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After a time of purging

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Oct. 16th, 2013 | 06:04 am

I had been aware, for the last several months (since January of this year) that I had been turning away from intuitive/esoteric pursuits and focusing instead on academic work, more rational philosophical and political writing, and re-establishing a daily Islamic practice. It seems that a triggering factor may have been work I was doing in a work-at-your-own pace online course on Hellenistic astrology. One assignment was to read the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius. When I did, I sensed some affinities with Islam and felt a desire to pray Maghrib that day (around the 20th of January, I think), and I thereafter resumed the 5 daily prayers. The interest in Bosnia (bringing together Islam with a Slavic european sensibility), among other things, flowed from that.

Lately, however, I have been feeling a pull toward esoteric material again, beginning with The Secret Doctrine, in which I am near the end of volume 1, and then Rudhyar's Occult Preparations for a New Age, which is in part a reflection on The Secret Doctrine, 100 years after the founding of the Theosophical Society. I read Rudhyar's book a few years ago, but portions of it seem more relevant now, since my 40s are now complete.

I had been working on memorizing the Asma'ul Husna, with Bawa M's small book on them as a reference. Now that I am able to recite them in order rather fluently, I decided to bring Bawa's Morning Dhikr booklet with me on my walk yesterday. I have a 33-bead tesbih made of black coral (or so it is claimed) from Turkey that I use when I do practices on my walks. It was the first time I had done a complete dhikr/wird in a number of years. I noticed a sense of clarification of my energy, and also a sharpening of some frustration and anger I had been feeling.

In addition to the above, I had become drawn to the Tarot again recently. It should probably be said that there is an astrologer and author on Tarot in my state, who is/was a psychiatrist at a prestigious university hospital/clinic, now in some stage of retirement or semi-retirement. I subscribe to his blog and we are FB friends. We also spoke on the phone once when I had a question about something. He has been releasing a series of e-books recently, and I find that these releases tend to stimulate my interest in these topics. In any event, I have decided to acquaint myself better with the Crowley/Harris Tarot. Yesterday I finally got around to beginning some intuitive work with this Tarot. The card that I drew seemed to pinpoint an issue with my partner. Following this psychiatrist/author's advice, I focused first on my subjective impressions, based on the images on the card and any intuitive/feeling associations that came up in relation to them, and then looked up a written meaning. The correspondences were striking. I may do another one today. The idea is to draw a card and then see how things play out with respect to that archetype during the day. Yesterday, after my partner came home from school, he initiated a brief conversation on an issue that had come up for him the day before in therapy, and that my Tarot card reading had seemed to point toward: it seems that we have both been so busy that we have both been feeling somewhat alienated from our relationship. Our current circumstances seem to require more effective communication, since there don't seem to be as many easy opportunities for intervention as there may have been in the past.

The ease of correspondence between the draw of the Tarot card and what had been going on in my mind, combined with the sense that the dhikr had brought some energies into sharper focus, led me to check out what is going astrologically with my chart. It turns out that, just as I had supposed, Saturn has now moved past my Sun, which may account for a slight loosening of boundaries. (In fact, Saturn, is now approaching Neptune in my chart, which is close to my Sun, and Neptune represents fluid boundaries.) I also noticed that the North Node of the Moon is currently in the same degree as my Sun, and that Neptune is also moving retrograde over my Jupiter. The latter two transits seem significant, as the South Node of the Moon was moving over my Sun when I received initiation from Amma in 2004, and Uranus was moving back and forth over my Jupiter when I met X (who introduced me to Amma) and while I had ups and downs in my friendship with him (2003-04). So, some of the same planets that were being transited during that intense period are being transited now (but by other planets or nodes), but the effects are more subtle due to the different influences affecting those places, plus whatever I may have digested by now of my previous experiences.

In addition to noticing these astrological factors, which seemed to correlate to a more porous, intuitive approach to things on my part, there was a post in GLBTQ Sufis this morning that had to do with Bawa M's attitudes toward homosexuality. Since I know two of the respondents personally (having met them through that list, which I co-founded with a dervish that I met on a gay Muslims list), I thought the timing of this was interesting, in that I had just done Bawa M's dhikr for the first time yesterday. Characteristically for that list (and for those particular dervishes), one response was good and the other seemed like nonsense to me.

Finally, because I must get going, for all that I have been expressing frustration recently at my official classroom teaching situation (and rightfully so), individual students have begun to seek me out for independent study and/or research collaboration. One is an undergraduate composer in our program and the other is an Iranian grad student in physics who is part of the lab team of a cognitive psychologist. He and the cognitive psychologist have both arrived from another state and are setting up a lab that will deal with, among other things, cognitive studies in music. (It is, of course, rather common in American academia to fund the cognitive study of things like music and language, while underfunding the practical study of music and languages themselves.) The grad student sought me out and we met last week. He identifies as Persian and Shi'a, although liberal and non-religious. He chooses to focus on the survival of some Zoroastrian elements in Shi'ism, and is openly anti-Salafi. In my opinion, he exaggerates the extent to which "Islam forbids music," for example. He seems himself opposed to those kinds of attitudes, and he had some questions for me regarding research methodology with respect to possibly doing some cognitive work on musical intervals in Persian music. The undergrad student who is doing an independent study with me recently asked if I would co-apply with him for a research grant, which has the possibility of tying in with some of my research interests.

I don't want to exaggerate the potential significance of this new development, but in some respects it seems as if a couple of students are finding me in an intuitive way, still connected with the official institution, but not so much dominated by the public school atmosphere of trying to drag everyone through a prescribed curriculum.



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