Projection and Synthesis

Tomberg now summarizes the four stages, in anticipation of the next two arcana, as shown in the following table.

Stage Sense Description
Mysticism Touch To experience the unique essence of Being
Gnosis Hearing To understand the mystical experience
Magic Projection To put mystical experience into practice
Hermetism Synthesis To communicate mystical experience

The mystical sense is analogous (not identical) to the sense of touch, and gnosis to the sense of hearing. The magical sense is “projection”. This is the objectification and exteriorization of one’s inner life. It is analogous to artistic creation on the psychic plane and procreation on the physical plane. Relating creation and procreation in this way is certainly interesting and needs to be explored in depth, perhaps at another time. (Nikolai Berdyaev develops that idea in his Destiny of Man, a book that Tomberg quoted several times.) So magic, art, and giving birth are analogous in that they project the inner life outward, where it takes on a life of its own. They pertain to the domain of the spirit, soul, and body.

The creation of the world ex nihilo is a magical act. In contrast, the alternate theories about creation deny the magical act:

  • Pantheism denies the independent existence of creatures, regarding them as part of the divine life
  • Emanationism attributes an ephemeral existence to the world
  • Demiurgism teaches that there is an independent substance co-eternal with God, which God then moulds into the world.

Note that these three theories are considered more “rational”, i.e., more acceptable to the discursive mind, than creationism, so a certain type of educated person may be attracted to one of them. Creationism, as a magical act, cannot be reduced to such terms. Nevertheless, the sense of Hermetism is synthesis, i.e., it finds a place for seemingly incompatible doctrines provided they are understood on the proper level. Those who do not think hermetically will be convinced that only one of those theories can be true.

Tomberg, relying on the four worlds of the Kabbalah, puts them in their proper place. Recall that Aristotle showed that there are four senses of the word “priority”: time, being, knowing, and goodness. The one we are most familiar with is priority in time, i.e., one thing happens before another. However, Tomberg is using the notions of priority of knowing and being. For example, the idea of a thing is prior to the thing itself; this does not imply a certain period of time. It is difficult to think outside of time, but that is necessary to understand metaphysics and esoterism.

Ain Soph is the Unlimited, i.e., Infinite Possibilities. Infinite is meant in the metaphysical sense of being unbounded, not in the mathematical sense of being too large to count. These possibilities are ideas in the Mind of God, which precede (ontologically, not temporally) creation, or the magical projection of the ideas. The process of formation is then completed through the angelic hierarchies and ultimately by man.

These are summarized in this table:

Kabbalah World Doctrine
Atziluth Emanation Pantheism
Beriah Creation Theism
Yetzirah Formation Demiurgism
Assiah Action/Facts Naturalism

So we see how different worldviews can be reached. Each one is limited to a certain plane, so each insists it is the only correct worldview for all. Hermetism, on the other hand, relies on the sense of synthesis, in that in relates all the separate worldviews and understands them as a whole. Another way to put it is that Hemetism synthesizes in the vertical plane, whereas profane science is limited to a horizontal plane.

This is Tomberg’s preparation for the third Arcanum.