Demure Hestia, help me to focus.
The hearth of the home is your eternal locus.
CHAPTER VII: THE CHARIOT
Hestia ("the heart") was the goddess of hearth, home and family. Home is
where the heart/hearth is. Each city had a public hearth sacred to Hestia,
where the fire was never allowed to go out. At festivals she was the first
goddess invoked, and she was also offered blessings at the beginning of
each meal. Hestia was also one of the three virgin goddesses, and turned
away both Poseidon and Apollo. She petitioned Zeus to remain a virgin and
he respected this right.
Hestia was originally one of the twelve supreme gods on Mount Olympus,
but she grew tired of the petty intrigues and wrangling that went on amongst
the Olympians. So she gave up her position, her throne to Dionysus, the
god of wine. As a result, it was said that she still received part of every
offering made to the gods.
This trump in the Tarot is THE CHARIOT which represents the vehicle of
conveyance for consciousness. The Chariot allows us to take consciousness
journeys through the wide realm of the imagination. It harnesses
the opposites to create volition. This requires a turning inward
from the vast array of stimulation bombarding our senses from the outside,
and finding a still center. Riding on this Chariot, the Throne Chariot
of God, the wheels turn, but the axle moveth not. This is the prudent,
balanced life, open to the inner self and quietude, pursuing the conquest
of illusion. Receptivity is increased by silence, retirement from
The path of the Chariot transcends all sense of "my-ness"and is seldom
personal in its implications. It describes someone who has conscious
awareness of purpose; already refined in body, mind, heart and soul to
be a clear vehicle for the presence of Indwelling Spirit (Compton, 1991).
In the physical world, it is the field of all undifferentiated substance;
alteration, vibration, flux and reflux, involution and evolution, and also
culture, education and growth.
Water, in both metaphysical and Jungian terminology, represents the "sea
of the unconscious," in metaphysics, the ocean of pure, clear Light.
It is the restoration of the Word, the "Voice of the Silence," which contains
secrets uncommunicable with human tongue. In Kabbala, Shekinah is
revealed through the alchemy of letters themselves. Occult speech,
or meditation by passes the mind and influences us through the subconscious.
Spirit then flows in abundance.
Form becomes a vehicle for Spirit's intention, and form is directed toward
its ultimate reunion with its Source. 'Cheth' is the enclosure or
container of spiritual essence. The Chariot is the carrier of our
own special journey toward individuation. The human personality is
likened to a chariot, the vehicle of our lives. It is 'rest
within movement,' loss of sense of self-identity, pure non-attachment without
The goddess of this deep center or introversion is Hestia. She helps
us find that quiet state of consciousness which characterizes contemplation
and meditation. She helps us focus our attention inward in a non-heroic,
non-linear manner. Hestia is essentially a goddess of meditation
and a balanced lifestyle. She is the Will to be receptive to the
influx of higher power, to digest both inner and outer experience which
increases foresight or circumspection. She finds ways to express
the exalted aspects of love.
What we call 'volition' is the synthesis of all the universal forces coming
to a focus at a point within us. It is the Will, the power of choosing;
a conscious choice or decision, sometimes measured by our ability to "let
go." It means the choice between our idealized, glamorized fantasies
and plain, simple reality. It means abandoning even 'positive' thinking
which is a polarity, for an unvarnished truth -- discretion, discernment.
This trump is about the conquest of illusion through connecting with the
inner self -- inner conviction -- a vision quest. THE CHARIOT symbolizes
control over the tension of opposites, and that is also the nature of meditation,
a suspension of the duality and polarization that characterize outer life.
The corresponding Hebrew letter is Cheth, which means 'fence.' Meditation
is the fence around the crop of our contemplative efforts.
Like THE CHARIOT, the personality is a vehicle for cosmic forces which
operate within us largely at the subconscious level. This trump represents
the power of astral projection and attraction. When we meditate,
we may be physically in our rooms, but mentally far, far away; or, perhaps
our imagination brings strong images of another to us. Meditation
is simply becoming aware of these patterns, then moving past them to the
depth where the still center appears as the Void or the "I AM." The
Chariot is about setting forth on the journey of spiritual development.
In Hebrew, the word for Chariot is merkabah, and it is associated
with a form of mysticism. In throne mysticism, the aspirant is absorbed
in visual contemplation of the Throne-Chariot of God.
Hestia was originally one of the twelve Olympians. She was the first-born
child of Cronos and Rhea, and the first to be swallowed up again when Cronos
realized he would be overthrown by one of his offspring. Hestia is
such a gracious and pliant goddess that when Zeus wanted to make room on
Olympus for the arrival of Dionysus, she gave up her place among the divine
dozen. Apparently she did not mind being displaced since she carries
"the center" within herself. She has a sense of direction, of purpose
Her personality is typically humble, letting life find unobstructed manifestation
through her. Her mytheme is renunciation. Her mandate is seva,
or service. She is self-controlled, self-disciplined. She is
the quiet type, but her unuttered speech contains the power of silence
and secrecy which comes from the control of language. It increases
receptivity. She is a self-sufficient individual who derives her
sense of self worth from within, as shown by her perpetual maidenhood.
This Virgin Goddess is a variation on the archetypal theme of the Holy
Grail. Hestia is the virgin goddess of the hearth and its fire, as
well as protectress of the home and of the state. She "keeps the
home fires burning," as goddess of hearth and home. Her attributes
include Intuitiveness; Female energy; Receiving information from within.
Hestia as the goddess of home and hearth, represented the ideal of purity
in these areas. Possibly for this reason she was an eternal virgin, deliberately
remaining aloof from the advances of the male gods. It is important to
note, however, that both Poseidon and Apollo sought to court her, but she
refused them. Indeed, it is also worth mentioning that in Greek mythology,
Hestia, along with Athena and Artemis, were the only goddesses who were
immune to the passions aroused by Aphrodite. Despite her importance
in Greek religion, Hestia is not well represented in either mythology or
art. Be that as it may, the goddess received her share of honors, including
a Homeric Hymn.
"Hestia, you who tend the sacred dwelling of the far-shooting lord,
Apollo, at holy Pytho, from your tresses flowing oil ever drips down. Come
to this house! Come in gentle spirit with resourceful Zeus and grant grace
to my song!"
Her sacred fire was moved from Greece to Rome by Aeneas who was from Troy.
The tendency of fire is to transmute a material substance into a more rarefied
form. This is also true of spiritual fire; it means the dominion
of the spirit over form. When we can observe what is unworthy in
ourselves, this fire purges us of corruption.
In her temple in the Roman Forum, six vestal virgins watched by day and
by night to assure that the sacred fire did not die out. These virgins,
consecrated to Vesta (Hestia), maintained the sacred fire or perpetual
flame which was kept burning on her altar. Psychologically, this initiation
meant that the temptations of the physical world were surmounted.
The six vestal virgins entered the service of the goddess around the ages
of six to ten years old. Their term of active service lasted thirty
years. After that they were permitted to marry, though few did since
they were instilled with the virtues of this goddess. They received
great honor and had very important public privileges. Their persons
were considered inviolable, and woe to the vestal found guilty of unchastity.
If her spotless chastity were not maintained, she would be immediately
killed along with her lover.
Hestia is the goddess of the hearth. She is also known as Vesta (Roman).
Although an important deity in Greek religion, she is rarely depicted in
art, and has virtually no mythology and iconography. Hestia, being
the first to be swallowed, was the last to be disgorged, and so was at
once the first and latest born of the children of Cronos. In the
high dwellings of all, both deathless gods and men who walk on earth, you
have gained an everlasting abode and highest honor: glorious is your
portion and your right. For without you mortals hold no banquet,
--where one does not duly pour sweet wine in offering to Hestia both first
The self-sufficient goddesses, Artemis, Athena, and Hestia were known in
antiquity as the virgin goddesses. None of them ever married or had children.
For a modern woman, these archetypes do not denote a physical status or
age, but a state of mind. Emotionally, she is self-contained, needing only
her own approval. While the self-sufficient woman may eagerly welcome company
and truly enjoy being a wife and a mother, she also finds contentment in
solitude. These three archetypes are often described as independent and
Some women's jobs require years of formal education or take them to an
office everyday. Other women work from the heart or from the home. Hestia
is the goddess of sacred wisdom and the hearth. Known as Vesta to the Romans,
she was the patroness of the Vestal Virgins, who guarded the sacred flame
of Rome and the prophetic writings of the Sibyl. In myth, Hestia is the
wise woman of the village, the priestess or seeress in the temple, the
witch of the forest. She is the crone aspect of the triple Goddess, no
longer beholden to parent, husband, or child, but belonging only to herself
and to the tribe.
