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JUDAS STOPPED AT DUBLIN: A Poem of Spiritual Pollution and Ablution (in Yeats 2015)

   Judas    Dublin

This blog and my books are sufficient witness that as writer and poet I don’t oppose criticism of Christians, Christianity or any religion. It is, or should be, a universal democratic right though increasingly non-western religions, not just militant Islam, oppose it. (Hindu nationalism, emboldened under Morsi, shows a sudden increase in persecution of Christians with last Christmas believers even attacked for carol singing!). Even so, I still find unacceptable some levels of lampoon and abuse of beliefs that – practically – are the psychological and cultural equivalent of racism. Their unimpeded expression amounts to a pollution of the social atmosphere. To surround religious issues with gutter talk and obscenities is not “satire” or “free speech”, among other things it’s just aggressive bad manners….

To revive an old issue, but as it happens at a relevant time, Brendan Kennelly’s The Little Book of Judas (2002), a selection with additions to the  400pp The Book of Judas (1991), is a case in point. I was reading Judas in early January before the Paris massacre, but though its poetry is one of a kind, it  seems newly topical,  especially now  those of us outside France finally know more about what Charlie Hebdo beyond the tragedy really represented,  and could wonder if Christians didn’t  always have  more reason than Muslims to be offended by it. (With at last report 70 churches in Niger torched, Christians have paid more than enough for the ultra-secularist rights claimed by the cartoonists  and defended by  sympathizers as though the quintessence of western freedoms they never quite were). Whatever, I don’t accept that material like Judas can be justified as ‘really” therapy (discover and express your inner Judas!) or a special kind of truth telling society needs. Nothing and nobody terribly needs it………[This introduction is continued below with the notes]

JUDAS STOPPED AT DUBLIN: A POEM OF SPIRITUAL POLLUTION AND ABLUTION IN YEATS 2015 (1)

PART ONE: POLLUTION

Judas I am, so damned I’m full of
The highest of wisdom you wouldn’t
Believe, (though you need to for sure).
A reason don’t pray for me please,
You’ll only be cured of yer Oirish lies
And deceit and forgiven when you stare
Down my tunnel of darkness faithfully
Hearing my own and Beelzebub’s verbiage.

Which I couldn’t stop if I tried.
Just as I couldn’t do ever. You maybe
Heard how, irrepressible always,
My saucy questions and filth made it,
To that Last of the Suppers at which,
You may trust me, I wasn’t blootered (2)
Unlike B Behan being himself as usual.
I had too much to spout out
At that solemn occasion and later
Because, you know, Jesus couldn’t have
Done things so well – “salvation” and all that –
Without me as enabling guide and
A Mouth the better to have your attention.
Consider for even the average occasion
Jesus keeps butting in with his talk
And you’d need to remind him
To pass you the salt. [3]

My power with words has good nuns transfixed
And they writing me letters, recognizing
My insight which conveys them
More grace and insight than
Counting their beads and swallowing bread,[4]
While the youth of mixed-up new Erin
They come to me just as to Jesus –
Even their favourite old rocker
From Joshua Tree says I fly high as
The Holy Ghost flies (3) (while I talk Spiriteff).(5)
But it’s fine if and when they blaspheme:
Their laureate told them it’s hatred of God
Brings the soul back to God and
Fair needs foul any time.(6)

I’m the very best voodoo. I visit
The poet by night and can raise him
Higher than Keats for skill in that negative
Knowing that absorbs things from
Grass blades to angels.[7] I let him hear
Voices, his own, your own, Erin’s own,
Lucifer’s, you name it, there’s no
Psychic or shaman will be in contention.
Hearing my voices my poet, alert, grabs
His pen or the laptop – instant creation!
Any labour of mystics – and isn’t the poet
A mystic? – that can’t combine all the input
From awareness all’s’ One, has not
Yet found truth, not learned with the Serpent
That truth too’s a lie. Come join me on journeys
Through muck of the mind, for some it’s a way
Of the cross, for others just fun. Whichever
It’s all much the same, your chance for
Some carousel rides at life’s fair where it’s
Laughter will save and purify “soul”.

For you too can hear me, you eventually will,
I really can’t hold back the words more
Than I can my bladder and bowels. Beginning
Is what I most do and am replaying always;[8]
I don’t understand the meaning of “end”.
Nor for that matter “empty”. It’s a fact
The colostomy bag of my verse
Is so full there’s hardly room in
All those houses of Erin that publish
To contain the treasure of dark pearls
And slime that I pour over pages and
People when I’m not wandering
Dublin to see the night sights, the sick
On the streets, the dead in the Liffey.
It all so reminds me of beauty, indeed
Is beauty itself as the pen of the
More mindful of poets always knew
Since Jim Joyce could look out at sea
And think it fine as a nose-dirty hanky.

Humour, it’s something I’ll always retain.
I like to see life’s funny side,
Like Lazarus back from the grave and
Begging for tea or Flanagan asking
How much he’d receive for nailing
You know who to what and just when.
And then that day I was thinking
God was an unmarried mother in
Limerick, somewhere out West. God
Hasn’t heard half my jokes yet. I tip him
Good Morning and suggest that Nazareth
Folklore carries some interest. But I don’t
Have reply. Never mind, I persist in the
Hard work that’s mine though I can’t know
Why it is I’m the chosen any more than
A poet from backwaters Kerry…. You
Want my advice? Off with you all if not
To Lough Derg, then for penance I’ll say
Take a look at yourself, see just who you
Are, like Cromwell, Hitler and lords of IS
I say there lies your labour and duty.
Let nothing constrict your imaginative
Life, your sublime logorrhea or cheek.

PART TWO: ABLUTION

DALKEY  Dalkey Bay Twilight

Dismissed but not followed we may pause.
Where are we? Today perhaps anywhere:
Dublin Bay, Dalkey, Killiney, even Dover [9]
And there surveying the sea you’ve remembered
Or those oceans imagined which are always
Moving within you whose secrets in essence
You know. Whichever, just look and hold
Those waters in view and hear them. For now
It is evening, and the tide is returning
But winds gusting and high waves are rising
With new force under twilight’s soon darkness.
They sweep in, rushing forward the time of the
Curse-ridden final degree of the fishes, [10]
Its wild depths, long and notoriously site
Of too many drownings, of suicides, losses,
Of lies and betrayal, all that supports
The great sum and weight of human despair.
“Then where”, soul inquires, “is the place for
Our shelter, where the protection that there
Surely must be? Does not even the deepest
Level of darkness precede or hide light?”

Maybe and sometimes indeed, but an age
Must have end and the weather and fashion
Of minds obscures the divine which
Itself is already and mostly withdrawn.[11]
Till all times and seasons will change it’s
Evil that reigns. All rule by the Good,
All justice, protection, these mark but
Intervals only, favours to right deeds
And faith. But if prayer asks the wrong God
Or the right name too late, souls risk
To become or to stay victims still.
Too many voices will silence soul’s hearing
Of God and too many voices lend
The divine many names. Beside the
Oceans of time and of life the peoples
Are waiting, but waiting for what?
For whatever flatters the human,
Appears the most easy and binding.
A new name will arise, but will only deceive.

I thought us alone but he hears us,
The traitor, the one born of this sign.[12]

“No, but how strange”, muses Judas, I take
The so minor role of the old cheeky kisser.
Me? Wouldn’t you think it’s another example
Of how God is always making wrong choice?”

Well, for love neither of God nor of man could
Your choice alter ego, that poet presuming, check
Any words on his tongue or committed to page.
His being could never envisage a too lowly task
On the stage of this so ugly beautiful world
That invites the uses of art…Be assured, then,
Since your mouthpiece in Dublin disfavours
All thought of vocation that’s minor
Your role was never so minor (the while
Its choice was far from divine). Beelzebub
Smelt out the weakness, saw how your mouthpiece
Could finish those non serviam labours
Of JJ, how, using a vocal psychopomp’s aid [13]
In a few years alone with the laughter of fools
He could spirit whole mesmerized masses away
From reasonable mind, conduct them with flair
To the summits not of Sidhe but the silly.[14]

“Conduct”, can it be I’ve uttered the word,
That word deemed “too archaic” now issuing forth
Like a symbol from out of the maw of
Spiritus Mundi, seven letters of sound  [15]
Forbidding a poet, myself, to be published?
Seven letters, seven, the all-sacred number?
Yet how suitably suspect and banned
When the behind-scenes secular venom
Is busy excluding whatever that’s sacred
It can. For from homes of the poets
To publishing houses the last degree’s
Arts are simply perverse and unholy
Can’t bear or share light, can’t teach or inspire
Too often double-faced to the core,
In feeling or ethics but few levels
Higher than what might fill Dante’s inferno,
Whip and spur into action dark minds in
The houses of Erin’s children abused. [16]
See them, poets when not raking in muck heaps
Chasing the most arcane, technical word
While injustice enlarges and genocide follows [17].
Hear them, Judas’ comrades, the artists
Moaning, protesting the power of who or what
Limits and censors, hear them blaspheming
At home yet cowardly docile not to offend
The rule of belief that threatens and struts
In the role of implacable bully abroad.
Saeva Indignatio! Swift,Yeats, who
Could express, who seize the world’s now
Brim full cup of mad reeling?

Who was it the “tolerant” Voltaire pursued?
Whose career was he eager to hinder?
The same one who’d learned the rule is:
Be too kind to be kind at all. It’s the same [18]
For the good, though alas and by contrast it’s
The small leaven leavens the lump. No poet
Is called to deep feeling and friendship with evil
The project’s too easy, caught and spread
Like a cold. Who is it needs to feel through,
With or for the mind of a traitor?
Why justify (by)ways of Judas to man?
Sing him no more, you need only summon
His name and he’ll come to you and to Dublin –
Be assured he’ll make his home and hearth there.

BONO-Kennelly2

 [ Intro cont ]……In the wake of the Paris massacre it was surely rather irresponsible of Salman Rushdie to propose that all religion “is a medieval form of unreason that deserves “fearless disrespect”. (With 39 people including the author’s Japanese translator dead on account of his The Satanic Verses one feels Rushdie of all people might express himself with more restraint!)

As we have seen, in societies and faiths beyond the West considerably less than Kennelly’s high and persistent level of poetic profanity of which my poem gives only moderate evocation, entails far severer consequences. I don’t of course approve those consequences or agree with their ideological basis, but some permitted western literary freedoms should give us pause to reflect just how long-suffering especially Christians have been, (and shouldn’t have to have been), in relation to the values of a supposedly democratic society. For example, jokes about crucifixions – any crucifixions whether of Christ or anybody – should be deemed unacceptable whether on a  religious or humanistic basis. Such gallows humour isn’t humour. The abuse of Christianity being”democratically” tolerated only heightens the impression outside the West that it is not simply “infidel” but is so contemptibly infidel as to be undeserving of respect or rights. (a sort of attitude as in extremist  Niger that If you can’t support it over the insult to the prophet, you can’t complain if we destroy your places of worship in retaliation!). Muslims at this point ignore the reason Christians tolerate abuse of their faith which is because, unlike Islam, their belief system is most essentially a faith to be recommended and chosen, not imposed. It is not ultimately a political faith that envisages certain rights to imposition  – Islam means Submission – some would maintain globally. Democratically however Christianity and any faith still has rights that could and should be more affirmed to basic respect in the public forum.

