Exorcising Neo-Platonism 3: Old Crows & Gardens

So, I found myself at the liquor store because, well, it was time for more liquor. Rum is good for offerings, and I recalled the Radio Free Golgotha podcast (Yep: episode 2) mentioned how one of their spirit allies preferred Old Crow whiskey over other choices because the bottle has a picture of a crow on it. Now, as a Morrigan kid, I thought the other day, “Hey, I should see if they have any Old Crow.”

They did, indeed, have Old Crow. I got some and a bottle of different rum—I’d been asked for “better rum,” and, well, I will tell you that Calypso rum, which happens to be twice the proof of the stuff I’d been using, went over well.

Anyway, I walk out of the liquor store with my new booze, including Old Crow, and I hear a crow immediately, and I smile at the crow’s call. I’ve noticed that as I pay attention these days, the calls are very much—familiar. At home, I have flashes over the course of the day of murders of crows flying in shadowed woods, and similar images. Finally, the time comes for me to offer up some Old Crow to An Morrigan.

Ahgahd She was tickled and loved it. She practically cackled with unironic glee and tore into it. I got this sense of Well, y’know, I AM an Old Crow, and calls to, well, have some, too.

So, why?

Well, magical images. I mean, how many correspondences and practical magic amplifiers and spells involve bringing together related powerful images (or power images) to help augment whatever magic we’re doing? And for Old Crow, you have an image of a crow on the bottle—and much like a candle with an image of a saint on it does something more than just a white pillar candle, so does a crow bottle of whiskey do something other bottles don’t. At least for spirits & beings who have a crow thing. I suspect the name matters some, too, but only as a supplement—and I wonder if the name is more a modality for my linguistic mind than too much a concern for, say, An Morrigan.

Even Calypso rum features a picture of a female pirate on it, but there’s a sense of its naming, at least, as the packaging identifies, well, the nymph Calypso. Compared to the male commodore pirate rum I’d been using, maybe that matters. However, I do wonder how much  having more spirits in my spirits mattered to the spirits.

More Images

I had the experience as I walked into my space the other night after being out for a while that someone was in the room, and I offered a Hello only to realize I’d just greeted a wall of sigils. I’m in a course over at Rune Soup presently, and Gordon White encourages shoals of sigils. So I have a shoal of sigils up for some low-attention processing: I see them occasionally, and that attention helps them bridge my conscious world into the Unconscious/Otherworlds.

And the thing is, the activation process renders them living. Going back to my idea about images & symbols as windows that are also eruptions or instantiations of whatever spiritual reality lies beyond, they are alive—are spirits and were “activated” through a spirit-aided process—and they open into some kind of Unconscious reality relating to the intention and desire I used in ensigiling them.

And at that point, I noticed them on the wall and greeted them rather warmly. As I turned over towards my altar, I saw my images, icons, statues—gods, spirits, allies, Cyprian now—and I felt them, as well. And, well, there’s not a good concrete distinction to make there other than They occupy a more persistent and prominent place in my life and reality, and the sigils reflect more specific events, circumstances, things, and so on I’m trying to bring into my reality here.

What this isn’t, though, is some kind of Neo-Platonist cosmogenesis—it’s far more my attempt to get away from my unexamined Neo-Platonism and materialist assumptions and more into an enchanted life and world and also an animist engagement with it.

And it’s not just symbols, metaphors, and “mere” images: An Morrigan is there, but so are the sigils, and so are the images and black post-its with silver ink on them. And as I work with my practice, I try to also be there. My spirit I try to bridge more into my life here and now: after all, my body is the image and icon and sigil that is both an eruption of my deeper self and also a window for her.

Featured Image: Public Domain via Pixabay

3 thoughts on “Exorcising Neo-Platonism 3: Old Crows & Gardens

  1. Based on my brief perusal of wikipedia’s Neoplatonism webpage prompted by the title and reading of your post, I am struggling to understand how your description of “getting away from” your “unexamined Neo-Platonism” is shown in, for example:

    “I see them occasionally, and that attention helps them bridge my conscious world into the Unconscious/Otherworlds”.


    “My spirit I try to bridge more into my life here and now: after all, my body is the image and icon and sigil that is both an eruption of my deeper self and also a window for her”.

    Those phrasings ring familiar to the descriptions on wikipedia’s Neoplatonism webpage such as:

    “This is reached through contemplation of the primeval Being, the One — in other words, through an ecstatic approach to it.”


    “It is only in a state of perfect passivity and repose that the soul can recognise and touch the primaeval Being. Hence, the soul must first pass through a spiritual curriculum. Beginning with the contemplation of corporeal things in their multiplicity and harmony, it then retires upon itself and withdraws into the depths of its own being, rising thence to the nous, the world of ideas.”

    Where your post appears to differ from Neo-Platonism is in that you do not seem to be seeking “silence and utter forgetfulness of all things” but still seeming to want a form of contact with “God, the foundation of life, the source of being, the origin of all good, the root of the soul” and “the highest indescribable bliss”, “swallowed up by divinity, bathed in the light of eternity”, the main inferred differences being quibbles with words such as ‘light’ and ‘good’ and ‘source’ and ‘God’ even while making comparable usages.

    All these observations could rather simply be the result of projecting my own “unexamined Neo-Platonism” onto your post. All I am really looking for is to learn how your experiences and desires differ from that of Neo-Platonists; what do you feel is the detriment derived from Neo-Platonism such that you benefit from its rejection or “exorcising”?

