Thursday, June 8, 2017

For the Angels - 3:03; the Passions of Angels (Part II)


Psyché ranimée par le baiser de l'Amour (Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss) - marble sculpture - 1793, Antonio Canova, housed in the Louvre.
(All images in this post can be clicked-on for larger views)

"And it came to pass when the children of men had multiplied that in those days were born unto them beautiful and comely daughters. And the angels, the children of the heaven, saw and lusted after them, and said to one another: 'Come, let us choose us wives from among the children of men and beget us children.' And Semjaza, who was their leader, said unto them: 'I fear ye will not indeed agree to do this deed, and I alone shall have to pay the penalty of a great sin.' And they all answered him and said: 'Let us all swear an oath, and all bind ourselves by mutual imprecations not to abandon this plan but to do this thing.' Then sware they all together and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it. And they were in all two hundred; who descended in the days of Jared on the summit of Mount Hermon, and they called it Mount Hermon, because they had sworn and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it...

And all the others together with them took unto themselves wives, and each chose for himself one, and they began to go in unto them and to defile themselves with them, and they taught them charms and enchantments, and the cutting of roots, and made them acquainted with plants."

- From the Book of Enoch, The Watchers, Chapters 6 & 7.

"For all forces are angels! How blind, how perniciously blind are the naive?! If you told someone who purports to be a sage of Israel that the Deity sends an angel who enters a woman's womb and there forms an embryo, he would think this a miracle and accept it as a mark of the majesty and power of the Deity, despite the fact that he believes an angel to be a body of fire one third the size of the entire world. All this, he thinks, is possible for God. But if you tell him that God placed in the sperm the power of forming and demarcating these organs, and that this is the angel, or that all forms are produced by the Active Intellect; that here is the angel, the "vice-regent of the world" constantly mentioned by the sages, then he will recoil."

- Excerpt from Guide for the Perplexed, written by Maimonides, a Jewish philosopher and scholar born around 1135 (and found here). Inset, left, is a pair of statues from the famous Staglieno cemetery found here.

"Reason dies in giving birth to ecstasy."

- Attributed to Richard of Saint Victor, a medieval Scottish philosopher and prior of the Abbey of Saint Victor in Paris from 1162 until his death in 1173.

***

It was the ancient Celtic holiday of Beltane not long ago, and, for pagans, the night of April 30th is one of greatest celebration. They certainly don't cut corners across the pond - specifically in the UK - but honor the event in its fullest tradition... see Edinburgh's Beltane Fire Festival (a BBC page, where the photo of the devilish darling to your right was found). To my greatest surprise, there was even a celebration here in New Mexico, Beltane Southwest, but I was too late in discovering it. Well, maybe next year... if I'm still living here.

But, in any case, it's an appropriate time of year to be ending our discussion of angelic passions (see Part I), because, essentially, it is within the ancient, pre-Christian world the roots of preternatural and/or supernatural love can be found. It's a well known fact that, across the globe, the ancient gods were a randy bunch - and we love them for it - but when it comes to winged, supernatural entities, well, nobody did it better than the Greeks, and, of their pantheon, none could surpass the primordial love god, Eros...

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Eros

Cupid and Psyche in the Nuptial Bower (detail),
by Hugh Douglas Hamilton,1793.

"Out of that first blood Eros appeared, being androgynous. His masculinity is Himireris, being fire from the light. His femininity that is with him - a soul of blood - is from the stuff of Pronoia. He is very lovely in his beauty, having a charm beyond all the creatures of chaos. Then all the gods and their angels, when they beheld Eros, became enamored of him. And appearing in all of them, he set them afire: just as from a single lamp many lamps are lit, and one and the same light is there, but the lamp is not diminished. And in this way, Eros became dispersed in all the created beings of chaos, and was not diminished. Just as from the midpoint of light and darkness Eros appeared and at the midpoint of the angels and mankind the sexual union of Eros was consummated, so out of the earth the primal pleasure blossomed."

- From the the 3rd century Gnostic text, On the Origins of the World. Image (inset, right) is a Roman statue of Eros (190 A.D) found at the Museum of fine Arts in Boston.

"Eros appears in ancient Greek sources under several different guises. In the earliest sources (the cosmogonies, the earliest philosophers, and texts referring to the mystery religions), he is one of the primordial gods involved in the coming into being of the cosmos. But in later sources, Eros is represented as the son of Aphrodite, whose mischievous interventions in the affairs of gods and mortals cause bonds of love to form, often illicitly. Ultimately, in the later satirical poets, he is represented as a blindfolded child, the precursor to the chubby Renaissance Cupid, whereas in early Greek poetry and art, Eros was depicted as an adult male who embodies sexual power, and a profound artist."

- From the Wiki entry for Eros.

"All deep students of occultism, and many students of modern science, perceive the truth of the Rosicrucian ancient doctrine that Sex is all-pervasive, all-present, and is the cause of all creation, for creation always results from generation, and generation proceeds from sex-activity. There is Sex manifested in everything—the masculine and feminine principles are ever at work in the universe. This not only on the physical plane of being, but also on the mental and spiritual planes of being. On the physical plane Sex manifests physical generation; on the mental plane it manifests mental generation; and on the spiritual plane it manifests spiritual generation. An understanding of the Cosmic Principle of Sex will give one a clear insight into many subjects which have proved perplexing to the majority of thinkers."

- From The Secret Doctrine of the Rosicrucians by Magus Incognito, 1918; Specifically Chapter 7, The Principle of Sex. The painting inset, left is entitled The Divine Eros Defeats the Earthly Eros, by Giovanni Baglione (circa 1602).

