Lonely trances and shared dreams

All religions have their bearings, their symbols. Their numbers. One for an absolute monotheism, three for a Trinitarian monotheism. For religions of the divine immanence, a few million or even billions. For others still, intermediaries, it will be seven or twelve.

The poet, who is neither rabbi nor pope or imam, may rather choose four or six.

How can one be sure of seeing clearly in these floating, lofty domains?

« There are four worlds (apart from the natural world and the alienated world). Only one appears at a time. These worlds categorically exclude the normal world, and they exclude each other. Each of them has a clear, unique correspondence with a place in your body, which is taken to another energy level, and receives instantaneous replenishment, rejuvenation and warming. »i

The human body has several specific points, which are nodes of passage, zones of convergence. At these points special bridges are initiated, connecting to these four worlds.

This is not here a question of shakra. The poet is elsewhere, dilated, honest, entrenched. He does not orientalize, he does not indianize. He pays with his person, takes risks, and puts himself in danger.

Michaux took drugs like a taxi.

How can you visit the stars when the meter’s running?

How to do what has never been done, how to know what has never been learned, how to tell what can’t be told?

It’s not given to everyone.

But Michaux knew. He knew how to keep a cool head when the brain melts.

Michaux goes, far, high, and he always comes back, from his tours in the turbulent, from his jaunts in the dilated, the incompressible. Others would have perished, gone mad. But not him. He thickens his blood, marks his tracks, accumulates a whole memory, which he comes to put down on paper.

Laying it down? With the hurricane?

« There are still two other « beyond », equally exclusive, closed, where one only enters thanks to a kind of cyclone, and to arrive at a world that is itself a cyclone, but the centre of a cyclone, where it is liveable and where even it is Life par excellence. You get there by transport, by trance. »ii

The cyclone: a weather phenomenon whose characteristic is the whirlwind.

Life: an organic phenomenon whose image is the spiral, popularized by DNA and kundalini.

Trance: a psychological phenomenon whose trajectory is the parabola, or perhaps the ellipse. These mathematical figures are indeed figures of speech.

But what is trance itself the figure of?

Trance is probably a figure of tension towards transcendence; a tense pole, an extended life, a wisdom heard.

« The insignificance of the constructions of the mind appears. Contemplation without mixture. One no longer thinks about affiliations, designations, determinations, one does without them; the wind has passed over them, a psychic wind that undoes them before they are born, before determinations, categories are born. »iii

It is sarcastic finding about the impotence of the mind. The mind is meaningless in its turns, detours and categories.

Weather report again: a « wind » passes over, undoing what has not yet been born. In exchange, without mixing, « contemplation ».

Undoing rather than doing, the poet’s lot on the hunt.

« Every man is a « yes » with many « no ». After the unheard-of and in some way unnatural acceptances, one must expect returns of « no », while something continues to act, which cannot be erased, nor can it go back, living on the sly of the Unforgettable. Ongoing evolution… »iv

Man is a « yes » with « no », – and maybe with « maybe ». But surely he is something else again, which neither « yes » nor « no » can grasp, and « perhaps » even less so. It is that « something » that continues to act. That « something » that is stolen, that is forgotten, that is alive.

Pieces of black diamonds, placed on the white sheet of paper, vibrate in variations, with colours and shadows.

One can live through a trance alone. But many can think in shared dreams.

iHenri Michaux Les Grandes Épreuves de l’Esprit. Gallimard, Paris, 1986.




The Kundalini Serpent and the Kabbalah Candlestick

The Gods have received many names in history, in all the languages of the earth. The unique God of monotheisms, himself, is far from having only one name to represent his uniqueness. There are ten, one hundred or even many more, depending on the variations of different monotheisms, on this subject.

In Guillaume Postel’s Interpretation of the Candlestick of Moses (Venice, 1548), based on the famous sephiroth, we find listed the ten names of the One God, as they are transmitted by the Jewish Kabbalah.

The first name is EHIEH: « I am ». He is associated with Cheter, the crown, superiority, multitude and power.

The second is IAH, which is found in compound expressions, for example HALLELU-IAH. His property is Hokhmah, wisdom, sapience, distinction, judgment.

The third is JEHOVIH, associated with Binah, intelligence, science, understanding.

The fourth is EL, associated with Hesed, that is mercy or sovereign kindness, and Gedolah, greatness.

The fifth is ELOHIM, which refers to Pashad as fear, terror and judgment. We associate Geburah with it, strength, punishment, judgment.

The sixth name is JEHOVAH, whose property is Tiphaeret, which means the honour and perfection of the beauty of the world.

The seventh name is JEHOVAH TSABAOTH, associated with Netzah, the perfect and final victory, which means the final achievement of the works.

