Tag Archives: Plato

Breaking with Tradition

So, I present for reflection in the end; when you seek a self initiation, what do you seek? When you state a denomination or traditional pedigree to your initiation, what are you really stating? When you state you are priest/priestess – who are you really and why did you took on this office?

– from The Initiation of Self, Nicholaj De Mattos Frisvold

Reading Nicholaj De Mattos Frisvold’s post, The Initiation of Self, lead me to reflect on the ways that his question applies to the Alchemical Tradition. The assumption is all too often made that the Mysteries passed down by Tradition are simply a sexier way of dressing up a metaphor, some psychological template that can be assumed at will through reading a book or going through the pre-ordained motions.

Often when a seeker hits upon something they don’t understand, or finds no outlet for their search, they will take the easiest byroad that seems to fit what they are looking for. When that seeker puts on the mantle of teacher this deviation can become a recommended path, not proven by true realization, but carved well enough to trick the unwary eye.

Within alchemy this has been the standard course for centuries. Disregarding the full breadth of the Tradition many have come forward with their ‘stones’ speaking as if they had attained the Truth while never even touching it’s farthest border. From chemical chimeras to psychological sophistry the pageant of false initiation runs the entire line of imagination’s potential. For all the color in these creations they remain illusory answers that will never attain to Truth.

What happens when the image of a Tradition is not properly reflected? We are lead astray. When this straying attends to something like the nature of the Alchemical Tradition this path can be very harmful.

On the personal level a misstep in praxis can lead one down an endless and unfruitful path, when a person on this false path has the charisma, resources or support to influence society the consequences are much more dire. Today’s shortsighted scientism is an example of this problem, a problem that Isaac Newton foresaw when he warned Robert Boyle about being too bold in his experiments and impatient with revealing his results.

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Spiritism & the Singularity

Our relationship to death has a funny effect on the mind. Clinging to our bodies or waiting for transcendence, the importance we place on our mortality is often a very powerful motivation for action.

Back in the 19th century the Civil War left America reeling, and the untoward number of dead helped encourage the rise and spread of what became known as Spiritualism, and in France, under a more science leaning orientation, Spiritism.

Trance mediums and seances spread through the United States with surprising vigor, spreading to Europe the phenomena met with a sustained interest as well. It wasn’t that these phenomenon hadn’t been around before, but in prior centuries these visionary states helped plant the seeds for very different mentalities. The Shakers, Quakers, Boehemists, Philidelphian Society, and a whole host of Protestant and Revivalist religions used the same phenomenon to call up radical new theosophic and Utopian visions of society and religion. What was different about the Spiritualist and Spiritist movements was their surprisingly secular focus, which quickly lead to a divorce from traditional orthodoxies and the development of the New Thought and Mind Science movements, among other tangential offshoots.

This transition is interesting because it leads to one of the core tenants of a movement active today that most wouldn’t tie to table tapping and ectoplasm. The Singularity movement, spearheaded by Ray Kurzweil, holds as one of it’s main goals the transfer of human consciousness into machines. Now a lot of cognitive scientists and philosophers are digging deep into the grey matter to find the material basis for consciousness that would make this transition easier. If you do a close read on Kurzweil’s writing, however, he’s talking about something more ephemeral, something closer to a mechanized seance.

“In 1970, well before the era of nanobot doctors, Mr. Kurzweil’s father, Fredric, died of a heart attack at his home in Queens. Fredric was 58, and Ray was 22. Since then, Mr. Kurzweil has filled a storage space with his father’s effects — photographs, letters, bills and newspaper clippings. In a world where computers and humans merge, Mr. Kurzweil expects that these documents can be combined with memories harvested from his own brain, and then possibly with Fredric’s DNA, to effect a partial resurrection of his father.”

Ray Kurzweil Has Seen the Future, and the Machine Is Us

In a number of interviews Kurzweil mentions that the death of his father is an impetus for his research. The idea of reconnecting with his father in the digital domain is a personal quest that guides much of his theorizing about the possibility of man-machine interface and the possibilities of virtual reality. Some would like to think that this is just a convenient example he uses to illustrate a point, however a storage locker filled with memorabilia is not very convenient.

