Monday, 5 December 2016

The Cockoo Stone - repost from 2011

The Cuckoo stone.
The cuckoo stone, unlike the stones of Stonehenge did not make a long journey to be here. The Cuckoo stone was accidentally here, no one dragged it or carried it any great distance.

Research by the Riverside Project found that some time before 2000 BC it was hauled upright.

The stone no longer stands, it has fallen onto its side.

Woodhenge is to the east of the Cuckoo Stone.

To the West of the Cuckoo stone were found two, Neolithic pits. One dated to the fourth millennium BC containing pottery, animal bones and struck flints. The second pit was dated to the third millennium BC and contained antlers and animal bones.

To the South of the stone, on a line that ran North South there were three Bronze Age pots, I don’t know what date they were given. There were two upright collared urns and one inverted Enlarged Food Vessel, so late Neolithic Early Bronze Age perhaps?

The name Cuckoo stone is most often taken to mean that this stone is in the wrong place, but another name for it and other cuckoo stones is the cuckold stone. The cuckold bird is a more correct name for a cuckoo after all.

There is a saying, “A man wearing horns is the last to know” and a hand symbol of a fist with first and last fingers raised, like horns, to go with it.

I’m tempted to suggest that this old saying and sign came to us as a reference to Alexander the Great's army trailing across continents and leaving many half Macedonian children in its wake, for Alexander the Great was pictured on his coins as wearing rams horns -Alexander as Zeus-Ammon.

But I’m also reminded of the horn head-dress found at Starr Carr and of far older rock art depicting horned men.

The sign of the horns was described by Bram Stoker in Dracula as “A sign against the evil eye”.

Jinx Dawson -lead singer in Coven is credited with being one, if not the first, to say it is the devil’s sign.”

I know it as “Subjugating mudra” a sign used in a ritual whilst holding the thunderbolt sceptre, when making threats to ‘demons’ but that’s another story.

The Ditch of Woodhenge.
Maud Cunnington excavated the ditch in 1929. She described it as six to seven feet deep and twelve to sixteen foot wide on the floor. On one spot at the South it was found to be narrower, only four foot wide.

The earth from the ditch was heaped up in a ring that was four to five foot wide.

Working out when Woodhenge was made is quite difficult. The pottery found by Wainwright and Evans (1979). in the ditch -Grooved ware was C14 dated to 2280 BC.

Maud Cunnington had resolutely named all the bits of pottery found inside the post holes at Woodhenge as ‘Beaker’ pottery. Without more, and preferably clear and accurate information, it is impossible to know exactly what she found.

Excavations by The Riverside project found a tree ‘throw hole’ that contained Neolithic pottery dated somewhere between 4000 and 3800 BC, Analyses of that find indicated that at that time the land in this area had been cleared of trees and had been a long established grassland. Six Neolithic storage pits with Rinyo-Clacton (Grooved Ware) pottery, and Neolithic occupation debris were found beneath the bank of Woodhenge.

Circular, ritual spaces evolved from causewayed enclosures (approximately 3500 BC). The causewayed enclosure seems to be the first kind of British, circular monument.

The Wessex causewayed enclosures contained a lot of human bone, especially within the ditch, but it is almost impossible to know if the bones were placed there or just fell in. Like the henges, the causewayed enclosures often contained pits for special deposits. Hambledon Hill had skulls placed at regular intervals within the ditch.

Windmill Hill contained remains of pottery once used for cooking, and eating and drinking. Here, goats, cattle and sheep were cared for and brought to Windmill Hill to be killed for meat and skins. Their remains now lie under the ground as bones in the ditches. People seem to have brought bones of their relations or ancestors to the site too, and these were placed or fell in to the ditches.

It is not unreasonable to see these places as charnel grounds. To imagine the people bringing their dead up onto the hill away from the living. At certain times of the year, the living would return to collect the adult long bones and skulls to place within the long barrow close by.

The linear cursus appear after causewayed enclosures, they have been interpreted as buffer zones between ceremonial and occupation landscapes, one place for ghosts and magic, another for everyday life. The finds of arrowheads at a Yorkshire cursus (Rudston) suggest archery and hunting were important to the builders and that the length of the cursus may have reflected its use as a proving ground for young men involving a journey to adulthood.

