Yoga and the Great Work

Bhairava Bharavi

Since incorporating regular yogic practices into my routine, I’ve come to learn a lot more of the depth and value of Vedic religion. What I came to realise with great joy is that it is vastly similar in its goals to Gnosticism. In both expressions of spirituality, the purest part of the Self, the Atman, is the permanent, unsullied and unchangeable essence at the core of our being that is in complete harmony with the Divine. Understanding this, the aspirant proceeds to commit themselves to direct knowledge of that innate divinity through works of union such as devotional practices, ritual, meditation, selflessness and intellectual contemplation. With repetition and consistency, such practices lead to a gradual revelation of this internal divinity which reflects that of the outer or cosmic divinity with perfection. In Vedic practices this is termed Samadhi, while in Western Esotericism it is termed many things, but the word Gnosis is the most pervasive and universally understood.

But, being incarnated into matter, our awareness of this divine core becomes lost and forgotten in a mire of bewilderment. In the West, most of us are raised by parents who toe the line of societal expectations regarding work, wealth, leisure, advancement and respectability. Likewise, our media and educational systems advance similar ideas, which, in themselves, are not evil or unreasonable. Yet, when we are conditioned into believing such materialism is the sole purpose of our short lives, we become diverted from the experience of Gnosis by our attachments to our material and emotional desires and fears and seek solace in our what is momentarily distractive or pleasurable.

By understanding that we are all—without exception—innately divine at our core no matter our station of birth, race, gender, sexuality, religion, intellect or physical capacity, the first stage of Gnosis is attained. Once this is realised, the hollowness of a purely materialistic existence begins to make sense and we come to understand why no matter how much money we make, how many lovers we take, how much property we own or how many children we have, there is always a deep sense within us that there is something missing. That ‘something’ is our awareness of what we really are.

With the understanding that the pleasures of the world will never truly satisfy us, we may, through the practice of the works of union described above, come closer to understanding our true identities, or ‘True Wills’ as they are called in Thelema. This process of understanding is universal throughout the religious and esoteric systems of humanity, being called Self-Remembering in the Gurdjieffan system, Individuation in Jungian psychology and both Yoga (pertaining to ‘Union’) and Moksha (pertaining to liberation) in the Vedic religions to name just a few.

What stands in the way of Union, and must therefore be constantly worked through, is the pull of the ego and its attachments. To these our souls are incorrigibly bound by thick chains of ignorance. These binds must be realised and hacked through with persistence, which means that the dark forces of ignorance and delusion generated by the ego and its attachments must be constantly destroyed by the fires of illumination that deities such as Shiva and Parvati—especially in their wrathful aspects like Mahakala, Kali, Bhairava and Bhairavi—can assist us with most auspiciously.

Furthermore, in accordance with the words of the Gnostic Mass—“there is no part of me that is not of the gods”—and the understanding that man and God are One, the deities we may invoke to do this reside within us, physically in our nervous systems and energetically in our subtle bodies in the form of the Kundalini serpent. To activate this serpent and to receive the knowledge it conveys, is the very essence of both the Yogas of the East and the Summum Bonum or Great Work of the West.

Whatever language we use and however we choose to practice the realisation of such things is unique to every individual and has many differing cultural expressions. But the ultimate purpose, no matter how we understand it, is identical and is innately programmed into the heart of every human being who walks the Earth. This being so, realisation of our innate divinity is something we all owe ourselves to aspire towards if we are ever to become what we are truly meant to become.

XV: A Mountain

four kings

XV KEKASIM

Servitors: Asorega, Mara, Liriol, Losimon, Lomiol, Alogil, Ragaras, Irminon, Sarasim, Ogologon, Igilon, Sigis, Gorilon, Laralos, Gesegas, Kosem, Milon, Nasi, Morilon, Ramoras, Igarag, Ekalak, Geloma, Aril, Ilekel, Lagasas, Kilik, Kokolon, Isagas, Romoron, Negen, Nolom, Nagar.