One is reminded of a psychic gathering up articles of clothing and items from a missing person or someone who has passed away in order to get a sense of their “psychic residue.” The similarities don’t end there, the Singularian promise of a more perfect world is surprising in it’s correspondence to the Spiritist concept of evolution:

“In the measure that the spirit is purified , the body it wears becomes more spirit-like. The matter is less dense; it no longer creeps laboriously along the surface of the earth; physical needs are less gross; living beings no longer need be mutually destructive in order to feed themselves. The spirit is freer and has perceptions unknown to us, of things far removed. It sees with bodily eyes what we see only in thought. In the beings in which spirits are incarnated, this purification leads to moral perfection . Animal passions are weakened,and egotism yields to sentiments of fraternity. Thus in worlds superior to the earth, wars are unknown; hatreds and discords have no object because no one dreams of working ill against his neighbor.”
Le Livre des Esprits, Allan Kardec (Hippolyte Léon Denizard Rivail)

Compare this to Kurzweil’s intimations in a foreward he wrote for James Gardners’ Intelligent Universe:

“By 2029, sufficient computation to simulate the entire human brain, which I estimate at about 1016 (10 million billion) calculations per second (cps), will cost about a dollar. By that time, intelligent machines will combine the subtle and supple skills that humans now excel in (essentially our powers of pattern recognition) with ways in which machines are already superior, such as remembering trillions of facts accurately, searching quickly through vast databases, and downloading skills and knowledge.

But this will not be an alien invasion of intelligent machines. It will be an expression of our own civilization, as we have always used our technology to extend our physical and mental reach…Once we saturate the ability of matter and energy to support computation, continuing the ongoing expansion of human intelligence and knowledge (which I see as the overall mission of our human-machine civilization), will require converting more and more matter into this ultimate computing substrate, sometimes referred to as “computronium.”

The utopian spirit world envisioned by Kardec turned into some easy cash for those willing to take advantage of the public’s credulity in dealing with communiques from their dearly departed.  Today Kardec’s ideas form the a basis for a number of thriving traditions in Latin America, but in the United States and Europe more often one encounters pay for play psychics and degenerate instances of trance channeling. 

The Traditionalist philosopher Rene Guenon critiqued the Neo-Spiritists of his time for being prolific in inventing words for the purpose of popularizing their ideas.  In his essay on Spiritist evolutionism Guenon begins his critique with an assault on this tendency:

“One can hardly imagine the seduction that grand words offering a false semblance of intellectuality exercise on more or less uneducated or elementary spiritists. This is a kind of verbalism which provides the illusion of thought for those incapable of really thinking; it is also an obscurity which passes for profundity in the eyes of the common man. The pompous and empty phraseology in use among all ‘neo-spiritualist’ schools is certainly not one of the least elements in their success.

But spiritist terminoogy is particularly ridiculous because it is composed in large part of neologisms coined by quasi-illiterates in defiance of all the laws of etymology. For example,if one wishes to know how the word ‘perispirit’ was coined by Allan Kardec, it is quite simply thus: ‘As the seedof a fruit is covered by a perisperm, similarly the spirit properly so called is surrounded by an envelop which may by comparison be called perispirit. Those with a penchant for linguistic research could find in this kind of thing the subject of a curious study, but we will only note it in passing.”

Spiritist Evolutionism, Rene Guenon

The Singularity movement seems to have picked up on this playful, etymology defying, word creation without hesitation. Kurzweil’s “computronium” is not alone in the Singularian lexicon. In his article From Cosmism to Deism, the writer Hugo de Garis uses the term ‘artilects‘ which he defines as “artificial intellects, i.e., godlike massively intelligent machines with intellectual capacities trillions of trillions of times above the human level” which will, in his opinion, finally give reality to the concept of deity (which he defines as “a massively intelligent entity capable of creating a universe.”)

