Jan 112014
 

adamandeveAdam and Eve are not just two people. They are a metaphor for the primordial Vessel whose existence preceded creation. Just as all the colours of  the spectrum exist within a single beam of sunlight, the Vessel encompassed all matter, space, time and consciousness. And all the souls of humankind were also present in the Vessel.

The Vessel shattered because of a contradiction in its nature. It had been created only to receive, but, in being filled with the Creator’s Light, it had also received and taken on a degree of the Creator’s own nature: the desire to share. All of our existence now is predicated on the goal of transforming this duality into a single desire, the desire to receive for the sake of sharing, in order to be able to finally reconnect with the Creator and receive the fullness of His Light.

This can happen in only one way. The shards of the shattered Vessel – you and I – must choose to make it happen. We must choose of our own free will to transform ourselves into ‘beings of sharing,’ as the kabbalists say, first on an individual level, and ultimately as a collective transformation of all humankind. Not even God can do this for us. Transformation is the supreme expression and the only expression of free will. It is the choice we make in every thought, feeling and action. Adam and Eve faced this choice in the Garden. They chose wrongly, but, their intentions were good.

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The allure of evil makes that choice more difficult, and therefore more worthy. Evil, in its way, therefore serves the Creator. Indeed, by understanding this we can free ourselves from its temptations. A parable in the Zohar dramtises this teaching: A king forbade his son to consort with harlots, but the he hired a harlot to test the strength of his son’s character. The son was tempted – until he realised that the harlot was acting in the service of his father. She then lost all power over him.

The serpent in the Garden (acting in the service of our Father) is essential to our final transformation, but he certainly doesn’t make it any easier! At the time of his fateful encounter with Adam and Eve at the Tree of Knowledge, their state of being was fundamentally different from what ours is now. They embodied the pure energy of desire, and Kabbalah teaches that desire is inherently a positive force.

While the conventional view of our first ancestors portrays them as transgressors, the kabbalists point out that their motivation was to serve God. The serpent understood this also. In fact, he used their positive intentions to manipulate them for his own ends. He fostered the transformation of their pure, undifferentiated desire into desire to receive for themselves alone.

And the serpent said to the woman, ‘You are not going to die, but God knows that as soon as you eat of [the tree] your eyes will be opened and you will be like divine beings who know good and bad’. (Genesis 3:4)

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Because Adam and Eve were not fully constituted to receive the Light – because the Vessel had not yet earned an unmediated connection – they were overwhelmed by the moment in the same way that a weak electrical circuit will flash brightly and then burn out at the sudden infusion of a powerful current. The kabbalists literalise this principle through a startling addition to the narrative:

Adam and Even took a second bite!

In the interval, a fundamental transformation had taken place, but not the positive one that had been envisoned. Rather, their desire had lost its sharing intention and had become self-serving. They were farther than ever away from unity with the nature of God, and this is exactly what the serpent had intended. It is essential to understand, however, that the impasse is also an opportunity. By traversing it, we can truly prepare the Vessel. We can earn the Light. We can receive it and take fulfillment in it. Most important, we can share it.

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We have spoken of Adam and Eve as a couple, but until that second bite of the fruit they were not separate at the spiritual level. This detachment took place at the same instant that the divide widened between the Vessel and the Light. Where there had been unity and equilibrium, there was no dissimilarity and fragmentation. Where there had been eternal existence in Paradise, there was now mortal life in the physical world.

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After the Fall, immortality consciousness was gone, replaced by a consciousness – a knowledge – of death and evil that instantly expressed itself in the physical dimension of life. But despite all this, the plain fact of immortality remained untouched, but in the same way that the signal that carries a TV programme remains in the air even after the set has been turned off.

With the Fall of Adam, the bad news is that we stopped receiving the programme. But we also began the process of repairing the receiving mechanism and getting it tuned in again. This correction, this tikkun, is our task for however many years it requires and however many lifetimes. When an individual human being truly completes this process, immortality is restored.

The Essential Zohar, Rav P. S. Berg

 

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

 

May 272011
 

Here is the circle of science: ascending from the visible to the invisible in theory, and descending from the invisible to the visible in practice. It is the ancient symbol of the serpent which bites its tail.

Because the circle is closed – not in the sense of the circle’s dimension, since it can grow indefinitely, but rather in the sense that it is always will be a circle without opening (in contrast to the spiral, which is an “open circle”).