Publishers and leaders of opinion in media have something  to answer for in what has happened to the sheer values fog overtaking public opinion in recent decades. Personally I don’t believe any publisher would be justified to issue what Kennelly produced. And though undeniably Ireland in the last century has known too much censorship for which Catholicism is not guiltless and though – fittingly for a betrayal theme! – it was a UK rather than an Irish publisher issued Judas, it is still controversial that, so far as I know, the Irish literary establishment has never seriously criticized Kennelly. Rather and as usual they (like the eccentric Bono) hastened to flatter the Kennelly of the profane and obscene ramblings that became a shock value bestseller by at least poetic and Irish standards. It is moreover amazing given the remarkable inflexibility of  Ireland’s management of such as its abortion laws, that Kennelly didn’t run anywhere near foul of the existing but never applied blasphemy laws. Be that as it may, in this year of the Paris magazine massacre and Ireland’s Yeats 2015 (see my blog for Nov 2014), we should think again about what western values are and where going. And I do have more right than most poets and writers to protest what (as indicated towards the conclusion of the poem) I claim from long experience is the situation. I don’t incidentally care if my criticisms should chance to give a little belated publicity or sales to poet and the publisher, Bloodaxe. Let them take what’s little better than blood money anyway. It is more important that truth be stated and recognized regardless. It’s the only possibility of some freedom from pollution, some exorcism of the rot.

NOTES TO THE POEM

1) The title echoes Carlo Levi\s memoir,  Christ Stopped at Eboli. Dublin has long been the residence of Judas poet Brendan Kennelly, formerly English literature professor at Dublin’s Trinity College.
2) “Blootered”, one of many Irish slang expressions for drunk. In the poem Unauthorized Version, dramatist Brendan Behan arrives at the Last Supper drunk and demanding Jesus to give him more drink. See Brendan Kennelly, The Little Book of Judas, Bloodaxe, 2002 p.78. Another Last Supper poem will speak of Judas preventing a bomb going off.
3) Kennelly op.cit. The Dinner p.167-9
4) There is a kind of person, especially in religion, who will always treat denial as higher affirmation, obscenity as the disclosure of beauty and blasphemy as the greatest praise. With its reviews of Judas publisher Bloodaxe cites Sister Stanislaus Kennedy who declares Kennelly’s “poems shine with the wisdom of somebody who has thought deeply about the paradoxical strangeness and familiarity and wonder of life’. Judas/ Kennelly must have laughed.
5).”The Book of Judas – Reviewed by Bono”, http://u2_interviews.tripod.com/id133.html
6) Kennelly, op.cit, SpiritFuck  pp.125/6.  This poem alone but many others would place Bono decidedly in the wrong in identifying/associating/comparing anything in Kennelly’s work with the Spirit  (Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit Matt 12:32 is believed to mean calling demonic evil good and divine good evil – Jesus warns the Pharisees not to blaspheme by attributing his work to the devil). The work of Kennelly and Bono, the literary professor and the rocker has been surprisingly intertwined and supported one another as high profile figures in Ireland. While I don’t vouch for all the following evangelically inspired article has to say,  the sheer mystery, often just wild ambiguity of Bono’s influential take on Christianity is treated in the following feature http://www.holybibleprophecy.org/2012/08/12/u2-frontman-bono-christian-or-antichrist-by-elliott-nesch/      And I’m bound to say from the astrological standpoint evangelicals wouldn’t care to acknowledge, I am fascinated that for someone who has so played around with Christian doctrines and reguarly acted MacPhisto on stage, we find Lucifer on an angle for Bono and what I empirically judge to be the regularly Antichrist factor, Achristou, conjunct his ruling Saturn, the devil’s planet in the devil’s sign, Capricorn.
7) Reference to Keats’ theory of negative capability whereby one loses oneself in identity with the other. “Hatred of God…” is from Yeats’ Supernatural Songs and  ‘fair needs foul”  from Yeats’ Crazy Jane Talks to the Bishop.  While it would be possible to misunderstand Yeats here whose meanings were not negative or radical in the style of Kennelly, some mystery does attach to just what Yeats did believe and what kind of darkness it sometimes embraced for himself and/or Ireland. I examine this in Secret Yeats and the Hidden Arcana:  http://bit.ly/1jt9zOH
8)  Beginning is the title of one or Kennelly’s earlier, successful and celebrated persons – fittingly for an Aries, the sign of beginnings but not famous for concluding anything.
9)  Dalkey bay is just south of Dublin. For the inclusion of Dover consider Matthew Arnold On Dover Beach and my poem Beyond Dover Beach  http://bit.ly/1gLlckG                        .
10)  Dolphins, which can be sometimes seen off Dalkey Bay, were anciently one of the symbols, perhaps the original symbol for the sign of the fishes, Pisces. The 29th degree of Pisces is deemed evil and unfortunate. To live as now at the end of the age of Pisces is comparable to living on the unfortunate last degree of the sign. Especially anything maritime from floods, tsunamis, major pollution of the seas and the drowning of refugees will be highlighted.
11) Although optimistic Christian philosophers and theologians teach otherwise, biblical and early Christian tradition is that the Creator is withdrawn and the devil rules the world. All understanding of and relation to God, all understanding of suffering should be predicated on that ignored belief. See my Cosmic Father, and The Great Circle http://amzn.to/128eGOQ
12) There are ancient traditions to the effect (endorsed in modern times by the seeress Jeane Dixon from alleged vision) that Judas was born under Pisces.
13) JJ is James Joyce to whose negative attitudes I would regard Kennelly as heir. See Why Ireland Needs Yeats 2015 and more. A psychopomp, Mercury being a good example, travels between heaven and earth or between conscious and unconscious. as per Jungian psychology.
14) Sidhe (fairies) is pronounced Shee
15) Yeats:The Second Coming “….A vast image out of the Spiritus Mundi  troubles my sight…”
16) The Murphy and Ryan reports shocked Ireland by revealing decades of abuse, some of it almost fit for the Inquisition, practiced without restraint within church institutions like orphanages.
17) Irish and western poets have been almost wholly absent from  protest of anything like the persecution of Christians in Muslim lands from Egypt to Pakistan and the genocide in Iraq and Syria.
18) Voltaire had an irrational dislike of the dramatist Marivaux and sought to keep him out of the Academy possibly due to the fact Marivaux was a Catholic who was not a supporter of the Encylopedie.. The celebrated quote about kindness is from Le Jeu de L’Amour and du Hazard.

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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OVID FOR EVER and PAUL JANKA FOR SOMETIMES

Ovid         OVMETA       Janka    Pickup

OVID FOR EVER AND PAUL JANKA FOR SOMETIMES

A POET MADE FOR FAME

Ovid can well be considered one of the most important poets of all time, along with Shakespeare for whom Ovidius was his favourite classical writer. An entire line in romance, courtly love and even typical western portrayal of love as a battle of the sexes, is hugely indebted to an Ovidian legacy.

The bard of Stratford owed rather more to the bard of Sulmo than is acknowledged and not simply because of references to myths preserved in Ovid’s celebrated Metamorphoses which for Shakespeare as for many poets (and musicians, painters and sculptors, supremely Bernini) has been a treasure house to plunder. One thinks rather of the influence of such as Heroides in which women soliloquize about their fate and experiences with men (mostly in modification or contradiction of the existing accounts of their stories from Homer and others). This anticipates the role of females in Shakespeare’s plays (or even just the poetry of confession in the likes of Richard 11  meditating on his life). Ovid’s work is, scintillating, witty, critical, dramatic and unusually psychological for his era. He wrote drama as well as poetry – we know of his Medea which is lost to posterity.

Ovid (March 20th 43 BC Julian/-42 Greg – 17/18 AD) was prolific and his memory for the myths, ancient sources and customs he refers to was prodigious too. He claimed, as was surely necessarily the case, that he wrote in poetry almost as naturally as prose. His natural facility must have given him the confidence from his only middle class origins to leave the legal career expected of him by his father and social background for a purely literary career which seems to have been launched as early as eighteen.

Despite the obvious delight in myth as in the Metamorphoses and in traditions as in the Fasti, Ovid can sometimes be sceptical and cynical about both and in a way that adds to our impression almost nobody in the ancient world was quite so modern as Ovid. He is the Italian artist and cinematographer before the time. He is very much the western individualist in preparation on the cusp of the new age (of Pisces), the age which would propel western humanity to the forefront in historical/cultural terms. All the ancient writers and poets, no matter how insightful and enduringly relevant can still seem somehow archaic in comparison. Arguably Thucydides is rather modern, but on the whole, especially the Greeks, almost plod in comparison with Ovid whose only possible rival for a contemporary feel among the Latins is Catullus.

Ovid has been so influential it can well be asked whatever does anyone have to do to become  a famous, prolific writer of major verse like Ovid and Shakespeare who dashed off the work that almost all other poets worldwide have had to labour over because poetry is an art of excellence and often compression akin to the work of sculpture or mosaics?

Here the astrologer can affirm something others can’t. Both Ovid and Shakespeare have their writer’s Mercury at 16 of cardinal, (action orientated) Aries. Things just flow out of them, the energy is boundless and it’s likely most of the time that, like Shakespeare according to Ben Jonson, Ovid never blotted a line…albeit he is on record as wishing to have polished the Metamorphoses except that exile and disgrace got in his way. (The astrological effect may extend to a degree or two either side. A lesser but still major prolific poet for all occasions, Wordsworth, had his sun at 18 Aries).

But if we can observe this, are there other things the birth pattern can help us perceive? I believe that crucially we can do so but I shall say a little more about the poet and his life first.

OVID MYSTERIES

There are all sorts of mysteries around Ovid, his motivation, his themes, his exile but they might be said to begin and end with an overwhelming conviction that his fame would endure for ever, or at least, as he declared at the end of the Metamorphoses, for as long as anyone uttered the name of Rome. Metamorphoses is not however the only place he forecasts a uniquely privileged future. Where did this obsessive, insistent conviction and its self-confidence derive from? I will come to this presently.

Particular mystery attaches to the poets banishment from Rome in 8 BC to the miserable outpost of Tomis (modern Constantia) on the Black Sea on the order of the Emperor Augustus.

Two reasons are given for this most celebrated of literary experiences of exile. The first was that the poet was a corrupter of Roman morals (through his Amores and Ars Amoris, the Loves and the Art of Love) which Ovid would later claim represented fantasies and follies not reflective of his personal life. He will also protest that there was little cause for blame given the already well-established “wanton verse” of such as Catullus, Propertius and Tibullus in the generation before him. And it is undeniably strange given that legacy, that any strongly felt charges of corruption weren’t brought earlier. On the love theme Ovid had been published and known for years before perhaps jealous rivals of the successful poet influenced the Emperor whose reform of the marriage laws in 18 BC was challenged by Ovid’s permissive oeuvre. (It is of course a popular myth that Roman society was engaged in almost continuous orgy before Christianity came along – one has for example only to read the atheist poet Lucretius’ negative account of sex and love to recognize Ovid was far from expressing or catering to some unquestioned norm. Ovid himself describes concern with adultery as “provincial” which is to affirm it existed). Even if we allow that Augustus in seeking to reform morals could begin with punishing a living writer rather than just speaking against dead ones, the emperor may have had more private reasons.

The second cause of banishment was involved with the fact the poet had witnessed or been involved in something of which we aren’t clearly told by either Augustus or the poet. Ovid’s poems of exile admit only to some folly, (perhaps witnessing or speaking of something he shouldn’t have), but he insists there was nothing criminal or of criminal intent behind it. Since however the order occurred the same year as the Emperor’s daughter, Julia, was also sent into banishment for (persistent) adultery, it is not inconceivable that the well-connected Ovid had been some witness to, or an influence behind events which ran counter to Augustus’ new moral laws aimed to reform the ultra-permissive lifestyles of the Rome’s wealthy new upper classes. They certainly didn’t serve the militaristic values of the Roman empire. Ovid effectively turns away from this offering not an expansionist epic but a comedy of the wars of the sexes.

OVID AND MORALITY

Before looking further into this I will say something about Ovid and morals.

Endearing, charming, amusing and often kindly though Ovid can be – he abhorred mistresses being cruel to servants, he was appalled at easy abortion – and though his 26 year long sufferings till death in the wilds of Tomis are heartbreaking, I think one is bound to agree that few have argued more blatantly and strongly for adultery. He tells his readers how to go about it and to treat it all as a love game, chiefly but not wholly to a man’s advantage. Ovid is not obscene, but he is frankly, boastfully immoral and in a way that argues against his own comparison with the Latin poets before him.

