Ch’i Gung of the West; The Six Standing Postures according to the Diagrams of Agrippa
by Allen Pittman
PREFACE – HOW I CAME TO WRITE THIS BOOK
So the reader will be able to understand something of the why of my commentaries, I will explain how I came to write this book. I have spent most of my life researching the human body and its spiritual implications. My old friend Brian, in his tacitly arcane fashion one day said, “Thought you might want to look at these for a little while”, and he passed me photocopies of Agrippa’s diagrams. Well it’s been several years now. So Brian- here is my comment! Some of my exposition is Eastern and some is Western. Some is purely from physical experience. Over the years, I have tried to find and learn from qualified people as I find the many intangibles of a teacher count for as much or more, than a specific textual teaching. Still, the prevention of the cult of personality is an important aspect in any esoteric teaching – hence we have the texts which preserve the words to match the spirit of a teaching.
I have had traditional initiations in Asian disciplines and know something of Taoist and Tibetan training from the inside.
My Taoist training came through the art of Ba-gua Ch’aun a system of physical, mental and spiritual training with a tactical base embodying the Book of Changes (I-Ching). I began this training over twenty years ago and still practice the methods. My teachers in this art are mainly Robert W. Smith, one of the leading and pioneering scholars of martial arts in the U.S. and Hung I-mien of Taiwan who passed the papers to me for Chang Chuen-feng’s Ba-gua and Hsing-I system. I am an initiate and carrier of the system with permission to teach from my teachers. I say this since we in the West are often looking for a second income and many unqualified “teachers” have found these arts convenient to commercialize, since it is difficult to verify lines of apprenticeship or degrees of skill.
My Buddhist training is from the Gelugpa line of Tibetan Buddhism through the Ganden Tipa and H.H. the Dalai Lama. I have been initiated in several practices, including the Kalachakra, several forms of the goddess, Tara – Manjushri and Yamantaka. I have studied and continue to study both here in the U.S. and in India.
My exposure to Western aspects has been through the work and teachers who come under the mantel of Rudolph Steiner. I was fortunate to spend several hours, one afternoon with Owen Barfield, poet, lawyer and friend of C.S. Lewis, who opened a sense of clarity on Steiner for me, and emphasized the importance of thinking for oneself, apart from the fashionable ideas of one’s time. It became clear also that friendship in the transfer of “baraka” or essence of a teaching is important if not essential. Brian Lynch of Boulder, Colorado – a student of Verner Glass- provided insight and clear answers where Steiners’ prose left me lagging. The works of Bothmer and his Spatial Dynamics as well as the “basic elements of Eurythmy have been very helpful in providing the Western esoteric bridge to the East. My weekend with Jaimen McMillan from Stuttgart Spatial Dynamics filled in many holes. And my hours with Kirsten Covert of the Atlanta Waldorf School on Eurthmy have been very illuminating. The English Speakers Conference at the Geotheanum (Steiners Academy) in 2003 clarified many personal issues as well. I have taught children in a Waldorf school for nearly eight years and this provided some helpful experience as regards human development and the initiation of children…
My wrestling and yoga teacher , Tim Geoghegan provided many insights on the East West corridor,of ideas- particularly the teachings of Gurdjieff through Nicoll and others as well. Much of our dialogue over the years contemplated initiation for the young in modern times, something terribly lacking at present. Alas, he is gone now and I wonder if it’s too late to correct our media saturated young, and if Walker Percy’s take on the situation is correct a la his book, the “Thanatos Syndrome”, that is, perhaps society is too damaged for correction now. With this feeling I hear G.K. Chesterton’s riposte that nothing in this old world really changes. Like G.K.’s “Spirit of Christmas” we are always on the verge of death but never really die. Many chant, “Things are not as good as they used to be”, still I would like to think we have surpassed the medieval hobby of hitting a suspended cat with our heads!
So the works of Cornelius Agrippa are worth contemplating and to hopefully help the reader I have synthesized my scattered background to interpret his cryptically deep diagrams. I hope the reader can learn something and add, improve, correct or modify my commentary for their own growth.. After all it was William Blake who said if he did not create a system for himself, he would be a slave to someone else’s!
(Updated and revised edition August 2004)
“I connect all that we see here with Plato’s doctrine of superior ideas, I subdue matter to spirit, I will see true knowledge in apparent foolishness, and connect the meanest clod with its divine Creator. I will seek to draw down influences, and to fill my soul with a new strength imparted by the virtue of ideas streaming from above.”
(“Cornelius Agrippa” pub. 1856 by H.Morley, London, Chapman and Hall. p.162,16.)
“A good introduction showing how the figure is expressed in the human organism itself is to be found in the work of Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim.”
(Rudolph Steiner, 30.4.1924,Stuttgart)
The archetypal symbol of The Figure with Outstretched Arms goes back to time immemorial. We have yawned and stretched in front of the rising sun and the night fire. It has etched itself into us, into the temple walls of South America, into the black silhouette of the bushwoman standing on a hill at night, arms upraised, surrounded by the starry sky, holding her baby up to the stars, while she sings a hunter’s heart, a star, into her baby. Civilization received the seal of this figure at the crucifixion of Christ and the seal may well have stamped space itself, at his resurrection..
From primitive times and primitives let us move through Christ who said, “I am the door”, forward in time to the genius of Bokhara, Avicenna (980-1037) who in trying to unite Plato, Aristotle and Islam, wrote of a “Suspended Man” or “Flying Man”. Avicenna’a description bears some resemblance to Agrippa’s diagrams of the human body. Listen and you will see a poetic description like something William Blake could write – of aspects of Christ-the “Living Word” often hidden.
