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Iamblichus' Defence of Theurgy

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Thats a difficult one as the word religion in its original, means 'to unite or bring together' and represents the mystical quest.

 

The Neoplatonists were Mystics and Magicians.

 

Theurgy is a step by step set of invocations to develop awareness of the denser to subtler energies eventually leading you back to the One. Its a magical operation that is mystical or religious in nature.

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This is a trickey one as religion and magic can be clearly separated but then there's theurgy - 'pious magic' - the middle joining ground, seeking to serve the Divine through knowledge, co-operation, application and bridge building. Here magical rituals aren't performed but sacromagical ceremonies are.

 

Magic also seems to sit in the middle ground between religion and science.

Edited by rex

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Sound like a good read. When I get through the Secret teachings of all ages, which I have to finish by two weeks before it's due to the library, I'm gonna download these and get through them.

:) A few choice keywords like platonist, platonism, theurgy etc bunged in at Scribd is worth trying.

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Thanks for the links, I will read them and get back to you.

 

At this stage I am seeing Theurgy and Magick as the techniques one can discover and develop oneself to 're-unite' - more like the pattern behind the form

 

and religion as following someone else's discoveries - more like a form of the pattern.

 

Either path or parts of them might be valid for certain types of people.

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...

I can thoroughly recommend Manly P Hall.

 

One day someone is going to have to proofread Secret Teachings of All Ages, reset it, and provide a glossary and index.

 

The level of the man's learning was staggering.

...

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How do I open the first link in OP ... I went to the second and books there have is a tab for a preview and one for chapters but the first book only appears to open in preview ??

 

(yeah, I am lotech)

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Try this:

 

http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/docserver/18725082/v1n1_splitsection3.pdf?expires=1386593494&id=id&accname=guest&checksum=998D6A5A1D1653C09058C2C85F21CF24

 

It will take you directly to it, but it does seem to have a time stamp (expires = guest etc. is in the link), which might mean that the link will not be good after a certain time (days, hours?), or that it will only be open for anyone who opens it for a limited time.

 

(Checked today and as I suspected it might the link has expired, I am rewriting the instructions below so that the will be clearer.)

 

It will open a PDF file which you can print directly or download for long term storage.

 

Otherwise, follow the original link which I repeat here:

 

http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/10.1163/187254707x194645

 

to the right and below the essay title is a little box that reads:

 

Full text article:

 

Below it is a bright blue button that reads:

 

Read

 

Click on it and it will take you to the PDF file above and then you can print or download as the wish.

 

Dillon is a well known academic authority on Middle Platonism and Neo-Platonism. I don't completely agree with all of his opinions. Neither do some other respected academic, such as John Rist. Dillon was part of the team that made the modern academic translation of Iamblichus De Mysteriis.

 

 

Edit: Added note about link not working. bolded instructions on the article page for clarity, and added last paragraph about John Dillon.

Edited by Zhongyongdaoist
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:(

 

That smile didn't last long :D I tried http://booksandjourn...058C2C85F21CF24 and got

 

 

HTTP ERROR: 404

Invalid path /18725082/@[email protected]/error/authentication was requested

RequestURI=/docserver/18725082/@[email protected]/error/authentication

Powered by Jetty://

 

 

I will fiddle a bit more ....

Sorry, apparently I was writing my correction while you were trying out the original post.

 

See above:

 

Corrected Version

 

If you continue to have problems, PM me and I will email it to you.

Edited by Zhongyongdaoist

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An interesting article. The Philosophers ideas are valid yet remote and alien to me in some respects. Being closer to a Thelemite in magical philosophy, personally, the whole idea of sacrifice is invalid (or unnecessary ) however I agree with the view about the arrangement of the earthly substances of sacrifice, but as a way to effect the operators unconscious (the modulations of the themes that the soul seems to require as an acknowledgments of its requirements ) and not as an attractor of the Gods or sacrifices but as offerings to the daimonic aspects (inner and outer i.e. of the self and , for example, the nature spirits , Devas of Little People) but there is a distinction here between this and ‘the Gods’.

