A Bold Life -T. Thorn Coyle’s “Kissing the Limitless” Revisited

As we near the end of this month’s session of the Weiser Book Club on Twitter (#WBC3) my thoughts turn back to that first enthusiastic foray into book-ala-tweet — a discussion of T. Thorn Coyle’s Kissing the Limitless. For four weeks in the winter of 2009 a dedicated group of bloggers and twits examined this occult treatise with a passion and intensity that I have yet to see repeated. It was thrilling, but not at all surprising. Thorn is a beloved teacher, a vocal activist and a kick-ass musician. Her name conjures immediate and affectionate responses from her many friends, fans and students.

I often turn back to my dog-eared and heavily annotated copy of  Kissing the Limitless for something that’s …well, hard to define. There’s a clarity and depth to Thorn’s writing that resonates with what I can only call the seeker in me – as corny and inadequate as that sounds.

Here are just a few of my favorite excerpts:

Monotheists almost had it right in speaking of the unity of love, but they did not yet have the number zero, the cipher, the void. By naming something one, they were trying to get at its unity. They were not able to realize at the time that naming something one, instead of all, can be a first separation; a distancing that can turn the All into the other. (p.2)

There is a self. And there is unity. Neither can be accessed without the other, not on this plane and within this lifetime. (p.7.)

We need to make magic from where we are, not where we should be. (p.4)

Magic comes to life in the space between what exists and what is possible. (p.29)

Things may need to stay in the darkness for some time. There is power in darkness: the power of gestation, deep dreaming, and the sweetness of night. (pp.26-27)

How we spend our time shows what we think we love, what we are devoted to, or what we worship. (p.37)

All movement arises from stillness, and all integration comes from some sort of observation. A life lived without consciousness is a life run by random chance, pain, or folly. The life lived in search of and in service of consciousness is one lived toward integrated enlightenment. (p.53)

All acts of magic are acts of choice. (p.70)

We are part animal, part human, and part divine, and the moment we forget the possibility of any one of those, we are lost. (p.84)

Just as we look at what gods we worship – all the things we make central to our lives, whether we are aware of them or not – we must look upon the demons we feed. (p.152)

All directions are necessary. One force alone will not create a world. (p.187)

This is the place of daring spoken of in the four magical powers: to know, to will, to dare, and to hold the mystery of silence. (p.196)

Let me make it clear that these quotes are taken out of the larger context of a serious book on deep magic – instructional, informed, and profoundly philosophical.  I have literally hundreds of passages underlined – the book has become a sort of personal I-Ching – but the value comes from its overarching vision, which integrates lyrical and insightful prose  with practical applications of breath-work, meditation, shadow work, and divination. It is a course designed for fearless study.  Its purpose  is transformation, and its exercises are intended to shake the reader to the core.

For many, the most terrifying occult adage  is “Know thyself.” It was the warning inscription to all petitioners to the Delphic oracle, and it has been the basis for many magical traditions. Thorn successfully argues here that it is the essential truth for any spiritual seeker -it is the foundation of integrity, insight, honor and strength. It is the place where freedom and discipline, power and compassion coexist. It is, in essence, what makes magic work. It is also a life-long pursuit. “Life is perfect, ” Thorn writes, “but perfection involves change.” (p.125)

Which is why after two years and many other wonderful books I keep coming back to this one. It’s principles are timeless, the Great Work ongoing, and the poetic insights of its author continue to inspire.

May our lives be born from the beauty of darkness, and shine with the possibility of light. (p. xii)

Visit the author’s website – you won’t be disappointed! http://www.thorncoyle.com/

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