Another theory is that the cursus has astronomical alignments Cursuses, as 'symbolic rivers', like the Milky Way perhaps.

By the time cursus are being layed out, the narrative that gave meaning to the collecting up bones of and placing them inside long barrows was fading. Cremation became the preferred method of taking care of the dead. It has been suggested that bones taken from the causewayed enclosure at Windmill Hill may have been washed in the water of the Swallow Head spring before being taken into West Kennet barrow. An increase in the number of cremation and paradoxically the lack of cremation urns from this period hint that there may be a new ritual of strewing the ashes into the river. Perhaps, as in Ancient Egypt the river on earth is symbolic of the river in the sky. A river ‘burial’ provides an explanation for the absence of human remains belonging to this time.

Henges seem to be associated with water, they are often close to a cursus and they are often in groups. Henges do not contain as many random bones as causeway enclosures, but a common location for a burial is either at the entrance to, or at the centre of the henge, or both.

At Woodhenge the deposits made inside the henge itself are placed in the pits as the posts go in, or around the posts. Symbolic axes (soft chalk and palm sized so could never be used for work) and human remains are placed in significant posts.

A pattern of animal remains becomes apparent, pig bones are found at the outer, ditch edge of the henge, cattle remains close to the centre.

Some henges may have had coves (Woodhenge included) three large stones placed as an open box called a cove, Aubrey Burl has suggested that these structures represented the forecourts of the older, long barrows. At Woodhenge there may have been a cove located in the South, to South West, opposite the North, North East entrance.

Why did cremation take over from defleshing and the collection of bones?

Perhaps the dead had become dangerous?

Even in church yards, it is said that the yew were planted because their deep roots would fix the dead into their graves.

The dead were no longer placed in cave-like long barrows, but were cremated. The marrow of the bone looks like flesh and possibly represents the source of life? By burning and crushing the bones and releasing the ash into water the spirit is led away by the water - washed down into the land of the ancestors, from Woodhenge to Stonehenge.

Significant finds.
In the East at the bottom of the ditch, Maud Cunnington’s dig opened up the shallow grave of a young man. He lay on his side, head to South, feet pointing east, his face turned facing east;

[Cunnington 1926. Page 82]
The crouched skeleton of a young man was found in a shallow grave dug in the middle of the floor of the ditch in this cutting. The skeleton lay on its side with head towards the South, facing east, arms crossed over the chest with hands up to the shoulders. The grave was length wise with the ditch: sixteen inches deep, four and a half foot long and two and a half foot wide. It was filled with pure chalk rubble, distinct from the silting in the ditch immediately above it, and must therefore, have been filled up before silting had accumulated on the floor of the ditch. On the bottom of the grave on the Eastern side, just in front of the skeleton were: a vertebra, a rib bone, three teeth and part of another large bone, all of ox.

Here is Sir Arthur's report on the man in the ditch:
"A slim man five feet seven inches tall all his teeth free from disease -but certain of his bones have not ceased growing. Wrist bones are finished so is knee and shoulder. Epiphysis of hip and shoulder blade are un-closed. The Sagittal suture if fussed which makes him older than thirty-five -but other signs show him to be less than twenty-two.

His face and appearance are different to that of Bronze Age people.

It will be seen that the lower jaw is not only very narrow but the front teeth, instead of continuing forwards on a level with the back teeth, rise up above them to compensate for a defective growth in the corresponding part of the upper jaw and upper face.] He has not the face form of our Neolithic people nor the head form of the Bronze Age people, therefore I think we are compelled to place him in the Iron Age"
"His grave is not marked at Woodhenge, and his bones now lie in a tin hidden from public view in the Natural History museum, London.

Finds associated with the ditch, close to the ditch on the outside of the ring, and finds from within the post holes.

This is an incomplete list, simplified to bones, chalk and axes.


Inside the henge.

C 14. Burnt human bones.

C 13 contained ‘Fragments of human skull and teeth just below the chalk line’.

