Spiritual Friendship

Aristotle tells us there are three reasons for friendship: good character, utility, or pleasure, though only the first is not defective, so is the only ground for true friends. So to be one of the Unknown friends, we aspire for the same character and knowledge of the author of Meditations on the Tarot. To understand him, we also engage in the Moral Purification of the Will. A true friend is like another “self”, since they have the same character, share in common activities, and work toward the same goals. In the Introduction to the meditations, the author states his goal: to enrich the Hermetic tradition. Thus his true friends have the same goal and work towards that end.

A different kind of friendship is based on utility or pleasure. Thus two friends may cooperate as long as they are useful to each other or bring each other pleasure. However, such a friendship is shallow and usually ends abruptly when one party becomes useless to the other. There are many more such friend of the Meditations than there are true friends. They have their own agendas and their own goals. The Meditations may be useful to them to attract adherents, students, or paying customers. Sincere seekers of true friendship may the author of the Meditations will often be misled on the path, only to suffer disillusionment later on.

Aristotle tells us that one’s true friends will be few. There are not too many who will read a book such as the meditations. Fewer still will embrace it and its goals wholeheartedly. Few among them will actually do the meditations and develop a disinterested moral character. Among these few, it will be difficult for them to find and get to know each other. Nevertheless, these few friends will somehow recognize each other. True friends of the Meditations will help each other understand the text in depth.

I have translated the following passage from Arcana XX: Judgment, where the author explains this. He clearly expects his true Friends to carry on the work that he himself was carrying on from his own friends. In that spirit, this blog wishes carry on that work. Note especially his plea that NO organisation be established to carry on this work. So beware of any group that has goals that differ from the clearly stated goals of the Author. Be leary of anyone who wants to charge you for classes. Question anyone who claims to have inside or special knowledge apart from the text itself. The sure way to an understanding the Meditations is to do the meditations oneself.

Dear Unknown Friend, you who are reading these lines written in 1965 after some 50 years of effort and experience in the field of Hermetism, please do not regard them as a simple wish in support of the progress of Hermetic historicism, but as a legacy making you who read these lines the agent of such a task, provided you consent to it. Therefore, do what you judge to be good, but I implore you not to do just one thing: to found an organisation, an association, a society, or an order which would be encharged with it. For the Tradition lives, not thanks to organisations, but in spite of them. In order to preserve the life of a tradition, friendship pure and simple is necessary; what is not needed is to entrust it to the care of embalmers and mummifiers par excellence which organisations are, except for the one founded by Jesus Christ.

Antisocial Behaviour

Josephin Peladan

One of Tomberg’s guiding spirits in the French Hermetic Tradition was Josephin Peladan. The vision of the mass man, the unitiated man, is restricted to two dimensions. He absorbs his ideas and opinions from those around him and is subject to the vagaries of popular opinion. It can be said that he not so much lives his life but rather life lives through him. The Mage, or initiate, on the other hand, sees the third dimension of life, which is depth. Peladan ties Baptism and the grace of faith to this depth. Baptism that frees us from the hypnosis of Society. He writes, in How to Become a Mage:

Baptism [as an initiation rite] makes us children of God, but Society dooms us to evil through is laws and education. Faith enlightens us, but it is in perpetual conflict with Society. The initiate, in order to make the grace of baptism full and effective, must renounce anew Society, its boundaries, its crimes, so that the fear of God makes him prefer the intimate greatness to the degrading favours of the country.

The uninitiated man takes the world as it appears to him as the norm; this is not the real world, but is a second reality, or a shadow world hiding its true source; such a man lives in that second reality. The initiate begins to wake up and must see through that second reality in order to become fully conscious. Of course, in our day and age, everyone thinks he is a rebel and boasts about flaunting societal mores. Unable to conceive of any higher goal, this faux rebel can only act out against the taboos against sex, drugs, and other anti-social behaviour. This is just another trap, another way of being moulded. This type is similar to the Aghori of India. Peladan explains:

Before you think and choose, society takes over your being and moulds it, as is its right. Once you think and choose, remove those received imprints, that is to say, liberate yourself from contemporary habits, as is your right.

How many readers of Meditations on the Tarot are truly willing to remove their received imprints from society? Has anyone really changed his opinions on religion, politics, society, morality following a reading of Meditations on the Tarot? If so, it is quite rare, and usually not in the direction that Valentin Tomberg is pointing.

Peladan has a message, in particular, to Roman Catholics, in his discussion of the esoteric meaning of marriage. In particular, an initiate needs to integrate his tradition with Catholicism. In Peladan’s own words:

The correspondence between marriage and magic, is the union of the initiate with the tradition contained in the chefs-d’oeuvre of Roman Catholicism, and the care of combining all the scattered morsels of truth and those belonging to religions that have disappeared.

The virtue of the initiate is formed from equanimity; the beatitude given to the peacemakers applies to him.

The highest work of mercy consists in making, in one’s thought, a sepulchre to sublime thoughts; gathering the beautiful ideas lost in ancient books and, I say it especially to the Roman congregations, lifting up into their understanding a cenotaphe to Plato, rethinking the sublime thoughts of Confucius or of Zarathustra, will always be the highest of pieties as well as the rarest.

So, now that the reader is ready to think and choose, what are the choices that Peladan offers us? They are:

In order to choose, know that you have three destinies: you can be an animal like that decadent superficial men call savage; a soulish man, like everyone else; a spiritual person like St Thomas or Dante. Animal: be beautiful; soulish man: be good; spiritual person: seek the Grail.

This is the path from a life centered on the body to one centered on the soul to one centered in Spirit. Peladan gives us the magical formula to progress:

  • In order to improve, soulify your instincts
  • in order to make yourself meek, spiritualise your feelings
  • in order to reach the absolute, develop within yourself abstraction.

For more on Peladan, please see Josephin Peladan.