Jun 292015
 

sunset-on-acacia-tree-sunset-1725750302As has been already explained, he geographical situation of the former Terrestrial Paradise was variously given. The Babylonians placed it in the Delta of the Euphrates; the Greeks in Crete; the pre-Exilic Hebrews at Hebron in Southern Judaea.

It is of the highest theological importance that Jehovah announced himself to Moses as ‘I am that I am’ or (more literally) ‘I am whoever I choose to be’ from the acacia rather than from any other tree; because this constituted a definition of his godhead.

Had he announced himself from the terebinth, as the earlier Jehovah had done at Hebron, this would have been to reveal himself as Bel, or Marduk, the god of Thursday and of the seventh month, the Aramaean Jupiter, the Paeonian Apollo. But from the acacia, the tree of the first day of the week, he revealed himself as the God of the Menorah, the transcendental Celestial God, the God who presently said:

‘Thou shalt have none other Gods but me….for I the Lord they God am a jealous God.’

The acacia is, indeed, a thorny, jealous, self-sufficient tree, needs very little water and, like Odin’s ash, strangles with its roots all other trees growing near i. Uath, the month dedicated to the acacia, was the one in which the annual Hebron Fair took place, and so holy that all sexual congress and self-beautification was tabooed during it: it was the month of the annual purification of the temples in Greece, Italy and the Near East.

The  not yet completed Ages of the World, quoted from Nennius by Gwion, are based on the same planetary cannon:

‘The first Age of the World is from Adam to Noah’. Adam’s was the first human eye to see the light of the sun, or the Glory of God. Sunday is the day of light.’

Robert Graves, The White Goddess

Oct 102012
 

As for Orpheus’ head: after being attacked by a jealous Lemnian serpent (which Apollo at once changed into a stone) it was laid to rest in a cave at Antissa, sacred to Dionysus.

There it prophesised day and night until Apollo, finding that his oracles at Delphi, Gryneium and Clarus where deserted, came and stood over the head crying: ‘Cease from interference in my business; I have borne long enough with you and your singing!’ Thereupon the head fell silent.

Orpheus’ lyre had likewise drifted to Lesbos and been laid up in a temple of Apollo, at whose intercession, and that of the Muses, the Lyre was placed in Heaven as a constellation.

Some gave a wholly different account of how Orpheus died: they say that Zeus killed him with a thunderbolt for divulging divine secrets. He had, indeed, instituted the Mysteries of Apollo in Thrace; those of Hecate in Aegina; and those of Subterrene Demeter at Sparta.

Orpheus’ singing head recalls that of the decapitated Alder-god Bran which, according to the Mabinogion, sang sweetly on the rock at Harlech in North Wales; a fable, perhaps, of the funerary pipes made from alder-bark. Thus the name Orpheus, if it stands for ophruoeis, ‘on the river bank’, may be a title of Bran’s Greek counterpart, Phoroneus, or Cronus, and refer to the alders ‘growing on the banks of’ the Peneius and other rivers.

The name of Orpheus’ father, Oeagrus (‘of the wold sorb’ apple’), points to the same cult, since the sorb-apple (French = alisier) and the alder (Spanish = aliso) both bear the name of the pre-Hellenic River-goddess Halys, or Alys, or Elis, Queen of the Elysian Islands, where Phoroneus, Cronus and Orpheus went after death. Aornum is Avernus, an Italic variant of the Celtic Avalon (‘apple-tree island’)

Orpheus is said by Diodorus of Siculus to have used the old thirteen-consonant alphabet; and the legend is that he made the trees move and charmed wild beasts apparently refers to its sequence of seasonal trees and symbolic animals. As sacred king he was struck by a thunderbolt – that is, killed with a double-axe – in an oak grove at the summer solstice, and then dismembered by the Maenads of the bull cult, like Zagreus’ or of the stag cult, like Actaeon; the Maenads, in fact, represented the Muses.

In Classical Greece the practice of tattooing was confined to Thracians, and in a vase-painting of Orpheus’ murder a Maenad has a small stag tattooed on her forearm. This Orpheus did not come in conflict with the cult of Dionysus; he was Dionysus, and he played the rude alderpipe, not the civilised lyre. Thus Proclus writes: ‘Orpheus,  because he was the principal in the Dionysian rites, is said to have suffered the same fate as the god’ and Apollodorus credits him with having invented the Mysteries of Dionysus.

