Below you will find a range of papers written by members of the faculty for the MA in Myth, Cosmology and the Sacred. Click on the plus sign to see an abstract and also the link to read the full paper.
Voss, A. 'Father Time and Orpheus'
This chapter from The Imaginal Cosmos (2007) takes as its starting point a small painting attributed to Giorgione, named ‘The Astrologer’ (Phillips Collection, Washington DC). It depicts a musician next to an old man with an hourglass in the landscape, with a setting sun. I take this to be iconic of Marsilio Ficino’s astrological music therapy, and I explore the connection between music and astrology in Ficino’s De vita coelitus comparanda (‘How to fit your life to the Heavens’).
Voss, A. 'Fireflies and Shooting Stars: Visual Narratives of Daimonic Intelligence'
In this chapter from Daimonic Imagination: Uncanny Intelligence (2013), I explore the phenomenon of the daimon in Neoplatonism in relation to the visibility of spiritual intelligences as lights. I draw on Iamblichus, Synesius and Henry Corbin’s writings on the mundus imaginalis, I conclude by considering contemporary paranormal phenomena, and suggesting that the mode of ‘imaginal’ vision is little understood in our contemporary literal world.
Voss, A. 'The Power of a Melancholy Humour: Divination and Divine Tears'
This chapter from Seeing with Different Eyes, Essays in Astrology and Divination (2007), centres on the music of John Dowland and the spiritual power of melancholic art in the Hermetic revival of the English Renaissance. I discuss the symbolism of the planet Saturn, and focus on Dowland’s musical theme of ‘Lachrimae’ which was his leitmotif. I conclude that his Lachrimae of Seaven Teares for five viols and lute offers the possibility of a Hermetic ascent through the spheres to the listener who can enter imaginatively into this powerful metaphor.
Wilson, S. 'A Religion of Black and White'
In this article, originally published in the Temenos Academy Review (2012), I explore different levels of the sacred symbolism of black and white. I trace them to their highest meaning, beyond all form, beyond all colour, and even beyond the reach of the imagination, where black is white and white is black and everything dazzles and nothing dazzles.
Wilson, S. 'René Guénon and the Heart of the Grail'
In this paper, originally published in the Temenos Academy Review 18, I explore the central role played by the symbolism of the Grail in the thought of the great Perennialist René Guénon, and suggest a new way of understanding both the Grail and the Perennial Philosophy.
Wilson, S. 'The Grail Utopia in Southern Germany'
In the article, originally published in the Temenos Academy Review 14, I look at the mysterious links between the Grail Chapel of the romances and a church in Bavaria. What happens when esoteric symbols from literature are given concrete physical form?
Cornelius, G 'Divination, Participation and the Cognitive Continuum'
This discussion develops anthropological theory with respect to divination, clarifying the concepts of divinatory address and the unique case of interpretation. Lucien Lévy-Bruhl’s pioneering formulations are considered in the light of the well-known studies on Azande divination by E. E. Evans-Pritchard, and in the relatively recent description by Barbara Tedlock of the ‘cognitive continuum’ at work in divinatory interpretations. It is suggested that Tedlock’s description augments Lévy-Bruhl’s analysis and resolves apparent contradictions and inadequacies, rendering it appropriate to the cross-cultural study of divination.
Cornelius, G 'The Divinatory Dialogue: Theros and Hermeiois'
The analysis of divination is taken forward from its anthropological foundation in Lucien LévyBruhl’s participation mystique and Barbara Tedlock’s cognitive continuum. A hermeneutic approach is proposed, developed from the descriptions of divinatory pre-sentiment and address, and resolving the procedure of divination into a double-consciousness. Drawing on indications from classical and Hellenistic thought, this is expressed in complementary and dialogical terms as a seeking and enacting in the known world of our concern – theoros – and a responding from the oracular place which is beyond or unknown – hermeios. The interpretation of symbol, characteristic of inductive divination, is suggested to be the task of hermeios.
Cornelius, G 'Prophecy and Provenance'
Divination is something that people do in order to bring benefit and wisdom into their affairs. Since like other practical arts and crafts it can be undertaken without much thinking-about it, divination’s chaotic variety and liberality of scope render it unattractive to the philosophic mind schooled in clarity of definition and conceptual abstraction. Much folk divination comes over as superstitious and crass, and what passes as its theory is patently illogical. From the empirical point of view its phenomena are anecdotal and subjective, difficult to frame and replicate, and resistant to analysis. Ethnography has taken up the question of divination, but with very few exceptions this is about safely-distant tribes and cultures who are not us. Where anthropology has given an account of divination, the topic has often been treated as a subset of magic, thus losing focus on its distinctive epistemological features (Johnston, 2008, p.26).