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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, 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 but an overall pattern shaped and subordinated to 15 Virgo rising and then 11 Gemini at the destiny Midheaven. (This 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) Hades 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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SECRET YEATS AND THE IGNORED ARCANA

Yeats2YEATSASTRO    (click to enlarge)

SECRET YEATS AND THE IGNORED ARCANA

In the extravagantly magical/mystical life of Yeats, astrology was major and arguably this strangely secret public figure is insufficiently understood without factoring in this aspect of the esoteric. The poet frequently cast horoscopes or, because he hated the maths, got his maternal uncle George Pollexfen to do it for him, and he was always noting transits to his pattern (terrible argument tonight under Mars square moon; Venus to Mars, meeting Maud Gonne today etc). Yeats’ affinity for astrology is obvious – he even had the planet of astrology, Uranus, conjunct his sun if widely, but then this same Uranus exactly trined the also astrology associated asteroid Urania. Even so, it was mainly for practicalities of life and some basic decision making that Yeats had recourse to horoscopes.

Had Yeats accepted that the pattern of a natus also and even especially speaks for the unconscious, inspiration and thus art, he might have been less confused and confusing in his curious understanding and core doctrines of the self and much more. However it’s also true that on the best reading for his times, what Yeats most needed to know, (similarly to critics and biographers subsequently!), would remain largely hidden. That includes even as regards his relation to the modern Ireland he helped define. Possibly the only meaningful item of information he obtained from the disillusioning séances he attended was to be told his horoscope was “incomplete”.

It was. For purposes of understanding the mind of a notable literary/historical figure, perhaps few horoscopes read along standard lines would seem more “incomplete”. But today more information is available, not least because such factors as Pluto, Chiron and the name, place and concept asteroids can all be added to the picture and they prove remarkably descriptive and informative. It is for example impossibly correct that for the man who so long desired marriage and family yet who married past fifty only to come within days to the painful realization he’d made a serious mistake, should have his Part of Marriage conjunct the wounded healer factor, Chiron. The marriage only worked, survived and was “healed” one might say, after the pair managed to collaborate on their mediumistic project of The Vision. But there is much more to say.

I have long admired Yeats’ work, not just for some very fine specimens of poetry and drama  – even if some of the early and late material is a bit dated or just weak - but his invaluable critical capacity to summarize across the too long fragmented Irish/Celtic tradition which he helped save, revive and popularize. Yeats was not just a poet and dramatist but an important prose writer of many ideas. Nevertheless what appears to be the truth about Ireland’s unofficial poet laureate is not as reassuring as one might wish. It raises questions, and I mean more seriously so than, at the gossip level, how much his otherworldly visions may have owed to hashish and mescalin imported from Paris rather than the collective Celtic unconscious most of us, even including co-workers like Lady Gregory, may have supposed. Yeats, the poet and theorist of the mask, tended to show people the face he knew they wanted to see!

What concerns me is more radical. And the personal interest I bring to it and whose reasons will become clear by the conclusion where I ask what is poetry today, is linked to my own poetic and dramatic work published this month, New Poems and Two Celtic Dramas  amzn.to/1eJXHGC. This is material closer to at least elements of Yeatsian tradition than majority literary trends current within Ireland today. (Perhaps it helps to be outside Ireland in this generation to cultivate a certain type of vision!).  First however I will briefly describe main features of Yeats’ natus as it would be known to the poet and then describe the  more acute and disconcerting truth, secrets in effect, that a modern reading can supply.

BASICS OF THE NATAL CHART

Yeats was born in Sandymount Dublin on June 13th 1865 at 10.40 pm. This means he was a divided, intellectually curious, multi-tasking Gemini with eccentric, independent, often rebellious Aquarius rising at 0 degrees. There is more than one type of Gemini and ascendant signs physically modify any sun sign, but Yeats still strongly corresponded to the textbook typical Edward Snowden image of the Gemini, tall, slim and intellectual looking. The poet’s birth time seems more or less correct. His career/destiny Midheaven at 4 of philosophical Sagittarius is on what is called a strong, “critical” degree. And the fact that at birth the Part of Fortune falls exactly on Gemini’s “ruler”, Mercury, the planet of writing and writers, itself in Gemini its sign of rulership and in its natural house the third too, all augurs well for the data of a celebrated writer and indefatigable conversationalist. For that matter so too does the Part of Soul conjuncting the rising. Yeats is about nothing if not the colours and intuitions of “soul” as against the para-intellectual directions of spirit. So the birth time appears correct.

Since the moon was rising for Yeats in Aquarius at 19 degrees (a reason he always regarded himself as “lunar” not “solar”) this strengthens any Aquarian input and personal style as well as inclining him to be either dominated by or associated with women as we know he was. Not only could Yeats prove astonishingly, ultra-Aquarian eccentric on occasions such as cutting up a fur coat in order not to disturb the magic sleep of a cat lying on it, but he was oddly accident prone in Aquarian style like scoffing a box of cough drops mistaking them for regular sweets and sending himself to sleep for 30 hours as a result. His spelling and punctuation could be amazingly idiosyncratic for a writer, and it’s odd he could never master French despite often visiting France and even dying there.

The fact that the ruler of this Aquarian rising, Uranus, falls in writerly Gemini widely conjunct Yeats’ natal Sun (the core self) further entrenches the eccentricity of style at the same time as it promises great originality of personality and/or creativity (his love of the avant-garde in theatre and design was notable) especially from within the creative fifth house. (Shelley, Yeats’ early model, likewise had Sun conjunct Uranus in the fifth house so he would naturally stir Yeats, especially as Shelley’s Sun/Uranus conjuncts Yeats’ own Mars in Leo).

Yeats’ Gemini Sun trine Saturn in the arts and genteel society sign of Libra shows Yeats can get somewhere through great effort, but also good patronage like that of Lady Gregory and the tea heiress Annie Horniman; also that he can live long enough to do so unlike one of his siblings who died young. Jupiter in Sagittarius inclines to religion, philosophy, the kind of big generalizations Yeats directed upon Ireland – unlike his father who was intended for the church Yeats admitted to be unable to live without some kind of religion.

Mars in spectacular, dramatic Leo in Yeats’ unions house promises plenty of argument and problems with associates, spouses or long term lovers and very much so as Mars stands in affliction square to a close, obsessive, Venus/Pluto conjunction in fixed, immovable Taurus. Though Yeats wouldn’t have known of Pluto unless in his latter years, the combination describes especially the lifelong obsession and frustration with the fiery, theatrical Maud Gonne, an image of Ireland itself/herself – Ireland, by tradition at least, has always been under Taurus though Gonne herself wasn’t. (Gonne was a Sagittarian which means she could dominate, as she certainly did, in the sector of Yeats’ career and destiny. But as the tormented Venus/Pluto falls in the 3rd of writing, Gonne and love’s frustrations can be much written about personally and also nationalistically as a Cathleen ni Houlihan image).  I should perhaps mention that we arguably only  know Yeats’ poetry because of the (seventh house) agency and original support, including financial, for the poetry and its publication by the retired Fenian John O’Leary (b 23 July 1830). O’Leary’s sun at 0 Leo falls exactly on Yeats’ seventh house cusp of  agency. Moreover O’Leary’s 23 degree Venus in Gemini falls conjunct Yeats’ sun so that he really liked and favoured the poet who would later suitably write  of him, “Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone, it’s with O’Leary in the grave”.

To be mystical, one normally needs something in the 4th, 8th or 12th houses which will reflect the types of mysticism. Yeats only, but importantly, had Saturn (and itself exalted in Libra) in his eighth of sex and mysteries, (i.e. the occult). Yeats’ mysticism does in fact incline to the occult or sexual/tantric. Saturn here can make for a lot of structuring or ritual in the realms of the erotic. Saturn could nonetheless also indicate some sexual frustration which Yeats had an admitted fair share of despite his many affairs, and/or Saturn could reflect the sheer effort of attempting union with especially the elusive Gonne via astral means (which apparently Yeats was able to do in the form of a serpent!). We also know that in old age (Saturn) Yeats underwent the Steinach operation (apparently a partial vasectomy) to release more libido. But it worked (Saturn helpfully trine Sun) even if it proved a bit embarrassing. Such are the main, visible features of a horoscope Yeats would recognize. But what of the rest of the data that the poet didn’t know and which almost better describes but also rather betrays him?

WHAT YEATS DIDN’T KNOW

At first glance the new information is satisfying, especially if we pose it a question the traditional data can’t quite answer like: was Yeats fated to be the poet, voice and revealer of specifically modern Ireland to itself?….The answer is yes and the efficiency of the supplementary data to demonstrate just that should be proof to the uninitiated that it reliably works. The asteroid Yeates (interpretation of asteroids follows sound not spelling) conjuncts the asteroid Ireland and The Part of Revelation. These three factors then fortunately trine asteroid Poesia (Yeates at 22. Pisces conjuncts The Part of Revelation at 21 Pisces and Ireland at 20 Pisces, which trines Poesia at 19 Cancer). Then too, Erato (traditional muse of specifically lyric poetry) rises at 15 Aquarius (a world point, helpful for fame) loosely conjunct the poet’s rising moon – asteroid aspects don’t exceed 2 degrees unless as here to sun or moon.

Erato itself is closely and surely significantly conjunct at 16 degrees to Lugh, traditionally the versatile Celtic Mercury who the gods of Ireland made the chief ollamh (poet) of the land. This tells us what seems true: Yeats’ Ireland lyric poetry is more notable than the dramatic. And much of the lyric output is linked to an atavistic, ultimately pagan worldview (Yeats the descendant of clergymen would write of “my unchristened heart”) which reckons to speak, and is mostly accepted as speaking, for all Ireland. But since the 19 degree moon is favourably exact to Prometheus at 19 Aries, we can also appreciate why for Yeats, Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound provided his virtual call to the bardic role and why he rated it not just good poetry but truth-in-itself, something to rank with world scriptures, a strange and significant point to which we can return.

In view of things said later, I should stress that the muse Erato can be taken as the equivalent of Yeats’ all-powerful “daimon” without which he believed no true poetry could be written. The “daimon” could however only possess and inspire if one had assumed the “anti-self” or “mask”. Yeats’ concept of “mask” is interesting because the first house in which Erato is found is always the house of at any rate the persona, the filter or mask for the core will and personality of an individual’s sun sign. However, Yeats’  poetic “anti-self” is an awkward, misleading word (much Yeatsian jargon is confused not least because he was bound not to reveal secret society principles). Essentially it designates the unconscious as opposed to everyday consciousness. But ‘anti-self’ can get combined with theories of the (astral) mask because in the rituals of the Golden Dawn and its Isis-Urania temple, Yeats learned to reach unconscious planes invoking spirits while wearing the appropriate god mask which obviously would seem the antithesis of the human. With the “anti-self” concept (which might also be involved with orgasm and the sex magic Yeats didn’t discuss) we can see how Yeats is going to trap readers and even confuse himself because modern psychological astrology would not allow that the unconscious has anything to do with the first house energies in which the nearest thing to Yeats’ daimon resides.

It seems no accident that many of Yeats greatest poems as in The Tower are about simply himself and his various roles and masks rather than unconscious deeps! We can also see that asteroid Memoria (i.e. memory but also the ancient world equivalent of the unconscious or Yeats’ “Great Memory” or “Great Mind”) is not in aspect to Erato. Instead it afflicts the writer’s Mercury and his IC angle (base of chart).Small wonder Yeats is going to make poetry amid conflict, misdirecting himself as regards inspiration and arriving at any “anti-self” closer less to the unconscious than to precisely an opposite of the self in terms of roles, an opposite with which he struggles like Jacob with the angel.

If you enter the unconscious to mine inspiration, you do so via your 4th, 8th or 12th houses. These are untenanted by any planets for Yeats – except for Saturn which, though planets as opposed to asteroids are symbolically multivalent, by tradition has been the devil symbol.  And Saturn is at very least the archetype for any fear. Yeats, whose name in magic is devil associated, reaches the “anti-self” through precisely fear. Admittedly at the planetary level (as opposed to the mentioned levels of houses) the moon just by itself enjoys some traditional associations with the unconscious as opposed to the consciousness of sun. This is one reason that Yeats’ own “masks” tend to be golden and glittering or yellow reflecting things solar, or complete silvery lunar to rouse unconscious energies. Even so, Yeats’ moon by being in the non-mystical first house and in a masculine (i.e. extravert) sign, is poorly placed to assist him in strivings towards sublime oppositions or magical unions of conscious with unconscious. This may also be the reason Yeats was so reliant upon women – he wanted or needed them to do his mental and symbolic work for him!

I at first wondered why Yeats’ crucial Poesia should be in his 6th house (even though I maintain it’s in the same house for Shakespeare) as opposed to somewhere obvious like near his destiny/reputation Midheaven as for the career poet Rilke. However the 6th house is not just work (and Shakespeare apparently regarded his labours in dramatic poetry as a bit beneath him, a kind of money spinning venture allowing him to become a big property owner) but the house of any “practical magic” i.e. magical operations. Magic was Yeats’ mysticism, but magic is very much what a lot of Yeats’ poetry aimed to be, whether readers realize it or not. Many poems like Wandering Angus are evocations, symbolizations, active dreamings along occult society lines. And note too that the Shakespeare of at least The Tempest, seems to identify his poetic labours with a species of magic, “but this rough magic I here abjure” etc.