An ancient woman of mystery and hidden knowledge, she guards crystals which
have a power older and greater than Immortals. No matter if the walls of
her castle are upright or crumbled, her inner serenity is her strength,
and to those who are troubled, she offers a refuge. She also guards
ancient secrets and possesses magical powers; older characters embody the
dignity of the wise and aged woman, something we have tragically lost sight
of in the modern world.
The three virgin goddesses are archetypes of women and their work: the
Warrior Caste, the Worker Caste, and the Religious Caste. But no man is
an island, and in this, women are the same as men. Women have jobs, and
women also have families, and a large part of women's lives is influenced
by the people they know. Hestia is more straightforward. She is also
a virgin, but unlike Athena and Artemis, she never had any consorts or
She is thought of as a living flame, associated with stability, permanence,
prosperity and the hearth. She is depicted as an austere, fully robed mature
woman. There are few stories about her myth but she obviously displays
all the virtues of the Greek wife. There is duality, developed during
patriarchal times, between the feminine home-world or Hestia and the masculine
public-world or Agora. Increasingly the Agora has been considered the only
"important" world, but in fact until recently most of human life, including
education, entertainment and work centred on the Hestia.
We are the physical focal point of all the generations who have gone before
us--and all those who will follow us, as our progeny. This focusing
of life force through the family is a physical representation of the Holy
Grail -- the container of the manifestation of the divine.
Another aspect of Hestia in the physical world is shown in the patterns
in the structure of matter. Hestia is characterized as being immobile
or in repose. Her balanced personality and equanimity reflect the
characteristic of equilibrium. Dynamic equilibrium may also be expressed
in living systems as homeostasis.
In physics, the structure of matter can be expressed mathematically.
The condition of most-economical maximal stability is expressed in the
geometrical form known as Vector Equilibrium. It underlies the structure
of the atomic nucleus of all atoms, therefore all matter. It is the
blueprint for the stabilization of matter from nothingness.
Vector Equilibrium is produced by connecting the centers of twelve circles
clustered around one, also known as closest-packed spheres. This
condition of maximal equilibration forms the basis for the way energy travels
within the nuclei of atoms, and is therefore a very fundamental principle
in the construction of the universe.
Curiously, this particular geometry is described in an ancient Hebrew text
known as the SEPHIR YETZIRAH, or THE BOOK OF FORMATION.
To the ancient Hebrew mystics, it was known as the Throne Chariot of Fire.
It linked the manifest with the archetypal world. Its geometrical
form was used in a meditation practice. It was a vehicle for moving
consciousness from one plane to the next. Vector Equilibrium represents
the balancing of opposite factors. The Tarot Trump VII, THE CHARIOT
depicts this vision of a divine Chariot.
The concept of balancing opposites is carried further by the fact that
this card with its fiery symbolism is attributed to the astrological sign
Cancer, a water sign. This places or locates it in the domestic realm
of hearth and home. It also links Hestia with the virginal qualities
of the moon(Cancer is ruled by the moon).
This path on the Tree of Life leads from Binah to Geburah, showing the
influence of the Supernals descending through "the veil of Water (which
is blood) upon the energy of man" and so inspiring it. On the Path
of Return, this is one of the few paths which spans the great Void, known
as The Abyss.
Since Hestia was the first-born of Cronos and Rhea--time and corporeal
matter--she might be seen as that heat produced as a by-product of the
creation. She is an expression of entropy. In the spectrum
linking microcosm to macrocosm, she is the central fire in the warm-blooded
human body, the home (the hearth), and the molten magma at the center of
Even the fire in the center of the Sun is analogous to these, inasmuch
as it occupies a specific locus in space and time, and therefore shares
its origin (if not its form) with them. These central fires warm
and nourish and promote growth. It is intimately linked to the survival
of the human species. Without our warm blood, we would never have
developed our higher faculties.
It was a classical practice for the first and last tribute at any ritual
to be offered to Hestia. She is truly the beginning and end for human
consciousness. Without her receptive, containing 'space' there is
no resting place for the atoms of the human body in the universe.
I. Miller recounts the brain centers which are responsive during prayer
and meditation in "Neurotheology 101" (2001).
"Brain scans of a large sampling of people lost in prayer or deep meditation
reveal certain common neurological underpinnings which correlate with religious
states from transcendence, to visions, to enlightenment and feelings of
awe. Attention in the frontal lobe is indicated by activation in
this area of the brain during meditation.
When the parietal lobes quiet down, a person feels an expansive oneness
with the universe or cosmic unity. For a mystical experience to occur,
brain regions that orient us in space and mark
the distinction between self and world must go quiet.
In order to feel that time, fear and self-consciousness have dissolved,
certain brain circuits must be interrupted. Which ones? Activity
in the amygdala, which monitors the environment for threats and registers
fear, must be damped. Parietal-lobe circuits, which orient you in
space and mark the sharp distinction between self and world, must go quiet.
The orientation area requires sensory input to do its calculations.
Intense meditation blocks the brain from forming a distinction between
self and world.
Frontal- and temporal-lobe circuits, which mark time and generate self-awareness,
must disengage. When this happen what we think of as our 'higher' functions
of self hood appear briefly to drop out, dissolve, or be deleted from consciousness.
Our response to religious words is mediated at the juncture of three lobes
(parietal, frontal and temporal) and governs reaction to language.
The "voice of God" probably emanates from electrical activity in the temporal
lobes, important to speech perception. Inner speech is interpreted
as originating outside the self. Broca's area, responsible for speech
production switches on. Stress can influence one's ability to determine
origin of a voice. The right anterior cingulate turns on whether
a stimulus originates in the environment or is an auditory hallucination.
Hyperarousal by sensory stimuli, such as drumming, dancing or incantations,
can amplify emotions and send the system into hyperdrive. The equilibrium
of the hippocampus is overwritten, inhibiting the flow of signals between
neurons. Certain regions are then deprived of neuronal inputs.
When the orientation center is isolated with ritual and liturgy or meditation,
the boundaries of the self begin to dissolve.
Sacred images are generated by the lower temporal which also responds to
ritual imagery and is facilitated by prayer and meditation. Religious
emotions originate from the middle temporal lobe and are linked to emotional
aspects of religious experience, such as joy and awe. Yet neural
correlates don't mean that these experiences exist "only" in the brain
or are merely illusory; they are associated with distinct neural activity.
There is no way to distinguish if the brain causes these experiences, or
is actually perceiving spiritual reality.
There are a wide variety of theories and mechanisms presented as influential
spiritual transducers. Many of these biological systems work together
in a variety of ways to create different experiences from deep meditation,
to ecstatic trance, Near Death Experiences (NDEs) to Cosmic Consciousness.
Cosmic Unity and a sense of Eternity (sacred or cosmic time) occurs when
the parietal lobe quiets down; self-identity vanishes or expands to universal
proportions. When the orientation area is deprived of neuronal input
by gating from the hippocampus, sense of self expands.
The role of suspension of sense of orientation in 3 or 4 dimensions of
spacetime is interesting in terms of the prevalance of systems of sacred
geometry in mysticism to facilitate gestalt experiences. There are
many ritualistic and meditational devices from Mandalas or Yantras, to
Middle Pillar Exercise and the Diamond Body, to Merkabah mysticism which
promote inner plane orientation. In parapsychology, such devises
are known as Psychotronics and function as "time machines." This
could imply that focusing or intense concentration on these internally-generated
signals for orienting in sacred spacetime creates a paradoxical rebound
which we feel as dissolving into cosmic consciousness, where beginning
and end are cotemporaneous.
This may be why meditators are urged to remain motionless to achieved the
desired state. Mystics say that if you move during meditation, the
attention will be drawn back down into the body and worldly attachment.
When there is no movement there is no external reference signal to orient
in 3-space and no reason for this portion of the brain to activate.
Intensive meditation can over-drive certain other brain areas and seemingly
transport us to another universe. And just as, in terms of symmetry
principles, a complete description of the Universe contains no information
that serves to define a preferred position or direction in space, the local
self dissolves in an omnidirectional expansion.
