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THE HIDDEN DEITY and A DIVINE REJECTION : TWO POEMS

FIG TREE

[The idea for the first of these two related poems occurred to me last June on the barren slopes of Mt Etna in Sicily. It thus has at least an indirect relation to Coming to Syracuse (August blog). The Fig tree has a variety of associations inside and outside the Bible.. It can represent prosperity, Israel or knowledge. Its fruit may even have been deemed the original Edenic one rather than the proverbial apple. In the first poem it is related simply to what can be known ].

THE HIDDEN DEITY

A leafy fig tree at a distance you once
Saw. You were hungry and desired its fruit
So you approached it for you wished to know
If it held sustenance for your relief. [1]
And truly then your searching self
Was mortal and your eyes like anyone’s,
For whom even simple things within their reach
May not be seen or understood.

At night you walked the wind blown waves
Intending none should see you did, [2]
The meaning of that labour undeclared
Except I AM, your self, given as the clue. [3]
For are you not the Lord of seas because
Still more the womb of all the elements,
Your soul extended out beyond your form [4]
Into and through the visible universe?

Sometimes you were a man, sometimes were God
Your soul an infinite sea lain mostly
Calm and undisclosed to those around, even
Sometimes to yourself who had to struggle
When a man as man.[5] But nature sensed and
Always knew the truth, the reason why upon
Your death even light declined and darkness
Closed upon a still uncomprehending world.

Alone can soul know what soul is and
Apprehend what intellect and Chalcedon    [6]
Could not : you were less God and man together,
Equally and all complete than each by turn
And then by concentrated will. When fully God
You were God’s Soul, not Spirit or the Father’s
Mind which you would only imitate since
Spirit and Soul proceed from the Creator’s Head. [7]

It’s why you’re self-declared the door or gate
Through which souls enter in like sheep to
Pasturage though they will go outside again. [8]
For once your person and direction’s known,
Less perfectly and fully we are gods [9]
Partaking in what’s human and through soul
What is divine, learning through words what’s Word
Being inside and out of time’s confine.

In the sublime high seraphs sing God holy thrice, [10]
God’s unity is entire as three, ‘we” from the first,
The Elohim, before the single Name
Revealed in sound and fire: Yahwéh. This was [11]
The Angel of the Lord, not God as primal        [12]
Will, nor Spirit, the energy that shapes what is,
But womb and face of the material
The one revealed to Gideon beside the tree.   [13]

A Son that waits upon a Father’s will
And works but as the Spirit empowers
Is also Wisdom, Word, Messiah, Angel more, [14]
Unique in his sole self and yet to which
All we may add – even though of little faith
And greedy still like Gideon for a sign
From One with faith enough in Providence
Not to perceive each fruit upon a tree.

 NOTES

[1] Mk 11.12 “he went to see whether perhaps he would find anything on it”. It is quite clear Jesus needs to examine the tree not being sure what is on it.
[2] Mk 6: 48 “he intended to pass them by”. Although Jesus aims to control the elements and help the disciples straining against “an adverse wind” he doesn’t seem to want them to know that on this occasion which is effectively a revelation of his other self.
[3] The familiar “It is I, be not afraid” though literary can be misleading. It is really one of the ego eimi statements. “Be not afraid, I AM”, one of the declarations of divinity in a synoptic gospel, (the presumed earliest gospel) which liberal scepticism maintains is absent from earliest belief.
[4] The soul or esoterically the aura which surrounds the body, sustains it in existence and departs from the body at death.
[5] The poem takes a line with affinities for one expounded by Scottish theologian P.T.Forsyth ( 1848-1921). He believed Jesus was bound to succeed and remain perfect given his nature, but he had to struggle like a man because the divinity was considerably hidden from him or accepted by faith. In his kenosis (self-emptying in incarnation) “the divine attributes were not discarded but they were retracted or condensed” (The Person and Place of Christ 1909). My poem suggests the divinity was only perceived, claimed, tapped into rather like a psychic talent. Being divine could have been experienced like a living dream. Those times apart, Jesus had to grow in wisdom as the record says (Luk 2:52).
[6] The creed of Chalcedon of 451 produced formulae coloured by Greek philosophy which render Christ, “truly God and truly Man….consubstantial with the Father and the same consubstantial with us as regards his divinity…..” No one explained how these two levels (“rational soul” and “rational body”), interacted and it should be more a matter for esoterics and psychology than philosophy. Forsyth (see above) was anti-Chalcedonian.
[7]   My Cosmic Father: Spirituality as Relationship, insists that just as the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, so Jesus is the Soul of God. Spirit and Soul are together emanated from God and are to be imagined as “below” the Creator, the Head, and correspond to (in kabbalistic terms influenced by Jesus’ contemporaries the Essenes), respectively Hokhmah and Binah who are of, within, but just below, Keter, (the Head) – for “God is the head of Christ” (1 Cor 11:3) as St Paul has it. Absolute, mathematical equality of the Trinity is a philosophical notion that is arguably a biblical heresy and was never accepted by all churches. Jesus only does what he sees the Father already doing (Joh 5:19).
[8] Joh 10:9 “I am the gate . Whoever enters by me will be saved…and will come in and go out and find pasture “ To notice here is this going in and out where one might imagine salvation was a matter of simply going in by the door. Instead, the person capable of divinization is not in one “place” to realize that.
[9] Joh 10:35 “If those to whom the word of the Lord came are called ‘gods’….”
The disciples/believers are not God as such, but they participate in God and become divine by association, especially if they can transcend the limited material for the wider universal realm of soul. The Eastern churches have always held to a doctrine of divinization of the self.
[10] In Is 6:3 the seraphs calls “Holy, Holy, Holy”. The concept of trinity is not ruled out by the divine unity which is Echod (inclusive One) not Yachid (absolutely single One).
[11] The earliest name for the one God (Elohim pro, Eloheem) is uniplural (Gods). The secret, revealed covenant name of God is Yahweh, I AM WHO I AM, and gradually custom and editing makes this Israel’s name for God, though careful reading would indicate it is only a face, aspect or person of Elohim, essentially the manifesting one. The original pronunciation of the divine name is unknown – I have accented the second vowel for reading purposes only.
[12] It is because the earliest followers of Jesus could think of him as Angel of the Lord that they could accept his divinity, and not as some imported pagan notion, almost from the first. Calling Jesus “Lord: can mean Angel of the Lord, Yahweh and for the first Christians the OT Angel of the Lord was the pre-incarnate Christ
13] Jdg 6:11 Beneath an oak tree. Noticeably in this incident the stranger/Angel terrifies Gideon by declaring himself to be God rather than just God’s messenger which, since God is declared invisible, Gideon does not expect to see – for no one shall see “God” and live (Ex: 33:20).
[14] It is not to deny the “sonship” of Christ to suggest it is possible to overdo the title beyond original Christian usage as it is only one of several titles describing the kind of nature emanated (proceeding from) God; and like God, the Son is still somewhat hidden even when revealed.

BLASTED

A DIVINE REJECTION

 When hungry you approached a fig tree in full leaf
Though it was not, you knew, the season for its fruit,
You cursed it, so your chief disciple thought,
Declaring none might eat from it again.[1]
In this the generations since perceived a wrath
If real, too hard, too veiled to understand.

It was even so a Messiah’s truth, bitter
As had been sweet the fruit of the same tree
To the taste of Eden’s gardener, Eve, despite the lie,[2]
While you, much like a worker in the fields,
From hunger sought and did not find the still
Green tsak, the pre-fruit plucked by peasantry.[3]

Lost Eden’s substitute was Temple ground [4]
And from the barren fig tree you went there
To drive corrupted worship from the scene.
This you willed should never thrive again;
The temple was reserved for doom just as
Within a day the tree would wither to its roots.

What madness fit for Pharisees caused you
Oh Calvin, Luther and too many more
To teach that by the cursing of a tree
Sometimes the symbol of a chosen race
A people was as good as banned from
Further life, from rights and prophecy.[5]

The Temple’s prayers gave no more fruit;
They were the rejects of a spiritual field
Not supporting and remote from life. Ripeness
Is all in either thought or deed and such
The Lord of life, life’s gardener, beholds
In persons and the Mossiach who’s his vine. [6]

All live through God, there was scarce curse to say
More like a natural process to confirm.
Life’s Lord dwells in and forms from sacred fire
And what refuses growth and bloom resolves
To primal fire without the other elements
Held and beheld in the mirror of his messenger,

A messiah who only speaks and sees what
First it is his Parent does. [7] And has not that
Same Parent willed that people of the sacred tree
Return revived? But should again the Temple rise,
Then many soon will mourn a day of
Sacrilege that desolates all life on earth [8].

NOTES

[1] The cursing of the fig tree see Mk 11: 12-13,20 and Matt 21: 18-20. It is Peter who in the Markan version (which implies a withering overnight as opposed to Matthew’s “at once”), describes Jesus’ words as a “curse” on the tree. The contradiction between accounts as regards time is probably the difference between observation of an immediate withering of the leaves and Mark’s next day withering “to the roots” that all disciples observe.
[2] It can be assumed as have many and Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel, that the forbidden tree was the fig – once having “knowledge” it is with fig leaves that the Edenic pair try to clothe themselves.
[3] It is a common error to assume Jesus “cursed” a tree for not bearing fruit it could not have borne. The tree could have given at least edible tsak by Passover time.
[4] The Temple’s design and rituals reinstitutes Eden’s intimacy with God. The equivalence is particularly stressed today in the Temple theology of Margaret Barker and see my Temple Mysteries and Spiritual Efficiency (http://amzn.to/Xz9L7X).
[5] To the extent the fig tree sometimes symbolizes Israel, Jesus quite expects a national restoration not evident in his day, and even associates apocalyptic times with it as in the parable of the budding fig tree Luk 21: 29-32. Hence “cursing” the fig tree cannot be the cursing of all Israel; it must indicate something else even if within the life of Israel.
[6] Mossiach is Messiah. The poem’s theme links to Joh 15: “I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener” which precedes the warning, “Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are thrown into the fire…” this being the “natural process” of the next verse.
[7] Joh 5:19 the Son does “only what he sees the Father doing….”
[8] i.e. the “desolating sacrilege” of Matt 24: 15. Even if as per prophecies a temple is rebuilt in good faith, it would be overtaken by a repeat of the sacrilege of Antiochus Epiphanes in 165 BC, the future Antichrist being one who appropriates the temple for his own worship.

 

 

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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THAT LEFT BEHIND RAPTURE RIDDLE

THAT LEFT BEHIND RAPTURE RIDDLE

On October 3rd  a hopefully more sophisticated remake of the Left Behind film on the theme of the Rapture was premiered in Hollywood starring Nicholas Cage. Initial reviews don’t seem too favourable and the subject is so difficult it would be hard to imagine any completely satisfactory treatment. It is hard enough just to write about this theme as I do here and I don’t examine into all aspects of the belief in Rapture and its history. Like most apocalyptic thinking  it is strongest among some branches of Protestantism  although Catholisicm does have a version of Rapture doctrine called The Warning. In Catholicism at large, however, the subject has often got projected onto and absorbed into descriptions of mystical states as for St Teresa. But in all honesty that can mark an avoidance and finish no more faithful to what look like original Christian beliefs than in Islam calling jihad nothing but a war  against oneself. In the following I consider aspects of Rapture belief, especially its current association in some minds with Red Moon eclipses etc.  The following is excerpted from my  just updated Christianity’s Destiny: The First and Lasting Signs  (http://amzn.to/106iosd).

Readers and very much the writers on current celestial signs, Shemitah years etc  either won’t know or wilfully ignore some of the following information. This helps no one and nothing. Some attitudes and levels of information on this subject  need to change. You will find quite a lot here and more in the source excerpted from, but be patient. You will hopefully glean a few things you probably didn’t know before and need to know. (If you order this book and get a  not available notice that will only be for a few days while the new edition is still going through the Book Depository etc – the book itself has not been raptured!). 

Rapture

………Outside of Daniel, few biblical prophecies come with any timetables attached………However…while I am disposed to believe date-setting is wrong, from certain facts and questions put to me I have finally realized why it could be almost more the role of the astrologer than even the prophet to engage some at least broad speculation in this area and because what appears to be the biblical prohibition of settling upon any times and seasons may not be quite what it appears. Instead it opens upon a special challenge.

The subject of apocalypse is far more embedded in Jewish/rabbinical worldviews than is commonly known or admitted. Arguably, Jesus speaks paradoxically about this subject, even in coded expressions half giving away the time although to the normal gentile reader he may appear to be denying knowledge. Thus when he refers to the day and the hour that can’t be known except by the father (Matt 24:36), he has virtually declared the assumed season of his advent. No one knowing the day nor the hour except the father were common idioms referred to both traditional Jewish marriage custom and the Feast of Trumpets. The latter opens the secular year in September, and carries many associations. These include the marriage of the Messiah, the opening of the heavens and for rabbinic myth the birth of both the world and Adam. Because Trumpets is the only festival dependent upon a new moon, assessment of which depended upon annual observation, no one knew for certain the day or hour the two day festival would begin, while in marriage custom only the Father of the bridegroom knew when the son would leave home to take (snatch away) the bride. Traditional marriage celebrations lasted seven days. The apocalyptic “Marriage of the Lamb” appears to mirror this in the way it lasts over a seven year period which parallels the seven years of Tribulation from which the ready, believing “bride” has been removed at the time when one shall be taken and the other left (Matt 24:40) at “the Last Trump” (1 Cor 15:52) or Trump of God (1 Thess 4:16).

But what is the “Last Trump?” Some believe the reference is to the single trumpet blast of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, or perhaps the blast of Pentecost which summoned Moses up Sinai to meet God. However, it should be obvious that the last Trump is the last blast of the series of blasts during the Feast of Trumpets, three sets of thirty three plus a final very long hundredth one around the end of the festival. This association is almost guaranteed to be the correct one, because St Paul referring to the Last Trump (1 Cor 15:52) says the Rapture transformation occurs “in the twinkling of an eye”. This is in fact another Hebrew idiom indicating sunset and a change in light. Noticeably the last trumpet of the festival should occur at sunset near the the end of the two day festival which will have begun on the evening of the heralding new moon.

Can we, and are we perhaps even intended, to go further and   associate Second Advent teaching with a season of the year, and locate it at a point in future time? Relevant if disputed is Jesus’ parable of the budding fig tree (Luk 21:29:33). To the extent the fig tree is a common symbol of Israel, the forecast that “this generation” (or people) will not pass away “before all these things” (the apocalypse) “begin to be fulfilled” (the truest sense of the Greek is progressive in this way) has been thought to mean that when Israel, which was divided and can hardly be said to have independently existed in Jesus’ time, is revived as a nation then the time of the apocalypse approaches. Popularly and among skeptics, the Lukan saying is taken to prove Jesus wrongly taught and expected an imminent apocalypse and was thus a failed prophet. But a strong hint that Jesus did assume a major time delay, one involved with affairs of Israel and that the disciples more or less expected that too, is given by the way that at Jesus’ reported departure, the disciples ask him when he will restore the kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6).

In which case the question arises, and apparently contradicting what I have just said, why did the early church and even the apostles get the whole matter of the Second Advent so spectacularly wrong? Even St Paul who, though he warns Thessalonians against expecting a very imminent Rapture, still wrongly teaches the Corinthians the time is short (1 Cor 7:29). I suggest, and the point is important not just for apocalyptic thought but even insights of gay theology which get dismissed because they might contradict “tradition from the first”, the church can get and has got a few things wrong from the first and till now. The secret of the misreading or ignorance around apocalypse can be traced to Jesus’ followers not absorbing two key points. First, they were told the gospel must be preached in the entire world, surely a long haul venture, but second and more importantly they ignored Jesus’ parting words to the effect he will be with the disciples (to whom personally it is not given to know ‘the times and the seasons’) “until the end of the age” (aion). The word is age, not as sometimes mistranslated “the world”. What is this unexplained “age” or “era”?        

Only those without or opposed to all astrology as everyone from St Augustine to American evangelicals have been, would miss the at least possible and plausible point that indicated is the Piscean era which began approximately around the time of Jesus birth and which as it nears its end does so as modern Israel comes into being. The bridegroom of the apocalyptic parable who arrives unexpectedly at night might be unpredictable, but not completely so; nor need the bridesmaids be entirely unprepared. With some assistance from astrology, slowly and carefully it may be possible to get a grasp on the theme of the church’s ending, especially as it could have some connection with the related fate of Israel.

The first thing that astrology can with some certainty hope to establish from the data, is how the people of Pentecost would tend to understand and describe their final destiny. I have already mentioned expectations of the Rapture variety, but one must ask: was this or something else what was originally and generally believed? Given modern differences about the subject, any additional clues are useful. And at the very least we can determine how the faith won’t end. Having clarified this it is possible to make a few deductions and speculations for our times.

As I will indicate, there are ways of knowing broadly something about the endings of people and nations even if the finer details may elude us. Applying the usual guidelines for the ending of the lives of persons and institutions (it’s an issue of especially the fourth house of any pattern), it is apparent Christianity is not going to disappear slowly and end with a whimper rather than a bang, even though a certain decadence among its leaders (a lifelong potential given the Neptune square to the Midheaven!) and the closure of church properties in parts of Europe might encourage that impression on a temporary basis. Nor is there a strong case for its disappearance in the face of influences from any other single faith such as Islam or Buddhism, influential in the modern world though both these are, and although some threat to Pentecost’s pattern might be read into the symbolism of Mars opposite Ahmed (a name of Mohammed) which, as mentioned in commentary, has a touch of jihad conflict about it. But in effect there has always been some tension of that sort; it’s hardly a novelty. Wherever Islam has gained ground the rights of non-Muslims, Christian and others, are usually reduced, especially as regards fundamental rights of religion such as to proselytize or to build new places of worship. So this is a perennial issue. It is only the square of Ahmed to factors in the fourth sector at 26 Libra gives indication Islam could be involved with other faiths and factors at or near the end rather than, if it afflicted the IC, materially so as to help trigger the end, though one could just make out that Arabia (home and advocate of extremist Salafist Islam) square Pentecost’s IC does do that.

The single most vital and peculiar datum to reckon with from the angles, rulers and planets, is the speed that would attach to any ending. Practically, and in relation to such a large international organization, and short of the miracles some might expect, one could scarcely imagine anything so rapid, unless the institution were somehow to be signed away overnight on some interfaith basis or some form of political coup overtook it – one thinks of a prophecy of the late Catholic seeress Jeane Dixon to the effect that the last Pope would be assassinated and someone take over the papacy to proclaim a new and universal faith. But presumably not even that would take everyone with it, there would be pockets of resistance. Nevertheless, something like this, a crisis in effect, is what is implied – short of some radical, Rapture style alternative others hope for and which I will demonstrate might need to occur reasonably soon too; otherwise it would be further or indefinitely postponed. So, we next set the given celestial picture against what the first Christians believed and imagined.

