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Friday, 30 December 2011

Maiden in the tower of 'Great Time'.

I'm pretty bad at remembering dates or else I could tell you when I first heard of the Mahakala nun.

I remember that the idea of it, both appalled and attracted me.

The Mahakala nun dedicates herself to the practice of Mahakala- that is the visualisation of the palace and surrounds of Mahakala's realm, imagining the deity, then imagining herself as the deity and then becoming the deity whilst reciting the mantra.

It is a retreat that will last for as long as the nun lives and breathes.

For as long as she lives. 

A permanent retreat.

I forget now what the Tibetan word for retreat is, but the word itself implies retreat to mean setting of, and keeping to, boundaries. Some retreats come with ready made rules and regulations- things one can and cannot eat, duration of practice, whether speech is allowed or silence the rule.

The rules of a retreat are comprehensive and proscriptive.

A practitioner can also decide upon the format of his or her own meditation retreat, rules can be borrowed from similar types of retreat. But the duration, whether measured by a clock, sun rise or sun set, days, weeks or number of recitations of a mantra, and the structure of the retreat has to be adhered to.

I don't know how proscriptive a life long Mahakala retreat is.

My first thought when I heard that Samye Ling was looking for a nun to be in permanent retreat was- this isn't right. It is true that there are practitioners who take themselves off to the mountains for years to complete a certain practice, solitary practitioners and couples, but all under instruction from their teachers because they have asked to do it.

In theory there is nothing wrong in dedicating one person to do one practice. It just doesn't fit in with my image of Milarepa or Marpa struggling and begging for permission to be taught certain practices.

Another thing that bothers me, there is usually a beginning, middle and end to a practice, and different practices to be completed; granted if Mahakala is your yidam practice then it is a life long task...but you wouldn't be expected to practice it in a dedicated location.

Samye Ling was looking for someone to fulfill a role, the house was being built.

'Real' practice, for me is closer to this account:
http://ganachakra.com/2011/07/22/chod-inner-trolls-brigdes-and-inner-stagnation/
All apects of the body, heart and mind are involved in practice, all hopes and dreams, meanings and possibilities.

Mahakala.
Image from: http://ganachakra.com/
The Mahakala nun plays a different role to that of an 'ordinary' practitioner; she is fulfilling a role for the temple itself.

As far as I know it is more usual for there to be a group of monks or nuns given the task of invoking Mahakala. There is no need for it to be one person, unless something else if going on here.

The Mahakala nun becomes in effect, a part of the building. Her place of practice is Mahakala's house, and she becomes his conduit or reason to stay.

What keeps on going around in my head is that Mahakala practice can be done by anyone who has had the correct initiations, and there are many people who have permission to practice Mahakala; asking one person to do it for their whole life time looks like creating an 'expert', but it seems closer in my imagination  to a more archaic tradition: that of marrying a priestess to a god.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Axial Age.

I am puzzled.
Why is there little or no reference in books about the influence of the Assyrians and Persians in Egyptian history?

Granted, the longest period of time Egypt was actually ruled by 'Eastern powers' is equivalent to the time the Romans were in Britain; but we are taught all about the effect the Romans had on British life, even though a lot of it -'they gave us central heating-- is not terribly accurate.

I don't doubt that there is recorded history from Ancient Egypt: Manetho (circa 350 BC) and Herodotus (circa 450 BC) for sure, but by then the Assyrians and Persians had gone.

Why I'm interested in the effect of ideas brought in to Egypt by 'Assyrians and Persians'  is that this time period corresponds specifically with that time the Greeks were- according to so many text books -busy 'creating' Western civilisation.

Homer circa 800 BC.
Hesiod circa 600 BC.

The Assyrian king Esarhaddon captured Memphis in 671 BC, leaving Necho 1 as the chief king of twelve rulers. After the Assyrians came the Persians: Cambyses II (525 BC) is the next conqueror, followed by Darius.




Then Alexander the Great conquered Persia in 331 BC.

Trying to decipher the history is complicated by the terms and language historians use: 'Persian,' Phoenician,  Babylon, Oriental, Baal, even Assyrian, are terms used interchangeably and in a relative way.
'We three kings from Orient are'
...just about sums it up!

In asking myself why an exchange and influence of ideas between the 'East' and Egypt is disregarded I assumed that until cuneiform was translated, the Greeks appeared to be the original 'Western' civilization.

For thousands of years Mesopotamian mathematics lay unread in fragments of clay.

Until they were translated it was reasonable to think that Pythagoras and Euclid had invented geometry.

But we have been able to read cuneiform for over 150 years, yet still Mesopotamian history is omitted from 'our' history.

Babylon was 'found' in the early nineteenth century, Claudius James Rich visited 'Babylon' and wrote: Memoirs on the ruins of Babylon in 1818. It was published in London in 1839- Google books has it as a free download.

The 'Assyrian'  language recorded in cuneiform, began to be deciphered in 1857 and approximately one hundred years latter scholars began to publish books about 'Babylonian' mathematics. But the idea of a spreading out or diffusion of ideas, a cultural exchange wasn't as convincing to people as the idea that Greek knowledge was a result of Alexander the Great's conquest of 'Persia'.

I'm still reading modern articles and books insisting upon a kind of cultural purity: books and articles that do not consider the probability that Assyrian and Persians (including rule by a Persian king) could possibly have any effect at all upon Egyptian myth!

It seems that even though the idea of  'The Axial Age' is easily disproved, there is something about it that appeals to people, even now.

The term: Axial Age came from Karl Jaspers in his book: Vom Ursprung und Ziel der Geschichte (The Origin and Goal of History) written in 1949. The Axial Age, according to Karl Jaspers, is the period between 800 to 200 B.C.E.
"It was the time in which all foundations that underlie current civilization came into being".
This is patently untrue. Writing first appeared in Sumer in 3200 BC, likewise irrigation canals and great cities. By 800 B.C.E Sumer and then Akkad had risen and fallen.

In 1952 Samuel Kramer was translating the Code of Ur-Nammu (one of the oldest legal texts in existence dated to 2000 BC).
"…After An and Enlil had turned over the Kingship of Ur to Nanna, at that time did Ur-Nammu, son born of Ninsun, for his beloved mother who bore him, in accordance with his principles of equity and truth... Then did Ur-Nammu the mighty warrior, king of Ur, king of Sumer and Akkad, by the might of Nanna, lord of the city, and in accordance with the true word of Utu, establish equity in the land; he banished malediction, violence and strife, and set the monthly Temple expenses at 90 gur of barley, 30 sheep, and 30 sila of butter. He fashioned the bronze sila-measure, standardized the one-mina weight, and standardized the stone weight of a shekel of silver in relation to one mina... The orphan was not delivered up to the rich man; the widow was not delivered up to the mighty man; the man of one shekel was not delivered up to the man of one mina."
800 BC used to be thought of as the time Homer was writing the Iliad and Odyssey, this is why that particular date was chosen as a starting point.