The Greek Myths, Robert Graves

 

Nov 202011
 

Standing on the outskirt of the forest, Hermes whispered a message to his light‐headed, wine‐brining friend: “Zeus’s twice‐born son, your time shall surely come. You bear the living vine; on you the sun shall shine”.

The wolf by Apollo’s side pricked up its ears and whined. “And what of me, Father, bringer of the cosmic light, voice of all reason and destroyer of dark night?”

Zeus raised an eyebrow. “How soon, I wonder, my great golden child, ’til you think yourself greater, even, than I?”

It was then that his deer‐daughter put a restraining hand on her brother’s shoulder and entreated him in an urgent voice. “Bait him not, beloved brother; the chariot of the sun shall be struck down by lightening and the silver moon shall die of grief! Then you would see that our licentious youth shall sober in a second and sit upon thy gilded chariot!”

“Ay, sister of the moon, with his hairy hand upon my priceless goblet, while his sluts strum tuneless ditties upon my incomparable turtleshell lyre!”

Dionysus raised his cup to them in a toast: “You have my blessing brother, I think not to steer the chariot of the sun, nor to take your hallowed place in heaven…I’d rather have a bit of fun! You’ll have to watch the lyre, though, methinks the sound of music shall do much to make our mystery.”

Nov 202011
 

High above the clouds, in a dimension where the sun would shine even at midnight, Zeus brought to mind the Eagles of the East and West, lords of land and sea.

Holding them in sight, he gave to them their mission, saying: “Fly now each of you in his own direction; neither is swifter than the other. The place where you meet I shall pin down forever as the centre of this world”.

The gods had come down from their clouds and assembled at this place, to mark forever the foundation of their temple on Earth. Zeus’s fair twins Apollo and Artemis, sun and moon, came down to where they had been summoned, swiftly followed by the others, each in elemental guise.

Bearing fruits of the earth and dressed in garlands of flowers, the earth mother Demeter walked hand‐in‐hand with her love‐struck daughter, queen of the Styx‐bound underworld.

Ares, Hestia and Hera, Hephestaeus, Poseidon and Athena ‐ each transpiring from their own dominion – fulfilled the summons from their central being.

A bull emerged from the forest, metamorphosising with a swagger into a shining youth, handsome as only a handsome youth can be. He walked hand in hand with the loveliest female in the land, raising to his moistened lips an earthen jar of ruby‐coloured wine.

Her love‐child laughed with his magician.

Hera gazed broodingly at the twice‐born son of his father and a cloud descended on the assembly. “I hope you will not reserve too many honours for this youth, Dionysus, husband, for he is only quite immortal, with half true blood in his blue, engorged veins”.

Zeus roared with laughter and raised a glass in toast to his progeny. “But see the ones who are with him, sister; you must admit he is in great company: The body of desire with the power of love and the herald of all ages. I see no issue here but that which is great!”

“But come forth now Apollo and shine on me son, step beyond the clouds, for I would have you build me here a house, where men from all corners of the world will
come to learn their destiny”

Nov 202011
 

Come, venerable, various pow’rs divine, with fav’ring aspect on your mystics shine

*

The owl of Zeus’s daughter Athena sat blinking inscrutably in the branches of a large white tree. Artemis, his deer, second‐born child beneath, blinked her virginal eyes and then ran like the wind towards the edge of the emerald forest.

She sped through the trees until she reached the pebble‐dashed shore of the finite see, where Poseidon threw waters from the churning, ink-black ocean out to land. A vast breaking wave upheld the glistening form of her darling, new‐born brother, Phoebus Apollo.

The top of his fin cut the air like a knife, carving out a circle of pure white light. Seven sacred colours framed his perfect, golden mind, as Artemis declared to him: “We two are one, combined!”

Her love for him supplanted all other desire. “Give me now my silver arrows”, she called out, “for I shall strike down dead any one who dares come between us!”

“Swim, enchanting sister, while my light is still cool, deep, into the salt-filled waters. A weapon such as this,” he held above him a golden bow, “may only be brought from the abyss”. His answering voice was like an echo of her dream before she dreamt it.

She cast off her linen robe and dipped one foot into the ocean, shielding her eyes from the blue‐lit morning star as it rose on the Eastern horizon. Every other face turned toward it as she made her way to the bottomless abyss, heedless of the dragon chained within.

Sep 152011
 

Imagining Orpheus is a different matter. Most people can recall two things about him: that he was a musician, and that he went down to the Underworld to fetch his wife Eurydice. His story is the archetypal myth of the power of music.