“We shall say, therefore, that someone from among us ought to be thought of as if he were created all at once and full grown, but with his eyes covered so that he would not see external things. And he would be so created as if he were moving in the air – or in a void , in such a way that the density of the air would not touch him that he might sense it. And his limbs would be, as it were, spread out in such a way that they would not come together or touch one another.
“Now let him see if he affirms the being of his essence. For he will have no doubt about affirming that he exists. Yet he will not affirm outward things about his limbs, or interior things about what is inside him, neither his mind or brain, nor anything else outside him. But he, whose length or breadth or depth he will not affirm, will affirm that he exists. If however, it were possible for him at that time to imagine a hand or another limb, still he would not imagine it to be a part of him, or necessary to his essence.
“Now you know that what is affirmed is other than what is not affirmed, and what is granted is other than what is not granted. And, because the essence that he affirms to exist is proper to him , insofar as he is that very essence, and is something besides his body and his limbs, which he does not affirm, therefore, once he has been awakened, he has a pathway to proceed in full wakefulness to knowing that the being of his soul is other than the being of his body. Indeed, he does not need the body in order to know the soul and perceive it. But if he is a dullard, he will have to turn to that way.”
(Avicenna Latinus:Liber de anima seu sextus De naturalibus I, 1, vol.1, pp. 36-37 lines 49-68.)
Not being Christ and definitely being Avicenna’s dullard (after all, he memorized the Koran by the age of ten!) I have had to rely on my body to get to know my soul. Much of what I have begun to learn is embodied in the diagrams of Agrippa. But we have one more stepping stone to them. Leonardo daVinci (1452-1519). His “Divine Proportion” diagram may have predated Agrippa’s figures (1486-1535). We know Leonardo taught a system of physical exercises that were popular. It is sensible to assume the diagrams and his exercises operate under the same principles. Indeed, Agrippa may have learned these and they may well have founded his own work on body geometry. According to the work of Szekely in his “Creative Exercises for Health and Beauty”:
“In the year 1518, the ladies of the Royal Court of Francois I of France gathered to watch an unusual theatrical presentation…the French court was about to see something utterly different-a mystery play presented choreographically. The whole production was conceived by that towering figure, Leonardo da Vinci, who had also designed the sets and costumes.
“The moral of the production had nothing to do with sombre religious instruction, although daVinci read into it a cosmic significance. To the frivolous femmes of this sophisticated court, the whole thing seemed a novelty which they seized upon with delight. It was a system for perfecting the human form! Women four hundred years ago were not greatly different from those of today. They adopted the system and for a time it became a rage among the aristocracy. Such beauties as Louise de Savoy, Anne de Montmorency, Marguerite d’Angoulime and Francoise de Chateaubriant numbered among the court women who popularized these exercises. Known only to the nobility, over many years the system became lost.”
(“Creative Exercises for Health and Beauty”, Szekely p.11-12)
It is probable that Agrippa learned of Leonardo’s exercises from Louisa deSavoy, as in the Spring of 1524, Agrippa went to Lyons as her personal physician (“The Life and Times of Cornelius Agrippa” by Henry Morley, P.115 Pub.). It is also possible Agrippa could have met daVinci himself before this but I cannot find evidence of it.
The same Morley we paraphrase above mentions Agrippa had seven diagrams. I have found only six.
The General Discourse of the Body by Agrippa as paraphrased by Morley (p.177-179)in his two volume biography is quoted below. It gives a good overview of Agrppa’s approach to the human body:
“Man is the most perfect work of God, the sum and image of the lesser world; in whom, therefore, with the most perfect harmony, are contained all numbers, measures, weights, motions, and elements. On the number of his fingers has arithmetic been built; measures and proportions were invented from his very joints; temples and palaces, by the divine order, the ark of Noah, have been constructed in proportion to man’s body, which is the microcosm, or lesser world, that images the macrocosm, or whole fabric. There is no sign or star that has not correspondance with some part of man. The whole measure tends to roundness; yet again, let a man stretch out his arms, and his feet, head, and hands touch the four sides of a perfect square. Let him stand within the circumfrence of a circle, with his feet so much parted and his arms so much raised as that feet, fingers, and head touch its circumfrence, then by these parts is there described within that circle a perfect pentagon. Man is next shown in various other positions. which display the geometrical and arithmetical harmony of his proportions. A very minute detail of proportions follows, which descends even to such particulars as that the second joint of the middle finger is in length equal to the distance from the lower lip to the bottom of the chin. There are also proportions of solid form, proportions of musical harmony, proportions of weight (in a sound man, eight of blood, four of phlegm, two of choler, one of melancholy).
“The motions, also, of the members of men’s bodies answer to the celestial motions, and every man hath in himself the motion of his heart, which answers to the motion of the sun, and, being diffused through the arteries into the whole body, signifies by a most sure rule, years, months, days, hours, and minutes. Moreover, there is a certain nerve found by the anatomists about the nod of the neck, which being touched doth so move all of the members of the body, that every one of them stirs according to it’s proper motion; by which like touch Aristotle thinks the members of the world are moved by God. The application of the same rule of harmony to the several parts of the mind is made on the same principle, but with less fulness of detail.”
