Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it. ~ Mark 10:15
The climax to the Letter on the Magician is the transformation of the Child or Puer archetype into the Self archetype represented by the Magician.
Analogy and Play
The value of an analogy depends on the quality of one’s experience. But the method of analogy corresponds to “concentration without effort”. Specifically, the analogy is either directly intuited or it is not. The rational intellect is of not help, except as preparatory work. This preparation requires the accumulation of experiences and study of the teachings. Only in that way can the faculty of immediate perception of analogous correspondences be developed. We read in the Letter:
The practice of analogy on the intellectual plane of consciousness does not, in fact, demand any effort; cither one perceives (“sees”) analogous correspondences or one docs not perceive or “see” them. Just as the magician or juggler has had to train and work for a long time before attaining the ability of concentration without effort, similarly he who makes use of the method of analogy on the intellectual plane must have worked much —i.e. to have acquired long experience and to have accumulated the teachings which it requires — before attaining the faculty of immediate perception of analogous correspondences, before becoming a “magician” or “juggler” who makes use of the analogy of beings and of things without effort as in a game.
As a form of “play”, the method of analogy becomes almost childlike. The child plays rather than works, yet he is concentrated, with a complete and undivided attention. Hence, the Arcanum of the Magician represents intellectual genius which Tomberg defines as the
vision of the unity of beings and things through the immediate perception of their correspondences—through consciousness concentrated without effort.
The Inner Child
Analogously, the attitude of the child needs to be our attitude when approaching the kingdom of God: to once again become whole and undivided. To be sure, that does not mean at all to become puerile; to be child-like is not the same as to be childish.
There is chatter today about awakening the “Inner Child” as though that were some difficult, not to mention desirable, outcome. If you pout when you don’t get your way, you have awakened it.
No, psychurgical practice is the transformation of consciousness rising from plane to plane. Hence, to become again like a child means to recapitulate the childlike qualities at a higher level of consciousness, i.e., intellectual genius. The child “carries only easy burdens and renders all his yokes light.”
Harmony and Equilibrium
Tomberg refers to Carl Jung and Friedrich Schiller to illustrate his point. The Magician represents the man
- Who has attained harmony and equilibrium
- Between the spontaneity of the unconsciousness (as understood by Jung)
- And the deliberate action of the consciousness (as an “I” or ego)
In other words, this state is the synthesis of the conscious and the unconscious elements of the personality. This corresponds to the process of “individuation” as described by Jung. This is the passage from Essays on a Science of Mythology by Jung and Kerenyi referenced in the letter.
The Science of Mythology
One of the essential features of the child-motif is its futurity. The child is potential future, hence the occurrence of the child-motif in the psychology of the individual signifies as a rule an anticipation of future developments, even though at first sight it may seem to be a retrospective configuration. Life is a flux, a flowing into the future, and not a stoppage or a back wash, it is therefore not surprising that so many of the mythological saviors are child-gods. This corresponds exactly to our experience in the psychology of the individual, which shows that the “child” paves the way for a future change of personality.
In the individuation process, it anticipates the figure that comes from the synthesis of conscious and unconscious elements in the personality. It is therefore a uniting symbol which unites the opposites; a mediator, bringer of healing, that is, one who makes whole. Because it has this meaning, the child-motif is capable of the numerous transformations mentioned above: it can be expressed by roundness, the circle or sphere, or else by the quaternity as another form of wholeness. I have called this consciousness-transcending wholeness “self.” The purpose of the individuation process is the synthesis of the self. From another point of view the term “entelechy” might be preferable to “synthesis.” There Is an empirical reason why “entelechy” is, in certain conditions, more fitting: the symbols of wholeness frequently occur at the beginning of the individuation process, indeed they can often be observed in the first dreams of early infancy.
This observation says much for the a priori existence of potential wholeness, and on this account the idea of entelechy instantly recommends itself. But insofar as the individuation process occurs, empirically speaking, as a synthesis, it looks, paradoxically enough, as if something already existent were being put together. From this point of view, the term “synthesis” is also applicable.
from Essays on a Science of Mythology by Jung and Kerenyi
H/T: Matthew Anderson for locating the Jung/Kerenyi passage.
Entelechy and Synthesis
This passage from Jung and Kerenyi illustrates Tomberg’s points beautifully. The child is not the goal, but rather points the way to the goal. In an instinctive way, the child unites the opposites of the conscious and unconscious elements. That is, it is the analogy of the Self, which is the culmination of the individuation process.
The self is the result of a synthesis, viz., of the conscious and unconscious elements. It is also an entelechy, that is, that actualization of a potential. In other words, the Self exists first as a possibility, but the work of synthesis makes it actual.
Note how this esoteric understanding of actualization differs from conceptions common today. The Self represents Wholeness; it is transcendent, not empirical. The Hermetic path leads to wholeness, to a single unified being.
Contemporary ideals of self-actualization involve realizing different empirical possibilities in oneself. Hence, one can be a baker or a rocket scientist, a lover and a mother, a man or a woman, at will. The only requirements are desire and opportunity. However, it is clear that none of those choices represents wholeness, but only an abundance of parts.
The True and the Beautiful
Friedrich Schiller describes the same process in a different way as the synthesis of:
- Intellectual consciousness which imposes duties and rules
- The instinctive nature as the drive to play (Spieltrieb)
The true and the desired [the word is “intention” in the German] find their synthesis in the beautiful, which has two effects:
- It lightens the burden associated with duties of the true
- It raises the darkness of instinctive forces to the level of light and consciousness
So whoever sees the beauty in what is true cannot then fail to love it. Then the element of constraint imposed by duty will disappear, becoming a delight instead. Keep in mind that not just any desire is beautiful, but only those which correspond to the true nature of things. When this is achieved:
Work is transformed into play and concentration without effort becomes possible.
Notes on Translation
Here are some recommended important translation changes. One deals with the understanding of myth on page 15, which should be replaced with:
These are myths, i.e. in the first place historical symbols referring to time, and not symbols expressing the unity of the worlds in physical, metaphysical, and spiritual space. The Fall of Adam and Eve does not reveal a corresponding fall in the divine world, within the heart of the Holy Trinity.
“False friends” in translations refer to words that appear to be the same in two different languages, but whose meaning differs. In this case, the word “moral” has, in English, the connotation of ethical behavior, but the word in French has a wider meaning. In this case, “moral space” makes no sense. Hence, a better rendition would be “spiritual space” or perhaps “intellectual space”. As an example, Dante’s Divine Comedy provides an elaborate spiritual topography as an expression of the unity of the worlds.
Another false friend is “geniality”, which means in English: “the quality of having a friendly and cheerful manner.” However, in French “genial” is related to genius. Now, the archaic meaning of the word in English is “characterized by genius”. So, in the translated text, the word should be understood in this archaic sense.
As a side note, the Philokalia means “love of the beautiful” in ancient Greek. Schiller merges the experience of the beautiful with the idea of the Good (as duty). Curiously, modern Greek translates kalia as “good” rather than “beauty”.