 

 

 

Also in their concepts of the Daimonic hierarchies and ‘Gods, at times the line seems blurred, later work IMO supplies and defines distinctions (again I have to cite the works of Swedenborg, Dr, Wilson VanDusen and Patrick Harpur).

 

 

 

The other issue is the still then IMO muddled concepts of psyche … I see latter developments as refinements and don’t see it as a type of ‘pure philosophy’ back then. At least if this is wrong surely relevance to current time, location and culture is an issue?

 

 

In relation to the OP question I have to go back to my previous post in that it seems to be a meeting point or cross-over in the area of technique. The difference is attitude and in that I agree with the distinction made by the author in his last paragraph. I thought that was put rather well.

Edited by Nungali
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Just a quick note.

To return to the OP:

Where does the line between religion and magic cross?


There is in reality no line between magic and religion. It is not observed in any but Western Cultures and was introduced as a Chrisitan/Pagan polemical device to distinguish the 'miracles' of 'True Religion', i.e. Christianity from the false seeming 'miraculous' phenomena produced by magicians.

Thats a difficult one as the word religion in its original, means 'to unite or bring together' and represents the mystical quest.

The Neoplatonists were Mystics and Magicians.


The mysticism starts with Plato and the magic develops from there.

The other issue is the still then IMO muddled concepts of psyche … I see latter developments as refinements and don’t see it as a type of ‘pure philosophy’ back then. At least if this is wrong surely relevance to current time, location and culture is an issue?


Time to introduce Eudorus of Alexandria:

Eudorus of Alexandria (Greek: Εὔδωρος; 1st century BC) was an ancient Greek philosopher, and a representative of Middle Platonism. He attempted to reconstruct Plato's philosophy in terms of Pythagoreanism.
He formulated a teleological principle for Platonism, derived from the Theaetetus: "as much as we can, become like God." In this he believed that he had found an apt definition of the common goal of Pythagoras, Socrates, and Plato.[4] His metaphysics and cosmology combined Platonist, Pythagorean and Stoic ideas. (Except for name at the beginning empahsis is mine, ZYD, Wikipedia on Eudorus of Alexandria)


muddled concepts of psyche: I haven't read all of the the article in question because I am already familiar with the general issues, but one of the problems with Dillon's interpretation of Plato, is that Dillon takes the 'as much as we can' part of the Theaetetus quote and reads into it 'as mere mortals', this is where he is in disagreement with John Rist, who in Eros and Psyche takes the big view of the 'human being' as not merely confined to the human body in this world, but as living soul whose actions are reflected in the world of nature as a body. This living soul is a manifestation of the All and as such is quite capable of becoming 'God-like'. This idea, based on the Macrocosm/ Microcosm relation is fundamental to Plato's cosmology and Psychology (Psychology as the study of the Soul in the traditional sense and not its modern one.)

a type of ‘pure philosophy’: Within this Hellenistic context what does 'pure philosophy' mean? It means the path to realizing and expressing one's divine nature in the world. It means magic.

Any other meaning of philosophy must justify itself to its original model. In this regard Agrippa's Occult Philosophy succeeds admirably, almost all post 1700 'philosophy' , which now provides the model for 'pure philosophy' does not.

surely relevance to current time, location and culture is an issue: Most Occultists have no idea of magic's historical context, this is the biggest issue facing the understanding of Magic as it existed from the Hellenistic period to the Renaissance and its relevance to the modern practice of magic.

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Just a quick note.

 

To return to the OP:

 

 

There is in reality no line between magic and religion. It is not observed in any but Western Cultures and was introduced as a Chrisitan/Pagan polemical device to distinguish the 'miracles' of 'True Religion', i.e. Christianity from the false seeming 'miraculous' phenomena produced by magicians.