"Men are admitted into Heaven not because they have curbed and governd their Passions or have No Passions but because they have Cultivated their Understandings. The Treasures of Heaven are not Negations of Passion but Realities of Intellect from which All the Passions Emanate Uncurbed in their Eternal Glory."

- William Blake, in reference to his painting: A Vision of the Last Judgement, 1810.

***

In the earliest records, Eros was a primordial deity and an androgynous creator god; that is, before he somehow lost his status - and stature - and was literally shrunk into into the chubby, child-sized Cupid we know today. We can assume his unfortunate devolution occurred with the decline of paganism, however, for the Gnostic Christian sects - at least the one responsible for the Origins of the World - Eros maintained his divinity, and the "primal pleasure" he bestowed upon earth - "at the midpoint of light and darkness" and at "the midpoint of angels and humans" - was celebrated.
Greek Plate depicting Eros, dated to somewhere between 340 and 320 B.C.

And, I think it's this mysterious "midpoint" which explains more about true angelology than anything I've related thus far in this series. For, while Eros is rarely considered an actual angel, he was often described as one, long before the "heavenly hosts" began blowing their horns elsewhere.

He was a hermaphrodite of unearthly beauty, glowing  with celestial light, and sported immense golden wings. And, yet, he was most certainly a god, and not merely a minion nor a messenger. More importantly, he was the god of love; passionate, erotic love... the sort that makes the "world go round." At the same time, this love, this passion, was not limited to the tender, romantic kind. It "appeared" at "the midpoint of light and darkness," so a duskier, shadow area was implied. And, it was "consummated" at "the midpoint of angels and humans," signifying that both the sacred and profane, the spiritual and the physical existed within the same continuum; a continuum in which Love is both the Alpha and Omega, a title often given to Christ.

We might say Eros embodied the Rosicrucian's "Cosmic Principle of Sex," the "all-pervasive, all-present... cause of all creation" which operated, not merely on the physical plane, but on all levels of existence; a concept which was clearly in opposition of conventional religious points of view. But, the God of Love served our ancient storytellers just fine, and the one Eros myth which continues to be retold and illuminated to this day the story of Eros (Cupid) and Psyche (see this Rutger's page with numerous images, from which the ancient statue, inset, left, was found). The Greek tale, first recorded by Apuleius in the 2nd century (A.D.) but known to be much older, revolves around a  young, mortal woman who falls for the perpetually youthful god, Eros, and, after a series of trials and misfortunes, joins him in matrimony... and immortality. The Greek word "psyche" has a dual meaning: both "soul" and "butterfly," and in her more ancient representations, Psyche is endowed with butterfly wings. And, this is key to the true "moral" of the story... which is, quite simply, by love (or through love), the soul is made immortal.

Oddly enough, the darker side of Eros is often glimpsed from the more conventional side of the religious spectrum... case in point, the anomalous figure of Spanish Roman Catholic saint and Carmelite nun, Teresa of Ávila (1515-1582). From the Wiki article, we get the impression that Teresa was a morbidly sensitive, romantic young woman, who lost her mother at age 14, and, then, was promptly sent to a monastery for an education. There she became gravely ill. And, being an impressionable youth, informed solely by the religious literature available to her, "she came to understand the awful terror of sin and the inherent nature of original sin." Moreover, "she also became conscious of her own natural impotence in confronting sin, and the necessity of absolute subjection to God."

For those of you who are unversed in religious terminology, "original sin" referred to the fall of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, a sin which - like a genetic disease - is "transmitted by human generation." (See: concupiscence, i.e., sexual desire and/or sheer lust.)

So, here we have a young woman who becomes obsessed with the "sin" that perpetually infects humanity. Moreover, it is a sin which is, consequently, spread by sexual desire. And, it's at this point, Saint Teresa's tale gets interesting:

"Around 1556, various friends suggested that her newfound knowledge was diabolical, not divine. She began to inflict various tortures and mortifications of the flesh upon herself. But her confessor, the Jesuit Saint Francis Borgia, reassured her of the divine inspiration of her thoughts. On St. Peter's Day in 1559, Teresa became firmly convinced that Jesus Christ presented himself to her in bodily form, though invisible. These visions lasted almost uninterrupted for more than two years. In another vision, a seraph drove the fiery point of a golden lance repeatedly through her heart, causing an ineffable spiritual-bodily pain.

'I saw in his hand a long spear of gold, and at the point there seemed to be a little fire. He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God. The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it...'"

Now, most modern psychologists would attribute Teresa's mysterious illness, her obsession with original sin, her mortification of her own flesh - and most certainly her visions - to some psycho-sexual disorder or another, but, whether her visions are "real" or not isn't what interests us here. Although It's difficult to say how much knowledge Teresa actually had of classical Greek mythology, it seems as if the angel* with the golden spear in her vision -  who left her "on fire with a great love of God" - bore an uncanny resemblance to the Gnostic Eros who set the gods "afire" (re: Origins of the World quote). And this relationship was not lost on Giuseppe Bazzani, the painter of The Ecstasy of St Therese above, nor the sculptor, Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini, who seemed to imagine that Teresa's ecstasy was "thrust" into her by a cupid-like figure (see below).

Ecstasy of St.Teresa, marble sculpture by Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini, 1651.

Ultimately, there seems to be a fine line between pleasure and pain, love and agony and the angelic and the diabolical. There's also a fine line between the "ecstasy" of Saint Teresa and various other forms of erotic possession, up to and including the demonic. With Eros, we are, after all, at the "midpoint" in a restored symmetry of opposing, reciprocating forces... male and female, dark and light, passive and aggressive, cruel and affectionate. You might say this midpoint is, yet, another mirror; on one side we find bright Eros - a smiling Cupid stringing his bow - but, on the other we discover that his smile is more like a grimace, and what we thought was a bow is actually a winding serpent.