When Plato defined man as a hairless biped, Diogenes of Sinope came up with a plucked chicken and exclaimed “Here’s Plato’s man!” In the same light we could put an AI processor on a toaster, label it ‘Deity’ and hand it to de Garis. Although it may seem an unfair critique for Guenon to call the Neo-Spiritist movement illiterate, especially considering the vibrant Latin American traditions that have grown in their wake, if we take de Garis as an example of a contemporary proponent of this kind of theorizing, it becomes more clear where Guenon is coming from.

The idea that Deity can be reduced to “a massively intelligent entity capable of creating a universe,” flies in the face of a more mature reading of traditional texts. Illiteracy is not defined by the inability to read, it’s core component is in the inability to comprehend what is read.

This lack of intellectual maturity is also shown in Kurzweil’s need to resurrect his father.  To have this kind of regressive goal is, in my opinion, disturbing for someone with a powerful influence on the culture and the funding to make his ideas come to fruition.

His theories at this point are calling for the complete overhaul of the solar system to support some vague notion of a hyper intelligent machine:

What is that limit? The overall solar system, which is dominated by the sun, has a mass of about 2 × 1030 kilograms. If we apply our 1050 cps per kilogram limit to this figure, we get a crude estimate of 1080 cps for the computational capacity of our solar system. There are some practical considerations here, in that we won’t want to convert the entire solar system into computronium, and some of it is not suitable for this purpose anyway. If we devoted 1/20th of 1 percent (.0005) of the matter of the solar system to computronium, we get capacities of 1069 cps for “cold” computing and 1077 cps for “hot” computing. I show in my book how we will get to these levels using the resources in our solar system within about a century.

What decides the material used and not used? The needs of the grand ‘artilect’ made from ‘computronium’.  L. Ron Hubbard couldn’t have written something more ridiculous in his most devious, reality rewriting moment.

Kurzweil’s excitement over technology’s capabilities for “remembering trillions of facts accurately, searching quickly through vast databases, and downloading skills and knowledge,” show his idea of what it means to be “intelligent.” Even more telling is his continued repetition of factored numbers to explain his points.  He doesn’t need to upload any nanobots, his brain’s already made the leap.

This isn’t to say that these men are not intelligent within a limited sphere. They are highly functional, as functional as the machines they love, and are useful fleshy components in the technological and scientistic society that has been created to foster the profit margins of corporate entities that operate on the same mathematics Kurzweil envisions for the triumphant rise of artificial intelligence. It’s very telling that one of the most immediate uses for these AI advances is in military applications and the banking industry.

Just as Spiritualism as it decayed into a populist curiosity turned humanity’s discomfort with mortality, and interest in anomalous phenomenon, into a secular past time, a commodity that could be sold through Ouija Boards and television psychics, the Singularity takes the potentials of mathematics and science and turns them into a jargon filled playground for corporate interests.  Remember, the same folks selling you on an immortalist techno-utopia are the one’s who try to humanize their websites with stock photos and annoying chat bots.


“I see the Fourfold Man; the Humanity in deadly sleep,
And its fallen Emanation, the Spectre and its cruel Shadow.
I see the Past, Present, and Future existing all at once
Before me. O Divine Spirit! sustain me on thy wings,
That I may awake Albion from his long and cold repose;
For Bacon and Newton, sheath’d in dismal steel, their terrors hang
Like iron scourges over Albion. Reasonings like vast Serpents
Enfold around my limbs, bruising my minute articulations.

I turn my eyes to the Schools and Universities of Europe,
And there behold the Loom of Locke, whose Woof rages dire,
Wash’d by the Water-wheels of Newton: black the cloth
In heavy wreaths folds over every Nation: cruel Works
Of many Wheels I view, wheel without wheel, with cogs tyrannic,
Moving by compulsion each other; not as those in Eden, which,
Wheel within wheel, in freedom revolve, in harmony and peace.”

