So, for people who don't know me well it might seem weird that my return to blogging is a post about Holy Thursday. People who do know me well know that Lent gives me a raging hard on, and Holy Saturday is the sexiest day of the year...from a mystical point of view, at least in my mind. But then again, I was once accused of being an undercover Catholic priest spying on the occult. (I'm not...)
A lot of our cultural, and for many of us our personal, foundations are tied to the imagery of Christianity. That alone makes it a rich source from which to mine symbolism and ideas for the mystic. Outside of that foundation, it is an important link in the Chain of the Mysteries of which Eleusis and Thelema also are links. So when we take out all the weak minded BS of corrupt institutions and doddering sheeple we can grab hold of some of the force and fire of meaning held within that particular expression of truth.
Now...why Holy Thursday? Because the Gethsemane is an excellent depiction of the ordeal of the Master of the Temple and of the way True Will can not always be fun, but ultimately leads to triumph. Plus it involves symbols that appear in our more contemporary systems as well.
Joshua Ben Joseph, Jesus, prays to the Most High to let the cup of suffering pass from him, but acknowledges he will accept it. He doesn't want to...like at all...but he'll do it, if it's truly what's set before him. He'll get whipped, he'll get his bones broken, and he'll die in agony. Because, it's the work he was made for, it's how he can contribute to the reparation of the world.
Critics like to point to this as a sadism that defies logic. A loving God condemns his son to something incomprehensibly horrific to save his creation from a defect he tricked them into incurring.
We can look at it a little more Gnosticly. God isn't consciously choosing to beat his kid, he is the totality of everything. His plan isn't a crafted product of intellect, it is the Harmony of all potentials moving perfectly together. There is no defect, the condition of the world with its diversions and errors is a state necessary for the totality to manifest into individual pieces.
From that stand point the events are less hate parading as love and are more a man and a given circumstance. A circumstance, full of suffering. But cups....cups are full of ecstasy and fornication. How is a cup of suffering fitting in?
Let's talk about suffering. We often think of magic and mysticism as an answer to suffering...they offer themselves as a means of countering the suffering of the world. But such a process sometimes brings it's own suffering or difficulty. Sometimes what's best for us isn't easy or isn't what we want.
Sometimes we want to have fun. Sometimes we want to be called to something which seems epically cool...but we just aren't. What's worse...sometimes what is best for us to do just seems terrifying or awful. But if it's our Will it will work out.
The cup runs deeper though.
Crowley says in Liber B vel Magi "Now the grade of a Magister teacheth the Mystery of Sorrow".
He describes Babalon's cup of fornication as a cup of sacrifice into which the Saints bleed out every ounce of their being.
In historical studies of famous mystics it is often noted the intense emotional struggles and the gripping depression which routinely characterizes their experiences.
People might say that such superior people who have their shit together on a divine level should be above it all. People who say that are full of shit. Being mystically inclined doesn't mean you have your shit together or are privy to the inside track to awesome. It hopefully gives you perspective and insight, and that can be distracting and sometimes unnerving.
A lot of historians suggest that this tendency to depression is based on the unnerving nature of insight. From a divinely inspired perspective you see the potential, the goodness, the way things could and should be. But as a human you also see things the way they are. That disconnect can be a big let down, it can be endlessly frustrating, and it can seem insurmountable.
The cup of Babalon brings us to Binah, the sphere of Understanding. With this we transcend Knowledge and therefore distinction and we COMPREHEND the world.
Understand. Comprehend. Important words. They can help us really grasp what's going on. When we cross the Abyss we don't go in carrying nothing. We take everything with us. All our knowledge, all our experience, every part of the world we carry with us goes into the cup. That Sacrament...the Eucharistic vessel made from all that is, the sum of your life equated to the world...is how we gain understanding, how we comprehend the totality.
It's a tough process. It's a big sacrifice. But on top of that your perspective shifts to encompass so much more, and so much more closely, than before. You share in a greater sympathy and thus are open to suffering.
This is the real pain. Not the struggles of whips and carrying crosses but hanging on a cross embracing a flawed disjointed world into your being. The moment where you breach the barrier between yourself and the infinite and you feel isolated and alone. That feeling afterwards where you know how good it should be but you feel so much for the world around you and its pain. Suffering.
But the cup of suffering is a chalice of ecstasy.
Crowley also says in Liber B: "Let the Magus then contemplate each in turn, raising it to the ultimate power of Infinity. Wherein Sorrow is Joy."
We accept the cup. We move forward. We get shit done. We go balls deep into our True Will regardless of difficulty. We finish like the boss of all bosses.
When Jesus accepts the cup, he gets taken by the Sanhedrin. Peter takes a sword, cuts off the ear of one of the assailants, and then Jesus stays Peter's hand and heals the soldier. The sword isn't a tool of rage, but rather of forgiveness.
The sword isn't Peter's tool, rather it is a tool allowing the illustration of the implementation of Will. In ceremonial magic this is the purpose of the sword. It represents the directional element of Will projected into being. In a way it represents the triumph of accepting who you are. You follow the force of your trajectory and carry the things around you into their necessary motions.
We forgive that sense of suffering and triumph such that the the suffering becomes joy. We succeed. We help bring things to where they should be. We do this by extending our Will into the world and actualizing it.
Drinking from the cup takes us to the point where we know who we are and what we're doing. Commanding the sword carries that experience into reality. That's the point where suffering and joy equate. The success that comes from our efforts. Simply sitting on your duff smug in your attainment and doing no work is failure (and usually betrays that the attainment is imaginary anyway). Failure from a will-less choice to be ineffectual isn't joy.
I would also note that the cup and the sword of course mate together, male and female showing the interplay of reception and projection.
So drink deep, wield the sword, and make your Thursday holy.