PICTURE 1: THE FIRST INITIATION INTO ADULTHOOD – THE DAWNING MAN; THE MAN OF DESIRE; PUBERTY
SIGNFICANCE OF THE NUMBER ONE BY AGRIPPA (FROM MORLEY’S TEXT, P.165);
“Now Unity is not a number, but the common measure and original of numbers; multiplied by itself it produceth nothing but itself; if divided it is not cut, but multiplied into parts, each of which still is unity, not more nor less. Therefore some call it concord or friendship, being so knit that it cannot be divided; but Martian, according to the opinion of Aristotle, calls it Cupid, or desire, because as one only and beyond itself having nothing, it bewails and torments itself. From one all things proceed, of one all things partake. In the exemplary world there is one God, and his name Iod is written with one letter; in the intellectual world there is one supreme intelligence, the soul of the world; the the celestial world one king of stars, the sun; in the elemental world one subject and instrument of all virtues, natural and supernatural, the philosopher’s stone; in the lesser world one first living and last dying, chief member of the body, the heart; in the infernal world there is one Prince of Rebellion, Lucifer.
Meanings of number One according to Pythagorean Tradition
(from Iamblichus’ “Theology of Arithmetic”):
Immutable Truth and Invulnerable Destiny
This is the meditation in the square. One may visualize oneself in the posture as shown, or actually do the posture and visualize- mentally projecting the symbols around one’s body- or one may view the diagram as a mandala or psychic map of the layers of awareness/consciousness. This is also true of the remaining five figures.
This meditation is about objective view. The eye that looks from without-objective perspective: One’s own and that of others. How we see ourselves and the often contrasting view of others-when these two views are compared, it is one of the first tools with which we can perceive ourselves with some objectivity.
The human organism (in this case male) is framed or ruled by the cardinal directions (three-dimensional space), the earth itself (the square) and the four elements (as in Greek tradition). Notice the direction the hair is blowing on the figure. The Wind is (Spirit, Awareness) from the right. This portends a rational or “fire” initiation.
A man (or person) is framed in this world by what others see of him from the outside (the eye in the frame) and by what he reaches for. From his chest and his heart-his arms reach away from himself; man the bridge builder, connection between worlds. He seeks to connect what is wise, (the snake) with what is true-in other words he seeks to find the relationship between goodness (god-likeness) and truth (the facts) and he seeks to find truth through scale and measure, the seven section staff which represent the law of seven, i.e. the scales of sound and color. Man’s right side follows the right nostril which is electric and solar. The right nostril has the warrior breath; fire and righteousness. The Egyptians depicted this in their myths by having the snake swallow the sun. Man’s left side is magnetic following the breath of the left nostril. The left nostril is the breath of the poet and visionary. The sheperds mace of the middle east was often filled with lead or iron to make it heavier and a more useful weapon against wild animals. These two aspects can be charged into the body by holding a copper object in one hand, and a magnet in the other for a few minutes. Watching the sunrise or the full moon while holding these and breathing consciously with a seven-one-seven breathing ratio (seven seconds, inhale, hold the breath for one second, seven seconds exhale, hold the breath one second) increases the effect. This method can be further extended to gazing at specific constellations, individual stars or planets according to specific seasons when they are visible, while combining specific metals and stones in the copper and iron objects. The Kings of olden times are often shown in paintings and sculpture holding a staff and a globe. These objects, made of the correct materials, can achieve the same effect.
When these forces in the body are balanced a man or woman is a King or Queen. They can be truly themselves and are subject to the law of their own heart or “LAW OF BEING”. St. Paul says, “The law (be it Levitical or natural), was sent as a taskmaster to lead us to Christ (I interpret Christ as The Door he claimed to be, that is the door to God and the experiences of transcendent unity and personal integrity, in other words the experience of being “born again” though perhaps, not in the fundamentalist sense.)
As this is the first picture we can accord this the position of the first stage of initiation for a person. All of the above functions are centered on the sex center. Why is this? It is because the sex energy rules the rest of the organism and determines the level at which objective consciousness, self observation, social standing, community function and the regulation of balanced energies exists. This center where heaven, earth, hell and purgatory meet (again the law of four-the number of Hercules of the ancient Greeks, who died in a cloak of pain (matter) and was translated into a starry constellation (consciousness). When this stage is accessed for procreation it creates all of the obligations connected to children, the external world and society. When children are invoked consciously this can be incredible, but rarely, is this the case, as many live in their passions rather than with their passions. The spontaneous child of passion can be a satyr or a devil….or an angel rolling the dice of chance passion. Higher beings looking on from above appreciate and are attracted to, those people striving for conscious awareness of their passions and their implications.
The consciously invoked child who is brought in with conscious love and purpose, is a result of those beings who hear the call of conscious parents- and “like attracts like” or as Confucious says, “Doubt only your own sincerity”. The purest of motives results in the purest of beings.
Another aspect of sex energy outside the procreative and invocative – is it’s utilization for development of the spiritual embryo or “spiritual body”. When the “Hermetic seal” is made over the caldron or retort in alchemy it parallels celibacy as a part of true chastity (which pertains to all of the senses), that is the harnessing of ALL the senses. With this kind of continence, residual energy can be stored up by the etheric body and blood – or one can say glandular secretions can be reabsorbed by the blood and deposited in various organs to prolong life or create reinforced structures for the organs and their rhythems. After this, the contained energies therein can be submitted to a process of prolonged heat over a period of time which results in the formation of new substances and harmonics in a person. The correct use of thought as concentration coupled with breath as controlled respiration allows this process to occur. This is not about “suppression” this is about continence or containment as a means to develop enough residual energies to forge both a new physical and a new spiritual body. This first initiation is about the human body, as a hermetically sealed retort- sealed to produce new substances and new levels of consciousness.
