Thursday, 20 October 2011

Falling In Love Again (And Again, And Again…..)

“Esoteric science asserts the eternity of life. Its central concept is conveyed in the word REINCARNATION, which implies an enduring unit of existence ensouled in a succession of transient bodies. In order to render this concept clear it must be remarked that the INDIVIDUALITY and the PERSONALITY constitute two distinct aspects of man. The individuality is composed of the three highest bodies, the spark of pure spirit of the seventh plane, and the concreted spiritual nature of the sixth plane, and the abstract mind of the fifth plane; these, once they have evolved, are conceived of as enduring for an evolution and then being absorbed back into the Infinite as organised centres of radiation. The four lower bodies – the concrete mentality, the emotional nature, the passional nature, the physical body – are regarded as temporary accretions of the matter of their respective planes which the Individuality employs as a vehicle, and which, collectively, are said to compose the Personality.”

Dion Fortune, “The Esoteric Philosophy Of Love And Marriage”

We are accustomed nowadays to regard occultists as rather louche individuals – aging rakes in the manner of Robert Graves and Aleister Crowley, or countercultural deviants like Alex Sanders and Genesis P. Orridge - whereas in actuality these are rather fringe figures in a discipline that has a greater tendency toward conservatism than most. Such conservatism was embodied in the work of Dion Fortune, a woman who would have had little regard for such contemporary sexual mores as civil partnerships, hardcore pornography and abortion on demand. Born Violet Mary Firth Evans to a family of Christian Scientists, Fortune was the epitome of a certain lower-bourgeois British redoubtability – a kind of Barbara Woodhouse or Fanny Cradock who just happened to battle energy-vampires on the Astral Plane.

Nevertheless, Fortune‘s no-nonsense, forthright tone makes her books some of the clearest and most useful treatises written on the Occult in the last century, and one of her best is The Esoteric Philosophy Of Love And Marriage. This lean, sparing volume was her attempt to explain the invisible, underlying principles that govern how people are attracted to one another, and how the bonds between them either strengthen or loosen over time. In her esoteric schema she reveals how people are almost literally made for one another, that we are all necessarily incomplete halves that are bound to search for, and in many cases find, their whole. That being said, Fortune was in no respects a romantic – she considered the vast unseen forces that bring us together and tear us apart as scientific certainties that are almost mechanically predictable and repeatable.

In the first instance, all of us are born through one of a number of monads, or “rays” that govern our tendency to form a natural affinity with each other. People born within the same monad all contain the same spiritual spark in the highest level, or plane, of their being. It is this shared spark that explains why it is common, for example, to feel a greater sense of belonging with a person from the other side of the planet than it is to people who are directly related to us. It is from this spark that the so-called “lower bodies” are formed: our mental, emotional, instinctive and physical selves, all of which are a reflection of the monad from which we are created, and all of which seek their completion in the love of the equivalent bodies of someone of the same ray. The depth of attraction we find in another person therefore ranges from whether they appeal to us purely on the physical plane to whether their appeal stretches right up to the highest levels of the spiritual plane.

All of this is surely enough to make our rationalist materialist brethren choke on their (Francis) bacon sandwiches, but Dion Fortune adds another variable with the element of the Karmic Tie. In essence, while what we consider to be our “personalities” (chiefly the mental-emotional aspects of ourselves that can be committed to memory) die with our physical selves, our higher spiritual selves (those aspects of ourselves that we only fleetingly glimpse in any one lifetime) are eternal, and all the emotional ties we form in any one life are accumulated together and carried on when we are reborn. These ties carry a karmic weight that draws us together in lifetime after lifetime, and, with each renewal of the relationship, the bonds between such lovers deepens, encompassing ever-higher spiritual levels.

Now, I’m not saying I believe all this, but, nevertheless, all attraction is not the same, and the Esoteric Philosophy does a better job of explaining the sheer strangeness of attraction, the uncanny sense of déjà vu, of being guided by forces stronger than one’s individual self, than any contemporary theories that simply explain sexual attraction in Darwinian terms. As for reincarnation, as we cannot know what happens when we die, and as this current existence is so weird, I’m not prepared to write off the possibility that something even weirder happens when it comes to an end.

But I digress, because what I meant to point out is that there was never a greater exponent of the Fortunian inevitability of finding The One than Chrissie Hynde. The Pretenders’ entire oeuvre is centred round patiently waiting for the karmic tie to manifest itself; a casual glance, an unexpected customer, a sudden sunburst of light that can happen during the most humdrum moments in life. Over the most patient and steady of rhythms, Hynde keeps one eye on the horizon, the other on the everyday business of life. Wistful maybe, but never despairing, because, she knows….

Once in a while
Two people meet
Seemingly for no reason
They just pass on the street
Suddenly thunder showers everywhere
Who can explain the thunder and the rain
But there’s something in the air

....and that's why her voice sounds like it has yearned not over years, but over centuries.

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