Sacred images are generated in the lower temporal lobe which also responds
to ritualistic use of imagery and iconography. Religious emotions
originate in the middle temporal lobe, generating bliss, awe, joy and other
feelings of well-being or sense of Presence. Fear or awesomeness
originates in the amygdala. The frontal lobes help us form concentrative
trances through focusing, often employing any constant rhythmic stimulus
to the CNS, such as drumming or mantras to facilitate concentration and
drive the process." (I. Miller, 2001).
One of the three virgin goddess on Mt. Olympus, Hestia vowed to her brother
Zeus that she would remain a virgin forever in a symbolic gesture of spiritual
purity and integrity. Modern Hestia women can find romantic happiness
with Apollo and Hermes. Because they do not crave attention, are
most content at home and enjoy a simple life, Apollo men are their best
match. They are attracted to women who are steady and balanced, and also
like to be in control of the relationship. That's okay with Hestia, as
long as she has a beautiful, peaceful home to maintain and inhabit. Apollo
men will gladly provide her with this, as they are not only successful
but also take after the god of architecture, symmetry and balance. Apollonian
men and Hestian women are both at home with themselves, which offers great
strength and stability in their pairing.
Meet a Hermes man and you will find that he can bring great joy to your
life. Hermes men are childlike and lighthearted, two qualities that will
help Hestia escape her more serious side. She is very much like Vesta,
a virgin fire goddess of Rome. Her fire is concealed within her body; much
like the fertility of Earth is concealed within the frozen ground of winter.
Vesta is based on the Greek goddess Hestia, who does a fine job of representing
Myth tells us Vesta was given a choice of marriage between Apollo and
Neptune but refused both. Zeus then granted her freedom. Vesta's temples
are round with a central sacred fire; this fire was tended and maintained
by young female initiates called vestals. These girls kept the eternal
fame of the temples burning. The vestal virgins went through three
phases of service; first, that of student, then as priestess, and finally
as teacher. Vestals were by no means celibate, though their career
as a vestal often ended when they had their first child.
Hestia helps us lead a balanced life by providing a sense of center.
The holy precinct makes communication with the divine forces possible.
Thus we can harmonize inner and outer reality through her power.
She was rarely personified in human form. Rather, her image is architectural;
she is the hearth itself with the structure surrounding it and protecting
it, also. Hestia provides places, nexus points and spatiality.
She gives us gathering places, power places, and dwelling places.
We might think of her calming energy when we "can't settle down."
She is important psychologically because without her we couldn't focus
on an image. She is not personified, therefore, but is the "place"
where personifying occurs.
Stability of the inner self, or a sense of belonging are Hestian.
As the goddess of locality, Hestia reminds us of the sacred nature of being
rooted in a particular area and nation. The yearning to seek out
our "roots," and the resurgence in nationalism and patriotism all show
the relationship between psyche and geography. Every area has its
natives or regional souls who are adapted for survival in the climatic
conditions and prevailing cultural values. It is not possible to
come to a universal citizenship without giving due respect to our genetic
Hestia provides the focal point at the center of the world; and on a personal
level we all tend to feel that we are the centers of our own special perspective
on reality. We are each the center of our own Universe--and our consciousness
projects that vision of the universe outward. When that projection
"comes home to rest" we experience that reabsorption as the pure void,
ground state of our being.
She is the sanctuary at the center, the holy ground, the magick circle.
On an even deeper level, Hestia represents an archetypal image of the Self.
This is represented in Crowley's Thoth Tarot on Trump VII as the circular
image of the Holy Grail. This mandala symbol, or sacred circle, depicts
a state of harmony, wholeness, and integration, much like the native American
medicine wheel. It contains "blood," that which is simultaneously
fire and water, a paradoxical union of opposites.
Hestia thus shows herself as a central aspect of psychic life--that of
concentrating or focusing of one's energies. The concentrating of
individual energies is shown by her virginal nature, which she shares with
Athena and Artemis. It is a positive form of being self-centered.
She is the light which makes the mysteries of life clear through understanding.
agoraphobia (fear of open places)
"give me my space"
"a man's home is his castle"
Holism is the philosophy or worldview permeated by Hestia consciousness.
Holism is a healthy respect for the connectedness of things, the deep ecology
of life and matter -- the realization that the whole is greater than the
sum of its parts -- the seamless mind body connection, the identity of
psyche and substance. It is the counterpoint to atomistic reductionism,
to postmodern de-construction. In Science holism is the belief
that complex systems may be understood only when viewed in their entirety.
The view that parts of a system have significance mostly in virtue of their
interrelations with other parts.
The concept of holism is at the center of far-reaching changes in various
areas of philosophy in the second half of the 20th century. Holism in epistemology
and the philosophy of mind is widespread among analytic philosophers subsequent
to the work of the later Wittgenstein and to Quine's "Two Dogmas of Empiricism".
Roughly speaking, the claim is that (a) for a person to have beliefs, a
social, linguistic community is required and that (b) single beliefs have
a meaning only within a whole system of beliefs. Furthermore, holism is
discussed as an option in science, in particular in the interpretation
of quantum physics.
Opting for holism in any of these areas has considerable consequences for
our philosophical view of the world and ourselves. Holism in quantum physics
is said to refute atomism, which has been predominant in modern philosophy
of nature. Holism in epistemology and the philosophy of mind is seen as
an alternative to what is known as the Cartesian tradition, which dominated
modern thought down to logical empiricism. A good deal of research work
has been done on holism in each of the mentioned areas. But there is as
yet no research work that provides a critical overview of holism in general.
That is to say: we lack research work that focuses on a general conception
of holism, enquires into possible connections between different forms of
holism, and evaluates the significance of such connections for contemporary
Holism as an idea or philosophical concept is diametrically opposed to
atomism. Where the atomist believes that any whole can be broken down or
analyzed into its separate parts and the relationships between them, the
holist maintains that the whole is primary and often greater than the sum
of its parts. The atomist divides things up in order to know them better;
the holist looks at things or systems in aggregate and argues that we can
know more about them viewed as such, and better understand their nature
and their purpose.
The early Greek atomism of Leucippus and Democritus (fifth century B.C.)
was a forerunner of classical physics. According to their view, everything
in the universe consists of indivisible, indestructible atoms of various
kinds. Change is a rearrangement of these atoms. This kind of thinking
was a reaction to the still earlier holism of Parmenides, who argued that
at some primary level the world is a changeless unity. According to him,
"All is One. Nor is it divisible, wherefore it is wholly continuous....
It is complete on every side like the mass of a rounded sphere."
In the seventeenth century, at the same time that classical physics gave
renewed emphasis to atomism and reductionism, Spinoza developed a holistic
philosophy reminiscent of Parmenides. According to Spinoza, all the differences
and apparent divisions we see in the world are really only aspects of an
underlying single substance, which he called God or nature. Based on pantheistic
religious experience, this emphasis on an underlying unity is reflected
in the mystical thinking of most major spiritual traditions. It also reflects
developments in modern quantum field theory, which describes all existence
as an excitation of the underlying quantum vacuum, as though all existing
things were like ripples on a universal pond.
Hegel, too, had mystical visions of the unity of all things, on which he
based his own holistic philosophy of nature and the state. Nature
consists of one timeless, unified, rational and spiritual reality. Hegel's
state is a quasi-mystical collective, an "invisible and higher reality,"
from which participating individuals derive their authentic identity, and
to which they owe their loyalty and obedience. All modern collectivist
political thinkers - including, of course, Karl Marx - stress some higher
collective reality, the unity, the whole, the group, though nearly always
at the cost of minimizing the importance of difference, the part, the individual.
Against individualism, all emphasize the social whole or social forces
that somehow possess a character and have a will of their own, over and
above the characters and wills of individual members.
The twentieth century has seen a tentative movement toward holism in such
diverse areas as politics, social thinking, psychology, management theory,
and medicine. These have included the practical application of Marx's thinking
in Communist and Socialist states, experiments in collective living, the
rise of Gestalt psychology, systems theory, and concern with the whole
person in alternative medicine. All these have been reactions against excessive
individualism with its attendant alienation and fragmentation, and exhibit
a commonsense appreciation of human beings' interdependency with one another
and with the environment.
