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PRINCE CHARLES AND THE POETS: A CONUNDRUM

 A CONUNDRUM

charlespoet

Thinking outside the box, being or just seeming eccentric has its uses. It has had the latter In the case of Britain’s Prince Charles in everything from useful experiments in architecture and the environment to the training of unemployed youth. When it comes to literature and despite Charles being a patron of the arts (and known for a highly traditional Shakespeare fan), the picture is more complex, peculiarly so and with what looks like subjectivity to the point of self-contradiction.It does so not least in relation to poetry as the expression of beliefs, an area in which Charles once famously declared he wishes one day to be “defender of faith” rather than “a defender of the faith”.

Yet if Charles’ major predilections when it comes to poets and poetry was anything to go by, it might be more accurate to describe him as defender of unfaith. His personal relations with especially two notable poets presents nothing short of a conundrum, though I have begun to see the conundrum entails a form of understanding that makes his position almost inevitable.

As described later, I have had dealings with at any rate one of the two poets considered here. They were two very different individuals who were rivals for the position of poet laureate – Ted Hughes (1930-1998) narrowly beat Kathleen Raine (1908-2003) to the position in 1984. Hughes, easily Britain’s most controversial poet since Lord Byron, despite all the scandals became almost family to the royals. A great natural storyteller he often read bed time stories to Princes William and Harry and since his death in 1998 Charles has erected a shrine (with stained glass!) to the poet at his Highgrove home and given permission to a hidden memorial on crown land in Dartmoor. Charles used to fish in the wilds and dine at home with the poet and his grandmother was, the poet alleged, almost flirtatious with him.

THE WILDEST POET SINCE BYRON 

by Rollie McKenna, bromide print, 1959

Women tended to find Hughes irresistible and were the problem of his life starting with the brilliant but difficult poet Sylvia Plath whom to this day many feminists choose to regard as virtual murder victim because Hughes’ infidelity drove her to suicide. The claim gained weight because death seemed to cling to Hughes like a leech. Assia Wevill, the married woman for whom Hughes left his wife, duplicated the gas oven suicide taking her daughter by Hughes along with her; another lover, Susan Alliston, died young of cancer, and Hughes’ son by Plath suicided in a fit of depression  – in this some saw genetics, some saw a curse, some said Hughes had been a domestic tyrant in a way to affect his son’s mind.

Bad though his record was, I feel it is possible to overdo the scandal of Hughes with women and similarly his reputation as virtual black magician due to his (rather Jungian) interest in the occult, alchemy, Cabbala, astrology, and shamanism – he deemed poetry a form of magic. If Hughes’s sexuality could, like his poetry, be volcanic and even sadistic, it’s a fact that when he first kissed Plath (who wanted to be a Cathy to this Yorkshireman’s Heathcliff) she drew blood from him like a vampire. But the faithless Hughes did love and respect Plath deeply (his last major work Birthday Letters is testimony enough to that) and arguably lifelong there would have been fewer flings and infidelities if the romantic pair had reconciled as intended and Plath survived. As it was, an irresistible man left rudderless and confused by his fate, followed the line of least resistance. Hughes may never have been the ogre many believed, but in one less obvious sense he was one.

As modern and especially British poets go, Hughes can be considered spiritual but not healthily so. Indeed, especially if poetry has anything like the magical function the poet assumed, then Hughes has purveyed little short of spiritual pollution itself. The early poems which brought fame in such collections as The Hawk in the Rain and Lupercal represent his Tarka the Otter or Kiplingesque line in verse. They project unusually forceful feeling onto the life of fauna and are healthy enough. After Plath’s suicide a new more shamanistic, less coherent, incomplete but highly dramatic and mythic form of verse takes over in the collections Crow and Cave Birds and this colours Hughes’ work across the next two decades.

THE TED HUGHES MASTERPIECE

The genesis of the cryptic Crow – Hughes’ masterpiece in his estimation  and that of at least some critics – arose from more than one impulse, but coming to terms with the death of Plath definitely had something to do with it.It’s a protest against common existence and notions of fate and God, to which it supplies alternative answers of a sort, even if because for Hughes poetry is “magic”, an act, resolution is like a shamanic dismemberment and reconstitution of self.  If the answers are personal they are perhaps perhaps indirectly also for England whose national psychology fascinated Hughes (author of the difficult but important Shakespeare and The Goddess of Complete Wisdom which  addresses this). And Britain for Hughes was symbolized less by its heraldic lion than the enterprising crow, the Celtic god Bran’s totem.

In the beginning was Scream

Who begat Blood…..
Who begat Adam
Who begat Mary
Who begat God
Who begat Nothing
Who begat Never
Never, Never, Never

Who begat Crow…..

hughescrow

It is hard to summarize Crow or even adequately excerpt from it; one can at best supply something of its flavour, relentlessly negative, profane, grotesque with its essential protest against creation.

“A final try’ said God. Now LOVE’
Crow convulsed, gaped, retched….
….And woman’s vulva dropped over man’s neck and tightened

The two struggled together on the grass
God struggled to part them, cursed, wept….”

Adam and Eve along with God regularly diverge from all canonical portrayals.

God ran and told Adam
Who in a drunken rage tried to hang himself in the orchard

The Serpent tried to explain, crying “Stop”….
And Eve started screeching: “Rape, Rape!”
And stamping on his head”

After creation God had been called upon to take it back and he suffers a nightmare which tells him to do better. Crow, a trickster figure, emerges to help correct things in the course of which he invents the chaos of sexuality and goes in quest of his female half.

At this level of story some might take Hughes’ picture to be almost humorous in a Monty Pythonesque fashion. But there’s enough of it and it becomes clear the inversions and negations of the canonical are a launch pad for the development of statements that cannot be taken as other than abusive and profane as Crow becomes some kind of image or shadow imitation of a Christ figure as in The Risen

When he soars his shape
Is a cross, eaten by light
On the Creator’s face…..

…In the wind-fondled crucible of his splendour
The dirt becomes God

And though the particular words aren’t within Crow itself but Cave Birds, one could guess that essentially the poet’s beliefs and attitudes as in A God, amounted to the following insulting grotesquery directed upon crucifixion and notions of salvation.

Pain was pulled down over his eyes like a fool’s hat…
He was helpless as a lamb
Which cannot be born
Whose head hangs down under its mother’s anus….