Yeats however never abjured any magic. Magic was his religion. The Part of Occultism exactly conjuncts the cusp of his ninth house of religion/philosophy. Suitably for this, if possible Yeats would have founded full blown Celtic rites at Key Lodge, Galway and he certainly put much work towards that. Like many readers, aware how haunting and beautiful the long slow twilights of Yeats’ western Ireland could be, I managed to overlook how Yeats’ obsession with “The Celtic Twilight” was less poetic than a reflection of the principle that druid rituals to raise power were performed in hour before sunrise. Yeats is all about bringing back the light of the god Lugh! Significantly Yeats’ Part of Race Consciousness at 24 Aries conjuncts the Part of Religion at 24 Aries. Accordingly he even maintained it was essential to experience Ireland rather than Judaea as a, or the, holy land, an idea which has a touch of pagan Nazi love of die Heimat and unsurprisingly Yeats had a brief flirtation with the Nazis. That his aim for a new Celtic religion did not fully succeed is involved with the fact that Saturn opposes these factors from 23 Libra. In this case forces of tradition (Saturn) oppose it.

WHAT DID YEATS BELIEVE (BEYOND THE SACREDNESS OF IRELAND)?

To the extent that Credo at 20 Gemini (near to Yeats’ sun at 22) trines his lyrics-associated moon at 19 Aquarius we might say women and poetry constitutes Yeats’ “truth”; but real poetic truth for Yeats began with Shelley and not least because Shelley was Promethean. Shelley’s Prometheus and The Witch of Atlas also seemed after a fashion so magical they were the inspiration for even Yeats’ fellow Society of the Golden Dawn member, Alistair Crowley, the Satanist who (though no great truth teller) accused Yeats of being a demonologist who used black magic against him. In turn Yeats accused Crowley himself of being a disgusting person who used black magic.

But why did both Yeats and Crowley find such inspiration in Shelley? Shelley was self-described and often thought of as an atheist, but he admitted to belief in an immanent Spirit of Nature and he was chiefly against the Christian God. He had invoked the Devil while still at Eton. Prometheus Unbound is effectively Shelley’s response to Milton’s Paradise Lost with Prometheus as a kind of do-good devil, a Lucifer light challenging God. Seeing that Yeats called Prometheus Unbound a scripture, we notice that at Yeats’ birth asteroid Shelley at just 1 Scorpio opposes Isa (Ar Jesus) at nearly 1 Taurus, while in parallel to this the Christ asteroid at 19 Taurus is square Yeats’ lyrical moon. This is not a person who much likes Christ and Christianity and he indicates as much in many places like the conclusion to The Magi who are left “unsatisfied with the mystery of the bestial floor” and in the dance drama Calvary which assures us God has not died for the white heron (meaning Yeats himself who in one of his last poems insists he wants no conventional sign, i.e. the cross, on his gravestone at Drumcliffe where his ancestors were buried). We should take this more seriously than many critics do. Susan Johnston-Graf’s important study (W.B.Yeats: A Twentieth Century Magus, 2000) seems correct to maintain the occult side of Yeats is insufficiently known or understood by scholars of Christian or Jewish background who finish up giving Yeats’ occultism a secular humanist reading it shouldn’t have.

If Yeats really had any feeling for Christ and Christianity as some Christian critics imagine, it is unlikely he would have taken as his first lover the strange and some said decadent Olivia Shakespear whom Ezra Pound declared “hated Christ like the devil” or let Nietzsche, the author of Der Antichrist and radical critic of leading Christian values become a major influence. We know Yeats declined to attend church with the fairly devout Irish Anglican Lady Gregory during his extended residences with her at Gort. More to the point, he surely would not have associated with Maud Gonne, a woman who admitted to having sold her soul to the devil (though she did feel some remorse about it when her father died shortly after the event!). Later after a pragmatic conversion to Catholicism to marry someone from whom she soon separated, Gonne reckoned to work with Yeats to unify Christianity with paganism having decided the devil was simply England.

Gonne is the model for Yeats’ drama The Countess Cathleen who, surrounded by predatory demons, sells her soul on the behalf of the Irish peasantry, a Shelleyean sort of good diabolism. This odd, Faustian style drama was the first offering of the Irish Literary Theatre aiming to change the face of Irish national culture. It would be hard to describe just how mad the real life, but by all accounts stunningly beautiful Gonne was, and how much she drew Yeats into her madness which in a lucid moment he confessed to Lady Gregory would be sufficient to have her locked up. Despite despising marriage and apparently sex too, unbeknown to the besotted Yeats she had an illegitimate child by a French lover, a child which died and which she then tried to get reincarnated by having occult sex with the father in front of the child’s tomb. (Regrettably there are no asteroids for either Maud or Gonne). Even Yeats’ attitude towards Christ is however only an aspect of a wider negative feeling about God and religion about which I feel the chart is fairly graphic in line with the fact that at the Golden Dawn Yeats assumed the remarkable name DEDI or Demon est Deus Inversus (the Demon/Devil is God inverted). The initiate name seems involved with Yeats belief in Blakean, Gnostic notions of Good needing Evil. What does the horoscope show?

YEATS AND GOD

There are two deity asteroids Theotes (Godhead) which is more like Trinity and there is Bhagwat which is in effect Lord as in Bhagwat Gita (Song of the Lord). Both of these are notably afflicted for Yeats’. Bhagwat at 25 Virgo is in affliction square both to Jupiter, the planet of religion (and some of us would say the Bethlehem Star) at 24 Sagittarius and Yeats’ natal sun at 22 Gemini while Theotes at 28 is in square to Uranus at 29 Gemini. This suggests more than enough tension and oddity in the outlook. If there is a planet of God as biblically understood it is unquestionably Pluto. Since this planet can symbolize both creation and destruction, and on the human plane obsession and hatred, its inharmonious conjunction with Yeats’ Venus belongs with lines like, “Hatred of the soul can bring the soul to God”. Except that it never especially did so for Yeats himself for whom God is at best a symbol of the All that embraces Good and Evil (hence Yeats’ name in magic circles). God is not any creator or end for Yeats, who in typical Gemini fashion prefers journey to arrival, and who can thus feel free to describe God in many ways, none definitive, unless possibly as “The Great Mind”, but including if need be as demonic energy. At this point we come across the real problem, the real question regarding Yeats’ beliefs and identity. Was he, as Crowley would have it, a Satanist? Was Yeats himself merely bragging when he told the artist Beardsley that he had been much taken up with and studied what he called “diabolism” in certain occult circles in Paris? (R.M.Foster. W B Yeats, A Life, p, 158).

YEATS AND THE DEVIL

The evidence for at least some degree of attachment to “diabolism” or Satanism seems clear enough since we find Lucifer at 20.16 Pisces is conjunct both Yeates and Ireland. Granted that on a matter so controversial one needs what any astrologer would look for in such a case which is some back up (after all, there are many asteroids and all must be somewhere so they are not automatically significant for everyone!) but we do have the back up. There are two devil asteroids as there are two deity asteroids. They are Lucifer which seems to represent Satan as St Paul’s deceptive “angel of light” and Satan as darkness which is Malin (Fr. Devil) of which presently. There is however a possible, “sort of” third devil asteroid and it is Sethos, Greek for the Egyptian devil god Set or Seth. Sethos. at 19 Pisces is conjuncting Yeats’ Lucifer at 20 Pisces. This obtains more significance in light of something else. Yeats (like the Golden Dawn) was quite taken up with Egyptian symbol and ritual – in the famous and rather sublime Second Coming poem Yeats pretty well identifies his second Christ/Antichrist with Egypt through a sort of Sphinx or Sekhmet solar figure. Suitably, therefore, Aigyptios (Egypt) at 23 Aquarius fortunately trines Yeats’ Saturn at 23 Libra in his mysteries-linked eighth house, while in the other direction his Aigyptios is favourably placed towards his beliefs-signifying and determining Jupiter at 24 Sagittarius.

Beyond Ireland Yeats believed in some kind of light from Egypt (“Swear by what the sages spoke/Round the Mareotic lake”) as did Crowley who received his essentially Satanic Book of the Law for the coming (Aquarian) era while in Egypt. And though she represented no secret occult orders, for what it’s worth the late Catholic seeress, Jeane Dixon, who notoriously claimed the Antichrist was born under Aquarius in 1962, maintained much of that individual’s youth was passed in Egypt. So if we follow the astrologer’s law of sensitive degrees, we could ask in heaven’s name what vibe might Yeats have been in touch with in this vision poem of an avatar seeing that the alleged birth time of Dixon’s false prophet shows that person’s moon at the same fated 23 Aquarius? Moreover if this person actually exists, Yeats’ relation to him is between astonishing and sinister. On the Pied Piper’s birth chart Yeates falls at 18 Sagittarius i.e. in favourable aspect to in one direction the prophet’s Venus at 18 Aquarius (he can love this person) while in the other it makes favourable trine to the nodes at 18 Leo (planets in the degree of the nodes have something fated in terms of connection). Before we dismiss this as purest coincidence, let’s note that Nietzsche, himself author of Der Antichrist, has an exact Nietzsche asteroid in agreement to the 9 degrees of the avatar’s power and authority Pluto. There may even be, given Yeats’ visionary anticipations of an avatar, a further subtle message in the fact that the poet’s Sethos falls at 19 Pisces. I believe as per my Testament of the Magihttp://amzn.to/19v1jJf ) this degree is very provably that of the Bethlehem Star. Thus Yeats unconsciously (prophetically?) places Egypt, the new era and Antichrist against Christ and Sethos on what is in effect the chief degree of the Christian revelation and era.

YEATS AND AN OCCULT IRELAND

Yet with even this I digress because what is more immediately relevant here is that having determined there seems to be some kind of identification of Yeats with the demonic, we find that his Lucifer at 20.16 is to the minute of a degree exactly conjunct Ireland at 20.16. I believe this could be linked to a certain ideological identification of Yeats with Mme Blavatsky and her theosophy that influenced the Golden Dawn. (Yeats even described the Russian Blavatsky as like a wise old Irish peasant woman which I imagine recommended her to him!). Blavatsky taught (shades of Shelley’s Prometheus again) that the true ruler of the world is the light-bearing, heroic Lucifer. This could well mean that Yeats would assume Lucifer, perhaps identified with god of light, Lugh, was the true hidden ruler of Ireland for any invocation purposes. In a roundabout, unintended way Blavatsky was of course correct. The NT acknowledges that the devil is currently “the prince of this world” (Joh 14:30) and declares, (as most Christians never do lest it seem to compromise divine omnipotence), that the world has been given over to the forces of evil. Christ’s incarnation is a major stage in combating that – the devil offers Christ the world as the final temptation. The difference is that Blavatsky, like Shelley and almost certainly Yeats, regarded Lucifer’s rule as beneficent. DEDI Yeats probably believed that Lucifer is just God/”The Great Mind”/”The Condition of Fire” seen through another lens amid the endless perning of gyres, turning of ages and incarnations.

The destructive, often hate-bearing, sold soul Maud Gonne who for years was willing to birth Ireland in violence, took Yeats in directions he wouldn’t otherwise have chosen. Gonne, though she managed to mellow somewhat, was in many respects Yeats’ own Lucifer Light and Devil Dark together. Provided Lucifer was, so to speak, politically supreme, there was room of sorts for Christ and Christian mysticism more spiritually – the later Yeats could even allow for the notion of a future Irish druidic Christ, and when he talks about nations needing prophet, priest and king he can even sound like a kind of Christian; but this merely reflects the way he always lets good and evil merge. Nevertheless the 0.59, i.e virtually 1 degree Isa (Jesus) asteroid in Ireland-associated Taurus makes opportunity aspect to Malin at 2 Cancer, the sign, if any, of paganism and polytheism. I should say that Yeats just never bothered about any form of truth that didn’t seem “visionary” or symbolic. Not only can his sign of the Twins be notoriously dark/light, a Dr Jeckell and Mr Hyde because its intellectualism dissociates easily, but we do find asteroid Lie, at 9 Pisces conjunct the poet’s Part of Boredom and Indifference. To discover the truth in the ordinary sense whether practical, philosophical or theological was almost too much trouble to a person like Yeats who found common reality a bore. Sometimes just superficial in a way most common under the air signs he was usually unburdened by what he was teaching and the energies he was possibly releasing….Except in one major case. A séance could unnerve him and attendance at one in January 1895 seems to have been definitive for much subsequently and it was years before he would consult mediums regularly for mundane guidance.

YEATS IN POETRY AND THE ASTRAL LIGHT

It was at a séance that Yeats was suddenly jerking and shuddering uncontrollably in ways that frightened those in attendance like Kathryn Tynan and are suggestive of something akin to kundalini experience or possession by a spirit. We have echoes of the kind of experience, but in a more positive light in the poem The Cold Heaven, where the poet describes himself as “rocking to and fro riddled with light”. I don’t have a chart for this but plainly it would have something to do that month with transiting Jupiter in Gemini conjuncting and setting off the “electrical” natal Uranus. Jupiter trine Uranus in specifically fire was in evidence in Pentecost AD 30 when the Spirit fell on the disciples. But if Yeats was, let’s say, mildly rather than madly possessed by a spirit (his Discoveries portray him as already hearing voices and under certain “influences” from an early age), that would only be consistent with his early established belief that a poet was essentially someone possessed, a go-between earth and heaven and revealing messages accordingly. The Yeatsian experiential reality (as opposed to the convoluted theory!) was that daimonic/poetry experiences were, at best, of lightning and hence Uranus. The reason that in later life Yeats bought and assumed residence in the Tower of Thoor-Ballylee was because, practically, he associated true sudden inspiration as akin to the lightning of the lightning struck Tower of the Tarot card archetype. He also knew from the Cabbala of the Golden Dawn, loosely based on elements of Jewish mysticism, that lightning descended from the height of the God/Mind/Higher Self dominated Tree of Life for those who knew the right keys, symbols, deity names and vibrations, these being much associated at the Golden Dawn with Isis-Urania.

