More on the Planetary Spheres

Exploring Titus Burckhardt’s “Mystical Astrology According to Ibn ‘Arabi” continued:

It is tempting to consider the planetary spheres to be something like an onion. On the outside there is a limiting peel and on the inside sucessive concentric layers that finally concentrate into a central core. If we do so we may miss the essential fact that the diagramme of the spheres is a map that depicts what we might call a cosmological topography. It is not astronomical. It is a metaphysical map. Like any map we have to consider what is represented and fill it with dimension. What is represented in Ibn Arabi`s diagramme is the image of Adam Kadmon, (Ibn Arabi would speak of the universal man, insan al-kabir) the divine man, who is in turn an image of God. The dimension that we move through is that between absolute Transcendance and absolute Immanence, and this can among other things be seen as a qualitative expression of time. The “peeling” of the onion is in fact the border between the absolute unconditional Reality of God and the first stage of His Manifestation as essential Being. Titus Burckhardt speaks of what he calls, “the indifferentiation of pure duration…through…succesive degrees of temporal contraction.”

If we move through the planetary spheres we move between degrees of divine Immanence and Transcendance. One movement would be through ever increasing degrees of Transcendance (from inside outwards). Another would be through ever increasing degrees of Immanence (from outside inwards). Yet a third movement would be an awareness that Transcendance and Immanence penetrate all of the spheres, the only difference is in quality, in Essence. This difference can be seen in the quality of time that each sphere has. This is reflected for example in the lesser spheres by the revolutions of the planets. The essence of duration in the lunar sphere is quite different to that of the Sphere of Saturn or even that of the fixed stars.


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