* Teresa actually refers to the angel as a "seraph," which is somewhat peculiar as, technically, the word seraph generally refers to a specific variety of fiery angel which had six wings, numerous eyes, no appendages to speak of, and flew around singing "Holy, holy, holy." Interestingly (via Wiki), "the word saraph/seraphim appears three times in the Torah... and four times in the Book of Isaiah.... In Isaiah 6:2-6 the term is used to describe a type of celestial being or angel. The other five uses of the word refer to serpents." 

Later in the entry, an ancient Judaic seal (from 8th century B.C.) is mentioned, which depicts the seraphim as a flying asp (a venomous snake) with human features.

(Inset images in this section not previously identified: 1. (right) Cupid and Psyche, by the British artist Annie Louisa Robinson Swynnerton, 1891.  2. Teresa of Ávila (detail), by the French painter François Gérard, 1827. 3. The Angel with the Serpent, Evelyn De Morgan, 1875.

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Lucifer, the Morning Star

A statue found in a Warsaw cemetery sourced here.


"Lucifer - (Light Giver) -  erroneously equated with the fallen angel (Satan) due to a misreading of Isiah 14:2: "How art thou fallen from Heaven, O Lucifer, son of morning," an apostrophe which applied to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. It should be pointed out that the authors of the Old Testament knew nothing of fallen or evil angels, although, at times, as in Job 4:18, the Lord "put no trust" in his angels and "charged them with folly," which would indicate that angels were not all that they should be...

Actually, Lucifer connotes star, and applies (or originally meant to apply) to the morning or evening star (Venus). To Spenser in "An Hymme to Heavenly Love," Lucifer is "the brightest angel, even the Child of Light."

- An excerpt of the entry for "Lucifer" via Gustav Davidson's A Dictionary of Angels. The drawing, inset, right, is Parsifal by the Belgian Symbolist, Jean Delville (January 19, 1867- January 19, 1953).


A 16th century version of Phanes.
"The aspect of Lucifer that is Phanes, the revealer of light, the light itself, finds brilliant support in the perceptions of H.P. Blavatsky. She was not taken in by the Western theological demonization of Lucifer into Satan, and found it remarkable (and dismaying) that culture had deconstructed the 'universal soul and Pleroma, the vehicle of Light and the receptacle of all the forms, a force spread throughout the whole Universe' into a vile, seductive, dangerous Devil.

To her, and some of her metaphysical colleagues, Lucifer was the Astral Light, the light that informed and made the stars, the astral realm. 'This Astral Light is the Akasa, the universal soul and matrix, the Mysterium Magnum and “Sidereal Virgin,” which births everything that exists by way of differentiation,' Blavatsky explained. It is the cause of existence; it fills the infinity of Space; it is Space itself filled with pure, virginal, visible light. 'But in antiquity and reality, Lucifer, or Luciferus, is the name of the angelic Entity presiding over the light of truth as over the light of day.' The Astral Light has two valences: it may be God and Devil at once, angel and dragon, just as Lucifer is divine and terrestrial, Holy Ghost and Satan, Blavatsky commented. This of course is in accordance with the Orphic descriptions of the androgynous, double-aspected Phanes who was not one, not another, but both at once."

- Excerpted from The Nine Faces of Lucifer, Lord of Light  by Richard Leviton, 2003.

"Talking about his own personal experience of living out this deeper, archetypal pattern, Jung said 'I would wrestle with the dark angel until he dislocated my hip. For he is also the light and the blue sky which he withholds from me.' The dark angel who wounds us is at the same time the Luciferian agent who is the bringer of the light. There is a secret tie between the powers that wound us by seemingly obstructing our true nature and the very true nature that they appear to be obstructing."

- Excerpt of The Wounded Healer by Paul Levy.

"Lucifer was the first star, the first hero, the first brilliant mind - who freed himself from a stagnate, unborn god. Lucifer was the first creator, the first pioneer, the first deviate - without his agony nothing would have been accomplished...

Lucifer is the father and brother of all men. But, all women call him son... or lover."

- From "The Paper Cup," an unpublished collection of prose poems from 1976, by yours truly. (DISCLAIMER: sorry to disappoint all you witch-hunters out there, but the above lines do NOT refer to Satan.)

The statue, above, right, Le génie du mal (The Genius of Evil), - also known as the "Lucifer of Liège" was created by Belgian artist Guillaume Geefs in 1848. Note the wonderful bat wings on this strikingly handsome l'ange déchu (fallen angel).


"She set her foot upon the ship---
No mariners could she behold;
But the sails were of the teffeta,
And the masts of the beaten gold.

She had not sailed a league, a league,
A league but barely three,
When dismal grew his countenance,
And drumlie grew his ee.

They had not sailed a league, a league,
A league but barely three,
Until she espied his cloven foot,
And she wept right bitterly."

- From the "Demon Lover," an old English folk ballad, also know as "House Carpenter".



"Incubi were thought to be demons who had sexual relations with women, sometimes producing a child by the woman. Succubi, by contrast, were demons thought to have intercourse with men. Debate about the demons began early in the Christian tradition. St. Augustine touched on the topic in De Civitate Dei ("The City of God"). There were too many alleged attacks by incubi to deny them. He stated, "There is also a very general rumor. Many have verified it by their own experience and trustworthy persons have corroborated the experience others told, that sylvans and fauns, commonly called incubi, have often made wicked assaults upon women.