His patience had meaning only for him
Like the sanguine upside-down grin
Of a hanging half-pig…

He could not understand what had happened
Or what he had become

Though the verse is complicated, I doubt that the attitude that gives rise to them is. It may be almost too easy to make diagnosis of Hughes’ spiritual condition. Around the time of Plath’s funeral, Hughes had said he did not seek to be forgiven and if there was an eternity he would be damned (1). Did Hughes mean he would suffer his own guilt forever in refusal of all grace and redemption, or, since refusal of forgiveness can entail refusal of repentance, at some level there was nothing to repent of anyway? Either way the attitude seems singularly harsh and negative and it duly gives rise to negative effects. Almost everyone would agree there was something for Hughes to be sorry for. An attitude of ongoing self-criticism that tries to learn from failure, is almost fundamental to the Christianity that married and buried Hughes but did little else for him. Whether psychologically or spiritually, the guilt or unrepentance envisaged could automatically cut the individual off from God leaving them in precisely the death-dominated nay saying dark in which Crow operates.

CONSEQUENCES OF A SINGLE CHOICE

If Hughes had reflected more upon even just the symbolism of his beloved occult sources, he might have learned something. The images of alchemy include the mutilation of the screaming lion’s paws, an image of the lion (Hughes was astrologically a Leo) needing to be cured of his defiant pride if the process is to continue. Arguably Hughes represents only the latest among notable Leos engaged upon some theatrical collision course with deity. One thinks of Jack Miles God: A Biography, which aims to cut God down to size. Among poets there is Robert Graves who invented the White Goddess and more famously Shelley who waged a long war against a half believed in deity. Some critics have seen revolt against God in the both the fiction (Pierre) and poetry (Clarel) of Hermann Melville. Leo philosopher, Feuerbach, reduces God to nothing but a reflection of the human mind. Jung’s The Answer to Job does much the same. Leo simply does not readily admit to faults minor or major, is not humble…..like the devil one might say – in my always correct data for Christ, Lucifer (the asteroid) appears in the sign of Leo. (2).

So much of Hughes poetry is insalubrious and gratuitously violent (persons fainting outright at readings was not uncommon), one is inclined to think Prince Charles didn’t absorb too strongly what was written or said beyond the earliest offerings. Or perhaps core messages were passed over as being akin to merely Monty Python entertainments to which, like the Goon show before it, Charles was partial. (Eric Idle’s popular but distinctly godless song, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life from the Python team’s The Life of Brian, was performed for Charles’ sixtieth birthday).

KATHLEEN RAINE, UNEXPECTED ROYAL GURU

reinebook

Though the intrepid Kathleen Raine who died at ninety five after being hit by a car didn’t qualify for a Highgrove shrine, a personally commissioned  bust of her stands in Charles home among others representing a special influence. Some have called the pair soul mates. Exceptionally for royal custom, Charles attended the poet’s anachronistic funeral in Westminster Cathedral (anachronistic because Raine considered her brief conversion to Catholicism a mistake out of harmony with her beliefs and life work), and with the Queen’s permission he arranged a memorial service at the St James’ palace chapel. At that service it was mentioned how Raine regarded her connection with Charles as a fated part of her life mission. So this was a poet who had become another of those almost but not quite family figures. Prince and poet engaged a lively correspondence and Charles used to call in at the writer’s Chelsea home in Paultons Square for tea and cakes and pep talks where he was distinctly encouraged to pursue paths less travelled, was assured his position was the hardest and loneliest in the world but that he must  not surrender one inch “to the riff raff”.

In contrast to the relation with Hughes, Charles had to have been very certain about what Kathleen Raine represented as chief co-founding editor of the magazine Temenos (founded 1984). It began as a review “devoted to the arts of the Imagination” with the understanding that most meaningful  expressions of art are related to the sacred). Suitably impressed, Charles became its patron and later gave room space and lecture time in his new Academy of Architecture to those engaged on Raine’s project. He was so impressed by it the magazine became the Temenos Academy Review, effectively the review of a school Charles sponsored that was devoted to promotion of the Platonic Good, True and Beautiful across cultures. Charles himself contributed an article, A Sense of the Sacred – Building Bridges between Islam and the West. The magazine had been originally inspired by the work of Henry Corbin in France, an Islamic scholar who taught the fundamental unity of the Abrahamic faiths, though I think that emphasis minimally reflected any beliefs or interests of Raine who was drawn more to the faiths of Asia.

IN PARENTHESIS: BELIEFS OF PRINCE CHARLES

charlesmus

Charles’ Temenos contribution is the sort of thing which especially early in the century fostered rumours about a private conversion to or profound affinity for Islam, a point on which I shall briefly digress though I can’t possibly know truth in this matter. Undeniably there were visits to Muslim shrines, a donning of Muslim garb, controversial words uttered about the possible integration of Sharia Law to Britain and at least one Sheik (Mohammed Naim al Haqqani, Mufti of Turkish Cyprus and a Sufi Grand Mufti) would affirm that Charles was unofficially Sufi, a Muslim in his heart as Allah accepted (3). It could however be that HRH’s enthusiasm (he has spoken of “the perfection and beauty of original Islam”) was the expression of an earlier era when few knew the finer or any details of Sharia, when Islamism had not emerged and appreciation of world faiths had a stronger aesthetic emphasis (If Charles is enamoured of Islamic art he fancies Greek icons too in harmony with Raine’s connection of the aesthetic with the sacred).

It belongs with Charles’ “out of the box” treatment of themes that recently he has bemoaned the relative silence of media in the face of the genocide of Middle Eastern Christians. This is not like a convert’s talk. What is known and certain is that Charles has been strongly influenced by the universalist religious ideas of Swiss writer Frithjof Schuon, who regarded at any rate mystical Islam as a potential unifying force in the world and converted to Sufism, though also being associated with Amerindian tribal religion and other systems in his quest for primordial faith and perennial wisdom.. Mark Sedgwick in Against the Modern World probably gives the best description of Charles’ belief and I cite this in note. (4)

RAINE: LINKING THE AESTHETIC AND THE SACRED

As said, Raine founded Temenos to promote precisely   “imagination” and a sense of the sacred. This was to be furthered amid modern deserts of materialism and ultra-rationalism. She considered all true poetry a form of Platonism and genuine poets Platonists at heart, though perhaps like Hughes she believed verse could be “magic” too. At one time and in imitation of Yeats, Golden Dawn ceremonies got performed in her home. At least a couple of poems seem to indicate she saw or was visited by spirits (The Elementals, In Paralda’s Kingdom).