John Dillon seems to agree, “ The distinction commonly made between magic and theurgy is in fact, in my view, basically an unreal one. The real distinction is between magic/theurgy—and its remote descendant, the modern scientific world-view and religion.” As far as a ‘cloudy distinction’ goes I remember (but cant place at the moment) someone associated with Iamblichus (?) who ‘invoked a daemon but got a God instead’ ?

 

The mysticism starts with Plato and the magic develops from there.

 

 

Time to introduce Eudorus of Alexandria:

 

 

muddled concepts of psyche: I haven't read all of the the article in question because I am already familiar with the general issues, but one of the problems with Dillon's interpretation of Plato, is that Dillon takes the 'as much as we can' part of the Theaetetus quote and reads into it 'as mere mortals', this is where he is in disagreement with John Rist, who in Eros and Psyche takes the big view of the 'human being' as not merely confined to the human body in this world, but as living soul whose actions are reflected in the world of nature as a body.

Do you mean 'as a body' (which somewhat disagrees with me) or 'through a body' (which agrees with me more)?

 

 

This living soul is a manifestation of the All and as such is quite capable of becoming 'God-like'. This idea, based on the Macrocosm/ Microcosm relation is fundamental to Plato's cosmology and Psychology (Psychology as the study of the Soul in the traditional sense and not its modern one.)

I get the macro micro but IMV the 'soul' is one micro that inhabits (or tries to co-habit) the another micro (the body) {In local shamanic understanding the 'spirit' is a 'projection' of the place , site and locality and the body is a projecyion from the parents / ancestors.

 

a type of ‘pure philosophy’: Within this Hellenistic context what does 'pure philosophy' mean? It means the path to realizing and expressing one's divine nature in the world. It means magic.

What I meant is that the nature of the debate makes it seemed muddled back then ... there was no agreement ... but I guess there still isn't :D ... I am still looking for the ;united field theory of daimonology' ;)

Any other meaning of philosophy must justify itself to its original model. In this regard Agrippa's Occult Philosophy succeeds admirably, almost all post 1700 'philosophy' , which now provides the model for 'pure philosophy' does not.

 

surely relevance to current time, location and culture is an issue: Most Occultists have no idea of magic's historical context, this is the biggest issue facing the understanding of Magic as it existed from the Hellenistic period to the Renaissance and its relevance to the modern practice of magic.

Agreed. We must understand on what we build upon. But I also find many 'occultists' are not up to date within that context as well ... again advocating Swedenborg/Jung/VanDusen/Harpur.

 

As far as the 'pure' philosophy goes back then and the 'distinction'- to me it seems, at times, confused. I like to apply (to a definition of what a daemon might be) Iamblichus’ “ … two dissimilar terms must be linked by an intermediary having something in common with each of them.” i.e. IMV between a ‘God’ and a human.

 

And considering the ‘got a daemon and not a god’ what about (Proclus’ commentary on First Alcibiades) “before the God appears certain terrestrial daemons present themselves” (but that might have been written as a ‘result’ of this first ‘experiment’ or ‘demonstration’)?

 

Iamblichus ( I Ch. XX ) does make a distinction between God and Daemon in ‘ the ministrant nature of daemons’ who ‘put into operation that which the Gods perceive, whish and command.”

 

But that seems self-referential … how do we know that is the case? We either have daemons of an ‘adverse’ order … or (as it often seems) the Gods have an adverse plan for us. (This is why I relate the ‘work’ or ‘communication’ of the daemons as some sort of ‘intelligent design / consciousness in the evolutionary process … but that would fulfil the definition of ‘god’ anyway?)

 

But Proculus says they can be different forms of the same God, or appearances of the Gods who are “ formless and unfigured” . Which seems not too unlike Jung’s archetypes? This seems to suggest that they can only be known through the archetypal images they assume.