This is the temporary celibacy of the sly man. It is based on timing and age. In India and China this was a respected protocol to insure long life and full spiritual transformation with the physical substances of the body. These time tables vary from one teacher to another, but generally encourage a teenager to have sex no more than once a week, in the 20’s every two weeks or so, in the 30;s every three weeks and in the forties once a month. After 50 sex was stopped. Of course this was designed for a lifespan of 120 years of age. For women the protocol is different and is based on retraining their menstrual period, since that is when they lose the most energy.
Some cultures emphasized the permanent celibacy of the monk and in some cases the warrior. All ways have their difficulties. In modern times this type of restraint is considered laughable. The ancients thought it worthwhile. Even so it is well to remember- human beings range widely in their capacities and needs.
According to esoteric traditions around the world, the price of utilizing sex energy for pleasure only with little or no consciousness is simply loss of spiritual energy, physical energy and inspiration and therefore a loss in individual spiritual development. Less with the woman than the man since the woman loses little if anything in the sex act. The blood, spinal fluid and what could be called “forces of will” (more properly called “imagination” or kundalini) are used in the sex act and they, like any other expenditure of psycho-physical energy, can be used up. And there is such a thing as bankrupting one’s own personal “Bank of Health”. Sperm is the initiating force for birth. The ancients considered it the cream of the blood, the finest essence of the male body, designed to initiate the creation of a living being. Like saliva it is a medicine and not to be strewn promiscuously. Some traditions, like those in India and China,-equate one drop of sperm to sixty drops of blood. In the same traditions ejaculation is a spinal tap (cerebrospinal fluid) and a giving of blood. Tibetan doctors say the man provides “all that is white” (bone, cartiledge) the woman “all that is red” (blood, red muscle). This concept does not travel well in a culture where concepts of Love and Sex are deliberately separated. Moreover since the invention of the pill, people have become more expert at separating sex from love (and sex from their feelings) and the result is sex has become a source of disintegration rather than re-integration. Notice in many modern “technological cultures” the number of people who have woven themselves to the television, the couch and pornography. It is an industry. This with the arrival of “virtual sex” is a guaranteed distraction from any form of physical discipline or restraint which could lead to the First Initiation.
In the first initiation the task of the person (who must have passed or be in puberty) is to consciously carry the energy of the sex center up to the naval or in some traditions, notably the Asian ones, to a point half way between the naval and the genitals. In the male desire is shifted from the outside female (intercourse) to the inside female (the etheric or watery body of the glands and the circulation of energies which could also be analogous to Carl Jung’s “Animus” or “Anima”). By recalling and visualizing the breathing of the infant – that is as though through the naval (directly to it’s mother)- some of the earlier mental state of a baby is recovered – and this time – with no mother present but sexual energy- the extra sexual energy with the breathing and concentration causes a transmutation which initiates one away from the pulse of one’s own mother (which tends to carry her psycho-complexes on a resonant frequency) to the pulse of The Mother-that is, the earth and it’s mysteries which are sympathetically resonant with the physical body and other vibration bodies. Wholeness is then realized, individually -without another person . This is the first step to being centered. When this is practiced regularly a feeling of peace will accumulate in the body. This is a key point in the regulation of desire and it also increases metabolic heat, assists digestion and enhances muscular strength and coordination in relation to one’s center of gravity. The naval breath should not be forced. It is as much feeling as fact. Concentration around the naval will increase the blood supply around the naval and increase concentrations of immune secretions; the breath assists this process and ensures enough air for the process to finish.
In the female the process is similar. The female essence, however, is carried in the blood and is lost monthly. The female path reduces the blood loss through vegetarianism, physical exercises, and lessening sexual activity. The same breathing and concentration as the male is used. If the regimen is carried out intensely (many female athletes have found they can stop their period simply through vigorous physical activity) the period can be stopped altogether. Again, this is a means to an end and is the process of the first stage.
A person in this first stage deals with the rash heart which is rooted in sexual impulse. Through restraining desire and maintaining a witness of themselves they can begin to understand scale and power as the symbols show, but concentration, discipline and emotional awareness needs to be cultivated so they can use their understanding, wisely and with conscious love. Again this is the use of the single eye (concentration-“When thy eye is single, the whole body is filled with light.”) the third eye, or chakra which is harmonic to the pineal gland, which is activated by concentration, and is directly connected with the sun energies and development of a the other chakras/centers if the body. The connection of these “eyes” also includes the concepts of “points of view” – or aspects of perception. The conscious linking of awareness of the Third Eye (Pineal Gland) to the naval (Mother-Earth aspect) with the intellectual understanding of the Law of Scale (Law of 7),and the Law of Energy (Law of the Snake or Law of Light) creates both intellectual understanding and a physiological change. The physiological change is embodied in the reinforcement and insulation of electrical and magnetic circuits with the rechanneled sexual energy. The entire process is represented here in the framed figure standing over an unwritten name. This name cannot be filled in because it changes from person to person – or soul to soul. Because there is a different name for each soul the True Name or “Original/Divine” name of a person- can only be discovered when they practices developing and connecting all of their aspects – as in the process depicted here. This is the Initiation of Purification and Identity, the First Initiation. R. Steiner’s meditation analogous to this stage is one of process and self observation. His advice is to take a man made object like a pencil, and at the same time every day, meditate on how it was created in the mind, manufactured on the earth and what its creation results in. While doing this, one is to observe one’s emotional state and the presence of one’s own feelings while concentrating on this process. The chief function of this meditation is control of one’s own thought processes. This is also the key to all meditation, that is- this type of concentration presages any other kind of development and allows one to not only OBSERVE, but also to INTERPRET the observation without interference from petty thoughts and ideas…(see Florin Lowndes’ “Enlivening the Chakra of the Heart, Sophia Pub. 1998).