It is beyond present scope, but I would insist as per certain statements in my Puer Poems one of whose offerings is itself based on the structure of the “Tree” which links the names of God in a pattern, that the three highest nodes from which any lightning descends in fact correspond to the Trinity. Astrologically the Trinity can be symbolized by Pluto (the Creator), Uranus (the Holy Spirit) and Neptune (Christ). Yeats and Golden Dawn magicians who made alternative, less convincing astrological correspondences with the Hebrew divine names were not receiving from the Spirit but at the Isis-Urania temple spiritist energies related to the Urania representing whatever, which exactly trines Yeats’ Uranus, or perhaps in Yeats’ case the light energies the ancient Celts associated with Lugh. Any Uranian lightning for members of The Golden Dawn was also the “astral light”. Through Eliphas Levi and the French Occultism that also influenced him, Yeats obtained the notion that the astral Light is the vehicle of magic and inspiration. It can be variously God’s power, the awaited Holy Spirit of the coming age and the Edenic Serpent’s power all in one field.

YEATS AND MODERN IRELAND

But if Yeats (most of the time) didn’t care what he was doing and remained largely agnostic about who or what the spirits he invoked truly were, there are reasons why we, and I, might have some reason to care. The first point concerns the nature of Ireland and the second the perennial nature and meaning of poetry. Like it or not, modern Ireland inherits something from Yeats. I am certainly not suggesting modern Ireland should not have come into being, but the when and how of its doing so seems a little dubious and national self-understanding of the process to some extent the product of the Yeats/Gonne (mis)alliance, their symbol formation and policies. And we may recall that the English originally dismissed the Easter Rising as “a poet’s revolution”, just more Irish theatre and show. Granted that Yeats himself, who was more implicitly than overtly political, did not take part in the uprising whose immediate leader was the poetic and mystical Padraic Pearse with his loosely Christian theories of sacrifice. However, Gonne, though she hated Socialists along with Jews, had some history of stirring Pearse’s co-revolutionary, the socialist James Connolloy into action. Overall, what took place on April 24th 1916 was in many respects the effects of a Yeats/Gonne cultural revolution that was building for years. Stephen Gywnn famously observed after a performance of Cathleen-ni-Houlihan he wondered “if such plays should be produced unless one was prepared for people to go out to shoot and be shot”. Yeats if not Gonne did have a few twinges of conscience as in The Man and the Echo where he asks, “Did that play of mine send out/Certain men the English shot?”.

Revolutions are of Uranus……Yeats’ poetic birth moon at 19 Aquarius was exactly conjuncted by Uranus in Aquarius that Easter of 1916. The Venus of the day was fortunately trining it. Neptune was degree exact semi-sextile (any meetings of mind) to Yeats’ Uranus so he can glamourize the revolution – which he did. Mercury had just passed conjunction to his Venus/Pluto (it’s the basis of his famous poetic reaction “a terrible beauty is born” Venus being beauty and Pluto being the terrible!). And though Mars representing conflict at the time was at 16 Leo (rather than Yeats own 12, itself one of the reasons he did not actively engage in the revolution), what was happening was nonetheless very much in his spirit. And his spirit and values would endure.

If we look at the absolute foundation of modern Ireland, i.e. its complete, final republican rupture with England (April 18th 1949 at 12 am), a decade after Yeats death, we find Jupiter (religion/beliefs) at 0 Aquarius, the degree of Yeats’ rising. The novelty and eccentricity of this position, especially as it trines Saturn in Eire’s religion house gives, I believe, long term (Saturn) promise that despite the nation’s conservative, enduring, sad and bachelor signifying moon in Capricorn, entrenched traditional values and Catholicism would not be so secure. Instead, as has happened, they would considerably succumb to disillusion, scepticism and revolt. There would be a quiet revolution in many cases prompting return to a sort of Yeatsian style paganism. Uranus at foundation time at 27+ Gemini was conjunct Yeats’ 29 degree Uranus and asteroid Yeates was conjunct Eire’s Mercury (its writing, its thought patterns).

However, more significantly for permanently linking the poet to the life and arts of the nation, Eire’s sun and Venus in Aries exactly conjuncts Yeats’ 27 Libra/Aries nodal axis. But as one might suspect, the contact is not altogether fortunate or inspiring in the right way – one thinks for example how much the design and feeling of Samuel Beckett’s depressing nihilistic dramas owes to such as Yeats’ drama Purgatory. It is always the North Nodes which point the way forward and to what is best for person or entity, Eire’s 27 Aries falls on Yeats’ backward looking South Nodes. A little more positively, the one time “Isle of the Saints’ rising sign is 5 degrees of (religious) Sagittarius itself conjunct Yeats’ destiny and reputation Midheaven which was 4 Sagittarius. Ireland will always be thought of as religious even if it isn’t very notably so and it will always be somewhat Yeats country as to tourists it very much is. Taken all in all, I can imagine that those of charismatic persuasion or Catholics re-instating exorcism might think that the almost perpetually unfortunate, economically vulnerable, population haemorrhaging Ireland, could use a few banishing rituals at sacred sites where Yeats tried either to call down the gods or to confirm their fairy rule - even the unusually down-to-earth Seamus Heaney could say of Yeats “Reading Yeats, I can feel at times a transmission of dangerous force”. With that thought in mind what I will explore in conclusion is the question of what poetry is and does because for me that becomes a personal and oddly Yeatsian question.

YEATS AND THE IDEA OF POETRY TODAY

This month I have published New Poems and Two Celtic Dramas. The sometimes polemical poems have sundry themes but the dramas are based on the Welsh Mabinogion legend of Branwyn and various Irish legends of Oengus the love god and also Graine and the Fenian men. I think it can honestly be claimed and claimed as simple fact, not boast, and as something anyone reading the material could be hard put to dispute, that though I belong to no occult societies, since 1949 (or even 1916) no poet or Protestant claiming Irish nationality will have been closer to the spirit of Yeats and many (though by no means all) of his interests. In the interim as in Seamus Heaney’s to my mind ghastly The Vision (it leaves me feeling claustrophic and a bit queasy!) “imagination” has been downplayed in favour of an overwhelming, sometimes vulgar earthiness. And even the quasi-Yeatsian 1916 revolution, which was a revolution of consciousness as much as politics, is just a little bit mine to do something literary with because Ireland at my birth was conjunct the fatal Easter’s 16 degree Leo Mars, itself conjunct my almost 16 degrees Mars. When at the beginning of my writing career I wrote rather combatively on The Irish Nation, I was as unaware of this celestial tie-in as Yeats was of so much else in his chart. Whatever revolution of consciousness Yeats aimed at, I, spontaneously and broadly somewhat take up again, and even when not in specifically poetry have done so in prose as in works like Temple Mysteries and Spiritual Efficiency  ( http://amzn.to/Xz9L7X ) which effectively assume a hidden occult order of reality and which in their way are expressive of a Yeatsian ideal - “love for the Unseen”.

I could perhaps hardly help going in the direction taken. Mercury and Venus again in the house of writing, Uranus again in late Gemini, Jupiter again in Sagittarius (which with the Leo Mars makes for a somewhat similar emphasis upon the hieratic, the priestly, prophetic role etc), the Neptunes of both on an axis and unsurprisingly too I find, even Catullus. So… here we go again, except that now it’s poetry in itself, not specifically Irish poetry,that chiefly concerns me . After all, I don’t live in Ireland and for perhaps that reason have not been generously treated by anyone in literary Ireland for whom it seems I am merely someone outside and beyond, perhaps even a kind of inconvenient truth safely dismissed in the way I properly mock in my satirical Catullus Redux (http://bit.ly/1ci1WMX ).

POETRY AND SOME “MAGICAL” SYNCHRONICITY

New Poems and Two Celtic Dramas marks a new departure for me after nearly a quarter century’s poetic silence. I had abandoned poetry with the offerings of Puer Poems ( http://amzn.to/11i5hkI )because of the endless, sometimes quite hostile rejections which not even broadcast of a poetic drama on the ABC could overcome. But while, as I thought, I had abandoned poetry for good in disgust, there was a touch of relief that accompanied it too. Poetry and its effects had also begun to puzzle me in certain areas, especially in the way described in the introduction to Puer Poems. There, and citing a peculiar experience surrounding one of my poems, I perceive possible justification for the most traditional bardic/druidic notions that Yeats picked up and ran with, namely poetry as magic and spell à la Prospero or even as the Bible has it, “Death and Life are in the power of the tongue” (Prov 18:21). Poet and poetry as the druids assumed can bless or curse. In modern times and outside Ireland both Ted Hughes and Robert Graves would have at any rate the curse associated with their work.

A lot of modern poetry is “ekphrastic”. It describes objects to offer possible epiphanies - even if these  are often told in flat, bald tones which depart from almost all previous poetic tradition stretching back into the night of time. It’s poetry for the agnostic, materialistic society Yeats abhorred, as I do myself. Traditional/classic poetry, even if it’s blank verse, has rhythm and aims to memorably compress certain ideas. The combination of rhythm and compression and then its repetition seems capable of assisting trance or creating something like thought forms or situations. (Modern exorcists for example find that many possessions can be traced back in the first instance to the psychic wound opened up by parents or associates just repeating to a child that they are ugly, worthless and so on). If Shakespeare was a Prospero, it is notorious that many actors are highly superstitious about “a certain play” (Macbeth) because of the amount of bad energy or ghosts its incantatory verse seems to generate in performance.

As recounted in Puer Poems, I presented what would become the first poem of that collection to a fairly celebrated Australian stage and TV actor as a present. Included were references to typical features of the Puer archetype with which I associated the actor in question so that I wrote “and if he fell he’d bleed and bleed”. Within days of presenting the poem the actor happened to switch to a leading role in the play Blood Brothers and not long after that was hospitalized because there was blood all over the place either in some dressing room fight with another actor (now internationally famous star of screen Russell Crowe), or something that occurred on stage where the future star was reckless – it has never been clear to me which since I have heard and read different stories. I don’t say I “caused” the fiasco, and it’s possible my timing was purest coincidence, but at very least it looks like there was what Jung would call a significant “synchronicity”. It was as though I had timed, declared or released effects of the Puer archetype. Moreover it wasn’t as though there hadn’t been people to have experienced my poetry of  entities that I didn’t believe in, as though I believed in them and that they were somehow real. The thought leaves one feeling a bit more cautious or responsible about literature and its potential to influence. A lot of art, I don’t say all, seems occult either in its generation or effects, or both. The world of Yeatsian poetic stands somewhere between celebration of things Celtic and (magical) imposition upon the culture with any distancing being purely aesthetic as in the admirable experiments with Noh drama. My own effort to achieve a needed distancing for especially the Celtic material of the dramas is through letting the characters establish certain understandings about the culture, history and psychology within which they exist. They are not all Yeatsian heart and emotion but intellect.

SO WHAT IS POETRY TODAY?

So what do I think poetry is? Of course it’s not one thing and some it will always be just entertainment like nursery rhymes or more seriously devoted to the history and myth of the people as in ballads. There is a variety of forms and functions. However, “serious” or “classic” poetry I do believe is “magic” or “mysticism” to the extent it is transcendent of the everyday. Its words, its rhythms, its different organization of language defamiliarizes us with common existence, encourages us to imagine different things, ideas, situations, perhaps begin to do so through a degree of participation in the different reality itself. The movement into the other plane can be either through a hearing or a seeing. Some classic poetry like Shakespeare’s is highly auditory, others as in much Latin verse and Ovid is highly visual; either way one goes beyond in a way that prose which belongs with the ordinary movements, observation and memories of life doesn’t.

In some respects poetry is, or borders, philosophy as witness Lucretius, Dante and in his way Yeats; but if poets have offered philosophy it is more like the work of the pre-Socratics who open minds towards the more developed schemes of the philosophers working with reason in prose rather than imagination and creative imagery. Poetry’s “magic” can be prophetic – much biblical prophecy is delivered in poetry rather than prose – but its messages can also be perennial, drawing us back into the essential and eternal underlying or overseeing our existence. At this point in time I should say that Auden was correct in looking forward to a return of “high style” which is to say a more transcendent poetry. It is time to say goodbye to modern or even post modern experiments in poetry and return to the art as the wisdom and vision which, no matter how much we may criticize and reject his particular beliefs, the legacy of Yeats represents and which no contemporary poet should disdain to follow.

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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NORTH/SOUTH: A POEM OF CULTURAL CONTRASTS

NORTH/SOUTH: A POEM OF CULTURAL CONTRASTS

[March 21st is the new World Poetry Day so I am posting the following poem which is included as the last poem of those to be published next month in my New Poems and Two Celtic Dramas]

Rottweil

NORTH/SOUTH: A POEM OF CULTURAL CONTRASTS

Even if from the end of the woods and the edges
Of forested mountains wonder horns echo [1] and
Sweetest chords summon, there is no call to roam there,
I carry their music within. Here too existence
Deeply resounds as bells toll to the breezes and soul.
Give me my wand! Through village and town I conjure coaches
And elves. There’s more magic than whispers in fir trees
And murmurs at river banks joins me. Mine readily plays
Beneath turret and spire, meanders past fountain and
Steep gabled houses, along winding streets where
Openly dreaming I’ve wandered. In regions like these,
What spell, what enchantment doesn’t journey the same ways
I’ve gone, even entered within each closed door?
Like wishes, no fairies of mine dance only on hilltops in rings.
Here sun need but glint on an alchemist’s pewter for
Whole worlds to be joined. [2] Sculpted satyrs and cherubs
Both smile. So much is enabled, diffused and collected,
Clouds carrying word of bright pasts and charmed futures,
Tell me, what could I lack? With a myriad flowers
I seize the many buds of potential.