– “A Vision of Albion” from Jerusalem, William Blake

In 1970, well before the era of nanobot doctors, Mr. Kurzweil’s father, Fredric, died of a heart attack at his home in Queens. Fredric was 58, and Ray was 22. Since then, Mr. Kurzweil has filled a storage space with his father’s effects — photographs, letters, bills and newspaper clippings. In a world where computers and humans merge, Mr. Kurzweil expects that these documents can be combined with memories harvested from his own brain, and then possibly with Fredric’s DNA, to effect a partial resurrection of his father.

By the 2030s, most people will be able to achieve mental immortality by similarly backing up their brains, Mr. Kurzweil predicts, as the Singularity starts to come into full flower.

Borrowed Traditions, Rediscovered Paths – Neo-Platonism and the Reunion of Western Philsophy

While doing research for an Open Myth Source article on the concept of Mytho-poesis, which is, roughly understood, the use of poetic reasoning to interpret and activate mythological ideas, I remembered an essay I had seen by Hazel Twiggs discussing the development of terminology in contemporary astrology. Her analysis of the break from historical antecedants in contemporary astrology, and the reinterpretation  of certain common terms, provides further insight into some of the processes involved in the development of many of our current intepretations of ancient ideologies and practices. – D. Metcalfe


Borrowed Traditions, Rediscovered Paths – Neo-Platonism and the Reunion of Western Philsophy, by Hazel Twiggs

Practitioners of modern astrology are quite used to using language that they assume are understood by their peers and contemporaries. Such words seem to be used with impunity and few appear to define them with rigor, depth, or attention to historical antecedent. Words like “soul 1,” “spirituality 2,” and “karma 3” are used so often by people who practice and are interested in astrology and similar contemporary philosophical systems that one would assume these ideas are not only commonplace but that they have some historical precedent in Western culture and thought. Many of these well-meant but essentially nebulous ideas—when they are traced to their inspirations—are very often the product of a loosely conceived yoke between Western astrological concepts and what is more or less watered-down Eastern (meaning Hindu or Buddhist) philosophy. In fact, few astrologers who consider themselves to be “evolutionary 4” or involved in healing the “spirit” can avoid borrowing Eastern ideas such as the chakras 5  for the very reason that for the past 1700 years Western spirituality has been dominated by monotheist and increasingly materialist6 Christianity, a Christianity whose basis is a strict dependence on an external force for the salvation of one’s soul.

When the heavily loaded word “soul” is used it summons from the shadows of Western religious and philosophical history myriad references which can be summarized thusly: from the Christian point of view 7 soul is both particular to human or sentient life and is also an eternal force which resides in the living body and which is assumed to outlive corporeal death; from a scientific point of view8 the soul is that which is immeasurable, incalculable, and immaterial, existing within time but not space, while what can be known of soul must by scientific terms be limited to sensory understanding. At any rate, the idea of the soul is replete in modern astrological lore. That it is an ephemeral concept requiring philosophical approach, it is “esoteric,” or “confined to and understandable by only an enlightened inner circle.9” At the heart of these introductory comments is the intention to reveal that while the philosophical foundations for an expansive, innovative, modern, and “esoteric” astrology are consciously, though imprecisely, embedded in 19th and 20th century developments such as theosophy, there exists deeply hidden within Western thinking an esotericism which modern esotericists and scholars appear to have missed. Whether due to the rift in Western philosophical history created by scientific materialism or not, modern astrologers seem to believe that “Eastern” philosophy is their only means by which the numinous may be known or approached.

This is most evident in the works of Alan Leo, founder of the Theosophical Society of the Astrological Lodge of London in 1915,10 and Alice Bailey, both authors of treatises entitled Esoteric Astrology.11 Leo’s book, first published at the close of the 19th century, is a document that entirely represents the adoption by Western spiritualists of Eastern ideas in an attempt to deepen, broaden, and personalize their spirituality. Leo’s preface begins with a reference to his meaningful travels to India and relates to the reader that his conversion to such Eastern ideas as reincarnation was prompted at age 17 when he was present during a discussion between his Puritan mother and “a gentleman of the same religion” on that subject. (Leo, v-vi) Such inspiration resulted in Leo’s creation of a philosophy of astrology that reflects the notion that “God sends forth from Himself certain spiritual embodiments of power, love and wisdom. The planetary Spirits or Intelligences who carry out His will are manifestations of His consciousness” which “produce certain vibratory energies known as planetary influence…” (Ibid, xvii) Directly after these comments and throughout the text thereafter, each philosophical principle underlying Leo’s “esoteric” approach to astrology is a direct reference to Hindu principles and terminologies, beginning with the Gunas and including such concepts as the caste system.12