PICTURE 2: THE MAN OF DIVISION; LIFTING, ENDURING AND LISTENING- HOLDING HOPE.
SIGNIFICANCE OF NUMBER TWO BY AGRIPPA
“Two is the first number, because it is the first expressing multitude; it is the first procreation, the first form of parity and equity. It is called the number of science, and of man, the other and the lesser world; also the number of charity, of marriage, and society, as it was said, They twain shall be one flesh. And Solomon teaches it is better that two be together, and woe be to him that is alone, because when he falls he hath not another to help him. Two is sometimes also regarded as the number of confusion and uncleaness, especially unhappy to astologers when it occurs under a saturnine or a martial influence. Unclean beasts went by twos into the ark. Unity, it is said, was God; duality was a devil; therefore say the Pythagoreans, two is not a number, but a confusion of unities. This number, it is also reported, will cause fearful goblins to appear to men travelling by night. There is a divine name of two letters, and it may here at once be said that there is a divine name answering as to its letters to each number up to twelve, and to each number a certain set of things answers in the scale of worlds under the divine or exemplary, namely, the intellectual, celestial, elementary, lesser, and infernal.”
ACCORDING TO PYTHAGOREAN TRADITION:
That Which Is To Be Endured
After the first initiation, from “The Square of Earthly Limits” we go to “The Circle of Heaven”. To feel this in your body you may begin by visualizing a circle around you, extending your hands in line with your ears. This position and second phase is about listening in many ways- physical, psychic, spirit, mental. Your left foot is shifted about thirty degrees (you are ready to move forward), and you now stand, not on your developing name, but on the cube of the earth itself. You are prepared to move in three dimensions, as is shown by the angle of the feet. The cross of discipline that was at your naval has now become a retort or cauldron at your naval, whose open end now steams up, with a new substance- into the heart which is drawn protruding downward, between the breasts. Here is depicted the Yogic answer to the philosopher’s alchemy. This is the production of the philosopher’s stone as a psycho-physiological process. The reserved sexual energy is processed in the abdoman and raised by the will to transform the heart, from “lead to gold” or from less valuable intentions centered on self gratification to more universal compassion. The heart has become exposed through the activity of the first stage. . It is now ripe for this stage and the next. In your hands are the pentangles or laws of five. You reach THROUGH these laws, and UPHOLD the half-notes of the scale, the five crude senses (seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, smelling), the five virtues of the Knight (Loyalty, Courtesy, Hardiness, Largesse, Franchise). The pentangle is the symbol on the shield of Gawain, Initiate of the Green Knight of Arthurian legend. The pentangle is made from an unbroken line and so is a never ending, eternal principle. The right hand or rational hand is more likely to reach through the five known senses and the left, intuitive hand, the five spiritual virtues. Over your head, at what the Hindu’s call Brahmaranda, the Chakra ABOVE the crown, which is synonymous with the subtle central channel (shushumna) of enlightenment – the place of transcendence of the body – a conscious connection is made/received with the Sun and the Moon. This chakra or center is usually considered the same as sahasrara, the central channel of the spine through which the kundalini energy rises to give enlightenment. It is important to realize sahasrara is neither positive, or negative. It is the middle channel correspondent to the “middle way”. It could be called “neutral” or “middle” force.
In many of the ancient religions there are specific practices to the Sun and the Moon, and the deities behind them – both those of original and those of reflected light: “The greater and the lesser light” of the Bible, or, in R. Steiner’s words, “Lucifer (light) and Ahriman (darkness)”. This concept of dual universal powers goes back to the earliest known religions particularly those of the ancient Persians including Mazdaens, and the followers of Mani. The Taoists too echoed this with their concept of Yin and Yang.
The horizontal line from the naval speaks of good works of the present, done, during this stage, while being centered in the naval psychically. These good works, called “saiva (literally “service”in Sanskrit), process or redeem unconscious actions or “skandas” – the threads winding through one’s lifetimes over the millenia.
The wind, or spirit, blows the hair which symbolizing strength as found in the Nazarite path of Samson and John the Baptist – from the left. (When doing the meditation imagine this is happening). From the left, the powers of intuition and the feminine are perceived, magnetic aspects prevail over the rational aspects. The person who is living in this state is protected by two circles-his/her own law or The Law of One’s Own Being , a law which pertains to techniques of autonomy (self-sufficiency), and The Law of Community or Right Relationship. Autonomy with community is the crux of this stage. This is the correct function of Chastity. This is not necessarily a permanent condition although one could stop here. Remember, this stage is about ripeness and correct timing. It can serve also, as the basis for the next stage.