A major, ground breaking  authority on William Blake, and a noted admirer of Yeats, (both figures seen as representing “imagination”), Raine was a distinguished critic and significant advocate of neo-romanticism in especially poetry. She was herself by general consent an accomplished poet if unevenly so as she half admits in her final Collected Poems. This  excised some pieces, the sort of soppy, sentimental, rather confused personal stuff you feel shouldn’t be there – KR’s love life had always been troubled and in the case of gay author Gavin Maxwell, guilt-ridden as she had (some said successfully) cursed him in a fit of rage when he couldn’t reciprocate her desires.

When not about love or urban and rural scenes, the more mystical or philosophical of Raine’s verse tends to oscillate between awareness of being isolated as perhaps a fragment of a larger whole and awareness of somehow being or warmly included in that whole.

Thus:

I am a wave
That will never reach the shore

I am an empty shell
Cast up upon the sand   (The Unloved)

……It is enough now I am old
That everywhere above, beneath
About, within me is the one
Presence…     (In my Seventieth Year)

I am old and alone but boundless
All is everywhere
Once is forever (A Love remembered)

This emphasis early on and continuously supplied KR a kind of spontaneous affinity for Hindu identity mysticism, though she did not realize this till late and the last two decades of her long life. Before that and as the daughter of a rather repressive Methodist preacher, she had been in flight from Christianity, unclear even what the word “God” meant. Earth’s great cry of joy and woe that KR hears and then a consubstantiality with the earth she feels is perhaps…..

….What men called God
Before the word lost meaning. This
That needs no doctrine to make plain,
No cult to offer or withhold
A union more intimate
Than breath of life…….  

Sometimes rejection of or by God (however described), strikes a strange note.

God in me beats my head upon a stone   (Storm)

Stranger still are statements as from Judas Tree to the effect that if it was remarkable Judas was a betrayer, it was almost more remarkable the other disciples, “So stupidly, so tentatively faithful” were stayers. The poet realizes she has more often been a betrayer (of Christ?) than Judas, but sorrowed less for it and isn’t like Judas hanging on a tree.

While Raine could hardly claim to have betrayed anyone to death, it seems plain enough that between her critical and poetic work for much of her life she was a nay saying neo-pagan. It was the combination of a belated discovery of India and then the discovery of herself by Charles, that gave Raine more purpose in life and something approaching specific direction of faith. It then took the form of hymns to Shiva (Prayer to the Lord Shiva, Nataraja, Millennial Hymn to the Lord Shiva) and even addresses to the sun

Sun, great giver of all that is……
How address you greatest of givers,
God, angel, these words served once, but no longer…
But no myth, as before our eyes you are or seem…
Am I in you or you in me….?                          (To the Sun)

In some sense and in a poem dedicated to Charles, she could see how by tradition kings were sun identified. (Legendary Kings).

The Millennial Hymn to Shiva, asks who else can we pray to with the days of praising the Creator over and so much of the world being destroyed, than the Lord of destruction, a destruction that purifies. In the violence of Shiva, Raine seems to find some resolution of the passive and aggressive elements of her divided self.

MEETING KATHLEEN RAINE

raine        rollan-1

                         Kathleen Raine                                               McCleary in 1987

Back in 1987 I knew Ms Raine chiefly for her well informed, insightful critical work, but I knew she had founded Temenos and was generally a promoter of the neo-romantic. I was hopeful she might perceive myself as a neo-romantic, more especially in poetry where I had produced material working towards a loosely tantric, East-West aesthetic. Earlier in the decade I had enjoyed an international critical success (in prose) on East-West cultural and religious issues as a result of living many years in Asia, but poetry was a sudden new arrival in my life. Even today I remain surprised at just how proficient some of the work like the Anuradhapura I offered to Raine, actually was given that it came without any real precedent. The poems now in Puer Poems (the title influenced by Jung’s theory of the Puer archetype I somewhat celebrate) (5), had nonetheless hit a brick wall. There wasn’t a magazine or publisher would give it the time of day for almost any reason. It’s wasn’t the writing itself was bad, it would have been hard to maintain precisely that. It was always something else. You must go through magazines first, magazines objected the poems were too long or exotic. It was quite clear anything neo-romantic,  East-West or “occult” (one of the poems evoked theatre in terms of kabbalistic concepts) was simply not to be considered. You need to be Yeats or Ted Hughes before you can be tolerated for such interests.

Since I lived in Chelsea when I wasn’t overseas, I decided to wander down the Embankment and call at Paultons Square and ask for a poem or excerpts of some to be included in Ms Raine’s esteemed magazine so that I might have the recommendation of it to wave at recalcitrant publishers. As I thought it might appeal to her, I was even bold enough to present myself as having some affinities for the world of Yeats. This was not as foolish or presumptuous as it might sound. Even a department head for my first degree on meeting me years later, remarked he wasn’t surprised at my development as he had always registered me as a type of young Yeats and within a year or two of meeting Ms Raine, a rara avis, a poetic drama based on a Celtic mythic theme, had been accepted by the ABC in Australia. Contemporary Irish verse which has largely followed the British modernism Raine abominated,  contains little or no romantic, mythic or religious content. I can state unequivocally I am closer to Yeats than any of Irish nationality writing today. (I could also claim to have been continuously discriminated against because of it too!).

So…. theoretically there was no special reason for Ms Raine to refuse me the favour of a page or two of print in a sizeable review. I knew I ticked most of the boxes or seemed to.

Having described Ms Raine and meeting her in my memoir, I won’t say much more than this. When she got round to checking me out more particularly CV wise, and I mentioned that my internationally well-reviewed The Expansion of God had been published in Britain by SCM (a respected publisher of theology and philosophy), she almost choked with horror gasping “Oh, so you’re a Kistian!”. And while I sat (quite likely where Charles would sit in full view of her dancing Shiva bronze), she launched into a lecture, almost a tirade, about the superiority of India over the West, the nonsense of Europeans trying to bring any religious wisdom to it, etc etc.