Karl Jaspers idea of individual, key axial age thinkers having  a profound influence on future philosophies and religions; in other words- one man making a big difference- is a concept that has a lot in common with  Helena Blavatsky's idea (circa 1875) that human culture is advanced by Golden Ones, or The Shining Ones (an idea repackaged by Philip Gardener).

As Karl Jaspers risked being sent to a concentration camp for being less than perfectly Aryan, he may have had an inexplicit agenda in believing that 'Aryans'  a word derived from Arya (noble,  noble ones) and defined by anthropologists of his time as  Indo-Iranian, could not have had any connection with the increase in knowledge during the so called Axial Age...

...maybe?

But the idea of an axial age does not go away:
"...violence and suffering seem to be a sine qua non of a spiritual quantum leap forward [link]"
To dismiss the religions that came before monotheism as unable to create 'a spiritual quantum leap' is unfair; it is also un-provable.

Is it true that war, famine and plague are good for people, that suffering teaches people compassion?

Or is it as equally reasonable to believe that children who have been brought up with violence accept its inevitability?

For what ever reason Iranian and Assyrian influences on Greek and Egyptian culture (let alone on Tibetan Buddhism- don't get me started!!!) are invisible; they are there though, wrapped up in 'Pythagoras', 'Orpheus' and 'Mithras' and finally in Christianity.

In other words, Iranian (can't keep using the term Persian) and Assyrian ideas became a part of Greek philosophy. For this to happen there does not need to be direct copying or transference, or conquest of whole concepts and ideas for this to be true.

Ideas don't respect borders or nationalities.

Hesiod's theogeny was influenced by Hittite myth, and the letters I'm typing now migrated from the Phoenician alphabet into the English.

The slip from polytheism to a profoundly 'Zoroastrian' monotheism probably began its migration via Assyrian culture.

In Greece the 'new' religion was centered around a new type of 'god' and a 'mystery' religion; promising a life beyond death for those who took a new way of life.

The idea that perhaps the soul is made of a spark of the Holy, and could ascend above the earth to other planets is an Orphic idea, recalling the Sepheroth of the Cabala, and the Akkadian idea of the stars as domains of the gods.

In the cult of Mithra, the Zoroastrian journey to the Isles of the Blessed, the realm of  'The lights without end' finally becomes a ladder to the stars.

The idea of the ascension of the soul up to heaven.

Orpheus represents a new  interpretation of the gods and of what god wants from humanity. The creation of mankind myth in the Orphic myths,
explains our nature- both monstrous and godlike.

Soul trapped in matter...
Religion moved from immanence towards transcendence.
The soul must be liberated.

The location of the land of the dead stopped being the underworld; it became at first simply far away, the Islands of the Blessed, somewhere far away over the horizon.

The first step that the soul of man made, 
placed him in the good thought paradise;
the second step . . . in the good word paradise;
the third step . . . in the good deed paradise;
the fourth step . . . in the endless lights."
—The Abodes Of The Soul, Zend-Avesta


Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Ladders- the Seven +1 Gates.


THE FIFTH TABLET
From the Enuma Elish.

He (Marduk) made the stations for the great gods;
The stars, their images, as the stars of the Zodiac, he fixed.
He ordained the year and into sections he divided it;
For the twelve months he fixed three stars.
After he had ... the days of the year ... images,
He founded the station of Nibir to determine their bounds;
That none might err or go astray,
He set the station of Bel and Ea along with him.
He opened great gates on both sides,
He made strong the bolt on the left and on the right.
In the midst thereof he fixed the zenith;
The Moon-god he caused to shine forth, the night he entrusted to him.
Sigillum Dei Aemeth- Seal of the truth of God: The sigil predates Dee, having first appeared in a thirteenth century grimoire; it was later described by Athanasius Kircher in his Oedipus aegyptiacus. Used by Dee as a protective device.







From a gold plate found in Thurii, Southern Italy, 4th century BCE.

Pure I come from the pure, Queen of those below the earth,
and Eukles and Eubouleus and the other immortal gods;
For I boast that I am of your blessed race.
But Fate mastered me and the Thunderer, striking with his lightning.
I flew out of the circle of wearying heavy grief;
I came on with swift feet to the desired crown; 
I passed beneath the bosom of the Mistress, Queen of the Underworld, 
I came out with swift feet from the desired crown.
"Blessed and enviable one, a god you shall be instead of a mortal."
A kid I fell into milk.

The idea of a zombie like existence after death, as described by Homeric texts, has never been popular. It is not nice to think of the Sumerian underworld- a domain of ash- the fate for those who do not have their name remembered, or relatives left to tend the grave .

The alternative, the hope of a better life after death in a heavenly paradise, or in the company of the  gods, or 'enlightenment' is an optimism that seems to have taken root in Greek writing, slowly from the sixth century BC onwards.

In 669BC, Assyrians from Mesopotamia conquer Egypt. The Assyrian rule didn't last long; in 525BC, the Persians conquered Egypt and ruled the country until about 404BC, when a revolt earned the country its freedom for about 60 years before Persia attacked again..

The short answer to the question- why was there a change in Greek ideas about the Underworld- is that Egyptian and 'Persian'  beliefs and mythology diffused into Greek thought because of what was happening in Egypt. Of course it is more complex than that, but broadly speaking....The ladder to the stars- the abode of the divine- is an image that has its origin in the Assyrian Tree of Life, and remains today as the Cabala.





The other way to see 'the tree' is to see, instead a fountain:



The clearest evidence for a 'Persian ' influence extending beyond 'Persia' is the Avesta: Khorda Avesta: 10. MIHR YASHT ("Hymn to Mithra"). [LINK]