Unlike most people, the first believers actually assumed they could know something about the end of the path on which they were launched. Some, like Paul’s Thessalonians, seem even to have been obsessed with their (imminent) end. Astrology reveals how individuals or institutions understand and image themselves quite as much as what will happen to them; indeed self-understanding may influence their destiny often as an inextricable part of it. To illustrate the point I can offer some personalizing example.

From my own life (and that of others I’ve known), I can see that given Sagittarius, sign of the foreign, on the fourth house cusp of home and last home, there was always a heightened likelihood I, and they, would reside far from where we were born. It’s even quite likely too in my case I will end my days overseas. (Alternative expressions of Sagittarius on the fourth could be the parents are not native to the place you are born, the background is religious, or it’s very ecological, or materially the homes were often spacious in size or view – I think of living with views of Hong Kong harbour and overlooking the Thames at Chelsea). For the potential of overseas residence to be strengthened, there would usually need to be supplementary factors such as in my case the moon (general symbol of home) in the ninth sector of the overseas in a fixed sign (permanently overseas). But obviously I still can’t establish ironclad guarantees about where I or anyone will be at the last. Even so, it’s a fact that since childhood I quite hoped and expected I would not remain where I was born, an outlook which events, partly accidental – if that’s the word – conspired to insure.

How much did I foresee or even positively determine my future in this respect? There really wasn’t much by way of determining things. Only years after all the relevant events had occurred did I see my travels and homes confirmed in the natal pattern – for example Australia had always been conjunct my natal sun and both China and Hong Kong aspecting my moon. I emigrated to Australia when a major Plutonic transit had just triggered off the moon (home) and Australia in the chart across astrology’s emigration axis of the chart. As to my place of origin, Europe, and my other nationality, Ireland, Europa is firmly in the fourth house of origins while Ireland conjuncts the ruler of my writing house so I am perhaps more an Irish writer than anything. Asteroid Ireland was hit by transit when Irish media first contacted me about my writing. It looks like we are back to the challenge of the frontispiece quote, “ In your book were written all the days that were formed for me when none of them existed” (Ps 139:16). Yet just what all this means philosophically as regards fate and free is hard to say.

Reverting to Pentecost, insofar as the birth pattern shows what is thought and believed as much as what may happen, I think we can rather clearly see the first believers did believe their community would sooner or later be snatched away, “raptured”, (though that’s not a biblical word). The idea was highly original, of course….but then the Part of Originality is bordering the cusp of the fourth putting the whole subject of endings on an unusual basis! The earliest commentaries on Revelation we possess maintain the believers understood they would be delivered amid a time of troubles. Whether that meant before the time of major troubles (the Tribulation) or mid way through it is not clear. They may or may not have held to various “pre-trib” or “mid trib” theories debated among especially American Christians. (Catholics, if they even consider the subject, are more taken up with St Malachy’s last pope before the advent of the Antichrist). Astrologically, much is relevant to the subject of the conditions at the end of life. We therefore look for confirmations and explications to all of the following……..:

………[The chapter then sets out and examines in detail specific features of the natal pattern for Pentecost which promises or at least reflect original expectations of an unusual end]

………The most blatant modern prediction, or virtual prediction, of Second Advent (whether over Arabia, at Jerusalem or anywhere) that conservative Christians normally opposed to such specific speculations have allowed through, has its source in speculations launched by the Messianic Christian Rabbi, Mark Biltz. Biltz is founder of El Shaddai Ministries devoted to stressing the more Jewish side of Jesus. Findings and variations on a theme by Biltz like John Hagee’s Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change (2013) are rapidly becoming bestseller material. Though Biltz and the rest don’t care to be too specific about the Rapture, some may be said to hint that Christ could return to Mount Olivet in 2015 around the Day of Atonement. Because the gospels forecast signs in the heavens and (whether literally or symbolically), the moon turned to blood before whatever event precisely marks “The Day of the Lord” (the Rapture, the Tribulation, the Second coming to Jerusalem?), it struck Biltz there could be some significance in the tetrad (sequence of four) red moon eclipses due to fall on the Jewish festivals in 2014 and 2015. There had at any rate been significance in such festival tetrads for Jewish history. We shall see what this significance is.

However, albeit rabbinic traditions can refer to blood moons as the moon turned to blood and solar eclipses as the sun turned to darkness and they have always regarded blood moon as important for Israel either for war or major change, it can still be argued something stronger than just eclipses, even vivid ones, are indicated by specifically the gospel prophecies if they are to be taken literally. And how literal are they? For example, asteroids might fall from the heavens, but not stars (it would take too long!) as envisaged by Mk 15:23…..unless perhaps stars appear to be falling because there’s, say, an axis shift. Which is a real possibility. So there’s an issue here around what and how much is literal or symbolic. The idea that eclipses are end times “signs” is simply a fair compromise in context, but worth examining.

Even so, blood moons and solar eclipses are not in themselves a great rarity, though it is true the lunar tetrads that Biltz highlights are fairly rare and rarer still falling on the Jewish feasts. (62 tetrads since the first century but only 8 on Jewish festivals). The 2014/15 tetrad could thus correspond to significant times for Israel as mentioned presently and just possibly by extension the church – but only indirectly. For direct relevance to Christianity the test case is the year of the crucifixion which as will be apparent from this book and Testament of the Magi I claim, along with many theologians if for different reasons, was unquestionably AD 30.

Proponents of blood moon theories assume that with blood moons in evidence in AD 33, Jesus necessarily died then. Jesus’ death was however of more global than national significance and hence suitably reflected by the nearest solar eclipse.(Any blood moons in 33/34 are more likely to reflect the division and turmoil within Israel which Christianity, the conversion of St Paul, the martyrdom of Stephen etc were opening up for it). Moreover by no stretch of the imagination could one think of the prophetic details of Peter’s Pentecost sermon, which draw upon a prophecy of Joel, as fully realized at Pentecost (whether in AD 30 or 33). It is not unreasonable to suppose the apostle’s audience was intended to understand the festival was a foretaste of a much greater day of fulfilment towards whenever the end of the age was. A blood moon didn’t absolutely have to manifest for the first Pentecost to be the unique day it was, any more than those present were witness to the drifting smoke of volcanos and major signs in the heavens or in the earth beneath, (though to the extent the Jews and Jerusalem are deemed specially linked to end-of-era events, any future Pentecost might be dramatic after Joel’s description).

The relevance of the blood moons for the fate of Jews before modern times was best seen in 1492 when they were famously expelled from Spain. More recently, tetrads were significant in 1949/50 and in 1967/68. Modern Israel came into being in 1948, but it had to fight for its existence in ‘49 and ’50, so the blood moons suitably delivered war and development at that time. In 1967 there was the Six Day War and Jerusalem was retaken by Israel after two millennia. This was seen by many as highly prophetic, an end of “the times of the Gentiles”, a first herald of the end of organized Christianity as we know it, a promise of the Second Coming. 1967 was also significantly a Hebrew Jubilee year, 50 years (one Jubilee on from 1917 when modern Israel suddenly began to seem like a real possibility when Britain’s General Allenby taking Jerusalem from the Ottoman Turks after centuries). The question of Jubilee years and the related Shemitah or Sabbath years every seven years and ending in a release of debts, has given some shape and timing to the speculations of those like another popular Christian rabbi, Jonathan Cahn, who are employing eclipses in prophecy. This is however done without reference to standard astrology either from ignorance or in order to please their evangelical constituency.

There is no question that the principle of the Shemitah years seriously and dramatically works for events not least in national economics and the stock market. Cahn has well proved that point, and those who play the stock market are aware of seven year cycles. But plainly too, the Shemitah’s seven, twenty eight and forty nine years cyclic relevance, has something to do with cycles of Saturn and/or certain sensitive degrees within it which astrology would do well to incorporate if it could establish the degree or date or sign to begin the sequence. Currently Jonathan Cahn has it that the last day of the Shemitah in 2015 will almost certainly mark the final downfall of the American economy and must see the beginning of the Tribulation? Must it, and should there be a connection with the destiny of Christianity that now has others anticipating the Rapture, or the appearance of the Antichrist and so on in relation to a red moon of 2015?

This is where and how if there is anything to say here, astrology and the astrology of Pentecost must be brought in. The fact is that eclipses, which are frequent enough, are not too significant from the astrological standpoint if they can’t do a bit more than make a spectacle in the heavens every so often. And even if one refuses to consider little more than the time of their appearance, tradition would still have us consider the intensity (total, partial), the time span and track – there is more effect and more that’s prophetic over where the event is most viewable.

What any eclipse does astrologically is to shine a spotlight on a portion of a person’s, nation’s, or institution’s life as already defined by their birth chart. An eclipse in, say, a person’s ninth house might signal taking a university course or, for a nation, instigating reforms in higher education over the coming year from the solar eclipse. A solar eclipse introduces the new. Lunar eclipses are more by way of a challenge to resolve some already existing situation, expectation or problem and usually during the six months from the time of the eclipse. They at least leave people pondering certain issues more than others. They oversee a mood, a thought trend, even if and when they don’t produce the kind of major action Jewish rabbis are prepared to associate with blood moons for especially Israel.

Eclipse effect is anyway more in evidence if natal planets or progressions to them for persons or nations are hit by the eclipsed sun or moon and the transiting planets at the time of the eclipse (the latter within a small orb of contact only). Without this not too much may occur. The outcome need not be immediate either; it can wait months until, say, a lunation or notable transit hits the degree zone sensitized by the eclipse. A classic example is the horror of 9/11. An eclipse on June 21st had hit a world point (0 Cancer), itself related to America’s birth chart. When action and bellicose Mars struck opposite that point, the disaster was released.

Although everyone from atheists like Dawkins to Christian fundamentalists may for their own reasons deny astrology and thus eclipse effect, one needs to be willfully blind to ignore their evidence, which is unfailing. I myself knew the full effect when an eclipse just inside my ninth house (universities and religious and overseas affairs) hit near my Midheaven (reputation/career) at the same time as an aggressive Mars conjuncting my Lie asteroid hit opposite my natal Saturn (restriction). Things proved suitably difficult. I received a doctorate to maximum media attention but as regards the subject matter got misreported in many places round the globe. It was even said I had been government paid to study Jesus’ sexuality – I hadn’t been so paid nor engaged that subject – and even that I held Jesus incarnated to have sex with his disciples (I have never said or written anything of the kind). This was disinformation on a major scale almost none of which I was allowed to correct (Saturn as restriction) because it was too interesting for those purveying it.

As said, traditionally the rabbis have always held that lunar eclipses are more important than solars for the affairs of Israel, the latter being supposedly more relevant to the gentile nations. Though the blood moons do seem relevant to Israel, unless we could say Israel seems always to have a lot of proverbially “unfinished business” (a lunar eclipse issue), I think the assumption which likely owes something to traditional fears of solar worship, can be overemphasized. Israel like any other nation will undergo important solar eclipses when things hot up for it. Significantly, a solar eclipse in May of 1948 in Taurus fell just days before Israel’s foundation (a typically solar “new thing”) under Taurus. And I rather suspect the year long implications of the solar eclipse of Oct 23rd 2014 which falls right on Israel’s ascendant, will gather up and lock in any significance of the lunar tetrad and may overall accompany more action than the more psychological effect of the lunars.

The solar/lunar difference I have described is empirically derived by astrologers and it is worth respecting and working with. This brings me back to my point that those promoting an interest in blood moons don’t know quite enough, and if they won’t work with the astrology they so readily demonize and abominate, they stand to miss much and even mislead people about what is most likely in the area of Israel and Christianity’s destiny.

I would for a start doubt that, even if it destabilizes many things especially economically, the end of the Shemitah year in 2015 and the last lunar eclipse will produce the biblical Tribulation itself whether thought of as more relevant to Jew or Christian. Even if literally believed in and deemed probable within this decade, it is hard to see that the world shocking and troubling effects of such as the Rapture (often believed to mark the beginning of the Tribulation) are present in 2015. There is for example nothing especially aerial, Libran and Rapture Ready about the solar and lunar eclipses of September 2015.

And unless they believe that the last and true Pentecost before the Second Advent should occur during the Tribulation, (perhaps as last warning before the full reign of 666 mid-Tribulation), do they mean to imply that between September 2014 and 2015 the world will be swept up in “revival”? This and so much more is unclear or just not worked out. But if we dismiss the limitations of the eclipse only (plus Shemitahs) approach to interpretation, by contrast, how would regular astrology proceed in this area? I will immediately say and will example the point in conclusion that any astrologer would seek maximum evidence, a convergence of signs. A single sign, transit, pattern or eclipse will rarely be sufficient to certify especially the more difficult claims.

One thing to do is to inquire what the first eclipse of the Tetrad shows in order to acquire some notion of what its whole sequence is about. Here perhaps we begin to have some real clues. Rather sensationally we find that the first blood moon is fortunately trine to the minute of a degree to the asteroid Tempel (sic) in modern Israel’s natal sector of land and property. At the very least we can know that, whether something active towards it occurs or not, Israel is going to be more keen on seeing its temple rebuilt, and I am told that there has been a surge of feeling in that direction during this year. However it is quite possible that by the end of the tetrad on Tabernacles in 2015, war or a treaty will bring the dream of the temple nearer to reality. More strife and change during the whole period is signalled for Israel not just by the first of or indeed all of the blood moons, but by the fact that on October 23rd 2014 a solar eclipse falls on the degree of the rising of Israel’s foundation (0 Scorpio). Also the fact that the revolutionary and always dangerous Pluto/Uranus square belongs within the pattern for April 2014. It cannot bespeak much peace for Israel during the rest of the Tetrads. The fifty day Gaza war is already involved in this pattern of turmoil.

Is this principle of the revelatory first moon of the tetrad reliable and validated by previous example? Effectively yes… In 1967 the first blood moon was on 3 Scorpio opposite (the challenge, the conflict) to 3 Taurus, the degree of precisely asteroid Jerusalem in Israel’s foundational chart. Although the connection is not quite so dramatic, in the first blood moon of 1949 at 22 Libra, the fact that Mercury and Venus at 21 and 22 Aries oppose the eclipse point but in turn make fortunate trine to Israel’s foundation time Israel asteroid at nearly 22 Leo in its destiny and reputation house, bespeaks a successful struggle for land and identity at the time. It’s all tellingly exact, though doubtless St Augustine and various American bigots would say it is so because of Satan. Yet the skies are supposed to utter knowledge according to the Psalms (Ps 19:2).

What about 2014’s first blood moon as it could relate to the church rather than the Israel blood moons supposedly privilege? Here the pattern is also striking because the eclipse has affected Pentecost’s endings sector, hitting opposite its Venus  which from its destiny house which rules the fourth of endings. Granted that across two millennia eclipses have hit the same point before, but they have not necessarily joined with other factors like the month’s shocking Pluto/Uranus square in action-geared (cardinal) signs, and certainly not around the end of the age of Pisces itself.

So does that mean the church is at its end, even approaching the much discussed Rapture? This is where a mature astrology and prediction must not run to sensation, and not least because it must always recall the principle of level. The same seemingly potent endings sign could mean nothing more than that (as is the case) the church in at least its Catholic branch, is going to beautify (Venus) its properties during 2014 because the fourth sector of endings also rules the institution’s property. Millions are to be poured into modern Christian art. But at the same time and ironically, at one level we know that the Rapture will take place and even within the required six months of the first eclipse. It will take place in Hollywood and cinemas where a more sophisticated version of the original Left Behind film has its premiere! Suitably, it even premieres under aerial Libra and on 10 degrees which is the degree of Pentecost’s Trumpet asteroid (Trombka)- for what is the Rapture about if not the Last Trumpet? And so between talk of blood moons and the film, there are plenty of Christians full of Rapture thoughts and imaginings. Presently I will indicate when this decade any such event would be most likely to eventuate as far as astrological symbolism is concerned.

I will first run through the lunar and solar eclipses of 2014/2015 for their potential significance for Israel and Christianity. The April 2014 lunar on Passover has already been dealt with, except I did not stress that 25 Libra is the degree of Isa (Jesus) in the birth chart of Jesus.The next lunar eclipse on October 8th on the Feast of Tabernacles falls at 15 Aries conjunct Uranus, a true fire cracker of an eclipse. The degree itself falls inside Israel’s sixth house which covers any armies – which is perhaps enough said. Almost on 15 degrees at 14.58 is Israel’s Part of Soul. I don’t set much store by the Parts, the asteroids are more reliable, yet we may imagine much soul searching and perhaps aspiration where Israel’s policies and the temple theme are concerned. Pentecost has nothing on 15 Aries which is in its religion and preaching sector, but Vaticana is closely conjunct it from 14, so possibly there will be more of the already begun intense Vatican negotiation about ownership of the Cenacle or even the international status of Jerusalem itself.

The Passover eclipse in 2015 is on 14 Libra in Israel’s twelfth house of the hidden and mystical and sometimes self undoing. The degree continues the soul theme positively. It’s Israel’s degree of the Parts both of Goodness of Soul and of Vocation. Pentecost has nothing on 14 Libra unless Bischoff (Bishop) and near it is Kriegh (War) – historically bishops have stirred up many wars!

The Tabernacles eclipse of 28th September 2015 is strong. It’s a total Supermoon on 4 Aries where it conjuncts the sixth house cusp for Israel (its house of any armies and military service) but exactly trines Israel’s moon, itself conjunct its destiny Midheaven. Israel may feel quite pleased with the result of previous turmoil. For Pentecost the blood moon falls conjunct its all important Jupiter in the religion sector.

These lunar eclipses are bracketed by the solar eclipses. In April 2014 the solar of 8 Taurus was on Israel’s Part of Sentiment but more importantly within its seventh house – an open invitation to open enemies to attack, which they did, and friendlier nations to speak of peace treaties as they also did (the house can also be involved with the treaties overcoming wars), but nothing was settled as hoped for Passover. For Pentecost the eclipse was on its Part of Marriage, possibly apocalyptic but more likely church concern with definitions of marraige. The solar eclipse of Oct 23rd 2014 on Israel’s ascendant challenges the natiom and its ethos, and quite likely brings more danger to “the body of the people”. For Pentecost, the eclipse is within a degree of its Lucifer.