KEKASIM appears to come from Hebrew קסם (qesem), ‘magic’ at the top and right, while in MISAGER there lies the possibility of the reversal of the Hebrew רגש (regas), meaning ‘tumult,’ ‘commotion,’ ‘noise,’ ‘emotion,’ making the word REGASIM when affixed with the collectivised suffix –im. The spirit name in the central cross is that of Asorega, coming from סריג (soreg) relating to the ‘boundary wall’ that came in the form of a fence of reticulated or weaved sticks that closed the inner Temple of the Hebrews off from Gentiles or the ritually impure. The meaning of this word is the same as that of the Hebrew for ‘grid,’ ‘grill’ or ‘grate,’ which may account for the ‘grid’ pattern evident in the squares. ELISONI resembles the Greek ἐλέησον (eleison), which denotes the quality of ‘mercy.’

The Vision

The mountain revealed itself as the same high, snowy peak I saw in the vision of A Snow. What was left of my old body lay contained by the clothes I was wearing. From one of the pockets, I pulled a golden talisman that resembled an Ankh, the strap of which was like the wings of an angel, while the face of a cherub or female angel lay in the cross’s interection. I pushed the remains of the body into a narrow hole it had been lying over, sending it plummeting down a narrow shaft into the roots of the mountain. Looking down, I could see a deep, blue, light glowing far below and considered exploring it, but decided against it because of how narrow it was. Looking around the vista, I could see the bluish mountains that the previous vision of A Castle on a Mountain was set in far away to the south, and beyond it was the Lake. Looking around at the landscape I asked what the name of this strange land was and received an answer from a disembodied voice which gave an answer that sounded like Kariouna. After hearing this name, I flew into a pall of clouds that lay before me in the west and rose above them before coming to rest on a much higher peak. Only a small portion of this peak was visible above the clouds, but all was cloudless and blue in that highest place.

Then I became aware of the presence of a spirit floating in the air before me in the east, its face skull-like with the remnants of its flesh flapping in the wind, while its strands of thin hair and its ragged black cloak billowed similarly. Then another three spirits identical in appearance to the first came from the other three cardinal directions. With me in the centre, they locked their hands together around me and flew me high into the sky with them. It was explained that these high airs were their dwelling place, and they were taking me up so that I can see all of the Earth below me, revolving as they flew. When they finished moving, they told me that they were intermediaries between that which was celestial and that which was not, and each of them ruled a portion of the world and governed the boundaries between the above and the below—microcosm and macrocosm—giving power over the elements in the material or external world while granting gnosis of the spiritual or internal world.

After they explained this, I saw one of them appear with the face of a lion, but the veils the others wore were not put aside in this way. The one with the lion face informed me that the golden, angel ankh I had been given was also a dagger and instructed me to pull it out, which I did to find a short, tapering, razor-sharp blade sliding free of its golden scabbard. Then I was told that this tool was the means to ‘unlock’ the four spirits as it was also a key which should be borne to obtain their favour and that of all of the spirits under their sway. With their consent, I inserted the dagger into each of their bodies and turned it, beginning with the one in the east, then the ones in the north, west and south.

Then I was back on the ground and the Four Great Spirits were gone. I went back to the spot lower down where I had pushed my old corpse into the heart of the mountain and decided to descend to see what was down there. Once I had reached the bottom I saw that the blue light I had seen emanating from its depths came from a beautiful lagoon lit by rays of bright sunlight burning down from above. On the shore of the underground pool lay a rowing boat which, having nowhere else to go, I boarded and began to row. As I approached the centre of the small lake, a maelstrom appeared and sucked my boat into it, casting me onto the wet floor of a cave far below where the boat was smashed to pieces but I somehow remained unhurt. Then I left the cave through a fissure in the rock to find a car waiting for me outside, which I entered and drove away in.

