Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Starman & The Swan People (Part II)


"Some Sanskrit mystics locate seven planes of being, the seven spiritual lokas
or worlds within the body of Kala Hamsa, the Swan out of Time and Space...
"
- From The Voice of the Silence by H. P. Blavatsky.
Quote and illustration: Swan Initiation.

(All images in this post can be clicked-on for original size.)

"While scientists are still in heated debates about what exactly consciousness is, the University of Arizona’s Stuart Hameroff and British physicist Sir Roger Penrose conclude that it is information stored at a quantum level. Penrose and his team have found evidence that 'protein-based microtubules - a structural component of human cells - carry quantum information - information stored at a sub-atomic level.'

Penrose argues that if a person temporarily dies, this quantum information is released from the microtubules and into the universe. However, if they are resuscitated the quantum information is channeled back into the microtubules and that is what sparks a near death experience. 'If they’re not revived, and the patient dies, it’s possible that this quantum information can exist outside the body, perhaps indefinitely, as a soul.'"

- Excerpt from the August 13, 2017 article: Life After Death? - Physicists Says "It's Quantum Information that Transcends from One World to Another." (Inset left: a Penrose tiling)

***

I never could wrap my head around the idea of death; even as a child. Most especially as a child. My first "dead" person was, in fact, my mother's mother. I never really understood why everyone was so dismal when Grandma died. I was, after all, quite convinced she still existed; I could feel she was still there somewhere. In my mind - my primary reality - she just, well, went away. In other words, she went elsewhere, leaving her sick body behind; which was sad (for us) but certainly not tragic (for her). And, really, if she managed to find a better place and feel well again, that was a good thing, wasn't it?

And, to this day, part of me - the part that never "grew up" - still feels the same way. The adult part, on the other hand, is unsure and doesn't know what to think. The adult part mourns. The adult part can't handle death. So, when David Bowie - our Starman - set sail, the adult was devastated and perplexed. Then, one morning - about a month later - I had a strange dream (described in Part I). Or, perhaps, my inner child had the dream. In any case, in the dream the Starman did not die; he "left with the Swan People"... which, in terms of a child's imagination, is not really an odd thing for a Starman to do. Hardly more odd than, let's say, imagining a flock of swans might carry a person to the moon. But, in 1638, Francis Godwin imagined just exactly that...  and wrote about it (inset right). More importantly, nobody even thought he was cracked; some people (Edgar Allen Poe, for one) thought he was ingenious.

(Very obviously) a young swan.

Now, had my adult self merely accepted the dream and moved on, this post would not have been necessary. Instead, "self" felt compelled to google "Swan People," forgetting that, when researching on the web, one invariably gets sucked down a rabbit hole. Call it "obsessive research disorder," a syndrome peculiar to cyberspace where information is (too) easily accessible, and what begins as innocently clicking on a link leads to a dizzying minefield of other links, each a tiny rabbit-hole all in itself.

So, the Starman and the Swan People - originally intended to be merely one (fairly short) post - somehow morphed into three separate posts. Sorry about that, but I can't seem to wrap things up in a lesser number. Could it be a Tesla kind of thing, that is, the Rule of Three? Maybe. Not that it did Tesla any good...


Hugh Jackman with Andy Serkis in a field of Tesla's light bulbs.

Speaking of which, David Bowie once played Tesla in a (more or less) steampunk film about the rivalry between 2 magicians. It was called The Prestige (2006), starring Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale and a host of others. This is what director, Christopher Nolan, had to say about the Tesla role:

"When we were casting The Prestige, we had gotten very stuck on the character of Nikola Tesla. Tesla was this other-worldly, ahead-of-his-time figure, and at some point it occurred to me he was the original Man Who Fell to Earth. As someone who was the biggest Bowie fan in the world, once I made that connection, he seemed to be the only actor capable of playing the part. He had that requisite iconic status, and he was a figure as mysterious as Tesla needed to be. It took me a while to convince him, though—he turned down the part the first time. It was the only time I can ever remember trying again with an actor who passed on me."