Raine’s biography states that some considered her an autocrat. Sensing as much myself, I felt virtually certain in light of her shock that I would not be accepted whatever I said or did and that I would be sentenced without trial. Unsurprisingly, the details of the later refusal proved not just mean in the context of my thankless task of being published for the kind of material Raine should support, but suitably absurd. How could someone admitting I had something of Wordsworth, then object I exceeded his expression of the egotistical sublime by admitting the purely private to my verse. Here was an objection (surely a Jungian projection!) from someone herself embarrassingly personal in her own verse to the point of complaining (since Raine was once celebrated for beauty) of her thin hair and old breasts and whose revelations include how she managed her cat, “Is Pussy coming to bed?”  (I see my little Cat). My own work would seem downright impersonal by comparison. And any religious prejudice was ironic too since, however Christian I might be personally or in the published book I’d mentioned to her, the reality was that the material that would constitute Puer Poems unlike more recent work such as Raphael and Lucifer and Other Visionary Poems, (6) had nothing Christian to it at all. Conservative Christians might even have objections to the content, and given the way I’d employed religious and mythic imagery I didn’t believe in, I could almost have been taken for a Buddhist or Yeatsian theosophist.

POSSIBILITIES AND LIMITATIONS OF POETRY

Poetry can be and do many things. At its higher reaches it can function to change perspectives, further unity through new thought syntheses, grant vision to people. Accordingly it can be all of Ted Hughes “magic” and national definitions and likewise Kathleen Raine’s “transcendence” and evocation of the Beautiful. However, even Raine’s devotion to the Platonic Beautiful cannot avoid the Good and True.

The greatest originality can never entirely circumvent basic psychological and spiritual principles. If, like Hughes, one refuses anything like “repentance”, one will be left raging in the dark, and if like Raine one dismisses all issues of truth-in-belief in favour of the claims of tradition, love, inclusion or whatever, one will merely finish in self-contradiction…. not to say the discrimination that officially one’s position may claim to be opposed to.

Raine may establish Temenos to unite cultures, beliefs and creativity across the board, but practically she would be strongly opposed to and exclusive of all Christianity (outside possibly the Meister Eckhart ultra-mystical “heretical” kind) and caught in the branches of her own Judas Tree. The position exemplifies the biblical statement “Whoever is not for me is against me and whoever does not gather with me, scatters” (Luk 11:23).

THE UNIVERSALIST PIPE DREAM

Prince Charles has never been notably fortunate in his gurus – the “Jungian” adviser the late, Laurens van der Post (another Chelsea resident and a friend of Raine) has been shown to be such a lying fraud and some claimed a pedophile, he is today best forgotten and unmentioned – but I suggest that where poetic gurus are concerned, the complication repeats itself if more mildly. More mildly, but not with less potential significance for the Prince’s credo, and perhaps increasingly that of many who incline to the same would-be universalist views.

One sets out to include everyone, to defend “faith”, to love the world over its component national or whatever parts, but one finishes with discrimination in fact. At its worst, it is precisely tolerance, acceptance and inclusion of all people, races and faiths that in Britain has allowed the Trojan horse scandal in education and the sexual exploitation of minors through police fears of “racist” charges if they point to crimes and values protected within specific cultural and religious groups. In this way the moral ideal breeds the immoral one and the religious ideal fosters spiritual pollution.

Arguably the truest., most appropriate poetry for our times would be prophetic satire, nothing more, nothing less. I could envisage a sort of update of Pro 7 with this time a lost, aimless Europa and her unruly offspring wandering “in the twilight, in the evening, in the time of night and darkness”. But I sense it is already too late to tackle the momentous subject of rapid western decline in all its daunting complexity. Albeit from a different perspective, I share some of the pessimism of Raine’s Millennial Hymn to Shiva. in which already there is something less to warn against or correct than to resign to and mourn. It is has become apparent to me that writing well and relevantly today only raises insecurities and resentments in those who determine the face of literature. I mentioned last article the case of a leading Australian poet who while giving me the back-handed praise rather like Raine’s Wordsworth compliment that I had the musicality of Virgil (not a bad hit – tell the Dartmoor shades of classics translator and astrologer  Ted Hughes that asteroid Virgil conjuncted my sun at birth!), the fact I had included such “hopelessly archaic words” as “conduct” and “bestow” meant I could not be published with Penguins.

The rapidly increasing decline of the West is due not just to its materialism and PCness but among other things its artistic decadence, pundits like Raine invoking light but too often fostering darkness. As said, this decline is a theme already almost too large, too late for any one person or artist to tackle and after much striving to be allowed any kind of voice, finally I refuse to attempt such tasks, though my Beyond Dover Beach is a gesture in the direction (7). As the Taoists have it, “to retire is best”. In my own case I am satisfied that retiral and silence are the appropriate response. “Where there is no vision the people perish”. But if help is not wanted, often it is not right to insist upon giving it either; casting pearls never helped anyone or anything.

As to Prince Charles and because he does enjoy influence, one can only hope he is more fortunate in future with his gurus of art, avoiding the contradictions into which they could lead him and others.

NOTES

1) Jonathan Bate, Ted Hughes: The Unauthorized Life, p.219
2) Testament of the Magi: Mysteries of the Birth and Life of Christ, goo.gl/I28aCm
3 ) Alleged Sufi conversion https://goo.gl/MF2qYF and  for continuous updates over the years on Charles’ statements and gestures vis-à-vis Islam see https://goo.gl/YnNndW
4) “…..Charles’ own position might be described as anti-modernist Jungian and Emersonian universalism. At the opening of his Institute of Architecture he defined “spirit” as that overwhelming experience of awareness of a oneness with the Natural World, and beyond that with the creative force we call God which lies at the central point of all….It is both ‘pagan’ and Christian and in this sense is surely the fundamental expression of what we call religion”. In the same speech Prince Charles spoke against “scientific rationalism:” as “destroying the traditional foundations on which so many of our human values had been based for thousands of years” Against the Modern World: Traditionalism and the Secret Intellectual History. Mark Sedgwick. Oxford University Press 2004. n. 45 p 328.
5) Puer Poems  (2011) goo.gl/ymnMmr
6) Raphael and Lucifer and Other Visionary Poems (2016)  goo.gl/Xqd5BF
7) Beyond Dover Beach: A Poem of our Times http://wp.me/p2v96G-gY

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Posted by on February 6, 2017 in aesthetics, Poetry, religion

 

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A POPE WITH JESUIT AND FRANCISCAN HATS AND A SPECIAL FATE

MARCH 19th : A WRONG INAUGURATION DAY

There was once a time that popes employed astrology, but there is no chance they are doing so now. In one of the few changes Rome has made, its catechism has ruled against astrology. Since astrologers came to Christ’s birth this is controversial. But no astrologer in their right mind would elect, and no pope – unless perhaps he was Petrus Romanus, the last of them all and Pope at the time of Rome’s supposed destruction – would consent to the inaugural mass for his ministry to be set for this March 19th. It doesn’t look healthy. It is the day the sun is on the fateful last degree of Pisces (drownings, murder, suicide, and any permanent endings), the same degree that malefic Mars held at the last lunation just prior to the conclave.