As it is about correct timing it is Analogous to R. Steiner’s exercise wherein one does a simple action, like raising a hand – at the same time, every day. The key here is to encounter what it is like to use the Will power of one’s self to create a physical action, every day-regardless of circumstance. One encounters at this stage, many voice inside and a conflict of various wills of varying strengths and colors. Like the demon possessed man in the New Testament one can truly recognize there is not a single Will within one’s self but a legion! How this creates understanding of the inconsistencies in the behavior of oneself is miraculous! Is it not amazing how we expect other people to rise to a consistency of behavior we ourselves, on an internal level are usually incapable of!
PICTURE 3: THE MAN OF HARMONY- THE FATHER; GOOD HOUSEHOLDER, THE CONSCIOUS MAN OF NATURE, THE GREEN MAN
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE NUMBER THREE BY AGRIPPA:
“Three is a holy, powerful, incompounded number of perfection. It is the number of the trinity. Three comprehends all time-past, present and future; all space-length, breadth and thickness. There are three states of existence for a man – under nature, law, and grace; there are three heavenly virtues-Faith, Hope, Charity; there the three worlds-Intellectual, Celestial, and Elemental; and in man-the lesser world-three parts, which correspond to them-Brain to the Intellectual, Heart to the Celestial, and the viler parts to the Elemental.”
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE NUMBER THREE IN PYTHAGOREAN TRADITION
Oneness of Mind
After having processed sexual responsibility in the first stage by understanding the nature of power and scale through self observation and identity one passes into the second stage – adding specific moral behaviors (i.e. loyalty in friendship, fidelity in marriage, trueness to one’s personal beliefs and objectives) and maintaining them. This is done with acute listening of body and soul. Midst this matrix of the second stage, while maintaining the contradiction of celibacy or monogamy, one accumulates an excess of psychic energy, thereby invoking the third stage.
To get a sense of this third stage in your body you can visualize protection and visualize – as in the diagram – being protected by the two circles; or eternal laws;
1. Law of Being, and
2. Law of Nature. The two horizontal lines show a double possibility in the present; that of children and family – or of another creative endeavor. The hermetically sealed person with the excess of sexual energy as a catalytic, alchemically forms a small sun in the solar plexus and a small moon in the genitals. This is opposite to puberty where the fire is below. Fire and water then find a new place. Active and conscious sexuality is again returned as an initiation after the initiation/period of chastity. One can form one’s own universe (family), conscious of the responsibilities and implications from the first two initiations -or pursue the creation and release of a very strong creative work – be it art, science, idea or hybrid thought form. It could be a life work in the larger sphere of the world. This life work, combining sexual energy and thought can be as effective in furthering human evolution as a living person. In many ways- if it is a conceived idea of great power- it IS a conceived being. Because sexual energy can be channeled into this being, the resulting intensification of mental concentration invokes stronger beings/ thought forms. Under ideal conditions it is possible to have a family AND develop a life work though the social forces of modern life are often constructed to work against this idea.
The Law of Five prevails as one comes into conscious action with the five major planets. Mars in the head points to the active intelligence of the mind as the leader of the person. Jupiter in the left hand speaks of reception of one’s ruling planet and INTUITIVE alignment of oneself with one’s SENSE OF DESTINY. Venus in the right hand speaks of the RATIONAL EXPRESSION OF one’s self in a LOVING way. (This brings to mind the quote where the man says, “I love you”, and the woman says, “Strange I feel none the better for it!”-that is love is best be expressed in such a way as the party being loved can sense what is going on!) Mercury in the right foot indicates CORRECT ACTIVITY IN one’s daily walk and LIFE as a messenger of the gods. As regard physical walking, the lines in the figure connect the opposite hand to foot, indicating development of the crawl reflex which assists ongoing development of language and mathematics skills. Daily walking maintains the crawl reflex in the body. And human beings are the only creatures of earth that actually walk upright. Saturn in the left foot signals the ALTERNATING DISCIPLINE necessary in one’s daily walk/life. In this way one’s work or “message” is alternated with one’s personal discipline-preventing the right means from working in the wrong way.
The wind is from the right hand side. The rational aspect of the mind – used to make the major decisions, as related to both family and work. This is to be expected since the law of the family centers on survival and other issues of security. Sexual energy – the power of conception – is experienced in a new way. Not as the lower force but as parallel of the direct, creative action of the solar plexus – which is the heart transformed into a sun, experienced- interestingly, at the height of the diaphragm- not in the center of the chest, nor directly in the heart organ. The hands, lower than before, have descended – reaching out from the newly formed internal sun, or new heart, not reaching – as before – from the head. In this stage one is well AWARE OF the choices and OPTIONS in life AND their possible EFFECTS. Here is where Steiner advises careful observation of how one expresses oneself. In other words, do we express precisely what is going on inside ourselves? How much do we posture, exaggerate or mislead with our body or spoken language? Remember, we can only be helped, guided and advised by our friends-whether they are angel, human, animal, plant or mineral— when we “tell” or express to them exactly what is going on! To express ourselves with this kind of creative integrity an inner harmony must be maintained which only comes from constant self observation and observation of our behaviors…the inner harmony is what prevents us from becoming victims of emotions and expressions which are often conditioned into us-and are not selected by us!
PICTURE 4: THE MAN OF ACTIVE COMPASSION – ZODIACAL MAN; THE MAN OF PRINCIPLE
SIGNIFICANCE TO THE NUMBER FOUR BY AGRIPPA:
“But the Pythagoreans preferred before all others, as the fountain of nature, the number four, called the Tetractis, and by it they swore. It signifies solidity, and the foundation of all things are laid foursquare. There are four elements , four corners of the earth, four seasons, four qualities of all things-heat, cold, moisture, and dryness. Most nations have written the divine name with four letters. There are four evangelists, and in Revelation there are said to be four beasts full of eyes standing round about the throne.”