Love poets of the previous generation like Catullus, Propertius and Tibullus represent a unique experiment and moment in history. Comparable in some respects to the medieval troubadours, they were born to be upper class men of leisure in a way Ovid wasn’t. They had sought love and an exploration of female character in a very individual, independent way against the strictures of the old Republican and very patriarchal world. There weren’t many places for adventuring poets to go except prostitutes or other men’s wives – Catullus famously pursued “Lesbia”, the wife of the absent Metellus Celer and Propertius pursued the high class prostitute Cynthia. Quite whom dreaming Tibullus and his Delia and other women represent is less clear. But in the case of Catullus and Propertius not only was there some genuine and memorable even painfully memorable love involved, but when it didn’t work out there was frank recognition of the fact. Moreover some of Catullus’ poems celebrate marriage and more traditional values. Propertius too admires the faithful traditional wife. One may be left with the sense of some lessons learned, an evolution of ideas and character.

Though Heroides does sympathize with abandoned lovers and ill treated wives and is almost feminist, nothing like this attaches to Ovid’s erotic verse which is full of glittering, throw away cynicism. Its tricks to further seduction, chiefly of the wives of other men whom one is delighted to deceive, would leave a legacy in the rituals of elegant but decadent courtly and aristocratic lifestyles across the centuries. Augustus surely had a point about writing that corrupts, though we might need to consider if the emperor didn’t have motives apart from the moral ones and associated rather with his developing religious policies that he didn’t openly declare in this particular case.

But in turn did Ovid have a point in protesting that his erotic verse did not represent the facts of his life and experience? There could have been some truth in that claim even if it was made with some exaggeration in order to plead the case for release from exile.

The Heroides does in fact suggest an author with as strong a feeling for virtue and loyalty as anything opposite. It is therefore possible – just – that the love poetry could be thought of as largely a satire of nouveau riche Roman morals but voiced through the mask of a Casanova. The claim to private innocence amid public folly would even be consistent with Ovid’s birth sign, Pisces, which imagines much.

One need only read the adultery filled fiction of the devout, church going John Updike to see  the Piscean comparison and ( because people are rarely too honest about sex and love and whatever his precise birth date) the poetry of the cavalier clergyman Robert Herrick. Herrick even writes as though he had a variety of mistresses he never had. He even uses the name of Ovid’s supposed chief mistress, Corinna. But just who was the original Corinna whose name Herrick borrows? For fame, influence and scandal in some respects an even closer comparison to Ovid, though a non poetic one, would be with Piscean Erika Leonard/ E.L.James (7.3.1963) author of Fifty Shades of Grey. Again like Ovid we have a Piscean with a moon in Leo, and though apparently long term happily married, Mrs Leonard takes the world by storm with her unbridled sexual fantasies.

Ovid had three wives. He was married off to the first very young and he described her as “useless” and divorced from her as from a second wife divorced before he was thirty for reasons unknown. His third well connected wife was left in Rome guarding the family home when he went into exile. (By imperial favour the poet’s home and goods weren’t taken from him. Perhaps Augustus realized the Tomis would be prison and purgatory enough as proved to be the case). Ovid declared he had been faithful to his (third) wife. He may have exaggerated or lied, yet he had a case to make for his release and he had been well known in sometimes critical Roman circles. Could he have professed the innocence he maintained and not had it all easily denied if it was all manifestly untrue?

Some critics detecting that Ovid must be describing his own home in the Amores, have suspected that Corinna was not the mistress but a record of the ultimately detested first wife. It is my own suspicion that it was from this rather extravagant, free living Lady Gaga style character that Ovid discovered what the tricks of seduction were (in addition to what he would have easily enough learned from earlier poets). I suggest a way to read The Art of Love is a virtual satire on existing Roman mores while the tricks of seduction constitute a revenge upon the first wife. Why? Because at one level there is an Ovid who is genuinely sympathetic and romantic towards women – he could never have written whole tracts of his work and the Heroides if that were not the case – but there is another Ovid who wants to be revenged upon women. He despises them and offers the love game and seduction as the way to be revenged. 1: 646 et seq of Ars Amoris might well be the key to the whole work and its author’s psychology when he declares against women:

They’re cheats, so cheat them; most are dumb and
Unscrupulous: let them
Fall into the traps they’ve set themselves…
So let perjuries gull the perjured
Let woman smart from the wounds she first dealt out!  (tr Peter Green)

I suggest a long suffering cuckold is talking, one saving face by pretending to strings of conquests he never had. After all, he does declare in the Corinna centred Amores, “your morals turn me off, your body on” and he pleads she will at least pretend to be faithful so he won’t be too hurt.

If true this of course still can’t automatically and fully exonerate Ovid. His sins may not be of commission but they could be of the imagination. To the extent he is blasé about rape (by the gods in Metamorphoses) and teaches heartless cynical infidelity in a big way that will influence society for generations to come, he can’t be deemed only an innocent and thus only the victim his nightmare banishment made him. One could even argue that here is the culture hero who acts as one of Satan’s little helpers. Whether he was or not we must surely see something remarkably symbolic in the moment of cultural and ethical conflict that marks his life.

OVID AND THE NEW AGE

I said that Ovid was born under Pisces, the age that was dawning in his lifetime. Christ was born in 7 BC the year following Ovid’s banishment and (as maintained on various blog article on this site) Christ was born, as we know the Emperor Augustus was, under the sign of Virgo – in late Virgo with his sun opposing Ovid’s late Pisces sun and exactly so: 27 Virgo to 27 Pisces which didn’t help Ovid.

Everything Virgo as being both opposition and complement of Pisces would represent the ideal or better half of the new age; and while that “feminine” era would advance such themes as romance, compassion, tolerance and the status of women to some degree, it would necessarily do so through the filter and mode of its Virgoan ideal. That  would mean it would oppose any mere confusion and permissiveness, just as the end of that same era (now) things would tend to sink back into permissiveness and the confusion of values that in its negative expression Pisces too often represents. The parables of Jesus are almost built on a Pisces/Virgo axis of imagery, his hearers are even counseled not to be drunk with the servants (Pisces is a servant sign, a sign of inebriation and addiction). Something in Ovid even adumbrates the Christian feeling of the coming era. Hypermestra to Lynceus in the Heroides is already giving us the martyr’s sacrifice, the suffering, the higher love, the forgiveness, attachment to the ideals of virtue, even a virtue that will be its own reward.

Ironically it may have been the more spiritual side of Ovid which contributed as much as anything else to his mystery-ridden downfall. In harmony of sorts with the incoming era the Virgo born Augustus Caesar, himself in power when Jesus was born, sought to direct his own and Roman authority towards a new imperial cult. The emperor would be increasingly viewed as divi filius, son of God. Arguably Ovid could be seen as undermining the trend. He had always been rather sceptical about the gods but in his incomplete Fasti, a record of the various cults and festivals of Rome he is at once independent doubter and believer through the way in which he has interviews with or visions of deities to sort out mythic/theological issues with them. There are vague intimations here of a Protestant independence, reliance upon the personal belief or revelations.

This individualistic approach could end as unhelpful to Augustus as the Ars Amoris to his reformist marriage laws and perhaps more so. I am even inclined to think those critics who emphasize this point are on the right track. There is a strong hint from the birth pattern that Ovid was a victim to religious policy.

OVID’S HOROSCOPE

OVIDCHART

Even without a birth time to help us (the above chart is set for midday) the day of Ovid’s birth is striking enough for his fate and character and because it is it isn’t too difficult to guess at an approximate birth time. (see below)

The obsession with and conviction about fame is strikingly staked out by the rare way in which five planets planets can be considered as being on world points (it is usual to allow 1.30 by way of conjunction). There is little to compare in other writers, not even in Shakespeare (who suitably for his pattern took his role as dramatist rather lightly and half despised it as not quite respectable).

Pluto at 0.43 Cancer

Mars at 1.03 Cancer

Saturn at 0.24 Capricorn

Uranus at 1.26 Libra (just within the 1.30 limit)

Neptune at 14.11 Leo (WP is 15 Leo)

The fact that shocking, revolutionary Uranus is in the marriage/unions sign, Libra, just by itself bespeaks the destabilizing of marriage ideals.

This is then backed up by Venus in separative and different Aquarius at 13 Aquarius opposed to romantic Neptune in the Leo sign of passion and big loves. The moon has to be somewhere in Leo that day presumably within conjunction of Neptune which is the poet’s romantic/mythic imagination directed upon the life of the gods in Metamorphoses. Albeit Leo is a fixed sign, the metamorphosis theme is linked to the mutability of the natal Pisces sign which Neptune rules. Also in Aquarius is Jupiter which reflects the modernity of Ovid’s outlook on and treatment of almost any theme. The fact that 15 Leo is deemed the most unfortunate of the six world points and Venus is basically opposed to it is an invitation for the things of Venus to be in trouble.

However, far and away the most distinctive feature is the world points involved in a tight, difficult, tension-giving T square of the malefic planets or even, if one includes the position of the sun which is not closely conjunct the Aries world point, that frustrating signature, the Grand Cross, thus:

                         SUN

MARS/PLUTO           SATURN

                       URANUS

Somewhere along the line Ovid was going to run into big trouble, even big political trouble because Saturn on a world point in the sign it rules points to such problems and they could be exacerbated by the in itself very difficult and frustrating close Mars/Pluto conjunction. (The latter conjunction incidentally renders it doubtful Ovid would be too easily successful in love and sex; and with the opposition from Saturn any embittered cuckold theory gains some weight). Shakespeare had Mars in Cancer (but not on the same degree) but for Ovid Mars placed here with Pluto and in the sign of homes and hearths, this has also to be the aspect of the long and frustrating exile from the home base.

Given Ovid’s various interests, his modes of seduction and a great loquaciousness to which he admitted, it is fairly clear he was probably born between 11 am and 12 pm with late Gemini or early Cancer rising this then making the difficult T square or Grand Cross central to the pattern and Saturn (political authority, the emperor), opposed to the rising from the house of open enemies.

But what is then interesting is that if we run the chart for Augustus (there is an asteroid Augusta which since asteroids were originally registered in feminine form is the appropriate asteroid for Augustus, we don’t find it conjunct Saturn…. or not closely. Instead at nearly 26 Sagittarius it is in difficulty square to Ovid’s identity-giving sun at 27 Pisces. Sagittarius is the sign of philosophy and (organized) religions. The hint is surely that Ovid offended the political authority of Augustus most nearly through what material like the Fasti represented for the emperor’s emerging state religion. The morals come into it, but not necessarily as the prime consideration.

PAUL JANKA AND PICK-UP ARTISTRY

At the end of the Piscean era which from its outset the Piscean Ovid was able after a fashion to haunt and dominate culturally, comes Paul Janka author of How to Get Laid in New York City (2004). He is not a poet and, on 1st June 1975, he was not born under Pisces but rather Gemini. However certain links with Ovid are interesting.

First of all, that sensitive degree again. Where is Janka’s Jupiter (his beliefs, his religion almost)? Sure enough it’s on that fatal 16 Aries from which Ovid was able to write so much (including about pick-ups and seduction in a big way) and again Uranus is destabilizing notions of unions but now at 28 degrees and thus the end rather than the beginning of marriage signs Libra as for Ovid.

Janka was propelled into his search for formulae by what he originally considered to be the great difficulty for him and for men, even good looking males, to attract women or to attract them in the way desired – especially for exciting quickies. (Ovid is more interested in landing a suitable mistress). This block is reflected in the exact square of restricting Saturn at 16 Cancer to that sensitive 16 Aries which carries Janka’s Jupiter. Even on top of his game Janka will speak Saturnian style of “the discipline” of working his technique.