Questions about the reproductive capabilities of the demons continued. Eight hundred years later, Thomas Aquinas lent himself to the ongoing discussion, stating, "Still, if some are occasionally begotten from demons, it is not from the seed of such demons, nor from their assumed bodies, but from the seed of men, taken for the purpose; as when the demon assumes first the form of a woman, and afterwards of a man; just so they take the seed of other things for other generating purposes." This view was also shared by King James and in his dissertation titled Dæmonologie he refutes the possibility for angelic entities to reproduce and instead offered a suggestion that a devil would carry out two methods of impregnating women: the first, to steal the sperm out of a dead man and deliver it into a woman. If a demon could extract the semen quickly, the transportation of the substance could not be instantly transported to a female host, causing it to go cold. This explains his view that Succubae and Incubi were the same demonic entity only to be described differently based on the sexes being conversed with. Being abused in such a way caused women at nunneries to be burned if they were found pregnant."

- Excerpted from the Wiki entry for Incubus.

***

So, in the last section, we explored Eros but, all the while, there seemed to exist a kind of "mirror Eros" vying for our attention. We might call this figure "Dark Eros" or we might call it Phanes - an ancient Greek god from the Orphic mysteries tradition - who, like Eros, was hatched from a Cosmic egg, was a hermaphrodite, was gloriously beautiful, had the same immense golden wings, and was also considered a god of procreation. But, there was a difference, in that Phanes was always depicted with a large serpent winding around his torso. Then again, he wore a strange headdress*, and in some images - as in the one inset, right - he had cloven hooves for feet, which were surrounded by flames. As for the feet, well, he was often given an animal's head, too - specifically that of a lion - which, in this instance appears on the god's chest - but, as for the serpent, although I've yet to see an explanation for it, in the eyes of the ancients, snakes generally had a more beneficial role and mystical significance. They were often equated with the Great Goddess figures for one, but also healing, immortality and the kundalini force - that is, until the the advent of Christianity when they acquired a more sinister reputation.

There was, however, a more or less Christian snake cult: the Ophites a mysterious Gnostic sect with a unique spin on the the Gospels, specifically the Garden of Eden tale, i.e., wherein mankind first "fell." In the Ophite doctrines, however - which pretty much made short work of the "original sin" concept -  it was Jehovah, the God of the old Testament, who posed the greatest threat to mankind, and it was, in fact, the serpent, the tempter of Eve, who was the true hero of the story. After all, it freed mankind from the shackles of ignorance. For this reason the Ophites worshiped the snake, but it goes without saying that, in the eyes of more conservative Christians, the Ophites were devil-worshippers and heretics of the first order.

The frontispiece and title page of Jung's Aion, Researches into the Phenomology of the Self. (Note: Aion -Time - is considered to be the god that created the egg from which Phanes emerged, although it is Phanes which is depicted on this frontispiece.)

Apparently, the god Phanes was known by the early Christian philosophers, but had not been demonized initially. And, yet, was it merely a coincidence that Phanes, a winged creator god whose name meant "Light Bearer," should prefigure another winged entity, Lucifer, an angel whose name meant "Light Giver" ?

Lucifer, of course, eventually became equated with Satan. Gustav Davidson gives his own analysis of how the distortion may have occurred (see above quote), but, keeping in mind the thread that connects Eros, Phanes and Lucifer, there seems to exist a more profound explanation. To begin with, Phanes was considered the Orphic Eros - Jung referred to Phanes as the father of Eros** -  and Eros, in later myths, was considered the son of Aphrodite, also known as Venus. Lucifer was known as the morning star (Venus) or the son of the morning star.  Moreover, as time progressed, both Phanes and Lucifer were confused with Satan.

Satan Watching the Caresses of Adam and Eve
- watercolor by William Blake, 1808. For more Blake try here.

Well, at least, William Blake chose to depict Phanes as Satan... in an illustration for Milton's Paradise Lost (above). I was rather astounded to find Phanes in Blake's image although I probably shouldn't have been. Blake's mystical life, mythical life and personal life was dense, rich, subversive and wholly original.*** I imagine his unconventional use of Phanes in lieu of the more traditional depictions of Satan, especially in relation to Adam and Eve, may have been a hidden message of sorts, and possibly just the sort I am intimating here. Then again, Blake was another angel artist and, according to the Wiki entry: "Blake believed he was personally instructed and encouraged by Archangels to create his artistic works, which he claimed were actively read and enjoyed by the same Archangels." He was also influenced by Emanuel Swedenborg, whom, if you remember from Angels 3:01, was also known to have conversed with angels, fallen and otherwise.

Speaking of angel artists, there's one other who must be mentioned: the Belgian Symbolist (and one of my personal favorites), Jean Delville, whose beautiful image, Parsifal, is the first inset, right image above, and his L'Ange des splendeurs (Angel of Splendour), is inset, left.  Reading the Wiki article, we get the impression that Delville had a rather conservative view of  evil vs. good, but there is one thing we should keep in mind: Delville had been a Rosicrucian and, later, a Thesophist, and, as an artist, his images reveal more than his words. For example, Angel of Splendour is sometimes considered to symbolize an angel rescuing a man from the mire of the material senses - symbolized by all those snakes in the grass - or, judging by the fact that the man's eyes are rolled back into his head, his body is most likely dead and the snakes merely represent the terrestrial reality he's transcending. But, the image may also represent an alchemical, transmutational and/or evolutionary process. In alchemy, it might be the transition from Nigredo to Albedo, or Coagulatio, which is, as described by Christopher Hall:

"Coagulatio is the ultimate marriage of Heaven and Hell and is the pinnacle point in the Alchemist’s career.  The end result is the Philosopher’s Stone, and is often symbolized by the Phoenix, the bird that has arisen from the ashes. Coagulatio, when properly performed, is a return to the Garden of Eden; it means existence on a higher level and being in tune with the divine mind. In other traditions it is referred to as Enlightenment, or Nirvana."