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE NUMBER FOUR ACCORDING TO PYTHAGOREAN TRADITION
The Nature of Change
Holding the key of Nature
Here is the alchemically changed man, formed from the previous three states, having held the tension between scale, power, sex, and family or life work long enough to transform the matrix of attention into expanded consciousness and an altered physiology. Knowing fatherhood through family or the creation of a life work, he now stands in greater awareness of Time (the future), the Zodiac (mechanical planetary forces or the “harmony of the spheres”, effects of the gravity and light and other harmonic variables of the stars and planets), and the Earth (daily conditions and essential needs). The wind (spiritual awareness) blows from the front (future awareness/time). At this stage more knowledge is required since he will need to know more to grow.
The new knowledge required at this stage works in the square, and certain archetypal powers are standing ready to assist the man -the four elements, earth, fire, water, air and the compass directions (including the virtues corresponding to compass directions as found in Spatial Dynamics) as well as the twelve constellations. This means the consciousness of the man at the fourth initiation is concerned with a new purification of the body. This purification pertains to the physical or terrestrial aspects (including composition of the blood – as found in traditional medicine that too is four-fold; phlegm, bile, black bile, blood) – diet, exercise, metabolism, air and environmental ecology as related to the celestial – planetary influences which include the functions of light, sound and vibration on the glandular system as well as other astrological and spiritual influences (see C. Muses Destiny and Human Control Systems). The cross-referencing of inner organic systems – even those resulting from the psychological conditioning of parents and the effects of outer astrological/astronomical influences, give the man at this stage a renewed sense of his “mechanical aspects” and stretches his imagination to develop new concepts of his own individual freedom or “free will”. At this point the question of free wills’ existence renews itself under larger cosmic laws. This stage tends to create a certain amount of intrepidity in the psychology of the person. Cynisism can result. Understanding and Will operate together and the heart is fully engaged with them. This is the fully stretched man, with his fingers extended straight outward and his legs far apart taking up as much space as possible. His being radiates from his Will force and he is analogous to a star or sun. But since his Will can develop false pride – he in this position, is given a further test which will tamp his fire, and teach him better proportion and that “the gate of Heaven is very low”. In spite of all he has accomplished, he has more to learn. Here R. Steiner talks about maintaining equanimity or an overall view of life which is not unrealistic but is also not cynical. It is the sanguine view of life which still looks for hidden beauties and the work of the angels.
Man’s psychic center and point of rest and origin in relation to his outward world is his naval. (K. Durkheim has an excellent text called “Hara” which surveys this idea) – his tools of expression and making in the world – no longer extend from his own sun, rather they reach above the five senses (his head) so he becomes even more aware of the level of the center called Brahmaranda. At this point he is qualified to work with intelligences outside his own body and beyond the five senses. He can work directly with disembodied consciousness (commune with spirits, work in poetic revere, astral project) and his reinforced sense (note the double lines from the naval) of his position between Heaven and Earth prevent him from losing his center and mental perspective. He is able to bring his awareness to his planetary aspects, and realize his destiny as he understands his own identity, and attempt to actualize Heaven on Earth. His hands are quick to do and his stride or stance is the longest here – of all the diagrams. This is the person in ideal middle age; conscious, fiery and active, in the prime of life. Because maximum exertion is possible here it is also the most vulnerable of the stages.
PICTURE 5; THE MAN OF GRACE
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE NUMBER FIVE BY AGRIPPA:
“The number five is of no small power, inasmuch as it is composed of the first even and the first odd (unity not being regarded as a number) ; but odd is male, and even female. Therefore this is the number of wedlock, as the Pythagoreans say; and they call it also the number of justice, because it divides ten, the number which contains all others, in an even scale. There are five senses, there were five wounds, and five is a number associated intimately with the cross. By this number evil demons are expelled, and poison is made harmless. The five lettered name of the Deity is the name of omnipotence. Under the rule of nature, the divine trigrammaton – the three lettered name-was used; under law, the tetragrammaton; but under the rule of grace, the pentagram.”
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE NUMBER FIVE ACCORDING TO PYTHAGOREAN TRADITION
During this initiation, the self-contained sun of the Solar Plexus moves up through the heart, throat and head to Brahmaranda, or the chakra above the head (as stated earlier this center is synonymous with the central Shushumna channel). The implication here is that the man derives his thought and awareness directly from the Sun or absolute law of Love. According to R. Steiner’s Anthroposophy it is the being Michael (who was the archangel) who presides over the sun at this point in history (we are in the fifth epoch).
