The “Realm” of the One cannot exactly be considered a Realm with things inside it; because it is prior to Ousia (Being). Rather, it holds a negative existence. That does not mean it doesn’t exist, as things can exist without Being; but rather it exists in a way we do not know existence.
Residing in this non-Realm is the One; which is paradoxically understood to have three moments, the Ineffable One (which exists nowhere at all), the Simply One (which pre-exists everywhere) and the One-Extent/One-Being, which give rise to Aion, the source of Being.
I. Intelligible Cosmos
The One-Being is reflected into the Intelligible Cosmos as Aion, which acts as its source. It is in the Intelligible Cosmos that we see the Being-Life-Intellect Triad (also called the Intelligible Triad), which are representative of each Realm in these Cosmos.
- First is the Intelligible Realm, where Ousia (Being) is derived from.
- Following this is the Intelligible-Intellective Realm, where Life is no longer an aspect of Being but rather Life in itself.
- Finally is the Intellective Realm, where the Intelligibles are grasped by Nous/Celestial Demiurge; identified as Zeus-Helios.
The Intelligible Triad is what ultimately gives rise to all beings, their lives and intellects at lower levels in a rich interweaving of the three parts of the triad at three different levels.
The Intelligible Realm, also called the Noetic Realm, is the first of the spiritual realms in the Intelligible Cosmos. It is at the beginning of this realm that the One-Being rests as its Monad (Source) in the form of the Aion, who rules over this realm as its source.
This realm is the part of the Triad that belongs to Being.
The Intelligible-Intellective Realm, also called the Noetic-Noeric Realm, is the second of the spiritual realms in the Intelligible Cosmos. This realm acts as a bridge between the Intellective Realm and the Intelligible Realm.
The Intelligible-Intellective Realm isn’t merely a bridge, however. This is the realm where the quality of Life carries dominion. Life has already formed in the Intelligible Realm, but merely as a sub-quality of Being. Here, though, we find Life as Life; not as an aspect of Noetic Being or Noeric Intellect. As such, this part of the Triad belongs to Life.
It is at this level the “monads of the Forms,” the Intelligible-Intellective Gods, are found.
The Intellective Realm, also called the Noeric Realm, is where Intelligible reality is grasped by the divine mind, Nous, also known as the Celestial Demiurge. Obviously, this is the Intellect part of the Triad.
It is here that the Forms (also called idea and eidos), the realities which the physical world reflects like a shadow, are found at this level.
The Intellective Realm is where the quality of Intellect is foremost. The lowest portion of the Intellective, which contains intellect of Intellect, is Nous, the divine Mind, also known as the Celestial Demiurge. This lowest part of the overall Intellective Realm is also the top-most portion of the next hypostasis, the Psychic Cosmos.
II. Psychic Cosmos
The Psychic Cosmos, sometimes referred to as Heaven, are the last of the spiritual realms above the Generative Cosmos. Time and Space both begin within the Psychic Cosmos. This is not mundane, but rather transcendent Time and Space.
The divine Plato describes Transcendent Time, or chronos, rather than Aion, as an image of Aion in the Psychic Cosmos that is created as part of the Demiurge’s ordering of the cosmos, writing that “wherefore [the Demiurge] resolved to have a moving image of Aion, and when he set in order the heaven, he made this image Aion but moving according to number, while Aion itself rests in unity, and this image we call Time” (Plato Timaeus, 37d).
There isn’t a “before” and “after” in the Psychic Cosmos– rather time is immediate, with cause and effect being concurrent. Because Transcendent Time is instantaneous in the Psychic Cosmos, it isn’t a measurement of alteration, which might be confusing or seem contradictory to what modern concepts of time is. This is because in the Psychic Cosmos time isn’t ordered, but rather ordering: “there is an order of time, not however an order which is ordered, but one which orders. . .” (Iamblichus 1973, Frag. 63). The ability for Transcendent Time to function in this manner comes from Nous, the Divine Mind/Celestial Demiurge, who organizes the cosmos, of which Transcendent Time takes part in organization.
As stated, Transcendent Time is described as an image of Aion in the Psychic Cosmos. Time is an image of Aion by the method of Time’s “cyclic unfolding and continuity and successiveness, and by distinguishing beginnings and middles and ends and in not to any extent being found wanting to any of the things encompassed by it…” (Iamblichus 1973, Frag. 64). Ultimately, Time is an image of Aion because Time participates Aion, and things that participate an ontologically prior reality preserve within themselves something of what they participate, holding an image or imprint of the higher essence.
Time is also the first image, because Aion can’t be said to be an image of the One, because the One has no image. Because of this, the nature of Time and its relationship to the Psychic Cosmos, we might conclude that the Psychic Cosmos is itself an image of the Intelligible Realm, just as Psyche (Soul) participates Nous. Likewise, the cosmos are an image of the Whole Soul (Nous in the Psychic Cosmos). The human soul, therefore, exists as an image within an image of an image of Aion.