Bailey’s text, first published in 1951—two years after her death, also well documents that the attempt to formulate an “esoteric” astrology is meant to be Eastern and “intuitional” (as opposed to Western and rational) and that its development represents a “return to the knowledge of that ancient science which related the constellations and our solar system.” (Bailey, 3) Sprinkled throughout her text are co-opted Eastern ideas and references to “energy” sans any overt recognition of a conventional or scientific meaning of such. She gives an explanation of “The Twelve Creative Hierarchies” in which several constellations relate to specific shaktis, while each of the twelve signs represent an “energy” of some sort. (Ibid, 34-35) Yet nowhere does Bailey seem to actually address directly what is meant by these descriptions other than that esotericism in general “teaches (and modern science is rapidly arriving at the same conclusion) that underlying the physical body and its comprehensive and intricate system of nerves is a vital or etheric body,” which is “an integral part of that entity which we have called the human family,” which, in turn, “is an integral part of the planetary etheric body,” and constitutes, “along with the etheric body of the sun…the body of the solar system.” (Ibid, 10-11) The reader is, apparently, supposed to have some familiarity with the concept of “ether” in this passage, as well.13

Whether these or other modern, esoteric, astrological doctrines are self-conscious of the seeming lack of continuity between their innovations and the philosophical conventions of Western culture which lead up to the 19th and 20th centuries or not, their ideas actually can be traced back to an epoch of the Western tradition which developed uninterruptedly up until the 3rd century CE and has served as the primary foundation of Western thought, culture, and politics to this day. In fact, the tradition to which 19th and 20th century esoteric ideas like “ether” and “planetary energy” draw upon the 6th century BCE dictum of the pre-Socratic philosopher Thales: “all things are full of gods.”14 Plato’s 4th century BCE description of the ensoulment of the “corporeal universe” in the Timaeus in which “all the stars which were necessary to the creation of time… had become living creatures having bodies fastened by vital chains” (emphasis added)15 not only fits the modern esoteric astrological paradigm but is also the arguable progenitor of it. Plato’s argument in Book VI of the Republic in which he explains the four-fold division of the visible and intelligible worlds is also well known. In it he explains that the realm of invisible archetypes— what Bailey and Leo and other esotericists call “vibrations” or “emanations”—”make use of the visible forms and reason about them”16 and convert into images the ideals perceived only by the Mind which they resemble.

So, from this formative period of Western philosophy, where did the lineage of the intuitive Mind’s supra-sensory apprehension of a universe replete with gods become merely a field of physical substance subject to fate? It is unsuitable in a brief paper such as this to give a rounded, dutiful description of the entire history of Western thought that followed Plato. However, it suffices to say that Aristotle’s inheritance of Plato’s metaphysics closely followed by the development of Stoicism began this obfuscation and was later used for political ends. This turn of events attuned the study of reality to the causal, material realm and eventually denied entirely the direct detection of a Western mysticism astrologers such as Bailey and Leo sought. A description of Stoicism according to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy supports this view:

“Stoic logic is, in all essentials, the logic of Aristotle. To this, however, they added a theory, peculiar to themselves, of the origin of knowledge and the criterion of truth. All knowledge, they said, enters the mind through the senses. The mind is a blank slate, upon which sense- impressions are inscribed. It may have a certain activity of its own, but this activity is confined exclusively to materials supplied by the physical organs of sense. This theory stands, of course, in sheer opposition to the idealism of Plato, for whom the mind alone was the source of knowledge, the senses being the sources of all illusion and error. The Stoics denied the metaphysical reality of concepts.”17

