Alchemical Traditions, 11




Mundus Imaginalis of Henry Corbin

Angela Voss


p. 422 divine modes' turning the world inside-out

"divine modes embodied a deep intuitive sense of trascendent principles governing and emanating throughout creation, apprehended only through the highest intellectual principle in the soul which recognised the images of its divine source. ...

The Angel exists in another dimension of time and matter, yet paradoxically ... penetrating to the depths of our world to reach a place where, to quote Tom Cheetham [2003] the world turns 'inside out' and reveals its hidden secrets."

Cheetham 2003 = Tom Cheetham : The World Turned Inside Out : Henry Corbin and Islamic Mysticism. Woodstock (CT) : Spring.

pp. 424-5 Henri Corbin

p. 424

"Corbin wrote 'through ... Suhrawardi, my spiritual destiny for the passage through his world was sealed. Platonism, exprssed in terms of the Zoroastrian angelology of ancient Persia, illuminated the path that I was seeking.' [Cheetham 2005, p. 17] ...

In 1939 he went to Istanbul and Teheran for seven years to immerse himself in Islamic mysticism, and ten years later he began

p. 425

to attend the Eranos conferences in Ascona along with Carl Jung, Mircea Eliade and Gershom Scholem. In 1954 he succeeded Massignon in the Chair of Islamic Studies at the Sorbonne, and in the 1950s wrote his three major works, Avicenna and the Visionary Recital, Creative Imagination in the S{.}ufism of Ibn {<}Arabi, and Spiritual Body, Celestial Earth."

Cheetham 2005 = Tom Cheetham : "The Prophetic Tradition and the Battle for the Soul of the World". TEMENOS REVIEW 8 (2005):14-33.

pp. 425-6 caelestial souls & their archangels

p. 425

"in the cosmology of Avicenna, which derives from ancient Persian Zoroastrianism, we find the intermediate universe full of celestial souls each of which resonate with a particular archangel above them and a material sphere

p. 426

below them, in ten degrees of emanation from the First Intelligence ... . These celestial souls are empowered by the desire to return to their particular archangel, and at that level they form a couple.

p. 426 modes of perception

"Angel, soul and world are ... modes or perception :

the world is perceived through sense,

soul through imagination and

angel through intellect (which is intellect in the ... sense of the pre-conceptual knowing described earlier by Iamblichus). As the imagination then conveys divine thoughts through images, the very act of imagining becomes a divine act of reconnection. ... In this imaginal mode of seeing, the ... material reality ... is in fact totally enveloped by a spiritual reality which determines it."

pp. 426-7 the Imaginal World

p. 426

"In his essay, Mundus Imaginalis, or the Imaginal and the Imaginary, Corbin gives a detailed exposition of this interworld as a place of ...

p. 427

revelation and events that are experienced as more vividly real than everyday reality. This is the place of all religious and transcendent experience : theophanic visions and dreams, meditative and ritual consciousness, prayer and contemplation, artistic inspiration and romantic love."

p. 427 superconscious perception of Imaginal Reality

"The task of human beings then, is to purify and liberate the soul so that it may begin to pick up, as it were, the traces of divine meaning behind the appearance of things,

[quoted from Corbin 1986, pp. 265-6] so that the intelligible realities perceived on the imaginal level may be reflected in the mirror of the senses and be translated into visionary perception ... the vision of the angel does not emerge from the negativity of an unconscious, but descends from a level of a positively differentiated superconscious."

Corbin 1986 = Henry Corbin : Temple and Contemplation. London : KPI.

p. 428 heavenly-intimated individuation

"certainly common to both S{.}ufi mystical tradition and Jungian individuation is the importance of individual experience. The path and vision of each person will be truly unique, because the form of the theophany they witness

will necessarily correspond to their own inner 'heaven'

{"The Kingdom of Heaven is within you". "In My Father's House are many mansions" : each mortal hath a different mansion in Heaven, whereof each person must differently experience.}

or form of being." (Corbin 1969, p. 61)

p. 428, fn. 19 "For a discussion of Corbin's differences with some of the premises of Jungian analysis see T. CHEETHAM, After Prophecy (New Orleans : Spring Publications, 2007), pp. 104-9; All the World an Icon : Henry Corbin and the Angelic Function of Beings (Berkeley, California : North Atlantic Books, 2012), 130-139."

Corbin 1969 = Henry Corbin : Alone with the Alone : Creative Imagination in the S.ufism of Ibn <Arabi. Princeton Univ Pr.

pp. 428-9 praesence of the Angel of Revelation

p. 428

"the supreme form of manifestation of Absolute Being in this [viz., S.uwfiy and/or Yarsaniy] tradition ... is in the Presence of the Angel. Corbin says [1981] :

'The Angel is the face that our god takes for us, and each of us finds his god only when he recognizes that face.'

{"No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." (Eu-angelion kata Ioannes 1:18) -- Some antique theologians consider Iesous Khristos to be an angel.}

Such a recognition takes place in the imaginal world. Far from being creations of human fantasy, the angelic beings exemplify an intensity of 'real being' of which we are mere reflections.

Now ... in the angelology of Avicenna, each human soul has

as its counterpart, a celestial soul, who is the eternal and perfect individuality of the person, their 'transcendent celestial self', as Corbin describes it.

{This "transcendent ... self" is often designated the "higher self" or "over-soul".}

The question then becomes how to integrate the earthly ego with this soul

p. 429

and through it with its angel, for it is through such an engagement that the individual becomes fully a person, an integrated whole, connected to the source of Being ... . As Tom Cheetham puts it,

[quoted from Cheetham 2003, p. 90] The connection with the Angel, the archetype in Heaven ... guarantees that every being can be more itself, more real, more alive, to the degree that it is in contact with this celestial Presence."