The Mithraic path to the stars, the seven plus one gates, is explained by Celsus, via Origen (hardly a fan of Celsus), and recorded by A S Geden:
Celsus following Plato affirms that souls proceed to and from the earth by way of the planets...and further being desirous of exhibiting his learning in controversy with us he expounds certain Persian mysteries also, and among them the following: "These doctrines are contained in the traditions of the Persians and in the cult of Mithra which they practise. For the latter gives a kind of representation of the two heavenly spheres, the one fixed and the other assigned to 'the planets, and of the journey of the soul through these. There is an ascending road with seven gates, and an eighth at the summit. The first gate is of lead, the second of tin, the third of bronze, the fourth of iron, the fifth of mixed metal, the sixth of silver, and the seventh of gold. The first is dedicated to Kronus, the lead symbolizing the planet's slow motion. The second to Aphrodite, the resemblance consisting in the bright and malleable nature of the tin. The third, firm and resistant, to Zeus. The fourth to Hermes, in that like the iron Hermes is the tireless and efficient worker and producer of wealth. The fifth to Ares, because of the variable and irregular nature of the alloy. The sixth, of silver, to the Moon; and the seventh, of gold, to the Sun, from a comparison of their colours." Later Celsus investigates the reason for this definite assignment of the stars in whose names the remainder of the physical universe finds symbolical expression, and he expounds further the doctrines of harmony in which the Persian theology is set forth. In addition to these he is so ambitious as to publish a second treatise dealing with the principles of music. In my judgement however, for Celsus to propound his theory in these is absurd; it is like his procedure in the matter of his denunciation of Christians and Jews where he makes irrelevant quotations from Plato, and is so far from being satisfied with these that he drags in the Persian mysteries as he calls them of Mithra also with all their details. For whether these things are true or false in the belief of those who preside over the Mithraic rites of the Persians, why did he choose them for exposition and interpretation rather than any other mysteries? for Greeks have no preference for mysteries of Mithra rather than those of Eleusis or the traditional rites of Hecate which they celebrate in Aegina. And why if he felt it incumbent upon him to set forth foreign mysteries did he not rather prefer the Egyptian, in which many take an interest, or the Cappadocian worship of Artemis in Comana, or the Thracian, or even those of the Romans themselves in which the most high-born senators take part? but if he regarded it as unsuitable to his purpose to adopt anyone of these on the ground that they furnished no support to his denunciation of Jews or Christians, how is it that he did not draw the same conclusion with regard to his exposition of the Mithraic rites? (Geden)
It is tempting to see the Egyptian 'Book of Gates' (specifically the 12 Gates portrayed in the tomb of Thutmose III -1479-1425 BC) as something similar: the 'Boat of Millions' sails the sea of stars, crossing through deserts and across fearful abysses and over round barrow to beat all round barrows- the Hill of Sokar...[LINK].

No ladders in the boat, though!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Winter Solstice- 2011.

The moon was truly beautiful, a thin crescent hanging in a sky the colours of Labradorite. The roads were dark and difficult- so many lorries in the early hours of the morning; each one first blinding me with headlights and then throwing muddy water onto the windscreen as we passed.

Eventually we were on the A303, busy even then- so early!
Blue lights indicated police ahead, and road blocks.
Closer to Stonehenge many people, camp fires and people sitting on chairs around their fires. I find it amazing that some people are so well prepared as to actually have chairs..

We avoid the traffic jam, turn right at the island to go towards Devizes. There is a right turn ahead, leading back towards Stonehenge...but again, police, flashing lights and I can't really face the mess and mass or the hassle. Apparantly, the BBC say a 1000 people attended.

So we head for Avebury, and get to be a part of this morning's perfect sunrise.


Avebury solstice winter, 2011. Photo by Dr Kaligari.


Latter we meet Mr and Mrs Sunbeam, truly, truly, lovely people with the most perfect of names for today.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Dionysos.


"Now you have died, and now you are born, three times blessed, on this
very day. Say to Persephone that it is Bakchios himself that has
redeemed you."



Tomorrow is looming.
I don't want to go at all.
I feel intimidated.

When I think about it I see a cave hidden inside a warehouse in a dingy Midland's street, filled with implements of torture.

Why should I go.

Why have I done this to myself?

At this moment I am seeing this whole bondage thing as deeply repellent. It is a total inversion of feminism. A ritual of un-becoming, of undoing, of loss of self...of making myself into a thing; empty of myself.

But I am first and foremost uninterested in politics and the objective patten, or what the world says; my subject is subjectivity itself: how I feel and what it means to me. The collective dreams and nightmares of my culture wash around me, images and feelings clash and stop making sense.

I seek only the gold.
The understanding being alive gives.

Dionysos tastes of fear, which is proper. His cult was always associated with the collective mind, the submerging of ones word-making/symbol-using self, into the murky depths of experiential existence. Intellectuals and the rational- things I am not, but my culture expects me to be- always look on Dionysos as a force to be moderated.

I am being immoderate by daring to see and to feel...

The Romans, perhaps because they were such a diverse lot, unsure of their commonality,  were fearful of foreign cults, and especially cults begun by foreign women, hence the banning of his cult in 186 B.C.
[LINK]

Their nightmares of what Dionysos means worked through the centuries down to us in the works of the Marquis De Sade and Pauline Réage. In the song, Love will Tear Us Apart, and the old conflation of the meaning of the phrase, 'I die,' with orgasm.

Ultimately Dionysos is spirit, the flow of zoe. His wine loosens the soul. I imagine that suspension is like that too.

Dionysos is Zagreus, the hunter, the one who takes down.

I cannot hold onto this earth or this life.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

What to wear?

This coming Saturday I'm going to go to a 'Rope' workshop to be tied up, and suspended. I will be dressed in motorbike gear to get there- which isn't as exciting as it sounds, yes...leather trousers- my husband's.

No, to leather jacket...I'd freeze!

This morning I got to grips with what I could wear...because those leather trousers will have to come off, doing the zip up is a bit of a struggle, there is much less give in leather than in denim and there is that padding in the knees.

Motorbike clothing is like wearing your car.

So, the thermal top and leggings are default, I tried a long skirt, but would probably feel embarrassed to wear it. The leggings are Tron, the skirt Victorian. My boots cyberpunk, but I'm going to a place where people probably don't wear much.

Found an old top- as seen in photo- and it worked better than anything else.

I look kind of pantomime boyish.

I can honestly say I have no idea what I'm letting myself in to.

So, how does one go about getting suspended and why? I am doing it because I want to taste that abduction myth for myself, in a safe way.

http://3hadow3un.blogspot.com/2011/11/abduction.html

And there is always a hint of sado-masochism about any ex-Goth. Fundamentally though I have no idea why other people want to be tied up. As a child I climbed rope and did all sorts of hanging off things...but being immobilized is another kettle of fish.

I rarely see myself as powerless, and ultimately that must be what rope up is all about? It must be about trust, abandoning myself to someone else's wishes. And then there is that other aspect; a Dionysian fear and pleasure thing. Like The House of Mysteries...should I be telling you this?



So how does one go about it?
Best to find an expert and ask:
http://www.mrkrigging.com/

There used to be an idea many people had, that I used to hear when I taught meditation; about meditation causing 'things to come up'. Old repressed feelings of resentment and pain, rarely did anyone ever say that nice things 'came up'. I must admit I didn't ever have that experience in meditation: boredom, cramp, more boredom, but no things coming up.