Where atomism was apparently legitimized by the sweeping sucesses of classical
physics, holism found no such foundation in the hard sciences. It remained
a change of emphasis rather than a new philosophical position. There were
attempts to found it on the idea of organism in biology - the emergence
of biological form and the cooperative relation between biological and
ecological systems - but these, too, were ultimately reducible to simpler
parts, their properties, and the relation between them. Even systems theory,
although it emphasizes the complexity of aggregates, does so in terms of
causal feedback loops between various constituent parts. It is only with
quantum theory and the dependence of the very being or identity of quantum
entities upon their contexts and relationships that a genuinely new, "deep"
In an online debate, sponsored by Journal of Consciousness Studies,
in "Faster than Thought: Holism, Homogeneity and Temporal Coding," Thomas
Metzinger, offers his chapter taken from the collection Conscious Experience.
The space of consciousness is the space of subjective experience. Since
this is the space in which the world and we ourselves appear to ourselves
on an experiential level, I will also call it the phenomenal space. Many
people believe that our phenomenal space is also a representational space:
In this space we represent a part of the world and of ourselves to ourselves.
The phenomenal representata, i.e. the vehicles of representation bearing
subjective content, I will henceforth call 'mental models', without trying
to explicate this concept further at this point.
 Our conscious space - this is the basic idea - consists of mental models
which are often embedded in each other. The largest of the mental models
active in this space is our conscious 'model of reality' or 'model of the
world'. This phenomenal model of the world contains all the other conscious
mental models and its content is identical with the overall content of
our conscious space.
But since we are beings who almost constantly fail to recognize our mental
models as models, our phenomenal space is characterized by an all-embracing
naive realism, which we are incapable of transcending in standard situations.
In this way, the totality of mental contents which fill this space form
a structure that can be described from the external perspective of science
as a self-referentially opaque phenomenal model of the world.
From the internal perspective of the system activating this model, however,
this structure is quite simply subjectively experienced reality: the only
reality existing for this system. One of the main challenges for any naturalistic
theory of mind is that of providing us with a clear account of this transition:
How does a model become this reality? Although I am not able to dissolve
the highest-order wholeness of reality or of myself simply by a reversible
act of will, I am perfectly able to perceive or even actively generate
lower-order phenomenal wholes within the space which is held together by
this highest-order property.
Perhaps this holistic character of reality, which is stronger than mere
numerical identity and which cannot be transcended experientially, could
be described as phenomenal coherence: Our conscious experience of reality
is held together internally by a principle or a mechanism, which itself
is subjectively inaccessible. This coherence of my reality has nothing
to do with the concept of coherence in physics or logic. Rather, it is
responsible for a succinct phenomenal holism, which we ought to take into
account on the conceptual level.
Although a world made out of discrete, building block-like elements could
well be a unity, it could never be a whole. But my world is not a toy world
composed of little building blocks: it is also a living reality whose parts
interact in a quasi-organic way (in the sense of the German concept Erleben).
This concretely experienced unity of a diversity is accompanied by a multitude
of dynamic part/whole relations. Thus, the additional phenomenological
aspect of holism or wholeness which goes beyond mere unity results from
the fact that the parts constituting the phenomenal model of reality are
not elements, but parts of this reality. For this reason, if we want to
understand the holistic character of our phenomenal world, we will have
to take its multi-levelled structure as the starting point of our investigation.
Another aspect is important in order to understand what else can be meant
by 'wholeness'. Although this aspect is not at the centre of my discussion,
we will repeatedly encounter it whenever we ask ourselves how a model can
turn into a reality which is phenomenally present. This second aspect
consists in the fact that the experiential contents appearing in our conscious
space are joined together into a holistic entity of the highest order,
something we might call a global Gestalt, by spatial neighbouring relations
and especially by temporal identity within an experienced present, i.e.
by subjective simultaneity, by being given within a single psychological
moment. This global Gestalt quality is necessary for the whole to become
The whole is always given to us in a single psychological moment, that
is to say in the experienced present of a subjective Now. The phenomenal
presence of the whole springs from this 'now', i.e. from the temporal identity
of a diversity of experiential contents. What does this mean? It means
that the holistic diversity of phenomenal contents becomes a coherent reality
because there is an elementary 'window of presence'. One thing cannot be
doubted from the first-person perspective: I always experience the wholeness
of reality now. This yields a first phenomenological concept of conscious
experience: Conscious experience is the phenomenal presence of an all-embracing
There is also mental holism, and semantic holism. (Following discussion
forthcoming in The Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy):
Mental (or semantic) holism is the doctrine that the identity of a belief
content (or the meaning of a sentence that expresses it) is determined
by its place in the web of beliefs or sentences comprising a whole theory
or group of theories. It can be contrasted with two other views: atomism
and molecularism. Molecularism characterizes meaning and content in terms
of relatively small parts of the web in a way that allows many different
theories to share those parts. For example, the meaning of 'chase' might
be said by a molecularist to be try to catch. Atomism characterizes meaning
and content in terms of none of the web; it says that sentences and beliefs
have meaning or content independently of their relations to other sentences
One major motivation for holism has come from reflections on the natures
of confirmation and learning. As Quine (1953) observed, claims about the
world are confirmed not individually, but only in conjunction with theories
of which they are a part. And typically, one cannot come to understand
scientific claims without understanding a significant chunk of the theory
of which they are a part. For example, in learning the Newtonian
concepts of 'force', 'mass', kinetic energy' and 'momentum', one doesn't
learn any definitions of these terms in terms that are understood beforehand,
for there are no such definitions. Rather, these theoretical terms were
all learned together in conjunction with procedures for solving problems.
The major problem with holism is that it threatens to make generalization
in psychology virtually impossible. If the content of any state depends
on all others, it would be extremely unlikely that any two believers would
ever share a state with the same content. Moreover, holism would
appear to conflict with our ordinary conception of reasoning. What sentences
one accepts influence what one infers. If I accept a sentence and then
later reject it, I thereby change the inferential role of that sentence.
So the meaning of what I accept wouldn't be the same as what I later reject.
But then it would be difficult to understand on this view how one could
rationally --or even irrationally!-- change one's mind. Agreement
and translation are also problematic for much the same reason. Holists
have responded (1) by proposing that we should think not in terms of "same/different"
meaning but in terms of a gradient of similarity of meaning, (2) by proposing
"two factor" theories or (3) by simply accepting the consequence that there
is no real difference between changing meanings and changing beliefs.
Any particular type of holistic state will exist only rarely and transiently.
In this respect, holistic mental states are like the states of computers.
A total computer configuration as specified by the contents of every register
in the internal memory and every cell on the hard disk will occur only
rarely and transiently. There are deterministic laws of the evolution of
total computer states, but they deal with such transient states. So psychological
explanation will have to be seen by holists as like explanation of what
computers do, in part a matter of fine grained laws of the evolution of
systems, in part coarse-grained accounts of how the systems work that do
not have the status of laws.
It has sometimes been suggested that quantum phenomena exhibit a characteristic
holism or nonseparability, and that this distinguishes quantum from classical
physics. One puzzling quantum phenomenon arises when one performs measurements
of spin or polarization on certain separated quantum systems. The results
of these measurements exhibit patterns of statistical correlation that
resist traditional causal explanation.
Some have held that it is possible to understand these patterns as instances
or consequences of quantum holism or nonseparability. Just what holism
and nonseparability are supposed to be has not always been made clear,
though, and each of these notions has been understood in different ways.
Moreover, while some have taken holism and nonseparability to come to the
same thing, others have thought it important to distinguish the two. Any
evaluation of the significance of quantum holism and/or nonseparability
must rest on a careful analysis of these notions.
Holism has often been taken as the thesis that the whole is more than the
sum of its parts. Several different interpretations of this epigram prove
relevant to physics, as we shall see. Here is a correspondingly vague initial
statement of nonseparability: The state of the whole is not constituted
by states of its parts. It is already apparent both that holism and nonseparability
are related notions and that their exact relation needs to be clarified.
