Posts Tagged With: Alchemy

The Brazen Stairs

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Bird poop augury 11/23/17–Auspicious.

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The Orobouros and the Alt Right

I had been reading in Julius Evola’s book, the  Hermetic Tradition, about the Alchemical image of the Orobouros—the snake biting it’s own tail.  I first tried to tackle this ponderous work some 20 years ago, after I saw that Carl Jung cited it as source material for his classic book, Psychology and Alchemy.  I again returned to it recently when I’d heard that the alt right was greatly influenced by Evola’s dark, cyclical view of history, as well as his particular brand of arcane, spiritual racism.
I then saw an article by Maureen Dowd, who compared Donald Trump to the Orobouros.  I took this synchronicity as sign I should further meditate on this ancient image of western esotericism as a way to gain a more holistic view of a dangerously polarized political landscape which loomed beyond the hermetically sealed world of the dogfish Bay Marina.
Dowd writes of 45’s isolation by an inner circle who shelter him against the verities of the exterior world, parrot his mad ejaculations, and compound his delusional paranoia.  She evokes the Orobouros to point out his self -destructive qualities.
This mandala has long been contemplated by spiritual adepts who sought awakening to ultimate truth of Unity.  Evola says it represents not so much a philosophical concept as much as a state beyond the dichotomies of I and not-I, inside and outside.  According to the literature, the full realization of this state is the “first matter of the wise.”
In the tradition, this unitary awareness is the beginning of the great work.  But in Evola’s dark, elitist, and apocalyptic elaboration, this work is a cyclic process that, after ages of decline brought about by egalitarianism, multi-culturalism, and democratic “leveling,” heralds the triumphant return of the golden age.  He views history as a cycle of degeneration and regeneration which turns in a series toward its ultimate realization in the re-establishment of a hyper-masculine, solar king which dawns only after violent revolution upsets the status quo.  The losers swept up in this upheaval are expendable, and quaint notions like charity, love, and compassion are jettisoned for the profits of a corporate elite.  Evola may have attained some degree of genuine insight into the spiritual truth expressed by the Orobouros, as well as to how that essential unity is not obstructed by its infinite manifestations (dharmas) in the field of space and time.  Evola studied the Pali cannon of the Hinayana (lesser vehicle) Buddhism, which focuses on self liberation from the cycles of existence (Samsara.)  In contrast, the Mahayana (greater vehicle) stressed the cultivation of loving kindness as not only ethical, but the means by which we awaken to the ultimate truth of essential unity even while working to aleviate suffering in the relative world of Samsara.
  As long as we have not realized that the mode of being of our mind resides in the union of relative truth and absolute truth—a realization that corresponds to awakening—these two truths are seen as separate instead of being seen in their original unity.
Bokar Rimpoche
From the viewpoint of ultimate truth, the dichotomy between positive and negative lacks reality, but from the perspective of relative truth, the karmic results of negative actions are inevitable.  The cultivation of loving kindness is essential until ultimate truth is realized.
  This fundamental split between the two understandings of the unitary state—symbolized by the Orobouros– is reflected in the polarized debates surrounding health care and immigration. Republicans seem to champion only the needs of those inside the adamant circumference of racial and economic privilege.
  One of the strangest aspects of our rancorous, political debate is how these venerable teachings are spun by intellectuals of the alt right; and how Evola’s  brand of spiritual fascism provides ideological cover for the rise of global fascism.
Categories: Books I love, Musings, politics, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Old Hand’s Indonesian Voyage–episode 1

The bewitching breezes that had vexed our northerly course along the bleak, rocky coast gaveway to an absolute calm as we steamed into Sunda Kelepa Harbour and brought up under the ornate, lofty spires of Jakarta.  It was as though the anchorage were under the spell of somevengeful deity that held the stagnant seaport in irons– a fitful sleep of waking dream.I gazed up at Jakarta’s towers and heard, high on the ramparts, Rama’s  gong-struck plea to deliver a flute-weeping Sita from Ranga’s jangling curse.  A sword held against a blood-red sky by masked Barong tragediennes brought down the threadbare, red curtain in the ritual re- enactment of the primal leave-taking and arrival; when carved gods glared from the bowsprit, holding vigilant watch against marauders while we were moored off the savage isle of dreams.  I too, have sat hungry around those ancestral fires, a villan, hero or common swab, subject to the changeable turns of karmic law..

.“Skip lively, Mister Spencer.”

The resonant voice was hoarse, as if weathered by eternal watches on the Greenland ice, or worn ragged from hurling oaths into the teeth of a gail.  I flaked out 5 fathoms of chain from the locker with hamfisted elegance.

“Nicely done, lad. Ye’ll be a sailor before long.”

McWhirr is a pain in the ass sometimes. He’s a relic of working sail and can be as dark as Ahab in rehab on a bad hair day.  He stood stark against the red sky like a weathered piling on a  rocky cape.  Light flickered through the dark shrouds, his shadow looming on the limp stays’l behind him, as if projected on a movie screen.  The  harrowing passage through the Sunda Strait had frayed my nerves and I groped clumsily the 3/8ths chain from the locker.