But here in the real world of action, here the things come. I'm now feeling unusually fat, and as old as I am.

This certainly wasn't Persephone's lot.


Friday, 9 December 2011

Bougonia: bees and stars.

If the labyrinth represents the dance of the bee.
If Ariadne, as mistress of the labyrinth is the bee queen.

If her bull headed son must die...

"Myth is a traditional tale with secondary, partial reference to something of collective importance"
Walter Burkert.
"Out of strength comes sweetness".

At the center of the labyrinth there is a star.



It could simply mean god, or be a pretty design, but the bull-headed Minotaur was named Asterion (from Pausanias) or Asterios (from Apollodorus). The connection between the birth of a god and a star over the cave belongs to a tradition much older than Christianity, and possibly goes back to the time when brewing was a new technology.

Two questions arise when I look at that coin, does the star give a clue about the time of year of this event, or was it used here in its more 'Babylonian' form, simply to mean a god?

If the star represents a god, surely the minotaur Asterion was the first born Dionysos.

Both Zeus and Dionysos were born within caves, but only Dionysos has the horns. This version belongs to the 'Orphic' story of the infant mesmerized by his own image in a mirror, and the chalk smeared Titans looming closer and closer..finally tearing the bull boy limb from limb. In this story Zeus arrives almost too late and blasts the dying child and monstrous Titans with pure lightning flame. Some of the Titans scuttle away, burnt and raw. Others are cremated where they stand, bloody flesh still in their mouths.

When it is over, Zeus takes the child's heart and leaves...

Meanwhile something happens to the ash...slowly,  slowly, after many days and nights fermenting in the heat, the first humans crawl out of the ash.

Picture by RideFlame.
Carl Kerneyi states that the archaeologist,  Spyridon. Marinatos  has shown that the orientation of the palaces of Crete, were determined by that other 'Venus'- the dog star; specifically the summer rising of Sirius. If that is so, then there must have been a good reason; the Cretan calendar coming from Egypt is the most likely answer.

This makes me wonder if the modern interpretation of Stonehenge as a midsummer place, derives from evidence such as this?

Almost two thousand years after the building of those Cretan palaces, the Roman, Antoninus Liberalis left out the star when he wrote in his Metamorphoseon Synagoge:
"In Crete, in a cave of bees, there Rhea gave birth to Zeus".
Add another two thousand years and a connection between bees, gods and caves is still reproduced on the tin of sticky goodness known as Golden syrup.

Well there are two explanations, three books...



The lion story comes from the first of the three books- the bible:
Judges 14:5-9 Then Samson went down to Timnah…and behold, a young lion came roaring toward him. And the Spirit of the Lord came upon him mightily, so that he tore him as one tears a kid though he had nothing in his hand… When he returned later to take her, he turned aside to look at the carcass of the lion; and behold, a swarm of bees and honey were in the body of the lion. So he scraped the honey into his hands and went on, eating as he went. When he came to his father and mother, he gave some to them and they ate it; but he did not tell them that he had scraped the honey out of the body of the lion.
This is so close to Euripides Bacchae tearing kids or snakes or ibex, I'm almost beginning to believe Jane Harrison, almost being the operative word. Actually I don't believe that people did run around possessed by gods tearing animals, well, not on a regular basis.

The bible story explains the lion on the tin; except of course it doesn't.

In 1904 Abram Lyle registered the image.
He was a religious man.
Is the strength the tin, or is it the process of acid hydrolysis on what ever it is that makes syrup?

This was only 107 years ago and no one knows the answer....



Carl Kerenyi in his Dionysos- Archetypal Image of Indestructible Life provides the narrative most commonly encountered for the bees and cave, stars and Zeus, Persephone and divine spirits; mainly I suspect, because his explanation makes sense and his book, though densely packed with information and perhaps a little hard going at times is a lot easier to read than the alternative, The Caves of the Sun by Adrian Bailey.

Carl Kerenyi: Dionysos- Archetypal Image of Indestructable Life:
First and foremost as evidence for Kerenyi's theory there are stories told about making honey from bulls.
Virgil, Georgics 4. 281 - 558 (trans. Fairclough) (Roman bucolic C1st B.C.) : "But if anyone's whole stock [of bees] has failed him, and he knows not how to restore the race in a new line, then it is also time to reveal the famed device of the Arcadian master [Aristaeus], and the mode whereby often, in the past, the putrid blood of slain bullocks has engendered bees.
link.
Next comes Cassianus Bassus who lived sometime during C7 AD. His method for making bees is as follows:

A 30 month old bullock should be clubbed to death- so no blood flows.

After all the orifices of its body have been sealed, the cow is placed within a cuboid building aligned to the cardinal points- North, South, East and West- that has a window or door on each of its four walls.

Leave the cow in there for forty days and forty nights..

And voila!
Bougonia- life from bovines- the cow should now be a sack and the bees should be clustered like grapes around the room.

Cassianus Bassus seems to be quoting Virgil:
I will unfold the whole story, tracing it back from its first source. For where the favoured people of Macedonian Canopus [Egypt] dwell by the still waters of the flooded Nile . . . First is chosen a place, small and straitened for this very purpose. This they confine with a narrow roof of tiles and close walls, and towards the four winds add four windows with slanting light. Then a bullock is sought, one just arching his horns on a brow of two summer's growth. Struggle as he will, both his nostrils are stopped up, and the breath of his mouth; then he is beaten to death, and his flesh is pounded to a pulp through the unbroken hide. As thus he lies, they leave him in his prison, and strew beneath his sides broken boughs, thyme, and fresh cassia. This is done when the zephyrs begin to stir the waves, before ever the meadows blush with their fresh hues, before the chattering swallow hangs her nest from the rafters. Meantime the moisture, warming in the softened bones, ferments, and creatures of wondrous wise to view, footless at first, soon with buzzing wings as well, swarm together, and more and more essay the light air, until, like a shower pouring from summer clouds, they burst forth . . .
Which puts one in mind of the Apis bull, which ends its days mummified, and then the Latin name for the honey-bee is Apis Mellifera..all those Apis B-bulls lying quietly in their underground chambers silently recycling souls...

The battering of bulls for honey, it is said, should be done as the Dog star rises heralding midsummer;  for the transformation requires both the dangerous heat of the baleful star, and for Zeus to release the Etesian winds.

I can't help but wonder, has anyone tried this?

From honey and sunshine, we get mead:
Pliney: Boil a quantity of water down by one third, so two thirds remain. Add one third of honey. Let it stand in the sun for forty days at the time of the rising of Sirius.
So, the Cretans get the calendar and the mystic mead teachings from the Egyptians and this knowledge produces Dionysus Zagreus.

