our greatest blessings come to us by way of madness Phaedr. 244a

2013/03/04

The left hand path

The left hand path


So I have not declared all that appears and is necessary in this work, because there are things of which a man may not speak... Such matters must be transmitted in mystical terms, like poetry employing fables and parables. --Rosarium philosophorum, 16th century alchemical text


Now Christ himself, it can be recalled, issued a like warning to those who would speak of spiritual things: "Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you." And again: "To you," he said to his disciples,"it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but for others they are in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand." The rose garden of the philosophers, then, is to be entered by the left hand path.

The left hand path is the way, then, of a passage by way of the senses--the eyes, the heart, and spontaneity of the body--to a realization and manifestation "at the still point of the turning world," in act and experience on earth, of the radiance, harmony, bounty and joy of nature.

The left, the side of the heart, the shield side, has been symbolic, traditionally and everywhere, of feeling, mercy and love, vulnerability and defenselessness, the feminine virtues and dangers: mothering and seduction, the tidal powers of the moon and substances of the body, the rhythms of the seasons: gestations, birth, nourishment, and fosterage; yet equally malice and revenge, unreason, dark and terrible wrath, black magic, poisons, sorcery and delusion; but also fair enchantment, beauty, rapture and bliss.

And the right, thereby is of the male: action, weapons, hero-deeds, protection, brute force, and both cruel and benevolent justice; the masculine virtues and dangers: egoism and aggression, lucid luminous reason, sunlike creative power, but also cold unfeeling malice, abstract spirituality, blind courage, theoretical dedication, sober, unplayful moral force.

--Joseph Campbell, Creative Mythology

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