The eighth name is ELOHIM TSABAOTH, whose property is Hod, praise and direction.

The ninth name is EL SHADDAI, to whom the property of Iesod answers, which means the foundation and base of all the perfections of the world.

The tenth name is ADONAÏ, which is accompanied by Hatarah and Malcut, which means « lower crown ».

This seemingly heteroclite list of ten main names calls for comments, the most salient of which I would like to report.

The order in which these names are placed is important. They are arranged in a figure (the « candelabra ») that has a vague body shape.

The first and tenth names (the beginning and the end) are under the sign of the crown, which is well suited to a reign.

The first three names refer to God in the higher world. The next three to God in the intermediate world. The next three to God in the lower world. Finally, the last name is a generic name, which refers to God in all his states.

EHIEH, אֶהְיֶה « I am » (Ex. 3,14). This is the very essence of God, the essence of Him who was, is and will be. It is the sovereign power.

IAH, יה. This name is composed of a Yod and a Hey, the two letters that symbolize respectively the masculine and the feminine. They are also the two letters placed at the beginning and end of the « very high and inexplicable name »: יהוה, the Tetragrammaton. It is associated with Wisdom.

JEHOVIH is the name of God, as it relates to Intelligence. It represents one of the ways to distribute vowels on the Tetragrammaton (supposed to be unpronounceable).

EL is the name of power, goodness and mercy. It is in the singular, and refers in a way to its plural form: ELOHIM.

ELOHIM, plural of EL, is the name of terror, fear and also of strength and resistance.

JEHOVAH, which presents another reading of the Tetragrammaton (another vocalization), is the virtue of the whole world.

JEHOVAH TSABAOTH is the Lord of armies, multitudes and final victory.

ELOHIM TSABAOTH is a similar name, meaning Gods of the armies.

EL SHADDAI which means « Almighty » is interpreted by Kabbalah as « feeding » and « udders of the world ». But it is also logically enough the « foundation », or « base ». Some add that this name of power, is « at the right of the seminal place in the great divine man ».

ADONAÏ is the common name of God. It summarizes and embodies all its properties.

These ten names are arranged to draw the mosaic  »candelabra ». Upon careful observation, it is not unworthy, I think, to propose the idea of a possible comparison with the « snake » of the Vedic kundalini.

In other words, the comparison of »names » with Vedic and Tantric shakras seems stimulating.

Let’s start with the three lower shakras. They can be associated with the three divine names that Kabbalah associates with what she calls the lower world.

EL SHADDAI, which is the « foundation » of the world according to Kabbalah, can be associated with the first shakra, Muladhara (which literally means « foundation support » in Sanskrit). In Veda culture, this shakra is associated with the anus, the earth, the sense of smell and the inciting awakening. As it is at the place of the « seminal place », the name EL SHADDAI can also be associated with the second shakra, the Svadhisthana (« seat of the self »), which refers in the Vedas to the genitals, water, taste and enjoyment.

The names ELOHIM TSABAOTH and JEHOVAH TSABAOTH can be quite easily associated with the third shakra, the Manipura (« Abundant in jewels »), which refers to the solar plexus, sight, fire and life force, which seems to apply to the qualifier of Lord or God of the « hosts ».

The name JEHOVAH, as it refers to the virtue of the world, can be associated with the fourth shakra, called Anahata (« Ineffable »), which is related to the heart, air, touch and subtle sound.

The names ELOHIM and EL, in so far as they relate to power, kindness and mercy, can be associated with the fifth shakra, Visuddha (« Very Pure »), which is related to the larynx, hearing, ether and sacred Word.

The name JEHOVIH, as it refers to Intelligence, can be associated with the sixth shakra, the ajna (« order »), which refers to the forehead, mind, spirit and truth.

The name IAH, which refers to Wisdom, can be associated with the seventh shakra, Sahasrara (« Circle of a thousand rays »), which is associated with the occiput, « vision » and yoga, with the ultimate union.

The name EHIEH will be left aside, not affected by these metaphorical analogies, since it is used as a tautology.

As for the name ADONAÏ, it is the most general name, we said. Therefore, it is not appropriate to involve it in these kinds of comparisons.

I would like to retain from this correspondence between the « kundalinic serpent » and the « mosaic candelabra » the idea that archetypal, permanent forms are sculpted, in the depth of our bodies as well as in the depths of our minds.

These archetypes, the « snake » or the « candelabra », represent a « tree » or « ladder » of hierarchies, and symbolize an ascent towards divine union, from a « base », the most material of all, the « foundation ».

These metaphors in Kabbalah and the Vedas refer to the same intuition: the ascent of man to the divine.