THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT SOLOMON
There is a rabbinic tradition that the secrets of the Song of Solomon can’t be fully known till the last days. Whether or not 2012 is “the end of the world as we know it” – probably not quite! – it’s certainly the year we ought to obtain greater clarity about one of the Bible’s most contested mysteries and its related sex messages as represented by the Song of Solomon.
This after all has already been the year – especially the church’s – of talking about sex or even doing it (as in the Texan Rev Ed Young’s sexperiment on a church roof) while the Song of Solomon has even been interpreted on stage in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s purely secular and erotic performance. As though unable to resist something that was and is in the air this year, I would discover I’d chanced to begin writing on the Song the day before the Stratford première on the other side of the world. I paste below from the opening bars of my extended essay (available Amazon amzn.to/N6EK1I )
The unlikely project was in part the result of working last year on features of the Psalms, their psychology and spirituality, in the course of my The Great Circle book and then looking back at some once highly praised but long mothballed poetry of mine. Looked at again after many years, this caused me to reflect on how poetry and imagination work, especially if and when the subject is love and eros. Contemporary treatments of the Song tend to be scholarly and I don’t dismiss and ignore this scholarship, but I have also brought some needed literary and romantic considerations to the table. I found it helps! More of this presently.
THE GOD PARTICLE IN 2012
It might seem that the assumed discovery of the long sought God particle (the Higgs Boson about which scientists are finally 99.9% certain, even if they don’t like the God particle name) would not have too much to do with what I’ve just said about things in the air in 2012 and writing on Solomon’s Song. But it has its own connection of sorts.The breakthrough in science long anticipated by astrologers for this year’s Pluto/Uranus aspect (perfect a few days ago) would have to be as major as believed. As soon as I heard it anticipated that shortly and by the end of this first week of July it was likely scientists gathered in Melbourne would make an historic announcement, I said I was sure they would. And that most likely that it would be Wednesday as imagined and as has indeed proved to be the case. How could I feel so certain?….
Basically because really important events usually need to contact a World Point (Solstice point). The only clear indication for that this week was Mars on 0 Libra on Wednesday at the same time as Venus would be on a nuclear degree (8/9 Gemini are nuclear degrees and the subject is sub-atomic physics). But then I was also sure because I felt the inevitability of the matter with its symbolism. It was like a continuation of the theme of the Seal of Solomon I had been dealing with and the affirmation of the concluding sentences of my commentary on the Song. I needed only to refer to the data of Christ’s birth I always insist I have found and which always works for Christ events to this day, to be reminded that O Libra, the sign of unions, corresponds to Jesus’ Part of Eros….
The universe itself is a bit of a Song of Solomon! You just need to understand how and why. Indeed the universe is also a Christ/Logos event in itself if you accept the Johannine claims nothing came into being or exists without the Logos (Joh 1:3). So there were of course at least three factors making timing of the announcement significant in relation to Christ’s birth data but I’ll not get into that here. There’s anyway little enough point. The scientists are blind, the good Christians stuck on astrology (despite astrologers associated with Christ’s birth, despite the Essenes and Talmudists on astrology) as “abomination” are blind, and not let’s talk about the publishers who don’t even want to look at data of this kind even for money, or then again astrologers such as at The Mountain Astrologer magazine who might as well be down in the valley for their disinterest in hearing about the astrology of Christianity. None of them in their great wisdom would be seriously interested, I realize.
In passing however I might mention that to the extent asteroid Higgs (there’s no Boson asteroid) could also be relevant to this picture and the data for Christ, I note that asteroid Higgs (named for the now justified scientist) is in Christ’s house of secrets in an earth sign (things material) conjunct the very odd asteroid Ra-Shalom. The latter was named for the Camp David Egypt-Israel agreement. The name of Ra, sun god of the Egyptians, is however believed to derive from the word for creator or creative power. It takes little decoding to see the message that Higgs discovers a hidden secret of the Creator in relation to the material. Despite scientific objection, there is no doubt the God particle is rightly enough named and can be considered discovered. It is not properly understood or acknowledged by most scientists and theologians that the Genesis creation story images the production of order from chaos, but life itself is not strictly from “nothing”, rather it is to some extent created out of God who must provide the basis of the material and who is said to fill all things and holds all things together. (Col 1:17). For the first two centuries of Christianity Christians understood creation as being ex materia not ex nihilo
CUPID, EROS AND BIBLICAL SEX
Though I say it myself, I seriously believe the Solomon essay (of 170 pp) is not merely controversial but breaks genuinely new grounds to arrive at a needed, more coherent and meaningful reading of the Song’s text. It’s a work which can offer highly relevant observations on sexual mores and practices today. It may alter a few images of God (even Eros and Cupid have their relevance and connection to the Song and the astrology of Christ) and poses a few question as regards how we read the Bible on sex and related subjects.