The knowledge spreads to Greece and creates Bacchus.



Classical Rome liked to portray Bacchus as a chubby cherub as a way of reducing the fear his cults caused. But also because Dionysos, was twice born. He had a safe 'baby' aspect and a more secret, adult and erotic  meaning as indicated in The House of Mysteries in Pompeii. There was also a socially dangerous aspect that led to the arrest of hundreds of people, in the 186BC fear of a new Bacchic cult that was increasing general subversion: criminality, drug taking, murder and poisonings and sadomasochistic activities.

It is little wonder that Dionysos ends up portrayed as fat and rather unattractive.

He is no kind of threat at all in this form...
Unless he falls on top of you!.


Cornelius De Vos's (1651) "Triumph of Bacchus." 


Thursday, 8 December 2011

Ariadne.


  “There are many other stories about these matters, and also about Ariadne, but they do not agree at all. Some say that she hung herself because she was abandoned by Theseus; others that she was conveyed to Naxos by sailors and there lived with Oinaros the priest of Dionysos, and that she was abandoned by Theseus because he loved another woman. [...] 
A very peculiar account of these matters is published by Paion the Amathusian.
He says that Theseus, driven out of his course by a storm to Kypros, and having with him Ariadne, who was big with child and in sore sickness and distress from the tossing of the sea, set her on shore alone, but that he himself, while trying to succour the ship, was borne out to sea again. The women of the island, accordingly, took Ariadne into their care, and tried to comfort her in the discouragement caused by her loneliness, brought her forged letters purporting to have been written to her by Theseus, ministered to her aid during the pangs of travail, and gave her burial when she died before her child was born. Paion says further that Theseus came back, and was greatly afflicted, and left a sum of money with the people of the island, enjoining them to sacrifice to Ariadne, and caused two little statuettes to be set up in her honor, one of silver, and one of bronze.
He says also that at the sacrifice in her honor on the second day of the month Gorpiaeus, one of their young men lies down and imitates the cries and gestures of women in travail; and that they call the grove in which they show her tomb, the grove of Ariadne Aphrodite. 
Some of the Naxians also have a story of their own, that there were two Minoses and two Ariadnes, one of whom, they say, was married to Dionysos in Naxos and bore him Staphylos and his brother, and the other, of a later time, having been carried off by Theseus and then abandoned by him, came to Naxos, accompanied by a nurse named Korkyne, whose tomb they show; and that this Ariadne also died there, and has honors paid her unlike those of the former, for the festival of the first Ariadne is celebrated with mirth and revels, but the sacrifices performed in honor of the second are attended with sorrow and mourning.” Plutarch, Life of Theseus 20.1-5



"Then it seems like falling into a labyrinth; we thought we were at the finish, but our way bent round and we found ourselves back at the beginning, and just as far from that we were seeking at first" 
Plato: Euthydemus.





Which ever way you turn, Naxos is the place for the Ariadne and Dionysos story.




According to Diodorus Siculus, Dionysos appeared to Theseus in a dream...
"Theseus, on his voyage back from Krete together with Ariadne, was entertained as a guest by the inhabitants of the island [of Naxos]; and Theseus, seeing in a dream Dionysos threatening him if he would not forsake Ariadne in favour of the god, left her behind him there in his fear and sailed away".... 
Theseus awoke griped by terror, and silently got up and left, sailed away. Leaving the sleeping Ariadne abandoned on Venus sands.
"And Dionysos led Ariadne away by night to the mountain which is know as Drios; and first of all the god disappeared, and later Ariadne also was never seen again."
The crown of heaven, the Corona Borealis, was Dionysos's gift to Ariadne.

There is another story...Ariadne was already married to the god, and when she left him to sail the seas back to Athens with Theseus, he had her killed, slain with poisoned arrows.
Homer- The Odyssey.
"Ariadne, that daughter of subtle Minos whom Theseus bore off from Krete (Crete) towards the hill of sacred Athens; yet he had no joy of her, since, before that could be, she was slain by Artemis in the isle of Dia [Naxos] because of the witness of Dionysos.


Venus Sands is a location on the soul.
Love alone provides the copper knife that tears the heart, the body, and bloodlessly cuts the shadow away..

To the mistress of the labyrinth, honey.
The bee dance.




Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Ladders to heaven..

The labyrinth is a path into the Underworld.

Both Ariadne and Persephone have links with Dionysos (Διόνυσος).

Ariadne the Cretan priestess is either married or murdered by Dionysos- depending on whether this is the Naxos myth, or the story told by Homer in the Odyssey.

Both Ariadne and Persephone help others go to the Otherworld.

Ariadne gives Theseus the means to face death and survive, to enter and leave the labyrinth without being destroyed by the bull headed horror hidden within the darkness.

Images of Yama come to mind...

Persephone (the Eleusinian mysteries) does the same for the initiates; as they danced at Eleusis so they will follow Dionysos, his dance leads them onwards to the Elysian feilds.

They do not have to fear death.
--

In British mythology the Otherworld is a mirror world.
Glastonbury as the glass castle should have a labyrinthine path to its summit.

One steps through the mirror worlds by accident. You may turn a corner and suddenly things are different. When you finally get back, a thousand years has passed.



But there isn't really a Persephone or Ariadne to help you. Try as I might, I can't find any convincing similarities between the lady taken by the Kur (Queen of the Underworld, Ereshkigal)  or the Lady of the Mountain (Ninhursag), or the Mother of the Wild things, let alone Persephone in the fragments of British mythology we think we have (since no one seems sure that what we do have is authentic!).

We all have folk tales of princesses requiring the help of a noble knight, thanks to the brothers Grimm and these may, just may recall Dionysos saving his mom! But I see a prosaic stripping off of arcane and esoteric meanings which renders this a world in which woman or treasure are equivalent motivations for entering Roland's dark towers.

But we do have labyrinths in Britain.

The labyrinth goes nowhere, it is Caer Droia, the spining castle:
Caer Sidi- the spin of the multiverse.
It is eternity and rebirth,
a philosophical paradox.




The labyrinth begins with a cross.
When I construct one, the cross comes first, it is the wall between the way  in and the way out.

Follow the black lines on the image, not the white.

And the labyrinth is also a meander.



Carl Kerenyi follows the meander back to Militos and so begins the confusion between labyrinths and ladders. He describes an inscription dated to C2 B.C which  connects the word labyrinthos to a structure found in two stairwells, one on either side of the entrance to the great hall of the temple of Apollo at Didyma.

Excavations revealed that the ceilings above the staircases were decorated with meander pattens.

The archaeologist Paul Wolters had proved to his own satisfaction at least, that the meander was used as a symbolic representation of the labyrinth as in this image of Dionysos and Ariadne.