In one interpretation, holism is a methodological thesis, to the effect
that the best way to study the behavior of a complex system is to treat
it as a whole, and not merely to analyze the structure and behavior of
its component parts. Alternatively, holism may be taken as a metaphysical
thesis: There are some wholes whose natures are simply not determined by
the nature of their parts. Methodological holism stands opposed to
methodological reductionism, in physics as well as in other sciences. But
it is a certain variety of metaphysical holism that is more closely related
to nonseparability. What is at issue here is the extent to which the properties
of the whole are determined by the properties of its parts: property holism
denies such determination, and thereby comes very close to a thesis of
By and large, a system in classical physics can be analyzed into parts,
whose states and properties determine those of the whole they compose.
But the state of a system in quantum mechanics resists such analysis. The
quantum state of a system gives a specification of itís probabilistic dispositions
to display various properties on measurement. Quantum theoryís most complete
such specification is given by what is called a pure state.
Even when a compound system has a pure state, some of its subsystems may
not have their own pure states. Emphasizing this characteristic of quantum
mechanics, Schrödinger described such component subsystems as "entangled".
Superficially, such entanglement of systems already demonstrates nonseparability.
At a deeper level, it has been maintained that the puzzling statistics
that arise from measurements on entangled quantum systems either demonstrate,
or are explicable in terms of, holism or nonseparability rather than any
problematic action at a distance.
As applied to physics, ontological holism is the thesis that there are
physical objects that are not wholly composed of basic physical parts.
Views of Bohr, Bohm and others may be interpreted as endorsing some version
of this thesis. In no case is it claimed that any physical object has nonphysical
parts. The idea is rather that some physical entities that we take to be
wholly composed of a particular set of basic physical parts are in fact
not so composed.
It was Bohrís (1934) view that one can meaningfully ascribe properties
such as position or momentum to a quantum system only in the context of
some well-defined experimental arrangement suitable for measuring the corresponding
property. He used the expression Ďquantum phenomenoní to describe what
happens in such an arrangement. In his view, then, although a quantum phenomenon
is purely physical, it is not composed of distinct happenings involving
independently characterizable physical objects--the quantum system on the
one hand, and the classical apparatus on the other. And even if the quantum
system may be taken to exist outside the context of a quantum phenomenon,
little or nothing can then be meaningfully said about its properties. It
would therefore be a mistake to consider a quantum object to be an independently
existing component part of the apparatus-object whole.
Bohmís (1980, 1993) reflections on quantum mechanics lead him to adopt
a more general holism. He believed that not just quantum object and apparatus,
but any collection of quantum objects by themselves, constitute an indivisible
whole. This may be made precise in the context of Bohmís (1952) interpretation
of quantum mechanics by noting that a complete specification of the state
of the "undivided universe" requires not only a listing of all its constituent
particles and their positions, but also of a field associated with the
wave-function that guides their trajectories. If one assumes that the basic
physical parts of the universe are just the particles it contains, then
this establishes ontological holism in the context of Bohmís interpretation.
Holism is ecological in essence: Holism is an attempt at synthesis, rather
than system of pphilosophy, per se. It doesn't challenge religion,
but provides a worldview for preserving this unique creation. Nature
displays obvious interdependence expressed as recipricity between long-assicated
organisms, both plant and animal. (Smuts, 1952).
Holism in Co-evolution means "Life forms are selected for, that have a
common behavioural and physical characteristic; that is they conform to
a COMMON PRINCIPLE defined by our material universe." This is the
principle of compatibility, which leads one to a holistic conception, and
is reflected in a behavioural strategy of the animal that ensures its perpetuation
Smuts recognised in the discoveries of the New Physics of 1926, an important
HOLISTIC principle: "the structural character of matter indicates that
it is also creative, not of its own stuff, but of the forms, (chemical)
arrangements, and patterns which constitute all its value in the physical
sphere Holism is sourced in the very nature of the elements. Smuts
recognises what all religions call for: "how important a part moral discipline
plays in the furtherance of the evolutionary holistic scheme." Holism
influences our moral and ethical culture."
Much of what Darwin said has the holistic signature. There are repeated
examples of this. To use his own words, he uses the term "struggle
for existence" in a "metaphorical sense" "INCLUDING DEPENDENCE OF ONE BEING
ON ANOTHER (equated partially with compatibility), and including not only
the life of the individual, but success in leaving progeny" (equated with
PERPETUITY). "Therefore, as more individuals are produced than can
possibly survive, there must always be a struggle for existence (interaction).
Interactors he called "enemies or COMPETITORS."
"Instead of the animistic, or the mechanistic, or the mathematical universe,
we see the genetic, organic, holistic universe, in which the decline of
the earlier physical patterns provides the opportunity for the emergence
of the more advanced vital and rational patterns" (Smuts, 1952) Smuts
sees the individual personality as central to Holism and as the most recent
holistic expression that has emerged through evolution. He says,
"To me the holistic aspect of the universe is fundamental, and appears
to be the key position both for the science and the philosophy of the future.
Charles Darwin observed that if any one species does not become modified
and improved in a corresponding degree (coevolution) with its competitors,
it will soon be exterminated." In Holism, this last principle differs
from competition in that while becoming "modified and improved," interactions
are altered to reduce the effect of interactors upon one another."
Darwin introduces three principles fundamental to Holism:  the idea
of co-adaptations and "complex co-adaptations of structure between one
organic being and another, which we see everywhere throughout nature" (coevolution)
and  the idea that interactions are economic: "natural selection is
continually trying to ECONOMISE in every part of the organisation."
 The importance of interactions leads to the recognition that "each
new variety or species, during the progress of its formation, will generally
press hardest on its nearest kindred, and tend to exterminate them."
A consequence of this interaction is the evolution of decreased interactions.
"The truth of the principle, that the greatest amount of life can be supported
by great diversification of structure, is seen under many circumstances."
. . . "Natural selection will not produce absolute perfection,"
but does lead to improved varieties surviving."
"Holism simplifies life and causes a peaceful order. Natural selection
in the holistic model acts upon the individual" . . .
" Adaptation, when between organisms that are both evolving, leads to what
appears like group selection, but is coadaptation (in its many guises).
Smuts' Holism presents another revolution that shall dawn upon us.
As the facts of the world-view of Holism unfold we should see immense changes
in our dealings with and understanding of nature. Holism will encompass
every aspect of modern technology and require that we reform our association
with nature and make our activities more benign."
"Holism opens the door to religion. In holism there is the possibility
for the unification of the religious, evolutionary, scientific and materialistic
approaches to life. Holism requires a revolutionary change in attitudes
from all sides to fit each as part of a whole system. With personality
as the ultimate holistic expression, as believed by Smuts, its influence
must penetrate our souls and extend out to the smallest life form!
Something holistic is at the heart of things and in the nature of this
universe, which is not a mere chance or random assemblement of items.
The detailed things derive most of their meaning, significance and functioning
from the whole of which they are but parts. They are not mere parts
but really members of wholes. Both as a metaphysical and as a scientific
concept the whole is basic to an understanding of the world. And
in sociology and religion this is more clearly the case. Relativity
is only a halfway house to this more fundamental concept" (Smuts, 1952)."
A similar sentiment was expressed by Aldos Leopold, the American Environmentalist,
". . . the problem we face is the extension of the social
conscience from people to land. No important change in ethics was
ever accomplished without an internal change in our intellectual emphasis,
loyalties, affections, and convictions."
It is Hestia who helps us focus, concentrate, and balance our thoughts.
Just recall how soothing it can be to sit in front of a fireplace in a
calm, reflective mood. Like the other Virgins, Artemis and Athena,
Hestia has her own style of illumination. Many times, without her,
it would be impossible to perceive any images in the depths of our psyche.
Therefore, she is a key to insight -- to grasping the whole picture.
Focus, as a nexus point, creates heat and light in optics, as when we focus
the sun's rays with a magnifying glass to start a fire. Not all of
these images of burning and concentration are positive. Hestia has
her own forms of pathology, such as "cabin fever," produced by long hours
of isolation. Staying in one spot too long, we get "stir-crazy,"
agoraphobic, or depressed. Remember, Saturn is the father of Hestia.
Depression which leads to brooding can lead to a meditative place, if the
depression is deepened rather than avoided, or manically denied by "staying
Sometimes thoughts can burn with obsessive intensity. In some varieties
of obsessive/compulsive disorder, there is a cleaning mania. Yet,
in order to express wholeness, our Holy Grail must contain pathological
aspects, the light and the dark fuel which feeds the fire.
