The Cartomancer: Self-Help

The Cartomancer: Self-Help June 29, 2017

Camelia Elias: Sigil, ink on archival paper.
Camelia Elias: Sigil, ink on archival paper.

I was looking for some texts today. Among the papers I stumbled over a sigil I made for my partner two years ago. The sigil came with a quotation from Van Morrison, a household favorite singer.

‘You take stuff from different places, and sometimes you stick a line in because it rhymes, not because it makes sense.’ (Van the Man, Into the Mystic)

This in turn made me think about another line from Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj:

‘All knowledge is ignorance.’

I happen to consider Nisargadatta my root guru. In Mahayana Buddhism the root guru gives direct transmission. In the context of tantra, the root guru gives the initiation that ripens the mind. In my own understanding the root guru lights up your light in such a way that when you stumble into him, you simply go: ‘Why are you talking like me? These are my thoughts exactly!’

When Nisargadatta goes, ‘All knowledge is ignorance’, what I experience is the truthfulness of this statement beyond any doubt, an understanding of how, since all concepts are dependent on language, symbolic glyphs and cultural conventions, there is no way in hell I can rely on ‘knowledge’ to get me beyond the various forms of ignorance, all heavily anchored in the imaginary.

This is good enough for me: To know that there’s nothing outside of my mind that is not already a projection of some linguistic fiction. I’m grateful to Nisargadatta for having shredded my head for a very long time, beyond time.

I find the busting of all conceptions very healthy for adopting a particular attitude, and for understanding why such an attitude is needed whenever we deal with metaphysics.

In the case of ‘all knowledge is ignorance,’ the attitude is not to doubt the obvious, how all knowledge, anchored in concepts, is ignorance, but rather to marvel at all beliefs that would hold the opposite, namely the claim that knowledge is related to enlightenment. Even logically speaking this is not possible. How can it be?

As knowledge cannot describe reality, only represent it in distorted ways, it goes to prove that what we’re dealign with always and without any exception is the transaction with how we unsuccessfully ‘help’ ourselves whenever we think that there’s advancement in our spiritual understanding of this or that.

You need not go anywhere for proof of this than to your local bookstore. Search for the shelf labelled: Self-help books. Pick up one such book and look at the string of recipes inside, promising everlasting this or that happiness.

These recipes, often devised as ritual and invocation, come from someone’s own personal experience and vulnerable story (that one sells the best), whose aim is to empower, develop, transform, teach, and enlighten.

Whoa, that’s a whole lot of concepts, yet all leading to the same: Experience does not enlighten. It creates more experience. A desired identity to be like this god or that goddess does not satiate. It creates more desire.

Ritual has only one function: To bring your attention to your intention. The same with invocation and banishing. The imaginary gives form to emptiness, but the thing itself that you conjure into being is still devoid of inherent substance.

If you can balance between relative and absolute reality, or between ritual and emptiness, then you get to have a ‘spiritual’ experience beyond both the spiritual and experience itself. The realization of emptiness happens within ritual, the relative plane of perception, but at the end of the day both ritual and its emptiness are in union.

Let’s exemplify:

This week I answered a question about banishing self-doubt that was suggested as part of a global ritual: ‘You draw down this goddess beyond any self-doubt, and you’re so IT.’

The big question

‘I’m so excited about working within this particular spiritual tradition and all the rituals of invocation that go with it, but I want to know what ‘banishing self-doubt’ is all about. Is that necessary?’

A very good question.

I answered it with a 3-card string side by side, one for the self, represented by the Hermit, the Hanged Man, and the Charioteer, and the other for the ritual that calls for the banishing of self-doubt, represented by the Moon, the Fool, and Judgment.

Millenium Marseille Tarot, as reconstructed by Wilfried Houdoin (Photo: Camelia Elias)
Millenium Marseille Tarot, as reconstructed by Wilfried Houdoin (Photo: Camelia Elias)

I said the following:

‘Contemplation and renunciation of who you think you are is the way forward. Acknowledging that you’re subject to conditions you can’t control goes somewhere. The other thing? It’s just insane illusion and brouhaha. Forget about it.’

The gist of this statement was to make the other think about the implication of banishing self-doubt. What would happen if you allowed self-doubt to infuse your ritual?

Might you discover that the gods and goddesses you conjure are not outside of your material brain and conceptualizing mind?

Would it be so dreadful if you discovered that your strange experiences, hearing voices, meeting gods and conversing with goddesses, is all part of no metaphysics, no reality, no truth, no knowing?

And why all this NO? Simply because there’s nothing that you can conjure to your mind that’s not already departed in language. Hence you’re never beyond borrowed concepts.

‘But I like all these rituals,’ the other said, ‘how can I just go Zen on them?’

My final answer to this was: ‘You can do anything you want. But just know that you’re never doing anything special than sticking a line in because it rhymes, not because it makes sense.

Abiding in the state prior to consciousness, the simple and silent state beyond proclamations, will make your gods and goddesses weep, but the understanding that you gain in that state is that YOU, the you prior to the cultural self and self-doubt, encompasses all. Now go and ask yourself about what you need.

Next time you make an invocation, think of all the words you use for it. Then think of this awareness that goes into realizing how all knowledge is ignorance.

I bet your voice in greeting your gods will have a different tone, one that goes beyond labels, beyond seeing the mighty power you invoke as if coming from afar, way beyond your field of perception, all the way from heaven or hell.

Prior to consciousness, there’s no far and near, there’s no, ‘this god helps me help myself,’ there’s no prosperity and fertility, happiness and joy, cool experience and fancy dress. There’s only: Not this. Not that. And this. And that.

Stay in the loop for cartomantic activities.


Browse Our Archives