Yet for love of particular things, descending
From castles and hill tops and not to snare dragons
I used gladly to linger below in the shadow
Of cavern and rock face, beside lake shores under
Star-heavy skies.[3] They resounded to high tumbling waters
Rushed to valleys that drew and detained me as though
There was a home. And consider that in such places
Souls would take refuge, including it seems to make
And unmake their own gods, [4] even if, as in arts
Of unconscious formation and enlarging mandalas,
The good of those prophets would slide into evil,
Combine, emerge, be revived as the serpent sheds skin.
Is that why they always return to your house and they
Haunt it, those shades, those unsatisfied spirits moaning
They attained to no rest at Jerusalem’s walls? [5]
Could it be that motion is all that they learned? Below
In earth’s darkness it’s said the circle of Mothers
Spin world turning change. But can they transform things, and
By using those steps in our treadmills (called by you
Recreation) whose labours recycle what you chose
To assume were so long left behind? [6] Behold then
A womb scarce more than a tomb and for even
The beauties of Helen not to be rescued.[7] I thought
To absorb the power of forests standing
Noble amid cloud drift. But let no evergreens grow
To enclose me forever. Where canopies rise let
The wishing trees shake out their gold. I will to depart.

11

Beneath these granite, barer mountains
Of the south it’s morning by a tideless lake.
On this, like sighs, the slightest motion
Falls against the unhindered rising of
The day, its atmosphere both still and
Brilliant as marbled columns to the sun.
Compressed infinities reside within
Quiet choruses of air which zephyr-light
Through and beyond the ripening citrus groves
Breathe out of “now” but also, and
Half mournfully before what might seem
Promise, murmur “wait”. Between
Ranged blue below and blue above,
Does body now go swim or row, or soul
Rise up to flow into the higher element?

The glance of Venus is behind, it looks away
Even when widest vistas are displayed and
It’s behind me Venus reigns: fashion dressed
To persons as to time, and shortening it with
Passing loves amid a careless opulence,
Still thrives.[8] But see ahead the flower-topped
Balconade adjoins the shallow steps down
To the lapping waters’ edge beyond which now
You can, but may not wish to go. Give me
The horn! Make noise and bring, clothed like the soul
In only dawn, tritons to race across
The waters into greater light and sky
Bearing upon their backs the time not
Personal but far directed and historical,
An energy that expands, builds, teaches and
Subdues in nature’s course beneath the eagle’s path
Found out by eyes directly fixed upon the sun.[9]
With this you could reach Athens and Jerusalem
And not return. And here from earth accepted in
Its myriad forms, with clarity you can rise high,
Seize infinity and the heavens themselves
Provided you would know to refuse
Those powers some craved on Mediolanum’s way
Seduced by love of emperors and of virgins’ lives [10]
Your talk become like baskets all too full
With blossoms over-ripe, weighed down with
Questions and the many answers not quite given. [11]

No lovers of the infinite and divine
Need dwell on petty joys and small regrets
And celebrate the in-turned mind through record
Of those thoughts, sometimes too humble then
Too proud, that monastery gardens best enclose. [12]
Tolle, Lege : words no angel but a child declared,
No doubt a sweet deceit played on the mind
Too mystical and unprophetic. [13] What faith
Is not far journey and a pilgrimage?
Who but he of alienated mind would seek
Divine felicity through intellect internally
As though to render earth with sea and sky
With body and each material thing all
Valueless besides the soul and God? [14]
What was that fallen temple of the Jews,
If not a heaven reflected and an Eden
Symbolized that mere abstraction never knew
Or else, like prophecy at the core, ignored
With all the mare nostrum world beyond
The cradle of new vision too despised. [15]
Truth here was lost and must again be found.

The shimmering light of day would consecrate
Life’s inner verities, and soul calls out
To banish time’s past monstrous interval,
Its centuries of night and misdirected
Prayer with contemplation pitched, in seeming
Innocence, between oppression and the
Foulest strife. [16] Accept again the sun
And wide created world which are your
Heritage toward the higher life,
By this take flight, reach even further south.

Though time and cycles will repeat they also
Form and never bring what’s quite the same again.
So now upon the age’s cusp, even though it be
An era’s end, go far upon the opened way
Receiving beams from an increasing light;
And while seas roar and skies unfold
Await of Salem’s city all surprise -
It is decreed again its temple rise
And seers with fiery prophecy outshine 
Closed revelations of the mystic’s mind.

Still waters of the lake and so bright atmosphere
Of risen day, you are that mirror jewel of
My mind, its inner being and my future life. [17]

TRITONS2

    NOTES

[1] Des Knabes Wunderhorn (1805) was a collection of poetry by Arnim and Brentano important for German literary Romanticism and music, both generally evoked by the poem.
[2]  The initial visions of the German Theosophist Jakob Böhme (15750-1624) involved sunlight on a pewter dish.
[3] Loose references both to Nietzsche’s Lake Silvaplana and personal experiences of a time spent in a Swiss college.
[4] Various German speaking sages like Nietzsche, Rilke and Jung have “remade” religion or the gods – Nietzsche believed Zarathustra was revealed to him on the shores of Silvaplana.
[5] In Jung’s Seven Sermons to the Dead, the spirits return from Jerusalem complaining they find no salvation there. Jung experienced the spirits as actually entering his house. German magical vision is not just rural like most magic but urban.
[6]  Evoking celebrated words of Goethe’s Faust  important for Jung, “Formation, Transformation, Eternal Mind’s Eternal Recreation”. They are not however specific to the Mothers who represent the Unconscious and the Feminine with which for Goethe as for Jung  mind must be reconciled.  However there seems nothing particularly liberating about the Mothers in their darkness and even if they inspire, the only salvation is in a certain repetition.
[7]  Homer’s Helen is effectively trapped in the Underworld from which Faust does not deliver her.
[8] Many properties bordering the Italian lakes are home to the rich and famous, fashion designers,  models and stars, the people of Venus, whose devotion to fashion highlights the ephemeral and  passing time.
[9]  The triton’s more masculine energies and nudity as against the well draped Venusian world (Luther taught the soul was naked before God and  a certain spiritual and aesthetic nudity may be said to join North and South) direct east and south toward Rome and beyond which marched under the sign of the eagle. The eagle looks directly at the sun which in the kind of medieval mysticism inaugurated by Augustine is almost rejected: “The good which  I now sought was not outside myself, I did not look for it in things which are seen  with the eye of the flesh by the light of the sun”. Augustine’s views were many and subject to change and his City of God even concedes Rome may be an imperfect symbol of heaven, but the poem suggests that (at its best) Rome represented a general impulse to civilisation of a kind in everything from language to roads.
[10] Mediolanum was the ancient name for Milan. It lies to the west of Garda rather than east like Athens and Jerusalem. Augustine greatly idealized Bishop Ambrose as “saintly” though he represented a lot of the too typical fourth century church politicking and chicanery. He was ordained bishop without having been a priest, wasted vast amounts of money on frantic church building  projects, dubiously courted and supported the emperor Theodosius and developed an obsession with virginity which he seemed to think the only true role for a women. Augustine’s cult of Ambrose is about as edifying as would be to hear he had followed money obsessed tele-evangelist Kenneth Copeland today.
[11] Augustine had been a rhetorician and his Confessions can be extremely florid, even its opening is half obscured by speculations and questions partially answered.
[12] Augustine’s florid conversation with himself and God anticipates the small universe of the enclosed monastery, with its controversial mixture of humility and presumption which has lost a grip upon normal life which is getting exchanged for an extended, minute self- analysis which inevitably shocked his contemporaries for sheer novelty. (It’s generally accepted that Augustine, who said as many good things as bad, is foundational for Roman Catholicism and the western medieval mind).
[13]  Tolle, Lege (Lat: Pick up and read). A child’s voice instructs Augustine. Since spiritualists and witches like Sybil Leek report children’s voices delivering messages, it is possible Augustine’s conversion represents self or spiritual deception, quite possible in view of the fact his theories would leave a  legacy of false beliefs from the damnation of unbaptized infants to theories later justifying the Inquisition.
[14] Augustine is always dismissing the earthly as example of anything heavenly and thus “no bodily pleasure….and whatever earthly light might shed upon it, was worthy of comparison, or even mention (italics mine) besides the happiness of the life of the saints.(Confessions X1 : 10). The corollary of this extreme idealism is a hidden contempt for the Jewish legacy and the temple which not only was intended as symbol or reflection of things heavenly but whose doctrine ironically may even have been the remote basis for the Platonic theory of the archetypes according to Margaret Barker.
[15]  Linked to the last statement, Mare Nostrum (the Mediterranean) and its culture should be seen as part of the flow of divine history as historical/prophetic revelation centred round Israel which Augustine virtually denies, famously dismissing all biblical prophecy as  transferred symbolically from Israel to a Catholic Church Triumphant.
[16]  Augustine’s turn to mysticism favoured a purely inactive contemplation, a gazing upon God in a static heaven that became standard for medieval religion and which ignored the ills of the world around it.
[17]  An  implicit affirmation of the believing soul’s possibility to reflect and reach to the good without seeing or being only Augustine’s original sin.
 

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

GOD AND THE GAY GAPS IN MATTHEW VINES’ VISION

GODVINES   VINESTALK
[In the wake of the Sochi Winter Olympics' gay controversies and a week before Sydney's Gay Mardi Gras parade and with renewed expectation of draconian anti-gay legislation being imposed in Uganda this seems an  appropriate time to air the following thoughts...........Readers of this article may also be interested in my related article of 24th April, The Fatal Flaw in the Matthew Vines, Albert Mohler Gay Debate  at  http://bit.ly/1mHDclQ ]

GOD AND THE GAY GAPS IN MATTHEW VINES’ VISION

No matter what Matthew Vines says in his much anticipated God and the Gay Christian, (due out April 26th) and no matter how well argued to the satisfaction of gay Christians and their supporters, it won’t get much beyond arguments favouring acceptance. Gay theological biblical exegesis does not normally, if at all, answer certain charges that conservative Christian critics and homophobes continue to level at gays like the Spanish Cardinal who recently insisted that being gay is like having blood pressure, a curable “defect”. Uganda’s president has now signed in the most extremely oppressive homophobic laws happily convinced that since homosexuality is purely behavioural it is curable and therefore apparently  uncured persons are culpable.

THE CURE OBJECTION

As long as there is only just a handful of individuals who feel able to describe themselves as “cured” of homosexuality (or at least able to bear offspring and manage the heterosexual family life) it will continue to be said that having chosen a ‘lifestyle’ gays can choose to get out of it. And, then, like some devil’s curse shadowing gays and undermining their theology, there is the postmodern, amoral or morally indifferent queer theology which looks to the queer theory inaugurated among bisexuals and that emphasizes precisely choice.

One doesn’t need to be religious to point to the negative effects of queer thought for gays and their situation globally – Gilles Herrada’s The Missing Myth (2013) written from a humanistic standpoint regards it as “crippling“, and a disastrous denial of authentic gay consciousness. The related theology, as in the case of the late bisexual shock-jock theologian Marcella Althaus-Reid’s Indecent Theology or The Queer God, can produce statements so recklessly, blatantly profane, (chapter and section headings like “Leading God by a Dog Collar” and “God the Sodomite”) that Christian conservatives are inevitably confirmed in their worst fears and prejudices. And if sex imagery isn’t the problem, then the theological one is that a limitless queer inclusiveness leaves you with a Jesus who either is, or is best friends with, Krishna, Kwan Yin, Buddha etc. (Althaus-Reid privately revered the Egyptian cat goddess Bast).

I even find it a trifle intellectually dubious, (though it’s PC enough), that Vines titles his forthcoming book God and the Gay Christian at the same time as he claims to be representing and helping to improve life amid intolerance for LBGTI people. Though gay is by far the largest constituency of the sexually marginalized to consider, it will never be possible fully to accommodate the claims, needs, worldviews, spiritualities etc of those not gay to any gay theology. The others will need to establish their own theologies and some have, and in this connection and before proceeding I will add another non PC statement that should be mentioned and got out of the way.

Whether or not the famous and notorious statements of St Paul in Romans 1 about same sex engagements (of whatever sort) owe more to pre-scientific notions of sex or refer to the recreational bisexuality of the Roman imperial decadence - Paul speaks of persons “exchanging” the natural way – there is no question that bisexuality will always present the biggest problem theologically. It does so not simply because its claims could entail effective right to adultery by any other name, but because it’s just possible that a misread bible anyway always had its main sights everywhere from Sodom to Rome on a distinct type of bisexual. One cannot entirely ignore for example how one theologian who passes for gay but admits to bedding various women, has written at some length of having the hots for various saints and angels (he’s always been especially keen on the Archangel Michael) which even if he’s only half serious about it, is nonetheless the sort of thing according to Jude 1:7 the men of Sodom were said to be guilty of in lusting after “strange flesh”. (I only know this because one sickened gay Catholic gave me a relevant book thinking I might be interested for at least reference purposes. The frequent disconnect between gays and bisexuals is a non PC subject, but it’s real enough).