Carl Kerenyi notes that the staircases at the temple of Apollo at  Didyma were spiral, winding up and down. The stairs assume significance.

No one asks what has Apollo got to do with the Underworld?

Jacob- the Book of Genesis (28:10–19)- had dreamt of a ladder:
And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it!
But going back to the Mesopotamian myths, a ladder or stairs isn't usually the way down into the Underworld.

In the Amana [1400/1500 BC] version of the Nergal and Ereshkigal myth, Namtar has to ascend from the Sumerian Underworld, up to the gods to stand in Erishkigal's stead at the great feast. But the story doesn't give a description of how he makes the journey, no stair or ladder is thought worthy of mention.

In the story, The Descent of Inanna, again no ladder or stairs in either earlier or latter versions. Inanna takes 'The road'  the road that leads one way...

When Enkidu goes down into the Underworld, no ladder; he is seized and made to take the road 'where travelling is one way'.

Gilgamesh took the path of the sun to get to the Otherworld.
A tunnel.

Etana must fly up on the back of an eagle.

Finally, a latter version of the Nergal and Ereshkigal story [C7 BC] mentions a long stairway leading from heaven, downwards.

Another ladder reference comes from W.K.C Guthrie, he says there is a vase showing Thracian women murdering Orpheus, and that the women have a ladder and a kid tattoos.


Unfortunately he doesn't say which vase the image is to be found on.
Using Google, I see little goats, but no ladders on Greek vases.


Does the V symbol represent a ladder?
There are Egyptian V shaped amulets representing 'lucky' flies.

http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/aes/n/necklace_with_fly_amulets.aspx


There is some evidence in this article to show that the little goat tattoo may stand to represent the Goddesses wild things, the undomesticated animals.

K. Jettmar, 'Ethnological Research in Dardistan' 1958 noted that 'prehistoric' (?) stamp seals found in the mountains of Luristan show 'a master of animals', a demon with animal horns. The Haramosh valley is in Northern Pakistan, but judge for yourself how relevant such accounts are when trying to understand images and stories...

And:
The goddess Murkum who was worshipped by all the women of the Haramosh valley. 'She helped in delivery and protected mother and child; yet she was also the chief owner of all ibexes and wild goats denoted by the collective term of mayaro. Therefore she was venerated by hunters, too, who brought her horns'.

Jettmar describes a sanctuary of Murkum, which was still in use, as lying almost three thousand metres above sea-level just in front of the Haramosh; this was 'no accident as the mountain was considered the proper home of the Murkum. On the steep slope there is an altar built of boulders dominated by a cliff as big as a house with a juniper tree growing beside it. Next to it is a spring. Below the altar crude benches of stone were erected for the annual meeting of the women. Nut-trees grow between them. Even they are considered holy and no branches were ever broken off.'

In the rites performed at the annual meeting of the women at the sanctuary, the goddess was to send the sacrifice, a she-ibex. A male priest is said to have participated in the ceremony by performing a dance and by killing the ibex and dividing it up. The ministry of this priest 'is now abolished but women anxious about the welfare of their families still come to the altar table and put leaves of juniper between the boulders.'

The Orphic password- 'A kid I fell into the milk'...

The ladder isn't a labyrinth, you can't dance on it. Aristophanes describes Dionysus leading the dance of the Eleusinian initiates through the Underworld.

The labyrinth is an experience.

And the ladder is almost a meander pattern.
Sometimes that is close enough.

W.K.C Guthrie says that the Egyptians had a ladder symbol, but doesn't explain what he means.

Sir Ernest Alfred Wallis Budge translates something as ladders, many times in The Book of the dead: the papyrus of Ani (in the British Museum)
http://www.sacred-texts.com/egy/ebod/ebod12.htm

And Wiki quotes this:
Hail, daughter of Anubis, above the hatches of heaven,
Comrade of Thoth, above the ladder's rails,
Open Unas's path, let Unas pass!
But, more relevantly  Dan Brian Brown in a 1923 book called 'The Wisdom of the Ancient Egyptians' wrote:
The Ladder is a symbol of Horus, and was worn [as an amulet in ancient Egypt] to secure his assistance in overcoming and surmounting difficulties in the material world, as well as to form a connection with the heaven world, or land of light.
Nice idea, fits in with medieval, or Rosicrucian  iconography, but it wasn't originally an Egyptian idea, nor do I see Horus.







I have seen Egyptian pictures of ladders, but not as a way to heaven. The ladders have Ashurbanipal's Assyrian army using them to storm the walls!

The C6 AD ladder to the Heavens (left) is clearly influenced by this C7 BC image (right).

Egypt was defeated by the Assyrians in 667 BCE and as a consequence, Assyrian gods were added to the Egyptian Pantheon.




The Assyrians regarded Ashur as their chief god- Ashur was the same as Marduk (again being economical with what I say) and Ashur's symbol is the tree.

A lot of people call it the tree of life,

Originally, in the oldest story the tree could be said to represent kingship: the Huluppu-tree. [LINK]

There is a connection between thrones and what wood they are made of, hinted at in the Nergal myth, and it seems very complicated. But the first throne, according to The Huluppu-tree myth,  was made by Gilgamesh for Inanna.

It is probable that the tree and ruler image began because the kings embodies the hero status of Gilgamesh, as latter Carthaginian kings linked themselves to Heracles.



Meanwhile Ashur floats above the tree like the sun. His winged appearance makes people think of Ezekiel and the Merkabah- the fiery chariot.



Somewhere and sometime the realm of the gods stopped being a terrifying place, too cool for humans. The idea of enlightenment, becoming god-like began to be conceived of as possible...

Ashur is sun-like, he is in the place of Shamash- the all seeing eye. As Marduk (Ashur) set the stars in their place, and as each star is a domain of a god, Ashur I guess can be where ever he pleases.

Back on the ground the bird headed being is not Ashur, but nevertheless this image has been misinterpreted as Horus and ladder...






Ultimatly it looks as if the tree becomes the Cabala....a diagram showing the equilibrium of power radiating from god (I think that is what Cabala is...). Would you call it 'a ladder to the stars'...from Egypt and 'the Hermetica' to the Pythagoreans, to Judaism, to the Neoplatonists, finally trickling down to modern Wicca via books on alchemy and astrology.