    Thank you for reading my reply to your post; I hope you will be willing and able to respond to it.



    1. The distinction I would say is a matter of perspective bias. Neo-Platonism gets at all of that, but it does so hierarchically and distances the spiritual/magical/ideational away from material, earthly reality. The NP model prioritizes–indeed, grants greatest reality to–the spiritual and removes it from everyday lived experience. The magical images and symbols and so forth typically remain *purely* symbolic, and whatever interaction with them remains conceived of as within a contemplative mode. Systems building on Neo-Platonist assumptions can ultimately defer access to the spiritual within this life and world. In divorcing spiritual reality from material reality, nature and bodies and persons are also more easily disenchanted and rendered wholly objectified and commodified because, in a way, none of it has the significance and importance that is removed to a separate spiritual (or higher) realty. NP & that hierarchical, Great Chain of Being separation helps give us dualism, materialism, and more.

      In comparison, I’m trying to get at a more animistic world view without labeling animism as “primitive” while also trying to find what constitutes MY animism and not just trying to adopt another culture’s animism in an appropriative (or “orientalist”) mode. And in that animism, those plants, images, statues, people even aren’t just symbols, metaphors, or objects–they have an enchanted, spiritually-endued reality and significance. At the same time, there are depths to that spiritual reality not immediately accessible: the statue of a madonna has its own distinct spiritual presence that anchors or erupts into this world through the material basis of the statue, but that individual madonna statue spirit runs deeper and probably relates/connects/connects into the depths of whatever spiritual complex of Madonna is deeper. That statue’s individual existence isn’t negated–it becomes one voice in the “choir of madonnas,” just as everyone’s pet cat or dog or the forest and its trees are voices in those respective spiritual choirs and within the larger choir of life.[1]

      And while hierarchies exist, I try to reorient my own experience of that enchanted reality as more relational and horizontal. In that sense, it’s more ecosystemic than contemplating some Platonic ladder to sublime heights of Truth and getting closer to some monistic totality and discarding material life here. Instead, for example, using rosemary in my practice isn’t using something that SYMBOLIZES Sun and fire and purification/protection: the rosemary sprig I’ve cut came from someone I tend to and who has a spiritual presence and significance and who helps and tends to me in her way–and that spirit’s qualities include what NP and the technical hermetica classified as representing those “symbolic” traits. They aren’t symbolic traits so much as rosemary’s traits: humans just associated them with and relocated them to forces and beings further up the Great Chain and away from a “lowly” plant and species.

      Hopefully what I’ve said here helps frame and clarify part of my enterprise in these posts. I realized a little while back that those assumptions and biases were undergirding how I was relating to and even imagining my relationship to the world, so I’ve been trying to get at them.

      [1] Not to limit or constrain beings within mere choirs of taxonomy, which also hews close to the tree-like hierarchical structure of NP modes of thought rather than a more rhizomatic horizontal and intermingling model.


  2. I agree that it is a matter of perspective. Philosophy as a whole is an attempt to organize the ‘massa confusa’ of observed phenomena, and any model or organization can be accurate or inaccurate, effective or ineffective, depending on its purpose and the context in which it is placed. Chain of Being (Aristotle) can be horizontal or vertical, and seems to become vertical when value within a certain context, e.g. money, is applied to the chain.

    A human steps on a spider thus appearing to having more ability to affect the spider and be unaffected by the spider than vice versa, and this would put humans higher on a chain of being that applies position in that chain to ability to affect and remain unaffected. But if one measures ecological effectiveness by use of insects as food, a spider can make more ecological use of eating a cricket than a human can, putting spiders higher on that chain. To try applying a Great chain, definitive and be-all-end-all, seems nauseatingly foolish though some still appear to try.

    Rhizomes are essentially chains that sprout more chains in other directions, so the idea of relationship between two objects does not seem to be the issue you have with NP. Use of a model does not detract from the interconnectedness of beings and ideas unless one tries to strictly apply a particular model to broad-ranging phenomena. Even saying that there are two different objects is inherently dualistic; comparative or dualistic consideration is a useful phenomena of consciousness. Where dualism becomes a problem is when it is over-used, over-simplifying relationships, resulting in decisions that are not effective within a full ecology.

    Symbols are not ‘merely’ anything, to me. Every symbol’s qualities are ecological, being multi-layered (having interrelated meanings in different contexts), poly-valent (having multiple meanings in the same context), multi-dimensional (having qualities on multiple planes of existence e.g. physical planes as well as non-physical planes), and cannot be fully known or understood by a human consciousness. The symbol becomes an entity unto itself through its relationship with all of these meanings, much like you described of the sigils and icons. A sign, contrasted with a symbol, reflects a communication of something known, a traffic stop sign for example, having a singular meaning and intended for a particular context, such as intending to halt motion toward the readable portion of the traffic stop sign. So to say that Rosemary shares qualities with the Sun and Fire, especially if it was grown via photosynthesis with light provided by the Sun, does not appear inaccurate to me nor does it in any way reduce its importance or make it “lowly” in comparison to the Sun. It is more of a “yes-and” than “either-or” thing for me.

    I suppose the summary of all that is that NP is only detrimental to those who do not know the instances and the degree to which it can be used effectively, like with “unexamined NP”. And I think you and I agree that materialism is grossly inadequate as a measure for experience.


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