As Janka’s sun is at 9 Gemini and his Mercury at 23 Gemini, one wonders if either of those two degrees wouldn’t correspond to Ovid’s unknown birth time and ascendant. (In favour of a Gemini ascendant for style and appearance Ovid was, beside his loquaciousness, slim and reedy as is Janka who corresponds in many ways to the text book version of Gemini-in one of his interviews it is even admitted he is not too concerned with erotica, it is conversation turns him on. Ovid is more concerned with women’s appearance and advises them in some detail how to enhance beauty and present themselves to advantage). If he is telling the truth about his past he nonetheless seems to have begun much like Janka.

………I’m the poor man’s poet,
Was poor myself as a lover, couldn’t afford
Gifts so spun words. Poor suitors must woo with caution,
Watch their tongues, bear much that the rich
Would never put up with

I haven’t analyzed Ovid’s theory of seduction and I haven’t read up on Janka’s theories of same which are the subject of whole courses and seminars in especially New York. In both cases however there is an unwavering belief in the power and ability of simply “technique” (a Geminian theme – Janka has spreadsheets and detailed records) and technique has a lot to do with saying the right things on cue and time (another Geminian theme) and at the right place. Both have a sense of place, the proper sites of opportunity, though one wonders if it doesn’t betray elements of Ovidian fantasy when the poet suggests the ardent lover could hover around Rome’s Jewish synagogue. Did Ovid harbour desires for a Jewish mistress, indeed had he read Genesis, a point of scholarly debate given oddly biblical elements in the creation story with which the Metamorphoses opens?

Ovid insists upon agreeing with almost anything a woman says and thinks provided one has her attention. Likewise promise anything. Janka is also very verbal but concerned  American style with a quick kill, the bang. In effect though, he agrees with Ovid in not wasting time pursuing uncertain, elusive cases. Grasping a woman’s interest and attention fast and insuring it’s strong enough to be worked upon later can be certified through the simple expedient of just obtaining her phone number. Janka  wants as many numbers as possible as then one is always assured of a certain percentage however small. Ovid more interested in mistresses and affairs, is both the eternal Latin and natural Piscean (sign of service) in insisting on being at woman’s service. Promise a woman anything, flatter her, pick up whatever she drops, give her whatever she wants, solicitously follow her. “Don’t jib at a slavish task like holding/her mirror; slavish or not such attentions please…”

Both evidently believe that woman’s vanity and/or curiosity can carry things along if only once the foot is in the door. This incidentally allows at least Ovid to stray in non PC, Christian Grey directions which may have some kernel of truth, especially for the less verbal when he declares:

It’s all right to use force……
What in fact they love to yield…
They’d rather have stolen. Rough seduction
Delights them. The audacity of near rape
Is a compliment – so the girl who could have been forced, yet somehow
Got away unscathed, may feign delight, but in fact
Feels sadly let down. Hilairia and Phoebe, both ravished
Both fell for their ravishers

In the case of both Ovid and Janka all such statements rest upon a certain understanding of the sexes which, whether true or false and they do seem exaggerated (and they are fascinatingly different from anything one might say about authentic same sex relations), are nonetheless promoted to boost male confidence to go on the attack. Essentially both assume and assure their audiences that women want it badly if only the right note can be struck.

Like men, girls love stolen passion,
But are better at camouflaging their desires.
If masculine custom precluded courtship of women
You’d find each besotted girl
Taking the lead herself. A heifer amid lush pastures
Lows to the bull, a mare
Whinnies at stallions, but our male libido’s milder,
Less rabid….

Really? To the extent the animal and human kingdoms can be compared and there is truth here, it is a half truth and linked to something Asia and the Bible better grasp as stressed in my Solomon’s Tantric Song  (amzn.to/14aa5Qe). The woman leads sexually as at the beginning of the Song of Solomon once some kind of relation is established. (The mystery of just what has been established with whom in the case of the elusive Song is something I attempt to establish in the book).

Janka has had both a lot of praise and criticism for his techniques, but his most recent shock delivered to his followers has been settling into monogamy and even getting married to his latest girlfriend.  I suppose this possibility was always present given the fact that not just Uranus but transformative Pluto is also in the unions sign Libra and opposite his sun. He would be challenged, even compelled, at some stage to rethink and change direction somewhat.

So, despite all critics and enemies calling him a creep and worse, the half Czech Janke has not gone into any exiles unless voluntary to Europe and he might even end up happily ever after. Since however he is not a poet and belongs most essentially to the ephemeral world of New York rather than the more eternal one of Rome and was born with no links to any world points, it is likely his eventual fate is to be disappear and be forgotten in a way it is unlikely Ovid who foresaw his destiny ever will be. And curiously readers might feel it is Ovid who is more alive and real. It is sometimes hard to think he isn’t with us still and that we didn’t meet him last week.

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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A SAINT’S MISTAKE: A POEM OF ST PAUL

[It’s arguable that tradition is wrong and St Paul never quite maintained what is popularly believed as regards “homosexuals” and “homosexuality” – words not used in his time. But belief about what he famously or notoriously wrote in Romans still has effects. But if the Apostle did say things along the line attributed to him,  both popular and scholarly understanding does not consider the evidence for  an element within Pauline experience which suggests the possibility of real error in his outlook in this area, one divinely anticipated and disapproved. Within poetic limits that difficult and controversial point is addressed. Related notes add a little more. Ideas for the poem came to me after reading the  outrageous extent of homelessness of gay people in America as a result of some ongoing conservative Christian attitudes]

Conversion

(The Conversion of St Paul on the Road to Damascus, by Caravaggio c. 1600)

A SAINT’S MISTAKE: A POEM OF ST PAUL

From birth those energies defining life
May be transformed but keep their force,
There’s limit set upon the chance for change.

The angry youth may live to father revolution
But, lifelong, yearning visionaries may never
Grasp all truth; the times, society, a weakness of
The vehicle determines where and how each will
May grow. Light can enlighten when not blind,
But sight may need what’s heard to truly see.

Let eyes be opened, ready for the sun
Of Truth, but still recall that Logos speaks
Across the universe of space and time
Through ages, not one age alone which ends,
As ours, its spiritual life enfeebled,
Lacking true prophetic view, even
Ignoring such as you, St Paul, wilful
Doubting or perhaps confused, refused
The words of Agabus. [1]

Upon Damascus road met by great Light,
You saw, you gazed, you fell and then
Three days remained alone in darkness, blind,
Till, helped by human hands, scales fell like leaves
From off your eyes. But what was that your ears
Had heard? Your mind in shock no doubt turned much
Upon a sacred history, ancient Law,
The Lord, but had you in that solitude
Absorbed the fullness of the uttered words
And even when preaching soon the Christ as
Son, repressed and left unlearned what echoed
Through the flashing of celestial light?

Even God had seen you on the road
Not just as Jew devout to last extremity,
But kin to pagan Pentheus face set against
The worlds of women and of difference
And spoke to you the words of question and
Rebuke once given by Agathon’s lover to the god
Of ecstasy and the flourishing vine.[2]

Of this, though Christ alone is truly he,
The shadow also speaks to depths of mind for
In yourself and God a Gentile dwells as
In the Gentile there’s a Jew. To soul within
And world without your call was to a wider field
Than even you would quite allow, lands and lives
Not only to address with a new gospel
Of deliverance and transcendent Law
But in their essence to reclaim. Such would require
Not only persons of the Way not fall sad victim
To persecutions of your policy
But – what and who are more remote to
The conservative, devoted mind – also
Minorities, the outsider, the enslaved.

The stubborn ox resists the goad, so hard
It is for even the good to heed God’s voice;
But harder then life weighs on many more
If that same voice is disregarded or misheard.
It brings a canker to redemption’s rose,
It hid a poison in the new and good,
And justified whole centuries of harm,
Of inquisition, secrecy and dull despair
Of suicide, of souls denied the family home,
Of youth made objects of improper cure
Confused by a false loathing of the self,
Lives lived as though beneath a curse,
And so because you never learned, not even
From Jeremiah in his difference,
That never the leopard lost his spots
Nor did the Ethiopian his skin.[3]
The pedantry and prejudice of one once
Proudly Pharisee, stayed blind to what
In nature, art, and even just humanity
Might teach. You failed, as even great Luther
Later failed the Jews. [4]

Within a Roman world whose ruling might
Your angry will alone could hope to oppose,
Scarce noticing the slavery and pleasure
Taken in refinement of all cruelties,
You made a scapegoat and the symbol
Of most vice and sin, (almost the fall
Of this whole world and worthy of death itself),
Those whose eros and whose loves inclined them
To one side, their own, by this made
Enemies of a “Law” – transcended and fulfilled,
You taught – yet holding you still much in thrall.[5]

Not only was the scapegoat harmed but also
Spiritual lives identified most narrowly
With nature’s way. [6] Vague rumour, petty hate
In place of information or of love, worldly
Obsession with oppressive law and politics
Sometimes rank violence on the streets,
Such was and is the legacy to those
Whose loyalty is wholly to “God’s word”
And your authority, all ignorant
Of just how little the Spirit spoke
To you on the contested theme but
Rather echoes of Apocrypha, pressures
And customs of your familiar world.[7]

Like Peter struck with vision by the sea
But who denied the wisdom shown because
It seemed to oppose a written source,  [8]
Likewise idolatry of tradition and of text
Chokes inspiration of the Living Word.

Oh Spirit who should lead to Truth and who
In your own being is the Truth, descend
Upon the human mind that thought
May rise to judgements on a higher plane,
Not timeless only but aware of time, its cycles
And those changes they intend. [9] Together let
Inspiration, scriptures and the kairos speak,
And not one source alone lest faith’s whole vessel
Run aground or sink.

No theory, no philosophy, no abstract
Statement of a rule will summarize
The Spirit’s truth whose will embraces
Situations and hurt souls as even
Holy Law was forced to do for daughters
Of Zelophehad.[10] Alas that Tarsus
Was the home not just of you, St Paul,
But to that Stoic thought defining
Nature, pleasure and a universal law
Too abstractly in the face of plain
Reality and human need. How hard
It was for you to accept even the
Character of the youthful Mark. [11]

11

Even so, Goodness can redirect
And heal what harms. But wrong’s a wild weed
Reproduced and strong and stronger still
When unacknowledged where it grows. Within
The fields of faith still worse than choking weed
Stands visible and alone the bending,
Stricken tree of noxious fruit. It should
Be left to perish in its place, but those
Encircling it for its defence as though to guard
A relic’s power, and then their foes (seeing
More the persons than the tree), both these
Partake in what corrupts at root and branch.
Truth to both is inconvenient and feared;
Those who defend the tree will not admit
Beyond all claims of justice and of evidence
Their saint and scripture might be wrong (even though
They do not dare to cite them now on
Due obedience of slaves). They are themselves
Enslaved to Paul, so much they’ll even join
Their voice and vote with unbelievers in Christ’s
Name if only still to impose their way. [12]
Their mouths speak lies and foolish syllogisms:
Difference is but a “lifestyle” and a “choice”,
Let no one teach that it exists lest youth be
Converts to perversion; talk of discrimination
Or harassment is beside the point. Just as indeed
It always was, the righteous standing too long
Passive witness to a thousand wrongs, approving
Countless marriages in name alone
(But these deemed holy –  other kinds are wrong).
This way “the unnatural” could be simply
Punished or erased and blessing from heaven,
Not wrath, shower down upon a Pauline world
Sore needing apprehensions more divine
Of being and persons in themselves. For
Grace itself is para physin – Paul
Deemed it work against the natural.  [13]

Those who attack tradition’s tree and tribe
Are but soul brothers of their tyranny
They’re almost what was so long feared
Or banned or damned, emerged like hell’s
Own self to manifest in monstrous form
A beast conformed to worst imagination.
Revenge lends savour to its policies
And once again the abstraction – now
“Equality” – invokes and spreads new chaos wide.
The sacred, too soon victim to the secular,
The atheist and hedonist demand full
Equal rights for ceremony and employ
All places from the college class up to
The altar’s rail. Appeals to conscience, failures  [14]
To welcome well or grant request,
Such can be deemed new forms of insult
Or discrimination, grounds to pursue
A case at law, if need be, ruin livelihoods
And lives. For now what’s spiritual is only false
And what is ethical is only relative
While what is sexual is plainly true –
And –so some believe – honest as pornography,
Itself a model for new ways of life.
It’s why beyond love’s rights, sometimes
Demanded with fanatic zeal, too often
Lies what’s scarcely more than sex as sport,
And heartless exploitation of the young.
And while the theorist and the litigant
Hold forth, indifference meets the
Youthful homeless and perplexed. But then,
Beyond “acceptance” at all costs, what
Will the monster’s tribe provide for life
And health beyond its empty round of
Party celebration and narcotic haze?