In 2015 the solar eclipse of March 20th is on the ghastly 29th, last degree of Pisces which is significant near the end of the Piscean era. Since it falls in the month of both a blood moon and another danger ridden Pluto-Uranus square, there could be much disturbance then and over months following, with even perhaps the feeling among some that the Tribulation itself must have begun. The degree is not of huge significance to Israel, but to Christianity it might be or seem so to the extent it borders its one degree Aries Reich (Kingdom) asteroid. People might be expecting suffering to lead straight to the kingdom.

The last tetrad-associated solar eclipse is on 13th September at 20 Virgo. This could be more important for Christianity than Israel as 20 Virgo is the degree of Jesus’ sun. Moreover 19.45 Virgo is the position of asteroid Spirit for Pentecost – the Spirit is what Jesus said he would send after he left. For Israel 20 Virgo is the Part of Misinterpretation (which is almost but not quite amusing if referred to the Jewish attitudes towards Jesus!).

Summing up, the tetrad picture looks as though for Israel there is a period of renewed, extended warfare which could lead to some major acceptable settlement for it on or within 6 months of the last eclipse. For the church there looks to be something like an increasing spirituality and heightened expectation of endings – which Middle Eastern conflicts might well generate. The potential for the most end-of-era, apocalyptic event of the times would be for the last hoped for Pentecost. At the very least September 2015’s peculiar combination of the Jesus and Spirit associated solar eclipse and an important red moon on Pentecost’s Jupiter allows for a very spiritual time. For those who would want to associate that with a Rapture scenario, is that possible? The answer is no, so in conclusion it only remains to indicate where if anytime this decade the signs would be most agreeable with it.

For a start, any event so extreme which involves and even changes the entire world, would need to engage one or more of the world points after the manner of the 9/11 event. The “world points” are the four solstice points (O degrees Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn to within 1.30 degrees of conjunction) plus 15 Leo and 15 Aquarius. One would need that even for a global Pentecost, and possibly one has that in   March 2015’s difficult solar eclipse on 29 Pisces which precedes the curiously spiritual potential of the two September eclipses. However, those two eclipses don’t bespeak events like the Rapture and they certainly don’t touch the fatal critical degree of 26 Libra.

The year and the season which carries the maximum potential for anything like Rapture (and beyond astrology apparently agrees with considerations like the release of the Jubilee year as it could be applied to either Jew or Christian) is 2017. In August that year there is a lunar eclipse on a world point (15 Aquarius), the sign of shocks, surprises and revolution, and then a solar eclipse at 28 of Leo which not only conjuncts Pentecost’s natal moon and Church asteroid (at 26 and 27 Leo) but something else, of which presently, which very much links besides to the 15 Aquarius eclipse.

The lunation for the Feast of Trumpets on the 21st is on 27.27 Virgo. But by the end of the feast and its last blast the sun will be within conjunction of another world point (0 Libra) while freedom bringing Jupiter, itself the Bethlehem Star, will be conjunct the crucial, endings related 26 Libra. The transit of shocking Uranus is fortunately trine the mentioned preceding solar eclipse on the Moon/Church.

Years ago for my Testament and the Magi and before I had come to conclusions regarding Pentecost, I did write that I expected a certain factor within what I called the Leavetaking chart for Jesus would have to stimulated for any return scenario. Undeniably the Virgo lunation for the Feast of Trumpets could provide such a trigger. But then the eclipses, transits and lunation can all fit a distinct narrative of apocalypse to which many are attached. If one assumes that the Rapture is what brings the Antichrist into the world, then the two mentioned eclipses of August 2017 suitably and uniquely hit sensitive, destiny-invoking points for the natus of the Antichrist. We either do or do not possess data for this individual according to whether one accepts the late Catholic seeress, Jeane Dixon, had true visions regarding his birth and career. Whatever else she got right or wrong, it was her belief her Antichrist visions were the point of her gifts and the purpose of her life. The fact that she believed in astrology was enough to damn her among American religious conservatives. I can only say that the case for her visions on this theme strong. It is beyond present scope to analyse the relevant data but it would be hard to imagine a better birth chart for a false Messiah and someone or something that makes for global deception – the pattern even shows the Christ asteroid on the degree of Christ’s Bethlehem Star at birth as though the aim was precisely to take over the messianic role.

Finally I would note that 2017 plausibly fulfils apparent gospel demands as regards a “generation” that sees the era’s end in parallel with affairs of a reviving Israel. Theoretically a generation could be forty, seventy or one hundred and twenty years according to biblical count. 2017 is 40 years from 1967 when Israel retook its ancient capital, Jerusalem. It is 70 years from 1947 which is when Israel was first announced by the UN (albeit only fully founded a few months later in 1948) and it is 120 years from 1897 which saw the birth of Zionism, while it is 2 Jubilees of 50 years from 1917 when Allenby took Jerusalem from the Ottoman Turks. Plainly 2017 is and should prove a special year in some fashion.  There can be no ironclad guarantees from astrology or anywhere for scenarios as unique as Rapture or related apocalyptic events, even assuming believers are intended to consider “times and seasons” rather more than has traditionally been thought to be right.. But there’s little question that it is in 2017 one sees the greatest convergence of signs supporting ideas of a major turning point in history……

Note: All eclipse and any other degrees cited in this article are according to the Tropical system of measurements normally employed by astrology since the Greeks who discovered the precession principle. It is this system which gives maximum symbolic sense. So called biblical astronomers and readers of eclipses like Biltz are employing an essentially sidereal reading akin to that of Hindu astrology which reads against the fixed stars and the heavens as seen by the naked eye, not as read in divisions of the heavens from the vernal equinox and the intersection then of ecliptic with the celestial equator. Only around the birth of Christ were tropical and sidereal systems in near alignment.

 

 
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Posted by on October 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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UNDER PARNASSUS (an Under Ben Bulben variation)

[The aim of this experiment in poetry is not to rival Yeats’ impressive valedictory Under Ben Bulben.  It aims rather to offer a variation upon it, to “correct”, so to speak, the poem’s theories ranging from reincarnation to  dubious, quasi-fascist notions of eugenics and war which have grated with me as with many. Some of my beliefs re especially poetry colour the piece, but I have not exactly encapsulated my beliefs on poetry or anything;  it would not be possible given I have confined myself to following, however loosely, themes and development of Yeats’ own poem. Arguably I should have just composed my own poetic and spiritual credo but I think the exercise has its value. This poem with  others is included in a new edition of New Poems and Two Celtic Dramas,http://amzn.to/1tKdkJr  .  This  month another very different poem, can be found on my other Additions blog at http://bit.ly/1sUmAsO %5D.

 

Parnassus

UNDER PARNASSUS (An UNDER BEN BULBEN VARIATION) 

1

Swear by what the sages spoke
At Corycian Cave [1] and Sinai’s side
That Orpheus and Elijah [2] knew,
They who for darkness of the earth
Seized fire from fields of paradise.

Swear by those seers, those bards,
Names only known, their earthly form
Obscured as though by mists of dawn
Even while their Mosaic faces shine
Like light of noon upon the mount.[3]
They view the fated journeys done
The paths from Troy to Ithaca and Rome [4]
And Egypt into Jericho all won.

Here’s what that lasting radiance means:

11

Once only does man live and die
Through measureless eternity,
What earth or ashes cover now
In grave or in memorial urn
Awaits but only more decease if not
A resurrection. This is because,
Soul’s core is most like fires
Of God (or self-consuming will alone),
Its natural end and flight thus primed
For highest light or lowest dark;
And vision and poetry declare
Truth’s quest can only reach above,
For wisdom lies with choosing life.[5]

111

All you who heard a call to war
And thought it served both God and world
Go into none, unless with self
Or for the defenceless of the earth.
Time’s past when for some greater good
Peace was established by the sword,
And strength and merit lay in power.
For if it was blind Homer failed
Most sightless was his “unchristened heart” [6]
For which, though what’s most noble,
Is most calm, mere violence made for majesty.

1V

Poets like sculptors do your work
Shape into sound as they to sight
What is most fixed in form and style
And brings to mind eternal lines.

With Isaiah and with Aeschylus
Personality through verse began
Then Plato fixed the archetypes
And Pentecost spread wide the Word.
If measurement began our might
It bore as well with Aristotle
Division for the heart and mind
So that increasingly we dwelt with earth
And lost most vision of the higher,
First source of ecstasy and song.
But then, even Plato could be wrong.
His God was passionless, his poets
Banned since poetry is music too
And not just thought and words alone.

Renaissance and Baroque in verse
Through Shakespeare, Milton and beyond
Knew passion and a God of same
While taking Plato for the forms.
Then Wordsworth, later, part agreed
But Shelley cursed the Miltonic God
And saved most love for Lucifer [7]
And after that much poetry fell
From vision to a Satanic hell
Words found less meaning, feeling took
A lesser place, until it’s
Mostly objects steal the scene.

The passing ages run their course,
Now lightning of Aquarius waits
To make again and to renew and
Like great Michelangelo’s roof
To save Platonic forms and also show
Supposed unnatural’s natural too.[8]

V

But poets still perfect your art
One never learned but always given
Which speaks to where it cannot grow,
The crowd which throngs about below
The sacred mount you must ascend
Charged with the elect vocation.
Then sing the music of the spheres
Stars, planets, symbols, history, [9]
Great lyric loves and ways of God,
All shapes and forms of mysteries.
Ignore the upstart trivial kind
Whose labour is to strain at words
And mire the mind in earthiness.
Such make a show for passing days
Your work serves what it is transcends:
The task is vision’s truth and
Even the truth you are alone.

V1

Beneath Parnassus poets lie or else
Their soul is everywhere. On Nebo’s side
Where Moses died remains unknown
And since they fled into the night,
Doubt must surround the Magi’s tombs [10].
But whether in earth, or with Elijah
Into sky, small matter where the poet
Ends, nor what carved epitaphs declare.
Let only the work and vision stay,
Words echoed to eternity
Paths pointing still to ecstasy.

NOTES

[1] The Corycian cave on Parnassus was the home of the  Muses of poetry. Orpheus originally dwelt on Parnassus. Sinai is not just associated with Moses. The likes of Elijah and St Paul sought affirmation and clarification of vision by visiting Sinai.
[2]  Orpheus originally dwelt on Parnassus. Sinai is not just associated with Moses. The likes of Elijah and St Paul sought affirmation and clarification of vision by visiting.
[3]  When he had bee on Sinai and spoken with God his face shone so that it had to be covered with a veil. (Ex 34: 29-35)
[4]  Troy to Ithaca refers to the Odyssey and  “Tory to Rome”  is a  reference to Virgil and his epic of Rome’s foundation, The Aeneid.
[5]  As in “For the wise the path of life leads upwards in order to avoid Sheol below” (Pro 14:24) and “all who hate me[Wisdom] love death” (Pro 8:36).”Choose life…”(Deut 30:19)
[6]  Yeats identifies with Homer and his “unchristened heart” in Vacillation V111, without perhaps thinking out all implications of this.
[7] Shelley is radically atheistic as in Queen Mab and crypto satanistic in Prometheus where Jupiter is symbolic for the Miltonic God who must be overthrown. For Shelley the devil is heroic and light bringing.
[8]  Although Michelangelo’s art, mentioned by Yeats, followed a version of Christian Neo-Platonism, his inspiration and nature was essentially gay and the coming age of Aquarius is the sign of freedom and often of the homosexuality which the age may be expected to accept as part of nature itself. Yeats curiously suggests the artist’s work incites particularly female desire.
[9] Orpheus traditionally proclaimed star lore and astrology.
[10] A disputed tombs of the Magi site does exist in Iran to the south of the capital Tehran. Reputed remains of the Magi found their way to a shrine in Cologne via Constantinople.

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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COMING TO SYRACUSE (A Poem: Epyllion not Epic, Urblogues not Eclogues, in Six Parts)

COMING TO SYRACUSE (A Poem: Epyllion not Epic, Urblogues not Eclogues, in Six Parts)

COMING TO SYRACUSE

After three months we sailed in an Alexandrian ship whose
figurehead was the Twin Brothers…And landing at Syracuse
we stayed three days
” Acts 28:11

PART ONE: A CITY, ITS ISLAND AND ITS MUSE

Sing of arms and of the man no more
The human person can suffice, and then
A city and its island’s life. [1]  While wars
Still rage and rumours of the same escape,
Instead relate the struggle of cultures and
The soul with which as lengthy ages pass
Each day and century are filled, driven
Onwards by strong forces little grasped
And rarely seen, whose impulse shapes
The mystery and course of fate, their truths
Concealed within an implicate order.

Syracuse, great Syracuse, arisen besides
Ionian waves that anciently Tenians and
Corinthians braved, like Athens born anew
You shone, for wealth, trade, theatre, science and law
And all as if to rival a later Rome
While yet the glory of a larger Greece.
As though Athena’s second child you thrived
And from afar, some said, were joined to fields
Of blest Arcadia from which a river
Flowed beneath the ocean’s depths. Still others
Then devoutly claimed you housed the spring
Of Arethusa by a legend famed which tells
How on Ortygia’s isle that nymph poured forth.

A victim of the river god’s lust
She’d tried to flee; yet even hidden
By Artemis, first in a cloud then
 

Fountain

Caverns of the sea, she learned that haven
And safe place from Alphaeus there was none
Unless as water. And even with that
The cruel pursuer found a way
All suddenly to merge with her until
The earth itself was opened up, when
Artemis had given means so that
The nymph in freshest salt free jet
Emerged in new found freedom, all alone.

Oh light of Sicily whose sainted patron
Too was light [2], where went the freedom and
Your knowledge with its widespread beaconing,
And then the wealth of fields beyond
Whose grain fed Rome and Italy itself?
Since Alphaeus forced illicit claim
And Verres stole from land and shrine, what street
And parcel of your earth has not known loss
And fear through Carthage, Rome, Byzantium,
From Norman lord and Saracen and violent
Clan, all this bound fast by a colonial curse
So multiplied, so like the sea nymph’s mergence
Much renewed, each person’s left to wonder
“Who am I?” and “Who are you?”. Thus all
Become like characters without, yet striving
Still, to find the pattern and their author [3] ,
Step children of Pythagoras round whom
Biography dissolves in myth, though history
Receives his theories and his numbers.
Yet theirs remains the blessed ground of
Idyll and the elegy whose being rests
With inner landscapes of the mind, bucolic
Scenes lit by the eternal and ideal
In which through fancy and through reverie,
Hopes of the soul and its regrets speak quietly
As you of Syracuse, Theocritus [4] ,
First did and with such art that even as male
Some hailed in you another muse. Though
In our times main streams of inspiration
Fail, be now if not a muse, a guide
To help our tales and teachings flow through
Lands and pastures rich as Arcady’s.

PART TWO: A SICILIAN CURSE

CERES

Begin with Ceres and her loss and how
From out the earth all of a sudden evil rose
And Etna had its part in this. Enkelades was
The titan’s name or some said Typhon;
Either way, amid the struggles of
The gods Athena caught and pressed
Him down beneath the weight of
Etna’s heights. Desiring still to rise to
Heaven, the demon struggled in his bonds [5]
And raged and screamed so fire and smoke
And tremblings deep beneath the earth
In what was also Vulcan’s forge, at
Unexpected times broke forth. Within
Tartarian depths and far remote
From sunlight and the fields above,
Upon his throne of darkness now and then
Even Hades took offence and felt alarm [6]
Enough to draw him up to inspect
The pillars and balance of the earth.

It was at Enna in the spring that
Earth being shaken, opened up
And steeds of wrathful Hades galloped
Forth, nor did they stop until the god
Who drove his dusky chariot alone,
Glimpsed from afar a radiant maiden,
Proserpine, carefree, at play and
Gathering violets in a grove. She,
Although herself divine as Ceres’ child,
Was not yet strong against the will
Of Venus and her son who bore
His arrows and, as ordered, shot the girl
To leave her victim to those powers
Of love till then it seemed she might reject
Or else she was too young to know.
And so it was that Hades snatched the
Maiden’s innocence and thought it love.
His victim screamed in terror and she called
Repeatedly for Ceres’ aid and yet,
Though she resisted, due to Cupid’s dart
She somewhat loved her rapist too
And passed below where soon she would
Be honoured as the hell king’s queen.

proserpine2

But not before the Underworld’s mad steeds
As though enraptured by the violence
Still rushed across and round the trembling
Isle and by a pool where Sicily’s nymph,
Cyane, in vain protested at the crime,
And wept. So great was Hades’s wrath at that
He threw his sceptre in her pool returning
To his home from there, while she dissolved
Into her tears and her no longer sacred place
Until she was but silent water. Meanwhile and
Soon, Ceres to whom no child returned
Began to fear, to grow in anger and to mourn
And, tossed like waves at sea in her distress,
Set out to search the whole wide world, first
Sicily then that island last. And at the pool
Where now Cyane was only voiceless water
She saw, just as the sorry nymph intended,
The maiden’s girdle floating free. Here
Was the proof the island held her daughter still.
But Ceres while she quested on grew more enraged
And bitter at the Sicilian earth. With no child found
And seeking vengeance ever more, in grief
And comfortless this Mother caused all
Natural gifts of fruit and grain to be
Withheld so round about whole deserts spread
As fields were wilted, blackened and a
Blighted earth fell barren of its previous life.

At Arethusa’s fountain, there alone
It was that earth gained some reprieve.
The nymph, who now loved Sicily as her home,
Made plea to set harsh punishment aside,
Assured the troubled mother that the
Very land opposed the crime to which it was
The sad reluctant witness, and, from what
She’s glimpsed beneath the earth where Hades
Bore his bride away, there was no doubt
It was the dark Lord surely did the deed.
At first struck dumb, the anguished mother soon
Resolved to take her outrage to the courts
Of Zeus, rose there in haste and stood upon
Olympus’ heights. But Zeus was torn between
The claims on him of his own sister and
A brother too; and what his sister called vile theft,
To him seemed more like love gone half astray.
But witness to so great distress with consequences
For the world, his will allowed his niece could
Be returned to the maternal home. Except
This boon was now impossible. Within
The realms of hell its king had given his spouse
To eat; and once a soul, even one divine,
Had taken of food outside the world,
There they must stay and there belong. So
Zeus decreed a compromise that half the year
The girl might spend some time on earth
And every spring she could return.

