Index: Putrefaction - On the mortification of the Nine Senses - The fire in the Work - The purification of the sexual drive and its control
At the beginning of the work the necessary “Putrefaction”, symbolized in the Caput Corvi, in the work from Fulcanelli, must appear. The Seven passional Bodies must disappear and with them the Seven Capital sins and the Seven Fundamental Mistakes that cloud the Soul. They are the Seven Heads of the Dragon of the Apocalypse that bring the Ten horns and oppose to the Seven Virtues: Four Cardinal and Three Theological. It would be completely useless to proceed when this ineluctable stage has not been accomplished. Let’s listen to the Teaching of the Old Masters: “…it is necessary, first of all, that the body is dissolved, the Doors are open so that Nature can operate….”; “…according to the purity or impurity of the Principles making Sulfur and Mercury, perfect or imperfect metals can be produced…”; “…no generation is possible without corruption…”.
Indeed, it is not possible to let the Aspirant evolve in the sense we mean it, if he doesn’t admit, once for all, the uselessness of all that he acquired everywhere, in badly understood readings or teachings not conform to the Doctrine. All this can only oppose his mystic direction. Pseudo-knowledge and false wisdom are useless here, he must admit it. “…Chemistry is the art of destroying the composts that Nature has made, but Hermetic Chemistry is the Art of working with Nature to perfect them…”; “…take care that the ùnion of the Husband with his Bride must be done only after their dresses and ornaments have been taken off, from the face and the rest of the body, so that they enter the grave as clean as they were when they were born. Only after the Apprentice has destroyed the inner degraded building, he will be able to build on its ruins, starting on a completely new path!”; “… you will know, then, that all the Teaching consists of a dissolution first and a coagulation afterwards…”.
« The fifth degree of the ladder is Putrefaction.
Certainly destruction causes the death of the matter. It is the spirit, though, that renews life, therefore the black round Stone refers now to the image of the crow, so that the subtle spirit expels quickly the sense of man. Unless the fruit is properly putrefied in the right soil, otherwise all the work, the pain and the Art will be vain and useless.»
On the mortification of the Nine Senses
The senses are faculties (the Old School said “apparatus”) that relate man with the outside world and they are linked to the organs of the physical body, which are their instruments. We generally consider only the five physical senses: sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing. Classic theology adds two inner senses, imagination and memory. The Illuminism verified two psychic higher senses, such as clairvoyance and clear-hearing. Therefore there are three series of five, seven and nine senses according to the plane where we study them from. Spiritual Alchemy obviously uses the series of nine and this is what we will study.
The sense of touch is not dangerous in the profane world until he awakens passion or contacts that could hurt our health or our life. In the spiritual world everything appears different. In the domain of Touch caresses are an appeal to sensual pleasure and as such they can lead to “lust”. For the Aspirant and in the domain of the Inner Way, the contact with objects full of a mysterious power can determine good or evil. We will avoid every contact with funeral remains, such as skulls or bones, with corpses (their deserved transport and burying will obviously be another matter), with funeral objects such as sheets, coffin’s nails, cemetery’s earth and so on; furthermore, with books or manuscripts that regard inner magic or that might have received a magic consecration of such a nature that made them spiritually malefic vehicles.
In the same domain we must classify the pentacles of low magic, Ritual objects deriving from a sorcerer or a Ministry of the fetish Cult. Even more we will beware, as the worst offense to the Divine Plan, of placing sacrilegious hands on sacred or holy objects whose contact is forbidden to profane, under pain of losing their consecration or even worse. This presumptuousness has caused the spiritual loss of certain magicians. Equally we will refuse when we are asked, under a faint initiatory excuse, to undergo touching in some parts of the body, which could awaken our centers of Strength. On the contrary, the latter must be definitely put to sleep when they are lower. Nothing is more dangerous than these lower psychic awakenings obtained by semi-profanes, who don’t know the huge extent and that, deviously, use their “disciple” as a means for experience, without any regret for the damage caused. The sense of Touch corresponds to the element Earth.
Material gluttony is not, generally, one of the main problems of the Aspirant. Nevertheless it must be watched, tamed or reduced. The sense of Taste must be disciplined. This is the sense that makes us give importance or passion to the richness of books, the beautiful bindings, rare manuscripts or the quality or number of our books. Taste, if happily educated, will avoid us falling in seducing mistakes, where the sweetness of vain words, the charm of groundless sentences and shallow theories masks only the emptiness and causes the researcher to get stuck in false journeys lacking teaching and real initiatory character.