III

Enough! The false can only bring forth
Lies again. The conflict of inflexible minds,
Harms everything and everyone, disturbs
The life of faith and human rights alike
With argument too close to cavil and to kvetch. [15]
Both parties see repeatedly but
One another to their shame in that dark
Mirror of St Paul. [16] In him, amid
Deep revolutions for the mind and age
And strivings with a hostile world, what seemed
Like vulgar issues of the few bore little weight
Except to dismiss, condemn, deride,
Though history would prove that wrong
Like any utterance on a theme
When one admits to “think”, not fully know,
Just what it is the Spirit of God declares  [17]
Or by pure silence does not judge. Therefore…

Unless to say it can be that the first
Are last [18], amid those sufferings and that
Martyrdom, let none too quickly judge
The life and words of you, St Paul, for
Scarcely will the saint or sage, and others
Less, attain full knowledge and perfection.
Each soul needs a Damascus with its light…
Yet there, let even saints not only see
But hear what makes for life and should set free.

NOTES

[1] Acts 21:10. The prophet Agabus warns Paul against going to Rome and the Christians beseech him not to go but he goes anyway. It is not clear how much he believes the forecast and how much God is understood to give a choice in the matter through the warning, but anyway Paul remains adamant. He had always intended or wanted to go to Rome (Acts 19:21) though it is not specifically stated the Spirit told him to go there as opposed to Achaia.
[2] Jesus is self-described as the true vine (Joh 15:1) so by implication the vine god, Dionysius (whom Gentiles believed was the God of the Jewish Temple) is the false. However the archetype is still relevant. We now know even pious Jews attended the pagan theatre and there is reason to suppose both Jesus and Paul could have known the celebrated Bacchae of Euripides (“the lover of Agathon”, Agathon being one of Athens’ most beautiful men). In the play Dionysius manifests like Christ to Paul, to accuse Pentheus of disregarding and persecuting him…”a man defying god”. Although Acts 24:16 says Paul heard  in Hebrew, the apparent quote from Euripides’ Greek is exact. It has unnecessarily kept the dramatist’s plural form of kentra goad/necessity (which would fit rather with a common proverb in the singular) that Euripides employs when Pentheus says,  “You disregard my words…and kick against necessity/the goads”. Euripides has only pluralized to make his poetic metre go. It is also important to note that the necessity/the goad could have sexual implications which the KJV bible’s “kick against the pricks” accidentally reflects. Though I don’t accept theories Paul was a closet gay, it’s possible the conversion narrative contains a hint Paul needs to examine his sexual being and attitudes at deep levels, as otherwise they could affect his teachings, treatment of people and understanding of what Jesus himself is like. While one could dismiss the Euripides connection as a fluke, there is yet another “fluke” to suggest real Christ/Euripides/Dionysius connection. (See separate note below). I do not believe the Jesus of Paul’s conversion would approve the Paul of Romans 1 and is already implicitly warning against going or continuing in its direction.
[3] Jer 13:23, On the basically gay/queer character of Jeremiah see for example Chapter 8 of my Cosmic Father: Spirituality as Relationship. It is beyond present scope but contained in my writings that some persons do, or appear to make, at least partial change from their orientation. There are reasons for this but in most instances persons are what they are and remain what they are  from childhood.
[4]  Luther reformed much and lit a torch for liberty in Europe generally, but his record of anti-Semitic prejudice (he proposed synagogues should be burned down) left a legacy in Germany facilitating Nazi attitudes centuries later, a case of a great man making great mistakes.
[5] It could be that Paul’s famous/infamous Romans 1 describes male prostitution, paedophilia, recreational bisexuality or just blasts the extreme indulgence of ancient Rome. Practically however, this is rant influenced by the Apocryphal Wisdom of Solomon on sex and idolatry. But by referring to whatever precisely same sex as “degrading passions”, “shameless acts” “degrading of the body” etc “for which they deserve to die” this part of scripture works out as hate speech and a life sentence if not a hell sentence for anyone remotely same sex attracted. It is what makes for a great proportion of the homeless of America being gays thrown out of the house by “good” Christians. Christian rejection was the reason of the now eternally remorseful Linda Robertson’s son took to drugs and overdosed at eighteen. Romans 1 would have been better never written and it should be excised from our bibles for the damage it does. For vastly less good reason even the sola scriptura Luther declared the epistle of James “an epistle of straw” that should be censored from our bibles. At the same time, it must be allowed Paul and Christians past and present have a perfect right to maintain that “homosexuality” like heterosexuality can be the basis for excessive, immoral, decadent behaviour (such as really does exist in America as in ancient Rome) It is troubling that the defence of gay rights now so often today also seeks to indite all and any criticism of gay behaviour as “homophobic”, even an indictable offence. Queer theory doesn’t accept the notion of morality in any normal sense and there is much to legitimately question in the work of leaders of gay/queer theory.
[6] i.e. associating sex with nothing but reproduction like the pagan Stoics which is scarcely biblical – Paul seems not to have read or absorbed the Song of Solomon..
[7] Paul’s diatribe is owing to the Apocyphal Wisdom of Solomon and is not untypical of his society and times – numbers of pagan writers like the satirist Juvenal spit out hatred of effeminates or any male who seems “different” from some militaristic masculine norm. The subject was confused by various class and military factors that no longer apply today. Any male passive towards another male was disgraced, the reason sodomy was used on prisoners of war. Masters could use slaves sexually. Doubtless because so many non gay persons were made to function that way that St Paul confuses values to this day by talking about “and such were some of you” ( 1 Cor 6:11) still the scriptural basis for praying or exorcising the gay away.
[8] Acts 10:14. Peter wrongly rejects the vision given him (three times!) because it contradicts or modifies scripture.
[9] The point is little stressed hence unfamiliar, but that the Spirit is God as Truth is indicated by 1 Joh 5:6. It is suggested here that the Spirit oversees/interprets the ages and cycles of time which promote changes and the new which are meant to be accepted.
[10] Numbers 27 recounts how these women petitioned to have the inheritance laws changed. This would imply the Law, (apart from core covenant with its Ten Commandments), is not written to be and beyond questioning and negotiation. All secondary law is besides for organization of the society of the covenanted Jews. It is not presented as any universal prescription and it is controversial if St Paul (and various Popes and councils) privilege and universalize only items almost at random following generalizing philosophical principles which is what Paul does re laws even his Jewish contemporary Philo believed applied to sacred prostitution.
[11]  St Paul did not get on well with the young John Mark, probably because his character was different in some way – perhaps gay/queer. Various controversies around Mark like The Secret Gospel, however heretical nonetheless likely reflect traditional suspicions around this gospeller’s character.
[12] In India minority Christians have successfully joined with Muslims (who elsewhere persecute their faith), to campaign for a recriminalizing of homosexuality laws against which were repealed in 2009. In 2014 conservative Christian pastor and politician Danny Nalliah who has been constantly opposed by or opposed to Muslims in Australia has recently supported them in opposition to gays.
[13]  Paul fails to see the irony that at the same time as he will approve whatever is unnatural, God works against his nature (his perfection) in grafting Gentiles onto the tree of Israel and salvation. Rom 11.24
[14]   Politically correct Gay/Queer rights are theoretically inclusive of atheist or libertarian gays having the right to teach religion classes or run church and university religion clubs etc or, in some radically liberal churches, to be priests without beliefs or usual  moral standards. While religious people can be blinkered bigots,even the individual bigot may still appreciate and support a larger community sense of the sacred which the rationalist libertarian may not. A community should have the right to retain what makes for the sacred, and arguably the owner of property (such as a hotel) should have some right to set the rules which may include a preference against gay couples? Conscience should be educated rather than state  coerced by laws, and where gays conspire to coerce Christians they are not better than those they oppose. Presently churches  are just being split apart and charity services curtailed due to arguments and court cases over gays and their rights.
[15] kveth is Yiddish for ceaseless outlandish complaining, grumbling, blaming. It is suggested St Paul somewhat indulges this in Romans 1
[16] St Paul famously states we see through a glass darkly (1 Cor 13:12), a principle forgotten when writing on things and persons “unnatural”!
[17] 1 Cor 7:39. It seems controversial that in pronouncing on marriage and divorce St Paul can only say he “thinks” he has the Spirit of God on the matter. He should surely know in making rules so vital to people’s lives, though one could say it’s liberating in that it leaves the door open for alternatives and exceptions. But if he only “thinks” re divorce, how much more likely is it he would have “thought” what he claims about same sex loving and lovers about which even just humanly and socially he would know so much less?
[18]  Matt 20:16

NOTE: The Christ/Euripides/Dionysius Connection.   I hold it significant if others don’t (or just won’t) that the ignored but remarkably efficient and always relevant data I have long claimed to possess for Christ’s birth (see http://goo.gl/HEpQRE) improbably support the connection made in the above poem and notes. Christ’s destiny and reputation Midheaven which is  in shocks and surprises Aquarius, is conjuncted by Euripides from the ninth house of religion. Something about Christ connects with Euripides and can use his voice. In turn, Euripides is in what’s called quincunx to Paul, an aspect commonly meaning “adjustments must be made” which plainly as regards Christ, Gentiles, Euripides and gays Paul badly needed to do. Moreover  Paul is opposite the Bethlehem star (Jupiter) conjunct Saturn showing the degree of challenge Christ and Christianity represented and his willingness originally to be simply opposed. The Bethlehem star conjunction is in Pisces, the sign normally associated with Dionysius by astrologers. There is a Dionysius asteroid but it cannot be reckoned for remote dates. This apart, and perhaps because all time is one at a certain level, all the asteroids whenever discovered and named will work accurately, retroactively, for Christ’s birth as for all historical births. The naming/discovery seems to obtain a life of its own and the Psalms do claim God names the stars (Ps 147:4). It is interesting that the same Christians who oppose gays, oppose astrology on the basis of the bible. They are as wrong and as Paul on gays, not hearing what God intends them to hear for, as again the Psalms say, the night skies utter knowledge (Ps 19:1). They don’t and won’t if you stop your ears to astrology and damn it for “divination”.

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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WHY IRELAND NEEDS YEATS 2015…AND MORE

YEATS2015         YEATSCard

WHY IRELAND NEEDS YEATS 2015….AND MORE

Ireland has designated 2015 the year of Yeats – it’s the 150th anniversary of his birth. Celebration is appropriate not least because this is a poet who sounds surprisingly modern and relevant – lines from such as The Second Coming are often cited today as people observe IS and worldwide turmoil. And unlike the also Nobel prize winning Seamus Heaney, Yeats was always willing to be engaged in politics and with almost any subject.

Yeats’ legacy is however at once something notable and negligible. It can seem like the latter in terms of real influence upon modern Irish poetry which I will argue, despite its contemporary profusion and the cult of Heaney, has –  by and large –  lost steam and been in decline since Yeats’ death in 1939. It has been so despite Ireland’s earlier and celebrated history of bards and schools of poetry. The situation is radical because now even the very notion of poetry is in eclipse in Ireland. This is evident when one reads for example that Michael Davitt (1950-2005) was “…one of modern Ireland’s finest poets in either of the nation’s languages, (according to critic Philip O’Leary in The Irish Literary Supplement, 22.3.04)). As translated by another of Ireland’s “leading” poets, Paul Muldoon, the kind of adolescent, “avant-garde” level at which Davitt worked as in To Pound from God, was in the order of:

“ I suppose you’ll want me to wipe your bum
Or open a tin of Pedigree Chum….