Which is what many have believed. And
It is true that every spring the sun
Gives light and heat and violets blow
First and more early in Europa’s fields
In Sicily than anywhere. But even so
Some curse still lurked and whispered to the land
And that same sun that spreads on Enna’s walls
Would see the challenge to that city’s rule,
Conflict repeated and oppression too
Where it now stands athwart the island’s centre.
And to the north still Etna groaned and
Spat and had no mercy on a man
Except its slopes at rest gave honey [7].
It swallowed up even Empedocles who,
The last philosopher to write in verse,
Defined the fundamental elements
And thought all change results alone from
Strife and love in their perpetual motion.
Strife with gods and elements he met
When, seeking proof for his divinity,
Into a fiery crater of the mountain’s side
Himself he flung and was consumed. It is
As though in Etna’s shadow lie heaven
And hell, there sky and earth cannot agree
And from their violent colours, violent ways
Like poisoned flowers; and out of Vulcan’s
Forge and from the Titan’s jail arise
The retribution that lays waste…. But
To the south rose Syracuse whose bays
Face eastwards to the sea and Greece and
Do not look to, nor are overseen, by
Any mountain or dread Typhon’s place.
There, even if a tyrant ruled, the light
Of day could still be hailed like so much
Radiance of Reason’s rule, the blessing
Of Athena’s aid on every thinking citizen.
But darkness hides in many forms,
Sometimes even most and longest in the light.
And always there is love and strife.

PART THREE: TOURISTS AND VISITORS TO SIRACUSA

Arethusa

Alex:  From Dionysius’ Ear to Arethusa’s fount
And other places in between I have a feeling
That you’re following me. What’s on? You’ll
Make me think you want, I’ll not say what.

Cori:  Mi dispiace Sir, Signor, Mein Herr,
You make me feel confused, the route we take
Is all coincidence; but what you sense
Is that I’m looking rather hard at you
Because I’d say we’ve met before,
Somehow, somewhere…Could that be true?

Alex:  If not met seen, that is the likelier thing,
I’ve been so many places near and far
Where were you last? Half choked in Beijing’s fog?
To rest and breathe try Taormina or Tahiti’s shores.
Today all travel’s much like work.

Cori:  I’ve been in Europe, not much past Italy, I find
It’s good enough for me, from Mantua’s plains
To Etna’s height all’s fine, even Rome and all
The crowds – I’ve just come here from there
But Taormina, that I like, it’s heaven,
So even Goethe said when he could stop
Examining varieties of Sicily’s soil.

Alex:  You sound like Verdi who declared
The universe is yours if Italy’s for me.

Cori:  Well, I’m not Verdi but wherever I go
I write some songs or poems for each place .

Alex: You have them here? I’ll listen to them
If you wish. We should sit down,
It’s rather hot to keep on walking in this sun.
Let’s find the nearest tree – beech, oak
Or cypress, willow or plane. [8] Let poets
Find them different meanings, what’s certain
Is trees offer shade.

Cori:  Just there is fine, things aren’t so certain with
My words. On Syracuse they’re very new
With some of them I must admit, still rough,
They’re all a bit impromptu. More than
Description of a place I write of people
Native here or those who visited and stayed.

Alex:  I’ll listen anyway when you begin.
.
Cori:  Born in Eleusis where in Greece the cult
Of Ceres flourished most, the father of
Stage Tragedy was raised. He was familiar
With the Maiden’s fate, indeed according to
The Stagirite [9] the plays of Aesychlus – most
Now are lost – betrayed some secrets of
Initiate rites. Save but for bravery at war
At Salamis and at Marathon in which
The playwright lost a hand, he would have forfeit
Life itself. Even so he was attacked with
Such degree of violence by a crowd
It’s likely why before too long he took
To sea and Syracuse. At Demacopus’
Theatre there his tragedies could be
Performed (first The Persians which had won
A prize), but though among all ninety plays
We’re ignorant what depth his Women of Etna
Plumbed, in Reason’s cause the playwright wrote
What sounds like homage to Athena’s power
And then the benefits of rule by men.
Which would not have been clear to all – the
Play which most affirmed it was the same
At which a pregnant woman died in shock
At sounds too supernatural. Even so
It must be said that though in youth it was
The vine god told the dramatist to write,
With age and Syracuse he grew more like
Apollo’s devotee, a lover of the local light.

Dramatist

At Gela not at Enna Aeschylus died,
His end, alas, was all too tragi-comic.
Due to a forecast he had heard he feared
To stay too long indoors, but outdoors
Proved no safer. An eagle thought his head
A rock and on it dropped a tortoise.

Alex:  That must be myth. I’d guess the last act of the
Playwright’s life got written by his enemies.

Cori:  I think…. I’ll let you read the next piece
If you choose. Philosophy’s more serious.

Alex:  As though for life’s experiments Sicilia
Was the Promised Land, Pythagoras once
Settled there, in Croton where disciples
Learned new simple ways and diet too -
None caught or ate an animal. Perhaps
Recalling the example shone, great
Plato sailed to Syracuse three times.

Plato

With politics corrupt in Greece then
Hearing how across the sea within
The largest colony that gluttony
And debauch were rife, the best solution
Seemed to be to educate some leaders.
Indeed he would feel honour bound
And working for the good of all.
With sober Dion, an admirer, he began,
(He was the local tyrant’s brother in law)
But fears of too great influence at court
Had Dion placed beneath a ban and
Plato flee the hostile shores. And later
Visits ended much the same. Once come
To power the tyrant’s son, at Dion’s urge,
At first submitted to the Sage’s way, but
Wearied soon and once again intrigue
And violence arose. Dion, long cheerfully
Exiled abroad and pupil at the Academy
At last returned and being Reason’s child
And thus an enemy to mere anarchy,
Placed rule and order on his home
But by recourse to sword and force.
The island slid towards new chaos.
And thus with age and grave experience
The visitor from Athens learned that
Teaching can’t alone suffice; the maybe
Necessary second best is rule by Law,
So what he’d deemed the Good might need
Assistance from strict rules and greater
Limitation. And so, O Syracuse, alas,
Your world and history helped to shape
Ideas for later generations of
A state less democratic than policed,
All poetry suspect or simply banned
And gays – the sage now changed his mind
And allowed for laws against them.

Cori:  Now me again. Next in my line is
Someone born in Syracuse….

archimedes

Archimedes found out many things in
Physics, maths, in pumps and screws, and managed
Too to map the heavens. But even so
His fame lies chiefly with his bath,
Where inspiration in a trice revealed
How he, beyond whatever science knew,
Could judge the buoyancy of water.
Up from his seat within the tub he
Jumped, screamed but one word, “Eureka”
And then while still a-drip ran out
Stark naked through the streets
To share the thrill of his discovery.

Alex: How fortunate police weren’t there,
The type to think him criminal!

Cori:  No, it was a Roman called him criminal
And killed him with a sword for studying
Maths with Carthage at the city gates…
But clothed or nude he was so little
Loved and lost to public memory soon,
It was alone the brave and gold mouthed
Cicero, when not attacking Verres’
Crimes, discovered and restored his tomb.

At this point there’s an interval, a tuning
Of the instruments let’s say, in which
We introduce some other themes that follow.

When, because he would look back
Sad Orpheus lost a wife to Hades’ realm
His interests turned, and, so it’s said
He taught and loved young men instead.
But his own magic lyre, the legend goes,
Had floated down from Thrace to Greece
And stopped at where fair Sappho dwelled….

Alex:  With that did someone wish to imply
That love and lyric verse are gay
And maybe even music too?

Cori:  Perhaps, or possibly they thought bisexual,
For some say Sappho had a child. Consider too
King David loved to play a harp and he had
Wives and sons; but then, as scriptures tell,
He loved and entered – sort of – marriage
With a man – the word they used was berith.
In Sicily no doubt things were more free
As long before Von Gloeden had a camera
Trained on charms of local naked youth,
Greek Diocles who admired just such, once
Dead was honoured and at his own grave
With competitions in the spring for boys
To meet and greet and in the grandest style
To kiss in harmony with vernal gusto[9].
(Just what they did in Syracuse remains unsure
We only know Theocritus approved).

Gloeden Faun

Things weren’t so easy
For the other sex, but nonetheless…
Your turn. Pull the stops out for a great Poet

Alex:  To Siracuse from Lesbos Sappho came
In flight from Pittacus, a tyrant and intrigues
Back home. The citizens were so agog
That she whom Plato called tenth muse
Inventor of new music and poetic forms
Should seek to make her home with them, that
Even before they saw her face, as welcome
To their refugee, Silanion was engaged to carve
A statue in her honour. Before the town hall
It was raised but then, like Archimedes tomb,
This too was doomed to disappear
– only the pedestal was left – another of
Those victims to gross Verres’ thefts.
And yet, how like the symbol of a fate
That was. One poem from nine volumes
Is what now remains, and for the rest, like
Marble chips, we own but scattered fragments
And they’re unclear – the dialect in which
The Lesbian wrote itself died out -
And like her image fades away as when
It’s said this poetess was fair and tall while
Others think her dark and low, so in the end
It is the name and fame alone endure.

Sappho2

Such was the fate of one who wrote, alas,
As she herself would once admit, despite
Her social and erotic themes, chiefly
To be recalled when she passed on and not
Be lost to night within the Underworld.

Cori:  I’ll come back again, I represent Italia…
The centuries passed but then, as though
He had to pursue the Lesbian (as surely
Later fathers would to hell), the apostle Paul
Sailed into harbour with a companion Luke -
A doctor, (though there’s legend claims a painter).
An unlikely pair they might appear
One strict, the other generous, the
Apocalypse of one, some deem indeed,
Half gay with two men sleeping in a bed [11] ;
But anyway, even twins affined can be
At odds and disagree and of the
Heavenly twins beneath whose sign
The two embarked at Syracuse, we know
That Pollux was a boxer as was Castor too
Though he was more disposed to sleep.
As to St Paul, (I cannot speak for Luke)
He maybe liked to box, but not the air….. [12].

PAUL

Alex:  I’ll interrupt you there…I want to say…
With no church founded nor epistle
Written and just three days Paul was
Ashore, could time here be significant?
A small church only, not a cathedral
Or cathedral square exists in town
To commemorate his stay, and that stands
Close beside some ruins of Apollo’s shrine.
Which some might feel was almost right
Because if mildly, quietly in its way
This place is somewhat pagan still.
It’s transformation is its style and not
I think conversion. In centre town,
With little change, the Virgin’s cult
Now owns Athena’s temple.

Cori:  No, once again I think this is symbolic.
Three days Christ lay within the tomb and
On the third day he was raised. Recall Paul’s
Company was tossed about and nearly died
Devoured by fiercely angry waves until
They ran aground in Malta. A pattern of
Pure woe indeed, one much akin to storms
And tempests of our lives. When three months later
They could leave, safe harbour lay in Syracuse
As well as calm and brief serenity
Three days before the apostle sailed to Rome,
To judgement on his life and work,
His final days and execution. Thus say
That Syracuse is the sacred pause,
The moment of vision and of rest,
Maybe a fork within the traveller’s road,
Almost a place of heaven’s door, as
Have not others said before, this island
Stands a portal to heaven as to hell?…..

Escaped from out a prison cell above the bay
Of Malta, that artist Caravaggio,

Caravaggio

The same who claimed – he was no Paul – that
All his sins were mortal, found home awhile
In Syracuse. His goal was Rome and
Pardon there, though he met death along the way.
But in this harbour city he still gained
Some favour with its leaders. These all were keen
He turn a hand to make fine image
Of their patron saint – he showed her dead
And ready for her burial. Her story goes
She had been dragged towards a brothel where
Her throat was cut because she’d wished to
Sacrifice both life and chastity to God. The image
Shows….

Alex:  Oh, something morbid I dare say
But then that was that painter’s way
He loved the shadows more than light
But Lucy stands for all that’s bright
So white is doubtless in the picture…
Enough of history and the town
Let’s follow sunlight to the beach
I’ll put the sunscreen on your back

PART FOUR: THE COMING AGE

ROMAN

Now for a higher theme, its flight ascends [13]
Above all trees and forests that give shade
And beats strong wings to fly beyond firm
Harbour walls of ancient Syracuse,
Its aim to reach into our larger world
Beyond even noble monuments of Rome.
As to its seeing, may that be with vision
Like the eagle’s eye which looks upon both
Heaven’s sun and earth beneath as though
Those two could be the same.

Sicilian muse, soon is again the time
For which now dreamers dare to yearn
When through the circle of celestial signs
There dawns a new age for humanity.
Yet can it savour of that Golden Age
And be the crowning era of all prophecy
Once sung so hopefully but only spied
Through darkness of a glass where rose those
Images combining true and false amid
A too great trust of Caesar as a god
And reverence for Pan in every field?
For prophecy indeed is hard and harder
Than all poetry (even though those two
Are much allied), for in it farthest futures
Show as though a virtual present, and this
Because main words of prophecy derive
From outside time, their usual frame and
Speech being symbol and their working out
All bounded by the round of stars,

For no, throughout the world wars have not
Ceased, nor fear, nor is wild nature purified
So that a fertile land grows to support
Itself with no fields harrowed, no vines pruned
And even the ox  and lion reconciled [14].
But though you grasped how for redemption and
The age the sign of Jupiter was core [15]
And though from heaven the First Born came so that
Past evils could erase, most that was forecast
And desired did not occur and that
Because true alteration knows two kinds,
One gradual, the other born of crisis.
Within the time that cycles and their symbols
Shape, freewill exists to choose a higher
Above a lower way of the same thing,
And thus to learn and change as persons
And societies. When that’s refused
So evil thrives, it’s God and Nature bring
An end and introduce the new by force.
For when the Good is little taught or learned
How could your Golden Age be realized
Or Nature form new harmonies when amity,
Forgiveness, love are rarely settled in
The heart? Relentless hatred must be
Swept away, and will, with all confusion
Of the names of God lest poison through belief
That’s false and misnamed vision keep its
Hold, prolonging strife with every wrong.

Then only does the monarch of this world,
No more a mother’s child, but even now
Awaiting and prepared within the light
Bring near the justice of a longed for reign.
For this come soon, the world is impatient
To rejoice, the gate of welcome is unbarred,
None may resist the sceptre of your rule…..
And yet, before the new age can begin
And when within the heavens the Water Bearer’s
Sign lets freely flow the healing springs of
Spirit beyond the lightning flash and sudden
Fear and wakening towards new dawn [16],
Some years a weary earth must suffer still.
Whole multitudes, alas, must die as seas
Will rise and mountains fall and many
Cities be destroyed and even Rome itself
Fall once again beneath barbarians.
And all these things shall be because the world
Must be renewed and those who cannot
Live aright must learn instead how well
To lose what’s theirs, and even maybe
How to die, to perceive that life alone
On earth is not the sum of all that is.

It’s only then and following the years
Of strife and loss, of false beliefs and none
Another world, one wholly new, can rise,
All history and life such as was known
No longer there except as records read,
Or told as tales, by which fresh offspring of
The age will be amazed, sometimes amused.
Though travelling less, within their lands
And in their minds they’ll travel more
As with all cities rare, villages and groups
Combine, communication being total,
While on its mountain Zion rules above
All peoples and beyond all memory of
Terrors past, the division and confusion.
Each person shall be free, at last more free
Than all before and their own leaders,
Who’ll be few, will – much as once in Plato’s
Dream – be guardians of a single Law with
Wisdom and philosophy empowered and
Knowledge of most things divine, an absolute.

Then, what remains of Italy in which
No more a pontiff reigns to speak of deity
Or take its place, the beasts of field and forest
The  hunters slew, and slew to desolation,
These now as nature soon revives, return
Not to devour but roam in greater harmony
As centuries long all life itself
Will lose much of it that was entropy -
Even age extends, a hundred years like
Infancy as time grows closer to eternity.
And then, those fortunate of the coming age
Beneath the shade of beech and elm
Again in midday idleness they’ll sing
And speak of love that’s everywhere and everything
And under clusters of the vine, breathe in
Deep peace and view all Being as benign.

PART FIVE: OVERHEARD AT THE THEATRE

GKTHEATRE

He:   It’s really quite a mystery. This theatre
With the largest stage this island holds, the
Birthplace of so many plays, and many
Now deemed classic, has least to show by way
Of natural vista. We’re even told that sites
Like these were chosen for their setting, it’s
Integral to the drama. Segesta shows
A pure sublime; there’s nothing here to rival it
Or Taormina’s majesty. See… just a tiny
Sliver of the bay, its distant blue half lost
To clumps of cypress – the tree of death
So Virgil wrote. But then I’d say these plays
Are guilt and death-filled first to last.

She:  So deaths are all we’ve come to see?

He:  It must be said the action is quite minimal
It’s mostly chorus plus much commentary,
On serious actions little seen whose outcomes
You evaluate.

She:  If this is Greek and philosophical I’d think
We might need help with that.

He: ……Well, rather as Plato once dismissed
The Homeric gods so as to affirm
Some higher principles of good or God
Beyond those poor Olympian morals,
So Aesychlus evokes a holier Zeus.
He tries to make existence seem more
Sane and tangled fates more rational
By teaching Zeus one time decreed man learns
Through suffering alone. While things this poet
Does with myth can be ingenious and
Original, the messages may not convince.

She:  What messages are those? I’m sure to miss
Them for the spectacle and sound!

He:  To understand and two millennia on
I’d need to give the Oresteia storyline …
Be patient if you can, it’s this:

Oresteia

The Trojan war being at its end, King
Agamemnon now heads home. However
There’s some guilt on him. To appease a goddess
And to help the Greeks he’s sacrificed a daughter.
Clytemnestra who’s his wife and queen
Resents this death and, having suffered a
Ten year absence of her spouse has taken
A lover, though of course she hides the fact
Declaring strict fidelity. So guilt’s on her
(as on Helen who began the war). The king
Himself has not been faithful (what king is?)
And guilt of sorts is on his mistress too
Cassandra a prophetess and true
But whom a god, Apollo, cursed to
Never be believed for any oracle made.
– he took offence at her because she
Was unwilling to return his love.
The unfortunate girl foresees that if she
Enters in her lover’s house she will be
Murdered as he will be too. She prays the sun
In vain to be delivered. At palace entrance
King and queen might just be reconciled
Again except – it’s maybe fate -
There’s something makes them disagree.
The queen plans welcome on a tapestry
All purple where she utters praise that’s
So extreme – more suited to the very gods
Her husband feels – that he recoils, in both
Humility and fear. But then, reluctant still
He gives consent and enters in though later
Resting in his bath he’s murdered by the
Ambitious queen abetted by her lover.
This spouse, condemned by Chorus members
On the stage, rejoices in her evil deed
Whose fatal blow she offers to the god
Of Earth. She feels no guilt; it helps her lover’s
Party to the crime and he, Aegisthus,
Can declare it’s just and even proof the gods
Are good because he now sees vengeance on
The death the father of the murdered king
Had put upon his brothers. Thus retribution
Vengeance, guilt seem all combined and likely
To continue, the Chorus left with little choice
But to concede whoever acts must suffer.