So, the core questions are:

  • Who or what is a homosexual – someone born or made?
  • If born, what is a homosexual for? Which invites the question
  • If the bible is said to defend, or at least not single out “homosexuality”, why does it not provide (or does it?) what’s most needed. This, as Gilles Herrada’s The Missing Myth demonstrates, is the equivalent of a necessary “myth” which cultures always require if they are to be gay tolerant. (For Herrada a myth is supplied, but only negatively, by the Sodom Story).
  • And what about Jesus? Did he really teach and believe there was only Adam and Eve, not any Adams and Steves to be married? What about gays and ethics?

These are not easy questions, but I will briefly supply some meaningful clues of a kind which deserve consideration yet which despite my qualifications don’t have it due largely to an almost jealous, exclusivist American domination of the gay spirituality field. As half America knows, a conflicted Matthew Vines left Harvard degree studies to explore the bible on gay issues for himself (for two years!) and has set up The Reformation Project to help render churches gay affirming. Over a decade ago I obtained a world first doctorate in gay spiritualties from any religious studies dept anywhere, subsequently described on publication (as A Special Illumination, see http://amzn.to/17b8z1b)  by Professor Martyn Percy of Cambridge as including perhaps the best work on gay theologies to date. But from the assumed backwater of Australia I have remained as unheard and unanswered by Christian theologians and gay Christians, Vines included, as is on the other side of the fence America’s leading anti-gay theologian, Robert Gagnon. He likewise complains of being unanswered. (In my own case, only three or four publically committed gay Christians have ever contacted me!).

“Blow blow thou winter wind… ” as Shakespeare has it. But I have long ago got over the personal feelings of exasperation and resentment about this to the point today I rarely even concern myself with gays and their issues, but I still regret the situation relative to the kind of abuses that need to be known and protested. Today we are faced with the prejudices and campaigns that are rampant from Africa to Russia (where neo-Nazi vigilantes seize gays or even those who look like gays to torture, film and abuse them as paedophiles) and now in China (where electroshock and porn  are being used on gays to cure them) and all to an astonishing degree influenced by beliefs or campaigns of originally American evangelical inspiration (bit.ly/1aS92pe)   one of whose false teachings is the identity of paedophilia and homosexuality.

While American gay Christians, (like American gays and American Christians more generally) expect to take centre stage, they can be parochially minded when it comes to the real needs and situations to be addressed internationally. The Family Research Centre is even defending Ugandan policies on the hysterical basis homosexuality is worse than murder (one of their justifications for this deriving from  ideas of the fourth century Bishop St John Chrysostom, the almost-single handed inventor of Christian anti-Semitism and the secret engine behind much of the tyrannies and pogroms of the Russian Orthodox churches over the centuries). If secularists reined in the FRC people, doubtless they would scream persecution, the kind of thing which, as stressed in my recent article Christo-Fascism or Christo-Humanism? (wp.me/p2v96G-kB ) doesn’t help the internationally, genuinely persecuted churches one bit.

What is crucially needed today is really powerful theology, not gestures like a Cambridge University flash mob same sex kissing to protest Russian attitudes and Sochi, the sort of action that variously inflames or trivializes major issues. So to repeat..the questions are:

1. What is a homosexual? The question is theologically vital if, as might seem according to some Bible translations, St Paul declares no “homosexuals” will enter the kingdom of heaven (1 Cor 6:9). It’s a debated, technical question just who and what Paul referred to (male prostitute may well be implied since beyond all questions of etymology he may well have had in mind the Leviticus ban whose primary reference was to sacred prostitution); but not only did the ancient world have no catch-all expression like “homosexual”, but even today there can be misunderstandings around the word. So the verse as popularly cited is not as meaningful as some imagine. And even if improbably it were, one would need to ask why conservative Christians aren’t pursuing, or as in Russia letting violent vigilantes  pursue, others Paul mentions in his list echoing the vice lists of pagan moralists, like thieves, idolaters, drunkards etc.

If Christian conservatives and modern homophobes insist gay/homosexual equals “sodomite” and hence only chosen acts and “lifestyles” rather than psychology, then they have to answer persons like entertainer Stephen Fry who, as in his TV inquiry into homophobia Out There, insists that gay is about same sex love and that he and many gays never even practiced sodomy and by and large even ancient Greece didn’t. (It is however a staple of porn, something Fry conveniently ignored but shouldn’t have since unfortunately Ugandan churches and politicians have been showing and judge “homosexuality” almost wholly by precisely porn).

So let’s say “homosexual” means a person mainly or exclusively same sex attracted both as regards feelings and spontaneous eros. This obviously is not the same thing as being a male prostitute and if, as gay theologians claim with some reason, Jesus was confronting a same sex relation in the case of the centurion and his “servant ” or “boy” (doulos, pais) then their kind of homosexuality wasn’t like prostitution. Accordingly no one need find a contradiction in the fact that Jesus could be accepting and Paul not since they were not dealing with the same persons or issues in the first place.

2. Is homosexuality innate? For conservative Christians there is no justification for homosexuality because it’s not innate but only a choice. Of course there has been a choice of sorts, namely to accept as fundamental for the self what is known or suspected, and most gays vaguely sense their orientation from their earliest years. Pro and con on the born gay issue has however become largely reduced to finding an elusive gay gene or tracing the effects of certain patterns of rearing. As regards genetics, things are not conclusive (though just this month report from Illinois’ North Western University is that scientists have found two stretches of DNA they think are linked to homosexuality and suggestive for a gay gene). Studies on rearing are not conclusive either, but even without looking at too many statistics, one must absorb how eccentric mothers dressing their sons as a girl during infancy as happened for Oscar Wilde and the Austrian poet Rilke, only had contrary effects if one assumes nurture should have effect, since one turned out a homosexual and the other a Don Juan. Vines like most gay Christians has emphasized there was no abuse or anything wrong with his upbringing. But for conservatives, if homosexuality can’t be explained by known science, or defective rearing it must be an illusion if not a devil’s lie itself. But should bible believing Christians be so demanding of proof in this way?

If they bothered to listen to what Jesus actually said, they would know he assumed some persons were “born” different, such as eunuchs from their mother’s womb (Matt 19:12). What did he mean and how should he or we be allowed to know what he meant without evidence of a “scientific” kind? It happens that by Jesus’ times among Jew and Gentile alike, the eunuch word was the nearest expression to being born different, out of the family way and hence the nearest thing to our gay word. It was an ambiguous, fluid term used in many writers but apparently rather as “confirmed bachelor” once indicated unmarried while also being widely used as a polite circumlocution for gay. Eunuch could include celibate, but it didn’t automatically mean either that or castrate (and would one be castrate from the mother’s womb?). And why would Jesus emulate the eunuch status? If one allows the psychological dimension, then one good reason would be for the outsider consciousness that attaches so strongly to gay people. The disciple is meant to be an outsider to “this world”. Ideally believers should all be slightly gay! And this is meaningful since I would maintain the innately gay person is so for primarily spiritual rather than physical reasons anyway.

But if people are born gay because the condition is primarily spiritual, then “proof” for that difference might be expected to belong more to the spiritual/esoteric order that few know or care to examine, a point I can return to. In passing however I must concede that even accepting a born gay principle, one might have to allow it is still possible the trauma of especially child abuse could function as a gay imprint. Drug and alcohol addictions by dissolving normal boundaries may also drive people in gay or bisexual directions not necessarily desired by them. I have noted that persons extremely claiming gay cures seem to be people with a traumatic past or serious addiction problems. Some ex-gays may be bisexuals opting for one side. Also lesbians appear a little more open to cure than gay men if only because women have always been more sexually adaptive than men. Whatever….”cure” is rare and attempts at it can prove quite harmful; but something like cure may apply in special cases–well conducted therapy may be little different from assistance with sex addiction and addictions of any kind. But none of this argues against the innateness of “average” homosexuality.

3. Assuming the condition is spiritual, where is the myth/symbolism/story that would justify it biblically? Where is there even any given purpose to being gay anywhere in the bible? Vines maintains authentic gay relations though not forbidden are not addressed either. What for Herrara is the crucial biblical myth, but negatively, is the Genesis Sodom story which, however, only assumed its popular negative status under the influence of the Alexandrian philosopher Philo in the first century just in time to distort many Christian attitudes with its poison. Philo reinterpreted Sodom against Roman and Egyptian society in which gays were (somewhat, sometimes) accepted – albeit study will show that pagan moralists could be dead set against such as “effeminates”, one even sure they deserved to be bashed in the streets which sounds like a familiar problem. Formerly the Genesis story was not read in Philo’s bad almost paranoid gay way (he even believed the infection of sodomitical desire would depopulate cities!) and it can never be read his way with any integrity. The men of Sodom lusted after “strange flesh” (angels) according to Jude and were plainly rapists of bisexual potential if Lot reckoned to offer them his daughters. Ezekiel doesn’t even mention the gay theme.

It is often felt the story of David and Jonathan who made a covenant berith (word interchangeable with marriage) represents biblical gay interest, though it is almost more by way of a bisexual idyll. As I suggested in Cosmic Father: Spirituality as Relationship (bit.ly/14UK5r6) which includes examination of the oddness of the leading prophets, the true if hidden biblical gay story belongs rather to Jeremiah.

ABOUT JEREMIAH

Against all social expectation this prophet is forbidden to marry (and doubtless as well for him and women since he can hardly be said to celebrate women anywhere!). He lives with his secretary Baruch and is delivered from his prison by a palace eunuch favourable to him. Like many gays his psychology is evidently dominated by the Puer archetype - he originally tries to avoid the divine vocation by declaring  “I am only a boy” (Jer 1:7), a youthful self-image out of harmony with the world of tradition bound rabbinical grey beards. The prophetic sign and image of the undergarment representing Israel which should cling to God as the garment does to the loins (Jer 13:11) can only be considered, daring, controversial and homoerotic from a prophet who relates to God rather homoerotically, even at one point accusing God of as good as raping him (Jer 20:7).

Jeremiah is classically gay in being radically futuristic – he alone teaches the advent of a new covenant (Jer 31:31). About the only thing that’s ungay about Jeremiah is that he isn’t given to celebration but to lamentation, but then in the ancient Middle East ritual lamentation was itself a gay/eunuch function. Jeremiah is a depressive, a depressed figure from an age of widespread major tragedy. His life nonetheless exemplifies what gays are for. Precisely to be outsiders, protesters, witnesses to what occurs and prophetic in relation to what will happen. Gays are well known to be trend setters in many fields. The trouble with America’s gay Christians is they are too often outsiders craving to be insiders. The drive to marriage somewhat belongs to this. (The refusal to consider any “esoteric” perspectives on homosexuality such as I sometimes propose, may itself belong with the same respectability urges directed upon realms of academe!). The fact however that homosexuality is innate and a purposed destiny for society is even suggested in the case of Jeremiah that God had consecrated the prophet before birth (Jer 1:5), suitably a eunuch from the womb theme again.

ABOUT JESUS, MARRIAGE AND THE CHURCH

What about Jesus (who was compared to Jeremiah by his contemporaries)? What were his opinions about homosexuality? It is often said that he never  mentioned the subject, but quite apart from the likely encounter with the gay centurion who wants his lover healed (Matt 5: 8-13), there is the Sermon on the Mount which arguably confronts homophobia. In the section on anger as this leads to violence and murder, Jesus says that those who say “Racah, You Fool” are in risk of the hell fires (Matt 5:22). Why so - doesn’t everyone call someone fool sometimes?! Fool is however the Aramaic Racah, something like slang for “effeminate pervert”. In short, it looks like the gay person is Jesus’ representative symbol of all the racisms against all the outsiders hatred of whom can lead to murder itself. And the fact that the potential anger/murder engendered by the attitude is deemed unacceptable by Jesus, tacitly cancels out, or at least undermines, any traditions and Levitical laws which would support precisely anger, prejudice and even judicial murder for those involved. Capturing the sense without referring to Matthew’s text, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin reflecting a growing split in the Catholic hierarchy towards African style policies to gays has recently stated “anybody who doesn’t show love towards gay and lesbian people is insulting God” and that they are in fact “Godphobic”..

My recourse to this perspective marks a revisionism some would not even consider because they believe Jesus declared for marriage as being for one man and one woman according to the Edenic model (Matt 19:3-9). Such an interpretation of the text nevertheless amounts to little more than proposing no variation upon any main theme should ever be divinely or humanly permitted (something a species of American conformism does tend to  assume and which if universally accepted could destroy the life of the arts everywhere!). But although American evangelicals like Africans seem to work on some “Me Tarzan, You Jane” notion of sex and gender not countenancing what the French call a “third sex”,  plainly some kind of variation is possible and was manifest in even Jesus’ ancestor, David, who was (perhaps for political reasons) a polygamist and bisexual too. Plainly the bible does not limit everyone to single partnership in every possible instance. What it disapproves is swapping those same partners around (i.e David’s concubines wouldn’t have affairs on the side with his friends) or divorcing someone specifically to take up immediately with the latest attraction.

Jesus himself is surrounded by images of marriage to the Church, yet that same “marriage” will be to both sexes, while he himself is identified with both Logos (Word, masculine) and Sophia, (Wisdom, feminine). Then too, the classic relation of master and disciple/believer as traced in John’s gospel is, to be frank about it, like a Christian variation upon the classic Greek/Platonic outline of the relation and ascent to truth of the younger to the older lover into whose being the disciple is incorporated. And need I state that certain Jewish Christians like Bishop Hugh Montefiore and Canon Paul Oestereicher have proposed that by some definitions and obviously primarily psychological ones, humanly Jesus himself might today be thought gay. Centuries ago St Aelred of Riveaulx, bolder than many modern theologians who won’t touch the subject as I well know – I should perhaps start to out all the theologians too  inconsiderate even to acknowledge any comments, theories and inquiries in this vital area! - maintained that Jesus lived with John as though in a state of marriage.

