Censoring Phantasy and ‘The Greatness of Saturn’: Reconciliation with the Inner World
Previously we published excerpts from Ion Couliano’s groundbreaking work, Eros and Magic in the Renaissance, entitled, “Censoring Phantasy: Abolition of the Phantasmic” wherein we placed the movement from the imaginative to the hyper-rational in a historical and religious context. This section had particular emphasis on the Protestant Reformation and how this in turn created a social and intellectual context wherein the imagination was deemed secondary, and inferior, to all things rational and reasonable. However, in fact this is not true, and a strong argument can be made for it being the exact opposite: that the emotions and imagination are more powerful in their day-to-day effect than ‘reason’ and attempts to expunge the negative aspects of irrational beliefs was taken to an extreme which has nearly brought us to the brink of ruin. That excerpt can be read here, and we encourage you to do so.
As a counter-weight to this position we are providing an excerpt from The Greatness of Saturn – A Therapeutic Myth by Dr. Robert Svoboda. In this small yet essential book, Svoboda provides important astrological information on the imagination drawing support from Indian tantra as well as modern psychotherapy and the Renaissance magic of Marsilio Ficino as understood by Thomas Moore in his work, The Planets Within – The Astrological Psychology of Marsilio Ficino. For those unfamiliar with Svoboda, he is a pioneering advocate of Ayurvedic medicine, being the first Western student graduate from an Ayruvedic college and to obtain a license to practice in India.
Because India and the West share the same understanding of the Signs, Planets, and Elements utilized in astrology – even if they have diverged in their application over the last few centuries, the following information is just as applicable to Western theurgy as it is to Indian tantra.
The Greatness of Saturn: Myth and Imagination Combined
“What you see in your mind’s eye is your reality. If you fill your mind with soap operas, they will be your reality, and if you see God there, He, She, or It will be your reality. … We humans think in images and live in images, and to be healthy we need a healthy self-image, generated by ‘fantasy’. But a healthy self-image alone is not sufficient to effect harmony both within the individual and between the individual and the world outside. To be truly healthy an individual also requires a health ‘affect image’ of the Universal Reality with which to relate, because each of us is an image of the Universal Reality. The Law of the Microcosm and Macrocosm teaches that everything that exists in the vast universe, the macrocosm, also appears in the microcosm, the internal cosmos of the human body. Though the universe is eternal and without beginning, it periodically projects outward from singularity into multiplicity, remains multiple until its trajectory is spent, and then resolves again into unmanifestation. A human being is a living replica of the universe, and every part of the universe is as alive as every human cell. The parts need the whole, and the whole needs its parts. All the many individual microcosms, human and other, who tenant the great and singular macrocosm as temporary realities must establish and preserve a harmonious relationship with the One Ultimate Reality in order to enjoy a long and satisfying life.
For thousands of years India’s Seers, the rishis, have sculpted their perceptions of Reality into images. The rishis teach that though there is but One Reality, this True God has Many Faces, each a personality of the Godhead. Though each Face is superficially independent, all are identical behind the persona. … Each Face of God is a deity, a portion of God, and each plays an important role in the Great Cosmic Drama. Everywhere they looked, even on funeral pyres, the Seers found one of God’s Faces, and in their magnanimity they envisioned such a multitude of divine personalities … that everyone, of every mental disposition and temperament, would be able to find an appropriate image to visualize.
…When you visit an Indian temple you go there for darshana [philosophy], to look upon that particular Face of God, that wisdom enfolded into form, that it may enter your personal reality. There it will help you to focus your concentration on Divine Reality and will discourage your mind from either falling asleep or returning to its normal chatter. Images…need not be material; to read with sincere devotion an astrological story like ‘The Greatness of Saturn’ is to create within you images of the Faces of Reality that are the Nine Planets [seven traditional plus Lunar Nodes], whose darshana [image] you then enjoy. … But since nowhere in the West is there any religious practice which resembles darshana, it is not surprising that most Westerners find it difficult to comprehend the practice and are bewildered by the way Indians treat their gods like family members. … Rejecting the projection of any sort of personality onto God, they believe devotion to a Face to be somehow inferior to the Formless, and deny that the One True God can be viewed as a parent, or child, or lover of his or her devotee. Millions of ‘progressive’ modern Indians have also adopted this slant on Reality, including groups like the Ramakrishna Mission which have pushed Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s simple devotional intensity to his beloved Divine Mother into the shadows behind his disciples Vivekananda’s more ‘acceptable’ concept of the form-free absolute.
While it is true that ‘as you meditate, so you become,’ meditating on an image need not turn you into an idol, provided that you gaze beyond the face of the deity to the Reality that It represents. … The hundreds of millions of people who have continually nourished these gods with their worship and devotion have helped them to grow and develop. If we can appreciate these Faces for how well they play their roles, they can introduce us to their Essence. So long as you remember that when you worship deities you are really worshipping the God Who is God in their clothes, you need never feel that you have descended into idolatry.
Perhaps that should be, ‘descend further into idiolatry,’ for most of us are already unconscious idolators. We who ‘live and model our lives through acts of make-believe’ have synthesized a world in which the living gods have been put to sleep, and only they gods of artifice and selfishness are strong and lively. We have replaces our images of God with images of our pop icons: musicians, athletes, and movie stars, punctuated by the odd scientist and aesthere. Our reality now reflects the nature of our gods, and we will never be able to get either ourselves or our society in order until we change our images and the conceptual reality they create within us. How many people today are so spiritually advanced that they can effectively counteract the world’s many powerful negative images, which lie in wait to corrupt us at every turn, simply by relying on their ability to invoke the abstraction of an image-free Reality? At least Indian tradition has never confused ‘image’ with ‘idol,’ as we seem to regularly do. Let us make what good use we can of living myths, which can at least partially convey to us that living wisdom which condenses into living deities. Isolated archetypes are not salvific; only living myths can heal, and myths live only when they are consumed whole.” (p.155-159)
We encourage you to read the above in light of what has also been said in our previous posts and publications, including:
“The Perfect Path for the Age of Twilight”
“Teachings on Devotion and the Kali Yuga”
“Pay No Attention to That Man Behind The Curtain”
“Suggestion and Creating False Memories”
“On Meditative Process”
and, our various interviews on Egregores: The Occult Entities That Watch Over Human Destiny (Inner Traditions, 2018):
Program: Where Did the Road Go?
Program: Legalize Freedom
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