The involvement of materialist metaphysics in politics referenced above is incredibly important because it was a vital force which supported the rise of Christianity and the subsequent obscurity of Platonic mysticism. Julius Firmicus Maternus, a Christian writer and notable astrologer who lived during the reign of Constantine I18, wrote in the 4th century CE19 of the 3rd century CE teachings of Plotinus, generally regarded as the founder of Neoplatonism,20 that he “severely reproves men who fear the decrees of Fortune when he claims that the control of our lives is entirely within our own power. He attributes nothing to the force of the stars, nothing to the necessities of Fate, but says everything is in our power.” (Bram, 23) Rather than observe power as an emanating force that may govern Fate, Maternus exhorts his readers to “concede that nothing is placed in our power, but the whole is in the power of Fate. Whatever we do or suffer, the whole thing happens to us by this same judgment of Fortune.” (Ibid, 28) What is this control over one’s life Plotinus claimed? What precedent might it have had in classical culture and why was its veracity so disputed? In the Gospel of Thomas21, an apocryphal, non-Canonical text dating to the 1st or 2nd century CE, Jesus is reported to have said, “If those who lead you say, ‘See, the Kingdom is in the sky,’ then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. Rather, the Kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living Father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty.”22 (emphasis added)

While canonical Christianity marched forth from the 3rd century, several traditions—namely the Gnostic23, Hermetic, and Neoplatonic—managed to survive formally until around the 6th century, but fading out primarily due to the closing of the Platonic Academy in Athens by the Emperor Justinian.24  This school was the last orchestrated dominion wherein such esoteric ideas as the “role played by the stars in the dissemination of divine ‘energies’ throughout the universe”25 flourished following in the tradition of Iamblichan theurgy. (Fowden, 91) Iamblichus (3rd  century CE), student of the Neoplatonist Porphry, put into ritualized form the Middle Platonist mixture of Stoic and Pythagorean philosophy that had been “common coin” in the 2nd century CE. (Ibid, 135) He was “convinced that he had found…a supreme authority and universal way in a synthesis of Chaldean,26  Egyptian, and ‘philosophical’—that is Greek—doctrines” whose purpose was “to invoke the assistance of the gods, in order to liberate the soul from the body and the bonds of sympathy, and bring about its ‘theurgical union’ with the divine.” (Ibid, 132) In fact, what could have been the salvatory delight of 19th and 20th century seekers of esoteric truth in the Western tradition is that Iamblichus deprecated his teacher’s “reliance on reason in order to arrive at the conviction that the gods exist, for this is an intuition  that was planted within us (sic) before we ever learned to judge and choose.” (emphasis added) (Ibid, 133) The primary point here is, of course, that Leo’s and Bailey’s books on esoteric astrology may have never been necessitated by a dearth in the Western tradition of such spiritual practices had ideas such as these survived the political motivations of the Cannon and the rise of orthodox Christianity and the consequent evolution of materialist science.

Footnotes:

1 In this and the following three footnotes examples of contemporary ways the terms in question have been used.  http://www.soulastrology.com/astrology/soul.html

2 http://www.spiritual-astrology.com/index2.htm

3 http://www.karmastrology.com/ast_faq.shtmlwhatiska

4 http://www.mauricefernandez.com/eng_whatis.html

5 http://www.innerself.com/Astrology/chakras.htm

6 The recent film The Passion of the Christ and such developments as the Holy Land theme park in Orlando, Florida (http://www.theholylandexperience.com/) are ample evidence of the ways in which a strict interpretation of Biblical stories are interpreted literally, and, subsequently, materially.

7 http://www.wlsessays.net/authors/V/VogelOTSoul/VogelOTSoul.pdf can be referenced for these ideas.

