Posts Tagged ‘mysticism’

I’ve always liked putting different things together, and seeing what happens.
Years and years ago when I had a passing interest in such things I had a wondering-moment about the Tree Alphabet.
This alphabet was proposed by Robert Graves in his White Goddess book; it is constructed from ogham practice and text references in Irish.
It is an alphabet that uses tree names as the letter names. I never could work out why which tree was used where, their leafing, flowering, growth do not seem to coincide with the specific months Graves gives.

There are 13 lunar months; each is a letter of the alphabet, and a sequence in the tale of the growth to maturity of the year, represented as a god. He is then supplanted at midsummer by the god of the waning year. Until New Year when it starts again..
It goes like this, from late December on through the year:

Beth -birch
Fearn – rowan
Luis – alder
Nion – ash
Saille – willow
Uath- hawthorn
Duir- oak
Tinne- holly

Of course, he then arranged this sequence into what he called a Dolmen Arch:


Saille Uath Duir Tinne Coll
Nion                               Muin
Luis                                 Gort
Fearn                              Ngetal
Beth                               Ruis

So, this arrangement puts Duir, the oak tree as the all-important capstone of the (square) arch. This accords with his midsummer fight between waxing and waning year gods. Ok.

So, I thought, how does the tarot’s major arcana fit in with this?
Let’s see:

Willow             Hawthorn                Oak                       Holly               Hazel
Emperor/Nion                                                                               Temperence/Muin
Ash                                                                                                   Vine                                                   Hierophant/Fearn                                                                         Hanged Man/Gort
Alder                                                                                                Ivy
Magician/Luis                                                                                 Death/Ngetal
Rowan                                                                                              Reed
Fool/Beth                                                                                          The Tower/Ruis
Birch                                                                                                 Elder


A few are missing, you say.
Graves has what he called Cross-Quarter Days, special days in each sector. They rule the following months, until the next cross-quarter day, and so on.
From the Fool’s late Dec/early January Birch month, we have The High Priestess: the young year.
The Lover’s March-April Willow tree month has The Empress: the mature year.
The Hermit’s August Hazel month has Wheel of Fortune: the fall from greatness.
The Tower’s November/Dec Elder tree month, has The Devil, as god of the fallen year, darkness, death. Think of him as a god of the underworld: Pluto, Hades, of all things inimical to life, rather than all-out evil.

With this being an alphabet of consonants, we also have the five vowels These make the lintel, or door step:
The World-The Moon-The Sun-The Star-Judgement.
These, like the extra days, do not have tree names. But with this arrangement the Sun vowel is opposite the Strength/Oak consonant; The Moon is opposite The Lovers/Willow and Chariot/Hawthorn; The Star is opposite Justice/Holly and Hermit/Hazel.
The World covers the gaining year’s upright pillar, and Judgement the falling year upright pillar.
The vowels cannot have to one-to-one matches, because they breathe life into all the consonontal word-clusters.

This all made a kind of sense to me. Most appropriate seemed to be The Emperor with the old Ash god, and most of all Strength with the Oak and Sun connections.
The Rowan tree with the Magician also had a resonance.
On the other side The Hermit with Hazel seemed to fit. Not sure about Death, followed by The Tower, though. What do you think?

You have to know Graves’ construction of the story to fit it in. And there you have it: can you believe the man? Was he back-arguing ie fitting things in afterwards?
I have caught him out on a few things over the years. Enough, anyhow, to make me back off.

You can tinker with things forever, seemingly, and it’ll still get you nowhere.




I have had the opportunity of observing through practice how meditation works on a number of occasions. I have used the TM method: transcendental meditation, and the methods used by another group.

I am aware of the changes to mood and sense of self such practices bring. I have, though, over time and with reflection become dubious of the practices that go under this description.

This questioning was partly prompted by an exchange with an academic. We discussed various items and also meditation. The person signed-off by saying they had that summer attended a guided meditation, and through it had achieved one of the four meditation states of the Buddha. The exchange was around a text I had sent.
The person had not properly read the text, and so made many errors in their comments. I have had opportunities to observe the person in discussion before and after their guided meditation experience. Personality-wise there was no difference. The person may feel they have had a worthwhile and life-changing experience – but there were no indications to the objective observer that anything was different. The person was no more tolerant, open-minded, astute, observant or understanding.

We cannot know, of course, how the person would have been otherwise. My structure of argument here suggests the person could have been worse off.

So much how structuring.

To be aware of the short-comings of one’s structures is a workable way round this. What the structure also suggests is that the expected outcome would be one of incontrovertible change in behaviour and cognitive abilities.

So much for expectations.

There was an objective study of meditation published by Oxford University Press. The conclusion was to the effect that on the question of relaxation, and deep rest, meditation appeared no more beneficial than normal relaxation methods.

There have been times I have wondered whether meditation aids the absorption of the problems we are taught it helps dispel: they become us and so no longer appear as outside and disruptive. Meditation usually is part of a bigger learning package – does the practice help us absorb what we learn, and so become what we study, which is usually an identity, whether of a holy person, enlightened  being, or whatever the aspirational image put forward?

My overall conclusions about these practices are that on the whole their aim is to get the follower to lead an exemplary life.

It employs a form of Pascal’s Wager. Pascal wrote addressing gamblers and atheists that it  was much the better gamble to follow God and Christ’s teachings, on the basis that if it turned out there was nothing in it, then they would have lived an exemplary life to the benefit of all. If it turned out that the belief (part of the old faith vs revelation basis of religiousness) then they would be ‘rewarded in heaven.’

What are experienced as the ‘states of being’ the system has the follower experience are foregrounded normal peripheral states, usually encountered  on the edge of sleep or in trance/daydreaming.