Aelred was of course thinking in highly spiritual terms and we do have some grounds to question whether the Jesus of even John’s love gospel would think the “marriage” word entirely suitable for same sex relations whether referred to himself or others. Wouldn’t fellowship or union do? (It is debated quite what certain medieval marriage of brethren ceremonies meant and whether, and to what extent, they covered for homosexuality; but evidently some churches were once more flexible around marriage and unions than they would become in more recent centuries). “Marriage equality”, currently the mantra and driving force for change, is a secular concept, its claims furthered in the context of the operation of contemporary laws it wants to change and benefit from, but which don’t necessarily take the gay difference seriously enough. The centurion and his boy, like Jeremiah and Baruch, are simply persons who live together and perhaps across a major age divide not akin to that of most heterosexual marriages and less likely to last a lifetime.

On the other hand, within the Hebrew bible, but influencing all Judaeo-Christian ethical perspectives even down to Paul on prostitution, a person can be deemed “married” to another if they have had sex with them regardless of any formal celebrations of union and regardless of whether they even think of themselves as married or not. By that standard one might need to assess and define the ethical and marital status of gays according to the kind of sex they engaged, (like was it fully penetrative?), and whether, whatever was done, it could have the same esoteric/spiritual effects as heterosexual contacts anyway. (Esoterically and as far as especially Asian mystical traditions are concerned, promiscuity leaves traces that muddy the aura or soul body which is what blends with the other and “becomes one”, and it’s just possible Jewish purity laws and attitudes to marriage imply assumptions of this kind).

GAYS, PLEASURE AND PORN

Matthew Vines wants lifelong committed relations for gay (Christians) and essentially discounts any other contact or relation. Many heterosexuals, Christian and other, would think he was asking for the moon especially as they regard gays as merely promiscuous and recklessly so. And there is sometimes truth in that even while, to their discredit, American Christians ignore how much their historic and ongoing marginalization of gays has helped promote a situation in which common standards and social rituals are easily ignored.

If the reader of this article, who probably doesn’t follow porn, cares to go to such as ecody.com, which has been in the news because an 18 year old college boy, Robert Marucci, was suspended, and then over protests reinstated because he had appeared on that site and in a porn film to pay family bills, they can have an education in gay porn in a nutshell from just still shots.[Since I wrote this the site appears to have been closed down in the wake of the scandal]. Sometimes there are just college boys smiling but also pix of orgies, threesomes, easy sodomy (with controversially some barebacking which is hardly a good example to the young come out!). It will seem to many, especially straights, the effect is merely loud and crass, lewd and crude, even if according to Marucci and his supporters, his own contribution was “nothing but a job” (something sex can never quite be short of degenerating into prostitution).

I am not against ideals of fidelity, and unlike some more radical gay and queer theologians I am not about to speak for promiscuity and porn as such, but I do aim here to draw one or two possible conclusions from and about them that are outside the range of common (heteronormative) assessments.

Especially if they are Christians the (heterosexual) response to images of gay abandon  - some even find just gays embracing abandoned! – is that in the same way as straights should restrain their impulses and avoid adultery, so should gays. Since however straights are not gay this can amount to an imposition of values based on sex relations almost universally and spontaneously experienced as a proverbial “war of the sexes” with men being from Mars and women from Venus. And this “war” leads to certain agreements with a sense of mutual possession with which infidelity cannot easily cope.  Much hetero sex is moreover necessarily about achieving or avoiding procreation. Gays are at least potentially and, beyond love, about sex as just pleasure.

Gay sex generally is confronted with objections akin in spirit to those that impose genital mutilation upon women in homophobic Africa and because the clitoris has no function except pleasure. (The fact of the clitoris, like the fact that foetuses in the womb have been observed to masturbate, is an indication that sex need not and cannot be defined solely in terms of procreation). But the heteronormative attitude is that because straights wouldn’t and shouldn’t do certain things, absolutely gays musn’t. Yet if gays are genuinely different, differently wired (and often operate in different social situations) should not ethics be centred on who they are and what they can be? On the basis that most gays will not be enjoying benefits and pleasures of family life and offspring, should not straights be willing to concede something to any alternative gay pleasures or arrangements?

Though gays would be wiser to reject a merely pornographic abandon (even safe sex is not wholly safe and there can be long term psychological consequences to just using people and sex) if they are not strongly feeling types the reality is that gays more than others will be able to celebrate sex as just pleasure and usually be less possessive about it. I believe moreover that if gays play on the boundaries and in often exhibitionist ways, paradoxically that could be because gay is primarily a spiritual condition. As such it will often be compensated by an emphasis upon the originally half-doubted body plus, because it seems so many gays will have been adverse to sports in childhood, there may be some adult compensation in terms of physical play. Even at that, I still believe it would be advisable, whether for Christians or others, to contain and perhaps almost ritualize what depends on a gay difference and like even ancient Greece accept that not just anything goes. But I still think we must question the kind of judgements heteronormativity so easily directs upon the spectacle of homosexual activity and relating.

THE ESOTERIC PERSPECTIVES

Matthew Vines was inspired to study gay theology because he sought to justify gay relations and marriage. The inspiration of my own studies was to understand gay spirituality the better to understand what it would mean if, as I already suspected was the case, Jesus himself was actually by at any rate some definitions, gay, indeed even needed humanly to be so to be more incarnationally, humanly representative for both sexes, Logos and Sophia together, a female soul in a male body. (I have of course never suggested nor ever would, as one vulgar Australian newspaper years ago had it, that Jesus incarnated to have sex with his disciples!).  The “homosexuality”  of the historical Jesus would obviously substitute for any missing but toleration necessary myths!

Although I believe the question of Jesus’ orientation humanly could be certified from just the bible itself properly read, I have compelling reasons more esoteric to support that. I have not  so far emphasized  this point which I only add by way of conclusion because of the hostility surrounding the evidence just as it stands, let alone anything it might tell us about Jesus’ orientation. The data involved nevertheless combine in a way so millions to one against chance improbably to support a gay Jesus thesis that the evidence cannot and should not be too lightly dismissed.

In the earliest days of gay rights in nineteenth century Germany, gays were called Uranians after the newly discovered planet Uranus that astrologers observed to be variously emphasized in the birth patterns of gays as of anyone seriously different and unusual (consider “crazy” solo-ascent rock climber Alex Honnold. b.17.8.1985 with Uranus fortunately trine his Mars) and paradoxically notable homophobes – the mentioned theologian Robert Gagnon (b.31.7.1958) has Uranus conjunct his sun, so that gays or opposing them belong with his identity! Gays are not heterosexuals from Venus and Mars as per some bestselling pop psychological writings on sex. The nature of Uranus just by itself will help explain many facets of gay  behaviour and attitudes, and since the affinity of Uranus is with Aquarius, the era on which we border, homosexuality and its rights have naturally become a subject and will increasingly be accepted no matter what conservative Christians think, say or do about it.

It’s true we stand at the end of the age of Pisces that  Christ’s birth introduced, but the new more “out” gay/Aquarian trend is not, or certainly not negatively, the “apocalyptic symptom” that the overbearing head of the Russian Orthodox Church, (who should instead be condemning neo-Nazi gay bashers), has recently called it. And though I don’t really go along with ideas of a so-called Lukan “gay apocalypse” (which as at Luk 17:34″  appears to speak of two men being in one bed, not an unknown situation in traditional societies), I suppose one could - just - argue against the likes of Patriarch Kirill and conservative Christians that Jesus assumed the aion‘s (era’s) end would be one in which it was accepted men would be in bed together. If so, one would note Jesus doesn’t object to that, only to spiritual unpreparedness – after all, if one partner is not taken by the Rapture, the other is not so innately gay sinful he can’t be taken!

Whatever…one of the more “esoteric” ways that help define the gay fate and soul is the astrological. My blog of last December explains and justifies what I am saying and doing as regards that subject (wp.me/p2v96G-kB)….or it will to those who can actually permit the study any place in theological discussion, which despite Magi associated with Jesus’ birth many can’t do. It’s liable to get placed along with homosexuality as another abomination! Anyway, if you haven’t read and considered that material, for the moment suspend disbelief about the idea that Jesus’ true birth data, and still working for Jesus events to this day, are discoverable and ponder only a few things which, at least cumulatively, the data points to. Consider too that outside some kind of strong argument for the alternative nature of Jesus himself, the experience of years would suggest conservative religious prejudice can scarcely be broken or even addressed……

JESUS FROM BIRTH.

1)      Mercury (“ruler” of Jesus’ birth pattern) conjunct Saris (Eunuch) and Born. Yes, Jesus was himself born a eunuch from his mother’s womb – he tried to tell his disciples that, but like most Christians they weren’t listening (except perhaps Peter who saw Jesus looked on a  young man and loved him Mk 10:21).

2)     San Juan (St  John) in the house of relationships. Yes, St Aelred wasn’t far wrong.

3)     The Part of Homosexuality conjunct the Part of Spirit and the asteroid Boda (Sp. wedding). Again St Aelred was more or less right and it’s unlikely Jesus would be too hostile to gay marriage even if he were to define a different rite and values for it.

4)      Isa (Jesus) trine The Part of Homosexuality.  Yes, Jesus was likely gay in some fashion.

5)      The asteroid Raca in affliction (adjustments to be made) aspect to The Part of Homosexuality. Yes, Jesus was offended at the kind  of homophobic abuse so often dealt out to people including and especially by religious people.

6)      The asteroid Centurion conjunct the gay asteroid Gaily.  Yes, the centurion and his boy was  a gay relation.

I could go on, but instead I will add just one crucial fact from my Pentecost chart for the birth of Christianity in AD 30. Again it’s something millions to one against chance, but it constitutes a datum that in its awkward, peculiar presence seems to carry both a message and a warning.

7)      Asteroid Uganda opposed by of all things Kato. David Kato, a Christian advocate of gay rights was murdered in his home after he threatened to sue a paper for issuing personal details in a way liable to invite violence upon him in the wake of church inspired vigilante attacks upon gays in his fanatically homophobic country. (Its president in the very week scientists think they are on the track of the gay gene vows finally to sign for draconian laws against gays that he said he wouldn’t do if scientists could prove homosexuality was innate – like many African Christians he also wants to please and appease a gay intolerant Muslim lobby who want sharia directed upon gays. The most recent news this weekend is he is still waiting for more scientific evidence) .

But the heavens are pointing an accusing finger long term and anyway the Sermon on the Mount gave due warning about the kind of hate-filled and violent behaviour American Christians have been giving Africa and Russia excuses to pursue. (Ironically - and the criminally silent and now neo-Nazi tolerating Russian Orthodox Church hypocritically ignores it - it was precisely the Russian church which for centuries was almost notorious in Europe for the extent of  its toleration of gay relations among priests and laity, while the African churches peddle the rank lie any anthropologist can explode that homosexuality has never had a part in traditional African life).

I am not suggesting all gays are martyr-victims or saints or always right in what they say and do, (and I could  wish the kind of San Francisco gays who engage the likes of profane Hunky Jesus contests at Easter could be made to see how much they sin against thousands by increasing and justifying religious fear and prejudice  worldwide with their completely  unnecessary behaviour). But instead of automatically sending all gays to hell, let the fanatics consider there could be more risk to themselves. It is they who are fast becoming the “abomination”. Their attitudes are displeasing to God and badly need revision. Many feel that the Church of England says too little and gets much wrong, but its new Archbishop is surely not incorrect, biblically and just humanly, to declare that Christians must repent homophobia.

PS.  REGARDING  Robert Gagnon, AND GETTING  CRUCIFIED

I feel bound to comment on a couple of quotations from Robert Gagnon getting cited on Twitter this week of  writing my article when  I chance  to have been troubled by information sent me regarding a gay African in a violently homophobic society. He is now frightened even to attend church because of the ridicule and accusations directed at him and  – obviously in bad need of counselling – declares he feels utterly confused and like garbage God should have destroyed rather than have permitted to be born. He wishes he could meet Jesus to ask why people are born gay.

In his reasonable and academic enough Introduction to The Bible and Homosexual Practice (2009) Robert Gagnon declares he deplores attempts to demean the humanity of gays and opposes any kind of violence against them (even though in fidelity to his faith as he sees it he also maintains homosexual behaviour as an “inexcusable rebellion” against God’s created order). However, quotes of Gagnon  available on the Net for everyone  include: “Jesus would be the person you would not want to gravitate to for an argument about  ‘I was born that way’. He really does not care whether you are that way because he’s asking you  to die to yourself, to crucify yourself and lose your life”.  He also says “Human passions are notoriously unreliable indications of God’s will”.  Undeniably the African gay has been so well crucified with Christ and Christian theology of Gagnon’s kind he can’t think why  he’s alive. Is that what Gagnon wants and Jesus intended?

Jesus’ statements  about being crucified are couched in the absolute and very  physical terms typical of his native Aramaic which had expressions like “cut off my nose if I lie”. I accept believers cannot merely avoid the message of Jesus’ severer words which most essentially is that the Old Adam, the merely selfish self is to be denied. However Jesus also talks about giving the life abundant and there is no abundance where the self cannot begin to flourish because it lacks meaning, centre and  direction. For mental and spiritual health there must be some self-esteem and even self-love (does not Jesus himself also state, “love your neighbour as yourself”?).