8 That modern science is a result of Protestant Christianity and Renaissance Humanism is the topic of another, much longer paper. For the sake of brevity we will assume the reader is comfortable with the idea that the evolution of Western thought is inextricably due to its philosophical and religious history. Here Bertrand Russell’s 1926 essay entitled “What is the Soul?” is used by way of contrast to typical Christian thinking: “I think the opponents of materialism have always been actuated by [the desire to] to prove that the mind is immortal, but our power is very strictly limited. We cannot at present do anything whatever to the sun or moon or even to the interior of the earth, and there is not the faintest reason to suppose that what happens in regions to which our power does not extend has any mental causes. That is to say, to put the matter in a nutshell, there is no reason to think that except on the earth’s surface anything happens because somebody wishes it to happen.” (http://cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/Russell/what_is_the_soul.html)

9 http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/esoteric

10 http://www.astrolodge.co.uk/astro/info/lodgehistory.html

11 Bailey, Alice. Esoteric Astrology. London: Lucis Press, 1997; Leo, Alan. Esoteric Astrology. Rochester, VT: Destiny Books, 1989.

12 Chapter 4 addresses “The Significance of Caste and Social Distinctions.”

13 On the previous page Bailey describes “the ether of space” as “the field in and through which the energies from the many originating sources play.” (9)

14 Frost-Arnold, Greg. “On Thales’ “all things are full of gods”.” University of Nevada, Las Vegas. 20 Sep 2007 . Frost-Arnold writes, “We believe Thales said that all things are full of gods primarily because of one passage from Aristotle’s de Anima. If we examine that passage closely, it does not give us strong reason to believe Aristotle was certain Thales…believed everything was ensouled…. The claim that everything is ensouled…is Aristotle’s own conjectural…rationalization for Thales’ dictum.”

15 Jowett, Benjamin. “Timaeus by Plato.” The Internet Classics Archive. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 20 Sep 2007 .

16 Jowett, Benjamin. “The Republic by Plato.” The Internet Classics Archive. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 20 Sep 2007 .

17 Baltzly, Dirk. “Stoicism.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 13 Dec 2004. Stanford University. 20 Sep 2007 .

18 The emperor Constantine I laid the foundations of post-classical European civilization through his legalization and support of Christianity. Several things went along with what has been called this “Constantinian shift”: citizenship in the state became equivalent with membership in the church which was no longer voluntary, a move from to the power of priesthood in the church hierarchy, and a shift of emphasis toward concern about the fate of each individual’s soul. Barrett, Lois. “Thinking Theologically about Church and State.” 25 Oct 1996 Religion-online.org 21 Sep 2007 .

19 Bram, Jean Rhys, trans. Julius Firmicus Maternus. Matheseos Libri VIII. Ancient Astrology: Theory and Practice. Park Ridge, N.J.: Noyes Press, 1975.

20 Gerson, Lloyd. “Plotinus.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 30 June 2003. Stanford University. 21 Sep 2007 .

21 Elaine Pagels, author of Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas (NY: Random House, 2003), relates a comment made by the Roshi of the Zen Center in San Francisco: “…had I known the Gospel of Thomas, I wouldn’t have had to become a Buddhist!” (74)

22 Schenk, Greg. “The Gospel of Thomas.” 17 June 1992. Internet Sacred Text Archive. 21 Sep 2007 .

23 This tradition, though arguably a dark and imprisoning philosophy, is included here due to its cosmological view that there exist lower powers called “Archons” who are led by a demi-urge (in the tradition of Plato’s Timaeus) which seem to relate to the planetary powers though their aim appears to be “the enslavement of man.” Jonas, Hans. Gnostic Religion: The Message of the Alien God and the Beginnings of Christianity. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1958. (42-44)

24 Moore, Edward. “Neoplatonism.” 2006. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 21 Sep 2007 .

25 Fowden, Garth. The Egyptian Hermes: A Historical Approach to the Late Pagan Mind. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1986.

26 Given that Leo sought to bring oriental ideas into Western astrology, there is some irony in the theurgical desire “to emphasize these oriental connections that gave their oracles their epithet ‘Chaldean’.” (Fowden, 135)