The ideas that were developed in Babylon were never destroyed, with its people or walls. For instance, the 360 degrees of the circle and 60 minutes to each hour.
The significance of the Tree is seen in the ancient world among Assyrians and Egyptians. Jews later on inherited the concept of the Tree, apparently from Babylon, slightly modified it and formed Sacred Teachings of Kabbalah, a Jewish mysticism which means, "Ghabel Alahah", in English, "Accept God/Receiving".
http://www.assyriatimes.com/engine/modules/news/article.php?storyid=3426.
But the labyrinth was never really a ladder to the stars, and I can't help but think that the Greeks were barbarians compared to the Assyrians at the time wine and its god Dionysos, came to Athens; those golden tablets and promises of immortality,  the so called 'Orphic' teachings were an attempt to understand the esoteric tradition represented by that tree...

Possibly    :)

Monday, 5 December 2011

Plato's Spring.


Of all the YouTubes or web pages that show Eflatun Pinar, perhaps this one is the closest to what it is actually like today:



The Hittite shrine that surrounds the pool is dated to c.1300 BC, but this place is also known as Plato's Spring (Plato 424/423 BC – 348/347 BC). The legend is that it was here that Plato stopped the flood and caused the waters to run underground.

To see a map, and some photos:
http://www.hittitemonuments.com/

The water is warm and comes up from out of the ground, so the idea of this being the place where the flood ended is hard to understand.

Hittite mythology owed something of its structure and narrative to the myths of Mesopotamia, particularly the latter, Akkadian myths, and the Akkadian myths grew from the stories told by the Sumerians.

If this place is associated with the flood then there are two sets of myth about floods: the story of Noah or rather the story of Atrahasis and the gods deciding to kill all mankind.

And the stories of the serpent guardian of the deep, the Kur.

The control of water is a part of a more modern (by Mesopotamian standards) story; Tiamat and Marduk as recorded in the Enuma Elish. Though Tiamat and her husband Absu represented sweet and salty water, the Enuma Elish doesn't personify Tiamat as a flood.

In the Enuma Elish, life comes from the water, and the water is controlled. Tiamat is dragon like, a monstrous force.The older flood stories did not need to be spelt out, the listener understood how an enemy floods the land with disaster.


The gods and goddesses carved into the facade at Eflatun Pinar are rising up out of the water. Some of the carvings of the gods and goddesses are perforated, so the water springs out of their bodies. This indicates that the gods have dominion over the water now, because the Kur has been conquered.

A long time before the story of Tiamat and Marduk, the primeval water under the earth contained the great dragon, Kur. In one story it is Enki who goes to fight with the Kur after it steals the goddess, Ereshkigal. The result is that Ereshkigal becomes queen of the Underworld, and Enki becomes 'Lord of the Abyss' and builds his 'Sea palace' at Eridu.

Another story concerns Ninurta, a warrior god, son of Enlil. His weapon, Sharur has 'set its mind against the Kur' and persuades Ninurta to set off to kill the Kur, though it doesn't seem to be particularly troublesome monster.

When the deed is done and the Kur lies dead the primeval waters that the Kur held in check begin to rise. This causes floods and more importantly it means that the flow of water has become disordered, rivers are no longer connected to the deep:
Famine was severe, nothing was produced,
The small rivers were not cleaned, the dirt was not carried off
Ninurta goes back to the body of the Kur and heaps stones over it, building a great wall to hold back the 'mighty waters'. As to the waters that have already flooded the land, Ninurta  gathers them and leads them back into the Tigris, just as Plato was supposed to have done.

Because of this the land is super abundant, the fields produce more grain, the vineyards more grapes, everything is heaped up in the granaries and mourning disappears from the land.

The earth goddess Ki falls in love with Ninurta out of gratitude, and he gives her the 'heap' the Hursag and she is now Ninhursag, queen of the 'magic mountain' that causes the gold and silver, the cattle and sheep, the 'four legged creatures' to multiply and to thrive. Finally he blesses the stones who have helped him, and curses those who helped his enemy, the Kur.

Hititte mythology is hard to find, but Google tells me that Ereshkigal, so loved by the Kur that it stole her away is called by the Hittites, Lelwani a goddess of the underworld "the pourer".


http://www.ling.upenn.edu/~rnoyer/courses/51/BryceHittiteSociety.pdf

And that's about as far as I'm going with this.
I'm not sure how helpful the myths of the Kur are to an understanding of Plato's Spring, just a little more helpful than trying to associate Plato with it, I guess!

Last note:
*Pleto, a Goddess of Wide Rivers that meander across the land is reconstructed as *pltHa wiHa (p. 267, Oxford Introduction). She pours out the waters that sustain people and livestock. Forms include Hittite Lelwanni, a Goddess, the “Pourer” (p. 760, G&I); Sanskrit Prthivi in the Rig Veda; as u-fratis, the ancient Persian name of the Euphrates river (Vol. 1, p. 27, Bopp in the Grammaire Comparée des Langues Indo-Européennes); Greek Leto; in Latin, Latona, the eponymous ancestor of the Latins; and also Greek Ploutos, borrowed into Latin as Pluto. (S)he is responsible for pushing the water up into the springs that form rivers. Pluto was demonized by Christians as a God of the “underworld”; i.e. the Christian hell. Walter Burkert recognizes the Goddess *Pleto, although he considers Greek Plataia an ‘Earth Goddess’, p. 17 in Greek Religion. *Pleto is discussed in more detail in an article on another page. Source...

Friday, 2 December 2011

Orpheus...

Buddhism, it seems to me, is a very Orphic religion; both are based on the concept of there being a perfect, more real 'Platonic' realm from which this world appears to us because of our 'sin' or 'obscurations' or bad habits of desire...

Both philosophies place an emphasis on an intellectual change as essential for liberation and both systems promise enlightenment after death.

Whilst the Buddhists place the source of our entrapment on ignorance, a state that can be improved upon within one's life time, the Orphics saw themselves as trapped by the nature of their bodies, no one could be free of their Titanic nature.

But as for the Buddhists, with their belief that all living beings have the potential to be a 'god', a Buddha; so the Orphics likewise believed that we are all part god, part Dionysus.

Death alone offered a chance for the Orphics to be free of the Titan within the flesh. But knowledge of what to do in the underworld was essential (rather like the Egyptian 'Book of Gates' there were signs and passwords that had to be recited or else you would be lost with the masses and never get to the Elysian Fields.).

The curious phrase: 'a kid I fell into the milk' is often read on the gold tablets buried with the dead.



There are similar notions in the Vajrayana schools of Buddhism  which explain how the moment of death may be used as an opportunity to achieve liberation. But this is physical, rather than metaphorical and is to do with the configuration of energy channels within ones body actually changing in the process of death: of  'winds' and 'drops': dza, lhung and tigle.

The Tibetan Book of the Dead describes the visions the consciousness -read soul or psyche- will experience whilst within this bardo- the space between death and re-birth -and tells the practitioner how to 'escape' rebirth by recognising the true nature of the experience as (metaphor of the mirror) a projection.

