by Simon Court
“Flame permeates all.” So wrote Lyndon Hardy in the magical novel Master of the Five Magics. This was the powerful Law of Ubiquity by which a wizard could evoke entities of non-human dimensions such as demons and control them. Our purpose here, however, is not the study of such demonic evocations.
The key to understanding the mysteries of relation and correspondence, across and between dimensions, can be encapsulated in this idea given clothing of a fantasy story. That is, permeability. There are many ways to view this and we will consider just two: the dimensional gaps between the parts that make up a person; and the dimensional gap between one person and the next. First let us look at the interperrneability of the dimensions of spirit and of matter. “I am a child of earth, but my race is of the starry heavens…” This we are encouraged to say and to realise. This interpermeability of heaven and earth occurs within our own selves. When we undertake our initial magical training we seek to work first upon the incarnate personality. In doing this we bring the structure of that incarnate vehicle into line with a properly balanced plan. In itself the incarnate personality becomes as the plan used, which in the Western Tradition is often, but not always, the Qabalistic Tree of Life, that “great glyph of man and the universe”. We have then produced a tool with which the evolving self may work in the world.
At this time the structure of these two selves conform. The evolving self need no more merely brood over the incarnate self but can now work through it. The way this occurs is through interpermeability. This is made possible by similarity of structure, or homomorphism to use the technical term. There is a teaching within the Western Tradition that the evolving self is not yet perfected but suffers from various deviations. These ideas can be found within the teachings of the Society of the Inner Light and the works of Dion Fortune and Gareth Knight. Western Tradition also includes in some quarters the idea that this evolving self may only learn through experience with matter.
Once interpermeability between incarnate and evolving selves is achieved this learning process accelerates being now direct, rather than “at arms length”. We can now use our magical and ritual techniques to further accelerate progress. For there is yet a further part of ourselves which broods over the evolving self. This is the Divine Spark or Monad, the truly imperishable and immortal essence of each one of us. This spark may also be drawn closer to an evolving self that has been refined into a fitting receptacle for it. Again, its entry is achieved through interpermeability based on similarity of structure. This brings spirit directly into incarnation in matter. At the same time matter is raised to the level of spirit. They interpermeate each other. Shankara, in the Vivekacudamani, says of such a one:
Though doing, he is inactive
Though bearing the fruits of past acts, unaware of them
Omnipresent, though locally walking about
Such a knower of Brahman
Ever living on as though bodiless
Is ever untouched by either pleasure or pain, goodness or evil.
The various selves are not really separate at all, but the illusion of separation is maintained according to the degree of interpermeability possible. The full permeation of the Divine Essence is a true incarnation of divinity in matter that we have prepared. What a great responsibility this is for us. The mystic, unlike the magician, goes straight to the heart of the matter (no pun intended). The devotional aspirant makes every act, every thought, every feeling, every scrap of experience that of the chosen deity. “It is not I that eats, but Shiva” one might say. This approach will in time align the incarnate and evolving selves with the inner divinity and the degree of permeation will increase. In the Gnostic Gospel According to Thomas, Jesus says: “Whoever drinks from my mouth shall become as I am and I myself shall become he, and the hidden things shall be revealed to him”. Read this as “…with my mouth…” and you have the exact prescription.
We can see this process symbolically enacted in the Christian mass and the events preceding it. It is taught that when a properly ordained priest consecrates the bread and wine incarnation of divinity within those elements is guaranteed. The Christians consume their god “under the veil of earthly things”. By making oneself the offered host, incarnation is likewise guaranteed. The mystery of transubstantiation occurs within the body and blood of the worshipper. Whether this is through consuming the wafer and wine or by becoming the host and chalice the process is the same – interpermeation.
Another word for this mutual permeation, and one much more expressive and elegant is “co-inherence”. This term was much used by the novelist and Christian mystic Charles Williams, both in reference to the matters we have considered already, and to the way that interpermeability may occur between individual people. In his Religion of the Summer Stars, Charles Williams describes the “founding of the company” which idealises the principles of co-inherence operating between individuals at three levels or in three degrees.
At the first level there is a mutual compassionate support amongst all the members. A certain degree of interpermeation has occurred and they “feel with” or “feel for” each other.
At the second level the degree of permeation increases to the point where they may actually and literally carry each others burdens and share the load. This is not sentimentality nor is it sympathy. It is a true sharing of joys and sorrows. It is as easy and natural to experience as it is difficult to describe. Charles Williams indicates that an open-hearted intention is all that is required.
At the third level the interpermeation is complete and the members of such a group are then “living each others lives, dying each others deaths.” Now in a way these three levels correspond with the three levels of our own individual selves. The level of co-inherence between individuals resonates with the degree of co-inherence between the different aspects of the one person. So we can see that to operate at the third level would require each individual to know the divinity within.
This mutual permeation, this total co-inherence, this recognition of the individual Divine Sparks as of the same fire, all of these are based upon this same “ground”. A Fraternity of the Co-inherence based upon the principles brought through by Charles Williams would therefore be achieving aims similar to those of any other Western Tradition. The Law of Ubiquity, then, operates to allow different orders of existence to interpermeate each other and so act as a single unit.
Lyndon Hardy chose fire as the principle for purposes relating to the story plot. However, in searching for that which permeates all levels, spirit and matter alike, we do not have to look very far. The great principle which permeates all existence of all levels is Life, symbolised by the Egyptian Ankh.
We could take the Ankh to remind us of the work of co-inherence at all levels. We could rephrase the Law of Ubiquity as “Life permeates all”. Or we could take our motto from W E Butler (Lords of Light) and say: “Life is ubiquitous”.