A more relevant example for our present discussion, however, is Delville's vision of Christ in L'Homme Dieu (The God-Man) (inset, right) in comparison with his vision of Satan in Les Trésors De Satan (Satan's Treasures) (below). Most critics tend to put Delville's Satan into a conventional light, but the fact remains that Satan's water-world looks like a virtual paradise wherein the human "treasures" lie blissfully in a dream-like state. In contrast, the cooly celestial realm of the "God-Man" - in which the human element seems to be starving and writhing in agony -  might be a sort of Hell. Note, too, that the image of the saviour floating above this tortured gathering seems rather unsubstantial in comparison to Delville's wickedly delightful, dancing Satan... as if the Christ figure was an idealistic concept... or a body of light in the act of falling.



In his Secret Teachings of All Ages (1928), Manly P. Hall explains: "Lucifer is the greatest mystery of symbolism. The secret knowledge of the Rosicrucians concerning Lucifer is... a carefully guarded secret about which little has been written."

My guess is that Delville didn't disclose the "secret" in actual words either, although he may have concealed clues in his paintings.

But, there is one more element to address on the topic of Lucifer, and that is the matter of lust, both human and otherwise. As it so happens, humans have been carrying on with one form of paranormal lover or another since prehistory, and this phenomenon continues to this very day, Although the species of lovers seem to change over time, the mysterious phenomenon remains. Sadly, in the long past, humans were either excommunicated or burnt at the stake for supposedly fornicating with angels and demons. Later, in the 17th century, many tales were told of humans copulating with nymphs and faeries. Today, it's ghosts and extraterrestrials.

The operative word is incubus (or succubus, the female counterpart), and while this subject is far too dense to elaborate about here, suffice to say that, originally, the figure of the incubus**** - an incorporeal figure which somehow managed to both sexually assault and impregnate women in their beds at night - was an angel... "fallen" and demonic, of course, because, for various religious purposes, it simply wouldn't do to acknowledge any form of sensuality or eroticism untainted by sin. Furthermore - disregarding the Book of Enoch - some theologians assumed angels could not reproduce. Regardless, demons did have their unfortunate allures. For example, we have the statue to your left, a very pretty boy demon - L'ange du mal - sculpted by the younger of the Belgian Geef brothers, Joseph (note the snake). It once sat in St. Paul's Cathedral in Liège but had to be removed because its "unhealthy beauty" was inspiring unhealthy thoughts in the female parishioners at the time! Something tells me that me that the ladies weren't too unhappy with it's replacement though: Guillaume Geefs' "Lucifer of Liège" (shown earlier in this section). (An article about the Geefs and their work can be found here.)

I suppose the point I'm trying to make is that Eros, Phanes and Lucifer represent one and the same figure, and this isn't merely a figure from the ancient past, it is an eternal figure representative of a revolutionary/evolutionary process which is still in progress; a process in which we recognize that good and evil, love and lust, light and shadow, emerge from a single, primal source or spectrum: the human psyche. Ultimately, it is one of the original symmetries we are unconsciously trying to restore, not so much in search of a divine apparition, nor to serve its demonic counterpart, but to try and come to terms with what it means to be a fully integrated human entity.

Which brings us to one last angelic figure to explore, the alchemical Rebis.



* Phanes' headdress is sometimes referred to as a "helmet," but, looking closely at it, it is more obviously related to the Egyptian sun disc and uraeus - the Eye of Ra - in this case, surrounded by flames.The sun disc and uraeus were primarily goddess symbols as is shown by the image of the lion-headed goddess Sekhmet inset, right. Note, too, in most ancient images, Phanes is encircled by the signs of the Zodiac, another (more or less) Egyptian feature.

** Actually, what I've recently read about Jung and Phanes is pretty amazing. Here's an (abbreviated) quote by Jenna Lilla from her article, Phanes: archetypal image of the creative force:

"Phanes is an important image for Carl Jung. Sonu Shamdasani says Phanes is Jung’s God. In the Red Book Philemon describes Phanes as follows:

'Phanes is the God who rises agleam from the waters.
Phanes is the smile of dawn.
Phanes is the resplendent day
He is the immortal present.
He is the gushing streams.
He is the soughing wind.
He is hunger and satiation.
He is love and lust.
He is mourning and consolation.
He is promise and fulfillment,
He is the light that illuminates every darkness.
He is the eternal day.
He is the silver light of the moon.
He is the flickering stars.
He is the shooting star that flashes and falls and lapses.
He is the stream of shooting stars that returns every year...'"

*** Concerning Blake's earlier work, we have the following (from the Wiki entry): "The earlier work is primarily rebellious in character and can be seen as a protest against dogmatic religion especially notable in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, in which the figure represented by the "Devil" is virtually a hero rebelling against an imposter authoritarian deity. In later works, such as Milton and Jerusalem, Blake carves a distinctive vision of a humanity redeemed by self-sacrifice and forgiveness, while retaining his earlier negative attitude towards what he felt was the rigid and morbid authoritarianism of traditional religion."

**** Of further interest - concerning the incubus - is the following quote, found on this Mystica page - from Barbara Walker's The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, New York, HarperCollins, 1983:

"The pagan incubus was a special priest embodying a prophetic spirit who would come in dreams or visions to those who "incubated" overnight in an earth-womb Pit of a temple (see Abaddon). The Greeks were known to practice incubation especially in the healing temples of Asklepios and Hygieia. The favorite incubus appeared in the temples of Imhotep. There is suspicion that falsification occurred when the sleeper was a person of political importance; the correct prophecies and advice were conveyed so to benefit the temple.

This custom of incubation was carried into Christianity. It became known as "watching" or "keeping the vigil." It was recommended in times of troublesome decision making that one should "watch and pray" in a church overnight in order to court a vision of guidance. Eventually the incubus was diabolized; and no longer regarded as a guiding angel. The cause for his fall from grace was tales of ancient tradition midnight sexual relationships between incubating women and priests, or incubating men and priestesses. This caused the incubi to be known as spirits of lust. The concept that sexual activity could possess a spiritual nature was completely negated."

