‘Higher’ is not intrinsically special by itself. Absent movement, and continuous transformation between higher and lower and lower and higher, higher becomes an irrelevant abstraction. But when experience directs us along a particular path, opens new vistas while closing and modifying others, punctuates contexts with more effective inclusivity, and actuates/accentuates the development of new capacities, ‘higher’ becomes a very real and useful way of describing the associated quality of consciousness.

In this sense, ‘lower’ can be experienced as ‘higher’ (eg. Jung –> Shadow). As a metaphor, ‘higher’ (which, we can never forget, always comes with ‘lower’) constellates the experience of our self-contextualization around a direction of potential movement. It creates a pattern that inclusively represents a series of alternative becomings and lends potential value to their realization.

Kept in motion, ‘higher’ and ‘lower’ are not necessarily problematic. This only happens when their constant r/evolving is artificially or arbitrarily stilled. Then ‘higher’ and ‘lower’ become weapons of Dis-tinction: the tincture made by Dis, another name for the god of the underworld, Pluto, whom only oaths and curses could reach. As the god of wealth (his name was originally Dis Pater, ‘Father of Riches’) he materializes the crystalline structures found within the Earth… not just as gold and gems, but as rigid habits of mind. His tincture keeps motion from arising through rigid constriction to form, and while this helps us to count (our money, our ideas), it obfuscates the healthy relationship (the transformation between) the ‘much’ and the ‘few’, the ‘higher’ and the ‘lower’, prejudicing one only.

Pluto - Hades

Pluto - Hades

Agostino Carracci, 1592

The way out of this Dis-ease (but not ease for us) is well known: follow the trail left by Persephone, who’s name means ‘the emerging’. Persephone is a goddess (the feminine aspect is crucial) who embodies the alchemical qualities of Water: change/process (http://www.spiritalchemy.com/p6-metaphors.html). She was abducted by Dis Pater/Pluto (Roman)/Hades (Greek) from near her favorite haunt, a springing fountain, as she was gathering flowers (read ‘flowers’ as a verb). Her mother Ceres/Demeter, in looking over her whole domain (the Earth) found only her belt floating upon a little lake made from the tears of the Water Nymphs. Plato even said of her (in his Cratylus) that “she is wise and touches that which is in motion”.

(The full context is interesting: “The first men who gave names [to the gods] were no ordinary persons, but high thinkers and great talkers . . . Pherephatta!–How many people fear this name, and also Apollon! I imagine it is because they do not know about correctness of names. You see they change the name to Phersephone and its aspect frightens them. But really the name indicates that the goddess is wise;for since things are in motion (pheromena), that which grasps (ephaptomenon) and touches (epaphôn) and is able to follow them is wisdom. Pherepapha, or something of that sort, would therefore be the correct name of the goddess, because she is wise and touches that which is in motion (epaphê tou pheromenou)–and this is the reason why Haides, who is wise, consorts with her, because she is wise–but people have altered her name, attaching more importance to euphony than to truth, and they call her Pherephatta.”)

The Rape of Proserpine

The Rape of Proserpine

Jan van Huysum

If we integrate the Plutonic (alchemically: Earth) with the Persephonic (Water) we prepare ourselves for Air, where what is above comes below, and what is below comes above; Persephone must spend half her time in the underworld and half above. It is in the oscillation between polarities that the ‘higher’ wisdom (in this case, represented by the seasons) can potentially manifest. Thus we see a difference between a ‘higher’ and a ‘higher-higher’: the meta-pattern remains.


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