Within the Hermetic Qabalah Malkuth, ‘the Kingdom’, is the basal and most important sphere on the Tree of Life – without it you’re not here at all. 🙂 Malkuth has many functions. On the personal level it points to how the ‘self’ interacts with the external physical world via the senses. This interaction is a two way street – we breath in, and we breath out, we see and are seen. Therefore the most important ‘virtue’ of Malkuth is often described as discrimination – the ability to set boundaries and decide what we take into ourselves and what we reject.
Discrimination functions first at a basic physical level – if we do not discriminate between a cheese toastie and a dishrag we are in big trouble. Less dramatically so but equally true for various foodstuffs on the market today. 🙂 We learn the art of discrimination very early on as nippers – at least for our physical selves.
Since Malkuth is the most important sphere on the Tree, its virtue is arguably the most important too. And certainly we see the need to discriminate beyond the physical. In fact, the esoteric arts require us to hone, refine and transfer this skill into all the spheres on the Tree of Life. So for example, we set boundaries to the forms of energy we are open to in Yesod, the type of reactions we display and are open to. Similarly for mental constructs and communication in Hod – what we accept and what we share etc. So too in all spheres and all aspects of our life; discrimination is required.
In By Names and Images I pass on the insight my dad gave to me when a wee lad:
“Believe nothing of what you hear and only half of what you see”.
As I say in the book it took me a while to realise this wisdom of this saying and more importantly how apt it is in the magical arts and community. I first got a real good sense of it a few years after leaving my first coven and discovering a fellow Pagan at library school. Nice and friendly she was until she discovered my past associations, whereupon she hesitantly, and with much prompting, relayed a lurid tale not fit for MOTO, asking me how I could be involved in such stuff? Now my former High Priest was a bit…dodgy (as recounted in this post)… but not Sunday Papers dodgy, if you know what I mean. The story was a load of dog muck. I was there at the time. Some bugger simply made it up.
It would be nice to say such things are rare, but really they are not. Just look at the still existing idea that Nelson Mandela quoted Marianne Williamson’s ‘Return to Love’ at his inauguration speech. He didn’t use this quote at either speech – some bugger simply made it up. Or look at this speech to high school graduates by the brilliant Kurt Vonnegut – he was never there, never wrote this – some bugger simply made it up.
The problem is that we imperfect human beings are meaning seeking creatures who like a good story. Truth has little to do with it. With the advent of the internet, which was the spawning ground for the two stories above, this problem has got a lot worse. Anyone can say anything about anyone or any event they wish. The buggers can simply make it up. And, unless discrimination is applied, they will be believed. All we need to do is look at a few occult forums and blogs to see what I mean, where if we do not apply discrimination we would be convinced that a lot of GD folk are nasty, conspiratorial, gun-running loonies. When in fact some bugger simply made it up.
A further issue with the internet is the necessity of projected meaning onto any communication we receive or words we read. In normal day-to-day discourse the majority of communication occurs at a non-verbal level – to say nothing of inner interactions of an esoteric nature. So when someone says, for example “I love you” there is a wealth of emotion, power and force connected to and within these words. Now the same words when they appear over a messenger service are…simply words. The receiver, in trying to make sense of them, is very likely to project their own meaning and emotions onto them. In fact they need to project something, give some meaning to the pixels on the screen, otherwise they remain meaningless on-and-off sets of light.
This is why so many people seem to fall in love over the internet – and really feel they do. If someone has a strong desire for love, if they ‘need’ it to be so, they can project that onto whatever non-physical internet interaction they are having. They feel the love when someone types, “I love you”, but it is actually coming from their own spheres. Naturally of course, if this projection continues, the receiver may come to project enough onto the sender to believe she or he ‘knows them more deeply than anyone else’. This is natural, since they are simply projecting onto the sender all the qualities they are seeking. The antidote of course is discrimination.
With the above in mind we can see how some of the more notorious internet shindigs start and fester. Some person in Useless Loop (a real town) types something, and another in Scunthorpe (equally real) has to make sense of the words. There is no non-verbal and energetic context, just words. Projection is easy and offense, if the receiver is consciously or unconsciously looking for offense, appears to be really there. That is, the offended party may be projecting an awful lot. They may feel really hurt, may actually believe there are attacks on them, and much may be from their own projection alone. The antidote of course is discrimination.
I think it is incumbent on students and teachers of the esoteric to be developing and practising their discrimination on a daily basis. To me, being a virtue of Malkuth, it is like the Lesser Pentagram – a novice level process that needs to be repeated daily because we are all imperfect and interact with the world through a constructed and temporal vehicle – that is, our personality self. This is especially true when interacting with other esoteric folk via the internet.
Finally, some wisdom gained from an old school friend who recently ascended (descended?) into elected public office. Prior to his election he could not understand why some folk would not deny or refute completely baseless and damaging rumours. After trying himself to do so, he realised it is best to say nothing; denials or refutations make people think you have something to hide, that there is some truth to the matter when there is often none. Therefore it is best to say nothing and let those with discrimination sort it out for themselves. So, when reading about various Orders, teachers and folk on the net who are not refuting vile and vicious rumours, it could be because some bugger simply made them up. Apply discrimination and listen to me ol’ dad 🙂
“Believe nothing of what you hear and only half of what you see”.