The idea of a sanitorium or healing center as a sanctuary fosters our ability
to re-center ourselves away from the hubbub of urban life. A "center
of activity" might be seen in the eye of a storm, a volcanic eruption,
or a hot bed of political intrigue. All centers are not tranquil.
That which lies in Hestia's center burns and smoulders. When we feel
"burned-out" we need to readjust our focus, and frequently a change of
location, retreat, or visit to a favored power spot in nature helps rejuvenate
us. Sometimes we feel a need to remove ourselves from the whirl of
activity at the center. When homelife gets hectic with many visitors
and chores pile up, we long for a vacation. Or, if home is quiet,
it can be our refuge, our soft cocoon to cushion us from the pressures
of outer life.
On the psychological level, since Hestia is among the first-born of gods,
she is a synthesis of their potencies, more fundamental than their later
differentiation. She represents the fiery power of the true Self.
Her center is "on fire" with life energy, which can manifest as volition,
conscious and deliberate use of the will. True will comes from bringing
the divine influences into an effective synthesis so that they come to
a focal point within ourselves.
A receptive will means "willingness" to experience cosmic influences through
the practice of reflective concentration of the mind. If we relax
our bodies, and center our energies with one-pointed attention, we gain
access to the fiery life-giving energy of the Cosmos. This requires
a quiet mind--an emptying of the mind--and reflects in a personality which
doesn't spend a lot of time in idle chatter. It indicates a psychological
interiority or inwardness and inner creativity. Hestia renounces
outer life in the greater world-at-large for a more fulfilling experience
of her inner Self.
On the mundane level, the woman possessed by Hestia thinks that a woman's
place is in the home (yes, they still exist). She inherently senses
the divinity at the core of the situation, but renounces or sacrifices
the possibility of experiencing herself through other gods in the field
of archetypal manifestation.
This natural attitude is often contaminated by cultural chauvinism.
A modern phenomenon, the househusband is coming to know Hestia in himself
through the endless repetition of archetypal household chores. But
they can be healing like the Zen prescription to "Chop wood; carry water."
Many men find great peace in this lifestyle, which they never found in
the work-a-day world. This knowledge of Hestia as the ground of being
creates a sense of inner space in the psychic domain. It is a very
private form of awareness--the simple life.
When attention is directed inward, there is little desire to be praised
and lauded by society at large for our accomplishments. The solitude
of household tasks is a special reward which goes beyond the pleasure of
craftwork, sewing, cooking, etc. What one loses in public recognition
is recaptured in the extra time available for introspection. One
develops a sense of self-sufficiency.
With Hestia animating the background of household duties, there is a sense
of dignity restored to this function which is too often seen as distasteful
or menial. The daily "rounds" are part of this central life mystery.
It is a primal part of us, fundamental to our well-being. It may
hark back to our days as cave-dwellers when perhaps the single most important
function was that of keeping the fire going for the family unit--it meant
warmth and nourishment at the most basic level.
Hestia and Hermes represent the Greek imagination of motion and place.
On the foot of the big statue of Zeus in Olympia, Phydias represented the
twelve Olympian gods. Between Helios, the sun and Selene, the moon,
he arranged them in six couples: Zeus-Hera, Poseidon-Amphitrita, Hephaistos-Charis,
Apollo-Artemis, Aphrodite-Eros and Hermes-Hestia
Hestia and Hermes are not husband and woman, nor brother and sister, nor
mother and son either. They are neighbors, or better: friends. Where Hermes
loiters is Hestia never far. Where Hestia stays, Hermes can appear at any
moment. In its polarity, the couple Hestia-Hermes expresses the tension
which is proper to the archaic representation of space. Space needs a center,
a fix point from which directions and orientations can be defined. But
space is also the locus of motion, and that implies the possibility of
transitions, of passage from any point to any other.
Hestia and Hermes belong to very archaic, pre-hellenistic representations.
Hestia is the hearth. In modern Greek, istia still means the hearth or
the household. The name Hermes comes from herma(x), hermaion or hermaios
lophos, heap of stone. Before he became an Olympian god, Hermes was the
personification of lithoboly, the gesture of throwing stones on tombs.
He was the heap of stone or the wooden pole on a grave, but also the phallos.
Hermes unites death and fertility in one figure.
Hestia and Hermes, personifications of the hearth and of the protecting
grave are the gods of the domestic domain. They are also the symbols of
the gestures of women and men and of their interplay. Through that interplay,
the house becomes a unique place in the world, a topos in a cosmos. Hestia
and Hermes allow us a glance into Greek domesticity. In their interplay,
we can understand something of the Greek household and its works and of
You live both on the superficy of the soil, in the beautiful dwellings
places of men and women, and you are filled with mutual philía",
said a Homeric Hymn. Hestia and Hermes are the epichthonian gods,
the gods of the dwelled soil. They are everywhere where people make fire,
trace limits, build walls and a roof over their heads. Together, they are
the gods of orientation and of the tracing of limits.
Further reading on Hestia may be found in
"Hestia: a Background of Psychological Focusing" in FACING THE GODS, James
Hillman, Ed. (Barbara Kirksey, contributor).
"Hestia: Goddess of the Hearth: Notes on an oppressed Archetype," SPRING
JOURNAL 1979, Stephanie A. Demetrakopoulos.
In the Greek myth, Hestia is depicted as a female dependent of Zeus.
Her place in the family is somewhat like that of a maiden aunt, and her
specific job was to tend the divine household fire. Her job was extremely
important in ancient times since rekindling a fire could be a difficult
As a stay-at-home virgin, Hestia was perfect for the job, since an unmarried
sister had few other commitments in the outside world. Hestia therefore
stayed at the sacred hearth on Mt. Olympus, even though she donated her
throne to Dionysus. She was much like the fabled Cinderella, in that
she stayed calmly behind while the others went about their business.
Cinderella got her prince; Hestia gets her Self, her wholeness.
We might call Hestia's quiet reflectiveness "the yoga of contentment."
When our desires are simple and we have the spiritual capacity to be thankful
for what we do have, it makes it easier to truly "be in the now."
Otherwise we yearn for bygone times, or some idealized future when supposedly
everything will be "right" or "better" or "fixed". The now has to
be at least OK for our consciousness to be there, and truly inhabit that
place. Otherwise it flits off in imaginal flights of fancy to another
time and place.
Hestia might be conceived of an "existential" goddess--one who accepts
the human condition, and supports the state of consciousness that is neither
riddled with toxic shame nor grandiose fantasies. These notions promote
subhuman and superhuman attitudes, but Hestia is that union of opposites.
By being most fully human, she expresses an inherently divine quality within
that form of being. She doesn't mood alter by pumping up her expectations
or sink into an escapist depression. She sticks in the moment, which
is a very spiritual position from which to operate--it is the place of
balance and stability which has its own form of momentum in terms of driving
consciousness. She accepts life on its own terms, and finds contentment,
fulfillment, and wholeness within what is given in the moment. She
is at home in the Void.
The conjunction of the card the Chariot and Hestia's meditation corresponds
here with Merkaba mysticism --- meditation on the Chariot or Throne-Chariot
of God. The mystics achieved a vision of this geometrical figure
through meditation practice. This geometry was a 4-dimensional array
of the holy letters on an octahedron within a cube; its geometrical reciprocal
or dual is called Vector Equilibrium by Buckminster Fuller.
The Throne-Chariot is a geometrical picture of the creation or formation
of the universe--an omniradiant event that continues to happen. Those
who engaged in this meditation form were known as Merkaba visionaries.
They sought ecstatic direct visionary experience of the Throne Chariot
of God, yet stopped short of any kind of mystical union with the radiant
form they encountered.
The Merkaba (pronounced with equal stress on each syllable. MER-KA-BA)
is the activation of the "lightbody" vehicle. Everybody has various energy
fields around their body. Merkaba activation techniques use intention to
create a vehicle based on a sacred geometry design for a variety of purposes.
The main purpose is to bring you to higher states of consciousness and
awareness to fully embody the energy of unconditional love. Unconditional
love is not an emotion, but a state of being.