A 45 had ‘More bone than usual’.

North East inside henge:

B 21 a chalk axe.

C 11 chip of polished axe.
At four foot deep a fragment of skull.

Inside the henge:
A 16 contained ’Pig, ox and arrow heads plus a piece of chalk with a hole bored into it’.

C 5 flint hammer, fossil Echinus and beaker.

E 6 Part of human femur
South West inside henge:
B 6 a fragment of beaker.
On the East side at a depth called by Maud Cunnington, Romano British (four foot) there were the bones of an infant, and also a radius.

At three foot, a fragment of skull, Romano British pottery and fragments of a child’s jaw and teeth.

East inside henge:
C 9 chalk ‘lamp’, worked chalk hammer and beaker.
West at four to five foot deep -in the same layer (Cunnington 1929) as some Beaker pottery, a fragment of skull.

At two foot deep, bones of a young infant (Romano British layer).

On the West side of ditch there was an area of burnt flint, two or three inches deep.

West inside henge: 
F 1 flint axe.

The Henge.
First the posts and then the stones…but what of the central burial?
[Cunnington 1926. Page 13]
"A small grave was found lying on the line of midsummer sunrise, and at right angles to it. This grave, with slightly rounded ends, was only a foot deep in the chalk. In the Southern end, the grave being unnecessarily large for a burial lay the crouched skeleton of a child of about three years old. Owing to the decayed condition of the bones, many of them having disappeared all together, it was difficult to determine the exact position, but the body was turned towards the North-East i.e., to the rising sun at midsummer.

It will be seen from the plan that the line of sunrise falls across the Southern end of the grave, across the centre of the burial, though not through the centre of the grave.

A remarkable circumstance in connection with the skeleton is that the skull appears to have been cleft before burial. When the bones were first uncovered it was exclaimed "There must be two skeletons" because there appeared to be two skulls lying side by side, touching one another. But when the bones were removed they proved to be those of only one individual, and what looked like two skulls were actually the two halves of the same skull. It is a common thing to find a skull crushed in the ground, but there seems no way of accounting for its being found lying in two parts, unless it had been cleft before burial. The other bones, though much decayed, were found lying in their natural order, and there was no sign to suggest that the grave had ever been disturbed. It appears probable, therefore, that this child's burial was in the nature of a dedicatory or sacrificial one. No relics of any kind were found with the skeleton".
It is Sir Arthur who tentatively suggests that the 'sacrificial' child is female:
"I may in a few words dispose of the skeleton of the child found in the centre of the circle. From the fact that all milk teeth are in use and also the crown of the first permanent molars are formed, one may place the age at three and a half years.

The condition and size of the cranial bones (only parts of which were found) and also the limb bones, are in keeping with this estimate. From the size of the teeth and limb bones one infers the remains are those of a girl -but this is not an inference which should be too much depended on. The upper end of the shaft of the femur already shows the front to back flattening and the tibia the side flattening which is so often seen in skeletons of Bronze Age people -but in earlier as well as latter people of Britain

At Woodhenge, the grave of the child had been made beautiful..

But the other grave remains unknown to most people and so I set off to find it.

Maud Cunnington included a plan in her notes of where she had dug the ditch. The body must have been within the eastern side of the excavation and so I went over to the ditch to see.

It is possible just about, to see which area had been dug 82 years ago!
Or am I fooling myself?

The grass is slightly greener, there is something more uneven about the line of the henge there.

I put down the sticks and X marks the spot.

Again, like the burial at The Sanctuary he was buried to face the equinox sunrise.

This next photo shows the direction that he was facing.
He was buried facing the opposite direction to the Cuckoo stone, towards the hills and what is now the main road.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Homo Necans part 3.

Chapter one of Homo Necans by Walter Berkert.
I stopped recording myself reading, after chapter one.

The following chapters explore the thesis, that the first spiritual act of man was killing, a stage further by describing how specific mythic themes support and provide evidence that man is homo necans, rather than homo religious..

Here are the last two sections of chapter one.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Homo Necans. Chapter 1 part 1.