The wind blowing from the left indicates the man is using his intuition, his right Lunar hand and his left Venus hand indicate a feminine or receptive approach to higher aspects in both reception and expression. As the Theologians say, “In relation to God we are all female” – that is all people receive from God. Steiner’s meditation of love streaming into the body from the created world is appropriate here. In fact there is much than can be said here, at this stage, about the inadequacey of our life experiences. In spite of this lack, we often pre-judge events and people in our lives, and do not allow a true reception of what life has to offer. When we do actually, LET ourselves feel love streaming in our greed lessens and the spirit of materialism releases us. The hands and fingers here are less expansive – neither stretching nor grasping – they seem almost ready to be lowered. The descent of the human sex center past the genitals, to a point below them – in space – indicates a sex drive which returns to it’s original place and even beyond – into the earth itself, finding a new unity, not identified solely with the individual body but finding it’s source in the earth, a shift of position of origin for the human sex drive. This is a rebirth of it, where it has a new and more conscious origin- as a transformed earth force. The connecting of sexual energy outside the body in the earth links it to the Mystery of Golgotha when Christ’s blood entered the earth, developing in the earth a new luminous and life – giving function. As sexual energy unifies with the earth so it is transformed with the earth and the new power that can now – due to the event of Golgotha -be drawn from the earth. In other words, attunement or “at-one-ment” with the earth at this stage has to do with a new kind of fertility and seed energy. A new motive force is formed. I would speculate this relates to the taking on of Gaiia or the spirit of the earth as a mate.
The asymmetry of the feet indicates a stepping or moving forward. The right foot in Mercury (rational intelligence, healing and communication) and the left in Saturn (intuitive discipline and form) as in Figure 3, show the body becoming more feminine in it’s upper half and more masculine in it’s lower half. As in figure 3 we see the lines of the cross, but the horizontal line is emphasized (but it is not a double line) showing a heightened sense of time. This initiated person is in more advanced years – aware of the brevity of time. His work is from the receptive, magnetic and intuitive aspects. The double ring around his body shows protection through the subtle forces of the Sun and Moon – against elemental or psychic attack. I recall one student of mine, mentioned to me “Once you have grey hair (and are in your own fifth epoch, so to speak) you become invisible to most of the population!” These rings also show unity of the solar and lunar powers in the body.
PICTURE 6: COMPLETE MAN- THE MAN OF THE BEE – WHO TURNS ALL TO SWEETNESS.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE NUMBER SIX BY AGRIPPA:
“Six is the number of perfection; having this perfection in itself, shared by no other , that by the assembledge of it’s half, its third part, and its sixth part, three, two, one, it is made perfect. Therefore it is connected with production, and is called the sign of the world, for in six days the world was made complete. It is also the number of labour and servitude: for six days shalt thou labour, for six years shalt thou til the earth, and for six years the Hebrew slave obeyed the master. There are six tones also in all harmony, namely, five tones and two semi-tones making one tone, which is the sixth.”
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE NUMBER SIX ACCORDING TO PYTHAGOREAN TRADITION
The Thunder Stone
Finest of All
Far Shooting (name of Apollo)
Thaleia (Muse of humor)
Health (the six non-naturals of Hippocrates-air, movement and rest, sleep and wakefulness, nafs or states of mind)
Able to Reconcile
In this – the sixth initiation – the most refined one, the man reaches directly overhead to the cosmic North, or eternal present. The wind blows from the front, the future. His physical eyes and his third eye are connected with a line showing the unity of present and future vision. His aspects of wanting, knowing and seeing, become unified. He is at peace. His Will tuning to the Will of the Creator becomes part of the continuum of creation.
Thalia is the Muse of humor and humor is a quality of the enlightenment process, particularly at this stage. The man remains framed by the Earth and the Constellations, the planets previously around him have become part of him (he has conquered his own planetary karma through both consciousness and deed) and he has removed a buffer between the earth and the constellations (that buffer is a part of himself – false conceptions/false ego/ and karma that needed release; note that Figure 4 has one more inner line on the inside frame.) He remains centered at his naval. His feet RETURN to the position found in figure 1. He stands, no longer needing to go anywhere. He has completed his life cycle. The lines indicate he contains all the potentials of the previous five figures. At his point it could be said he has completed his time and is able to project ideas intelligently (through teaching, example or Will) into the future that will influence history and human evolution for the better. He could return to life on earth as a Bodhisattva (enlightened being vowed to return to assist others) or continue in other dimensions. He is clearly conscious of all the forces around him yet he does not have to name, define, visualize or manipulate them in any way. He knows them intimately as dear old friends. He is ready for graduation and prepared to shed his physical body – like an old coat. Here is the complete integration of soul parts which is the result of meshing of the previous exercises and meditations.
DaVinci combines figures 1,2,3 and 5. I am curious about the seventh figure mentioned in Morley’s Agrippa Biography (p.177) and wonder if the diagram from DaVinci is Agrippa’s seventh diagram.
Eugene Ferson, the Austrian magnetic healer, in the early part of this century used a similar posture to Initiation number 3. The main difference being the left palm is up and the right down. While holding this posture one intones, “I am one with the Universal Life Force, it is flowing through me now, and I feel it.” The Mevlevi Sufis use a similar arm and hand position-but angling one arm up at about thirty degrees and one down- about the same, and add a spinning step for their devotional dance of “Annihalation in God”.
The Sufis say that there is a flame that leaps up from the heart of a person and it is greeted with a descending flame from Heaven. Agrippa too, seemed to sense this as is seen in this final quote from him,
My soul is not sufficient for itself; beyond it and above it lie eternal laws, subtle, not having substance or form, yet the cause of form and substance. I cannot hope to know them otherwise than as ideas; to unborn generations they will be revealed, perhaps; to me they are ideas, celestial influences, working intelligences. I believe in them, and I desire to lay open my soul to their more perfect apprehension. They are not God, though God created them; they are not man, though they have by divine ordainment formed him. The more I dwell upon their qualities, the more I long for the divine, the more shall I be blessed by the reception of their rays. The more intensely I yearn heavenward, the more shall I bring down heaven to dwell in my soul”
Copyright 1999, Allen Pittman