She:  Yes, that’s exactly how it seems,
Should gods and men do nothing? So far, so bad
What is the next part of the Trilogy?

He:  It’s all the worst fears of the queen come true.
Fate intervenes when out of exile in disguise
Orestes, the king’s son, makes his return
He with a cousin, Pylades, goes to the tomb
And there, both for his father and a nurse
Sets down two locks of his own hair. Elektra
His mourning sister soon appears with bearers
Of libation, themselves arrived because
The queen now seeks to appease the dead
Due to her suffering from dreams by night.
To Hermes, god of dead souls in the underworld
Elektra prays for vengeance and on seeing
Both the locks of hair and certain footprints
In the ground suspects at last her brother’s
Near. This he can prove when he presents
A robe his sister helped to stitch. Rejoicing
At reunion the pair invoke high Zeus
For vengeance which Orestes now reveals
Is highest duty and a need since in an oracle
Even Apollo told him blood needs blood
And that ignored more curse and sickness
Follows. At which the Chorus calls
On Zeus for justice and is free to reveal
What dream it is haunts Clytemnestra in
The night, though not before declaring (at some
Length) the madness of all women’s passion.
The queen dreamt that a snake would suckle
At her breasts but then draw blood, and this
Orestes feels assured is forecast of
The matricide he must pursue once he
Has entered in his home and readied it
For vengeance. Requesting shelter but disguised,
Orestes meets his mother telling her
That he himself is dead abroad. Distress
Is feigned but he’s admitted and Aegisthus told,
Then with the Chorus’ aid, Orestes’ nurse
Will lead the lover of the queen to
Where he’s all alone so that Orestes
Is left free to strike. He does this and the
Dying screams bring Clytemnestra to
Aegisthus’ side. Now all is clear, mother and
Son are face to face and against the queen’s
So desperate pleas the son is deaf
Refusing mercy to fulfil quite other laws
As he sees fit. Although the deed once done
Both Chorus and the prince rejoice,
No sooner has the matricide declared his right
Than he falls victim to gross torments,
Visions and pain avenging ancient Furies
Place on him. In agony he flees the scene.
The Chorus is now left to ask, can deliverance
Exist or must there be another death?

She:  I must agree it’s getting worse and what
The Chorus asks makes sense.

Orestes

He:  Now comes the final episode, Part Three
Of this most dire Trilogy.

No longer Argos now the scene is Delphi
At Apollo’s shrine. Its prophetess appears
And terrified. She flees at sight of hag-like
Furies fast asleep sprawled in a circle round
Orestes, still a hunted, haunted man.
But soon Apollo, newly lord of earth
Appears with soul guide Hermes at his side.
Apollo’s promise is the curse must end
But not before Orestes makes appeal to
Athena in the city that she rules.
As Hermes leads the matricide away
The ghost of the dead queen appears and
Rouses the vile Furies to pursue their prey
And they, enraged to see their quarry gone,
Renew their curse and rail against all
New gods on the earth and Apollo who
Is firm to order them away. In Athens
Its own goddess will appear to declare
Orestes and the Furies, both, must be
Submitted to her rule which will include
Trial by a citizen’s jury. Still vehement
And unsubdued, the Furies rage against
All thought of any process and the law
Which might curb warning terrors and
All retribution of their kind which is
True justice, so they claim, which once denied
Expose even parents to all crime. But
Athena and Apollo too know that
The Furies rise from earth and hell and
Speak for earlier ages and for women.
Apollo who is witness and an advocate
For the victim now his protégé,
Maintains Orestes did a deed once
Forecast by his oracle itself made
With the authority of Zeus. He also
Rules true parenthood belongs not to
Mothers whose wombs can only nurture seed
But rather to Fathers from the first.
The court holds session and the count
Is equal save that Athena casts her vote
Through which the haunted prince is freed
And it’s agreed henceforth the city
Will have trials and be a seat of justice.
Again the Furies rage but seeking peace
Athena promises them a noble home
Within the city’s bounds to which
At last with hesitation they agree.

She:  And so, despite the misery and gore
The story isn’t quite a tragedy.

He:  How much of misery and gore could
Any audience hope to stand, even if, as
Aristotle held, such drama gives catharsis?
But for myself I’d say there’s tragedy of
Another kind and hidden on another plain.

She:  What’s that I’ve missed?

He:  In essence there’s no formula for good
Nor any real redemption

She: Not even with Orestes freed?

He:  Well, think of it. The Furies may be loathsome
But they have a point, or almost so, because
What flame is it the new gods bring to justice?
Apollo was cruel to Cassandra
And to Marsyas too, his rival in music
Whom he skinned alive. Compassion never was
His style. Orestes is quite right to plead
Compassion of him, and though we hear his
Father Zeus stands closer to true mercy,
Why would that Father then endorse
The crime of matricide Apollo gives
To Orestes as an oracle?
And why does that same god of prophecy
And truth maintain that blood needs blood
In what, if taken as a rule, which
In the dramas it can be, might run to
Unending tolls of sacrifice and vengeance?

She:  It doesn’t make much sense I must agree.

He:  The friendlier Athena will declare
For practice of a noble mean and peace
But only for her city. All war that’s
Made abroad to garner fame or win
More land she can approve. Her stated “mean”
Is scarcely something rational, more like
A shaman’s trick in primitive societies
Which holds the forces of the night at bay
By admitting just sufficient light. It’s

Athens

Much the same for what’s approved for life
Within society, its rule by men, a point
On which even gods can be agreed
But it’s the poor name for or an alternative
Form of Hellenistic Reason. Hence,
Practically, and faced with problems that
The Furies pose, it’s change is the redeemer
Its cure a lie akin to how – although
Apollo claims he could not lie – The Furies,
Pacified, will be renamed the Kind Ones.
In sum, there’s never exorcism nor
Is there banishment or blood of final
Sacrifice. Like Lucifer as angelic light
The new gods, greatly idealized, could hide
New rule by demons. But what is plain -
The gods themselves admit it – is how
Even cutting bonds and granting boons
It’s life they do not and they cannot give
In either this world or the next; no years
Once lost, as lost they were beneath Troy’s walls,
Can find their recompense and be restored.
Those few in fields of bright Elysium
Are wraiths who have no body and no home
And thus the only prospect for mankind is
Endless night in Hades. From Acheron’s
River none return because the family of Zeus
Though worshipped widely and still more appeased
Don’t deal in life as resurrection. And
Reason as a path to Truth and peace is
What the sages offer for this life
And then Gods utter versions of the same;
But it’s the fact that purest Reason
Never is entirely of the intellect,
Nor is it wholly male or something men
Alone may guard. Its thought is for this
Middle earth and really, truest Knowledge
Has a span encompassing the heaven above
And hell below, the visible with
The invisible. When that’s ignored
The human mind Is too divided, vision split
And, never reaching true control, our thoughts
Fall prey to forces not quite understood,
Misnamed, misused and so we walk to death
Alone  in blindfolds and in ignorance.

She: Well, something I now understand is why
The natural scenery as a setting counts.
It’s like a counsel to enjoy this life
As being your nearest to the world of
Gods before your brief hour of existence
Ends. In which case I’m inclined to say
I’d rather sit and contemplate this world
From Taormina than from here.

He:  But here the stage is sacred for its drama.
In Taormina Romans changed the theme,
No longer tragedy but combats of the
Gladiatorial kind, fights to the death
As entertainment. With such the memory
Of its stage is stained. Recall that
Syracuse rose faced away from Etna’s
Height. Maybe it has more light, less curse,
There’s just less past to exorcise.

She:  No curtain rises but the play begins
All light and sound, I’m ready for this tragedy.

PART SIX: EVENING, NIGHT AND GOING HOME

EVENING

 Alex:  You should finish our journeys with a song.

Cori:  I’m not so sure I really can. It might be
That the problem’s you.

Alex:  What’s wrong with me? What words or tunes
Do I prevent?

Cori:  I thought I knew, but now I feel less sure
Just who you are, from where or why?

Alex:  You must think I am secretive!

Cori:  More like just strange. You sometimes visit
In my dreams and always it’s so long ago
Though vivid as true memory; but often too
You disappear and manage to escape me.

Alex:  Oh such imagination! What ages past
Did we call home?

Cori:  It was whole centuries ago and then
At times we talked of poetry and Rome
Of distant futures and of love.

Alex:  So long ago and serious? Well, certain is
We never had a life before. If we made
Poetry and talk then think when
Certain stars are in the skies
That people much like us return
And say things that are similar
Which some repeat and may recall.
It’s really nothing more than that…
Well, as it seems you won’t perform
Now maybe I should be the poet.
But since I don’t profess to own your
Kind of special talent, I may be left
To work with scarcely more than what
Are merely borrowings from others…
“Now I am wearied with the day”
My longing happily receives the starry night [17]
(That fits, the sky tonight is clear enough
And I’ll admit I’m rather tired)

Cori:  I know the verse, what follows is..”And then
My unfettered soul desires to soar,
Freely into night’s magic sphere to
Live there deeply and a thousand fold”
Don’t say you’re trying to escape again! [18]
It’s very “north” and sounds too like those
Hymns to Night Novalis wrote in hope
That night’s eternal. I never understand it.

Alex: No need to try. It has a lot to do
With mood and time or simply place…..
Another poet of the sunset wrote
“Soon it will be the time to sleep…
Let’s not lose our way within this solitude
O vast and tranquil peace,
so deep within the evening’s glow!
How weary we are of wandering..”. [19]
(And don’t you think by now we are?)….

Cori:  Weary of wandering here and now
Or wandering simply everywhere?
Well you, I know, have seen the world,
And yes we’ve gone quite far today
But that’s not how the poem ends…
Don’t repeat it, you might trouble me.

Alex:  No, nor is there need to ask what’s next,
Or where. The sun’s gone down.
I feel, and so may you, a special radiance
As much from earth as from the sky
The peace, that glow; they are enough;
They join what has been and will be
With or without our journeys or our songs
Think we are here and we have paused.
Right now there’s nothing to complete
Say only that we came to Syracuse.

[This poem is now available in a second edition of New Poems and Two Celtic Dramas, http://amzn.to/1tKdkJr ]

NOTES

[1]  Arma virumque cano….”Arms and the Man I sing” opens Virgil’s Aeneid , the epic of Rome’s conquest by survivors of the Trojan war.
[2}  St Lucia, a saint associated with light and vision, is patron saint of Syracuse (Siracusa)
[3] Six Character in Search of an Author is a classic play by Sicilian dramatist, Luigi Pirandello
[4} Theocritus ( d.260 BC ) was a Greek poet born in Syracuse whose original Idylls and Elegies influenced the work of especially the Roman Virgil
[5} The Demon…….Here the Titan sent to Tartarus and effectively all titans are identified with fallen angels of biblical account. This somewhat influences the theory and theology of this account of spiritual influences.
[6} Hades. Strictly speaking, if one keeps to Roman names and myth it was Pluto, not the identical Greek Hades who raped Proserpine (Gk Persephone),
but Hades is not just a name but a place and concept. It thus  works better and more widely for meaning in the poem, but any reading could substitute the Pluto name since both names have two vowels and similarly Zeus could be substituted with Jove..
[7]  During Etna’s dormancy its slopes can be very fertile and the best honey in Sicily derives from there.
[8] The mentioned trees feature extensively in the poetry and symbolism of Virgil’s Eclogues.
[9] The Stagirite was a title for Aristotle who defined the aesthetic rules of Greek drama.
[10] Baron Von Gloeden (1856 -1931) settled in Taormina for health reasons and became famous for some early homoerotic art photography. It’s hard to tell whether in Idlyll 12 Democritus means that the spring male kissing competition took place in Sicily or not – he refers to Diocles as the Athenian “stranger” (visitor in this case?). We know he was born in Megara on the Greek mainland and went to Athens where the competition was celebrated by his tomb, but whether also he went to Democritus’s Sicily is not clear. He may just have influenced it.
[11] Two Men in a bed. See Luk 17:34. Although their sleeping together in not condemned and probably only refers to the fairly common ancient custom of shared beds (albeit Luke’s gospel does include the story of the centurion and his boy), what is implicitly condemned is the spiritual  unpreparedness of one of the men who is not taken  at the end of age Rapture.
[12] 1 Cor 9:26. “So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air”
[13] “A higher theme”. Eclogue 4 concerning the Golden Age, describes its theme as more important than tamarinds and shrubs and hopes it will be worthy of forests.
[14] Virgil’s Eclogue 4 speaks of lion and ox being reconciled. It is like a echo of Isaiah’s prophecy of the Millennium from earlier centuries and is one of several features that makes one wonder how much the classical world was aware of biblical prophecies.
[15]. Jupiter is core because Jupiter is traditional ruler (Neptune is modern co-ruler) of Pisces on the cusp of whose era Virgil was writing, but also because Jupiter would be the Bethlehem Star that stands at the entry of the New Age with the messianic birth Virgil, I think, dimly foresees. Virgil’s coming child of the gods is the representative of Jupiter. Modern criticism in its easy sceptical rationalism dismisses the Eclogue as any kind of prophecy such as by tradition the churches regarded it as paganly being. I feel however that despite its misses and confusion it was intended to be prophecy and mixes current events with future developments dimly seen.
[16] The Water Bearer is Aquarius. As Aquarius is the sign of any Utopias and idealistic group work, it is closest to the idea of any Golden Age and Millennium of harmony, freedom and new Law.. The New Age is inaugurated in, or its inauguration is like, lightning which is a symbol of Aquarius (Matt 24:27).
[17] “Now I am wearied with the day….” from Hermann Hesse’s Beim Schlafengehen
[18]  In Eclogue 2 the shepherd  Corydon suffers frustrated passion feeling that Alexis is ignoring and avoiding him.
[19]  From Eichendorff  Im Abendrot   Both this poem and Hesse’s are set to music in Richard Strauss’s Vier Letzten Lieder, Four Last Songs 

 

 
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RILKE: SINGER OF HADES, (Part Two: The Death Muse and Modern Spirituality )

RILKE: SINGER OF HADES, (Part Two: The Death Muse and Modern Spirituality )

 

RILKE, SINGER OF HADES, (Part Two: The Death Muse and Modern Spirituality)

The personal spiritual and artistic development of the poet Rilke could be said to anticipate and summarize almost the whole modern spiritual predicament and its various  mystical/new age strivings, certainly its now familiar “spiritual not religious” aims. It’s therefore important for modern religion and poetry, and in some respects even morality, to understand where Rilke could be considered most right and wrong about the highly original direction his work and vision took.

What Rilke was unconsciously and consciously doing amid his “soul making” has been charted at great but readable and illuminating length (700 pages) by Daniel Joseph Polikoff in his In the Image of Orpheus: Rilke a Soul History (2011). Its interpretations draw upon insights from the work of neo-Jungian theorist James Hillman. Hillman was a psychiatrist who sought to dethrone the overdone Freudian Oedipal theory in favour of a new theory of psychoanalysis based on the myth of Psyche, she who after many adventures engages the sacred marriage with the Eros she almost loses. Polikoff regards Rilke as all about Psyche. I agree and would regard a lot of modern spirituality about the same – both for better and for worse. Hillman also sought to restore a “polytheistic” imagination over a “monotheistic” one. This doesn’t exactly mean restoring all the old gods but, in a way Polikoff regards Rilke as exemplifying, instead overcoming fundamental familiar western splits like body and mind, life and death etc to perceive energies and symbols operating everywhere.

Under the influence of especially the Danish novelist Jens Jacobsen, Rilke had briefly turned atheist in his late teens. This phase was nonetheless soon abandoned for a more psychological approach to religion which variously allowed for soul-making and a search for, or even construction of, an alternative god. Both Rilke and his lover the early Freudian theorist, Lou Andreas-Salome, whom he met in Munich in 1897, loved the Bible that they didn’t believe in and often read it to one another. Their anti-Christian convictions nevertheless preferred the Old Testament many of whose figures and ideas weave in and out of Rilke’s verse. There is however particularly one OT verse that seems relevant to the poet’s spiritual progress and the mystery of his  final illness that Lou couldn’t explain for him – Rilke believed in dying one’s own death that would express one’s personal beliefs and entire life. The verse is: “For the path of the Wise leads upwards in order to avoid Sheol [Hades] below”. (Prov 15:24). In what I dare say the kind of Hillmanesque psychology just mentioned would regard as only and even the needed reaction against historic religious over-cultivation of spirit as against soul and thus an appropriate openness to unconscious depths, it is declared in the early collection Das Stundenbuch The Book of Hours:

Doch wie ich mich auch in mich selber neige:

Mein Gott is dunkel und wie ein Gewebe

Von hundert Wurzeln, welche schweigsam trinken.

This is loosely rendered in the popular Barrows and Macy translation as:

But when I lean over the chasm of myself/it seems/my God is dark/and like a web; a hundred roots/silently drinking.

The Book of Hours and this statement anticipates the direction Rilke would go.  Even if we should find something (or even much) of God in the unconscious, the claim is immediately religiously problematic to the extent God is “the Father of lights” (Jas 1:17) and “God is light and in him there is no darkness at all” (1 Joh 1:5). Like the Rilke devotee, Stephanie Dowrick, many find the foundational early lyrics (voiced through the alter ego of an icon painting monk), poignant, honest and expressive for many seekers today. They are felt to represent those to whom God doesn’t respond but who sense he is or must be found somewhere and even everywhere.

But this is to read Rilke as almost an elegist of a lost modern belief which isn’t quite the case, Rilke’s sense of elegy being more about what can’t be readily achieved in life and spiritual quests. There is never any notable regret for lost faith. Rilke had early imbibed the American Unitarian Emerson’s “self reliance” doctrine which had no need for a helper deity reached by prayer – his Russian monk even speaks of God’s care as “being a nightmare to us”. What Rilke always wants is spiritual/mystical reality, a certain connection with the All, a feeling of reverence before the World, Earth and Existence which is like religion. But effectively the problem is stated (if indeed the trap for the rest hasn’t been set) by, in effect, not just encountering something of God in the soul/unconscious, but by treating the soul itself as God (a rather Jungian position and opening upon Hillman’s “polytheism”).

Before the above cited lines about God as darkness, Rilke’s monk has mentioned, (reflecting the poet’s own experiences with Italy and Renaissance art and religion prior to his definitive Russian experiences), that down in the South, God becomes “an ardent flame”. This is rather important for the whole picture. Biblically God, or God the Creator/Father (whom the Russian monk even wants to make his son instead) is primarily fire as per the visions of Ezekiel and Heb 12:29. Himself born of fiery Sagittarius, Rilke under-represents and even represses “fire” in his quest and this has certain consequences. It is even key to the whole life and opus. But to this I can return.

