Thursday, May 13, 2021

Your Own Will Come To You: Spiritual Gravitation


 "Man attracts spirits according to his own temperament," as William Butler Yeats observed. To "the sanguine, the spirits of fire, and the lymphatic, those of watery nature, and those of a mixed nature, mixed spirits." While observing that like attracts like, Yeats was also fascinated by the way that opposites may be drawn together, to complement and complete each other, and to spark that creative friction that brings new things into being.  

 Yeats' friend, the Celtic visionary artist George William Russell (whose pen name was "Æ") defined the key principle at work here as "spiritual gravitation", and described how it spills over into the play of synchronicity or objective chance. 

Your own will come to you. 

Æ summarized the law of spiritual gravitation in this phrase.  I find this a vital practical truth. He also wrote: 

I found that every intense imagination, every new adventure of the intellect [is] endowed with magnetic power to attract to it its own kin. Will and desire were as the enchanter’s wand of fable, and they drew to themselves their own affinities. ..One person after another emerged out of the mass, betraying their close affinity to my moods as they were engendered. 

In our lives, this plays out through chance encounters, through the dreamlike symbolism of daily events, when we turn up the right message in a book opened at random or left open by someone else on a library table. If the passions of our souls are strong enough, they may draw “lifelong comrades”.

In his beautiful little book The Candle of VisionÆ gave a personal example. When he first attempted to write verse, he immediately met a new friend, a dreaming boy “whose voice was soon to be the most beautiful voice in Irish literature” This was of course William Butler Yeats. “The concurrence of our personalities seemed mysterious and controlled by some law of spiritual gravitation.”

In his later life, Æ found a soul companion in the Australian writer P.L.Travers, the author of Mary Poppins and also a deep student of the Western Mysteries and a world-class mythographer.  AE wrote to P.L.Travers about a further aspect of spiritual gravitation: “I feel I belong to a spiritual clan whose members are scattered all over the world and these are my kinsmen.”

By the way, it deserves to be better-known that the inspiration for P.L. Travers'  idea that Mary Poppins came from a star was the author’s childhood vision of her dead father transforming into a star. Another case of spiritual gravitation, working beyond the apparent barrier of death.


The Magnet in the Book

Sometimes, beyond the play of the shelf elves who make books and papers appear and disappear, I sense other minds and other hands. In the early hours one morning, I found my copy of Yeats' Autobiography off its shelf, on a table where I had not placed it. There was no occult reason for this; it had been moved, with a small pile of other books relating to the poet, as part of a house cleaning.

I accepted the invitation to revisit Yeats' life through his words. Opening the book at random, I found myself reading a lively chapter on his mixed relations with Æ. 

Later that morning, I opened another book in that pile. It is a collection of occasional pieces, mostly literary and art criticism, by Æ, titled The Living Torch and published by Macmillan in 1938, that I found in a used book store near Mount Vernon in Washington State a couple of years ago. I had placed it in my forest of books without examining it closely.

This was evident, because when I opened The Living Torch at random, I found five loose pages hidden inside the book. They are written a fine lady's hand from an earlier time. They are fair copies of five of Æ's poems. The lady who made these copies was meticulous. She noted the publication date (1926) of the edition of Æ's Collected Poems from which she borrowed the lines she copied, and the number of the pages where these poems may be found.

I sat very still as I read the poem on the top page. It is titled "Magnet" and it begins as follows:

I had sweet company
Because I sought out none
But took who came to me,
All by the magnet drawn.

For me, in the final stage of completing a book on the workings of synchronicity, this was quite, quiet perfect. Within the past week, I had actually borrowed a line from A Candle of Vision as a section title in my own book: "Your own will come to you." It develops the idea that we draw people and situations to us magnetically, through the energy that is with us. I did not know that 
Æ had written a poem on this theme until just now.

The later part of his poem, I must note, develops a darker tone. It seems that Æ (described by Yeats as first and last a "religious teacher") is reflecting, ruefully, on an affair of the heart which tempted him to set aside the austere spiritual discipline he imposed on himself. I wonder whether, in her secret heart, the unknown copyist was stirred by her recognition of herself in a similar drama to make "Magnet" her own, by putting it in her own hand.