The sense of Taste corresponds to the elementary water; the latter, with its mysterious intelligence that the Cabbala calls Undines, is the domain of Sensitivity. We will avoid giving up to a shallow sensitivity. Love is often a word degraded; sometimes it only expresses the emptiness of physicality. True Love is creative, is the Agape of Greeks and it doesn’t expect indulgence or weakness in front of the mistakes, but care for Justice and Truth.
The immoderate use of smells in the profane world and the influence we let them have on ourselves are often only excuses to satisfy our sensuality or to drive us to sensual pleasure. We have the same danger in the domain of Aromatic Combustions, familiar to Occultists. The odorous emissions exhaling from oil-burners or incense-burners are waves of appeal destined to “Worlds” which are ontologically different from ours. They are not destined to satisfy our sense of smell or our childish desire for a mystic atmosphere; neither to surprise the profane making him believe that we own the “secret” of some mysterious fumigations and letting him imagine that the evolution of his mystic knowledge and his spiritual power depend on banal olfactory impressions. They must create in us, at a certain moment, an inner atmosphere that allows us to perceive the spiritual contact or the action of Beings different from us. On the other hand, if there are odorous emissions able to let us become conscious of higher Worlds and Entities, there must be some others that lead us to the opposite side. We must avoid odors of which we don’t know the occult properties, perfumes inspiring sensuality, magic smells that we can’t manage and that could put us in touch with demons. We must use those suggested – and when suggested – by the Master. The Smell corresponds to the elementary Air.
There aren’t only images able to awaken our sexual sensuality, which must of course be avoided without falling in the opposite excess. St. Clement of Alexandria wrote on the subject: “we must not be ashamed of organs that GOD wasn’t ashamed of giving us”. In the world, though, there are sickly spectacles that excite the grossest instincts in man. Let’s mention some of them, such as roosters’ or any other animals’ fights, races or fights with bulls, hunting on the horse or modern hunting, which are massacres of animals without a reason. Death executions and all similar spectacles are to be avoided. At a lower step of seriousness we find boxing and wrestling matches; also political manifestations and speeches are often low level spectacles for man.
For the Occultist there can be the fascination for certain books or certain libraries, or the desire for certain collections or pictures, which can excite curiosity or envy or the greed of possession of some schemes or enigmatic texts. We can add the sight of certain dresses and ornaments that, although profane, symbolize meanings that excite adulation, pride or jealousy. The aspect of desire present in gluttony, greed, conquest and accomplishment is accompanied as a counterpoint by anger, where desire and fantasy are deluded in reality; if these elements drive to an unpleasant quietness, we find laziness. Don’t forget that there are readings that act like poison in our minds because of the reactions they violently cause.
This mortification (again a word that evokes practical Alchemy) linked to the mortification of the Word, supports us in not saying or understanding anything that is contrary to prudence, compassion, purity and humility. Furthermore, for compassion, we shouldn’t say anything that can inspire in us and others the echo of one or more of the Seven Capital Sins. We will avoid lingering on tales that can inspire anger, hatred, jealousy, lust or envy in other people. For Occultists this cautiousness will consist of not lingering on some magic, theurgic or mystic procedures and acts or discussing on the extraordinary aspect of some spiritual or psychic experiences, or on the rarity or interest of certain books. The reason is not to awake in the heart of the Aspirant desire for power or vain curiosity, greed where envy, pride and avarice would find fertile soil. Eventually noise in general will be banned in an atmosphere where the Soul wouldn’t be able to find or recognize itself. Dance music, not harmonious and linked to animal sensuality, martial music or military marches, such as hunting horns, dissolve any psychic atmosphere that helps the growth. Hearing corresponds to the principle Salt.
Two senses complete the exterior sensual quinary. We’ll study them now.
Imagination and Memory
These two precious faculties provide Intelligence with the materials it needs to exercise and work; they also provide Wisdom with the possibility to express the Truth with images and arguments that make it more penetrating and alive, therefore more attractive. It’s not a matter of diminishing these two faculties, but of disciplining and subordinating their activities to the domain of reason and will. If they were not cared for and abandoned, they would fill mind and soul with fantasies, crowds of images and memories; they would waste precious energies and time and would inspire temptations, deceit and falls.