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The Rebis, The Angel of Alchemy


A medieval manuscript image of the Rebis.

"The Rebis (from the Latin res bina, meaning dual or double matter) is the end product of the alchemical magnum opus or great work.

After one has gone through the stages of putrefaction and purification, separating opposing qualities, those qualities are united once more in what is sometimes described as the divine hermaphrodite, a reconciliation of spirit and matter, a being of both male and female qualities as indicated by the male and female head within a single body. The sun and moon correspond to the male and female halves, just as the Red King and White Queen are similarly associated."

- A description of the Rebis found on this page.

"The "primal androgyne" is a motif that appears in mythology around the world. Primal androgyne stories say that the first human was both female and male, and was for this reason more complete and powerful than anyone today. Another common version of this motif holds that the deity who created humans or the whole world was a primal androgyne, because this one being was able to create or give birth to life without anyone else's help.

... Baphomet, a primal androgyne said by the mystic Eliphas Lévi (1810-1875) to have been worshiped by the Knights Templar. This primal androgyne is an alchemical allegorical figure, made of a mixture of human (female and male) and animal features, representing the spiritual and physical realms, with a flame over its head representing enlightenment. This is the figure on the Tarot card called "The Devil," but it's debatable whether it's synonymous with the devil."

- An excerpt from an article - Gender Variance in Spirituality - which as since gone missing from the web.

"To explain this fall, the ancient Gnostics - forerunners of the Freemasons - described a story where God created the Rebis but became jealous that the Rebis was as powerful as him, knowing his eternal godhood. So he divided the Rebis into two sexes, two independent beings weaker than the original and imperfect. One sex became predominantly male with emphasis on solar qualities like day, light, hot, fire, and dry.

The other sex became predominantly female with emphasis on lunar qualities like night, dark, cold, water and wet. However, in their unconscious memory was their true essence and lost perfection - a reminiscence of a past splendor when they were the Rebis. It is for this reason that humans are attracted by the opposite sex and unite in love and marriage, always seeking to return to their primordial state of unity, perfection and divinity (that, ironically, they never lost to begin with)."


- Richard Cassaro, 2014, found here.

"The 'rib story' is one of those instances of gross ignorance upon the part of the Bible translators--who possessed no occult knowledge--in dealing with the language of the Hebrews, which in writing was not divided into words and had no vowel points. By inserting vowels at different points and dividing words differently, various meanings to the same text may be obtained in many places...

The fact was that man had first been like the Gods, 'made in their image,' male and female, a hermaphrodite, and later one side was taken away so that he became divided into two sexes. It may be further said that the first organ which was developed as it is now was the female organ, the feminine side having always existed in everything before the masculine, which came later, and, according to the law in evolution, that 'the first shall be the last.'"


-  Excerpt from: The Rosicrucian Philosophy In Questions and Answers Volume I, by Max Heindel, 1919.


"Individuation, in the alchemical sense, entails abolishing the conflicting male-female duality within the integrated personality of the reconstituted Gnostic Anthropos, i.e., the original androgyne - the Homo Maior of mythical times, the Rebis (the double thing) of the alchemist.

Andre Breton had already singled out the importance of this aspect of alchemical thought when he wrote: 'It is essential, here more than anywhere else, to undertake the reconstruction of the primordial Androgyne that all traditions tell us of, and its supremely desirable, and tangible, incarnation within ourselves.'

...Absolute freedom is one of man's oldest aspirations, and Eliade has pointed out that 'to be no longer conditioned by a pair of opposites results in absolute freedom.' But to be able to enjoy this freedom man must first attain integration, become a self. 'Only a unified personality can experience life, not that personality which is split up into partial aspects, that bundle of odds and ends which also calls itself man.'

For the alchemist the Rebis was the fruit of the 'chymical nuptials' between mercury (the female, lunar principle) and sulphur (the male, solar principle). These 'chymical nuptials' are of a basically incestuous nature. What was divided on a lower level will reappear, united, on a higher one."

- From Arturo Schwarz's article regarding Marcel Duchamp: The Alchemist Stripped Bare in the Bachelor, Even, (Part I).  The image (inset, right) is an unusual image, featuring a youthful Rebis joined at the hip and in the clutches of a Phoenix. The Rebis holds a bat and a hare, both of them lunar symbols but also related to Aphrodite. The image comes from the 15th century alchemical text, Aurora Consurgens. Another unique image from Aurora Consurgens is the delightfully colorful angel below.



***

The angelic figure most important to the alchemists was the Rebis, which in its fullest expression, not only described an alchemical process, but encapsulated the metaphysical significance of the androgynous entity. Anyone with a smattering of esoteric knowledge understood its importance, and, in one way or another, I've touched upon it numerous times on this blog in my references to the Third Gender; for instance, even in this (seemingly unrelated) post, in the section mentioning the Russian symbolist poet, Zinaïda Gippius. As it was, she and her husband, Dmitry Merezhkovsky, developed a religion around the idea of "a future epoch in which the schism between the genders - both psychologically and spiritually - would be healed."

Technically, for the alchemist, the Rebis represented the final act in the Great Work which created the Philosopher's Stone: the union of  sulphur and mercury. But, for the Hermetic philosopher, it also represented the chemical marriage between Venus and Mercury (Aphrodite and Hermes), as it was their union which produced Hermaphroditus, shown cradling the infant Eros (inset, right) and found here.

The angelic figure of alchemical Mercury
from Tripus aureus (The Golden Tripod) by Michael Maier.