With the lyre that was the gift from Apollo, Orpheus could move everything in creation, from stones, trees, and beasts, through humans, to daimonic and even divine beings (whom we might call angels and gods).

Armed only with his songs, he charmed the denizens of Hades and persuaded Pluto and Persephone to let him take Eurydice back.

Orpheus was a prince of Thrace, the land to the north of Greece. His mother was Calliope, the Muse of epic poetry. Some say his father was Apollo, and certainly Orpheus stands under the patronage of that god. Apollo also had northern connections, either coming from Hyperborea (the land beyond the north wind), or else visiting that far northern land after his birth on the island of Delos.

Where was Hyperborea? As it was said to contain a circular temple to the sun, some have identified it with Britain, and its temple with Stonehenge, a monument far older than any in Greece.

Stonehenge, and the people who constructed it, were Apollonian in the sense of being dedicated to the sun, to astronomy, mathematics and music. A number of modern researchers have penetrated beyond the limitations of academic prehistory to reveal, through intuition, the bases of this ancient science.

John Mitchell, the pioneer in this regard, has reconstructed the diagrams and dimensions that seem to lie at the basis of megalithic design. Jean Richar has shown that there is an imaginary zodiac whose twelvefold symbolism links mythology with the geography of the Aegean area. Paul Broadhurst and Hamish Miller have traced a plethora of Apollonian sites in geometrical alignment, all the way from Ireland to Palestine.

Mitchell, in addition, has traced the myth of ‘perpetual choirs’ maintained at ancient sanctuaries for the purpose of what he calls ‘enchanting the landscape’. If one is attentive to such findings, it is clear that there was a high and orderly civilisation well established by the third millennium BC, of which the archaeologists know almost nothing.

This enchantment of the landscape is exactly what Orpehus is reputed to have done with his music, casting a benign spell over nature and bringing peace among men. As part of his mission, he reformed the cult of Dionysus and tried to persuade his followers to give up their blood sacrifices. In place of Dionysian orgies, Orpheus founded the first Mysteries of Greece. The purpose of these, as far as we can tell, was to transmit some kind of direct knowledge that was helpful in facing the prospect of death.

Orpheus’s journey to the Underworld to fetch Eurydice should be understood in the context of the Mysteries. In the earliest versions of the myth, he did succeed in restoring her to life.

Joscelyn Godwin, The Golden Thread, The Orphic Mysteries

Jul 232011
 

It was the last day of  the Sacred War when I first lay eyes upon the Tagos. I learned that he had come with many horsemen under his command and – together with the hoplites of Cleisthenes – finally razed Crisa to rubble on the Earth. As the cursed polis burned, however, a band of the rebels somehow escaped and stormed up the winding road to Delphi, where they set about slaughtering the saints in their beds.

I was thirteen years old. The saint Timocrates, who escaped the fate of the others while he was tending the holy lantern in the Corycian Cave, snatched me from my chamber and took me for hiding to the secret place of dedication. I saw the fear in his eyes as he spoke. “I must protect the temple. You will remain here, still and silent as a statue, and pray that the God stays with us.”

Then he was gone, leaving me to cower like a new-born goat in the cold, dark place, my only comfort God’s eternal flame as I listened to the sounds of death and destruction crashing like cymbals on the ground above. I do not know how long I was there, only that I moved neither lip nor limb as instructed and hoped the God would protect us, seeing as all else had failed.

I occupied myself with continual prayers to the beloved Deity, King of Light, until I was deep in his hypnotic embrace and did not even notice that the sounds of death progressively ceased, though I knew from the changing light that the sun had risen. When, with an immense clattering of noise – blood splattered but gleaming – a great warrior entered into that sacred space, the first thought to enter my sleep-stilled head was that Apollo himself had come to claim me. So it was that I ran with outstretched palms and tears of joy, right into the arms of the Tagos, my hair flowing like golden rain behind me.

The saints who tutored me were not like this man, who came to me clothed with the sun. He was handsome as only the God could be, that I recall clearly. When I recognised his costume and saw the insignia of Apollo upon his breast I fell into a trance, as if I were already the high priestess. I do not remember if he said a word then, only that he looked at me with a strange light in his eyes as he carried me up to greet the new Dawn.

Jul 152011
 

The tragic ‘almost’ is a poignant commonplace of epic literature. The Iliad tells how the Trojan War was almost brought to a close by a single combat between Paris and Menelaos. How many lives would have been spared had not Apollo intervened, and for the most petty of reasons!