Despite the radical rejection of Christ, Christianity and organized religion, as Polikoff reminds us Rilke, however incongruously, lifelong also remained a devoted reader of St Augustine and we need to understand why. It is in Rilke’s attraction to and rejection of Augustine (asteroid Augustinus suggestively rises in his birth chart to heighten any sympathetic identification!) we have a clue to at any rate what is most positive and challenging to religion about the poet’s work and I can begin with that.

AN IMAGINATIVE ERROR: AUGUSTINE’S COSMOS AND INDIVIDUALISM

Augustine stands very much behind the development of modern individualism itself. He was highly self-conscious defining the self over against God and world, and Rilke adheres strongly to what has been this ever growing western tradition of autonomy. Augustine’s selfhood, like that of many romantics centuries later, is located in the cor (heart) which certifies his feelings which are in turn related to memoria.

According to Hillman, Augustine and the ancient world’s memoria is more like our unconscious and imagination – imagination needless to say being crucial to any poet and poetry. I was incidentally prompted by Hillman’s claim to look up where asteroid Memoria was placed in my ever relevant and working data for Christ’s birth. (Who wouldn’t want clues to Jesus’ “unconscious”?!). Sure enough it was conjunct Poesia, an indication that the mind of Christ was nothing if not poetic as indeed many scholars have long claimed pointing out that translated back into the Aramaic Jesus spoke, the Sermon on the Mount becomes poetry. Also relevant is that Christ’s Neptune, a factor that  itself is much symbol, dream and imagination- linked, conjuncts his Eros.

Hillman maintains religion is inevitably and rightly focussed on “soul”, but that paradoxically Christianity, like the western secularism influenced by a legacy of Christianity and science together (even if in strife), is anti-soul. And Augustine unwittingly leads the field in being anti-soul. Yet how can this be if Augustine was a mystic and theologian? Basically because he believes in ex-nihilo creation. God creates a cosmos which is separate from him and which once humanity “falls” is very separate indeed. It leaves all nature as rejected and evil. There is no longer as for the ancient world any animus mundi (world soul) providing a relation however reduced to God or the gods. God is not immanent and present through anything but wholly transcendent. Result: imagination and  itssymbols, the mediator between soul and spirit, psyche and eros, have no place. The world is disenchanted, empty. The only way out of it is via the dictates of doctrine and morals literally understood much like a scientific principle. (Hillman even finds something “unimaginative”, depersonalized in Augustine’s conversion to Christ which is little better than a formularized submission to morality).

Is this true? Somewhat and even essentially yes. Augustinian Christianity which is inadequately biblical and  Judaeo-Christian (though foundational for medieval Catholic philosophy), is fatally flawed and in error about the world. The “soul of the world” is effectively the Cosmic Christ of Paul’s epistles and the world is upheld by God in this way because, as Jewish mysticism realized, the world is created from God even if because God first created a womb-like space within himself  in which to create and sustain. If ‘nothing’ could exist outside God it would be a rival to God. Everything must be through God. The needed correction to ex nihilo doctrine which as much as anything is a logical point, is important for life, poetry and much else. As argued in my Solomon’s Tantric Song (http://amzn.to/14aa5Qe), one will not adequately interpret the poetry of the Song (it is always taken too spiritually or materially) unless it is understood that God is behind and through all things, including or even sometimes even especially Eros.

What about imagination and morality that Hillman wants to connect? Undeniably it’s possible to be so “imaginative” and subjective that like Rilke one accepts virtually no objective, given moral principles. Truth can be deemed so immanent and immediate as opposed to transcendent and eternal that one indulges every whim even to making poetry depend upon the latest liaison! After all, undeniably “soul life” is connective on the way to its ultimate connection with spiritual Eros!. Even so and practically, morality does need to be “imaginative” to a degree or it becomes oppressive, inflexible legalism.   An example is how Christian literalists cannot give any sympathetic or socially realistic reading to the existence of gays, failing to see those scriptural hints and directions which suggest things beyond the apparent ban of Leviticus. Without the imagination born of soul, religion becomes dry theology and formal observance and there is nothing that can be felt in or out of life as we know it.

JESUS THE IMAGINATION

Before going further I will say something already emphasized in several of my books and first set out in Cosmic Father. The at any rate Christian relation to art which Rilke supremely doesn’t represent, is or should be this. It needs to be recognized, even if for different reasons from William Blake, that Jesus is “Jesus The Imagination”. Arguably the ban on images in the Old Testament dispensation (which corresponds to the Age of Aries) is a purification and preparation for the New Testament dispensation (of the Age of Pisces “ruled” by imaginative, symbol rich Neptune) in which Jesus is recognized as Cosmic Christ who is the Animus Mundi. And this cosmic soul contains the symbols which despite everything, and in however hidden a way, is also Eros (which actually conjuncts Jesus’ Neptune natally). It is as Christ “dwells within” organizing the mass of floating symbols that the soul can hope to reach Spirit and that Spirit can reach down to soul.

With that thought in mind we can see how the Rilke who chose for this world and the material over against a God assumed to be totally transcendent, went wrong and, in my opinion, misled himself and misled others. Indeed he even finished up with a very strange last illness he begged his mistress and guru Lou Salome to “explain” but which she couldn’t do. Rilke had imagined (perhaps most clearly in the Elegies) that by correctly naming and declaring things like a magus one could connect all things symbolically from animal to angel. In the course of this operation one helps transform oneself and things from visible to invisible nature in which everything eternally exists  – at least as a kind of vibration cum symbol it seems. There is no death in the sense that all life is just the flip side of an all-embracing death vibration, something akin to, though not acknowledged by Rilke as, a Buddhist style Plenum Void.  This  is however a Void to which Rilke does not appear to allow any reincarnations – they would only savour of the fragmentation his Whole negates. The Elegies are most insistent upon the uniqueness of life. Elegy 9 declares “ Everyone once, once only. Just once and no more/And we also once. Never again”….Some of Rilke’s sense of tragedy and elegy depends upon exactly this belief/feeling, that to all appearances some persons will have lived happy lives and other merely wretched ones though as in his poems on the urban poor he seems to think a truly summarizing death helps redeem things in an inexplicable way and is almost a gift.

Lou, though a former mistress/lover came to be seen by herself and by Rilke as a kind of twin from a time before incest was known. Given the nature of Rilke’s relation to her and to many other women subsequently, I think one may come to see why (as per statements of my February blog re Matthew Vines and gay theology) there is much to be said for the notion that all Christians need to become slightly gay and “eunuchs for the kingdom”. A lot of the symbolism, complexes and input as from the Puer archetype for the kind of alternative psychic/spiritual development Hillman envisages and Rilke implies, are almost nearer to those associated with homosexuality.  We should note that  after having lost his wife to Hades the mythic Orpheus becomes founder of same sex love according to Ovid’s rendering of the myth. This is a datum that Rilke’s journey into the Orpheus archetype ignores). And the poet’s symbols and complexes would probably work more easily within homosexuality and with less dire consequences than the confusion and heartbreak Rilke’s amours entailed for many of the women appropriated to his markedly heterosexual pilgrimage of the spiritual terrain. There is a strange almost sinister poem Don Juans Auswahl (Don Juan’s Election) in New Poems, one of two devoted to the subject of Don Juan, though really about Rilke himself, in which an angel arrives to tell DJ to let him give him all the women who are going to be “ripened” by the experience of solitude (which it seems the seduction and abandonment of the women will supply!).

It is a difficult saying but in some respects Christianity, psychologically regarded, is a somewhat “gay” spirituality. Salvation and Resurrection themselves are (psychologically and archetypally speaking) Puer issues. It is in part because Rilke is insufficiently “gay” in the broadest sense that he does not and cannot absorb salvation and resurrection but is simply forced to love the earth and unite life and death and is even swallowed up by them or more precisely by death, frantically trying to declare death and/or its centre Hades to be life itself. Another biblical verse seems relevant:   “For whoever finds me [Wisdom/the divine feminine] finds life….but those who miss me injure themselves, all who hate me love death”. (Pro 8: 35/6).

THE FOUR STAGES OF RILKE’S DEVELOPMENT

Be that as it may…..Rilke begins with a not unreasonable rejection of the Augustinian universe in favour of the one that Sagittarians prefer and of which we have some example in the philosophy of Spinoza. This will be a perfect unity (of sorts) in which one is optimistically involved in “life”, a great Whole founded in this earth that we can mystically intuit as one thing. It follows that there must and need be no mediator with God to sully the immediacy of perception involved. Christ is simply in the way of perceiving ‘God’ and anyway he can’t help anyone. Rilke’s little studied and conveniently ignored (because at points almost Satanistic) early composed Visions of Christ (1898) had inclined to this position that Jesus was a thoroughly failed Messiah. In one of the poems he is a person unable to comfort an orphan girl, in another he is portrayed in a brothel himself needing help from a modern Magdalene.

Rilke was encouraged in his outlook by Lou Salome and her book Jesus the Jew which expounded the theory Jesus arrived at disappointment and failure through the hubris of imagining he was God. Lou believed God and the gods were originally created by human need, though devotion to them created a kind of “back effect” that made them real at a certain purely psychological level. Both Rilke and Lou were influenced by Nietzsche causing Rilke at one point (as in his short story The Apostle) to be against Christ or Christianity because it represented the kind of pity and compassion that undermines life. (While some of Rilke’s later poetry as about the urban poor and sick or trapped animals does suggest a level of pity and compassion it is almost despite himself. There is no record of Rilke ever engaging in any notable acts of charity or campaigning for social change; he simply observed and recorded and of course wished a good, self-expressive death on them).

Rilke’s development is as follows and it corresponds approximately to the emphases of four main collections of poetry, first The Book of Hours, then New Poems (1907) plus New Poems the Other Part (1908), then Duino Elegies (1922), and finally Sonnets to Orpheus (1922). These chart and express

  • A phase in which he will choose and create his own god by simply imagining deity. He wants “God” to reply, but becomes more or less resigned to silence and even desires it for his work of deity creation.
  • A phase in which no longer awaiting revelation and connection of whatever kind, his “Thing Poems” perceive the radiance in objects and people that issue from the Whole.
  • A phase in which he accepts the need if not for a mediator, then a transformer or witness for the energies of earth in the form of “the Angel”. This is a time when feeling ever more alienated from Christianity Rilke experiences some attraction to Islam, to its unmediated “one” God who has no son. His poetic/spiritual mission at this point is to name things, to give messages in the style of Mohammed, to evoke “initiation” itself (along Hermetic lines in Rilke’s case – the last elegy looks towards Egypt) with its multilayered concerns and sensations evoking the great Whole.
  • A phase, prompted by the death of a young woman who haunts the collection in which with life and death unified as part of the One, “the or a god” emerges in the form of the poet semi divinity Orpheus who in some respects is the poet of Hades.

These four stages show considerable correspondence to features of new age spirituality whether or not in the same order.

  • Rejecting “religion”, “doctrine” or “tradition” one goes within and chooses the deity or system that best fits individual striving, self creation and what can be felt – direct experience of “God”. Practically, one is simply building soul apart from notions of deity, especially of God as Creator or in any way omnipotent.
  • With God firmly absent one lives a more aesthetic life, cultivates Zen gardens or flower arrangements, finding para-divine experiences in the way and spirit of things. There emerges a new relation to objects, nature, food, the body, food etc (Rilke was trendily attracted to vegetarianism and nudism). Art becomes a spirituality or religion in itself – Rilke spent a great time studying and writing about art.
  • Various spiritual practices like yoga may suddenly produce shocks and visions or “initiation” as when kundalini energies unexpectedly rise. At this point God and/or spirits assume more importance at least as organizing, controlling factors akin to Rilke’s enigmatic angels. Alienation from Christian traditions may as for Rilke produce at least temporary attraction to Islam. Much of Rilke’s poetry is anyway deemed to have affinities with Sufism (a mystical heresy of Islam). The soul function tries to manage spirit, make the soul itself, save it, initiate it.
  • The or a new god or at least guru appears. Heidegger thought of poets as harbingers of the new revelation of a/the god some await. It is the artist Benjamin Creme who declares the soon advent of Maitreya/Christ. Rilke reintroduces the god of poetry, Orpheus, to the world.

Can the new god save us? It depends upon what you are looking for and believe “salvation” implies, but I would suggest that Rilke does not and cannot solve the problems and quest he sets himself. It is not possible in Christian terms and not especially possible, even just psychologically, as regards many faith systems to approach God unmediated. Philosophy may think otherwise and Sagittarius is both philosophical and very optimistic about what it sets out to do, but experience denies it. Some kind of lens is required. Even Tibetan Buddhism which denies the existence of a Creator virtually renders the guru a mediating divine figure.By repudiating (Christian) mediation one simply opens oneself up (to the extent one does touch ultimacy at all) to horror. As the opening lines of the Duino Elegies have it:

Who if I shouted, among the hierarchy of angels

Would hear me? And supposing one of them

Took me suddenly to his heart, I would perish

Before his stronger existence. For beauty is nothing

But the beginning of terror……..Every angel of terrible

One might add to this perception that “our God is a consuming fire” (Heb 12:29). Rilke sort of knows but ignores this. If early on his alter ego monk had conceded that outside of Russia God was a flame, he didn’t absorb this himself. Polikoff’s psychological analysis of the poet’s soul life has things to say about his experience of Coagulatio, (earth phase) Solutio (water phase) and Sublimatio (air phase) i.e. those mental states, especially Coagulatio’s black depression or Nigredo, that are terms borrowed from alchemy and used by Jung to describe mental states and processes towards individuation. But Calcinatio, the process of purification by fire scarcely features. In alchemy the Lion screams as his paws are burned off in the destruction of pride. As a fire sign Sagittarius can have a great sense of entitlement with affinities to the pride of Leo the lion. Rilke, even at his most humble or vulnerable, is still full of entitlement towards God and Life (his prose work, Tales of God, could be considered distinctly presumptuous if not blasphemous). Considering that in his early Visions of Christ, in the poem Jewish Cemetery Jesus raves against God invoking powers at an occult Rabbi’s tomb to curse the world with destruction by fire, there is a special irony in the poet’s death which he experienced as fiery. It is as though a certain repression of psychological/spiritual “fire” and the feelings of the fiery Christ curse manifest in him.

This is why I have called Rilke the poet of Hades which biblically is one of the words for hell. Rilke intends to join all things. Life must be joined to death, even is itself death so that death should be sung as much as life. Orpheus himself is a kind of death god. In Christianity hell itself is effectively experience of God, (since all things do exist through God), but it’s experience as only fire, not any of the other elemental cum psychological states possible. Having refused the fiery Creator God, Rilke is consumed by him. He wanted to have, as he wished for everyone, their own death and in effect he evoked his own. (Granted much of what he felt during his last illness was simply common to leukaemia, but his relation to it was psychologically peculiar – he even believed he could know the very first moment it began, and plainly there was as much psychological as physical going on in his case. He needed to explain it because he almost seems to have thought he gave his illnesses permission, which at a certain level is just possible).

UTTERANCES AND AFFIRMATIONS

It is impossible to summarize the work of Rilke to make it merely easy, but one can evoke it through lines of or references to his poetry particularly the first and most popular Book of  Hours.  It anticipates so much else even if it’s more about deity making than the later soul making. The book is divided into three sections The Book of Monastic Life, The Book of Pilgrimage and The Book of Poverty and Death, the last written part reflecting a hard time in the poet’s life and his very negative initial impressions of urban life in especially Paris. The poems have no titles. The collection’s sub-title is Love Poems to God, but the feeling is closer to a one-sided argument, love attaches rather to the atmosphere of art and religion

Poem 1:1 affirms in harmony with the Idealist strain in German philosophy that “nothing has ever been real/without my beholding it/ All becoming has needed me”. This helps set the collection’s attitude towards God, even though the poet is willing to describe himself as like “a tree rustling over a gravesite” (1:5) which already justifies my description of Rilke as very Hades identified.

The approach to God is quirky and petulant. Living next door to God, the icon painter declares: “If you should be thirsty/ there’s no one to get you a glass of water…I wait listening”   (1:6).   Psychologically significant is 1: 11’s admission “I love you more than the flame that limits the world” and this because “the dark embraces everything….I believe in the night”. Conflict with the Christian view that “This is the judgement, that the light has come into the world and people loved darkness rather than light” ( Joh 3:19) is patent here.

There is anyway no submission to the divine whether as darkness or light because (and it’s very modern!) “I want to know my own will/ and to move with it” ( 1:13). In Rilke’s attitude to God even where a trace of conventional humility enters, it is never from any sense of shortcoming. The attitude has affinity for the resentment of other Sagittarian poets towards the divine like Emily Dickinson and Heinrich   Heine.

Though the poet is more interested in knowing himself, there’s hope for God yet: “You are not dead yet; it’s not too late/ To Enter your depths” ( 1:14)

Also according to (1:25), God is the great homesickness (Heimweh) we could never shake off.

The same poet who doesn’t believe that death can remain a sorrow or a need for us asks:

“What will you do God, when I die?/I am your pitcher when you shatter (1:36)

Poem 1:44 is almost an ultimatum. Having said that God’s first word was light, that his second birthed man and fear, the poet doesn’t now want to hear the third word. Admitting he sometimes prays he says, “Please don’t talk/Let all your gesture be by doing only……Be our shepherd but never call us”. Plainly this God is not the Word. Silence like darkness is required of him or it.

1:55 wants to make God “complete” (without speech?!) because that will make the poet complete.

Anticipating the spirit of New Poems 1: 61 wants to love “the things”.

1:62 is a little more conventionally pious. The “deep power” is thanked that he/it works with the poet ever more lightly, and this feeling carries over to the beginning of book 2 on Pilgrimage.

In 2:2 the poet yearns to belong to something and be contained in an all-embracing divine mind which however significantly will need to perceive him “as a single thing”.

2:3 sees God as the Being without voice to whom all bow, but inquires is the poet himself not “the whole” and asks if God is distracted from hearing him by “some whining little tune”.   He wishes God were back inside him in the darkness that grew him.

In 2: 4 the poet decides he loves God as his son. In 2:6 he affirms it would create a gulf between them if God were to be thought of as any father. Sons are superior to fathers. (I imagine some of Rilke’s contempt for his own father colours this!)

2:16 anticipates many later poems in its declaration “if we surrendered to earth’s intelligence/ we could rise up rooted like trees”. 2:25 dismisses all yearning for the afterlife, all looking for a beyond, all belittling of death. We should long for what belongs to us and “serve earth” (a very new age sentiment). 2:26 declares we won’t be herded in churches, God meets us in solitude only).