Homo Necans by Walter Burkert.

Blood sacrifice, the ritual slaughter of animals, has been basic to religion through history, so that it survives in spiritualized form even before Christianity. How did this violent phenomenon achieve the status of the sacred? This question is examined in Walter Burkert's famous study - first published 1972.
There is much you can argue against in this book
It is 'of its time'
It is a work by someone who was once one of the Cambridge Ritualists.

But, human behavior has ancient roots
Home Necans separates violent behavior from intellectual meanings, to ask what lies below..

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Babalon Kore.

As a child I wanted more of the twilight, moon-light language that expressed the things that are beyond physical light.

As a teenager I looked for a path that skimmed the edge between conscious and unconscious, assuming that the deep mind held all things.

And in those days or possibly forever.. the pathways described were ostensibly open to all genders...and yet? and yet I got the distinct impression that the classic gender roles of hot and dry, intellectual male versus wet and intuitive female created a barrier; not so much in Western magik - because the union of opposites within the self requires assimilation of all gendered roles within the personality - but in 'Eastern' inner alchemical where a practice of union is sexual, usually in the imagination alone, but not always...

In short, no matter how far I looked, read and explored I did not find instructions for women...

 A lot of what has become Western magik derives from 'Eastern Tantrik' practice. The source was Allan Bennet via Alister Crowley....Before he took to Teravadan Buddhism, Bennet and Crowley studied Shaivism. After I'd received an education I could see behind Crowley's imagery a curiously re-wrought version of what I had studied in a more original form.

But before I'd got an education, Crowley was the best I could find; and to take the role of Babalon's daughter - The Scarlet Woman was my highest ambition.

I did not succeed..
In all my life I have met one person ever who could have understood
Perhaps people who have read Crowley are all over the place now.

They didn't used to be is all I can say.

Or perhaps it was my fault?
I absolutely did not say it out loud.
I expected to be found and recognized, or not.

Because this is not an idea to be played at.
It isn't role play...

As always I kept a foot in both forms of truth. I did not believe that I was Babalon's daughter. I did not believe in an entity called Babalon. I believed that I could be a Scarlet Woman because I'd uprooted so many ideas and realities by the age of sixteen that I was prepared to be proved wrong about everything.

How else could I ever learn the truth?

And I wanted someone to prove to me Babalon existed.
I wanted to embody Her for him...

There just didn't seem to be a better path.
The sacred feminine is integral for male 'enlightenment'. I understood that from Crowley and I came across it again and again, latter on. I sought freedom from myself. I wanted union with the divine and no one I had ever read described how women are supposed to go about this...Thy will be done as a spell to open the gates of Heaven on earth; submission to someone else's will seemed as much as I could ask for.

But I'm missing out the deeply sad origins of this apparent elevation of the feminine principal. The location of the sacred is absolutely within the imaginary female in religions created by monastic males who cannot afford to let women get down from their pedestal.

A reincarnated lama is separated from his mother while he is still quite young. He sees her, but only at certain times. He yearns for her, misses her, remembers her love and turns this yearning outwards, seeing all beings as having once been his mother.

The word lama means high-mother. Meaning that a lama personifies the care and love and non-violence stereo-typically ascribed to women.

Likewise feminine principals appear eternal and maternal: the dharmakaya, the layer of the mind from whence all things spring into existence is regarded as feminine because it gives birth.

This feminine principal is so other and so powerful because it was so lost to the little boy. Ordinary sex with this imaginary being is out of the question and yet the electric flow of sexual desire the feminine evokes is required to transform material seed into sublime compassion, and absorbed rather than released to maintain life-force.

Crowley could be justifiably accused of turning this sacred view upside down in his treatment of his Scarlet Women.

But in his mind...Babalon's daughter is Persephone, the Kore.

She is like a child of twelve years old. She has very deep eyelids, and long lashes. Her eyes are closed, or nearly closed. It is impossible to say anything about her. She is naked; her whole body is covered with fine gold hairs, that are the electric flames which are the spears of mighty and terrible Angels whose breastplates are the scales of her skin. And the hair of her head, that flows down to her feet, is the very light of God himself. Of all the glories beheld by the Seer in the Aethyrs, there is not one which is worthy to be compared with her littlest finger-nail. For although he may not partake of the Aethyr, without the ceremonial preparations, even the beholding of this Aethyr from afar is like the par taking of all the former Aethyrs.

