The last theurgical operation that I want to mention is the most important, the ἀναγωγὴ or theurgical ascent. In all the preceding, the divinity is experienced as “other,” but in the ἀναγωὴ the theurgist ascends so that their soul, so far as possible, unites with the god; that is, they experience deification. The union may be with an individual god, especially the Demiurge, or more rarely with the Inexpressible One. (Porphyry, V. Pl. 23, tells us Plotinus achieved it four times while they were together.) In the latter case, by this contact with the Higher Self and by uniting with the archetypal Ἄνθρωπος, the theurgist is better enabled to live a fulfilling life in accord with Πρόνοια. That is, at least for a time, the theurgist experiences themselves as a psychical whole, integrating the conscious, personal unconscious, and collective unconscious minds.
The operation makes ritual use of sumbola and sunthêmata in order to activate the archetypes. These may facilitate the process of ascent when a more interior, contemplative approach, such as Plotinus advocates, is not effective. The suthêmata may be classified as physical (substances, scents, and so forth), as audible (such as chants, hymns, and ονόματα βάρβαρα or magic words), and as mental or noetic (such as silent prayers). All of these are effective for activating the archetypal Idea.
“Like knows like,” so in the ἀναγωγὴ the parts of the soul that are most like the One (or the intended god) must be separated from those least like it. Therefore the conscious and personal unconscious minds must be quieted; that is, the ego and other personal daimôns must be pacified. Separation is accomplished by the initiate enacting a symbolic θάνατος αὐθαίρετος (voluntary death), which therefore functions as a sensible sumbolon. Death-and-Resurrection is an archetypal Idea; therefore, through symbolic death and ascent the initiate participates in this Idea’s ἐνέργεια and actualizes it in themselves (i.e., the archetype manifests in them).
The hylic daimôns, whose office it is to bring the archetypal Ideas into physical manifestation, must be pacified and opposed. To this end, Heroes, recruited as πάρεδροι or assisting spirits, may be helpful in this reversion. In psychological terms, properly constellated complexes may lead the way to the archetypes.
Figures above: Ἡ Πρόθησις , or the laying out of the corpse in an ancient Greek funeral. The ἀναγωγὴ was based on ancient Greek funeral customs.(continue to next page)