Art: Æ, "The Bathers"



Wednesday, May 5, 2021

You Are Magnetic


Whatever you think and feel, the universe says Yes. The more strongly you think and feel, the stronger and faster the response it likely to be. It may come in ways you do not expect, since quite often you are unaware of the thoughts and desires you are carrying below your surface mind. The response may knock you back because you live in a world of contending energies and the force lines of your hopes and fears and ambitions may excite opposition.
     You may be frustrated because you have been drilling yourself to think yourself rich or successful or forty pounds lighter and the universe is not giving you any encouragement. That may be because your greater Self is uninterested in your ego agendas or flat out against them. It may be because what the grocery lists of wants and needs you put together in your little everyday calculating mind have nothing much to do with what stirs your soul.
     “All things which are similar and therefore connected, are drawn to each other’s power,” according to the medieval magus Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim. It is a rule of reality that we attract or repel different things according to the emotions, the attitudes, the feelings, the agendas that we carry.
     Before you walk into a room or turn a corner, your attitude is there already. It is engaged in creating the situation you are about to encounter. Whether you are remotely conscious of this or not, you are constantly setting yourself up for what the world is going to give you. If you go about your day filled with doom and gloom, the world will give you plenty of reasons to support that attitude. You’ll start looking like that cartoon character who goes about with a personal black cloud over his head that rains only on his parade. Conversely, if your attitude is bright and open to happy surprises, you may be rewarded by a bright day, even when the sky is leaden overhead, and by surprisingly happy encounters.
     Through energetic magnetism, we attract or repel people, events, and even physical circumstances according to the attitudes we embody. This process begins before we speak or act because thoughts and feelings are already actions and our attitudes are out there ahead of us. This requires us to do a regular attitude check, asking, What attitude am I carrying? What am I projecting?
     It is not sufficient to do this on a head level. We want to check what we are carrying in our body and our energy field. If you go around carrying a repertoire of doom and gloom, you may not say what’s on your mind, but the universe will hear you and support you. Attitude adjustment requires more than reciting the kind of New Age affirmation you see in cute boxes with flowers and sunsets on Facebook. It requires deeper self-examination and self-mobilization.
     “We are magnets in an iron globe,” declared Emerson. If we are upbeat and positive, “we have keys to all doors....The world is all gates, all opportunities, strings of tension waiting to be struck.” Conversely, “A low, hopeless spirit puts out the eyes; skepticism is slow suicide. A philosophy which sees only the worst ...dispirits us; the sky shuts down before us.”
     In Beauty - The Invisible Embrace John O’Donohue reminded usthat “each of us is responsible for 'how' we see, and how we see determines 'what' we see. Seeing is not merely a physical act: the heart of vision is shaped by the state of soul. When the soul is alive to beauty, we begin to see life in a fresh and vital way. The old habits of seeing are broken. The coating of dead dust falls from the windows. Freed from their dead forms the elements of one's life reveal new urgency and possibility."
      Take a few moments in your day to check your attitude and see whether you are putting bright balloons of possibility or dour grey clouds over your head.

Text adapted from Growing Big Dreams: Manifesting Your Heart's Desires through Twelve Secrets of the Imagination by Robert Moss.Published by New World Library.

Photo by RM


Monday, May 3, 2021

Chancing an Encounter


The Book of the Road (Putnik) was on a list of banned books in Tsarist Russia. It was a treatise that attributed high importance to chance encounters. It reflected traditional beliefs about whether it is lucky or unlucky to meet certain kinds of people on the road. To meet a nun, a priest or a blind man is unlucky. To meet someone on a bridge or threshold is ominous  Such views were deeply rooted in traditional Russian culture, even in the mind of Tsars. Ivan the Terrible thought it was a terrible omen if anyone crossed his path when he was setting out on a journey and had such offenders killed. [1]
      I am more in sympathy with the Greek saying that the gods love to travel in disguise, so we should take care of strangers.
     “Mind attracts mind.” Jung observed that this principle is at work in chance encounters where more than chance seems to be involved. Jung described what happened when a stranger sat down next to him on a train. The stranger was a general. “We talked, and although he did not know who I was, he told me all about his dreams, which is certainly unusual for a man of his position. The general considered that his dreams were absurd, but after listening to him, I told him that one of his dreams had changed his whole life, and that otherwise he would have been an intellectual.
      “The general was startled and looked at me as though I were a witch, or at least a person gifted with second sight. But in reality, it was the unconscious which was knowing and directing. The general had sat down next to me because he was unconsciously searching for an answer.” [2]
     Jung felt the general was called to sit next to him because something deeper than his conscious mind was calling for a mentor, to help him make his dreams conscious.
     My friend Carol, a family counselor and addictions counselor or great wisdom and compassion, encountered an elderly man who was praying for an angel.
      Carol went to a pharmacy to pick up a prescription. There were some problems with the paperwork and she was feeling quite grumpy. When she came out into the parking lot she noticed an elderly man pushing a shopping cart, unsteadily, towards his car. When he reached his car, he left the cart by the trunk, still filled with his purchases, and slumped into the driver’s seat, leaving his door open.
    “I knew something was wrong,” Carol told me. “I sat in my car as three people walked past the old man. Then I knew I had to check on him.”
    She walked over to the old man and said, “Do you need some help?”
    “Well, yes. I did ask if you could use some help.”
    “You’re not gonna believe this. Right before you showed up, I was sitting here praying to God to send me an angel. Could you put my shopping in the trunk for me?”
     “ I would be happy to do that.”
      The old man popped the trunk and Carol loaded his shopping bags. The contents felt soft Carol guessed the bags contained products like Depends, for older people whose bodies are failing. She noticed a walker, folded, and two canes in the trunk.
     “I came out too soon,” the old man told her when she had finished loading. He did not explain exactly what this meant, but he told Carol that he was the caregiver for his wife. They were both ninety years old and they had been married for seventy years.
     “Are you sure you can drive home safely?” Carol asked.
    “I’ll be okay. I know there is an angel watching over me.”
    Carol commented later, “If I was an everyday angel for him in that parking lot, he was a kind of angel for me. I felt happy and blessed by this encounter. All my grumpiness was gone.”   
.    Chance encounters may not be caused, in the sense of being made by appointment, but they may be called.