For Jung, as a symbol of Individuation, the Rebis represented the archetype of our bisexual inner child; not as some primitive, vestigial memory from our collective past, but, instead, as a prompt, a restored symmetry, an aspiration for the fully-integrated and evolved humans we might become.

The Rebis found on this Hermetic Order
of the Golden Dawn page.
 
In its full representation (inset, right) the Rebis was a fully conjoined twin (both male and female), crowned and winged and standing upon an ouroboros - a serpent or dragon biting its tail - which symbolized the eternal cyclical nature of life, creation, recreation, and the union of opposites.

Note that the Rebis in this image is encircled by a solar Tree of Life in the foreground, and the solar animal - the Lion - in the background. Meanwhile, both hands of the Rebis hold serpents - possibly Lunar symbols and emblems of power - and, in it's right hand, three serpents are emerging from a chalice or grail.

Although sometimes depicted with angel or bird wings, here the Rebis has bat wings, once again, a Lunar symbol, but also a symbol of transformation. Finally, while the Phoenix symbolizes the last procedure of the alchemical process - and, therefore, the Rebis - far In the background we also see a Pelican feeding its young with its own blood, which actually symbolizes the previous alchemical operation, wherein the "the alchemist must enter into a kind of sacrificial relationship with his inner being. He must nourish with his own soul forces, the developing spiritual embryo within."

Perhaps, the hermetic message is this: in the act of assimilating the Rebis - and banishing the stereotypical macho male icon and the equally as stereotypical female icon from our souls - we can reenter the garden of Eden; not as polarized forces which bear no relation to one another, but as homogenous entities who merely have different genitalia.

By definition, the soul has no gender. For that matter, human fetuses have no physical gender in the earliest part of their development. Similar to the couple suspended in what looks like an amniotic fluid-filled balloon-vehicle in the Garden of Earthly Delights - by the Renaissance Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch - since we physically begin our lives as undifferentiated hermaphrodites we might, in an ouroboric fashion, pass that way again. This is not to say that we must surgically transform our physical bodies or modify our sexual preferences; no, the transformation is in the psyche... it's an acceptance, once again, of who we really are, as opposed to what various "scriptures" - religious and otherwise - insist what we, as humans, should be.

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The Children of the Gods

L'Ange au Sourire

"We now come to two categories of Beings. First those Angels who fling themselves into that which the Mights produced during the Fight in Heaven; these are Beings who on account of their later deeds we call Luciferic. These Beings became united to the human astral bodies during the Earth-evolution and gave to men the possibility of evil, and also the possibility of developing through their own free power; so that in the whole sequence of Hierarchies we have only men; and some of the Angels, who have the possibility of freedom."

- Rudolph Steiner, from Lecture 10, found here.

"For Rilke, then, angels are everything that has existed and now is invisible or no longer exists. They represent the human past, all the thoughts and objects in human history. At the same time, the angels exist to take notice, to watch, so that the world can also exist―one cannot exist without the other. They are the inner witnesses (the witnesses to our witnessing) of our subconscious awareness.

Rilke carefully articulates profound longing as the key element that ties the angel/human relationship together. In turn, he creates an angel condition that greatly differs from the angel characterizations created by other poets. This angel condition is an existence that not only lacks the ability to reciprocate but acts as a binary for all that is human and all that is less beautiful. To Rilke, it seems, this longing is an essential aspect of being human and being an angel."

- Trish Hopkinson, from her intriguing analysis of Rainer Maria Rilke's Duino ElegiesThe Angel Condition: The Poetics of Rilke’s Angels in the Duino Elegies.

Deliver us not 
for there is nothing more 
The gates of heaven 
are entered here

Angels dine 
at the altar 
of our fevers

- Excerpt from the poem "The Sacrament," 1999, Dia Sobin.

***

And, so, finally we've come to the end of our angel discourse... and judging by the fact I began this post around Beltane, it's taken a month! But, I wanted to release the angels on a positive note, and I can think of no more positive an angel than the smiling angel above: one of two (I've seen thus far) from the Cathédrale of Notre Dame at Reims. Everything about this angel is endearing... and encouraging; it's like he's giving us the fist pump. And maybe he is; perhaps the stonemason who created him knew a thing or two about angels we've forgotten.

Rudolf Steiner, the Rosicrucians, and others theorized that the angels were, to some degree, human, or had been human, or are in some way a reflection of our ancient-future evolutionary history. Most often this is in reference to the Luciferic or "fallen" angels, angels which had somehow managed to develop autonomy (free will) and, therefore, the ability to evolve, differentiate... and to love.

For the poet Rainer Maria Rilke (re: Angels 1:01), angels represented those mysterious and incorporeal Others which exist only within the realm of the human psyche and/or the Aether of consciousness; entities - embodiments of the Akashic records - who need us and our human passions as much as we need them, specifically for their beauty and their wisdom. I think this is what I was referring to in the poem "The Sacrament" when I wrote: Angels dine at the altar of our fevers.* That is, angels are spiritual entities who sustain themselves on the energy of human love, specifically our erotic passions. But, Rilke carried this concept a little further. For him, angels represented the "beloved in the infinite" or, in his own words: "transformations of love that are not possible in a narrower circle where Death is simply excluded as The Other." (from a letter Rilke wrote to Nanny von Escher in 1923 via Rilke's Duino Elegies Wiki entry.)


But, as I foresaw in the earliest days of our trip through angelic territory, there isn't and never was any clear explanations or definitions of angels to be found; no big reveal. Although the topic of angels covers a lot of convoluted territory, almost all of it is metaphysical in nature. Angels are art. Angels are poetry. Angels are philosophy, mysticism, esoterica, and religion. The reality of angels is, therefore, in the psyche of man. it is a mysterious cipher (amongst many) that no one can decipher. Maybe It's another weird, anomalous element of our genetic code: the trace memory of angels... and, possibly, the first and final message from our angelic messengers.


