Monday, January 24, 2011

Occultist interp - gnosis dictionary

from Pico article in Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism
950 Of particular importance in this regard is the role played by theology in Pico's attempt to creat an all-comprehensive system of knowledge, intended to embrace and reconcile the most difference rational and religious disciplines. His project of establishing a harmonius syncretism (concordia) between barious theological and philosophical doctrines was certainly based on intellectual foundations. For this reason, modern scholars have often considered Pico's thought to have been a strongly mundane achievement; but a closer inspection of Pico's texts allows us to perceive how closely connected Pico was to contemporary Christian religious position. As a matter of fact, all Pico's speculation expresses his faith and willingness to adhere to Christian orthodox views, although some scholars have assumed that for a man whose work was suspect to the Roman Church this was just a strategy in order to hide his real intellectual concerns. Nevertheless, his program of universal salvation obtainable from an intellectual knowledge starts from an elitist attitude, according to which esoteric doctrines are the unique way for the initiate to better understand his relationship with nature and God.
951 Following Ficino, Pico wanted to establish a beneficent magic based on ancient authorities, which might involve the celebration of special reituals for summoning angels; in this manner the human soul could be united with higher entities thus creating a path leading to Christ or directly to God. In his approach to kabbalistic mysteries, Pico highlighted the meaning of letters and angelic names, widely employing mystical techniques which were diffed within medieval Jewish mileus and were mostly available to the humant through Abraham Abulafia's treatises...
952 trend of comprehending Pico's speculation as an attempt to transcend physical limits by means of occult kabbalistic techniques at the theurgical production of a spiritual descent of efflux from above. However, it is also possible to explain the humanist's attitude in purely rational terms, if we maintain that the intellect of the wise man is attributed the privilege of raising itself up to the degree of the Active Intellect, where God's grace will meet it and lead it to the supernal realms of knowledge.

Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism
Number Symbolism -Jean-Pierre Brach
In order to bridge the gap betwen the immutable realm and the material world,
subject to change, Plato introduces, as manifesting an intermediary order of
reality, a series of "musical" proportions structuring the world-soul, which
is itself a middle-term between the intelligible Forms and the corpus mundi.
876 [Neoplatonism] On the theurgic, ritual side, numbers served as one of the mainstays of a
"sacramental" approach to Nature, in which each level of being provides a
rung sustaining the gradual ascension of the soul towards direct spiritual
contact with the divine entities; concurrently, numbers represent the
intellectual offering par excellence, something the soul must eventually
sacrifice to the higher deities, in order to transmute all cosmological
bounds which fetter its essentially spiritual essence.
876-877 in order to exactly understand the mathematical tenets contained in Plato's
dialogues and in order to ascribe to mathematics their correct place within
the general hierachy of knowledge and, accordingly, assess the ontological
status of number, the later strands of neoplatonism consciously "pythagorized"
the philosophical approach to reality.
877 If... the mathematical archetypes are no longer represented by the platonic
"Forms and Ideal Numbers", they become "essences" coextensive with the divine
mens and, as such, presiding over the creation. However, one may easily observe
that, according to both doctrines, numbers nevertheless continue to reflect
higher principles, as well as serve as models of the lower levels of reality.
Yet although influenced by neoplatonism like the rest of Augustine's general
thinking, his number-symbological speculations never depart from an exclusively
Christian perspective, structured at least around threefold correspondences...

880 Pico has done much for the "formal" (qualitative) aspect of
number to regain cultural favour, insisting on its importance
as regards "natural philosophy" or theology, as well as
highlighting its magical and kabbalistic functions

Renaissance Magic and the Return of the Golden Age: The Occult Tradition and ...
By John S. Mebane
38-39 Pico perceived the Cabala as a means of invoking the angels as a stage in our ascent toward complete knowledge of and unity with God, and in Reuchlin, Agrippa, and Dee there was increasing emphasis upon the Cabala as a source of techniques for a form of Christian theurgy.
Mebane uses the term theurgy in a chapter title but never really explains why he's using it, what he means in context of Pico's specific texts. Doesn't justify invocation of angels--seems to have uncritically accepted Yates' conjuring vision. Craven argues against the Yates conjuring vision, "no hint of theurgy is justified." Kabbalah according to Craven has been misinterpreted as a "source of techniques" rather Pico recognizes Christian doctrines in it not some Other magic that he can "mix" with Christianity. Yates had thought Pico's "magic and Cabala" led straight to the theurgy of these latter Cabalists, Reuchlin, Agrippa, and Dee. But regardless of whether they make more "Christian theurgy" out of Kabbalah, Pico does not seem to be getting angel magic from Kabbalah. He is clear about how he's using it in the Oration and 900, and doesn't use Kabbalah in the Heptaplus or BU.

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