In Book 3 on poverty and death the poet still goes on seeing God in places and situations he would rather not. 3:1 declares the big cities are lost and rotting. Perceiving that people live unfulfilled lives in cities, again anticipating various developments in 3:6 the poet asks God to give us our own death   “The dying that proceeds/From each of our lives”. 3:7 speaks of the “The great death that each of us carries inside”.   Pursuing the wretchedness of city life it is suggested in 3:18 that God is “the diseased one/whom we fear to touch”. 3:31 condemns cities for caring for only what is theirs and in effect for being totally unspiritual. There is a block here which the next main collection of verse will somewhat resolve.

Prior to Paris Rilke was prone to wait for inspiration to fall however long it took. Under the influence of the workaholic Rodin he went to the other extreme of believing he must force himself to create poetry rather like sculpture, working at it, rather than waiting for it, carving it from the block of existence which will release radiance, epiphanies. Some of the poems of New Poems, parts 1 and 2 are Rilke’s best loved like The Carousel known to most schoolchildren in Germany. The most famous and exemplary for the whole collection is the celebrated Archaic Torso of Apollo which is about the power of art and its capacity to contain and convey life itself. It is somewhat the power of eros that is conveyed since though headless and broken the image still smiles at the viewer, still holds the power of its loins. The image is the kind of living imprint alive and dead that belongs to existence and immortality Rilke style.

The poems reflect simply life as in The Square, or The Lady Before her Mirror and the well known Venice poems. There are also some memorable poems about animals like The Panther (a Sagittarian speciality as for example Blake’s The Tiger). However the religious theme persists throughout in such as Abishag, David Sings Before Saul, Joshua’s Council, The Olive Garden, The Prophet, The Angel, The Departure of the Prodigal Son and many more. Numbers of these anticipate queer theology with its revisionings of familiar scriptural stories. The Olive Garden presents a Jesus who feels he couldn’t succeed, has had a lot to put up from a Father who doesn’t exist “Oh ineffable shame”. It is affirmed no angel ever came to Gethsemane as reported, only night did and it was only like any other night anyway. The Crucifixion portrays the soldiers wanting something special from Jesus’ death but all they get is Mary screaming and Christ bellowing and “caving in”. There are two poems about the Buddha – The Buddha in Glory even finishes the collection. But it is the Buddha’s power to reflect, to be and influence life along perhaps with the artistic beauty of his image that seems to be the attraction since Rilke was far from a believer having more affinity with Mohammed though it is unlikely Muslims would be quite delighted with the peculiar Mohammed’s Summoning which has the prophet at first resisting an angel who then worships him for his ability to read. The relatively long Orpheus, Eurydice and Hermes loosely anticipates Sonnets to Orpheus in establishing a certain association with the Hermetic and to my mind casts a few doubts on how completely spontaneous the vision of the Sonnets should be considered.

The organ peals of the highly if jaggedly lyrical dense and oracular Duino Elegies arguably constitute Rilke’s finest work. They take him nearest to the role of prophet or shaman to which, Sagittarian style, he always seemed to aspire. The vision of the poetry traverses several levels and the material is not easy to understand and is not meant to be. It comes from some Beyond and is to be meditated like so much scripture. At least some of the verse borders on glossolalia, a speaking in tongues though it never quite reaches the surrealistic incoherence of a Dylan Thomas. (The likely meaning of each elegy is neatly summarized in the McIntyre’s German/English version of 1961, but there will always be some level of difference over the exact meanings even as we sense the drift of the whole).

The Elegies are elegies to the extent their subject is the lamentable difficulty of life, our attempts to get things right amid the sorrows of existence and not being able to reach to the level of the inspirational, numinous (“terrible”), energy transforming angels. (The angels are Mohammedan not Christian ones from the period in which following a trip to Southern Spain Rilke felt an attraction to the Koran and Islam). The poem is most essentially about soul-making and the need of soul to hold within itself the underlying substance of spirit (Hillman’s Psyche/Eros theme). This is often assisted by love as exemplified by the great lovers of history and others… “then sing the girls who were lovers /the fame of their passion has not made them immortal enough” and “when we love, arises in our arms/the sap from immemorial ages”. Love of all or any kind thus helps link us to the great Whole, to Life-in-itself beyond just life and death – significantly the angels, unlike us, don’t know if they move among the quick or the dead.

Especially the second half of the Elegies (Elegies 5 to 10) is about the poverty of life and its perception short of realizing the pure consciousness inhabiting it and the things and the animals who may have wisdom we lack. “Nowhere beloved can world exist but within/ our life is spent in changing”. There is a certain emphasis upon wind and space or the Open (Das Offene), space being a symbol for the mystic experience itself and effectively an initiatory one which arguably the poetry is directly evoking by its disorientation of the reader through the shock of its images, unexpected connections and declarations. Eventually realization of Truth creates simply praise. Working through the numerous paradoxes of the elegies the poet exclaims in Elegy 9, “Earth, isn’t this what you want: invisibly to arise in us? Is it not your dream/to be some day invisible? Earth Invisible!/ What if not transformation, is your insistent commission? Earth, dear one, I will!”.   This in my opinion is almost the core of the work, the affirmation of and commitment to a kind of quasi-Spinozan pantheism which worships and praises Life-in-itself and “the things” and which, whether visible or invisible (and ultimate energies are invisible) is one, now and eternal.

Although apart from the many New Poems Rilke relied upon “inspiration”, this was never so pronounced as for the Sonnets to Orpheus. Unlike other inspirations he experienced these as gift and virtual dictation or revelation from the god (i.e. Orpheus, mythic founder of music and poetry and escapee from the Hades where he lost his wife). Certainly all 55 were completed in an incredible few days in February 1922, the month which also saw the completion of the long unfinished Elegies. The sole possible triggers were an image of Orpheus bought in a local shop in Switzerland where Rilke was living and at the beginning of February news of the premature death at twenty of the highly talented Vera Ouckama Knoop, daughter of a friend. It was the kind of death that for Rilke was the worst, the life not lived, not come to “ripeness”, apparently wasted and for which we want comfort or explanations even if God and afterlife present no answers.

As opposed to the oracular often philosophical statements of the Elegies, the Sonnets are more like sensory and sensuous, showings of what transcendence into life in the whole through or as the god of poetry and music really is. What this is borders at times upon a surrealism. Obviously referring to Vera’s recent decease Sonnet 2 (again the poems are untitled) begins “Almost a girl it was and issued forth……She made herself a bed inside my ear/ And slept in me. And all things were her sleep”. It was the miracle of the singing god that he so perfected her she had no desire to awake or she arose and slept at once. In short once again for Rilke death and life are ultimately the same and he can sing this power of Hades/Orpheus to make it so.

Sonnet 15 which is one of the most eccentric and confusing may be one of the most typical and closest to what the poet felt, meant and taught. It begins “Wait…that tastes good….it’s already in flight”. It then encourages the girls to dance the taste of the fruit they have experienced. “Dance the orange” which it is declared is something they have possessed but which has been converted into them and therefore they can dance it. They can create a relationship to the rind and to the juice in the orange.

In the first poem of the second half of the collection “the open” is stressed’ “World space in pure/Interchange with our own being”. It’s a counterpoise within which the poet is happening rhythmically. He asks the air if it realizes how many of the places within it have already been in him. Many winds have been like his sons and they are like a leaf containing his words. The earth also contains all and by the end of the collection everything is flowing into everything else. The last lines are

Say to the still earth: I flow

To the rapid water: I   am

Overall Rilke seems to be saying in the Sonnets that all life is composed of energies, hence rhythm. This fact automatically supplies Orpheus and his disciples, the poets and musicians, some higher understanding; but at the same time it is at least implied that the organizational power of death/Hades is what most makes sense of the life which must be grasped as a whole. There is a sort of refusal of negativity, an optimism based on an idea of the Elegies that “our life is spent in changing”, which is almost ultra-Sagittarian (the sign is “mutable”) and philosophical though not necessarily convincing as philosophy. The sound of it is better than the sense, and if Rilke is “In the Image of Orpheus” according to Polikoff, less positively his message is simply that of Death and Hades.

I could be accused of religious prejudice here, but not only has one of the few guides to meaning in the Sonnets Rilke ever gave (to a Polish translator) declared one should perceive nothing Christian about afterlife etc in them because he is ever more departed from any Christian ideas, haven’t the Sonnets as good as declared the poet’s overriding attachment is to Hades and to a god of death rather than life? In Sonnet 13 of Part 2 we are advised to “ Be ever dead in Eurydice [i.e.the one whom Hades claimed and took back]….. know the condition/Of not-being , the infinite ground of your deep vibration”. This seems to give the last word to darkness and death as existence-controlling and is even the core message of a wonderfully gifted poet of a vision strange and limited and with psychological effects that came back to bite him. The poetry offers a special experience and in especially the Elegies marks a defining moment for the modern in art. However it is surely a great contemporary error to treat Rilke as any kind of life guru.

 

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

RILKE SINGER OF HADES, (Part One: Rilke’s Stars)

RILKE SINGER OF HADES

RilkeverseRilkepic

WHO WAS RILKE?

Given the wisdom and insight attributed to Rilke’s verse, the title of this feature may seem controversial. It will only be fully apparent in its Part Two just what I am aiming to say, which is something I do in the wake of absorbing a large, ground breaking and fairly recent study of Rilke, In the Image of Orpheus: Rilke, a Soul Journey (2011). Here I am just briefly introducing a person and setting the scene in a way which hopefully makes things clearer around an  increasingly popular and influential figure but who by general consent nonetheless remains somewhat elusive.

In outer Tahiti my plans for a short epic on the divine nature (plans which I have not abandoned) didn’t get much further than reading up on elements of modern spirituality and the poet Rilke. Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) is generally considered to be the greatest German language poet of the twentieth century by birth; he was however an Austrian born in Czech speaking Prague. His beliefs or unbeliefs around God have been seminal in contemporary spirituality if not modern poetry which as T.S.Eliot complained inclines to the secular and unspiritual). He increasingly enjoys an almost scriptural and guru status – just how much you can tell from works like Stephanie Dowrick’s  In the Company of Rilke and Anita Barrows’ reverent introduction to her and Joanna Macy’s translation of Rilke’s Book of Hours. The latter is the poet’s early, most accessible and popular collection of verse which nonetheless doesn’t reach the dramatic heights of the celebrated Duino Elegies. The latter especially have something about them that strikes one as equivalent to Picasso and Stravinsky in art and music.

The more New Age side of Rilke’s reputation is akin to that of Khalil Gibran – likewise a Sagittarian. We may well ask quite where the message and appeal of the poet’s sometimes difficult output resides and there are things about this and the meaning of Rilke for contemporary religion and art I shall need to examine. In Part One however I will keep mainly to interesting and descriptive features of his birth pattern that may later be seen to help explain the poet who in his inwardness, contradictions and essential self  has been called impenetrable and hard for biographers to capture, starting with the fact that asteroid Poesia closely conjuncts the poet’s Midheaven of destiny, reputation and career.

Rilke’s feeling he was born for and destined for poetry alone – he disliked to take on any work without some literary connection – seems eminently justified or at least well reflected in this signature topping the natus. Despite the philosophical tone and the messages readers try to tease out of his work, plainly Rilke was more poet than philosopher. Apart from the inclusion of some basic philosophy in his university studies and some obvious identification with elements of  German philosophical Idealism, Rilke in the role of prophet may be said on principle to have relied upon his own vision to supply ideas. It’s a position reflected in the way Philosophia  in intuitional Scorpio stands in his third house of writing in opposition to Pluto in the ninth of philosophy and higher education, (a position also suggestive of various Rilkean ideas of God sought for and perhaps found in darkness and God as a Being to be challenged, opposed, reformed and even made by us).

Likewise clearly justified by the natal pattern  is the poet’s belief that the sculptor Rodin, with whom at one time he lived in Paris as part secretary and  biographer, was crucially influential for a major stage of his development, specifically the New Poems of 1908.  These show a  stress upon art, objects and scenes in which Rilke will  evoke epiphanies. Rodin holds a dominating position at 18 Gemini in Rilke’s house of destiny and career from where it directly aspects an innovation favourable Uranus in the 12th house of the unconscious – the improbable influence went deep – and makes fortunate trine to Saturn. For Rilke, Rodin suitably taught him about the role of work in the production of art!’. The New Poems which emerged under Rodin’s  influence got called “makings”. However this “work” would be only a pause amid the more essential prophesying.

INSATIABLY PROPHETIC

Rilke was born in Prague at 11.50pm on the 3rd December 1875. This supplies him a birth pattern with a sun in free-wheeling Sagittarius. The overall pattern is nonetheless shaped by and subordinated to 15 Virgo rising and then 11 Gemini at the destiny Midheaven. (This combination happens to interest me personally as a writer, including of poetry, born with 16 Virgo rising and 11 Gemini at the Midheaven and also like Rilke with Mercury and Jupiter in the 3rd house of writing. I will be putting out a poem here in September which is curiously  if unintenionally Rilkean. I set out aiming for something in the style of early Goethe and his Prometheus, but despite everything the material swerved towards the Rilkean, at any rate in style). For any writing, perhaps especially poetry where style and beauty are traditional concerns, it’s always helpful to have Mercury and Venus in close contact. Rilke shows Mercury at 29 Scorpio (conjunct his Part of Revelation and he was a poet so often writing as though to reveal something in the style of a prophet or mystic!), Venus at 29 Sagittarius, Orpheus his alter ego, as per the collelction Sonnets to Orpheus, at 29 Capricorn while his Mars was at 28 of original, independent Aquarius. It’s quite a line-up.

But these late degrees tell us something – 29 degrees of anything is “anaretic” and inclines to insatiability. With especially Venus at 29 of playful, free spirited Sagittarius, Rilke couldn’t have enough of women – he was a bit of a Don Juan and could scarcely write anything without either a woman, whether married or single, as patron, muse or guide of some sort. His first major involvement was with the married Lou Andreas-Salome, whose influence upon him would be lifelong  for all of religion, poetry and psychology (she was an early Freudian).  Rilke’s wife, the artist Clara Westhof  along with his daughter Ruth scarcely mattered to him. He did little to support them (a packet of oats was notoriously a birthday present to his wife!), spent very little time in their company  – in the last month of his life he even declared he wouldn’t let his wife cross the threshold to visit – while he went travelling, text book Sagittarian style, from place to place. He kept moving variously in search of truth, experience, renewal of his sometimes precarious health and sometimes the work and patronage which as he grew older engaged the support of notable aristocrats like Maria von Turn und Taxis. It was at her castle of Duino overlooking the Adriatic that Rilke underwent the inspiration for the Duino Elegies.

One could say that like many Don Juans Rilke was seeking for, or seeking to replace, images of the mother. Undeniably his moon in independent Aquarius in the fifth sector of any romances, is suggestively degree exact conjunct Eros. But that same Eros fed soul life as he understood it and was essential to spirituality of his kind signalled by the way that joined on the same degree as moon and Eros was the Part of Soul.. At the same time, the fact that in a chart with Venus on an anaretic degree and the moon in the romance house opposed to Uranus, a factor which can be separative, there tends to be an association of love with simply leave-taking and non-attachment. Cold Saturn conjuncting the moon from just inside the sixth house of health is involved not just with the heart break cavalierly caused to many a woman but Rilke’s frequent illnesses, some genuine but many just neurotic. The conjunction also bespeaks his means, from childhood and in relation to his mother, of gaining love and attention on his own terms.

The peculiar nature of the poet’s marital tie which endured despite everything, is reflected in the way asteroid Clara conjuncts one end of the connective nodal axis in the first house from where it opposes the nodes in the seventh house of unions. However and almost amusingly for a poet who as in the Elegies could write things like “What if not transformation, is your insistent commission?/ Earth, dear one (du liebe), I will!” Rilke’s real and permanent love was precisely the earth itself. Asteroid Erde (Earth)  is conjunct to three minutes of a degree of exactitude with the descendant, the cusp of the house of unions. And then, even his inspirational and original Uranus is conjuncted by Gaea (i.e. Gaia, symbol of earth).

Amid his travels Rilke nonetheless considered the Russia to which Lou Salome had introduced him his true (spiritual) home. His first seriously successful collection of verse, The Book of Hours of 1905 with its main voice  a heretical icon painting Russian monk, is witness to this genuine obsession with Russia, its people, art and even landscape. We duly find asteroid Russia in the fourth house of “home” and origins (Rilke liked to claim  Slavic forebears which is doubtful) in direct aspect to form-giving Saturn and in affliction aspect to Rilke’s native Austria (to which Prague belonged at the time of his birth) and which meant so little to him. A connection of Russia with at any rate art and love (the connection with Lou Salome) is exquisitely described by a north/south Venus IC (i.e “home” line) through Russia and near Moscow. ‘

Rilke was an only child, at once pampered and dominated by a well connected, hyper-religious and eccentric mother. This is duly reflected in eccentric Uranus opposite Moon (the mother) in eccentric Aquarius conjunct Saturn, (restriction and convention).  Sophie Rilke selfishly raised her son in his early years dressed as a girl to overcome her grief at losing a daughter. The experience, paralleled by a distant father who separated from his wife when Rilke was nine, nonetheless in no wise influenced her son’s sexuality. Instead by his late teens and after “the hell” of a military academy to which his parents so inappropriately sent him, he did reject his mother’s crucifix kissing super-religiosity for atheism. This phase was however of relatively short duration as Rilke was too spiritual and imaginative for it and Sagittarius, a “mutable” sign, is anyway a great changer of beliefs and opinions.

INVENTING A SPIRITUALITY

Rilke’s rejection of Christ, Christianity and all organized religion was nonetheless radical and enduring. Accordingly we should note certain strong religious factors in the natus, though not without first and more generally noting that Uranus in the hidden twelfth sector colours a lot of the Rilkean spirituality by which readers are either entranced or repelled when not simply baffled. Uranus here marks a dependence upon and invitation to pure receptivity and to sudden, surprising intuitions from the realms of the unconscious. This Uranus would seem to belong to the poet’s notion as described in his Letters to a Young Poet, of a pure inspiration which borders on automatic writing  – despite his scepticism he did sometimes attend séances! – or virtual shamanism. Especially the Sonnets to Orpheus   were experienced as though a dictation given at abnormal speed. The first three of the Duino Elegies came in a flash one day walking down steps in front of Duino Castle and the final Elegies then had to wait a whole decade for another rush of inspiration to get completed.

