‘The Apotheosis of Heracles’, by François Lemoyne, Versailles castle.
Today’s sharing from the Blue House of HYGEIA is a quote from Professor Algis Uzdavinis in his ‘Philosophy as a rite of rebirth’, Prometheus Trust. Pages 204 to 205. It is connected with our on-going program, the Seven Myths of the Soul-in the section of HERAKLES, his apotheosis.
‘Unity within divine Intellect is derived from the One’s presence which is ineffable and transcends the realm of the ‘uttered’ noetic gods. For this reason, Plotinus thinks that union with the One (which is possible when the soul has already been ‘deconstructed’ and assimilated with ‘Nous’, i.e., when the soul re-establishes its initial Ra-nature) cannot be achieved by ritual, though purification and dialectic will lead upwards, due to the providentially arranged structure of the cosmos allowing this possibility. But the supreme goal is ‘outside the control of even the noblest philosophers’, as J.M. Rist pointed out.In this respect, one should remember that the Alexandrian Neo-platonist Hermeias (5th century A.D.) discussed the distinction between:
1. ‘he endon telestike’, ‘internal telestic art’, which makes our soul prefect and complete in all its powers.
2. ‘he exo telestike’, ‘external telestic art’, which helps to free our soul and body from troubling difficulties and furnishes us with a happy passage through life, clearly regarded as the process of purification (katarmoi) and rites (teletai) that set us among the gods (in Phaedr. 96.2-8; 97.23ff).
The external ‘telestike’ is further described as ‘anthropike kai technike telestike’, ‘human and technical telestic, which depends on the skill of the priests and is used in the cult of statues (peri tas therapeias ton agalmaton’, following the established law (nomos) of the city and native traditional customs. This ‘he technike telestike’ and the related hieratic life provide assistance to pious citizens by means of sacrifices, prayers, incantation and rites, involving plants and stones. (ibid. 99.14; 165.14-15).
Internal theurgy, or inspired telestic, makes the soul intellectually active according to all its powers which ultimately, are divine powers, and attributes. A. Sheppard tries to convince us that Proclus, following his master Syrianus, divided theurgy in three types; the third kind of telestic (also described as ‘theia philosophia, divine philosophy) serving to accomplish mystical union. Proclus, indeed, subdivides the ‘ritual’ of return into stages:
1. Just as by soul we attain likeliness to Soul (the realm of Osiris and Nur).
2. By heart-intellect to the noetic world (the realm of Ra and his Eye, Hator).
3. It is by ‘the flowers of intellect’ (anthos nou), by our ‘henosis’ (unity), we attain union with the One or rather with the Father of the Intelligible Triad, if the supreme union with the One itself is reserved for the ‘flowers of the whole soul’. Proclus partly follows Porphyry who offered some kind of identification between:1. The ‘huparxis’ in man.2. The ‘huparxis’ that is the One.
But Proclus cannot accept that Pophyry’s ‘huparxis’ (called Father by the Chaldean Oracles) is the supreme Principle in the transcendent hierarchy.
The threefold division of theurgy and the designation of its lower ritualistic aspect as ‘merely skillful’ is not correct, because every ritual has its inner dimension through which the human ‘huparxis’ can be united with the divine ‘huparxis’. All ‘sunthemata’, notwithstanding the level of their ritual taxonomy, provide a direct access to the divine. Only human capacities differ; therefore, each man attends to his sacrifice according to what he is and cannot surpass the proper measure.
In order to reach the One, the soul must be assimilated to the Whole (pan) by honoring all the gods, including the material ones, whose influence is universal and works on the principle of like to like (di’ homoioteta: De Myster. 193.18-19). In monistic metaphysics, ‘materiality is created out of substantiality’, as Iamblichus says, speaking about the Egyptian tradition (paradosis) from which Plato derived his doctrine of matter (Proclus In Tim. 117d, I.386). Therefore, matter serves as the index (deigma) of divine presence, or as the mirror that reflects the spiritual condition of the soul.
Proclus maintains that the telestic rites obliterate all stains produced by generation. This obliteration is accomplished through the ‘divine fire’ (dia tou theiou puros), i.e., through the flame of Gold, the Eye of Ra, the fiery Hathor-Sekhmet. Therefore, Heracles, being purified through the telestic art, obtains a perfect restoration to the gods (eis tous theous apokatastasios). Accordingly, he serves as a model both for:1. Philosophy.2. Theurgy. Which is called ‘theia philosophia’, greater than all human virtues and knowledge. Three ways of ascending to the divine are described by Proclus:
1. ‘Erotike Mania’, ‘erotic madness’-such as that which possessed Majnun and the Sufi martyr Al-Hussayn ibn Mansur al-Hallaj (A.D. 858-922), enables the ascent through love to divine beauty.
2. ‘Theia philosophia’ enables the ascent through truth to divine wisdom.
3. ‘Theourgike dunamis’, the grace-bringing power, enables the ascent through faith to divine goodness.’
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