Mr. Spencer’s Cube

I was re-reading Crowley’s Initiated Interpretation of Ceremonial Magic in the front matter of his 1904 edition of Goetia for something around the seven hundredth time yesterday. In it, he mentions “Mr. Spencer’s Projected Cube”, something I had never taken the time to research. Until, well… yesterday.

First, I did know that it referred to Herbert Spencer, the eminent philosopher and ardent evolutionary proponent of the Victorian Era. In doing some further digging, the reference made is to Spencer’s The Principles of Psychology, Volume Two, in a section entitled “Transfigured Realism”. It describes the potentially distorted relation between the perceived and the perceiver, where the shadow of a cube is projected against a cylindrical surface. [pp. 494-499]

The cube, in the analogy, represents the actual object being perceived, while the cylinder is the perceiving consciousness. The shadow of the cube, whose form is distorted and elongated against the receding edge of the cylinder, represents the perception of the object. So, in short, nothing perceived is necessarily as it seems! Metaphysics at its finest.

Crowley mentions Spencer’s cube explicitly in reference to the seals of the spirits, which presumably represents the “shadow/perception” of the spirit, if I am to read it correctly. I don’t know if I agree with the analogy, but there it is nonetheless.

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