Corbin 1981 = Henry Corbin : "Prefactory Letter to David Miller". In :- The New Polytheism. Dallas : Spring, 1981.

Eu-angelion kata Ioannes 1:18

{"Paul understood Jesus as an angel prior to becoming human" ("ChAP"). "Justin repeatedly refers to Christ as an angel" ("ChAR", p. 225). Origenes designated Iesous Khristos as "Angel of Great Counsel" ("AGC", p. 35).}

"ChAP" = Bart Ehrman : "Christ as an Angel in Paul".

"ChAR"= Gu:nther Ju:ncker : "Christ as Angel : the Reclamation of a Primitive Title". TRINITY JOURNAL 15.2 (Autumn 1994):221-50.

"AGC" = Joseph W. Trigg : "Angel of Great Counsel". JOURNAL OF THEOLOGICAL STUDIES 42.1 (1 April 1991):35–51.

p. 429 arrival of uninvited extraneous spirits : is the consequence to be integration, or inevitable conflict {-- or yet a third possibility, transporting them to a location more appropriate for them}?

"Indeed failure to connect with the angel results in very real powers of darkness invading the soul, and here Corbin differs from his contemporary Carl Jung, for he did not see the dark forces as a shadow to be integrated, but as an enemy to be defeated by the powers of light."

{As concerning intentful temporary assimilation of a harmful entity : this is practiced by certain spiritual healers, the ones who heal a patient by temporarily accepting that patient's bodily ailment into their own body (by inviting the ailment-causing spirit into their own body). But in other cases, the harmful entity must be captured by force (see Chapter 7 "Removing Demonic Beings" in JMcC:EH), or (in the case of unharmful entities who have wandred astray, straying into the afflicted patient's body), the unharmful entity must be carried home to its own appropriate otherworldly residence (see Chapter 8 : "Nondemonic Beings" (in JMcC:EH).}

JMcC:EH = Josephine McCarthy (with Peter McCarthy) : The Exorcist's Handbook. Golem Media, Berkeley (CA), 2010.

p. 430 encountre with the Angel, healing the divide

"Corbin says [1969, p. 144] :

The sensible soecies does not divert from thhe Angel but leads to the 'place' of the encounter, on the condition that the soul seeks the encounter."

"As in Neoplatonic theurgy, re-investing the sensible world with spiritual properties is essential for their apprehension, and heals the divide between gods and men".

pp. 430-1 progressive reversion and interiorization

p. 430

"It is the intensity of the soul's desire that leads it through ever deeper levels of penetration into the meaning ... . This movement involves a progressive reversion ...,

p. 431

until the point is reached at which there is no differentiation between the known and what is known, between universal truth and personal encounter, between human ego and angelic consciousness. The term ta>wil refers to this process of interiorisation, of restoring the true meaning ... through transmuting the world ... . ... The crucial point in this journey is the transition from allegorical to symbolic interpretation, for it is here that the 'turning upside down' (trope) of reality occurs and the spiritual meaning becomes apparent."

pp. 431-2 h.immay

p. 431

"A symbol ... can only be fully grasped by what Ibn <Arabi calls h{.}imma{h} ... . This is the power that facilitates the presence of the Angel, through the very act of desiring it. Corbin defines h{.}imma{h}

h{.}imma{h} as 'the act of meditating, ... ardently desiring ...'.

{\h.amiyyah\ 'zeal, ardor, fervor' (DMWA, p. 243a)}

It is the force of an intention ...

p. 432

to project and realize a being external to the being who conceives the intention'. [Corbin 1969, p. 222]

The h{.}imma{h} of a mystic can create changes in the world through an intensity of imagination that resonats on the plane of archetypal ideas;

he is himself a divine creator

{only honorifically thus; acting, of course, through the angel who is serving as intermediary in calling that "imagination" to the attention of the divine functionaries praesiding in that "plane of archetypal ideas"}

who establishes the patterns from which material forms drived. What we call a miracle is the result of such capacity to bring spiritual power to bear on matter and cut through the apparent objective dimension of cause and effect."

p. 432 >ibn <arabiy's gross-and-fallacious misinterpretation of a praeternatural experience of his own [p. 432, fn. 32 "For this episode, see W. CHITTICK, Imaginal Worlds : Ibn Arabi and the Problem of Religious Diversity (Albany, NY : State University of New York Press, 1994), 93-5."]

"Ibn <Arabi ... describes an experience whereby he saw a young man pass straight through the bodies of two passers-by, and concluded that he {why not the two passers-bye instead?} was an embodied spirit. Interestingly, he found that when he followed the {alleged} spirit, he two passe throough the men's {actually phantoms'} bodies, implying that in order to 'see' the being {ordinary young man}, he too had to attain the same quality of imaginal manifestation. {WRONG! A material body (such as his own) can NEVER walk through another material body (though it can, indeed, walk through any phantom).}

{In actuality, the two seemingly material-bodied "passers-by" must have been immaterial phantoms; which is the only feasible way that any material-bodied persons could have walked through them. On one occasion I myself, while awake, walked through a piece of phantom furniture (which I was seeing with mine eyen closed -- this happened while I was being led by hand through a hallway toward a locked ward whereinto I was to be involuntarily admitted, in an insane asylum).}

{For >ibn <arabiy to think so absurdly, he may well have been (during that occasion) under the influence of some strong psychotropic drug. I myself was not (and never have been); which is why I could understand the event rationally. Crazed drug-fiends become famous theologians in <arabiy-speaking countries; whereas sober mystics (such as myself) are frequently immured in "insane asyla" in atheistic-materialist countries such as the United States.}


Aaron Cheak (ed.) : Alchemical Traditions from Antiquity to the Avant-Garde. Numen Bks MMXIII, Melbourne (Victoria), 2013.