It was tough being Crowley's Scarlet Woman as this list shows ~link.
Failed from respectability...from indecision, from jealousy...

  • Rose Edith Crowley nee Kelly, Crowley's first wife. —Put me in touch with Aiwas; see Equinox 1, 7, "The Temple of Solomon the King." Failed as elsewhere is on record.
  • Mary d'Este Sturges nee Dempsey. —Put me in touch with Abuldiz; hence helped with Book 4. Failed from personal jealousies.
  • Jeanne Robert Foster nee Oliver. —Bore the "child" to whom this Book refers later. Failed from respectability.
  • Roddie Minor —Brought me in touch with Amalantrah. Failed from indifference to the Work.
  • Marie Rohling nee Lavroff. —Helped to inspire Liber CXI. Failed from indecision.
  • Bertha Almira Prykryl nee Bruce. —Delayed assumption of duties, hence made way for No. 7.
  • Leah Hirsig —Assisted me in actual initiation; still at my side, An XVII, Sol in Sagittarius.

 “What really pulled me from the pit was the courage, wisdom, understanding and divine enlightenment of the Ape herself. Over and over again, she smote into my soul that I must understand the way of the gods… We must not look to the dead past, or gamble with the unformed future; we must live wholly in the present, wholly absorbed in the Great Work, 'unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result'. Only so could will be pure and perfect.”
Crowley writing about Leah Hirsig.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

What am I doing...

Is a question I can't answer.
I can tell you what I do
I can tell you my intention
I can invite you to come along with me

As to that last one - the invite - I'm serious.

What I'm doing is
Taking the literal English translation of Sumerian from ETCSL 
Comparing it with Kramer's Descent.
Asking myself if the Kramer translation is the only way to understand what is recorded.
Writing the Descent as I understand it


I want this to be a play.

Scene opens with a ritual
Offerings and chanting.
Inana speaks to the audience, behind those who have brought offerings.

The Great above she opened Her ear to the Great Below becomes:

My beloved...
You know me as queen of heaven
You taste me in the beauty of this earth.
Beautiful people, you love me!
You honor me in passion, in glory, in sex.
You know that I am worth dying for.
When desire fills your heart, when murderous intent is your reply, I hear you rejoice. You shout "Let it come! let's go watch how the temples burn and the town hall falling. Give us more truth, tell us the stories of honest men turning into traitors.
Only Dystopia is honest' you shout. 'It's all in the open now'.
And then the enemy tears apart the corpses of the population and your city is pulverized as with a pestle. The best of you scattered like dust, blown away by hot winds. Those who remain are massacred, they finish off young and old alike.
You die, you all fade away, all passion spent.
Doesn't that seem. well, just so sad?
That you will go so far from me?
It is time that I honored your love!
It is time for me to bring the miserable city of the Underworld, Irkalla, under my control. It is time for me to restore lust, desire and glory!
To all.
To the dead...

The Descent is a story of hubris, it tells of consequences.

The Descent addresses a far more 'Babylonian' concern than accepting the unacceptable. It is a story about order, and the restoration of order. It arose through a wholly sensible distrust of rulers who bring disorder to the state through acquisitive ambitions.

I respect the Jungian tradition; but this story just plain isn't about individuation - Ereshkigal is not Inana's shadow. The closing lines are not Holy Inana, sweet is your praise.

The Descent honors and glorifies the queen of the dead.
Holy Ereshkigal, sweet is your praise

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Midsummer's son.

The death of the eternal, beautiful man-boy.

He could be called Osiris, the sap in the grain.
The green fuze that powers the shoots and buds
Then his name is Ningishizida

The green man
Dying to live again.

The life giving power of Damu came from the deep, the Absu
From the flowing, sweet water of the river.

A son of Enki
Whose palace was under the fresh water of the earth.