Then again, the idea that metaphysical forces are precursors to the physical ones is the premise around which the world's religions were formed. We may have merely created our preternatural pantheon of gods, demons, angels, fairies, etc. to somehow explain these forces. But it doesn't really make them any more or less authentic.  They are our civilization's works of art... works in progress which - like the statue in the Pygmalion myth - eventually acquire a sentience of their own.

In the last analysis then, perhaps, it is we who are the angels...  Angels R Us! And, quite possibly the human dilemma of the 21st century is coming to terms with our true angelic natures in both their lighter and darker forms. Ultimately, like the photographs of my angel sculptures which appeared in an earlier post of the angel series, the ways in which we perceive our angels and demons - that is, our dual natures - may be the simple matter of how, or from which direction, the light is cast... and our inner eye's ability to interpret it.


* Interestingly, "The Sacrament" was a poem written in the voice of one of my characters from a surrealistic erotic novel I began writing in the late 90s (the frontispiece illustration was previously posted here). The darker aspects of religion were interwoven through much of it and, oddly enough, many aspects of this post appeared in one form or another. Go figure.

Regarding the inset, right image at the beginning of this section: well. Salvador Dali just had to put in a word...

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Alan Moore Update!


Alan Moore, found here.

"The big difference between ‘meaning’ and ‘a spirit’ is that where meaning is concerned, we have to do all the necessary hard work in order to invest that place or that person or that object with meaning, whereas spirits just sort of turn up, don’t they? I believe that our world is gloriously haunted with meaning; that it’s we ourselves that are doing the haunting; and that we should be doing more of it, or doing it more strenuously.

In an era where supposedly hard material reality seems to shift more like vapour with every passing day, I think it becomes more evident that timeless and unchanging mythology is the actual solid bedrock on which our flimsy and temporary human realities are briefly erected. Whether you call it soul or spirit or meaning, it is the Real, as opposed to this spasming neo-conservative monetarist/materialist dream that we’re all required to share, and if we care about having a meaningful world in which to lead meaningful lives then we should all try harder to reinvest our environments with the meaning that belligerent materialism has sucked out of them."

***

The quote above was from our beloved 21st Century William Blake, Alan Moore, who recently - well, it was recent when I was midway through writing this post - granted an interview to Daily Grail. The full interview - and it's a great one - can be found on this Daily Grail page: Alan Moore on Science, Imagination, Language and Spirits of Place.



______________________________________________

(I regret that his post has taken so long, and I'm afraid the next won't arrive in record time either. Alas, blogging is one thing, and Life is another. One of these days I hope to get find a place where the two can exist amicably. Right now, for instance, I'm living in a motel room (with Wifi) and by next week I may be in a homeless shelter (without Wifi). So it goes.

Anyway, the post is up. And, as for the next, well, I'll be heading back to the Music Box series - at least that's the plan - but I will be rearranging the order found here. And, moving to the front of the queue will be "The Swan People." Hint: David Bowie fans might find this one intriguing... and - note to Jorge - it will be a lot shorter!

Till next time then...)



9 comments:

  1. If you ever start thinking your writing output is small, just start posting your text's in segments. Each of your posts is like 30 times bigger then most posts from a "normal" blog :)
    Great reading by the way... and I still didn't finish it.

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    1. Sorry about that, Jorge. You're right, I probably could've and should've broken it down into several parts. Unfortunately, I write like I think: laterally, and in circles... so, as each bit refers to another bit, it's difficult for me to separate the sections.

      Then again, nobody ever said a post had to be read all in one sitting. Think of it as a magazine... and, as for "normal," perish the thought! ;-)

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    2. I wasn't complaining!! If anything you have my deepest respect for writing so profoundly about these subjects. I also get the impression that you simply write well. The subject being interesting helps of course... but I get the impression that a lot of the pleasure from the text is due to simple and quality writing.

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    3. Oh, don't worry, I wasn't offended by your first comment! As for your second, well, you're too kind. When it comes to non-fiction my main goal is that the writing is coherent... especially when tackling those "interesting subjects." It's a real challenge; the nuts and bolts of language is a nightmare.

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  2. Geezus...fascinating. And no, I haven't finished it all yet either, but I shall!

    Mythology is the bedrock indeed.

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    1. Actually, if I was in top form, the post would've been longer... really, I just touched upon most things rather briefly.

      But, if there's just too much verbiage - and, really, who has the time these days (?) - you can always just look at the pretty pictures. ;-)

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    2. An excess of verbosity? NEVER! Hell...it is this broad exploration of the subject that is fascinating. Even if touched upon briefly -- because in detail it would wind on for novel length.

      I am a reader - I make time for words. Pictures are lovely, but as in all art, it is the author who makes it worth reading.

      I've just finished reading this post and must again....simply say "Geezus....fascinating". I mean...really...what can I say except BRAVO!

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    3. Thank you, BG!

      I guess, when writing about esoteric subjects, I find myself forced into the role of an investigative reporter - there is, after all, so much BS out there - and it becomes imperative to get to the source. In this case, I felt compelled to get beyond all the Abrahamic subterfuge which has muddied the waters of angelology for centuries.

      I came to the conclusion that the true sources were to be found in Eros and Phanes, who were not messengers or minions of gods, but actual gods in their own right. And, then Lucifer, the "fallen" angel who represents the Abrahamic debasement of Eros and Phanes... and is the key to the entire conundrum.

      But, there's more. There's always more. Perhaps it's for me to say... and, then again, maybe not. ;-)


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  3. Wonderful angel posts. I haven't gotten through these, but I'm going to set time aside. I think you've got your finger on the pulse of things right now, definitely...

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