It is absolutely necessary to put them at the service of the two Sublime Virtues which are Intelligence and Wisdom. In order to repress the sudden changes of these two inner senses, imagination and memory, we will commit to keep out since the beginning all the undesirable and dangerous manifestations, images and memories that inspire realities or desires of possible future or imaginary pasts. The latter will lead us to past, present and future temptations and therefore they would be sources of deficiencies and falls.
There is often in us a kind of perverse psychological determinism that leads us from irrelevant fantasies to the dangerous games of a partially possessed mind. We will protect ourselves against this danger by immediately and continuously rejecting vain or suspicious thoughts that prepare the way to much more dangerous thoughts and fantasies, because thoughts are living Being and they act as such. For the Aspirant the best way of succeeding in this kind of “filtration” is certainly to commit totally to the duty of the moment; although it might seem banal, it is our work, our study and our usual occupations. Despite being modest and material, they are all our duties.
On the other hand, this is the best way to do well what we have to do, focusing intelligence and activity in the present action. Let’s not forget that imagination and memory, in the educated Aspirant, find fertile soil for the study of human sciences, both profane and occult; without them many aspects of the higher Knowledge would remain obscure to him. Especially through the esotericism of the Traditional Initiatory Scriptures, imagination will have access to the Truth and memory will prepare to the certainties of Wisdom. These two inner senses correspond respectively, Imagination to the Mercurial Principle, Memory to the Sulfur Principle.
Clairvoyance and clear-hearing
We must not confuse Prophecy with spiritual divination. With the latter, many forms of mantic rituals, through non-well defined entities that “never take inspiration from the Divine Plane”, but at the best from intermediates planes, allow us to access more or less clearly and precisely, a more or less close future or to find elements of a more or less close past. Spiritual divination uses a kind of convention; through codified elements, the fortune-teller or the medium get in touch with the expression of the entities mentioned above. Therefore the latter are expressed through a conventional symbolism implicitly and tacitly agreed with the spiritist.
Something different happens on the plane of Prophecy. The Traditional Scriptures show us three aspects of the prophecy and three kind of interprets, all different. First is Ròch, or clairvoyant, the man who sees with the eyes of Spirit what other men can’t see. Then there is Hozeh, similar to the first one but with the added feature of being able to nominate the Prophets or the fortune-tellers of the false gods. Last is Nabi, or interpreter of God, who doesn’t only see, but also speaks the Divine language. It is also necessary that the word is the reflection of an inner audition, although it is immediately associated with his word. The Roch is the clairvoyant that interpret and translates with his language what he sees, or believes he understands, in his vision. In Nabi audition and elocution are blended. The main characteristic of these two Heralds of the Divine Plane is that they never manifest for irrelevant reasons or for problems which are too human. They only intervene for general purposes or for the defense of higher interests of the community. The man who sees one of these two faculties developing in himself will avoid to activate it or to practice it on subjects or situations lacking of spirituality. Most of all he must not immediately think he is in psychic relation with God, the Virgin Mary or to be a messenger of the great Archangels; he will be there where the Spiritual discernment will show him to be necessary.
We will constantly remember that every manifestation of lower Entities, or even more of Tenebrous Spirits, is always characterized by grotesque and unreasonable or undefined conditions, with situations that bring germs of anarchy and confusion inside them. If the periods of manifestations of these faculties coincide in the Aspirant with an atmosphere of immoral or amoral confusion; if sexual sensuality is more demanding; if superficial theories accompany this phenomenon, then it is best to know that he is the victim and the laughingstock of lower entities. This would happen even more if he enunciated theories that adulate his astral nature and his pride or if he stated that he has been noticed and chosen for his particular, especially intellectual qualities. The same would happen if he believed himself called to complete or modify any traditional Corpus, perhaps upsetting its teachings.
The characteristic of Prophethood is that it is integrated in the picture of a revelation; if he really speaks on its behalf, he couldn’t become its spirit of contradiction or cause of devastation. The Prophet is always possessed by the Holy Spirit. The Fortune teller is always possessed by an intermediate Spirit. The Medium is always possessed by a dead. To establish the source of their prediction means to know the level of their Spirituality.
Clairvoyance corresponds to the Mercury of the Wise men, Clear-hearing to the Sulfur.
In conclusion, the mortification of the nine senses of Man must embrace the whole of his biological and psychic activities brought on the body and on the soul; it is Man in the whole that would fall if he wasn’t absolutely disciplined. In this case, to say the truth, it would be the Will to sin, but it would have the complicity and the help of the body with its external senses and the soul with its inner senses. This way the Soul would be prisoner again and this time of a much worse warder.