Damu it seems, was Enki in a more human form.

At the far edges of Mesopotamian (Akkadian) culture
Ezekiel described the women of Israel weeping for Tammuz.
And David, son of Solomon sang:
"They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth. bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him"
The Middle Eastern Tammuz became Adonis in Greek myth. The parallels are easy to spot; Adonis was fathered by a river, and his mother became a tree. The child Adonis, sprang from the tree and Aphrodite placed him in a box to be given to Persephone for safe keeping.

A story, the great king Sargon, made his own..
And then Moses too...

Osiris also had a tree and water connection, he was hidden in a tree which grew around the box into which his remains had been hidden.

And Attis met his death, as he castrated himself under a sacred tree.

Their blood reddened the swollen rivers which fertilized the soil.

The weeping for Tammuz began at midsummer and lasted for a month:
 "When the heat and dryness brought forth the demons of pestilence" 

Then poor Damuzi must die once more to 'The house of darkness, where dust is their drink and clay their bread'.

Yet there seems to be a lunar aspect to this so far, quite solar story (after all, the 20th of June is the longest day, the solstice). Osiris is described as appearing each month as 'the child surprisingly beautiful'. Plutarch says that the Osiris bull was 'begotten by a ray of generative light falling from the moon'...When the Apis bull was sacrificed his worshipers were drenched in its blood and fed with milk.

'As a kid I fell into the milk'

Well not quite, but I can't help feeling that there is more than a passing connection.

A new element of this story, for me at least is the story of the child called Scef (or Sceaf - which becomes Sheaf) or Scyld, son of Sceaf. He was a mysterious child who came from over the sea to bring agriculture to Europe.

In Beowulf, Scyld is the patriarch of the Scyldings, the Danes.
Ethelweard names him as the patriarch of the Western Saxons link.

The legend tells of a boat floating to the shore. Inside the boat was a child, fast asleep. His head pillowed by a sheaf of grain. He had with him armour and treasure and tools...

When he died, his body was laid inside another ship and once more he was surrounded by precious things and set adrift on the sea alone as the day he arrived.

At least Scyld or Scef avoided the 'Bloodthirsty mothers' who tear the young man into bloody chunks...unlike his older brothers.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

The Descent...

For as long as I can remember, I have been told by other writers and students of myth, that the Descent is a story of transformation; describing  how The Call awakens a person to some truer sense of themselves, reveals to the brave soul who accepts  - some deeper purpose in life.

From the Descent of Inanna who Opened her ear to the Great Below, to the story of Persephone who was dragged screaming from the seemingly endless summer-fields of flowers, sunshine and friendship, down into the realities of incest and rape. To the hapless Dumuzi, the husband who doesn't notice that his wife (Inanna) is in deep, deep trouble, to the noble Jesus who takes the Bodhisattva vow a step too far...Even Orpheus who sang his way through Hell to bring back his wife...

The Descent does not make any of the mythic travelers who dare to cross the boundaries between sky and earth, wise.

Not one.

None who returned were better, kinder, or more clever than they had been, or in anyway improved by their encounters with The Deep.

Others wiser and more kind, already knew how to respect the living and the dead.

The deals struck with The Deep could not improve life for anyone, it simply changed things.

It seems to me that of all those 'who saw The Deep' none returned with anything more profound than the right to say to the living that they had seen The Deep; quite frankly - they may as well have taken a nuclear powered Soviet ice-breaker to the Antarctic and brought back amazing photographs.

The Deep is surely something more than that, you may think?
I disagree.

The fame of the post-Orphic returners rested upon their capacity to have made a bargain with the Deep. Orpheus and Jesus promised Persephone's Summerland to those who follow their teachings; the endless heavenly grasslands ruled over by Osirus deep within Sokar. Whilst Inanna and Persephone returned shocked and traumatized trailing demons that promise no escape...There was no annihilation for those who came back. But nor was there any way to avoid the consequences.

The myth of The Call says that annihilation is the basis of the initiation rituals in many mystery traditions. The novice must die so that the initiate may be born. This is another myth. The essence of true transformation cannot be a complete annihilation, for without the self there can be no rebirth of anything more complex than inherited, animal memory.