Since not everyone and everything is invariably ruined on this degree – Ibsen was born with the sun well aspected here so he just wrote about death and endings! – one looks for other more helpful factors. But in this instance the picture seems unmitigated by even one decent lunar aspect (there’s just moon square Sun and Venus before leaving its sign). And in the background the fated nodes have now reached 19 Scorpio, by tradition supposedly the most unfortunate degree on the zodiac along with 29 Pisces. The single saving grace is that the inaugural mass starts at 9.30 am (Rome time) in the last minutes of 28 Pisces rather than on 29 degrees itself which hits around 11.30. I suppose one could say, as someone observed to me, that there are already indications, as when the Pope refused the ceremonial cape and remarked “the carnival is over”, that as far as any papal king and court are concerned Vatican pomp is receiving a death blow. Well, maybe, but I think there’s more. It’s hard to say quite what future is promised by such a negative picture at inauguration, and I won’t repeat here the nostrums of the late Catholic seeress, Jeane Dixon, about a last Pope (though I should mention that astrologers have noticed the bizarre fact that the 266th Pope is born on the 266th degree of the zodiac). Nevertheless somewhere, something is wrong, especially given the other signs mentioned in my other recent Vatican and Pope related articles. The new Pope himself is however optimistic…

A PAPAL FAITH JOURNEY

“Come on a journey…of faith” were some of the first words of the new Pope Francis. Sagittarius is the sign of faith and distance travel and the invitation was the expression of the mind of a Jupiter ruled Sagittarian, one brought from afar and who has already made clear he very much aligns with in his sign’s concern with beliefs, evangelization and mission, without which, he says, Christianity is merely another charity. Which is true enough – Christianity justifying its existence as an arm of charity only won’t do. But what’s in a name? Despite the modesty, simple life, known work among slum dwellers of Buenos Aires and even humour, this first third world and Jesuit Pope has perhaps as much identification with the far ranging Jesuit missionary St Francis Xavier as with the St Francis of Assisi (and St Francis de Sales, also devoted to the poor) he more consciously emulates.

And how identified Pope Francis is with the Jesuit tradition and order is a pertinent question since by tradition the Jesuits, though specially sworn to the Pope, have had very special loyalties to their Superior General, the “Black Pope”, head of their order, currently Alfonso Nicolas. This could mean that a modest person like Pope Francis might finish much influenced by his order and/or its leader. The Jesuit asteroid surely has to be LOYOLA (name of the order’s founder, suitably placed too in the Vatican’s house of religion, at 5 Taurus, itself within calling distance of the natal sun of the current Black Pope at 9 degrees. This Vatican degree of LOYOLA is exactly conjunct Francis’ Uranus. This indicates an unusual, special relation to the Jesuits and the Jesuits to him. Of course he’s the first Jesuit pope which is itself a Uranian fact, but given that Francis’ Aquarian Venus is square his Uranus and his Venus is conjunct FINI (finished) and in Aquarius (same sign that produced RATZINGER conjunct FINI in the Pentecost chart for Christianity) what might we be looking at? What might Jesuit influences do or precipitate or help end?

Francis’ birth chart bespeaks someone with power issues either controlling or being controlled (Saturn is directly opposite Neptune, Jupiter is in Capricorn quincunx Pluto not to mention that Francis got chosen, as it’s said any underdog figure can be, when the moon was “void of course”). As someone with virtually no Vatican experience he might need to be much supported and advised (controlled?) by others to manage the tangled web the Vatican represents. Charity and idealism, however worthy, might not suffice…..It may not have sufficed in the Argentina of the generals where, though some of the charges against the new Pope may be left wing gossip and libel, nothing quite alters that he, like the hierarchy, more or less took the side of an oppressive Junta when the rank and file of priests did not. This is a person who has been and can be influenced. If one is aware of conditions in Latin America the talk about desiring a church of and for the poor is fine….up to a point, provided the idea is not penitential compensation for having been controlled by the rich or an alibi, a form of emotional blackmail even, that deflects criticism in the hope the voice of poverty establishes absolute priority and privilege. This can finish in itself a classic form of passive aggressive control.

Whether or not I am being too harsh here, as said, idealism could prove inadequate to the task, especially if retiring Pisces rises at Francis’ birth. It probably does – normally a Sagittarius sun with moon Aquarius could give character traits closer to a freedom tripping bikie so there’s a reason it doesn’t? The birth time appears unknown and looks set to remain so, but not only does Pisces rising with a birth time between 12 and 1 pm fit the shy demeanour, but it’s what any substitute symbolic midday chart anyway supplies. And it makes a lot of sense. Pisces is the sign of the servant and Bergoglio even humbly asked Protestant evangelist Luis Palau to lay hands on him to pray he would remain a servant. Widely accepted work done on the chart for St Francis Assisi has established Pisces, probably 15 degrees (conjunct the Pope’s Saturn), was rising. Regardless, if the person is unassuming they will then need something like the sun at or near their career Midheaven to propel them towards world prominence. A time between 12.30 and 12 45 pm is to be suspected. This supplies a 20+ degree of Pisces ascendant probably hit by the 21 degrees Pisces lunation just before the conclave and it’s a pattern that places the FRANCIS asteroid (at 1 Aries, the sign of Francis Xavier) in the first house while it places the sun high. And Francis’ probably elevated sun is at 25 Sagittarius – the same degree that Pope Benedict, whose birth time is known, had at his Midheaven of destiny.