Which raises the question why if it’s all so vital didn’t I offer this quickly written piece to any publisher? Basically because in especially Australia one is, alas, even as a doctor of religious studies, wasting one’s time, or let’s say offering to wait a very long time like poor Roy Williams trying to get God Actually considered by publishers or agents, if the proposed subject is at all religious/spiritual. And if your issues are topical this situation is not helpful! So, if you stand to lose either in time or audience size, Truth must find its own level; and if Truth is hidden then maybe it must remain so. The range of discovery in this book is nonetheless significant whether widely known or largely unknown.
The obviously provocative title does not reflect a desire for controversy at all costs, nor does it impossibly imply that the Song is, technically speaking, start to finish a purely “tantric” work. Quite simply affinities for Asian mysticism and Tantra do exist within the text. They must be taken in account and allowed to influence understanding of the whole whose “story” (there is one despite some scholarly claims) then achieves greater significance. Along with a concise commentary on the eight chapters of the book some of the issues covered are:
- Where and how if at all is God in the Song?
- Why the Song is about Solomon, not any rival Shepherd Lover.
- What is the Seal of Solomon about and its link to the identity of the lover
- The best way to have sex and the variations on it.
- Assessing Rabbi Boteach on Kosher Sex and the Jewish way
- How poetry and the Song’s poetry “work”
- How the Bible images and thinks about the genitals
- Why the heterosexual Song is also relevant to gays
- What if any relation the Song has to freedom and ideals of the Law?
In its onslaught upon American popular religion, on Valentine’s Day 2012 a billboard funded by two atheist groups was erected in Orange County,California. It declared that atheists “make better lovers” – because “there’s nobody to see”. Obviously this charge was getting at the worst, most oppressive inherited kind of Puritan prudery for which God is pleasure’s supreme enemy.
Looked at from a wider point of view, the claim bespeaks everything that is wrong with contemporary western spirituality, or the lack of it. Traditional – some might say “orthodox” – Christianity has taught the existence of a wholly transcendent God who created everything from “nothing” as though absolute “nothing” could ever exist apart from God in the first place. Yet such is neither affirmed nor implied by the Genesis narrative, and Jewish mysticism would later decide everything is within God having been formed in a created womb space or vacuum. Be that as it may, with the passage of time the objective God of an objective world as imagined by rationalizing early Church fathers, would be increasingly crowded out becoming at most the “God of the gaps” as science progressively explained everything. These worldviews amount to a great and terrible western heresy, one that cowers beneath God under medievalism, then disposes of the same deity under secularism and the kind of modern evolutionary theory which considers itself, or is considered to be, at total variance with any belief in creation.
All this can be misleading and destructive for any real spiritual life and understanding. The fact is that even if you have no intimations of God, claim no “illumination”, no mystical or “born again” or charismatic experiences, like it or not you are still within God, the God who is both outside and in some measure inside nature and ourselves, the lure and direction of all that is. The notion was explicit in St Paul who maintains God fills all things and holds everything together (Eph 1:23,Col 1:17). It follows that however ungodly they might be, God is in and behind the core energy and eros of your own desires. It’s one of the messages – if a hidden, usually insufficiently emphasized one – of the Song of Songs and even a key to understanding and interpreting much of it. And there is a dearth of understanding for it today, though the historical record as regards interpretation isn’t too outstanding either.
At the end of the same month that the billboard was erected in California, in England the Royal Shakespeare Company launched its trendy production of the Song of Songs. Struan Leslie, director of movement for the controversially sexed-up performance, declared that key to his interpretation was that God is not mentioned in the book. Indeed, report of the production in London’s Telegraph reminded us that for Scotland’s bard, Robert Burns, Solomon’s Song had been “the smuttiest sang that e’er was sung”. But the kind of doubt and negativity Struan and Burns represent depends upon surface secular readings, the kind which fell under the condemnation of rabbis in the second century when the Shir, a spring song designated to this day among pious Jews for reading at Passover, was forbidden for banquets and use as entertainment. The ruling followed long controversy over if and how the Song was truly sacred and fitted into any place in the canon. It has never helped defence of the book’s status that the just mentioned doctrine of the omnipresence of God is less explicit for Judaism than Christianity, though it is implicit in Ps 139 and still more in Jer 23:24’s “Do I not fill heaven and earth’?” says the Lord”. When finally the Song did enter the canon it came to be regarded by the rabbis, and later for rather different reasons by some medieval Christian mystics, as ultra-sacred, almost the jewel of the whole Bible.
When near to its conclusion at 8:3 the Song affirms that love is as strong as death, that passion is as fierce as the grave, that its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging/strong/vehement flame, many believe it is affirming that this is the fire of Yah (a variant name of Yahweh, the Lord). At any rate some modern translations (as opposed to the old KJV employed by the Shakespeare Company) acknowledge this, and they do so because the Hebrew expression translated “strong flame” is shalhevet yah. The problem, though I don’t consider it necessarily is one but simply part of the mystery and message of the whole we shall be considering, is that when read as one word the meaning is “a great fire” while read as two words it is “fire of Yahweh”.