William Blake 1757-1827:
"Blake began to have mystical visions from an early age.... Blake's work was
influenced, not only by his own mystical experiences, but by the writings of
such figures as Jacob Boehme and Emanuel Swedenborg. In turn,
his work influenced later writers, such as the poet, William Butler Yeats.
Swedenborg: "...at age
fifty-six he claimed that he entered into a new spiritual phase of his life,
experiencing first dreams, and later visions of a spiritual world where he
talked with angels and spirits, many of them from the Bible, such as
Moses and Jesus. Amongst other things, he said these spirits guided his interpretation
of the Scriptures....
"By 1744, in the Netherlands,
had completed publication of his scientific works....Around this time he began
having strange dreams. It appears in hindsight as though his mind was being
assaulted by the diametrically opposed powers of belief and disbelief. He
was dreaming about angelic states and about demonic states, about
spiritual things and material, and was often very frightened.....
often paid little attention to the distinction of day and night, and is known
to have lain for days at a time in a trance. His servants were sometimes
disturbed at night by hearing what he called his conflicts with evil spirits.
He himself also attests to frequent visions and communication with spirits in
broad daylight, in a full state of wakefulness. Whether these visions and communications
were the result of hallucinations, mental illness, or actual access to a
spiritual world has been long debated....
to Swedenborg's own account, the Lord filled him with His spirit to teach the
doctrines of the New Church. God commissioned him to do this work and
opened his sight to the spiritual world, permitting him to see the heavens
and the hells, and to converse with angels and spirits..."
An Introduction to the Kabbalah:
"Kabbalah... found its expression and extension in western Mystery Orders,
such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.... In its most complete
form, the Kabbalah can be considered as the 'Yoga of the West', complementing
the eastern chakra system and having counterparts to many of the forms
of yogic practice. ... the yin, Tao and yang of Taoist philosophy,
find direct expression in the Kabbalistic pillars of severity, equilibrium and
mercy on the Tree of Life.
Kabbalah at its best is a system of esoteric philosophy, psychology and cosmology
that allows any aspect of existence to be assimilated and related to any other
on many levels, both rational and trans-rational. It may be used profitably
by anyone, regardless of creed; and... it is a key to the control
of subtle forces and the attainment of true mystical union. ...
The pre-eminent form of Jewish mysticism, sometimes referred to as Classical
Kabbalah.... contains elements of both Gnosticism and Neo-platonism....
"...freedom of choice
is born of the godhead's self-inflicted suffering, and the redemption
(tiqqun) of the broken world and the reunification of divinity becomes the
overriding goal of humanity.... This move towards a messianic philosophy
fostered the Hasidic movement which made the Kabbalah more widely accessible.
The most important figure here was Israel ben Eleazar (1698-1760)....
"Western or Christian Kabbalism
grew from German and then Lurianic Kabbalism. Mediaeval ceremonial magicians
were fond of appropriating Kabbalistic words of power, and in the late
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, western Kabbalists augmented the Kabbalah
with aspects of Christian theology and alchemy....
"The nineteenth and twentieth centuries
have seen further development of the Western Kabbalah from occultists such
as Eliphas Levi... and members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
such as Aleister Crowley.... Links between the Kabbalah and many other
philosophical, mythological and religious systems have been postulated and detailed;
the most important being the links between the Kabbalah, astrology
and the Tarot."
The Tarot and the Kabbalah:
"The work of the 19th century French occultist, Eliphas Levi, was the catalyst
for the study of the esoteric link between the Tarot and the Kabbalah,
which became the main model for the development and interpretation of the
Tarot. The most influential decks of the 20th century were founded on Kabbalistic
principles.... There are also 22 cards in the
Major Arcana of the Tarot,
and each of these corresponds to a Hebrew letter and a path on the Tree of Life.