This 25 degrees is interesting in its own right, or it could be if – big question! – this Pope is Petrus Romanus of the St Malachy prophecy with its end of era persecution scenario for the church and the destruction of Rome. The reason I say this is because, as pointed out in my Vatican Destiny article of 13 Feb, of the difficulty of around 2016 and 17 for Catholicism. But if I look at the chart for St Peter’s Basilica, which would necessarily be attacked or destroyed if Rome were to be destroyed, it looks to be in trouble for the same period. Eclipses would hit its crucial MC and IC angles at 25 Pisces/Virgo and of course this is then square Pope Francis’ 25 degree Sagittarius sun. It’s speculative, but it’s a major point all the same.

A CONSERVATIVE POPE….AGAIN

Rather more certainly, with Pisces rising the sign’s ancient and modern rulers Jupiter and Neptune assume heightened significance within the Pope’s pattern, and this again makes sense. Francis’ Jupiter is in Capricorn, a reserved, practical but above all conservative position, while Neptune with its charity, dreams, idealism and compassion, not to say links to Jesus, is severely challenged by its direct challenge to Saturn.

This self-effacing person who has Saturn in Pisces opposite Neptune, an aspect which sets reality versus dream and ideal – will struggle to realize his aims as Pontiff within the Vatican. With his Saturn in affliction to the Vatican’s sun (its identity), as is already clear, his modesty doesn’t fit the Vatican’s princely profile. The most positive thing for him is that despite all the humanity, modernity and novelty of sorts (first Jesuit pope signaled through moon and Venus in Aquarius), with his Jupiter in conservative Capricorn and then his sun conjunct the Vatican’s Saturn, he is a moderate conservative. He won’t upset the Vatican too much… or at all at the level of doctrine however much it might need it beyond reform of the corruption And that might upset other people when the initial excitement wears off.

If this Pope happens to be St Malachy’s Peter the Roman the conservatism might eventually contribute towards some promised persecution as there could even be, or seem to be, a touch of the self-imposing St Francis Xavier in the character. Xavier was the missionary saint who more or less lost Christianity for Japan not least due to an incomprehension and insults (“lower than pigs and dogs”) as regards gays and homosexuality as it affected his converts and Japanese society. The president of Argentina, however unfairly, has accused the capital’s Archbishop of having opinions fit for the Inquisition when it comes to the often criticized gays, and Francis Xavier was not so ideal a figure that, beyond homophobia, he didn’t help inflict the Inquisition upon an innocent unsuspecting Goa.

Pope Francis who is so misogynist while Archbishop he declared women “naturally unfit for political office” (this is his quirky afflicted moon to Uranus speaking) is firmly against all the liberal things from women’s right to abortion – never a solution, never justified in his view – to contraception and gay marriage which his country (where the saying goes “all priests are gays”) was the first in Latin America to institute. And ironically Francis’ elevation occurred a few days after a UN agency, (not without all reason in certain cases like, one feels, that of a needy Hindu woman refused abortion in Catholic Ireland), enlarged the definition of torture to include refusal to permit abortion. Pope Francis’ humanity manifests more in a kind of generosity like his known assistance to the poor and victims of AIDS his macho homeland has often overlooked and despised. In traditional Italian/Catholic style which he might inherit from his Italian parents, he is generous to a fault – he lambasted priests who refused baptism to the offspring of single mothers – but he doesn’t see changing laws that might affect the situations he treats. It would not for example impress his kind of outlook that the death rate among gay men has gone down since the introduction of same sex marriage in Denmark in 1989.

THE LIMITS OF CATHOLIC REFORM AND THEOLOGICAL MATHEMATICS

This should remind us that there are limits to the reform of anything or anyone in proudly semper idem (always the same) Catholicism, limits some Catholics fail to see but which they should realize are integral to the Vatican’s heavy and fixed sign Jupiter (its religion and philosophy) in its house of beliefs and philosophy in worldly but philosophical Taurus. Was Thomas Aquinas whom people called the ox and who invented the exhaustive mathematics of God and ethics approach to religion a Taurus? Probably. The church which canonized him wasn’t warned by the vision Aquinas had before the end of his life which silenced him because he saw that his teachings were so much straw.

The Vatican has been following the straw vision of his mathematics and geometry of faith ever since and reinterpreting the Judaeo-Christian traditions in light of it (as on natural law) firmly excluding everything from common sense to leadings of the Spirit. After all, if you once have infallible theorems to apply on all occasions, what do you have to know or change? Change is for appearances only, a new church design, a new order of nuns or a Pope from a new region, but it’s all shuffling the pack. And it’s tiresome when for example because homosexuality and masturbation could be rated “contra naturam” they got deemed worse than rape by the Inquisition because rape can have “natural” outcomes in fetuses.

Such thinking is nonsense and absorbing it could be a contributing factor to the twisted minds behind the sex abuse practiced and covered up and Aquinas’ thought legacy is one the church can only get round by ignoring or forgetting rather than openly denying because no tradition can be undone once established. Jesus was opposed to precisely “the traditions of men”. As at Joppa (Acts 10) St Peter was even told by the Spirit, and initially resisted, that he should go against what the scriptures taught Jews to do as regards gentiles. The Spirit must be allowed to modify traditions against the cycles of time God oversees (there is a theological aspect to astrology!). A willingness to change could even be considered fundamental to Christian spirituality itself. But could the Spirit convince a Pope to change? It wouldn’t be easy and of course since some issues are anyway extremely complex or specialized it would often be better if a council rather than any one person made a decision for certain changes. Semper idem is a dubious boast for any branch of Christianity. Only the essence of the gospel can remain the same.

But before commenting further on the Pope’s chart I shall look again at the Vatican chart considered in the article (26th Feb) and frankly state what seems most controversial about Catholic religion today which this Pope is set if not to change, at least renew. It has taken the extreme emotions and opinions surrounding recent events of papal resignation and election for me to realize just what some traditional Protestant charges against the religion were and maybe how crucial…..