 

Also Iamblichus notes that each daemonic nature is attributed to its own place on earth (obviously a ‘terrestrial daemon’) ; sacred groves or general regions . This is certainly the case with the Australian Aboriginal and directly relates to their whole existence and in a manner of speaking each one person (in traditional culture here) is a projection of the ‘daemon of a specific spot’ , and specifically a member of that ‘daemonic hierarchy’ (in moiety and totem) of that place.

 

Here is a distinction that Harpur makes in ‘Daimonic Reality’ , “ Deceit is one of the daimonic attributes it is hardest for us to accept – we hear little or nothing of it in relation to guardian angels , for example …”

 

Although Iamblichus makes clear distinctions in ‘phasmata’ ; archangels – ‘terrible and mild’ and ‘full of supernatural light’ daemons are ‘ various’ and ‘dreadful’ and can appear in multiple and variety of forms . (Iamblichus III. Ch III – IV )

 

Obviously having little knowledge of all the Platonists view on this my view on them is incomplete but at this stage I am much more preferring the distinctions of Swedenborg as refined by Dr Wilson VanDusen. The distinction there is not some ‘obscure will of the Gods’ which might be to reward or punish us (again the self-referential ‘Will of the Gods’ being communicated by a daemon who might be ‘good or bad’ … we will just have to take their word for it) but, in examination of how their action effects the individual and their culture and society.

 

 

IMO THAT is the line of distinction between a ‘spirit of bad order’ / an averse or destructive ‘daemon’/ and a good or positive one. The important point IMO is that the ‘low’ can be ‘lifted up’ as shown by the process in shamanism where the daemon may be aggressive at first and later ‘trained’ or compliant and helpful and also in the results achieved in cases of psychosis/possession by Dr VanDusen.

Of course this is relevant to time place culture etc. but that is one of my requirements … otherwise it is all intellectual and armchair.

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I hope to have a longer reply addressing more of the issues you raise, but in these two:

John Dillon seems to agree, “ The distinction commonly made between magic and theurgy is in fact, in my view, basically an unreal one. The real distinction is between magic/theurgy—and its remote descendant, the modern scientific world-view and religion.” As far as a ‘cloudy distinction’ goes I remember (but cant place at the moment) someone associated with Iamblichus (?) who ‘invoked a daemon but got a God instead’ ?

. . .

And considering the ‘got a daemon and not a god’ what about (Proclus’ commentary on First Alcibiades) “before the God appears certain terrestrial daemons present themselves” (but that might have been written as a ‘result’ of this first ‘experiment’ or ‘demonstration’)? society.


I wonder if you are perhaps confusing the order, thinking of this episode in which a guardian daimon was expected and a god showed up instead:

Porphyry in his life of Plotinus recounts the following in relation to an evocation of Plotinus' guardian spirit:

"In fact Plotinus possessed by birth something more than is accorded to other men. An Egyptian priest who had arrived in Rome and, through some friend, had been presented to the philosopher, became desirous of displaying his powers to him, and he offered to evoke a visible manifestation of Plotinus' presiding spirit. Plotinus readily consented and the evocation was made in the Temple of Isis, the only place, they say, which the Egyptian could find pure in Rome.

At the summons a Divinity appeared, not a being of the spirit-ranks, and the Egyptian exclaimed: 'You are singularly graced; the guiding-spirit within you is not of the lower degree but a God.' It was not possible, however, to interrogate or even to contemplate this God any further, for the priest's assistant, who had been holding the birds to prevent them flying away, strangled them, whether through jealousy or in terror. Thus Plotinus had for indwelling spirit a Being of the more divine degree, and he kept his own divine spirit unceasingly intent upon that inner presence. It was this preoccupation that led him to write his treatise upon Our Tutelary Spirit (Enneads Three, Treatise Four, ZYD), an essay in the explanation of the differences among spirit-guides."


More soon, I hope.

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yes I got the second reference to god / daemon around the wrong way ... I think :huh:

Edited by Nungali

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