He was Dionysus

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


Ecstasy and Enstasy

One can no longer deny the fact that, in the psychic domain, nothing dies and that the whole past lives present in the diverse layers of the depths of consciousness – the ‘unconscious’ or subconsciousness – of the soul….

…For this reason nothing perishes and nothing is lost in the domain of the psyche; essential history, ie real joy and suffering, real religions and revelations of the past, continue to live in us, and it is in we ourselves that the key to the essential history of mankind is to be found.

It is in we ourselves that there is to be found the ‘Edenic’ layer, or that of paradise and the Fall,  of which an account is to be found in the book of Genesis of Moses. Do you doubt the essential truth of this account? Descend into the depths of your own soul, descend as far as the roots, to the sources of feeling, will and intelligence – and you will know.

You will know, ie, you will have certainty that the Biblical narrative is true in the most profound and authentic sense of the word – in the sense that you must deny yourself, deny the witness of the inner structure of your own soul, in order to be able to doubt the intrinsic truth of Moses’ account.

The descent into the depths of your own soul in meditating upon the account of paradise in Genesis will render you incapable of doubt. Such is the nature of the certainty that one can have here….

….It expresses in symbolic language the first layer (first in the sense of the root of all that is human in human nature) of human psychic life, or its ‘beginning’. Now, knowledge of the beginning, initium in Latin, is the essence of initiation.

Initiation is the conscious experience of the initial microcosmic state (this is the Hermetic initiation), and of the initial macrocosmic state (this is the Pythagorean initiation). The first is a conscious descent into the depths of the human being, to the initial layer. Its method is enstasy, ie, experience of the depths at the foundation within oneself.

Here one becomes more and more profound until one awaens within oneself the primordial layer – or the image and likeness of God – which is the aim of enstasy. It is above all by means of the sense of spiritual touch that enstasy is effected. one can compare it to a chemical experiment undergone on the psychic and spiritual plane.

The second initiation experience – that we have designated ‘Pythagorean’ from a historial point of view – is based above all on the auditory sense or sense of spiritual hearing. It is essentially musical, just as the first is substantial or alchemical. It is by ecstasy – or rapture, or going out of oneself – that the macrocosmic layers (‘spheres’ or ‘heavens’) reveal themselves to consciousness.

Meditations on the Tarot, Unknown Author, Letter VI, The Lover


Ocean Dragon; Penetrated Stone

As far as dreams go, it couldn’t have got much stranger, and that’s saying something. For a start, it was vivid – as real-seeming as the waking day – and for a second it was so utterly weird that it scared me the  next day to even think about it. I thought I’d already out-weirded weirdness, but it seems not; my inner capacity to completely surprise myself is still very much intact. It began like this:

At the moment I became fully conscious, I found that I was travelling across the grey ocean at an incredibly rapid pace with the utmost sense of urgency. I wondered for a split second just how it was that I came to be travelling so quickly – surely I couldn’t swim that fast?! – but so very quickly was I moving, that before I had to think for longer, I’d arrived at the shore.

I know that I stood upright, and before looking ahead cast a glance back over my shoulder at the water, which was neither completely calm nor especially stormy; an ordinary day at sea, I would say. Why did I look back? Well, a very quiet voice in my head told me there might have been a whale in sight, but what Icaught sight of was a creature I called a ‘Dolphin’, but which in fact looked nothing like one of those creatures. The gigantic grey hump covered in upright triangular fins was actually more dragon like, resembling no other animal  that I’ve ever seen before. I would have been surprised or looked for longer if I hadn’t become almost instantly – and acutely – aware of some terrible danger afoot on the shore.

As I looked ahead at the land for the first time, the sense of overwhelming urgency and danger struck me once again and it was then that I had first realised that the scenario was – even for a dream – remarkably surreal, for the simple reason, perhaps, that it seemed so palpably real. Somehow I was there, but what was I to do? My sense of being on some sort of undefined mission was as intense as the feeling that I must act with lightening speed. Why, I do not know. Here is what I saw in front of me:

It was broad daylight and the sky was blue. Directly in front of me was a wide but dusty path that together with the clarity of light gave me the impression of the desert or Middle East. Perhaps the sense of location was symbolic, because I had a definite impression of being in some kind of war zone, that I – or anyone else in the vicinity – could be shot down dead in an instant. Who by? Although I could not see the enemy – or fierce guardian of that dry territory – I had a definite impression of there being snipers that were lying in wait very nearby, but evidently out of view. This was not all I saw.

Directly ahead, standing partway along this path in the middle distance, was a man with short dark hair and a long white robe, who rather than looking at me, was staring into the middle distance. The site of him filled me with an unfathomable combination of awe and near panic, and all I knew was that I needed to negotiate the minefield in order to be myself where this uniquely statuesque spirit was standing immobile, watching the moving sea. As fast as it’s possible for one to move, I went in his direction.

The next thing I knew, I was inside a stone that was located just behind the place where he’d been standing. The stone was rectangular, like some kind of box, about the width of two people and high enough inside for me to crouch but not stand. A gap of about 10 inches at the bottom gave me light enough to look around at the inner walls of that cold, dry stone, and with a shiver I wondered if it was the kind of place where insects would be hiding. I nervously looked at the left wall, the ceiling and the right wall, noting with some relief that there did not appear to be any cockroaches keeping me company. At a certain moment I wondered if ‘he’ was still standing outside, in front of the stone, and bent my hand to look through the gap. Time to get out, I thought, registering a moment later that the coast was clear.