Taming the Analytical Beast: How to Surrender to the Power of the Unknown

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Before I started on this beautiful, magickal, mysterious path of paganism, my patron goddess was Logic. I came from a tradition of critical theory, which idolizes the strength of the argument rather than the inherent truth and wisdom expressed in its conclusion. Allow me to stress that there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. In fact, selecting wildly outrageous and completely unrelated premises and weaving them together in a way that gives them unity and cohesion is exciting, challenging, and fun as hell, especially if you’re able to do it successfully. Rather, tackling an infinite regression of logistical puzzles will not give you the answers you’re looking for if your endgame is a totality of understanding. Here’s why: in order to engage with the vast, inconceivable organism that is the universe, you must suspend your disbelief, and the suspension of disbelief is diametrically opposed to the discipline of logic.

 

A few years ago, I was tutoring at a center for reading remediation. Our student demographic was diverse, to say the least: ages ranged from five to 55, and our students struggled with autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and hyperlexia, to name a few. Each student came to us with a unique set of skills and needs, and it was our job to devine the kernels of truth that would help unlock the door of understanding in a particular mind. One of my favorite students was a fifty-three year old woman, college educated, who had sought tutoring to improve her comprehension abilities. Whenever her friends began talking about books or articles that they’d read, she felt she couldn’t contribute because she simply could not arrive at a comprehensive meaning of a text. After a few sessions, I noticed that she became hung up on contextual details, and even though she continued reading, her mind was stuck ruminating on the detail that had tripped her up. When I asked her to tell me what she meant, she gave this example:

 

“He says that the frog is yellow, right? But how do I know that? Frogs aren’t usually yellow, so how am I supposed to believe that this particular frog is yellow? When I read something like that, I immediately google it to confirm, and then I read a wiki about yellow frogs which leads me to a wiki about frogs of the amazon, but by the time I’m finished, I’ve completely forgotten what the article was about in the first place, so I have to go back and reread it. This could happen multiple times for each thing that I read, so it takes me forever to finish.”

 

I paused for a moment to collect my thoughts, and then I said, “Sometimes, you have to suspend your disbelief in order to get to the heart of what someone’s trying to say. You might not know for certain that this frog is yellow, but you have to place some trust in the writer and let her take you for a ride. If you still have doubts after you’ve finished, then you can go and check other sources. You never know: the writer may even answer your questions before you finish.”

 

Temporarily suspending disbelief, or assuming the role of The Hanged Man, is necessary when you read a text, perform magick and ritual, and even when you read tarot. Sometimes, you must surrender to the mysteries, you must give them space to work their magick inside of you. There’s no way of logically understanding them (that’s why they’re called mysteries), so the best you can do is turn off your inner critic and let your intuition have a go.

 

When I began practicing magick, I focused so much on what I was doing and what it meant and whether or not I believed in the premise of magick itself that I prevented any real magick from taking place. Ritual is a means to an end, and not an end in itself, just as the yellow frog was a means of explaining species biodiversity, and not an end in itself. The seemingly disparate elements that comprise any experience fail to hold any meaning if they’re not viewed as parts of a whole; they stagnate, and fold in on themselves, and tend to create a vacuous black hole. Once you get sucked into that hole, your chances of escape are fairly slim.

 

Logic is about being sucked into that hole. Ideas are deconstructed further and further until they bear no relation to anything, and what you’re left with is a string of premises tied to an ultimately unanswerable question. There are many phenomena that we are simply unequipped, at least at this point in history, to explain, so sometimes one must take a leap of faith in order to get anywhere. This is beautifully illustrated by the Trust card in the Osho Zen Tarot: the woman isn’t being pulled into the singularity of a black abyss; rather, she’s effortlessly drifting through the soft air of vast, expansive space. Before she leapt, her understanding of air was faint: she couldn’t see it, couldn’t taste it, touch it, or hear it. Once she leapt, however, air came to life: it rushed past her ears, making sound. It circled around her body, allowing her to feel its movement. It displaced her clothing and her hair, allowing her to see it. By leaping, she was finally able to understand what air actually is.

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Much Love to All Walk the Path,

Jessi

Intrigued? Click here to work with me.

 

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