The desire to destroy comes from a necessarily terrible part of the soul - our protector - who wants to hurt those who hurt us. The blaming of the self to the tearing down a self that isn't 'good enough' or destroying a culture to rebuild something better, appeals to the traumatized self, as an heroic task.

In truth it is just one more suicide bomber.

The myth of The Call says that  spiritual growth requires us to face  fear and pain. It says that a journey within or without requires courage and faith. The myth says that to hear the Call and to answer it requires accepting annihilation of the old self in order to transform and give birth to the new.

And yet, fundamentally we all know that the changes that overcome the dead annihilate them into the fabric of the world. The grass may be greener over the burial. The dead flesh may give birth to worms and flies. But it must be obvious to everyone forever and a day that only the living can change themselves into something more than they are now.

The lesson of Inanna's journey to The Great Below is at its core, the same one within The Epic of Gilgamesh. That no matter how great a person is, hero or full God, the rules of death are implacable.

But only a God or hero could be stupid enough to think otherwise.

Perhaps the only lesson worth taking from these stories is, I think the message that none who faced The Deep and returned, accepted annihilation.

This is something that really needs to be understood...

Nevertheless everyone has the capacity to turn their ear to The Great Below...
And if the journey has to be made
A traveler requires a map.
And a book of etiquette.

In cultures that respect and describe The Deep, stories contain holographic maps...

Rewriting those stories for a scientific age
Is a challenge.

The Deep is Thanatos and Eros
The birthplace and death place of all.

But without the stories to weave sex and death into life..
We are left with Prozac and Therapy.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Black star.

David Bowie's video for the single Black Star was at first too painful for me to interpret.

I saw it before David Bowie died.

And the images within the film were clearly about his death.

My first, real love had a 'Man Who Fell To Earth' haircut. He was so skinny, an artist...whose parents would heap on the self-doubt and eventually force him to abandon art.

Thirty years on, I remember being in love with the alien more than I can remember him.

Watching Black Star
I didn't want to think too hard about what will happen to us all.

His death -the Bowie look alike- came after a car crash, and had followed the death of my dad by just a I stopped recording the images and watched something else.

Yet, the life candle 'at the center of the villa' in the video, was burning bright with no sign of going out. I thought that I must be mistaken about the meanings.

Interpretation is a game many people will be playing.
Here is what I understood when I watched the video for the single Black Star.

Scene 1: Alien planet.

The story opens with Major Tom lying on the rocks of an alien world. Above him is the black star, it looks like our sun, eclipsed.

A union of sun and moon.

This symbol is primarily alchemical representing the conjunction of male and female principals and dissolution of the body into the elements: earth into earth, water into water, fire into fire, and air into air.

Bowie had links to the Tibetan Buddhist monastery at Samye Ling and at one stage in his life he considered becoming a monk so, I will assume he had read a book or two on esoteric Buddhism. Here the alchemical allegory remains the same. The male and female principals once kept separate in energy channels within the body during life, now unite as part of the dying process. The text known as Union of Sun and Moon Tantra   provides detailed explanations of that process of dissolution.
"I was a terribly earnest Buddhist at the time [...] I had stayed in their monastery and was going through all their exams, and yet I had this feeling that it wasn't right for me. I suddenly realised how close it all was: another month and my head would have been shaved." Doggett, Peter (2012). The Man Who Sold The World: David Bowie and the 1970s. Vintage. p. 45. ISBN 9780099548874.
On Major Tom's space suit there are two symbols.
I have no idea how important they are, but the camera makes sure that we see them

The first is the flame.
Usually means do not burn.

The second is the smiley.
Could be Blake's badge -The Watchman -?
The Comedian...

There are seven stars, or rather two stars and five bits of star.

The Seven were the Sibitti, and you could call them angels or demons, but I don't know why these stars, or star bits are here, unless they represent Major Tom -the black star- breaking apart?