In Hebrew mysticism, the merkabah, or merkava, was the chariot/throne
of light that Elijah ascended into heaven. It was described as a "whirlwind
of fire." Interestingly enough, the Hebrew word for "whirlwind is purposely
"misspelled" in this story, and preserved in many copies, when compared
to other Hebrew references to whirlwinds. What was so special about this
whirlwind? The Hebrew letters that spell the word Merkaba are Mem-Resh-Caph-Beth,
from the root word Resh-Caph-Beth, meaning "to ride." The root word is
the same as the root word for "cherub" a form of angel, for angels were
believed to have these chariots of light to travel dimensions.
The Talmud (A Hebrew holy text) mentions the Merkaba in reference
to Prince Judah who forbade mention of it in the text of the Mishnah.
Many of these mystical teachings were shrouded in secrecy at the time,
and many were told casual practice of such techniques would lead to madness
or death. Later, the Kaballah itself was restricted to only married men
over the age of forty.
Merkaba mysticism was thought to be a form of astral travel, or total body
travel. Elijah was said to "ascend" to heaven, body and all, and never
die. The exact techniques the ancient mystics used are unknown, though
many assume it to combine prayer, meditation and some form of yogic posturing.
Currently, many believe to have recovered the techniques through channeled
sources, such as the Keys of Enoch by J.J. Hurtak.
There is some extant literature concerning Merkabah Mysticism in additoin
to the SEPHIR YETZIRAH. The most important of these works
are the Greater Hekhaloth and the Lesser Hekhaloth. Rabbinical commentary
concerning the secrets of the Throne Chariot also exists. The majority
of these works were not designed for practical use by mystics. They
described characteristic stages on the path to the vision of the Throne
Chariot. They contain speculation rather than explicit instructions.
It is possible, however, to deduce certain requirements and proceedures
from these writings, which Miller and Miller did in The Diamond Body
1. The aspirant must be at least 30 years old before his study of
mysticism should be initiated. This ensures grounding in the day-to-day
life and reduces the chances that the immature seeker desires transcendent
escape from reality.
2. Specific moral qualities were required of candidates before the
mystics were willing to reveal their secret knowledge, or Gnosis.
We might assume that these qualities would include those of importance
in the Torah, or Law.
3. Twelve to forty days of ascetic practices, including fasting and
prayer, preceded the soul's penetration to the revelation of the Throne.
4. Techniques for facilitating the journey included hymns and songs,
the recitation of secret or holy names of God,
and magical seals to protect the aspirant. These seals warded off
danger from demons and hostile angels and allowed further access, much
as a key unlocks a door.
5. The posture recommended during meditation is to sit in a low chair,
bend forward until the head rests on the knees. This posture enhanced
the ability to experience altered states of consciousness through changes
in blood flow and subtle vibrations induced in the skeletal system by reciting
god names. Breathing becomes shallow in this position.
6. The further one progresses upon the path, the greater the
dangers of psychological disintegration. The worthiness of the soul
is tested on every level--physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual.
The Qabalistic practice of creating and dissolving images as containers
for psychic forces acts as a protection against identification with, or
deification of symbols. Such potent symbols of wholeness, such as
the Tree of Life, are a danger in themselves as they promote the identification
of the ego with the Self. If the aspirant were unworthy, he could
penetrate no further. The angels guarding the gates would confuse his mind
and disturb his senses, (which shouldn't be too difficult after 40 days
of fasting). This interference could include hallucinations (rather
than visionary experience), and psychosomatic manifestations of discomfort.
In the Eastern systems of meditation, these phenomena are regarded as blocks
to the flow of Kundalini up the spine.
7. Once the ecstatic state has been attained by the mystic, he ascends
through what were variously described as seven heavens or chambers.
The soul ascends toward its original home. Counting from the bottom
of the Tree of Life upwards, this would include the spheres of Malkuth
8. At this point the soul receives its revelation. It is the
vision of God as King on His Throne. This vision of God as King is
the magical image of the sphere Chesed, #4 on the Tree of Life. It
is below the Abyss, where visionary I-Thou imagination is still possible.
The gulf between the soul and God is not bridged below the Abyss.
This meditation did not aspire to even an understanding of the true nature
of God, let alone a reunion of the soul with Godhead. It was ecstatic,
This mystic path provided perception of the phenomena of the Throne-Chariot,
the awful mystery that surrounds God's majesty. A voice is heard
to speak from the "Throne of Fire." It conveys the secret of
heaven and earth to the aspirant. It gives him the names of Knowledge,
Use of this Knowledge could be viewed as the aspirant's creation of the
sphere Daath. Daath is unique among the Sephiroth on the ascent up
the Tree. In order for the initiate to experience Daath, he is required
to first create it. This is unlike the other spheres, which are a
priori givens. Experience of the reciprocal view of the Diamond Body
figure brings one back onto the Middle Pillar on the threshold of the Abyss.
In The Diamond Body, we find that,
Meditation is a procedure. Daath, as a knowledge-contact, is a
quantum change induced through Grace. It is God's answer to the call of
the aspirant, and cannot be induced through effort alone. In creating
a Daath state of consciousness, the aspirant has crossed 'an abyss' from
a procedure to a grace.
In a classification of creative, psychedelic (mind-expanding), and unitive
states, this development is best described as 'psychedelic.' The
characteristic experience is a transient altered state of consciousness.
This ecstasy includes the experience of loss of self, time, or space.
There is an infusion of a special knowledge, and a purification of self.
The original Merkabah mystics did not aspire for this vision with intense
love of God. They did not concern themselves
with speculation concerning the immanence of God in matter, through the
Shekinah. Their interest lay in the direct experiential process of contemplating
their mandala-symbol until it took on a life of its own--a divine life.
This entity projectes a revelatory character.
But the immanence of God-in-matter is a philosophical issue open to
speculation. The geometry of the Throne-Chariot or Diamond Body relates
directly to the formation of matter. We might speculate that these
geometrical representations of archetypal relationships have a great deal
to do with fundamental patterns underlying all matter, even if they are
only Ruachian models.
The figure of the Throne-Chariot (and its reciprocal, the Vector Equilibrium
Matrix) and the basic blueprint for the formation
of matter are not distinct and separate. This threshold of matter,
or DAATH, the Invisible Sphere does disclose the minimum conceptual elements
necessary to depict the spiritual order inherent in matter. There
is no way to intellectually grasp Reality beyond the Abyss. Penetration
into these realms requires intense devotion or love. For any information
regarding these planes we must rely on the testimony of saints who have
journeys in consciousness to these realms.
Knowledge (Gnosis or Daath) takes the soul to the uppermost reaches
of the causal plane. This is the limit to the realm of the mind.
There is neither mind nor matter across the Abyss. Here is the limit
of the mind's ability to comprehend divine order conceptually. It
is the emptying out of symbolic meaning in preparation for direct experience
of the Reality of God, through Union.
Several graphic depictions of the descriptions of the Throne-Chariot
given in the SEPHIR YETZIRAH have been developed through the years
by Jews and occultists.
A group known as the Chariot of Fire from Los Angeles has used the information
to depict a system in which all the paths are compacted onto an octahedron.
In this arrangement, the seven double letters are paths connecting
the six spheres which correspond to the cardinal directions, above and
below, and the central Inner Court. This Inner Court is comprised
of the three Mother letters--Aleph, Mem, and Shin--plus the nexus
point which is composed of Aleph/Tau.
In his book, THE TAROT (1947), Paul Foster Case developed an array which
shows closer harmony with the closest-packed spheres of the diamond structure.
Here the paths are dispersed over the octahedron and its containing
cube. It is important to include both the octahedron and the cube in the
modeling. When both are visualized, the figure has the ability to reproduce
itself indefinitely. It generates and regenerates itself mathematically,
like a fractal. It projects outward or inward in an infinite geometrical
There is an infinite series of octahedrons within cubes within octahedrons
within cubes. This is another way of viewing the matrix structure
which has been described elsewhere as the Vector Equilibrium Matrix,
and it shares its essence with the qabalistic Tree of Life geometry.
In hermetic magic, a lightbody vehicle, or body of light, is activated
to do more advanced magical work. The Mer-Ka-Ba is the vehicle of Light
mentioned in the Bible by Ezekiel. Some say in Egyptian, "Mer" means
Light. "Ka" means Spirit. "Ba" means Body or Reality. The word Merkabah
is Hebrew, meaning "chariot" or "vehicle", from the Hebrew root
meaning "to ride". Merkabah mysticism ("ma`aseh ha-merkabah") is
a branch of Jewish Kabbalah. It refers to Ezekiel's vision.