At least, and unlike Trinity College’s now retired Professor of Modern Literature Brendan Kennelly, Davitt didn’t write a collection of verse called Poetry My Arse and opine that the subject of poetry as he understands it is “basically a celebration of human inadequacy and failure” ( cited An Anthology of Irish Poetry, ed.Wes Davies, p.307).

Those seeking by contrast a confident secular sublime, can always try verse from poetry festival organizer, poetry prize winner and university lecturer in creative literature and poetry, Conor O’Callaghan. The first verse of his two verse poem Comma  runs

Infinite
blip that
a flyover
sped beneath
scores into
a down-

(and the second verse begins with the word ‘pour’).

Nowadays you are almost more likely to find the spirit of Irish verse and vision in some prose works like Jamie O’Neill’s At Swim Two Boys or in the work of Colm Toibin, a writer who always wanted and intended to be a poet rather than the novelist he has become. So…what happened? And what might Yeats teach us if poetry is to be significantly revived today in West Europe’s former home of many muses, or at least aisling sky women?

NATIONALISM AND SOUL AS POETIC INGREDIENTS

Yeats

I will  presently give more examples (they could, alas, be greatly multiplied) to suggest just how seriously something is amiss in the emerald fields of Hibernian poesia, but I can state from the outset what is wrong as regards the general direction of the verse since Yeats.

It is of course possible – just – to  be anti-Yeats and produce some good poetry as the work of such as Northern Ireland’s Seamus Deane ( b.1940) indicates, but the first de-potentiating mistake of Irish poets was, however politely and surreptitiously, to dismiss or swerve from Yeats as any exemplar. It was felt he was too nationalist in inspiration and there could be no value or future in that because, with Ireland independently established, literature should become international (pursue Modernism in effect). The trend began mildly with a diplomat of the newly independent Ireland, Denis Devlin (1908-1959), but soon it would gather pace and even become a torrent. Rejection of the Yeatsian poetic could hardly go further than in the irony of Celtic Twilight from Brendan Kennelly (b.1936). Instead of any sense of myth or “magic” the poem evokes a Dublin of prowling decrepit whores, and a Grand Canal in whose “rank waters bloated corpses float”. Even studies of Yeats – and even last September’s curiously early London launch of Yeats 2015 somewhat – tend to place the undeclared laureate somewhere apart, in a disappeared society and time past because of his obvious contribution to foundational events of 1916. The psychological and cultural reality however is that by understanding a national history and ethos a poet may better understand and reach into the world at large.

I would hardly be the first person to stress that point – it’s almost a commonplace. Walt Whitman voiced and helped shape American democracy but also espoused universal ideas beyond it while Goethe was the very cosmopolitan founder of a liberal Germanic tradition. But I know for certain the national/international principle is true as regards Yeats from having lived in Asia. I found him to be appreciated there and I might be asked to read from him. Some of Yeats’ verses like Lapis Lazuli are mentally or geographically located in Asia, while it’s well known some of the poet’s best verse dramas draw upon traditions of Japanese Noh. At least one accomplished poet, Desmond O’Grady (1935-2014), is an exception to prove the national/international rule within Ireland. He does manage to combine Celtic with wider themes and like Yeats at one point he was strongly influenced by Pound – perhaps too much so when he got side-tracked into mammoth labours of poetic translation. But though appreciated, O’ Grady enjoys neither the status nor the influence of a Heaney or Muldoon, both poets of the North and the troubled North has attracted a lot of attention in Irish poetry.

Although Yeats’ affinity for Asia owes something to his attachment to the theosophy and theories of magic many could never accept, more generally he was simply following the wisdom of the archetypes with which most serious poetry will always be involved. Genuine introspection will bring one there. Intense affinity with just place may not. Influenced by Joyce, a notable poet, Patrick Kavanagh, believed that one could be universal by devotion to a place, a notion that owed not a little to Joyce’s Dublincentric imagination. He risked becoming, as I think he often was, merely parochial because place will not quite generate the same imaginative verve as society or nation which can be a matter almost of soul. Linked to the archetypes one could say that Yeats was about – in the broadest sense – “soul”, something which, like contemporary Western poetry generally, modern Irish verse singularly isn’t despite the reputation of the Celts for spirituality.

But poetry itself is first and foremost spiritual. If you don’t believe that, then you must at least accept spirituality is what many people either assume poetry is about or appear to want from it – the biggest selling poet in the world today is, like it or not, the medieval Sufi mystic, Rumi. Poetry is Orphic and originated in the ecstatic, prophetic function and the serious poet, i.e. one who offers something beyond the entertainment or instruction which have their place, can never quite escape that root function….and/or the love theme which will often accompany it as we see everywhere from the Bible’s Hosea to Dante in the Vita Nuova.  Even major atheist poets like Lucretius and Shelley have dealt in the universe, large vistas and the sublime.

At its highest and best, poetry heals, inspires and creates – including whole peoples. Critic Harold Bloom may exaggerate but is essentially correct to propose Shakespeare has helped form modern humanity; Bloom maintains the bard did not only reflect humanity, he also made it and we have become his characters. In somewhat similar fashion, the rhapsodies of Isaiah inspired and remade a lost Hebrew society and largely through introducing new images of God and the self that allowed a new synthesis for a new age to emerge. Dante half created the modern Italian language itself amid his visions. The poets of the Romantic era expressed and half made the age they inhabited.

Sometimes, just sometimes, poets can and do change the world (though of course the noncommittal Seamus Heaney predictably denied it). Granted most poets cannot and need not aspire to such a degree of achievement. No nation is anyway likely to produce more than four or five really outstanding poets in a century, and society needs not just seers and culture heroes but minstrels, balladeers, teachers and entertainers. Poets nonetheless need to avoid through resentment, dullness or, sloth merely subverting the almost alchemical Great Work to which at varying levels their tribe contributes across time.

THE JOYCE/BECKETT PROBLEM

JJOYCE         BECKETTPHOTO

What could and should have been the ongoing influence of Yeats on modern Irish poetry has, I believe, been blocked and limited within his homeland by the strong competing legacy of Joyce and his admirer cum devotee, Beckett. Both these Modernist writers who have cast long shadows. Though both composed a few poems they were essentially authors of prose and both were unspiritual or very negatively spiritual. (Beckett’s prize winning and obscure Whoroscope, written in a hurry to pay Paris rent and rewarded by the heiress Nancy Cunard, when it can be understood is arguably one of the most nihilistic, sordid and profane poems in the canon of verse. It surely belongs to “the throne of the faecal inlet” it refers to). The prose of the Joyce/Beckett duo has nevertheless been more weighty in influence upon modern Irish poetry than any poetic antecedents. Some want to claim it for life itself. I admire the wide-ranging erudition on most things Irish of Declan Kiberd, but I can’t accept as per his Ulysses and Us that Ulysses is really any notable guide to the management and celebration of life.

Although Yeats was something of a heretic in relation to most beliefs and traditions, his origins were Protestant. This has been held against him, or at least left him less favoured as a model for novice writers and poets than the by comparison more street-wise, democratic (sometimes), Catholic-raised Joyce who managed to voice those feelings of frustration and discontent many Irish Catholics have felt at least now and again. By contrast, and although Joyce himself could demonstrate an almost non serviam Luciferian pride, Yeats’ Protestant voice would be regarded as imperious and elitist, in short merely Anglo-Irish of the past, something Yeats scarcely even sounded like in real life. (To hear recordings of his voice which is neither very Irish nor English and not particularly emphatic can come as a surprise and challenges the image some have of him). Patrick Kavanagh reflecting an all too familiar social resentment in a poem called Yeats  exclaims, “Yes Yeats, it was damn easy for you protected/ By the middle classes and the Big  Houses”. This is green-eyed nonsense like the whole poem in effect –  Yeats faced enormous struggles in all directions and rightly called himself poor until well into middle age and winning the Nobel prize.

So the class objection was again a mistake fostering further error because even though with age Yeats undeniably evolved some dubiously elitist, even fascist notions (partly in disgust at the sheer ruin the ultra-Catholic Ireland of De Valera was doing to hard won new freedoms), the fact is that poetry of the serious, bardic kind will often sound or seem elitist. Such poetry declaims, declares, reveals from the higher mind or worlds and as such is not about the everyday nor issues describable in its terms. Even England’s witty, socialist Auden decided in his latter years that what poetry needed next was to get back to the high style. Getting back there could nonetheless prove harder in our egalitarian times than leaving it behind. Ireland especially would seem to have to prepare for a very steep climb. It might even need to engage a bit of “censorship”, a self-censorship of a new and not merely puritanical kind to arrive there and at least try to be serious.

It may be mildly entertaining, but does a poem like James Simmons’ Epigrams constitute something – anything – worthy of a place in Wes Davies’ critically acclaimed and all-encompassing Anthology of Modern Irish Poetry? Epigrams 2 and 4 run:

Declining appetite
Made him polite

Now my faculties give in
I see the need for discipline.

Modern Irish poetry could use some discipline. Too many contemporary offerings such as one can read at  PoetHead on the Net which has showcased new Irish women poets, seem just self-indulgent and trite.

Award winning Denise Blake, an advisor to the RTE national broadcaster on poetry (like the mentioned Michael Davitt – no wonder poetry is in some trouble!) begins her poem, Adjusting,

The saucepan is full of left over potatoes
And I keep cooking too much rice and pasta
Three placemats still sit on our dining table

In musing on an absent son in Beyond the Front Door she writes of

“Cold pizza slices in a cardboard box, an empty coke can
lying on the table”

Subject matter for Irish still life art perhaps? Doubtless Mrs Blake is a caring family person and her sentiments genuine enough, but one finds nothing here and elsewhere that couldn’t be said as well or better in prose. But possibly she was remembering precedents like Beckett’s in Whoroscope with its ridiculous and profane reference to Hovis bread.

Dr Emily Cullen, noted harpist, short story writer and much else if one can quite locate her anywhere, seems willing to inhabit the same kind of kitchen zone if more impishly than  Mrs Blake.. In Galway Mould  we learn

For fun I bought you mouldy cheese,
Last night it took revenge on me
Inducing a vivid dream
Of a while chandelier of mould
That slowly lowered
Through our kitchen space.

Although without question Mairtin O’ Direain of Aran (1910-1988) can be hailed, as he has been by some, as a gifted poet of real distinction, apart from him let no one imagine any back-to-Gaelic direction such as Sean O’Riordain  (1916-1977) and Michael Hartnett (1941-1999) took would improve much inside or out of any Irish kitchens and better preserve the true Ireland. O’Riordain was a good, proficient if somewhat overrated poet whose illness and dramatic depressions seem like an unintended metaphor for the sad fate of things Gaelic. Hartnett is sometimes good but also sometimes gratuitously weird as in Death of an Irishwoman where she is described as “a card game where a nose was broken…a child’s purse, full of useless things”. If this is the latest incarnation of Yeats’ Cathleen ni Houlihan, that lady is now in serious trouble and indeed a bit useless!

Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill born in the Kerry Gaeltacht in1952 has devoted herself to verse in Irish. Translated, one of her poems begins,  “I wake up and my hands are sticky/With the smell of blood” and it concludes…”I’m stuck forever with this stink of blood/That’s on my hands”. In the course of the poem she has reduced bars of Sunlight Soap to slivers trying to rid herself of the smell at the tap. Nowhere is it explained what this blood represents or why it sticks. Does it symbolize, war, Ulster Troubles, the poet or anyone from history or myth? In his Nobel prize address Heaney compared poetic inspiration to breeze over a scullery bucket. Why not the kitchen sinks and dustbins of Hibernia? Well, at least with the likes of Vona Groarke (b.1964) you may find yourself in the open air, kitchen observations exchanged a sort of gardener’s diary verse – “I let the gooseberries/ Rot for not knowing when to pick them”.