Travel by train, as Jung found, or by airplane can provide almost ideal conditions for a chance encounter with a stranger that may lead to extraordinary things. People are on the move – which may help release them from routine inhibitions – and at the same time the circumstances are contained and relatively “safe”. Contact need last no longer than the ride or the wait at the station or departure gate. 
     On a train in the mountains of Sweden in 1904,a dispirited young Danish artist, Emilie Demant, found herself questioning her calling yet again. A stranger struck up conversation. He was a Sami wolf hunter and trapper named Johan Turi He told Emilie he had a dream of writing a book about the Sami, famous as a shamanic people of the drum. She moved to Sami country and helped him to produce the book and in the process matured into a brilliant artist and a pioneer Sami-speaking female ethnographer, the author of important books from her own fieldwork and fatherig of stories from the grandmothers. Pre-pandemic, chance encounters during my almost constant air travel were a great compensation for missed connections, long layovers, and aching knees. I found strangers willing to open up, drawn together to commiserate about delays or share travelers’ tales. Many clearly felt an active desire to tell and listen to stories, if only to shorten the seeming duration of a flight or a layover.
     Generally, I did not 
initiate conversation unless I had a positive feeling about the person sitting next to me, or was intrigued by the title of the book they are reading. Often my neighbor on a plane would be the first to speak, especially when I was carrying one of my own books.
     I will never forget the matriarch who took the seat next to me after settling her extended family in various parts of the airplane cabin. She noticed the beautiful cover of the second edition of my book
Dreamgates and asked if she could look at it. Naturally, I handed it over. Opening the book at random, she found herself reading a section headed “Designing Your Home on the Other Side.”
     She turned to me in high excitement. “Is that really possible?” she demanded.
     I told her “Absolutely.”
     I explained the group adventures I lead in which we have observed how the creative imagination constructs living environments – and cities, universities and pleasure domes – on the other side of physical death.
    “I will buy this book as soon as possible!” the elegant matriarch declared. “I have spent twenty five years creating a jewel of a home in Carmel, California. I am going to be spending a lot longer in my next residence, and I want to get it right.”

My favorite, indelible experience of a chance encounter on a plane was my ride with the
Death's Head Dominatrix.  It left me in no doubt that forces from behind the veil of consensual reality were in play and that, truly, there are things that like to happen together. The episode still gives me delicious shivers.

1. W.F. Ryan, The Bathhouse at Midnight: An Historical Survey of Magic and Divination in Russia. University Park, PA :Penn State University Press,: 2011) 123-4.

2. Jung in conversation with Miguel Serrano, September 1960. Reprinted in C.G. Jung Speaking ed. W.McGuire and R.F.C.Hull (London: Thames and Hudson, 1978) 464-465.

3. Barbara Sjoholm, "The Art of Recalling: Lapland and the Sami in the Art of Emilie Demant Hatt in Feminist Studies vol 40,no.2 (2014) 356-393


Text adapted from Sidewalk Oracles: Playing with Signs, Symbols and Synchronicity in Everyday Life by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library.

Journal drawing: "Airport Lady of the Veil" by Robert Moss