A woman is walking towards Major Tom.
She has a tail like the genetically modified Dren, in the film Splice.
She has eyebrows like Frida Kahlo.
She lifts the face plate of the helmet and we see that Tom is dead, his space suit contains only bones. But his skull has been adorned with jewels.
It is now a sacred relic.

The woman has a mouse-like tail -perhaps?  like Dren she is human as animal, and more than both. The mouse was an animal sacred to Apollo, and we are most definitely under the power of the sun in this film, so she is a priestess of Apollo,  whose solar domain contains more than music and wit, there is also the rot and decay and power of the Black Sun.

The jeweled skull and the reference to Frida Kahlo speak of a different Holy figure - Lady Death, Santa Muerte.

The woman takes the skull to the red ground.
To the place "the day" of execution, where only women kneel and smile.

Here the skull will be placed on the body of a woman.
The body of a woman providing the physical support for the relic

Major Tom's headless bones
Are drawn into the star of dissolution.

Scene 2: The Villa of Orman.

The villa of all men?

In the villa of Ormen stands a solitary candle.
In the centre of it all
Your eyes.

The life-candle.

There were tall candles just lighted, candles burned halfway down, and little short ones nearly burned out. At one end of the place there was a heap of fresh candles that had not yet been lighted. "These," Death said, "are the candles of all the people in the world. When a man's candle burns out, then it is time for me to go for him." "Godmother," Martin said, pointing to a candle that was burning low, "whose may that be?" "That, my friend, is your candle."The Candles of Life: The Story of a Child for Whom Death Stood Godmother.
Freud described the force towards life as more than the desire for reproduction. The libido is life energy, at the center of all creative work. Here, in the villa, the candle appears to be at the top of a massive testicle, at one point a small trickle of wax, opaquely pale, gushes from the base of the flame. This is life force as physical, a truthful manifestation of how life is engendered.

Eyes represent consciousness, the ability to see is the ability to understand and to connect ideas. The eyes do not need to provide a physical vision.

But the song says, your eyes...
Whose eyes?

In the villa, Bowie has lost his eyes.
His eyes are bandaged and he has buttons instead of eyes.

There is also something monstrous about the eyeless man.
Reminiscent of the eyeless figure in Del Torro's film: Pan's Labyrinth.

And reminiscent of images of wounded soldiers with scars that can't be seen by the person suffering from them...

Upstairs, at the very top of the villa, there are two young men and a girl.

As if in service to the Loa...
The twitching
Absence of self
Like a dying body

Allowing the spirit to possess...

The four characters in this image may be  divided into Jungian archetypes: the wire frame representing the persona - the mask - can be clothed in anything at all, be any character depending upon the clothes it wears. But the mask has gone. The pale man represents the self, Bowie. The dark man represents the shadow - the secret content of the mind an artist must bring forth - whilst the girl is the anima, the spirit...the guiding principal.

I see them as the young, who wish to follow his lead, to stand on the stage and to be be stars.

Somewhere below the upper room is the red ground.
Where the woman will carry the skull.

The villa of Ormen / the villa of all men, looks like the card, Power (the four discs) in Crowley's Book of Thoth.

If Bowie used its symbolism then this is the palace of the winter solstice sun.
It is also the card closest to his date of death...sun in Capricorn.

It represents earthly power and the palace of regeneration.
It is the place the water-sun goes to to become strong.

This is what the villa looks like from outside.

Scene 3: Heaven
Physical death.

The location for this section of the film appears to be Heaven, the Elysian feilds, Aaru...the Blessed Isles

From here David teaches the wisdom of years, teaches the children how to become stars...
He has eyes.
The sky is blue
The fields are full of rippling grass...
The sun shines...

But this is not where we are.
This isn't heaven.

This is the realm of the earth, there is no Heaven.

Three figures
Living scarecrows are positioned like Christ at his crucifixion on Golgotha -The Place of the Skull.

They are within the realm of the Earth and of the Queen of the Great Earth. They have been hung out to die, as we all be taken back to the soil.

There is no transcendence, no way out.

The end will be cruel.

The Earth is not animal or mineral, there are no words.
It is not Pan, or Dionysos

The Earth is primitive and brutal...
Matted hair, claws and strength.

No escape.