The Hinayana schools are closer, in this case, to the Orphic religion. Both regard the body as something of an impure hindrance. Desire is the Buddhist 'sin' because it is the cause of all bad behavior, including re-birth. So along with meditation to 'purify' the mind, other practices proscribed for a Hinayana practitioner are centered upon 'transforming desire to wisdom by subduing the body's coarse desires'. Fasting, eating only once a day and eating only what one is given are ways to teach the body that desire is unnecessary to support life and meditation.

A shaved head, robes, celibacy are not so much a rejection of the world, simply a way to ignore it's voice as one ignores the wondering thoughts that cross the mind during meditation.

Understanding the 'emptyness' of desire leads to wisdom and as wisdom is the opposite to ignorance it would be understood by the Orphics as a part of the remedy for the inner Titan. When desire is extinguished for the Buddhists, there is (as for the Orphic) liberation after death.

Original sin, be it a Buddhist concept of ignorance, or a more modern 'green' sense of disgust at the greed of the petrol-heads, bankers and capitalists,  is a very Orphic feeling:
The ancient grief of Persephone, according to one arguement, is sorrow for the death of her son Dionysos at the hands of the Titans. Humans pay the punishment because they were formed from the Titan’s ashes and have a Titanic nature. By living an Orphic life and avoiding the bloodshedding which is the legacy of the Titans, humans may pay the penalty and achieve freedom.
In Vajrayana Buddhism purification is achieved through practice: fasting, visulisations of oneself as an emanation of a deity, prayer and discipline- refraining from doing harm where possible, and by complex intellectual arguments that convince one of the non-existence of the self. Ultimately the Buddhist Mahayana and Vajrayana paradigm is that this world is an illusion caused by one's own ignorance and therefore enlightenment for one, becomes in a massively solipsistic way, the enlightenment of all.

The 'original sin' of previous bad karma and desire -which creates bad karma- is analogous to the ash from the Titans, or the 'Original sin' of eating the apple. The Karma Kadgyu also, like the Orphics use the symbol of being dressed in a white cloth (not wool!) as a sign of relisation  'repa clad' but I'd love to know if I'm right to beleive that this along with it being disrespectful to blow out candles (must waft them out with your hand!) and the way that Mahakala looks so much like Zervan...confirms the Zoroastrean roots of both Orphic religion and aspects of Tibetan ritual.


Tibetan Buddhism spins away from the central Orphic purity concept and off into Taoism via alchemy with a sprinkling of Hindu deities and a lot of Bon spirits and symbols.

But, back to the subject.


The Orphic version of the Persephone myth as told by Clement of Alexandria (in which Zeus and Persephone are the parents of Dionysus, and the baby Dionysus is murdered by the Titans) is a strange mixture of themes, the requirement for a gods blood to animate clay comes from an old Mesopotamian myth. Humans were made, so the Mesopotamians beleived, to work for the gods: to grow food for the temple.

I haven't read anywhere yet why the ash of Dionysus and the Titans became human...

Using Tibetan Buddhism as a key to understand Eleusis, is not scientific in any way and I can't really justify anything that I've written, and will write, on this page. But my way of understanding Eleusis is to see it as an empowerment (as Buddhists call them); a ritual that confers on one *just by being there* a link with the deity.

In Tibetan Buddhism an empowerment is permission to practice, in other words, it is a stepping through a wall that exists between the real and the imaginative and into faith. As at Eleusis, what happens in an empowerment is secret, but it too consists of things said, things heard and things seen...

At Eleusis, in the Initiation Hall there are: things done- dromena- which was probably a reenactment of the Persephone myth; there were things shown-deiknumena- the sacred objects displayed (probably by the priest); and finally the things said -legomena- commentaries that accompanied the 'things shown'.

All this was apporheta -unrepeatable; the penalty for divulging them was death.

I have a mental block when it comes to thinking about 'Orphic' versions of the universe. I feel much more at home with the Mesopotamian- Sumerian/ Akkadian-  Homeric version: gods up on the mountain somewhere, all they want is the smell of meat and libations of wine, they are egotistical, manic, powerful! The universe was made for no good reason, we live, we die. The best we can hope for is to live a good life here and for people to remember us and tend our graves. There is no redemption, no need for redemption. No sin, no Titanic blood to be free of. The Underworld can be a dusty and miserably place, and the dead seem to fall apart after a while down there unless they are 'fed' by offerings from above, but then again it may be quite pleasant for those whose families remember them.

Cremation is considered a bad idea, the human spirit ascending to the realm of the gods would be out of his depth, like a monkey going to university..

The Orphic universe is a place of emanations and there is nothing simple or prosaic about Orphic ideas.

Take that mirror, the one used to divert the baby Dionysus, to hold his fascination long enough for the Titans to get close enough to reach out and...


The mirror is a Buddhist metaphor for the way this life appears, an illusion, ephemeral, a reflection in the mind. The NeoPlatonist Proclus Lycaeus (C4 A.D) sees in this metaphor of  the mirror, the opposition of eternal (god like) truth and ephemeral (real life) birth and decay. For the Buddhists, the capacity of the mind to reflect  (conciousness) is in opposition to what it reflects, the everyday, composite stuff of this world. When Dionysus is looking into the mirror the NeoPlatonist sees an image of mankind, the dichotomy between our false mirror-like Titanic nature, and the eternal god we could be.

But the point, for the followers of Orpheus was to live a good life, and to study. The theogony that eventually becomes Neoplatonism is necasarily hard to understand.

Necessary, because it has to be like a Zen koan.

Paradigm shifts are required...enlightenment cannot be easy!

Musaios wrote: 'Everything comes to be out of One and resolved into One'.

In the Buddhist version of this we have the Dharmakaya, Nirmanakaya and Sambogakaya. The Dharmakaya is 'The One' out of which all Buddhas and all phenomenon arise and to which they return after their dissolution. The Nirmanakaya is physical manifestation: the dimension of ceaseless manifestation...and Sambogakaya?  'The luminous form of clear light...' It is the realm of 'the lights without end' ...the formless realm.

See, enlightenment has to be difficult to understand, can't just be Babylonian about being respectfiul of the gods and taking care of your family.

The theogonies of the Orphics are difficult to follow, we have Phanes as the creator and Zeus as his creation, we have worlds and gods swallowed and the first world becomes the Dharmakaya of pure realms of Platonic ideas and the world of Zeus, the Nirmanakaya of emanations, of things, of sense....

Persephone is in here, in this Orphic theogony, but this is enough for now!

Anyone who wishes to get to grips, I'd recommend reading Orpheus and Greek Religion by W.K.C Guthrie.


http://thingsinthree.blogspot.com/p/orphic-persephone.html