The forces of warmth, magnetism, electricity and nuclear forces are thus discovered – and a series of other forces, more hidden and still more subtle, can be discovered – but only forces are discovered, ie, the causes of mechanical movement. It is in that this circle is closed that it is why – without intervention from outside of it, such as that of Teilhard de Chardin – it is a prison and captivity for the spirit.

What is true of natural science is also true of personal or arbitrary magic. The latter proceeds exactly as the former – ascending in theory and descending in practice. Modern authors on magic are perfectly right in advancing the thesis that magic is a science and that it has nothing to do with miracles as such:

Magic is the study and practice of the control of Nature’s secert forces. It is a science – pure, or dangerous – like all sciences….(Papus).

We have to add here only that this is true, and also that “Nature’s secret forces” are secret only for a limited time, notably until their discovery by natural science – which simply discovers and renders controllable the “secret forces” of Nature one after the other. It is therefore only a question of time until the pursuit of magic and that of natural science coincide and become identical.

But, on the other hand, it is also true that the closed circle of science, which is a prison and captivity for the spirit, applies also to personal magic. Magic, in so far as it is a science – and it is one – has the same fate as science, ie, captivity in a closed circle. And when Papus says further on in the introduction to his Traite methodique de magie practique that, “Magic, we could say, is the materialism of the future knights of Christ….”

He admits with this statement the fact of the captivity of magic as such – in a closed circle of a single aspect of the world, which he names “materialism”. And he gives expression to his hope that in the future there will be an intervention from beyond this closed circle by future magicians (“knights of Christ”)…in other words, that future Teilhard de Chardins will do for magic what he has done for science: that they will open the closed circle and transform it into a spiral.

Meditations on the Tarot, Unknown Author, Letter XVII, The Star

Oct 182010
 

Some say that all gods and all living creatures originated in the stream of Oceanus which girdles the world, and that  Tethys was the mother of all his children.

But the Orphics say that black-winged Night, a goddess of whom even Zeus stands in awe, was courted by the Wind and laid a silver egg in the womb of Darkness; and that Eros, whom some call Phanes, was hatched from this egg and set the universe in motion.

Eros was double-sexed and golden-winged and, having four heads, sometimes roared like a bull, or lion, sometimes hissed like a serpent or bleated like a ram.

Night, who named him Ericepaius and Phaethon Protogenus, lived in a cave with him, displaying herself in triad: Night, Order and Justice. Before this cave sat the inescapable mother Rhea, playing on a brazen drum, and compelling man’s attention to the oracles of the goddess. Phanes created earth, sky, sun and moon, but the triple-goddess ruled  the universe, until her sceptre passed to Uranus.

The Homeric and Orphic Creation Myths, Robert Graves

Oct 022010
 

Using only logic we lose contact with mystery,with the desire for the imaginary. That’s why I love the Oriental philosophy of paradox, which is not that of the straight line, but of the circle, where something can be and not be at the same time, because life is not robotic with prefabricated answers. It’s unpredictable and can change at any second.

I am very fond of the tradition of the dove and the snake. Sometimes we need physical symbols to understand ourselves better. The classic image, which I like so much, is that of the Immaculate Virgin with a snake at her feet. The tradition of the Spirit, which departs from the principle that, what is important is not accumulation but knowing how to read the language of the collective unconscious, what we call the anima mundi. That would be the language of the dove.

And then, on the other hand, the classical tradition of the snake, of the accumulation of wisdom. We cannot remain with one or the other exclusively, but must harmonise the two – logic and intuition….Jesus says he has come not to destroy law but to fulfill it in spirit. Because a time comes when respect and obedience to law keeps you from living, but you can’t just live with anarchy either.

Another example from the Gospels that I like very much is when Jesus tells his disciples that when they go among men they should be ‘wise as serpents and harmless as doves’. That’s why we have to be alert and keep our feet on the ground, being concrete and objective, but at the same time knowing how to watch the run of things, enjoy contemplating them, trying to discover that secret language that speaks more to our feminine side, than to our reason.

Paul Coelho, Confessions of a Pilgrim, Juan Arias

Aug 022010
 

The poor distressed soul was so terrified and amazed, that it could not speak one word more.

When it found that it stood in the form and condition of the serpent, which separated it from God; and that the devil was so nigh it in that condition, who injected evil thoughts into the will of the soul, and had so much power over it thereby, that it was near damnation, and sticking fast in the abyss or bottomless pit of hell, in the anger of God; it would have even despaired of divine mercy; but that the power, virtue, and strength of the first stirring of the grace of God, which had before bruised the soul, upheld and preserved it from total despair.