The little known but psychologically important and early composed Visions of Christ plainly define Rilke as non or anti Christian. Rilke’s belief was that Christ was arrogant to have portrayed himself as in any sense divine or in any kind of mediating position vis-à-vis God. Suitably the  asteroid Christian – yet another late degree factor at the malefic 29 Pisces! – squares the poet’s artistic Venus at 29 Sagittarius, possibly hinting (though it’s not usually acknowledged) that Christianity was less a purely philosophical encumbrance than a social inconvenience to the Don Juan side of Rilke who envisages a purely human Jesus who gets the Magdalene pregnant.

The more ideological aspect of Christ rejection is reflected in the way Isa (Ar. Jesus) in the seventh sector (unions) is closely opposite the poet’s ascendant marking Jesus out as someone liable to be seen as the close companion (which during the school period he somewhat was) to open enemy, while Jupiter (beliefs, religious and philosophical issues) opposite Pluto (the God planet) in the 9th  of religion and  square Saturn  marks out a stressed, struggling and problematic relation to the divine. (Indeed one could add that Rilke’s almost 20 degree Leo Uranus and his 20 Aquarius Saturn fall across Christ’s MC/IC axis as surely as did the Satanist Aleister Crowley which might be said to confirm the picture another way). However Orpheus at 29.56 Capricorn conjunct asteroid Theotes (Godhead), one of the two God planets and itself placed at 1.5 of unusual Aquarius, is testimony to the ideas and mood of the late Rilke of Sonnets to Orpheus (1922). In these Orpheus has himself become God or the voice of God. The other God asteroid, Bhagwat (Lord) squares Rilke’s sun from 9 Pisces again betraying certain tensions around God and, given the degree of association of Pisces with myth, probably relevant to the production of Rilke’s prose collection, Stories of God (1899).

I shall look at the meaning and message of Rilke in another feature having outlined these astrological basics to which I shall only add we find similarly significant God issues expressed through poetry in the work of the privately often God hating Sagittarian Emily Dickinson in America and the often enough profane Heinrich Heine in Germany, the Jew become Christian turned agnostic who like Rilke seemed to be another poet needing much attention from women for the inspiration to flow. (Neither poet had Rilke’s Virgo rising – it is believed Emily had Scorpio and Heine had Gemini rising at birth). Rilke’s nearest philosophical affinity is with yet another Sagittarian, Spinoza, whose desire for absolute unity and certain spiritual abstractions he somewhat shares.

I find considerable significance in the close conjunction of Rilke’s sun with his fourth house cusp of home and endings.  I shall only mention that by tradition the emphasis on fire and Sagittarius placed here could point to such as burial in a high place; and valid or not, Rilke certainly lived and was buried in the mountains in the Valais district of Switzerland where he had spent his final years. But Rilke also died of leukaemia which he experienced as being burned alive, so it was as though his end was fiery.

The Part of Death itself in fiery Aries exactly trines the Nadir (point of endings) from the eighth house of death and in view of what I shall have to say about Rilke and Hades, I would note that the hypothetical planet Hades (in effect a point in the heavens) makes exact aspect to the Nadir from 11 Aquarius. Was Rilke most essentially the singer of Hades? Does he anticipate certain notions of death and the beyond? These are the kind of questions I shall ask in the next part.

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

IS THERE MEANING IN ITALY’S DEATH BY FALLING CRUCIFIX?

Crucifix    Crushed

IS THERE MEANING IN ITALY’S DEATH BY FALLING CRUCIFIX?

ACCIDENT OR BAD OMEN?

According to Silvio Citroni, mayor of Cevo village in Brescia, the tragic death beneath a suddenly falling massive crucifix of 21 year old Marco Gusmini on Thursday 24th April (some reports say Wednesday 23rd) was “inexplicable tragedy”. The Repubblica newspaper declared  “Everyone is seeing a hidden hand, an undeclared meaning, connecting details that have no connection in reality”. Some Italians saw it as a bad omen for Italy. Lina Wertmuller, widow of Enrico Job, sculptor of the 600 kilogram Christ figure attached to the strange and almost sinister curved cross, also spoke of the tragedy and how silly it now seemed to regard the crucifix as a symbol for Italy and its protection.

The cross was dedicated to John Paul 11 and some Catholics have suspected divine disapproval of the canonization of this controversial Pope. The disaster occurred only days before  his elevation to sainthood on Sunday 27th, and on the same day that the Vatican was  hosting a press conference with the Costa Rican woman whose reported miracle had been a needed proof for the new status.  In Cevo village pilgrims were celebrating the forthcoming ceremony for this pontiff who years before had visited their region of Lombardy and to whom, as said, the cross was dedicated. It seems a sudden wind loosed the giant 30 metre high cross from where it has for years been anchored to earth by cables tested for safety last year.

The accident in the run up to the double canonization in which John Paul was joined in sainthood with the reformist Pope John XX111 has seemed stranger still in light of the fact the pilgrim victim to the  cross lived in a street named for…..Pope John XX111. It is the sort of thing that has helped take the event somewhat out of the range of just unfortunate occurrences into the realm of synchronicity and special messages.

But if so, just what messages?  While the following makes no claim to be direct revelation from on high, I will present some uniquely suggestive information for what this event could signify. Due to the fact I have claimed for years now to possess the true birth data for Jesus (as per my Testament of the Magi,  http://bit.ly/Y43dvj ) and provably so in that it also works for Christ events to this day, I was rather confident I should find something tellingly relevant and I feel that I have done so.

A “GRAND CROSS” SETTING TO BEGIN WITH

To place all this in context however, any astrologer would want to stress that on the 24th we had just passed exactitude  of (and on the 23rd were still within) a stressed formation of the planets that stargazers had not liked the look of for some time. It stood moreover at the midpoint of 2 eclipses – the first being the lunar blood moon, first of the notorious blood tetrad which can have relevance to especially wars and affairs of Israel. Personally I suspect these recent signs were involved with the Ukraine crisis which could be seeding what will develop into something larger…..Be that as it may….the Italian crucifix disaster basically belongs within a celestial stress pattern called of all things The Grand Cross. This had lined up Mars at 13 Libra, Jupiter at 13 Cancer, Uranus at 13 Aries and Pluto at 13 Capricorn (though on the 24th Jupiter was just entering 14 degrees from 13 Cancer slightly easing the tension).

Libra, Cancer, Aries and Capricorn are what are called “cardinal” signs and they provoke action. 13 degrees of these signs are also deemed “critical”. This means they are accented, strong, liable to trigger events. Something serious had to happen. Mars itself is anyway an action planet, one often making for violence too. Uranus is any accidents, shocks and surprises. Pluto is force majeure, an extreme planet which I believe can be used as symbol for God as Creator and Judge.

Jupiter is the religion planet and was even the original Star of Bethlehem at Christ’s birth, (to be precise it was at 19 Pisces on the day of birth and if the day of the accident was the 24th as most claim, peaceful Venus at 20 Pisces had just departed from conjunction with that position, a point on which I can comment later). The crucifix that killed the unfortunate Marco was more the heavy sculpture of Christ’s body than the cross itself. Accidents are most essentially Mars/Uranus events. With these thoughts in mind, what was happening on the day to the chart of Christ?

ON THE ARMS OF THE GRAND CROSS

Uranus at 13 ARIES was conjunct the asteroid ITALIA at 13 Aries in Jesus’ birth chart. Italy would be deeply involved and shocked. And on the 24th itself ITALIA was transiting at 0 Aries, in other words on a world point. This was an Italian event the world would certainly hear of.

Opposite Uranus  (and recall an accident event is itself a Uranus/Mars one), at 13 Libra stood Mars. But in the chart of Jesus 13 Libra is special. It is the position of Mercury, “ruler” of his body and even the whole birth pattern because the Mercurial sign of Gemini rises at the moment of birth. But for Jesus this degree is also the same as his  Part of Death and the asteroid GRATIA (Grace). One could say the body of Christ was vowed to death, sacrificed to it, and full of physical and spiritual grace. But could contact with even the image of his body risk death  under such as a Mars transit to this position?

Nothing of significance falls on 13 Capricorn in Jesus’ natus, but to the extent we might look at the chart of Christianity (taken from Pentecost AD 30) as a supplementary source for what is after all also a church involving event, 13 Capricorn  happens to be the degree of REQUIEM (rest). And as it happens the Jupiter arm of the Grand Cross formation that I haven’t so far mentioned, is conjunct Jesus’ FRIEDEN (Peace) carrying the same kind of message. It may be assumed Marco went straight to God and Paradise – there is no Marco asteroid but its French equivalent, MARC, was strangely enough at the time of the accident at 0 degrees of dangerous Aquarius on an axis opposite to PARADISE at 0 Leo.

……But however interesting, none of this notably hints at the meaning of the event as any sign. We must look further.

THE DAY AND THE MEANING

On the 24th April the all-important sun at 4 Taurus exactly conjuncted the HELL asteroid in Christ’s chart [1]. Obviously some would be inclined to blame precisely hell for the day’s disaster – the forces of evil busy trying to make the cross a symbol feared, rejected or neglected or even staking claims to a victim because the religious community had got too far outside the divine will. Moreover Saturn, planet of restriction and woe and often Satan-identified, at 21 of Scorpio ( a strong “critical” degree for “fixed” signs like Scorpio) was degree exact on Jesus’ own action releasing Mars, along with his FIDES (Faith) and SALAVAT (Salvation). Needless to say faith was severely challenged by the accident at Cevo!

But then on the other hand, and no matter at what precise time the accident occurred (around lunchtime is all I can find), the moon was in Pisces in 2 or 3 degrees conjunct the CHRIST asteroid for the day [2]. What  we have to consider in light of this and other factors (like this same difficult Sun fortunately trine  COELUM/Heaven on the day) and that I shan’t include lest we finish with too many factors, is whether the meaning is something which could proceed from the forces of evil at the same time as it is could still be willed, or at least permitted and used by God as a specific sign of something.

I will immediately state I think there is as suspected something here about John Paul and his approaching canonization which the villagers and pilgrims were celebrating at a cross dedicated to him, because though I don’t know the precise time (I have guessed around 12.30 pm since lunch preparations were being made) for a start it is very likely for any “lunchtime”  that JP11’s destiny and reputation sign of Leo would be rising,  Also asteroid JEANPAUL is very strangely and weakly placed at 29.33 of Aquarius, the sign that Uranus of the shocks and surprises rules. Jean Paul associates with the accident event from its last degree as MARC(o) does from its first.

In order to comment and deduce anything at all from the data, before continuing a very few words about divine providence are appropriate. God doesn’t desire the death of persons through accidents and those who die in them aren’t automatically more guilty than anybody else – Jesus affirmed as much about those who died in the tower of Siloam (Luk 13:4). However, at least according to biblical rather than later philosophical Christianity that colours a lot of Catholic thought, the world most essentially belongs to the forces of evil and Jesus appears on earth to begin resistance to that rule. The original idea was also, rather as in continental law where one is assumed guilty unless proved innocent rather than innocent until proved guilty, that people – perhaps not everyone and certainly not children but in broad principle – are deemed simply guilty before God and needing ransom back from the devil who “owns” them. God does not deal with realms of sin, so prayer is important in invoking the protection and involvement God does not normally reckon to engage before the end of time and evil.

So……it follows that in an imperfect world God will permit evil, will refuse or withdraw any specific cover against it, especially so when evil and error pass beyond a certain point – the “wrath” of God usually signifies withdrawal of protection to let chaos have its natural way. But that same refusal, even leading on to disaster itself like the destruction of Jerusalem and Solomon’s temple in 586 BC, then becomes prophetic lesson and sign. Something of the sort could well be the case in the bizarre, spectacular death of the unfortunate Mario.

JOHN PAUL A FALSE SAINT?

The crowd was celebrating the soon canonization of John Paul at John Paul’s own cross. Let’s not even dwell on the fact that at least Protestants would protest any cult of the saints amounted to practice of a species of  forbidden idolatry or necromancy  – it is biblically forbidden to attempt contact with the spirits of the dead Deut 18:11, even the righteous dead like King Saul attempting to contact the prophet Samuel. Prayer and worship is supposed to be directed to God alone. On this basis the fact that revered “saints” may give occasional well certified cures such as the Vatican was highlighting on the day of the accident, could be deemed irrelevant, especially as exorcists know that devils can be forced to withdraw a curse and thus cure people. So healing may not have the assumed source and might serve a wider deception.

But even assuming the cult of saints can be theologically justified, could and should it really be practiced in the case of specifically John Paul? His canonization has been rushed through by normal standards on public demand (the other Pope John XX111 has not even been required to supply the usual second miracle!). It is believed Pope Francis has been happy to waive rules because he wants the symbolism of joining  an in some respects very traditionalist pontiff (John Paul) with a reformist, modern one (John X111).

But the more that is known and written about John Paul the more shady he becomes and in his way non-traditional and even heretical. Those who have suffered child abuse believe no one who ignored that phenomenon to the extent John Paul did in the face of evidence can be called a saint. But he anyway presents serious contradictions. On the one hand his cult of the Virgin was extreme (should not self-dedication like his Totus Tuus “only yours” be reserved for God not Mary?) while at Assisi in 1986 he virtually opened the door to some kind of new universalism when he prayed with leaders of a hundred different faiths and allowed such as a Buddha image over the tabernacle and various non-Christian rites to be performed in front of the altar.

Certainly things were not limited to the Assisi gathering but manifest amid the pontiff’s numerous travels. This Pope had the sign of Shiva painted on his forehead in India. He kissed and bowed towards the Koran in the presence of Muslim leaders which, all matters of doctrine apart, was felt to be outrageous to the suffering of Christian minorities in places such as Iraq. There was also  woeful irony in the fact that this Pope, famed for his reconciling attitude to the Jews, should have venerated the Koran on of all days 14th May  (in 1999), in short the birthday of the Jewish state which at least some Muslims would wish to see destroyed since on some readings of the Koran the Jews need to be annihilated in jihad at the time of the end. In Benin John Paul was a cheerful spectator at a witch doctor’s snake worshipping ceremony and in Togo he prayed alongside Animists. For things like this some Catholics denounced John Paul as an anti-Pope and apostate.  Might he even have been preparing the way for the late Catholic Seeress, Jeane Dixon’s false prophet who will succeed to the last Pope and inaugurate a world faith through Rome?

Let’s not go into the controversies that still surround the story of John Paul’s finances and politics which last, if it had some positive features in relation to Poland and East European Communism, is itself not beyond criticism – he may have had inappropriate dealings with the CIA. I don’t know and don’t need to know or judge for present purposes. However, although I don’t personally lend it credence, I am aware that Latin America has been fascinated by some young woman claiming Jesus showed her various celebrities in hell including John Paul 11 whom she claims privately was anything but saintly. Again I can’t and won’t comment on what I don’t know, but this much can be known….

It was mentioned that on the day of the Cevo, accident the sun of the day was conjunct hell. It is hard to avoid the impression John Paul doesn’t release mayhem, if not hell in some way. For example, on Oct 21st 2012, the same day that a relic related to Jean Paul arrived in Lourdes, the town was seriously and rarely flooded.  Then again in 2013 on June 18th, the day it was announced a second miracle certified John Paul’s sainthood, Lourdes was flooded once again.

Oddly enough for John Paul’s  associations with chaos, the Vatican chart reveals asteroid JOHNPAUL at 29 Cancer in direct sextile (i.e opportunity aspect) to HELL at 28 Taurus. This pontiff therefore risks releasing mayhem in some  fashion as, let us be frank, does Jupiter the religion planet itself which stands in the Vatican’s house of religion conjunct JP on the same degree. A chaos apt to be released, not least perhaps through precisely Lourdes of the floods?! It should not be forgotten that originally St Bernadette of Lourdes thought it was the devil rather than the Virgin had appeared to her there, and originally the French clergy were opposed to the whole false notion, as it seemed to them, of Immaculate Conception. It was essentially a papal overruling endorsed Bernadette’s highly dubious vision  – for why it is dubious see notes to my poem Maryianity  at http://bit.ly/17NTJeh

What I would agree about with the nonetheless probably delusionary young visionary who places John Paul in hell, is that God is “no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34). If someone including a Pope does not behave well they do not obtain divine approval or convey anybody any blessings (recall how John Paul was unable to exorcize a girl screaming blasphemies in the Vatican)  even if they don’t finish up in precisely hell. It is not for believers to put any person of obvious known errors and failures upon a pedestal thereby distracting from the prayer and attention supposed to be directed upon God. (And if by chance John Paul were in hell, it would needless to say be the final irony and judgement-invoking sin for Christians to be making him the object of a cult!). The odd, so-called, “void of course”, weak position of JEANPAUL at the time of the Cevo accident bespeaks his odd relation  to believers. Those celebrating him shouldn’t really be doing so as he is no presence to save and help them. Nor really is the Cevo image of Christ which is effectively an upside down one faced towards earth and not declaring anything like Christ’s victory through and amid suffering and its effect in a subsequently heaven borne direction.

A SERIOUS CALL TO CHANGE

Beyond even these negatives,  those who erected the cross shouldn’t be saying or believing that it is any symbol of Italy and/or of its protection. I don’t write as someone against crucifixes and images per se, but the evident notion that the image just in and of itself is a kind of protective talisman is a subtle idolatry that should be rejected. If one persists with false beliefs God will answer according to one’s idols and permit the false visions that ensue (Ezek 14:4) but also remove such protection as may be hoped for from God within a fallen world. The collapsed crucifix is an event of a fallen world in which accidents occur. It may however also be an effect of the forces of evil like the winds that blew the life threatening storm on Galilee, and which in this case wish to overthrow the power of the cross. But  whether that’s so or not, it  could still be a sign of divine disapproval of John Paul, or at least a warning sign for a church to abandon the cover-ups and elements of creeping idolatry that John Paul’s reign saw too much of. It may be a bit more than even that and I rather suspect so.

I have had Italy much on my mind in recent months and it’s a reason I shall briefly be visiting there (no, not to Rome) while in Europe this year. Just as I wrote the quasi-prophetic Beyond Dover Beach,( http://bit.ly/1gLlckG)  I suspect there is something to know and that I may be able to write on the ground concerning Italy. Anyway, I think it would be unwise for Catholics to dismiss as lightly as they have done that the present Pope is the last according to the long disputed prophecies of St Malachy. At the time of the recent suggestively symbolic accident, peaceful and fortunate Venus was moving away from the star of Christianity itself in Pisces. Things are ending and there are attitudes and beliefs that need to be abandoned.

[1]. The hell asteroid is HELLA because originally all asteroids were recorded in feminine form hence Nelsonia  and Washingtonia for Nelson and Washington

[2]  The Christ asteroid is CHRISTA.  As said above originally all asteroids were recorded in feminine form but empirically this asteroid does work for Christ issues as does ISA (the Arabic name of Jesus).

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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