“All right, Mister Spencer.”

I let go the anchor. There sounded a low rumble as I paid out 3 fathoms of chain into the muddybottom of Sunda Kelapa Harbour.

“Have you paid out enough scope, lad?”

“I cast the anchor in 6 fath…” I said.

“Avast, Ya greenhorn! You don’t “cast” anchors. This isn’t fly-fishing! My gorge rises at suchlubberly misuse of sailing language.”

His wrath, like a line-squall, subsided as rapidly as it came.

“Did you know that to raise an anchor you must first let it go?”

“That’s true, sir.”

He always makes these pithy pronouncements like they were scripture.  And, for McWhirr the act of sailing is a religious rite. He hails from Zoroastrian, Quaker stock and, for him, a ship is a vessel to carry his weary spirit ascending through the 7 concentric spheres of corporeality to the final landfall of essential being. He has seen the beatific vision reflected on the sea’s mirror and it draws him ever northward in search of the true face of divinity behind the mask of appearance.

Categories: Old Hand's Indonesian Voyage, Saturnius McWhirr stories | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NEW PAINTING – THE PHILOSOPHER’S ROSE GARDEN

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Temenos 3

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Categories: Paintings in Progress | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

All that is Golden- The Sun Standard

It’s hard to say why we are struck by certain images.

20 years ago I did a painting inspired by a dream of a bullfight. Bullfight ticket sellers ask their customers: “el sol o la sombra? Meaning: “do you want seats in the sun or the shade?”. As the sun passed, the shaded seats commanded a higher price. This fluid standard seemed a true valuation system because of it’s cosmic scope. It might be called the Sun standard.el sol o sombre

Gold and Sun are symbols that announce a new age ruled by the truest of values-that which emerge from the human heart.

In this Spanish interrogative I hear echoed the ancient Mithraic conflict between the Light of Glory and Ahrimanic Darkness. This is a drama which transcends religious history, learned judgments about dualism, and my own, personal revulsion at an act of cruelty.

The arena is a mandala-a microcosm.  The ritual killing it sanctifies has echoes throughout the cycles of history as an archetype-one that charges a brutal spectator sport with religious energy.  it is the reenactment of the primordial victory that ensures the perpetuation of the world.

In his book, Spiritual Body and Celestial Earth, Henry Corbin uses the striking  image of the progersso harmonium to describe the relationship between Shi’ite Islam and the earlier Mazdianism religion. The relation is not the  linear view of religious history by which  fundamentalists of all faiths are bound, but the fundamental tone, the timeless Truth to which all religions are ultimately traced.  It is ever present, running throughout time like a basso profundo under the higher registers of the octave.

To pass from one octave to another is not the same as to pass from one date in time to another, but is a progression to a height or pitch that is qualitatively different. All the elements are changed, yet the form of the melody is the same. Something in the nature of harmonic perception is needed to perceive a world of many dimensions.

So midway between the darkness of uncertainty and the light of inspiration, I revisit a related image, the altar. I set the stage with a yellow/orange ground. I want to hone my harmonic perception that I may realize my theme in a higher register, one that captures it’s elusive quality.day of dead altar

It now becomes  an altar for the Day of the Dead. On it I place my mother’s ashes, the tattered image of dad, and all loved ones who’ve left the arena of life. Here is the true value-the measure of all that is Golden.

Categories: Paintings in Progress | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Raven Window-The Albedo Phase

DSC02382raven window 3The canvas is theTemenos, where I had earlier faced the black work of the Nigredo- where the inessential was burnt away leaving the skeletal composition etched in blackest black..

Stained glass framed the scene for my latest confrontation with doubt and the obstinate reality of the Prima Materia.

Now is the phase to which corresponds the Alchemical process of the Albedo-the whitening.

The Hermetic philosopher, Artephius said it is:

“That which is uplifted by the air…pure, subtle, brilliant, clear as the dew, diaphanous as unflawed crystal.”

The diaphanous in between I invoke, where light reflects both ways.

Julius Evola, says in the Hermetic Tradition says the Albedo:

“ …reintegrates the personality with the non-corporeal state.”

It moves me outward from this dark interior of crowded thoughts, into something vast-where the spectral colors of the work’s final phase finds its completion in harmony.

It is Raven’s call.

Categories: Paintings in Progress | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Raven Visitation 2

DSC02373raven window 2

Carrying on with the Raven Visitation. As Raven is the messenger who dwells between worlds, the stained glass window motif fits the theme. It frames the shifty threshold where spirit travels between waking and dream.

Stained-glass demands a faithfulness to process which brings you back, again and again, to the logical form of it’s making. It is fitting that the material for scribing of boundaries in stained-glass windows is Saturn’s element, lead.

It is also fitting that the base material of the painter is charcoal, end product of the calcification process in Alchemy. Composition is a fiery process where all superfluous passages are burnt away, leaving only the original inspiration, the point of it all. It is a reminder of the point of all this shifting between worlds, and the spirit I need to maintain through the fiery calcification process: that my heart’s work may benefit all beings. It is Raven’s wake-up call.

Categories: Paintings in Progress | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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