The fire in the Work
Alchemists have been reticent on all that concerned the Great Work; they haven’t been clear on its fire or on the degrees of heat necessary for the success of their work. They considered the knowledge of thermal conduct and of degrees of heat one of the main keys to the Work: “…many alchemists are wrong, because they don’t know the attitude of fire, which is the key to the Work; it can dissolve or coagulate at the same time and they can’t grasp this because they are blinded by their ignorance… indeed, once prepared the Matter, only by cooking it, it could be turned into the Philosopher’s Stone. …I only prescribe you to cook, cook at the beginning, cook in the middle, cook at the end and do nothing else…”.
Alchemists distinguished three types of Fires:
• The Humid Fire, the bain-marie that supplies a constant temperature.
• The Artificial or Supernatural Fire that designates acids. Alchemists noticed that acids produce an increase of the temperature in their different reactions; they also saw that they had on bodies the same effect as Fire, disorganizing them and quickly destroying their primitive aspect.
• The Natural Fire, or Ordinary Fire, obtained by combustion.
Obviously alchemists didn’t use coal or wood to warm the Philosopher’s Egg. A constant surveillance would have been necessary and, even then, it would have been impossible to keep a constant temperature. Therefore the Adept was angry against the ignorant blowers who used coal: “…why these violent flames, since the wise men don’t use at all burning coal or wood to make the Hermetic Work”.
The hermetic philosophers used an oil lamp, an asbestos wick, which is easy to use and gives a uniform heat. This is the fire they have been hiding so much and nobody openly mentioned. On the plane of Spiritual Alchemy, the Fire is constituted by the Prayer: “Ora et Labora”, pray and work. Our Fire, though, can be identified neither with those practices, which have a more baroque attitude, nor with methods and rhythms of respiration. Also the practices known as “Hatha Yoga” are emphasized in the West for being able to preserve health and youth. Experience, though, doesn’t show that the westerners who practice it actually reach the Illumination, or even simply mysticism, neither that their transcendence grows.
If we achieve these goals it is due to other kinds of knowledge, such as the practice of Bhakti Yoga, Dhyani Yoga, Karma Yoga, Samadhi Yoga and finally Raja Yoga. Alchemists added many degrees to their fire, according to the stage of the Work. They could control it by increasing the number of threads that made the wick: “…make at first a mild fire, as if you only had four threads to your wick, until the Matter becomes black. Then you will increase, put fourteen threads; the Matter will become grey. Finally, put twenty-four threads and you will have perfect whiteness…”.
Here, in the domain of Spiritual Alchemy, we have a precious indication in its esotericism.
The purification of the sexual drive and its control
We will add some explanations for a domain where the fight is especially hard and painful; it is the control of the sexual desire and the violent passion deriving from it, source of so many mistakes, delusions, pain and crimes. The key of this liberation is in the right collocation of the temporary and ephemeral concept of physical body and purely carnal joy. It is very simple and old. We must remember first of all that necrosis wins very quickly over the body once the Soul has left it. It consists in a blackening of the flesh, which go from a rose-white shade to the most complete ebony-black. On this necrotized flesh will develop strange fungi, bright jade green, seven to twelve millimeters of diameter for the head and about one centimeter high. In the dark these fungi shine of a greenish light.
The purifying technique for the sexual drive consists of this: during a meditation without any fumigation, we must visualize the “ideal man-woman”, as we imagine them in our desires, with all the possible splendor and attractiveness, standing out against a totally dark background, with their profile that seems clearing up from the inside, sitting motionless in the position of the “lotus”. Only the face, the torso and the arms, though, have the ideal perfection; thighs, legs, abdomen and sexual organs, in this vision, are necrotized as described above. The nails are black and very long; they are rolled up in a spiral and the lack of flesh on the fingers makes their roots visible. This meditation, in all the range of the details, can be used not only for a physical person, but for any object that excites a passion we wish to get rid of.
This method is very harsh but absolutely effective. We suggest its use towards every abstract passion or inanimate object. Nevertheless it could be dangerous for a weak Aspirant, to whom we suggest another method.
The novices of Tibetan convents practice what the Masters call “the meditation of the Horrible” in front of an ossuary. The training consists of being able to visualize under every living form the skeleton that it will become one day, symbol of the Death that man carries with him constantly. After that, perhaps, they can reach the freedom mentioned by a clairvoyant who said: “He has now left the world behind!”.