Crowley... transposes the Star and the Emperor..... Assiah is the manifest
world, corresponding to the element Earth and the Tarot suit Pentacles....The
correspondences between the Kabbalistic worlds and the Tarot suits are
as follows: Tarot Suit Element Kabbalistic World Pentacles Earth Assiah
(Manifest World) Swords Air Yetsirah (Formative World) Cups Water
Briah (Creative World) Wands Fire Atziluth (Archetypal World)
Jacob Boehme, 1575-1624:
The German mystic and theosophist, Jacob Boehme (or Jakob Böhme), was
born in Altseidenburg in 1575. He ... became deeply depressed at a world in
which 'the God-fearing fare no better than the Godless' and could find no consolation
in his estimable knowledge of Scripture. In 1600, he experienced a mystical
breakthrough that he compared to a resurrection from the dead, and now felt
a unity with nature that defined the work that eventually followed: In this
light my spirit suddenly saw through all, and in and by all creatures, even
in herbs and grass it knew God, who he is, and how he is, and what his will
is: And suddenly in that light my will was set on by a mighty impulse,
to describe the being of God....
"In Boehme's philosophy, God is
the Ungrund or 'Groundless', the undistinguished unity that creates by negation.
... Translations into English by William Law in the eighteenth century
brought them to a wider audience. His ideas would later influence the visionary
poet and painter William Blake, and the psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung.
Carl Gustav Jung
years, ever since it was published, the... Tibetan Book of the Dead
has been my constant companion, and I owe to it not only many stimulating
ideas and discoveries but also many fundamental insights.
Bardo Thodol [Tibetan Book of the Dead] offers one an intelligible
philosophy addressed to human beings.... Its philosophy contains the
Buddhist psychological criticism.... The Christian missionary may preach
the gospel to the poor naked heathen, but the spiritual heathen who populate
Europe have as yet heard nothing of Christianity."
Jung and the Tarot:
"Carl Gustav Jung was born in Switzerland in 1875 and died in 1961. He founded
analytic psychology in response to the psychoanalysis of Sigmund Freud....
Jung made the significant step of defining the unconscious of a person as comprised
of both a personal unconscious (proceeding from the experiences of the individual)
and a collective unconscious.... Jung classified people as introverted
and extroverted types, but more importantly from the point of view of the
Tarot, further classified them according to four functions of the mind:
thinking, feeling, sensation and intuition.
his final work, Man and His Symbols, Jung wrote: 'These four functional
types correspond to the obvious means by which consciousness obtains its
orientation to experience. Sensation (i.e. sense perception) tells us that
something exists; thinking tells you what it is; feeling tells you whether it
is agreeable or not; and intuition tells you whence it comes and where it is
occultist Dr. Arthur Edward Waite expressed the following, distinctly Jungian,
view of the Tarot: "The Tarot embodies symbolical presentations of universal
ideas, behind which lie all the implicits of the human mind, and it is in
this sense that they contain secret doctrine, which is the realization by the
few of truths embedded in the consciousness of all."
"There are undeniable links between the reading of Swedenborg and
radical activity, centered on a branch of radical Freemasons who operated
internationally, but gathered in London....
"An occult tradition of seeking spiritual illumination thrived in the
seventeenth century but had since gone underground, marginalised by the
progress of rationalist and empiricist modes of thinking, and was preserved
most fully and systematically in clandestine
"At the inception of Swedenborgianism into the European network of 'irregular”
Masonry, it blended in with the mainstays of
Spiritualism, Astrology etc. Many lodges and Masonic societies welcomed
Swedenborg’s teaching. His central idea of 'Correspondences,' which
linked all things material to a spiritual source was used to back up notions
of unusual rapport with other realities.... For many, Swedenborgianism became
an umbrella philosophy under which other occult ideas could be given a collective
rationale – even if these were only remotely related to Swedenborg’s doctrines.
"Both the Theosophical Society and Duché’s
gatherings were 'open' meetings in the sense that the Masons here mixed with
tradesmen, artisans and other local Londoners....
"With the exclusion of the radical Masons, the New Church was clearly seeking
to weed out its earlier... revolutionary associations.... In addition to this,
a petition was prepared to Parliament for 'religious toleration'....
"The reception of Swedenborg’s occultist writings was... an active forum
for theo-political debate. Blake noted in the annotations to Swedenborg’s
Divine Love and Wisdom, 'The Whole of the New Church is in the Active