(see Gershom Scholem "Kabbalah" page 373). From Aryeh Kaplan "Meditation
and Kabbalah" page 19, we hear:
"The word Merkava comes from the root Rakhav meaning "to ride", and
hence means a "chariot" or "riding vehicle". In general, the concept of
riding involves travelling and leaving one's natural place. When the Bible
says that God "rides", it means that He leaves His natural state where
He is absolutely unknowable and inconceivable, and allows Himself to be
visualised by the prophets. One who "sees" God in this manner is said to
experience a Merkava vision. The term Maaseh Merkava or "workings of the
Merkava" refers to the setting up of a Merkava, that is, attaining a state
where a Merkava vision can be attained. From the context in which this
term is used in the Kabbalah texts, it is obvious that Maaseh Merkava refers
to the meditative techniques involved in attaining this mystical experience."
Most modern students of Qabala are familiar with the standard 2-dimensional
representation of the Tree, which is drawn "flat," even though the circles
are always conceived of as spheres. There is also a long tradition of a
so-called 4-dimensional Tree of Life diagram, based on The Book of Formation
-- Sephir Yetzirah. This geometrical figure consists of two interfacing
pyramids surrounding a central core, within an enclosing cube.
This octahedron-within-a-cube happens to be the crystal structure of diamond,
a face-centered-cubic lattice. Recalling that Abraham is also the patriarch
of the Moslems, it is interesting to note reference to a spiritual body,
a "diamond body", in the writing of Shaikh Amad Ahsa'i from the 13th century.
Speaking of a substance akin to that of the medieval Philosopher's Stone,
he equated the "diamond body" with the "Resurrection Body" of the faithful
believer in the Paradise of the future Aeon.
For the Qabalists, meditation on this figure provided a mystical body as
a vehicle for consciousness in imaginal space. This diamond body
was used during meditation to enter the inner court of Divinity, symbolized
by the center of the figure. Here the Beginning and End of time are co-temporaneous,
space ceases to be a hindrance, and the mystic beheld the ecstatic vision
of the Lord on His Throne. The geometry was a "gateway" to another dimension
This Alpha-Omega point has all the physical qualities of Vector Equilibrium.
The ancient meditation practice was known as Merkabah mysticism, and those
who practiced it called themselves, "Riders in the Chariot." They claimed
to see into the future. This insinuates that the figure is a "vehicle"
for moving consciousness through imaginal time and space. It seems to be
a metaphysical "time machine," or inter-dimensional gateway.
As in most design or mandala meditations, the aspirant pictures him or
herself at the center of the figure through visualization, contemplation,
and identification. Through this process of centering, these mystics came
to know themselves and God. Perhaps they learned, as Fuller later discovered,
of the unusual anomalous conditions of perfect equilibrium. This meditation
provided a specific technique for escaping from time. Its realization meant
instantaneous enlightenment, a paradoxical leap out of Time. It yields
Occultist, Paul Foster Case published an array of this type in his book,
The Tarot (1947). Aware of the ancient mystic practice, he included the
figure in his study of Qabala, calling it alternately the Key of the Cosmos
and Numbers, or the Cube of Space. Again, we have the form of the octahedron-within-
a-cube. Vector Equilibrium and the Cube of Space are mathematical duals,
or reciprocals of one another. They "jitterbug" back and forth as the figure
grows outward to fill all space. They are two ways of looking at the same
Case pointed out that its construction was based on the six-pointed Star
of David, (or Shield of David), also known as "The Star of the Macrocosm."
His descriptors of zero as a sacred, empty, consciousness field reiterate
the qualities of Vector Equilibrium.
Zero is a symbol of the absence of quality, quantity, or mass. Thus it
denotes absolute freedom from every limitation whatever. It is a sign of
the infinite and eternal Conscious Energy, itself No-Thing, though manifest
in everything. It is That which was, is, and shall be forever; but it is
nothing we can name. Boundless infinitely potential, living light, it is
the rootless root of all things, of all activities, of all modes of consciousness.
In it are included all imaginable and unimaginable possibilities, but it
transcends them all. The Qabalists call it: (a) No-Thing; (b) The Boundless;
(c) Limitless Light. Pure Conscious Energy, above and beyond thought, to
us it is Superconsciousness.
With their fascination for completely regular figures, the Greeks devised
a way of establishing XYZ coordinates within a cube. Our science and method
of orientation has been stuck with that model ever since. However, nature's
own most economical coordination is in triangles and tetrahedra, rather
than squares or cubes. Vector Equilibrium is more in line with modern Quantum
Mechanical models than the Newtonian XYZ. It expresses more degrees of
So, close examination of the underlying geometry of the Tree of Life reveals
that the ancients were not lacking a very deep intuitive awareness of the
true structure of matter and the universe. The underlying geometrical matrix
of the multi-dimensional Tree is, in fact, Vector Equilibrium.
Isis, as Virgin (Egyptian)
Xiuhtecuhtli (Aztec fire & hearth deity)
Other names: All virgin Goddesses including the Christian Virgin Mary;
Semetic Lilith; Roman Diana; Durga; Greek Athena Hestia/Vesta and
Artemis; Gnostic Sophia; Celtic Arianrod and Brigit
Brigit, another virginal goddess, is considered Goddess of Fire, Patroness
of smithcraft, poetry, and healing. She bestows her blessings on any woman
about to be married or handfasted ("Bride" is derived from Brigit). On
Brigit's Day, in honor of the Irish Goddess Brigit, 19 Priestesses (no
men were allowed) kept a perpetual flame burning in her honor.
Symbols: Unseeded ground; unsprouted seed; barren winter landscape; the
unplowed field; The Maiden; Sleeping Goddess; Yin; Sleeping Beauty
Attributes: Intuitiveness; Female energy; Receiving information from within;
Those who speak for Hestia today might include Betty Furness, consumer
advocate; or Heloise, of household-hint fame. She is also exemplified
by some attitudes of women in the "Moral Majority." She is alive
in the thousands of voiceless volunteers who keep our homes and communities
running smoothly. Most of her examples are neither well-known nor
vocal, as this is not their temperament. They seek to serve in a
quiet, selfless manner. An example of this archetype may have been
the voice of the housewife poet, Silvia Plath.
Modern devotees of spiritual disciplines offer themselves for seva or selfless
service, thereby building and expressing compassion. Other serve
humanity through community service.
DIALOGUE WITH HESTIA
Dialogue with Hestia through meditation. At least a 20 minute session
of quiet repetition of a word, or calm breathing can put you in touch with
your own center. Hestia's is the still, small voice, so must be very
quiet to hear it.
HESTIA IN YOUR LIFE
1. How do you feel about the repetitious duties of household
management? Do you give them the honor and value they deserve?
2. Can you derive a quiet, inner satisfaction from the little
chores or service you offer to another. Do you crave their gratitude
or offer it simply from love and warmth?
3. Do you have a special place, outside or inside in your imagination,
where you can center and ground yourself? Describe this experience
and how it feels.
4. Describe the fires smouldering in your deep center.
What do they connect you to?
5. Have you ever experienced a depression which led to renewal
of your spiritual volition? or drove you to seek solace within through
meditation or experiential psychotherapy?
6. The original meaning of Virgin is whole-in-herself.
Describe a period when you felt a connection with this virginal sense of
wholeness during a period of quiet reflection. Did you pause to notice
it as such at the time, or only upon reflection?
7. Imagine practicing "the yoga of contentment." How
would you describe your present situation if you looked at it from the
perspective of fulfillment as a "just so story." What complaints
and disappointments would be eliminated from your internal self talk.
What aspects of life would you now notice as simple blessings?
8. Do a quick reality check on your current situation in regard
to your idealized hopes and dreams, and daydreams. What does living
in the now mean for you in terms of contentment with your existential situation?
9. It has been said that we all serve somebody. Whom
do you serve, and in what capacity? Who do you serve spiritually?
10. What does compassion mean to you? What experiences
led to an increase in your sense of compassion? What humanitarian
causes do you support and how?
11. What mask (persona) are you presenting to the world? Whast emotional
reactions are you hiding with "detachment"? What contradictions and
tensions are you struggling to maintain control over? Where have
you expperienced recent victory or success in your life? What progress
are you making in testing your abilities in the outer world and in the