A CULT OF POPE AS SUBSTITUTE SPIRITUALITY

First and foremost I became impressed at just how much the faithful depend upon “Christ’s Vicar”. At elevation he is even announced as being Eminentissimum ac reverendissimum Dominum (“most eminent and reverent Lord”….) as though Christ was himself scarcely Lord of the Church. Followers were describing themselves as “orphaned” and “rudderless” until a new one is found. Another almost felt reborn with the new Pope. People were in tears of joy as previously tears of distress when Benedict left. The seriously devout were praying at the tomb of the late John Paul 11 to supply them a new leader. The extreme of focus is controversial. The faithful are scarcely related to God in their dependence upon a half deified priest and saints rather as formerly pagans prayed less to the gods than genii loci, the spirits of place. Grace is scarcely recognized within the system. As opposed to Christ as advocate with the Father Creator there is the Pope and/or Mary and saints as intermediary with the mediator. And one gets heard with them the more one does good works. This itself is one of the reasons for the mess around the unbiblical tradition of priestly celibacy that should be thrown out but never gets cleared up. Pope Paul V1 declared one obtained more grace if one was celibate. This is misleading. It is because one has obtained grace that one may be stimulated to greater effort, may request more grace and might feel called to celibacy.

Even if Catholics were right about Peter as first leader in the way non Catholics question, there is still no evidence the early church was emotionally and otherwise attached to Peter in the way we have been recently seeing and hearing. (If anything there was more emotion around Paul). To the extent the Bible forbids contacting the dead (Deut 11:18), the cult of saints is controversial and risks persons finishing communing with merely tricksy spirits who appear as those invoked. Biblically “answering according to your idols” such would be the penalty of idolatry which means invoking anything or anyone less than God, and in effect the new Pope concurs. He has already said:

“He who does not pray to the Lord prays to the devil. When we don’t proclaim Jesus Christ, we proclaim the worldliness of the devil, the worldliness of the demon,” he added. “We must always walk in the presence of the Lord, in the light of the Lord, always trying to live in an irreprehensible way.”

Yet he hasn’t attacked, and is unlikely to criticize, all this praying to deceased popes and saints, and one of his first acts was to go to pray before a Byzantine icon of Mary whom he told the crowds was Rome’s protectress (aren’t God and his angels sufficient to look after Rome?) and to whom like many in South America he is said to be inordinately dedicated. It’s true one can argue that what comes to us from laws of the Pentateuch no longer count or must be modified in Christian interpretation, but Catholicism has always imported the Old Testament for everything from tithes to war to sex so there is unresolved contradiction here.

RELIGIOUS INEFFICIENCY AND HOW CHRISTIAN IS THE VATICAN?

As author of Temple Mysteries and Spiritual Efficiency ( See amzn.to/U350gX ) I feel what I have been witnessing is a degree of spiritual inefficiency whose inevitable end would be precisely the not easily avoided or healed manifest corruption afflicting the church. I am beginning to see mainstream Catholicism as much like its periphery’s renewed exorcism rites. The latter can go on periodically for years like ongoing psychotherapy and because, I would maintain, the wrong principles are employed, including that Lucifer is not even seen as a name of the devil. Exorcists keep encountering spirits in dramatic ways but instead of fully expelling them in Christ’s name they employ the agency of exorcism’s patron Mary and various saints and angels, confusing the entire process away from its known earliest practice. Catholicism is like Hinduism, a patchwork of too many sources weighed down by “tradition”, a tradition which doesn’t seem to realize the core crucial biblical principle for the entire religion that God is absent from or departs from whatever is unholy. Nothing is more misleading than the belief,repeated by the Mayor of Rome in the face of scandals, that the Church is perfect even if its members aren’t. But religion is never so automatic, so objective or abstractly determined.

The prophet Ezekiel sees God leaving the Jerusalem temple because of priestly sins tolerated there Ezek 10). To imagine, contrary to claims like “the Spirit blows where he wills” (Joh 3:8) that God is automatically present to the affairs of a place or ordained persons serving there belongs with the magical/political kind of Catholicism entrenched since St Augustine. According to this mass is always miraculously grace supplying even if the priest is a gross adulterer or pedophile; benedictions are effective whether those giving or receiving them are right with God; persons are eternally Catholic even if debaptized, since the infant baptism to which they never consented cannot be undone. It is this belief in objective automatic presence that has enabled the excess of scandals marking the papacy historically as recorded in books like the Jesuit Peter de Rosa’s Vicars of Christ. How could even a saintly Pope such as Francis aims to be hope to reform things against such a background of false belief? Right mindedness which includes right belief is as important as any practice and it defines practice.

The Vatican has entertained more than enough corruption so that unsurprisingly and as mentioned in my article of Feb 26th, on the Vatican Babylon its chart doesn’t even reveal the institution as notably Christian and not only by the way its Jupiter to Neptune affliction (in Leo sign of children) would assist pedophile cover ups.

The fact is that whereas the CHRISTIAN asteroid directly trines the CHRIST asteroid at Christianity’s Pentecost foundation, neither the CHRIST nor CHRISTIAN asteroids are even aspected for the Vatican, albeit ISA the Jesus asteroid is between sun and moon. It is however rather trumped by a more elevated MARIA conjuncting The Part of Success near the reputation Midheaven. It’s a pattern suggestive for the long standing “to Jesus through Mary” formula by promotion of which Catholicism might be said to have enjoyed precisely most success. One ex-Catholic rebel Argentinean theologian (the impossible late Marcella Althaus-Reid) has proposed that without Mary the South America that historically Catholicism harried and persecuted into submission would not have gone Christian and it scarcely is Christian, it is just Marian. I also note that from surprising Aquarius the asteroid DEVINE (divine) makes easy trine to MARIA strongly hinting that despite the denials, the “Mother of God” is unofficially treated as divine by many Catholics. At the same time this Mother is (as Protestant and skeptics generally have long suspected) much related to the Babylonian Ishtar since ISHTAR conjuncts DEVINE while it trines MARIA.

VATICAN REFORM AND THE ATTITUDE TO GAYS

Almost anything Pope and Church now say and do about homosexuality is controversial. If there’s any truth (and factually and astrologically there looks to be), that the Vatican has gay cabals, in the wake of the blizzard of priestly child sex scandals and given South America’s treatment of gays historically (everything from conquistadores throwing gays to wild dogs to modern Brazil’s world highest murder rate against gays), to say almost anything about gays is controversial short of the church going into deep repentance first. Which it isn’t likely to do. And though Bergoglio has been kinder than many, including washing and kissing the feet of AIDS patients, that doesn’t necessarily address the problem. It is almost the Catholic way and survival mechanism not to address too many core issues and past failures.

