Prerequisite to understanding the individual mansions, or for that matter any other astrological element, it is absolutely necessary to understand that as a traditional science astrology deals with essence and the essential. Since we have been using Ibn ‘Arabi’s cosmological work as our basic orientation it might be important to remember that we have to enter into the texture of his thought and its climate. It is strongly embedded in Islamic thinking, where the written Revelation, the Qur’an and the Ka’aba have a central symbolic function. The letters/sounds in which the Qur’an is written are an reflection/expression of Divine Essence, they are not an abstraction. The qibla, the direction in which prayer is focussed, is directed toward the Ka’aba, so there is a very strong sense of space. This means in order to understand the signs of the zodiac and the lunar mansions you also have to have a feeling for the direction in which you face. Above and below, right and left, in front and in back all are qualitatively different spatial experiences. (this is reflected by the cubic form of the Ka’aba).
If we take Ibn ‘Arabi seriously the letters are the key in understanding the mansions and that is where we should begin when we look at them individually. There are three things we have to consider. First we must imagine the space around us, from that touching our skin outwards towards the “indefinite” (through the Spheres). Then we have to be aware of the direction in which we face. If we are the centre then there will be mansions before us and mansions behind us, to the left and to the right and each has extension, above and below us. Lastly we have to experience the nature of the sound that expresses each mansion. How it is spoken, how it is heard (these are independent of written language) and how it is written. Remember the Qur’an is not only written it is also recited. In our exploration of the individual sounds I will present the written form in Arabic, Latin, Devangari and Hebrew. The differences and resemblance’ in the letter forms are quite interesting and worth pursuing in their own right. Each giving a different texture to the sound. As we are exploring the Arabic “climate” I will place Arabic in the foreground of our consideration, that doesn’t mean that the other letter forms are unimportant or secondary. I might also add, there are certain Sura’s of the Qur’an that begin with one or more letters to which no semantic meaning can be attached. They do not represent words as such, they can be said to represent pure sound, the Power behind the word. Non-conceptual, pre-Existent.
We will begin with the letter “Nun” (pronounced with a long “u” as in the German word “Gut”, good, and not like the short “u” in nut!) For the moment I will present a diagram which I would like you, dear reader, to consider until the next posting. You might also want to explore the sound itself. How is it spoken and in what different ways?
Until the next posting.
PS You might also want to reread the post “Which centric? How centric?”