More vital than even social acceptance such as gay theology à la Vines desires, is gay self-acceptance. Our passions can indeed be unreliable, but not wholly. What and who we love will, like the aesthetic sense, always be some indicator of our nature and so it is dangerous to just pluck up and dismiss the root of the gay self which can entail  a “Uranian” gift of perception affecting many aspects of life, a vocation in itself to be understood and even cultivated. If there is a wound in being gay, there is or can be also a joy. (Perhaps we should speak of “the agony and the ecstasy” of being gay?!). Unless and until the churches can realize this beyond mere toleration and acceptance,  no matter what some may say and  how much they try to wash their hands of certain responsibilities, the bullying, the violence, the draconian laws and the intolerance which we see sweeping across parts of the world will continue unabated as will also a certain contempt in the West for a religious faith that can’t manage basic issues in any positive and charitable way. A profound revolution of consciousness and theology is required.

[For a lighter, satirical treatment of the gays and religion theme in especially the American context but with a meaningful gay theological conclusion, see my poem a Songs of Puritania on a Gay Theme at: http://bit.ly/16ybdts]

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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COLTON BURPO’S “REAL” HEAVEN, AKIANE’S JESUS AND NEW CHRIST IMAGES

Burpo    Akiane

COLTON BURPO’S “REAL” HEAVEN, AKIANE’S JESUS AND NEW CHRIST IMAGES

It’s anticipated that more atheist-Christian culture wars will break out this Easter with the release of the film of Heaven is For Real. The film is based on the book of the alleged celestial experiences of the child Colton Burpo as recorded by his Wesleyan pastor father, Todd. Since however I believe there might be other issues to be writing about in April/May I shall get in ahead of a debate already partly begun. And with the film Son of God soon to be premiered (Feb 28th) I shall also cover regarding cinematic and other images of Christ: how fitting they are, who gets to play them and why – there are some rules here…

Atheists are displeased with what they think the Burpo film can do to beliefs and to children’s beliefs (a children’s version of the book now exists to persuade young minds). Many Christians are delighted at a new and perhaps today needed affirmation of a life beyond  - Heaven is for Real  has already proved a massive bestseller since publication in 2010. But I am going to suggest Christians shouldn’t be so delighted and recommending either book or film. The book offers some of the most misleading popular religious material since the novel The Shack (itself now due to become a film) misrepresented the Trinity which among other things the Burpo book does in another way.

Heavenreal

These new misrepresentations are something perhaps especially conservative Christians stand to be sucked into because Colton’s statements contain just enough evangelical flavour (like creating a sudden flap about a deceased person needing to have had Jesus in his heart to get into heaven) to persuade them all the rest must be true, even if obviously it can’t be so.

Believers are supposed to love and pursue truth and there are disturbing aspects to the Burpo phenomenon. Christian critiques have already been written and I endorse some of them. But as author of  Where From, Why Us and Where To?:Visiting Tahiti and Life Itself  which includes about art, Gauguin and that artist’s various odd self-portraits as Christ (amzn.to/10Zysc6) I bring to the Burpo story a special objection. It’s one related to artistic portrayals of Christ because Colton has shown a clear preference in this area which I believe betrays the error of his claims. Dealing with this question is a pretext for me to present below some rather special illustrations helping to bring us closer to the right way of imagining and artistically imaging Jesus.

THE BURPO STORY

Colton (b. 1999) is now an adolescent, but when he was nearly four he suffered a burst appendix in the wake of a desperate run of bad health events affecting both father and son that landed them both in hospital clocking up huge bills and concomitant worries American style. (I belong to the world of what America despises as the Nanny states where health services are concerned!). Things went from bad to worse, and though there is no record Colton clinically died, for a few minutes while in hospital his life was endangered and he underwent an NDE. What happened during that time only emerged spontaneously months later starting one day when out driving with his father Colton let odd things slip like saying the angels had sung to him and he’d sat on Jesus’ lap. He later casually mentioned John the Baptist is a real nice guy.

Gradually his parents found they could piece together a whole story of events and revelations in the Beyond where Colton met his deceased great grandfather and learned things including how he had a sister in heaven due to his mother’s miscarriage – something it was virtually impossible he could know. (Some Christian critics have objected to Colton’s claiming to meet any souls in the Beyond on the basis believers “sleep” till the resurrection according to St Paul; but I think what is meant is that bodies sleep till the resurrection. Souls meanwhile live – Jesus tells the thief he will be with him in paradise not that he will just sleep in the ground. So that objection at least seems invalid).

Todd Burpo was finally convinced of the truth of his son’s story when Colton said he’d seen him in an adjoining hospital room railing against God and also when he childishly referred to Jesus as having red “markers” in his hands and feet. These turned out to mean nail prints.

It can be argued either way that what Colton claimed to experience owes more to a genuine OBE (Out of Body Experience) as when he saw the hospital room with the doctors below him and his father in the next room, or more to details he would naturally absorb as a pastor’s son like saying God was so big he had the world in his hands. (This sounds like memories of “He’s got the whole wide world in his hands” which Colton likely heard at home).There could be six of one and half a dozen of the other.

What’s certain is that whether father and son purvey an unconsciously invented tale or a genuine dream/revelation of something, either way there look to be errors from any strictly biblical standpoint - which is the one the family wants to represent and imagines it is doing.  Yet these same errors, to the extent the biblically literate but mesmerized father records them without suitable explanation or comment (he has been criticized for never consulting religious persons or groups for assessment of the information) are themselves witness to the fact something authentic is  being told. It’s genuine, even if it’s a true record of the sort of thing the bible would call “a lying vision” (Jer 14:13, Ez 13:7) permitted for our testing. And perhaps especially the testing of precisely conservative Christians. They regularly deceive themselves that they don’t read their bibles selectively. Some selective reading has to be going on to make Colton’s witness sound possible!

THE BURPO ERRORS

Here are some of the glaring errors.

  • Biblically the angel Gabriel (an archangel) declares to the priest Zacharias that he stands in God’s presence (Luk 1:19). Colton has it this angel sits on the other side of God from Jesus as though he were not a member of the order of archangels but of the Trinity itself. The Bible may or may not  intend us to understand literally its claim that Jesus is seated “at God’s right hand” (it could be an expression indicating the sharing of power, especially as Revelation has Jesus “in the midst” of the divine throne), but if Christ was thus seated it would have to be that on the other side would be the Holy Spirit.
  • Colton is somewhat taken up with the subject of  impending apocalypse – he even tells his father (in imagery that could owe something to reading or hearing C.S. Lewis’s Narnia fiction) he will be fighting the forces of evil with a sword (i.e. at the post Rapture end of the Tribulation period when Jesus returns to establish the Millennium on earth). However Colton sees Jesus’  horse, only ever biblically referred to in the context of apocalypse, as rainbow coloured. Revelation portrays the returned,  openly revealed apocalyptic Jesus as riding a white horse (Rev 19:11).
  • The Holy Spirit, though bibically sometimes seen as a dove or a fire, is not traditionally portrayed as a person, albeit Jesus’ personalising “he” suggests that theoretically he could be so portrayed despite many today favouring ideas that the Spirit is feminine. “He” would certainly seem more appropriate if the Spirit impregnates Mary. Anyway I have read at least one plausible description of the Spirit as a kind of almost “electrical” Jesus twin ( bit.ly/JEs9ZN). But Colton reduces the Spirit (rather as in Mormon theology) to pure substance which he sees as blue and which sends down energies from this blueness (itself surely the opposite of anything fire associated).
  • The Bible has it that “no one shall see God and live” (Ex 33:20). Biblically no one ever sees God the Father/Creator unless it’s his shadow representative, the Hebrew Bible’s “Angel of the Lord” that early Christians identified with the pre-incarnate Christ. Seeing God is a post-resurrection, Last Judgement possibility. The single exception is perhaps the author of Revelation seeing the God of Last Judgement - not directly but in prophetic vision only. One might still argue Colton could see God because (like Crystal McVey, author of Waking Up in Heaven who sort of saw the Trinity as blinding light) he died and was therefore free to behold God; but there’s no record Colton actually died. Moreover his description in a TV interview of the Creator as just a bigger Gabriel with golden hair and wings is problematic for a number of reasons. So despite Colton’s repeated insistence Jesus declares he loves children, there is no likelihood Colton would sit on a stool before the throne or on Jesus’ lap and talk to a Trinity manifested directly in front of him.
  • Colton affirms  everyone in heaven has wings except Jesus who just goes up and down like a lift when he wants to move. There is no support whether biblically or in other reported visions of the Christian heaven of a universally winged heavenly society; but the idea that the angels set Colton something like homework and sing to him belongs less with Christian notions of the afterlife than Spiritualist accounts of Summerlands where people are put in classes and set to learn things.

[May 5th...I see that in the wake of the film's release and popularity Todd is now accusing those Christians who criticize Colton's vision as "Pharisees" who need to read their bibles. That's controversial. In view of the above points perhaps Todd should read it himself and himself suffer the charge of being an opportunist. Even Colton saw him originally railing against God in the hospital!]

I won’t continue with this line of critique  because it’s something concerning Jesus’ image which should interest us regardless of anyone’s precise view of the Burpo phenomenon. Having been shown numerous images of Jesus and asked which if any corresponded to the Jesus he knew, young Colton had no hesitation about one picture and one only: a portrait of Jesus called The Prince of Peace: Resurrection from the American child prodigy of painting, Akiane Kramarik (b.1994).

This “portrait” is based on Akiane’s reported encounters with Jesus (she repeatedly kept seeing his face in vision when she was four), whose features she felt were closely reflected in a seven foot local carpenter who reluctantly consented to sit for her. According to the July 2011 edition of Share International, the magazine of the Maitreya cult which awaits the manifestation of Maitreya/Christ (a theosophical figure  associated with the expected Muslim Mahdi and other figures of the world faiths all in one) this is a true portrait. Through his personal Master, cult leader Benjamin Creme confirmed Akiane has been visited by “The Master Jesus”, the companion of Christ/Maitreya. (“The Master Jesus” regularly manifests in various roles and guises to devotees round the world). This kind of recommendation should in itself send a few warning signals to uncritically enthusiastic Christians.

Prince-of-Peace-224x300

It cannot be said, even if one likes the portrait (and the Burpo phenomenon is making it popular), that it conveys any notable sense of peace. It shows rather nerviosity and tension while the association with resurrection is hard to understand because the resurrection body of Jesus is necessarily perfect, more obviously divine than the human historical Jesus. And this is no perfect image. People praise the searching compassionate eyes, but overall the figure is  human, all too human, almost untidy, needing a trim of both hair and the too bushy eyebrows. And Jesus’ eyes should be knowing, not merely searching, however generously.

Akiane was the born to atheist parents who converted to Christianity after their daughter started reporting strange heavenly visits from the age of four onwards. Akiane reports meeting Jesus and she is clearly a very spiritual person, but today her approach to Christianity seems cloudy. Members of Akiane’s family have been involved in various spiritual exercises and traditions including Buddhism and. Akiane herself nowadays maintains she belongs to no religion or denomination but just God. The claim makes little sense in that God is a Judaeo-Christian belief - some religions like Buddhism have no belief in any Creator God so that  a would-be universalism through God belief is not strictly possible. Akiane’s faith raises questions in the way they are perennially raised around the poetry and art of such as the extremely visionary William Blake under the influence of such as Swedenborgianism and Gnosticism.

If popular Christianity is going to be drawn, as I believe it shouldn’t be, towards Prince of Peace as the new classic Jesus image, it will need to take stock of the fact that also reported to be based on vision vouchsafed to someone more conventionally Christian, is the famous Warner Sallman Head of Christ which isn’t at all like

Colton’s favourite image.Sallman It is nonetheless true that the Akiane image is taking over in public estimation at a time when Americans are going off Sallman’s picture as being everything from too pretty and effeminate (though ironically Sallman and his admirers originally thought he was portraying a new “muscular Christianity” image!) to being too perfect or too “white” in the style of its recorder’s Swedish background. In the era of equality, popular opinion is shifting to the idea Jesus should be more ordinary and more obviously Semitic. Akiane’s image can speak to that. But if so, that opens to the possibility that what differing painters call “vision” of Jesus might be no more than clear-sighted awareness of cultural and archetypal shifts in the mind of the collective.

Proponents of the “ordinary” Jesus of Akiane’s rendering find support in the prophecy of the Messiah in Isaiah’s declaration which has it that there would be “nothing in his appearance that we should desire him” (Is 53:2), words immediately preceded by “he had no form or majesty that we should look at him”. The previous chapter of Isaiah even speaks of the suffering Servant as being “marred….beyond human semblance (Is 52:14), though this is traditionally understood to refer prophetically to the ruin of Jesus’ appearance through crucifixion. It is of course possible to take these negatives further as did the Gnostics and simply suggest Jesus was short and ugly if not deformed. On what do traditional notions of a beautiful, handsome or perfect Jesus rest beyond the expectation a divine figure should be somehow outstanding?

We know that Jesus could not have been the stunted, physically imperfect figure of the Gnostics or this would have run against requirements that priests, let alone the priestly figure of a Messiah, be without physical blemish. If we retain this thought and recall anything like Christian doctrines of original sin, Jesus the Second Adam free of sin, must be somehow physically perfect, hence he should be in some fashion desirable, as attractive let’s say as people imagine a first Adam to have been.

I think Isaiah’s “undesirable” figure is linked to what he means when writing within the context of an aniconic society he says: “he had no form or majesty that we should look at him: (Is 53: 2). Even if Jesus looked “perfect” as a specimen of humanity, if as Messiah he could not suggest to his Jewish contemporaries an all-conquering kingship, or if his face didn’t  shine like Moses descended from the Mount, then he could not be “desirable” to an Israel which expected a world political Deliverer. Rabbinic thought was diverse, but various strains of Jewish thought had come to expect two Messiahs, one ben Joseph, a suffering figure along the lines Isaiah represents, and a Messiah ben David, a political conquering one. They did not reckon any Messiah would combine the roles or, as Jesus did, envisage a  division of the dispensations for their realization, with his apocalyptic self fulfilling the conquering ben David.

