interest in delving deeper into unconscious processes which includes our understanding of creativity as a life force energy.
C.G. Jung on Eastern Religions
This course will introduce students to brief overviews of the primary religious traditions of India, China, Tibet, and Japan, and then present the major writings of C.G. Jung on these same religions. The text for the course will be the very accessible paperback, C.G. Jung, Psychology and the East, translated by R.F.C. Hull. This book consists of essays about and introductions to major studies of Eastern religions and to translations of Eastern religious texts written by Jung over many decades. The religions represented include Hinduism, Taoism, and Chinese religion more generally, and the Buddhist traditions of Tibet and Zen. In each case, the instructor will give an overview of the religion in question, present Jung’s ideas on this religion from the textbook, compare Jung’s ideas with current scholarly and popular thinking on the same subjects, and present the subjects from the point of view of comparative religion studies.
Jung did not approach these religious traditions from the point of view of pure scholarship, but rather from the point of view of depth psychology. During each class period, there will be time and opportunity for discussion by participants.
And a few beginning the week of April 7 and continuing for five consecutive weeks.
The Heroine’s Journey in Fairy Tales:
How It Differs from the Hero’s Journey
In western culture, we are familiar with stories of a hero’s journey. Examples include Gilgamesh, the Odyssey, and Beowulf. In this class, we will analyze tales which show an equivalent journey for a woman. These tales from cultures around the world offer insights into a woman’s development, showing ways in which that development may differ from a man’s. At another level, the archetypal feminine is a part of both women and men’s psychology and these tales show how our experience of that archetype may mature.
The Secret of the Golden Flower
Jung’s 1928 commentary on the Chinese meditation treatise The Secret of the Golden Flower was his first essay devoted to the understanding of Eastern thought in relation to Western psychology. It was a “missing link” that provided a bridge between his own insights on the nature of consciousness and already established psychological principles found in Taoist and Buddhist philosophies.
This class will review those insights and debate oversights, while focusing on the golden flower’s “secrets” for maintaining psychic balance in our fast-paced era.
Among the one-day workshops will be these:
Art as Active Imagination
Led by Julie Bondanza, Ph.D.
and Sondra Geller, ATR-BC, LPC
Saturday, February 22
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Jung, writing in his autobiography, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, about his building game: “Naturally, I thought about the significance of what I was doing, and asked myself, ‘Now, really, what are you about?’ I had no answer to my question, only the inner certainty that I was on the way to discovering my own myth. This sort of thing has been consistent with me, and at any time in my later life when I came up against a blank wall, I painted a picture or hewed stone. Each such experience proved to be a rite d’entrée for the ideas and works that followed hard upon it.”
Jung’s major exploration into psyche is described both in The Red Book and in his autobiography. Our workshop will begin with Jung’s use of active imagination and art to understand the archetypal psyche as well as to further his own individuation. This will be followed by an exploration into our own processes through a variety of art therapy techniques such as scribble drawing and tissue paper collage.
The Jungian concepts of active imagination and amplification will be highlighted as we practice using expressive art as a rite d’entrée into the unconscious.
Julie Bondanza, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist with a practice in the Washington, DC area. She is a graduate of the C.G. Jung Institute of New York, where she is member of the teaching faculty and past Curriculum chair. She is also on the faculty of the Interregional Society of Jungian Analysts, for whom she has frequently taught. She is a member of the Jungian Analysts of Washington Association, where she is a past Director of Education and where she is a frequent instructor.
Sondra Geller, MA, ATR-BC, LPC is a Jungian analyst, a Board Certified Art Therapist and a licensed professional counselor. She is in private practice in Chevy Chase, Maryland. She lectures and teaches for the Washington Jung Society, the C.G. Jung Institute in Philadelphia, and elsewhere. Her lecture topics include making art in the presence of a therapist, Jungian art therapy, and sparking the creative in older adults. She recently co-edited a special issue of Psychological Perspectives on Aging and Individuation.
The Many Faces of Loneliness
Led by Heide M. Kolb, MA, LCSW, NCPsyA
Saturday, March 15
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“If a man knows more than others,
he becomes lonely.”
At a time when social media claims to turn anyone into a friend with a computer click, and a culture that wants us to believe that loneliness can best be remedied by adding more people to one’s life, virtual or otherwise, loneliness, often borne shamefully in secrecy, remains one of the most common complaints and ailments.
In this workshop, we will explore the meaning and possible purpose of loneliness through a Jungian lens. We will reflect on its many different manifestations and qualities and differentiate between a debilitating and stagnating loneliness and the potentially transformational one. Included in our reflections will be the relationship between loneliness and grief and death and dying within life, in its literal as well as symbolical sense. We will focus on what kind of attitude the conscious mind needs to develop when encountering the emptiness where nothing and no one seems to be there.
We will trace Jung’s own, often paradoxical, relationship to loneliness and how the solitary path of bearing one’s own uniqueness cannot be separated from Jung’s notion of individuation. We will include examples from literature in our reflections.
This workshop is both didactic and experiential. It is intended for anyone who wishes to develop a better understanding of how to make sense of this grand ailment of our times, including psychotherapists and other practitioners who encounter some of the many lonely people in their consultation rooms.
Participants are encouraged to bring a journal.
Heide M. Kolb, MA, LCSW, NCPsyA is a Jungian analyst in private practice in New York City. She has taught at New York Open Center, the Blanton Peale Institute and the C.G. Jung Institute of New York, where she currently serves as a supervisor and training analyst.
The C.G. Jung Center is located at 28 East 39th Street in Manhattan. All five-week courses cost $150 per person ($125 for members). Call (212) 697-6430 to register.
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
The Catholic Center at New York University will conclude its six-part lecture series “The Art of the Beautiful” on February 15, “exploring the nature and purpose of Art and Beauty, and their place in the social order.” It is a joint presentation of the Catholic Artists Society and the Thomistic Institute. From the scant publicity:
Virtue and the Artistic Imagination
Presented by Fr. Joseph Koterski, SJ
of Fordham University
Saturday, February 15
The Catholic Center at NYU
138 Thompson Street
To be followed by a reception and sung Compline
Saturday, February 1, 2014
The Anthroposophical Society’s ten-part lecture series “Spiritual Beings and Their Work” will continue with Part Six this month. David Anderson will discuss “The Role of the Hierarchies in Cosmology.” From the publicity:
Spiritual Beings and Their Work
by David Anderson
Wednesday, February 12
Behind all we perceive with our senses there is actually a world of many levels of being and consciousness. This year we are looking systematically at these invisible beings that are intimately involved with our lives. This month, “The Role of the Hierarchies in Cosmology” focuses on the creative activity of the hierarchies in the development and evolution of worlds and their inhabitants.
|The first Waldorf school in North America|
is located on East 79th Street in Manhattan.
Cost per person is $20 for the public, and $15 for members of the Society.
The Anthroposophical Society’s New York City Branch is located at 138 West 15th Street in Manhattan.
Next month’s lecture in this series, “Working of the Hierarchies in World History,” will take place on the 12th. In April, the Society will host its Easter/Passover Program on the 17th, which I’m especially looking forward to. Click here to see the very busy calendar of upcoming events.