Paradise Lost shows us Satan seriously considering whether he is making a huge mistake by initiating the temptation in the garden….but, alas, he decides to go ahead with it after all. But nowhere is this motif more forcefully present than in the biblical narrative.

Since the Fall of Adam humanity has come close to ultimate fulfillment and redemption on several occasions. Even now just one small righteous action may be all that separates us from reentering Eden. Noah certainly had his chance to restore humanity. The Flood was like a huge mikveh – a ritual bath for all creation, in which evil was subjected to a series of irresistible hot and cold ‘washing cycles’.

Rabbi Yehuda said that in Gehenom the wicked are punished with water for six months and with fire for six months. Why, during the flood were they punished only by water for twelve months? Six months should have been enough. Rabbi Yosi told him that they were sentenced to both punishments: water and fire. They water that fell upon them from above was cold as snow. And they were also punished by fire because the water that spouted from the deep was scalding.

Thus, they were punished for twelve months, receiving the full sentence of Gehenom. This continued until they were completely removed from the face of the world. During this time, Noah was hidden in the ark. As a result, the Angel of Darkness did not approach him, and the ark roamed upon the waters, as it is written: “And they bore up the ark, and it was lifted above the Earth.” (Genesis 7:17), The Zohar, Vol. 2, pp. 388-390.

But when at last the waters had receded, Noah made a tragic mistake. It was, in fact, the same mistake Adam had made, and it came about in much the same way. Popular belief to the contrary, the forbidden fruit that tempted Adam and Eve was not an apple. it was a grape.

Come and behold: Adam’s wife pressed him grapes and bought death upon him, Israel, and the whole world. When Noah came upon these grapes, he was not well guarded, as it is written: “He drank of the wine, and was drunk; and he was uncovered within his tent.:” (Genesis 9:21)

After the Deluge: Temperance, The Essential Zohar, Rav P S Berg

Apr 232011
 

‘Artemis, with bow and quiver,
Stands aloft on Mount Olympus,
As the doe and hind, in silence,
Jump the clear and Star-lit river.

‘Swift they run. Like magic carpets
Are the green and silver forests.
Watch the bears – and bees with honey –
As the Goddess hits her target.

‘“Bravo, Sister!” beams Apollo –
Gazing at the sea below them –
“Never did you miss with arrow!”
Sinks the form of bold Orion”.

‘Lord Apollo watches, silent,
As the virgin’s beau drifts skyward.
Watches as the only question
O’er her virtue learns his lesson.

‘By a cedar stands she grieving,
Bows her head in shame, a-weeping,
Cries upon the smelted moon beams,
Chastens, then, her ruthless sibling.

‘“King of priests, my Lord Apollo,
‘Reasons for his death ring hollow.
While the muses – nine that love thee –
Contemplate their selves, you’d fool me!”

Laughs the god: “Your love’s a martyr,”
Facing fear the charging Taurus,
“Tempted by the Atlas daughters,
Girls who shine on lucid waters.”

Apr 232011
 

‘Then the son of old Poseidon –

He who roused Apollo’s hatred –
Shouts: “Assassin! Jealous brother,
Long it is for this you’ve waited.

‘”Sun-God, you designed my downfall
Cruelly, so the breath of sorrow
Falls anew on Winter evenings,
Feeds the dew each misty morrow.

‘“As the nymphs sang paeans, God,
You chose to then divulge my ‘fortune’,
Chose to fool your trusting sister,
Felled the seed of mighty Neptune.

‘”Jealous God, you made her shoot me
while I braved the deep, the blue sea,
Just because my foot was fleeter
And my love, God, that much sweeter!

‘”All shall know the truth of this:
The virgin loves, my Lord, my kiss,
The virgin loves, my Lord, my touch;
My Lord – she loves it – oh so much!”

‘“All on Earth shall know the real truth,
She has made me quite immortal.
Greatly shall this come to haunt you
Now I stand at Heaven’s portal.”

‘As he bathes in sun, Apollo,
Concentrates Orion’s sorrow,
Hail’s the starry-minded brothers,
Castor, Pollux, twins of Leda.

‘“Fare thee well, oh son of Zeus,
And how’s the child of Tyndareus?
Do me if you will, a favour,
Keep an eye on this old raver.

‘“Hale Orion scorns the heavens,
Struggles ‘gainst his fixed position.
Give the grave one bitter medicine,
‘Til he stands in soul submission.”