Notes

In this vision, the nexus of ‘above’ and ‘below’ could be thought of as the same kind of ‘boundary’ suggested in the name of the spirit Asorega. The mountain or high place as the terrestrial location where the boundaries between worlds are notoriously thin and permeable is long established, with connections between mountains and ‘peak-numinosity’ being well attested as the space where the celestial and earthly realms intersect across the spectrum of the world’s myths and religions. These are evident in the experiences of Moses on Mount Sinai, of Christ at the high place Satan showed him the vision of the four corners of the Earth (and later the Mount of Transfiguration and Golgotha), in the ascent made to high places such as Gorsedd Arberth in order to enter the Otherworld in the Mabinogion, in the depictions of Mount Olympus and Mount Zaphon as the abodes of the gods in Greek and Canaanite myth and in the figurative Mountain of the Adepts, Mount Abiegni, in the Thelemic and Rosicrucian traditions.

By virtue of their revelations and cardinal attributions, the four spirits I conversed with were probably the Four Kings—Oriens, Amaymon, Paymon and Egyn—whose presence has been hinted at in many of the previous visions, with the most overt being that of Oriens in the vision of Farm Buildings, though they were also represented by four beams of light in the vision of A Castle on a Mountain. In concurrence with that vision, only one of those spirits spoke and revealed more of itself, being the one in the East, Oriens.

The name Kariouna I received, which was that given to the world I was looking upon, may have its origins in the Ancient Greek κάρυον (karyon), meaning ‘head.’ This backs up a notion I had during the vision of Wild Animals where I had the sense, from the hemispheric nature of the amphitheatre, that I was in communication with some aspect of my brain. Together, these visions suggest that this astral world I have been exploring is a product of my mind and therefore of my brain. This is certainly the case to an extent with magical tools such as scrying and astral travel and is not something I would seek to dispute. What is interesting about such experiences however is the way that certain images, words and symbols take shape in the mind, suggesting that some kind of deep-level communication is taking place, either with extraneous spiritual entities or with some impersonal and unfathomable part of the psyche which possesses the same kind of preternatural that extraneous entities or daemons would. The argument about which of the two these and other magical phenomena can be attributed to is ultimately moot and will never be one that all practitioners agree upon, but my experience with such things leads me to believe that this sort of ‘astral’ work takes place on the threshold; the intersection of what is self and what is not-self. It is self-communication, yes, but it also takes place both at and beyond the borders of self, in a liminal area where other intelligences have influence over the contents of the unconscious mind which in turn comes to present awareness through the media of the personal psyche.

That the answer κάρυον, ‘head,’ I was given to my question about the nature of this world came in an ancient language I have no great knowledge of, while others have come in Hebrew and Latin or Kabbalistic, mythological or other symbolic correspondences, appears to provide proof that it is not just ourselves we are communicating with when we work with such things. Nor can it be some unexplainable process of depth-psychology that is being experienced unless such unaccountable knowledge can be said to be intrinsic to one’s psyche through theoretical constructs such as the collective unconscious or morphic fields. Ultimately then, I would postulate that the ‘liminal’ space such experiences take place in is that of the intersection between self and not-self and represents the same kind of boundary or veil between one ‘realm’ and another—one worldly and functional, the other invisible and mysterious—that the name Asorega and the Soreg stone of the ancient Jewish Temple represent.

Aside from the words and names already explored above, names with some relevance to this vision include: Sarasim, meaning ‘deep roots’ which relates to the deep cavern beneath the mountain; Mara, whose name relates to caves and grottoes and therefore ties in with the ‘deep roots’ of Sarasim; Nagar, meaning ‘fluid’ or ‘liquid,’ which relates to the lagoon in that grotto; Igarag, whose name pertains to the frost and cold associated with the upper reaches of the mountain; and Nolom, from the Hebrew נעלם (nolom) meaning ‘hidden’ or ‘concealed.’