Despite its history of death-dealing religious wars, the Vatican happily forgets this so as to accuse persons of murder and excommunicate them if they remove life support from a patient who can only blink an eyelid or give an abortion to a woman traumatized by rape, the latter not necessarily even Christian tradition but become so by medieval mathematics of God ruling – in the early church Tertullian understood the life of the mother came before the child not vice versa as in Catholicism. Given the treatment of sinful women under ancient OT laws, how could it possibly be God that would be opposed to all occasions of abortion when the capital sentence for sinners meant many a babe would be killed in the womb? Neither Jews nor early Christians were ever agreed the soul had even entered the fetus from the first (some thought it was at 3 months). None of these issues are so clear cut they can be regulated quite as Catholicism wishes, and even if by law they could be, that merely produces the kind of corruptions common under Prohibition. Christians can protect the defenceless and support ethical policies in societies, but not absolutely or by purely legal/political means.

Already as Archbishop of Buenos Aires Francis has treated the gay marriage as a spiritual issue. He regards it as a move of the devil to destroy “God’s plan” for the children of God with gay adoption. a form of discrimination against children. While even as a gay theologian as an aspect of gay unions and marriages I have to question gay parenting and adoption as have even some leading gays including the actor Rupert Everett who thinks the who idea is selfish and repulsive, the Archbishop’s objections are typical cart-before-the-horse, fear mongering stuff. It belongs in the order of Pope Benedict’s bizarre claim that gay marriage threatens world peace and undermines the whole basis of marriage and society. Please! First, most gays are not and do not aspire to be parents, only a minority of society’s gay minority so aspire. And while it would seem better for a child to have a father and a mother, the fact is that death and illness prevent many from having that experience while we hear about so much bad upbringing among regular parents that gays would have a hard job to be worse. And some actually do have parenting skills. In short, the Catholic case is special pleading around a secondary social issue and by a church that as usual reckons to impose upon the secular laws on the basis of artificial, abstract notions of natural law following the notions of the philosopher ox, Aquinas. The Jesuits particularly have had a philosophy of total domination akin to the modern evangelical heresy of Dominionism which believes it can and must help Christ return by imposing biblical laws upon the whole world.

All this special pleading and convoluted argument which paints Catholicism into a corner, derives from semper idem. Because it concedes almost nothing to anything or anyone it a) piles up occasions for hypocrisy – if all priests must be celibate, inevitably some are going to have affairs on the side and if gays can never declare or describe themselves or have relationships they will have them by stealth and in exploitative corrupt ways and b) in the increasingly secular world by conceding nothing it gets increasingly excluded from arguments where it could contribute as on gay marriage and parenting which as said not all gays are agreed upon. As it is, secular equality theories trump everything while the Catholic response to exclusion is the paranoia which suggests the world is threatened by gays and/or the devil.

VATICAN POLICY AND AN END OF ROME

In Pope Francis’s Argentina the saying goes “all priests are gay”. Undoubtedly many priests are and Jesus always knew and realized this connection of spirituality with homosexuality. On this sensitive topic see
and especially Chaps 11,12,13 of Testament of the Magi
at
http://amzn.to/ZwFuoY
I don’t suggest Pope Francis is unconsciously gay. For the record he had a girlfriend with whom he was so enamored he promised if refused he could never marry but would become a priest and so he became. However, gays represent a problem for this Pope. Any aspects of Uranus to planets is liable to represent either a gay disposition or a conflicted, problematic relation to gays.

The Pope shows Uranus in affliction aspect to Venus certainly and probably also the moon if we are near correct about the birth time. He doesn’t get it about gays and probably doesn’t want to and that’s true for many in Christianity whose horrified response whether to gay unions or marriages overlooks the psychological problem Christianity presents of Jesus married to both female and male believers (we are “the bride of Christ” says Francis without thinking too deeply what that means) and historically that David and Jonathan had a covenant, a word sometimes used for marriage in the OT. Unquestionably Christianity has to nuance and revise its entire management of the gay issue. [ These comments have proved wrong. I simply couldn’t have imagined the alternative explanation, namely that the Pope could run into trouble because he was regarded as too liberal on the gay theme! On the other hand despite his liberalism against history he has not been for same sex marriage so he has offended left and right ]

It is my suspicion that overly rigid interpretations of sexual issues, a refusal to compromise or reform will be a contributing, indirect if not a direct, cause of any persecution that Pope Francis, if he is a final Petrus Romanus, will occasion and suffer. He will just not seem sufficiently to favour human rights despite all the works of charity. True, secularism may exaggerate the degree of offence. There is already far too much abortion for us to say the status of women and just any reason should justify it, but it must be conceded to as a human right in certain instances and only stubborn traditionalism won’t do so.

Although it has been denied, it is widely believed intrigues of a gay cabal in the Vatican contributed to Benedict’s decision to resign. The Vatican chart (see my article 13th and 26th Feb) gives every appearance of being a rather gay place, and it’s interesting that the RATZINGER conjunct FINI in the Pentecost chart for Christianity is in Uranus ruled Aquarius, sign of the sudden, shocking and also gay with RATZINGER opposite PRAXITELES. It’s like a hint that the cult of beautiful young men that even somewhat got attributed to the Pope himself with Gorgeous George, could be linked to the resignation. As for Benedict so for Francis. Gays or gay issues could (along with other things) precipitate an end to his rule and even possibly problems for the faithful within the secular world. Pope Benedict believed Catholics should be prepared to suffer persecution in pursuit of opposing gay marriage.

But if there would be other problems, what could these be? What about the politics and policies beyond sex? Controversially Francis has declared the Falklands (regardless what its inhabitants have just voted and the Hague Declaration supporting their vote) belongs to the Argentina which has never really owned them but feels they should because they are reasonably near, rather as China thinks it should own Taiwan on much the same basis. What if other political beliefs prove still more contentious? Francis’ relations with the Jews appears to have been good but how will he deal with the current Mid East situation which if he is Petrus Romanus is a distinctly thorny issue and takes us deeply into how we should read the Malachy prophecy? I hope to look at these things in due time. Meanwhile, if you watch the inauguration you are witnessing history in the making.

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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