But still it wrestled in itself between hope and doubt; whatsoever hope built up, that doubt threw down again. And thus was it agitated with such continual disquiet, that at last the world and all the glory thereof became loathsome to it, neither would it enjoy worldly pleasures any more; and yet for all this, could it not come to rest.

On a time the enlightened soul came again to this soul, and finding it still in so great trouble, anguish, and grief of mind, said to it:

What dost thou? Wilt thou destroy thyself in thy anguish and sorrow? Why dost torment thyself in thy own power and will, who art but a worm, seeing thy torment increaseth thereby more and more? Yea, if thou shouldst sink thyself down to the bottom of the sea, or couldst fly to the uttermost coasts of the morning, or raise thyself above the stars, yet thou wouldst not be released. For the more thou grievest, tormentest, and troublest thyself, the more painful thy nature will be; and yet thou wilt not be able to come to rest.

For thy power is quite lost; and as a dry stick burnt to a coal cannot grow green and spring afresh by its own power, nor get sap to flourish again with other trees and plants; so neither canst thou reach the place of God by thy own power and strength, and transform thyself into that angelical image which thou hadst at first. For in respect to God thou art withered and dry, like a dead plant that hath lost its sap and strength, and so art become a dry tormenting hunger. Thy properties are like heat and cold, which continually strive one against the other, and can never unite.

The distressed Soul said: What then shall I do to bud forth again, and recover the first life, wherein I was at rest before I became an image?

The enlightened Soul said: Thou shalt do nothing at all but forsake thy own will, viz. that which thou callest I, or thyself. By which means all thy evil properties will grow weak, faint, and ready to die; and then thou wilt sink down again into that one thing, from which thou art originally sprung. For now thou liest captive in the creatures; but if thy will forsaketh them, the creatures, with their evil inclinations, will die in thee, which at present stay and hinder thee, that thou canst not come to God. But if thou takest this course, thy God will meet thee with his infinite love, which he path manifested in Christ Jesus in the humanity, or human nature.

And that will impart sap, life, and vigour to thee; whereby thou mayest bud, spring, flourish again, and rejoice in the living God, as a branch growing on his true vine. And so thou wilt at length recover the image of God, and be delivered from the image or condition of the serpent: Then shalt thou come to be my brother, and have fellowship with the angels.

The Signature of all Things, Jacob Boehme

May 302010
 

The more I looked, the weirder it seemed. I’d never seen anything remotely like it. It wasn’t a particularly attractive being, in fact he seemed somehow intolerant or irritable and reminded me of both a doctor and a tutor I used to have an university who was never very impressed with me.

He looked like a kind of catfish and I was led to understand he was the guardian of the threshold. He said something to my spirit or etheric or astral self that I did not actually hear (I’ve no idea how to describe that bit of the self which goes on such journeys) and that part of myself said something back that I didn’t hear either.

I often find that communication in that dimension does not involve words or speech, as such, or even knowledge, there just appear to be right and wrong questions and answers that are predetermined elsewhere, as if by a script. The information is simply, somehow, relayed.

At that point I was still with my eyes wide open lying in bed, staring at the fish. Then – with no warning whatsoever – there was a split second where I lost consciousness and when I next opened my eyes I was no longer in the bedroom but was well and truly at the bottom of a murky green-grey ocean, half hidden by reeds or seaweed or algae or something, staring in absolute amazement – the word does not adequately describe how I felt – at what I later called a half man, half fish.

In fact it looked more like a half-man half-serpent, but at the time I was thinking fishes. I was gobsmacked by both the sight and the situation I’d somehow arrived at, which bore no resemblance to anything I’d ever imagined.

May 092010
 

On the Earth the Shaman shifted
Shape and let his song be silence.
Thus, was set a leopard’s spirit,
Loose amongst the emerald forest.

Just beneath his leafy carpet
Slipped a serpent, shedding softly,
All its skin. This eerie presence
Passed them by, the nine in heaven.

Knew the souls of all the sages –
Those who heard within the silence
Purest notes of timeless music –
Golden was the light, the silence.

Soon the leopard reached the edges,
crossed the deep green emerald forest,
Looked up at the sky of sapphire
Saw the eagle, called in spirit.

So the bird did swoop upon it,
Took the soul within the leopard,
Lifted it beyond the forest,
Past the clouds, ascending skyward.

From the greatest height a creature
Of the world might reach, the eagle
Spied a movement on the carpet
Of the Earth and dived to reach it.