But let it be said, Ireland’s contemporary female bards are more delicate than the menfolk, including the revered Heaney who (as only one example of the gratuitously sordid) writes – in Mycenae Outlook – having just referred to a vision of webbed blood and bodies raining down on the speaker “like tattered meat” –

“I would feel my tongue
Like the dropped gang plank of a cattle truck
Trampled and rattled, running piss and muck
All swimmy-trembly…

Not to consider what an über baroque evocation of a state of tension this is, it is really just more from the stock of sensationalist Joycean prose with its “snot green, scrotum tightening sea”, the world as a human theatre where people are holding on to or letting out their urine and never quite forgetting urine like Bloom who enjoys “grilled mutton kidneys which gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine”.

JOYCE: FROM REALISM TO NIHILISM

chastened

If it belongs anywhere, modernist realism of the Joycean kind belongs principally with prose whose main sphere is the factual report and which is not something designed to the same degree as poetry to convey or reach the transcendent. But post-Yeats Irish poetry has constantly, pedantically and monotonously appropriated the themes and style of Joycean realism and cynicism for verse. We need to ask why.

As said, Joyce spoke for those of the Catholic background that Yeats and his advisor in things Gaelic, Lady Gregory, did not share. Jesuit educated Joyce did not however pronounce on religion in any way prophetically – he was closer to a satirist, even just lampoonist of Irish and Catholic traditions. He had no alternative vision that might help reform, modify or substitute for Catholicism; he did not even reject it like an atheist. Like the true Luciferian he sometimes was, and possibly even aspired to be, Joyce simply subverts and renders toxic, contributing by his example to the also unhelpful example of the (Protestant raised) Beckett’s extreme paralysis of thought and action, his Murphy/Molloy/Belacquaism sitting in a corner cursing and despairing of existence – when not farting, evacuating, or masturbating. Inclusion of the latter theme to the field of poetry, (and rather insultingly to the Irish farmer as in Kavanagh’s half good poem, The Great Hunger,) can be traced back to Joyce, Ulysses and its anti-hero Bloom.

In accepting Joyce as high literature and a suitable object of academic study (he quite intended us to make it our life work!) we risk, and Ireland has risked, accepting him more metaphysically by osmosis. And the sad fact is that despite his obvious and undisputed brilliance, Joyce is at root unhealthy, certainly almost the last thing any new nation, not to say nascent poetic circles, should look to for prime inspiration, and if he wrote about the common man, apart from some early work he certainly didn’t write what the common man could ever hope to understand.. Even just humanly Joyce does not come up to the mark, straining the kind of tolerance society normally reckons to extend to artists. Ignoring his questionable treatment of both parents at their death, this was a person so ungratefully arrogant he could turn even his main benefactor Harriet Weaver from the door. This was a person so merely contrary that having been keen to make Nora Barnacle his mistress, he prevented publication of his first biography because Nora was not portrayed in it as his wife. If Joyce wasn’t Lucifer he was periodically Judas and to follow him leads inexorably to precisely the Judas theme – it receives its fullest treatment in Brendan Kennelly’s bombastic, overflowing  succes de scandale,  Book of Judas (1991) which supplies the Messiah the traitors he is assumed to need to be himself and identifies Ireland itself with a species of Judas complex.

Such perspectives apart, practically, Joyce’s values were never truly liberal of an exemplary kind for us to follow; they were merely rebellious designed to shock like the basically unnecessary, irrelevant incest theme of Finnegan’s Wake. Even the repulsive reference in Ulysses to “the snot green, scrotum tightening sea” is merely a sideward glance to Dublin’s Forty Foot nude beach often frequented by gays. Anyone from his friends to the Trinity (as in the famous “my Mother’s a Jew, my father’s a bird” etc doggerel ditty) were the pretext of largely aimless, self-congratulatory Joycean humour and cynicism.

The Joyce and Beckett effect has been to divert energies from, rather than to encourage attention to the needed reform and development of modern Irish life including not least its spiritual life to which poetry might have been expected to contribute. One doesn’t need to plough through the earnest examination of the Catholic theme in modern verse that Andrew Auge pursues in  A Chastened Communion (2013), to realize that the poets, like the people at large, have  few religious ideas to offer. Mainstream Irish religion has been and remains too weak in theology and philosophy in the first place. This nonetheless means that once the roof has been blown off traditional pieties and reverence there is little substance left but instead just hollow, trivializing profanity like Patrick Fiacc’s whose poem Our Father begins, “Our Father who art a Belfast night /Pub bouncer”. Or again the purely bizarre like Brendan Kennelly’s God’s Laughter. This pictures God unable to stop laughing or “freezing in fear” when he hears words. As fear is a negative emotion plainly it could not be a meaningful attribute of any true deity. But at least Kennelly’s half dotty admirer, U2 frontsman Bono, (who has used the poem for U2’s pop theology), hasn’t controversially praised it as he did Kennelly’s The Book of Judas as poetry flying “as high as the Holy Spirit flies” for sheer inspiration!).

Scriptures and especially the reformist/prophetic Hebrew tradition scarcely register for Ireland despite some natural Celtic affinity for such, a reason perhaps that the Irish and Jews have been so associated, at least politically, in America. Irish Catholicism is, alas, more a matter of devotions, rituals and folk religion, not to say superstition, though in earlier centuries and before Catholicism invaded via England like Protestantism later, the Celts produced the likes of Pelagius and Erigena in theology and philosophy. The convolutions of Joycean thought which could serve an almost “rabbinical” examination of life and literature, are expended by Joyce and his imitators on what is often little more than lavatory wall scribble. The attack upon Irish religion given Joycean example has become a matter of aesthetics rather than thought, and there the matter has become largely stuck. Reform and development are highjacked by aimless, passive complaint which the poetry echoes. Joyce’s interest in Ireland may at one level have been futuristic in revolt against nationalist nostalgias of his time, but paradoxically his labours (eighteen years alone on the still almost unreadable, Finnegans’s Wake whose best effects are contained in the first and last sentences!) catch the culture in a circling, repetitive torpor from which it seems unable to emerge.

If it wasn’t clearer earlier, it is fully apparent in the wake of the Murphy and Ryan reports and ongoing church scandals, that the Catholic church has failed Ireland abysmally.The country has survived less because of Catholicism as long popularly maintained, than despite it. For long the hierarchy opposed most Irish moves and calls to independence, (notoriously one prelate declared that hell wasn’t hot enough nor eternity wasn’t long enough to punish Fenians). Meanwhile, hidden in  orphanages, monasteries and nunneries was behaviour fit for the Inquisition. Some of it (and despite the vein of quasi-Wildean preciousness in a lot of Irish culture) seems as though arisen from some, satanic, nightmare level of Celtic consciousness which the modern poetry almost celebrates in its vision of existence as virtual vomitorium and lavatory, a dream world in which one falls in a shower of waste as in a ridiculous short poem Free Falls by Thomas Kinsella. (You can read it with a commentary many times its length in Britain’s Guardian newspaper’s Poem of the Week for 9.12.13 where you will be assured Kinsella b.1928, “significantly helped shape the course of poetry in Ireland, and beyond”. By conducting it to Sam Beckett’s lavatory?)

Only Catholicism whose semper idem principle has almost automatically opposed change, fails to recognize the at once psychological and spiritual principle, that there is a duty to seek change for the sake of soul, and even for spiritual health and progress to question religion as mere tradition and “to let the dead bury their dead”. Biblically God is portrayed as departing from the Jerusalem temple (Ezek 10:18) when a certain level of evil is exceeded, this in itself a declaration that no institution however venerable is automatically, eternally sacrosanct in the eyes of God. The Judaeo-Christian tradition always declares “come out of her my people” (Rev 18:4 ) the reason being “so that you do not partake in her sins….so that you do not share in her plagues”. Christianity is, or should be, less about tradition than the in-break and formation of the new. In our own times and faced with certain features of Islam, Ayaan Hirsi Ali has proposed, (what Christians seem fearful of doing even while Christians are persecuted by Muslims and denied the legal right to use the Allah word in some places), namely that Muslims should reject their faith and become either atheists or Christians or (more recently she concedes) at least definitively reject the traditions of Sharia Law.

In The Invention of Ireland  (1995) Declan Kiberd proposes the Protestant perspective could have been more used and useful to Ireland. I agree. Maybe reform is yet possible for Irish Catholicism, but as the author of Temple Mysteries and Spiritual Efficiency who believes religion must work for people, I feel I could go further than Kiberd and maintain it’s probably high time Ireland abandoned the Catholicism it seems no longer able to trust, love and believe – not abandon for pure secularism which would be defeatist and perhaps even impossible given certain features of the Celtic mind, but some alternative. Obviously one would not recommend surrender to anything like Paisleyite Protestantism and Ireland wouldn’t go there anyway. But anything from Orthodoxy to Charismatics might serve….anything in order to start again and actually to exert a spiritual will, to integrate the levels of Celtic vision. This, where it is strong in persons, is currently sinking back into the vaguest neo-paganism, new ageism or  perhaps Buddhism, going everywhere and nowhere like the repeated ambiguities of Bono lyrics or an agnostic Heaney advising in Doubletake,

….“Believe that further shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracle
And cures and healing wells”.

If even Latin America has been casting off Catholicism usually for Protestant alternatives, why not Ireland if it would help cauterize the wounds and go somewhere definite?

I think there can be no question but that influences on Irish leaders of opinion stemming from Joyce and Beckett and their often slavish successors colour the social outlook and have favoured poetic themes in a way to justify a certain victimology, a culture of complaint and aimless protest much of it just a Beckettian sinking Winnie passivity. And we readers of such authors are even encouraged by the guides and critics of their productions to take a “poor Joyce” and still more a “poor Beckett” line in estimation of their lives and work. Contrary to Yeats’ meaningful dictum “in dreams begin responsibilities”, it as though these artists’ deliberate life choices meant little or nothing. Especially depression in the style of Beckett somehow excuses speaking darkness and a sitting-Murphy despair to the rest of the world at every opportunity –the sort of thing some of us like myself who has suffered clinical depression, have made actual effort to avoid.

We need moreover to wake up and realize that like the bad tree which can only produce bad fruit, in pursuit of their aims these persons have, however unwittingly, contributed to establish new and unacceptable restrictions. Obviously much censorship in Joyce’ youth was absurd and we have all heard of how the accomplished prose of Dubliners got refused for publication because of inclusion of the word bloody. Yet a century later admirers and inheritors of the Joycean legacy are not themselves without their prejudices and the society which readily tolerates what today would have the likes of Beckett executed if he were a Muslim for repeated profanities, behind the scenes can prove  controversially censoring in the area of religion and much else. Even to include such words as “conduct” and “bestow” can be sufficient to refuse you publication.

I had no special intention to make this article personal, and I don’t really have any need now that the scandals and injustices experienced in relation to persons of the literary establishments and publishing is available for anyone to read as an aspect of my memoir Reflections of an Only Child. (amzn.to/1rRagvl). However if I do include a personal note at this point, it’s because while preparing this article I received from The Irish Review, and not unexpectedly – I only applied to satisfy pressures on me to do so – an incoherent refusal from a writer (ironically and almost hilariously of all people  the author of Deconstructing Ireland) as regards a request for some exposure of my poetry.

ROAOC     NPTCDRAMAS

I was informed in one and half lines they couldn’t publish “it”, whatever poem could have been meant by “it”, since I’d suggested seeing a collection of verse (New Poems and Two Celtic Dramas) from which something might have been selected. As self-recommendation I had pointed out a poetic drama of mine on a Celtic theme had been performed in Australia. I also suggested my Coming To Syracuse mini epic could be looked at on the Net as proof of some basic competence in poetry (It would be too long for publication so I didn’t offer it for such). As no one from specifically Ireland visited the poem between my sending the email and receiving the refusal two days later, plainly those of The Irish Review didn’t bother to check.