Transcendent Time being an image of Aion directly relates to how it functions. It’s modeled on the three intelligible moments (Being, Life, Intellect), which gives it three moments or qualities related to the Being-Life-Intellect Triad of the Intelligible Cosmos:
- The first quality comes from Being, and is the idea of “was” and “will be”. This first quality is the granting of Being.
- The second quality comes from Life, and is the idea of “becoming younger and older”. This second quality indicates the idea of growth from Life.
- The third quality comes from Intellect, and is the idea of “coming to be at the same time, having now come to be or destined to be on another occasion.” This third quality, rather surprisingly, isn’t the granting of intellect, but is rather the granting of the idea of individuation, which is related to Nous (The Divine Mind/Celestial Demiurge), since it is the Celestial Demiurge who establishes duality, and thus individualization, when He ordered the cosmos through the logoi.
Time does not contain these within itself, but rather passes these along to the sensible realm and mundane time, essentially acting as a bridge between the Intelligible Cosmos above it and Phenomenal Cosmos below it.
Even when Time isn’t seen in a direct relation to motion, we still find a connection between the ideas of Time and Space. Once again, we are not discussing mundane physical space, but rather an ordering Transcendent Space. Space comes into being simultaneously with bodies, inseparably linking them together– but these bodies being discussed are divine and ethereal, not mortal and physical. To think of Space as merely material or physical is a “perverting [of] its essence into bounds of surfaces” and fails to connect “nature to the activity of the Demiurge” (Iamblichus 1973, Frag. 90).
Space is directly linked to the causative forces of creation, and cannot be removed from that cause to be understood in merely physical terms. Instead of seeing space and bodies as separate, Iamblichus says in the Psychic Cosmos space and bodies are connatural. Rather than simply where bodies exist, Space is completion of bodies, and a unifying force. It is a corporeal power that “supports bodies and forces them apart and gathers them up when they fall and collects them together when they are scattered about, at once completing them and encompassing them about from all sides” (Iamblichus 1973, Frag. 90).
Here we may see Nous is reflected into this realm and becomes the monad (source) of the Soul, known as the unparticipated Whole Soul, also known as the Essential Living Being. The Whole Soul is “transcendent and hypercosmic and independent and exerting authority over all,” and “imparticipable and placed over all the souls in the cosmos as their monad.” (Iamblichus In Timaeus, fr. 50) Following the established pattern, the participated form of the Whole Soul is the World Soul.
The Whole Soul exists as a whole in the form of the World Soul (Greek: Psuchè kósmou, Latin: Anima Mundi)
The creation of the World Soul’s body is described in the divine Plato’s dialogue the Timaeus in a cosmogonic myth. Here the World Soul is described as being modeled after Aion and is given the form of the Greek letter chi (Χ), holding within itself the powers of Sameness and Difference, together with their mean or mixture, which are reflections of the Dyad in the realm of the One. The bands of the X are brought together as a sphere composed of two circles which cross, with the outer circle of Sameness rotating horizontally to the right, while the inner circle of Difference turning diagonally to the left. The circle of difference is divided into seven sections, carrying the pneumatic vehicles of the Planetary/Encosmic Gods.
The Whole Soul is indivisible, and is an image of Aion since Soul is connected to it, being diffused evenly and throughout from the center to the edges.
The World Soul in participation are individual souls. Soul is produced by and part of the World Soul, and since the World Soul is an image of Aion, the human soul thus exists within an image of an image of Aion.
III. Generative Cosmos
The Generative Cosmos, also called the Phenomenal Cosmos, are the created cosmos.
The Hypercosmic Realm has very little known about it. We do know, however, that it cannot be conceived of through the human mind. This doesn’t mean it cannot be thought of, of course, but merely that its incomprehensibility means we are unable to think of it. The Hypercosmic Realm may be understood as mirroring the Intelligible Realm in the created cosmos, and is home to the Hypercosmic Gods.
The Hyper-Encosmic, also known as the “Liberated Realm,” is a reflection of the Intelligible-Intellective Realm, connecting the upper Hypercosmic Realm and lower Encosmic Realm as a mean. It is home to the Hyper-Encosmic or “Liberated” Gods.
The Encosmic Realm, home of the Encosmic/Visible Gods, consists of the spheres of the fiery and eternal aether, which may include the fixed stars, the seven planets, and the Physical or “Sub-Lunar” Realm.
The Sub-Lunar Realm, literally “Realm under the moon” or “Realm under the heavens,” is our own world, which is itself part of the Encosmic Realm. It is ruled by the Sub-Lunar Demiurge, Asklepios / Dionysos.
Iamblichus divides the Sub-Lunar Realm into three sections:
- The aether, ruled by Kronos.
- The air, ruled by Rhea.
- The sea or water, ruled by Phorcys.
The world must be understood not to be evil or the cause of evil. In Plato’s Republic, the famous Allegory of the Cave represents the physical world as the cave and its chains; participating in reality but to a lesser extent. It is the very last of the cosmos, and thus is the realm that though participatory in the Good of the One, does so the least; but regardless is still participated in the Good of the One.
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