Aug 092010
 

When they reached the house of t he west wind, the east wind said that the girl he had brought with him was destined for the prince who lived in the castle east of the sun and west of the moon. She had set out to find him, and he had brought her this far and would be glad to know if the west wind knew how to get to the castle.

“No”, said the west wind. “I’ve never blown that far. But if you want, I’ll go with you to our brother the south wind, for he’s much more powerful than either of us, and he has blown far and wide. Maybe he’ll be able to tell you. Climb on my back, and I’ll take you to him.” Yes, she climbed on his back, and they traveled to the south wind, and I think it didn’t take them very long at all.

When they got there, the west wind asked if the south wind knew the way to the castle that lay east of the sun and west of the moon, for the girl with him was destined for the prince who lived there. “Is that so?” said the south wind. “Is she the one? Well, I have visited plenty of places in my time, but I have never yet blown over there.

“If you want, I’ll take you to my brother the north wind; he is the oldest and most powerful of us all. If he doesn’t know where it is, you’ll never find anyone in the world who will know. Climb on my back, and I’ll take you there.” Yes, she climbed on his back, and off he went at a good clip.

They did not have to travel far. When they reached the house of the north wind, he was so fierce and cantankerous that he blew cold gusts at them from a long way off. “Blast you both, what do you want?” he roared from afar, and they both felt an icy shiver. ” Well,” said the south wind, “you don’t need to bluster so loudly, for I am  your brother, the south wind, and here is the girl who is destined for the prince who lives in the castle that lies east of the sun and west of the moon. She wants to know whether you were ever there and whether you can show her the way, for she so much wants to find the prince again.”

“Yes, I know where he is,” the  north wind said, “Once I blew an aspen leaf over there, but afterward I was so tired that I couldn’t blow  single gust for many days. If you really want to go there and aren’t afraid to come along with me, I’ll take you on my back and see if I can blow you over there.” Yes, with all her heart, she wanted to go and had to get there if it was at all possible. And she would not be afraid, no matter how wild the ride.”

East of the Sun, West of the Moon, Asbornsen and Moe

Aug 072010
 

The spiritual revelation recorded in the seventh chapter of the Book of Daniel affords us what we need for our task. In that chapter, the karma of evil is boldly outlined. The delineation begins with the picture of “the four winds of heaven [that] strove upon the great sea” (Daniel 7:2).

This figure shows us the cosmic scene of the conflict between good and evil. Space – with its four cardinal points of north, south, east, west – is neither one of the three abstract categories of Kantian philosophy, nor is it merely the distance that must be covered to reach some particular point; it is an ocean of forces at rest, set in motion by four active forces. These four active forces are the spiritual influences within the elemental world – the “winds” that cover the elemental world.

The currents caused by the four “winds” in the elemental world give rise to the four elements, which are impregnated by the four realms of elemental beings (salamanders, sylphs, undines and gnomes). These four groups of elemental beings are simply the lowest expression of the “four winds”. Their origin is rooted in the eternal Trinity, from which issue the cosmic impulses called ‘north’, ‘south’, ‘east’ and ‘west’. The Father being works through the cosmic impulses of north and south’ the Son and the Holy Spirit are active in the impulses of east and west.

When these impulses work together, cosmic good results; when the “four winds” work against one another, the result is cosmic evil. This is why the description of Daniel’s night vision begins with this image: “The four winds of the heaven strove.” These winds striving against one another are the four currents of cosmic evil. They are not controlled from Heaven, but from the depths of the ‘sea’; their origin must be sought in the “four….beasts” that appear out of the depth of the sea:”And  four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse from one another” (Daniel 7:3).

Christ and Sophia, Valentin Tomberg

Jul 172010
 

I collected my small portion of rice and went to sit with the others, who at that moment were eating in sombre silence whilst seated at long trestle tables in the open-air canteen.  The scenery was not at all unpleasant and I wondered why everybody seemed so glum and grey. Our dining area was in the middle of quite a stunning panorama – long, gently rolling fields that stretched for miles to the East and West, low hills to the North and a lightly forested region some distance South.  It was a clear sunny day that felt like Spring.

I ate quietly for some moments, thinking nothing in particular, when I heard a faint but unmistakable humming sound emanating from beyond the Northern hills.  As the noise grew loud enough for them to perceive, my dining companions leapt from their seats and began running wildly in all directions – evidently looking for places to hide – for many of them took refuge under the tables, in the absence of any other form of shelter.  This was desperate too and I wondered what on Earth was going on.  Looking up into the sky, things suddenly became clearer – approaching like a poisonous fly was what looked to be a World War II aircraft. Everyone seemed to think it was about to bomb us.

I looked around in hopeless dismay, wondering what we were supposed to do – we were so exposed we wouldn’t stand a chance if the pilot picked us out for destruction.  I looked up again, willing him to go away, and by some extraordinary stroke of luck, the plane passed right over our heads in the direction of the forest and disappeared from both view and audible location. For the first time I heard voices of hopeful animation from the others, as they came out from their hiding places in evident relief. 

But then – to our helpless terror – we heard the noise once again, this time bearing down with renewed vigour from the Southern forests that may have been our only chance of survival – had we only the time to reach them.  As the plane passed by from the other side at lightening speed, I looked up just in time to see and actual bomb dropping out of the sky, literally, right above my head.

Nothing more or less than a split second later I was engulfed by a terrible and blinding white light and white heat, and the only things I could see around me were a few melting shadows of other people, flailing round as if in slow motion.  The horror was totally unbearable – with dreadful livid certainty I felt the skin melt from my body and heard the shriek of my dying body as if it were already metres away from where I actually stood.

No more was possible, I staggered blindly once again, finding no plausible direction in which to turn, and just as the end drew near I heard the voice whispering once again: “Do not be afraid, you will not remember this, you will not remember this pain, this pain is only in the flesh”.

Small mercy, but still I was grateful for this pure voice of hope, slender as a feather in the wind, strong as the wings of a dove, obliterating all sensation, annihilating my last grip on mortality.