Had he/they done so, it would have been clear apart from shortage of space or a special theme of the month such as could have been told me, there would be at least no moral right to refuse me. Any occasionally expressed claim of mine to be writing and as a Protestant of Irish nationality closest to Yeats in theme and style is not any boast but a statement of fact. I am more inclined to the mythic, metaphysical and visionary theme, and I deserve the attention denied me and not for the first time, but continuously in Ireland for anything poetic or otherwise. And I could well demand it in the face of the sometimes insulting and selfish way those of the diaspora are too easily dismissed as having no inheritance, no stake in anything Irish at all. (I can’t imagine Jews or Italians suffering the same kind of treatment). I suspect what the refused “it” was and which damned me, was that I also mentioned, (and I admit I was testing the waters!), that he could also look on the Net at my Remembering Seamus Heaney. No one today is allowed to blaspheme the Heaney god. He is Irish poetry, even if some of us like Camille Paglia (who refused to anthologize him) would consider him third class Yeats.

“OUT OF SHAPE FROM TOE TO TOP”

Heaneyverse

Well might Yeats’ valedictory Under Ben Bulben almost prophetically declare:

Irish poets learn your trade
Sing whatever is well made
Scorn the sort now growing up
All out of shape from toe to top…

Well made” here is key. Poetry (above the simple entertainment level) is first and foremost the art of excellence. It’s because it is about excellence that Yeats like his virtual mentor, Shelley, often felt that what he had produced was not quite good enough. ”True” poetry is what is as distinctively finished as a piece of sculpture or memorable as the strains of a major  symphony. And despite the self-doubt, it was this absolute quality that at his best Yeats was able to achieve and it’s why he continues to be internationally celebrated. Obviously he wouldn’t have appreciated those many Irish poets who have followed him who are too often writing what is almost an anti-poetry that has not issued from heart and intellect working in harmony. And there is something else here.

It is an admitted embarrassment that the elderly Yeats should have leaned towards fascist views of genetics and eugenics and that his Under Ben Bulben too baldly refers to the new Irish poets in terms of:

Their unremembering hearts and heads
Base born products of base beds

but there is arguably a kernel of truth here to be considered.

POETRY THAT REMEMBERS

Ben Bulben

It was and still is yet another mistake of post-Yeats poetry that it too lightly assumed there is scarcely anything Irish to represent whether through the “remembering” of Yeats’ Great Memory (read Collective Unconscious) or raw temperament. By the latter I mean those things like a sense of rhythm, pattern, even a way of observing people and objects that seems as distinctive as La Tène Celtic art yet spontaneous and minimally acquired through cultural means.

There are two ways in which persons belong or deeply feel they belong to a country. One may do so, as the perhaps more Anglo-Irish than Irish Yeats seemed to, namely by some hard-to-understand and as good as occult principle of earth consciousness of the kind Jung accepted. It is a belief that the land itself can leave some imprint beyond any effects of culture or the length of time spent there. (Like actress Joanna Lumley, unquestionably many Anglos born in India have felt there is some “touch” of Asia left on them that time and cultural education away from it will not erase or explain). Plainly there was something in Yeats that would always want to arise and go to Innisfree or stand beneath Ben Bulben even when dying in France. Just recently I read on the Net the poem of an Irish American plainly in the grip of the same kind draw to the Irish earth itself. Some accomplished late poems of the mostly self-exiled C.Day Lewis could be deriving their strength from the principle.

The other important way one belongs to a people is – likely enough – genetically. It is almost taboo in a multicultural society to speak of race as any determinant of anything, but there may even be a hidden injustice to that position, one which obscures certain realities. How do we explain (as the last week that I have been writing this, one hears of the Lebanese son of an Australian mother and the Libyan son of a French Canadian mother, both feeling themselves different and maladjusted and turning against family, homeland and every sensible advantage to become IS fanatics.

Multiculturalism is a value system relying much on the empirical/pragmatic outlook Yeats held suspect, and it is apparent the kind of society it encourages too often produces divided, discontented even tormented individuals left to feel an impulse to realize – precisely what? It may be, and probably is, the ineradicable drumbeats of something profoundly genetic that feels unaccepted, inalienably different and struggles to reach expression beyond whatever a post-enlightenment culture of reason lays out. I have myself protested in Reflections of an Only Child what seems like the blithe indifference to questions of race and inheritance among Irish leaders of opinion. If some nations have had too much race theory, Ireland has arguably had too little, even almost none though of no people group might something like racial inheritance be more obvious – the character of the Celts is easily recognizable in the descriptions of the ancients over two millennia ago. It is too easily imagined in Ireland (and originally because pragmatic, empirical England had assumed something of the kind) that as long as a person can make a living and be fed, it doesn’t much matter where on the face of the globe they reside. Accordingly, immigration is almost regarded as necessary and convenient even while it may in fact prove quite disorientating and take a real psychological toll on individuals.

Reacquainting myself after many years with Irish poetry and its issues, I found a reading of Stan Smith’s Irish Poetry and the Construction of Modern Identity (2005) and Wes Davies’ compendious An Anthology of Irish Verse (2013) dispiriting. There were fine examples of poetry from numbers of poets, but overall I would judge the collection, especially as it covers the scene over the last two generations, trashy. Too often it presents a punkish anti-poetry in which the only Irish thing about it is the will to act and pose, in this case to act out not being Irish, to uncharacteristically understate oneself, to be cool because it’s hip, sophisticated and neo-international to be so. (As I shall inevitably be accused of exaggeration, I was pleased to read a Paris Review interview (The Art of Fiction. no 82) in which even Edna O’Brien, whose concern is with prose fiction not poetry, charging modern Ireland with just imitating Anglo-American mores).

“STILL THE INDOMITABLE IRISHY”?

Shamrocks

If I hardly recognize any distinctive, perennial Celtic character in the poetry of especially the last thirty years (beyond perhaps, however negatively, a quality of  violent/surrealistic “vision” in elements of Brendan Kennelly), it is because something counter-intuitional is going on. There is a refusal of the “remembering” which Yeats rightly considered essential to poetry, Irish or any other. It will be protested that Heaney, a poseur if ever there was one, does remember – he remembers a dark ancient bog past and a rough farmland present or recent past. But his roughness is either inauthentic or unnecessary or both. If he genuinely aimed to represent a rural coarseness he should not have weighed his verse down like an over burdened Christmas tree with jargon and obscure technical vocabulary that avoids, or substitutes for, real emotion or committed statement (a really great and passionate poet could, like Racine, say everything with only two thousand words). Also if Heaney is indifferent (as in The Early Purges) to the killing and drowning of kittens and pups, then he was just a rough cur who we can and should just dismiss as such. I can only say, as indicated in my memoir, my own forebears in Ireland didn’t take that kind of attitude towards animals despite being raised on a farm and I know plenty of Irish didn’t and don’t either. Indeed I looked up an article on the Net where some protested similar things, in one case someone insisted their people had been farmers not far from the Heaneys and didn’t approve such views. Heaney’s sentiments cannot just be excused on the basis they are only “representative” of Irish life and farmers.

In response to Early Purges words like

….Still, living displaces false sentiments
And now, when shrill pups are prodded to drown
I just shrug, “Bloody pups”, it makes sense.

one disgusted correspondent was even moved to extemporize:

Seamus is dead thank God
I hated the words of this man
Cruel and unthinking and more than a little odd
Now he’s gone, give his work an outright ban

My chief overall impression of modern Irish poetry is of so much quasi-journalism presuming to call itself verse. (And again, having arrived at that conclusion, I was again fascinated to note that from her different sphere Edna O’Brien opines in the mentioned interview that the trouble today is so many writers are just journalists). Ireland’s poets sound too often depressed, glum, sullen, resentful, mocking and shocking, even occasionally cruel like Michael Hartnett – his Pigkilling belongs with Heaney for indifference to animals – almost totally devoid of a smile and certainly lacking any good story to tell. Indeed it’s can be so remote from any light touch that isn’t outright clown-silly with Paul Muldoon (”with a stink and a stink and a stinky-stick”) that it’s hard to imagine Oscar Wilde ever came out of Ireland. It’s typical of what’s wrong that a quite well known, almost popular poem by Sean O’Riorain called Saoirse (Freedom) includes such sentiments as:

I’ll bear affection for people
without anything original
in their stockthoughts.

One can of course do that; it belongs today to various relativist and egalitarian tendencies – Yeats’ “levelling wind” – but if you surrender to the humdrum in this way you won’t be going on any Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage to anywhere (certainly not to Yeats’ Byzantium)  and have much to say or be at all. Ultimately most modern Irish poetry, like too much poetry elsewhere, is just a bore, an activity for in-groups, precisely the scene Yeats would encourage us to turn from and even scorn. And necessarily so if one doesn’t want to lose all sense of social, let alone literary direction.

According to one of his reviewers, the essential idea behind Colin Graham’s The Deconstruction of Ireland (2001)  is that what’s called ‘Ireland’ just “stages its own deconstruction and that at every turn the idea unravels and reforms itself, always in anticipation of the next act of definition and criticism which…will be inadequately applied to it”. It follows that both affirmation and deconstruction for Ireland are but a “momentary stop on a seemingly runaway train” and Ireland, itself a concept in flux, “is a future which is always posited and never attained”.

Undeniably Ireland and our world is changing, but change is not everything; and notions of an ungraspable, indefinable “Ireland” bespeak how things are – or will just feel and seem – to the secular consciousness for which there is no “remembering” in the Yeatsian sense, little or no scope for poetry in the broadest sense as contributing to culture, and perhaps most importantly as indicated, no personal or collective willingness to take real control of the spiritual life from which so much else flows.

We inhabit an almost post-poetic age in which the magic, the mystery, the spirit of the poetic art has been lost, but which the policy direction behind the granting of  bursaries, prizes, professorships of poetry, publications are almost busy helping us lose, putting what was once a fairly public medium – even when difficult, Isaiah, Dante and Shakespeare were essentially for everyone – into the hands of cliques. Yeats, even in his greatness may not be the perfect poet – who is? – and most could never reckon to follow him into ritual magic. But if poets and modern Ireland cannot regain some grip upon his magic and the magic of existence, we shall continue in the shallows rather than the heights of literature if we don’t bring it to near to outright extinction. Hopefully Yeats 2015 will provide new inspiration and beginnings.

IRISH AUSTRALIAN  (Irish Australian Heritage Flag)

 

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Posted by on November 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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THE HIDDEN DEITY and A DIVINE REJECTION : TWO POEMS

FIG TREE

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

THE HIDDEN DEITY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 NOTES

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

BLASTED

A DIVINE REJECTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NOTES

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

 

 

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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THAT LEFT BEHIND RAPTURE RIDDLE

THAT LEFT BEHIND RAPTURE RIDDLE

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

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

Rapture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finally I would note that 2017 plausibly fulfils apparent gospel demands as regards a “generation” that sees the era’s end in parallel with affairs of a reviving Israel. Theoretically a generation could be forty, seventy or one hundred and twenty years according to biblical count. 2017 is not only 50 years (the highly significant Jubilee period) from 1967 when Israel retook its ancient capital, Jerusalem. It is 70 years from 1947 which is when Israel was first announced by the UN (albeit only fully founded a few months later in 1948) and it is 120 years from 1897 which saw the birth of Zionism, while it is 2 Jubilees of 50 years from 1917 when Allenby took Jerusalem from the Ottoman Turks. Plainly 2017 is and should prove a special year in some fashion.  There can be no ironclad guarantees from astrology or anywhere for scenarios as unique as Rapture or related apocalyptic events, even assuming believers are intended to consider “times and seasons” rather more than has traditionally been thought to be right.. But there’s little question that it is in 2017 one sees the greatest convergence of signs supporting ideas of a major turning point in history……

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

 

 
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Posted by on October 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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UNDER PARNASSUS (an Under Ben Bulben variation)

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

 

Parnassus

UNDER PARNASSUS (An UNDER BEN BULBEN VARIATION) 

1

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

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

Here’s what that lasting radiance means:

11

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

111

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

1V

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

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

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

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

V

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

V1

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

NOTES

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

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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