SO…WHAT DID JESUS REALLY LOOK LIKE?

While obviously I nor anyone can answer that precisely, I can give grounds both to dismiss the Akiane/Coltron image and supply a meaningful guide – almost an identikit mock up – for the curious, the devout and artists. I also think that in doing so I can explain why the Warner Sallman image, however imperfect and limited, has been powerful for many and even actually has some truth to it.

The same Isaiah that I have cited about the undesirable Messiah of marred feature also describes  God’s “Servant” as growing up before him “like a young plant, like a root out of dry ground”. Supposing we look first not for any regal or commanding beauty (which Jesus arguably dismisses when he prefers the lily of the valley to his ancestor Solomon in all his glory), but a plant-like and natural beauty with some connection to service and servants.

Given what I claim to  know and even prove (see December blog  bit.ly/18LQOad ) the chief quality of Jesus’ appearance would need to be referred to a combination of his sun sign of birth, Virgo  (itself traditionally denominated  a servant sign) and his rising sign at birth which is Gemini (the urbane, communicating sign). These are both signs mythically associated with and astrologically “ruled” by Mercury, the go-between god and Jesus is the mediator – the theosophist Mme Blavatsky simply observed “Jesus is Mercury”. I won’t get technical and consider all rules and exceptions, but sufficient to say that features of the sun sign, unless the person was born around dawn which Jesus wasn’t, stand to be  modified by qualities of the sign rising over the horizon at birth and sometimes to the extent the person may be thought to belong to that sign rather than their sun sign.  PaulWalker)Walker2

We have assumed that Jesus was ideal of his kind. Here are two pictures of a good looking Virgo male (birth time unknown), the late screen actor Paul Walker, a model since youth.

The appearance is somehow neat, the features in the usual Virgoan way are not particularly large, the charm is rural, plant-like (Virgo is an earth sign!) and we remember Jesus even says things like he is the vine and his father is the gardener. The appearance here is attractive without being dramatic, super-erotic or regally imposing. It’s  just agreeable, in some respects this is just the ideal of a healthy, good looking country boy. The similarity to at least one portrait of Christ, artist Richard Hook’s, is fairly apparent. Hook

Next we have  the picture of an adolescent Virgo male, a Monaco prince, Pierre Casiraghi (b.1987). This image

Pierre Casiraghi  Ephebe

is almost the complete text book epitome of Virgo. Again a sort of plant-like, understated, modest charm, elegant but not flamboyantly aristocratic with it. There is an almost hesitant expression in line with the  Virgoan will to  stand back, observe and analyse everything rather than to impose the self, yet not unwilling to assist in harmony with the service theme of the sign. The eyes are intelligent and gentle. This might do for an attractive adolescent Jesus absorbing everything and “increasing in favour” with God and man ( Luk 2:53 ) but  not looking ready to conquer the world…This type may, as in the accompanying image and a bit older, assume something of classic art’s ephebe look, but even the ephebe was supposed to be if not the servant, the learner.

It may be immediately protested, why use as any kind of example  a person with fairish hair and blue eyes? Answer: because it’s quite possible it suits. We know Jesus’ ancestor David was fair and the Davidic line is known to this day for a genetic tendency to fair hair and blue eyes. For that matter, to Israel’s north in Syria one finds people of almost more European, i.e.Latin, than Arabic/Semitic appearance.  The objection to Sallman’s “too white” Jesus, though  understandable, could be exaggerated in terms of the historic reality. It was nonetheless held against Jeffrey Hunter’s Christ in King of Kings precisely that his eyes were blue. (Hunter was not born under Virgo, I mention regarding him later)

Cross

PrinceesuAndrea2

We can turn next to two pictures of Pierre’s brother Andrea (b.1984) who is a good example of a type of Gemini male.   Gemini, like all the air signs somewhat, is the epitome of things human – it’s the sign of democracy, not royalty – of the social, even the worldly though I find significance in the Jesus of the “two natures” having  Gemini the twins and division sign rising. As with  the other Mercurial sign Virgo and as in this instance, there is often something androgynous or ambiguous. But the expression  is thoughtful and more set with it than Virgo. Geminis cheerfully argue for their ideas where Virgo is more prone to withdraw; so the Geminian look is more determined,  the face overseen by a full almost domed forehead frequently found in the sign and like a symbol of the sign’s connection to things intellectual and cerebral. A prominent forehead is found in the self portrait of the Gemini artist Dürer – in fact a portrait of the artist as Christ. The face is longer than would be typical for Virgo.

. Durer

Again I don’t think, and I’m sure Dürer didn’t think, he looked exactly like Jesus, but I believe he worked from an intuition of some similarity and that we are given a further clue by it. I have pointed out (bit.ly/1eDMgRf), and as further proof that I have the true data for Christ, that people who write about Jesus must have natal patterns closely linked to his and the same applies to artists keen to do portraits. In my mentioned Tahiti book I point out how features of Dürer’s chart and their very exact relation to Jesus’  pattern would draw him to make the kind of close identification he did and likewise certain patterns show why the Gemini Gauguin would be drawn in a much more perverse way to Christ portraiture.

One Gemini actor who corresponds to widespread popular images of Jesus is Robert Powell (b. 1. 6. 1944) and see the images below. Ordinarily Powell doesn’t look Christ-like at all. He was even originally chosen to act Judas in the Zeffirelli Jesus of  Nazareth film! But given long hair and the right costumes he was somehow able to enter the image. Astrology alone can make sense of it. Powell was born with Uranus and Sun conjunct on 9 and 10 degrees respectively of the Gemini that affects Jesus’ appearance. In other words especially Powell’s surprising Uranus at 9.1 was conjunct Jesus’ 8.50 degrees of Gemini rising thus marking the sheer surprise of how the person is suddenly made to appear like Jesus. And then too the actor’s Jupiter (Jupiter is crucial for actors) at 20 Leo conjuncts Jesus’ Nadir angle. It’s an important contact on an axis with Jesus’ 20 Aquarius destiny/reputation Midheaven. Jeffrey Hunter whom many regarded as a matinee idol Jesus but still appreciated (except for the blue eyes!) for his role in King of Kings was a Sagittarian (b. 25.11.1926) but with his Jupiter connectively on Jesus’ 20 Aquarius Midheaven.

Compare this with the way James Caviezel (b.26.9.1968) who made a quite effective Jesus in The Passion of the Christ  – also see below - has his own Jupiter degree exact Jesus’ sun in Virgo – there must be such contacts for strong involvement and major effects. Then more recently in Son of God, Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado (b. 17.1.1981) – also image below – has his Jupiter fortunately trine Jesus’ appearance-defining ascendant while his transformative and God-associated Pluto is conjunct Jesus’ natal Isa (if he was born in 1981, I find both 1980 and 1980 given as birth dates. If he was born in 1980 then his Jupiter conjuncts the God associated Pluto of the Christ’s birth, a “Son of God” connection for acting if not for features). And in connection with Isa I note how Powell’s Saturn near to conjunction with Jesus’ natal Isa (Jesus) reflects how uncomfortable the actor was and remains about ever assuming the role.

JesusP

JesusP2

CavJesus

Morgado2
When we come to the Cancerian Akiane we find no such close chart contacts. (She has nothing natally in Virgo and her own late Gemini ascendant is not near to contacting Jesus’ earlier Gemini ascendant). Anything absent in a chart can suffer over-compensations at some point and it looks like her Prince of Peace Jesus is a sort of strained, exaggerated vision of something Virgo – to be frank, negatively so; it looks like Virgo become nervy on a bad hair or poor health day! Though Jesus the healer may be assumed to have been healthy, the sign generally inclines to many ailments and down days.  Here is an older Pierre on what looks a Virgoan off day if not flu day! Badday

In fact it is interesting in view of the “mutable” categorization which attaches to the Mercurial signs of Virgo and Gemini, just how varied and unlike themselves both Pierre and Andrea can manage to appear across a whole range of shots. Is something of the historic difficulty artists have had in capturing Jesus linked to the fact that at the best of times his Mercurial image would always have been hard to capture?!  Even the disciples on more than one occasion fail to recognize him. And perhaps he always will be elusive in this way.

One afterlife experience I find more convincing than Colton’s (Dean Braxton’s In Heaven) describes meeting a sublime Jesus from whose form colours constantly radiate and whose visage is always slightly changing as you look at it – a total, cosmic mutability?!) But let’s return to the Sallman picture. Though I can understand the criticism of it, I also recognize this. I think the unparalleled popular response it has obtained right from first publication (until Coltron’s and Akiane’s intervention has caused a re-think), is simply this. Jesus really was born under Virgo and when Gemini rose. And together these two signs went to make up what Jesus looked like. Sallman’s face has caught the something of Gemini it necessarily had, the well cut features, the sharp outline (even if the lips seem too ungenerously thin in this rendering), the longer face and full forehead, at the same time as especially the expression captures a certain underlying, Virgoan mildness and modesty in the ‘servant” Messiah as this was directed towards God. Jesus’ character was most essentially Virgoan; his outer appearance, though it too inevitably had something of Virgo, had as much and more of Gemini, not least in its extreme changefulness.

AndreaB  Christportrait

As just another of Andrea’s Geminian many styles and images and its odd link to the less well known and successful Sallman, Portrait of Christ, consider these two images.

There’s no lie so strong as a half truth and I fear that is what the Burpo phenomenon presents us with. I accept that father and son give every indication of being sincere.  The account is likely true, but it’s the experience of a deception. How and why is hard to determine and one obviously hesitates to propose that there is something demonic here; yet as only one indication there might just be so, Colton goes silent and gets fearful when Satan (whom he claims to have seen) is mentioned. If Colton had really been in the presence of the Trinity he would necessarily be bolder and unafraid of Satan and the forces of evil.

Obviously Colton’s story could be a fantasy born of a father’s eager embroidery upon or sincere misunderstanding of a child’s piecemeal report. But it could be something more spiritual. Colton is nearly four when he goes to heaven, and it’s at four that Akiane, (whose heavenly scenes Todd Burpo says are very similar to Colton’s), started seeing other worlds. If one accepts at all that spiritual realms exist, then one must allow their inhabitants a capacity for deception (the devil is even called “father of lies”). Of those who report NDEs which include hell, one can even read – it’s like the myth of Tantalus – of corners of the inferno where a soul witnesses radiant visions tempting them with oases only to disappoint them. Some even report a Jesus-like figure in hell who it seems might be St Paul’s devil as an angel of light. Anything seems possible.

I have written elsewhere concerning people who write and talk about Jesus and why (bit.ly/1eDMgRf).  The evidence does not  differ here. The  same kind of exact aspects and tie-ins we might expect are present and I shall make brief summary of main points. Colton was born on 19th May 1999 in Imperial, Nebraska USA, birth time unknown. Though one might allow one or two, these features, at least cumulatively, are eloquent for misrepresentation or distortion however unintended.

    • Sun 28 Taurus in stress square to asteroid Isa (Jesus) at 27 Leo
    • Saturn the devil planet, strong on a critical degree at 9 Taurus conjunct Lucifer at 10 Taurus (reflecting Colton’s mentioned fear of the devil?)
    • Asteroid Lie at 16 Gemini (sign of reading and writing) exact easy trine to Uranus (symbol of the Spirit in any religious context) strong in its own sign of Aquarius (i.e. it is easy to distort regarding the Spirit). (And 16 Aquarius is the solar degree of the Antichrist if the seeress Jeane Dixon happened to be right about his  birthdate).
    • Mars at 27 Libra conjuncts Isa (Jesus) and the super-conjunction of Jesus’ names and titles at Jesus’ birth which I am dogmatic can now be verifiably known (see bit.ly/18LQOad). This is a potentially hostile position – I recall Mars was here when Pakistan resolved to list the Jesus name with forbidden names and words for text messages.In some cases it can however make for aggressive advocacy, and in some respects Colton is into that via his family – the organization promoting Colton’s vision bears the only-in-America name of Shout It.
    • Mercury at 19+ Taurus in stress square to Jesus’ 20 degree Aquarius Midheaven. This is not helpful to right description of Jesus and I have found critics of Jesus frequently having this square to this point.
    • Natal Neptune at 4 Aquarius is square (affliction aspect) to Jesus’s natal 3 Scorpio Neptune. Afflicted Neptune inclines to confusion, which would agree with not seeing Jesus clearly, especially as for  many astrologers Neptune is the Jesus symbol. Significantly too…….Akiane’s Neptune is at 4 Scorpio which could be thought a really strong contact to Jesus’ pattern the artist otherwise lacks, but the fact her Neptune is degree exact opposite Black Moon Lilith, exquisitely fits her half darkened image of Jesus and  its ultimately misleading nature.

. (BML is a point taken very seriously by continental astrologers for its negative indications and I was not surprised to find it prominent at Jesus’ crucifixion).

I have no idea what purpose a possible spiritual deception Burpo style could serve and mean, but I do feel if it persuades people towards odd notions of the Trinity and New Age images of Jesus like Akiane’s where the half concealed face of Jesus is like the half truth of what’s being attested to, it cannot have been helpful.

[ Issues around the birth and astrology of Christ are explored in detail in my Testament of the Magi: Mysteries of the Birth and Life of Christ at http://amzn.to/12eP5S8 ]

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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