Other-worldly? Ahead of his time? Yeah, that sounds like our man. Then again, DB had played a goblin, a vampire, an alien, (and Andy Warhol) in previous movies - not to mention the disfigured Elephant Man on Broadway - so, comparatively speaking, Tesla was sort of the boy-next-door.



Awesome comic book cover
by John Riordan.
But, then, David seemed to get off on playing anomalous individuals, outsiders and fringe dwellers (and we loved him for it). Case in point, via a comment in Part I of this series - Trans-D friend, Tam B, brought up the topic of Bowie's character - Phillip Jeffries - from the 1992 Twin Peaks prequel movie Fire Walk With Me. This was, no doubt, a role DB could not refuse: a time-traveling, interdimensional FBI agent! (See here). Recently, the idea was to bring back Phillip Jeffries* for the final episode of the 2017 Twin Peak television series. According to the Hollywood Reporter, here's how the plan played out:

"Eventually, it became clear that there wasn't an eleventh hour Bowie cameo waiting in the wings, even though Jeffries played a major role. As with several of the other actors who have passed away since the original Twin Peaks, the new series utilized archival footage of Bowie from Fire Walk With Me during a key vision sequence. It also reintroduced the character in a bizarre new form: as a steampunk tea kettle, smoking and snarking somewhere in the Black Lodge, equipped with a Southern drawl that sounded exactly like Bowie's voice from Fire Walk With Me."

Guess you had to be there... But, I try to avoid that sort of thing these days. Not that one really can; life in the 21st century seems to be an exercise in navigating through a series of waking nightmares - both individual and collective - and, maybe it's just me, but the death of David Bowie seemed to mark the beginning of a whole new era of weirdness. Especially here in America, the belly of the (surrealistic) beast.**

In any case, more musings about David (and my mysterious second dream) (and the new music box) in Part III. (Please, don't hate me.) The remainder of this post is all about swans... quite possibly more than you ever wanted to know. But, bear with me. Sooner or later we'll suss out these Swan People. And, even if we never do, I promise that you'll see the enigmatic avians in a whole new - and fascinating - light! :-)



* A bit of Twin Peak trivia featuring Patron Saint, Frida Kahlo: "Interesting side-note on the Jefferies character is that in a press release for FWWM from the Twin Peaks Press, Bowie mentions that for his character, Lynch had given him a Frida Kahlo belt buckle which he liked so much that he kept after he was done filming. I’ve tried to grab a screenshot of this however, I am convinced that he isn’t wearing it in the scene. Most interesting is that this would tie back to Lynch’s fascination with Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. For in his film, Wild at Heart Lynch modeled Isabella Rosellini’s character, Perdita, to look like Frida Kahlo." (Found here.)

As it was, "Fire Walk with Me" came out during David Bowie's Tin Machine days (when the photo inset left above was taken). Regarding the belt buckle, you can (somewhat) see it in this photo.  It features 2 small framed portraits of Frida Kahlo, side by side. You can also catch a glimpse of it in the Tin Machine video below.



** The "belly of the beast" is from a quote by the Argentine revolutionary Che Guevera :

"I envy you. You North Americans are very lucky. You are fighting the most important fight of all - you live in the belly of the beast."




___________________________________

The Swan Gods


"The swan knight Krishna reappeared in classic Greek myth as Zeus in swan feathers, disguising himself as a swan to seduce the Goddess Leda, who gave birth to the World Egg, which suggests that she too was a totemic swan. Sometimes she was confused with the Goddess Nemesis to whom Zeus's very life was subject...

Northern mythology also identified her with the Valkyrie Brunnhilde, whose seven children or Seven Dwarves were transformed into the seven swans of the fairy tale. Zeus's swan form can be traced also to the Vedic image of Brahma in his special vahana ("vehicle," animal incarnation): a swan."

-  Excerpt from the "Swan" section in this interesting illustrated selection taken from Barbara Walker's Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets. The image (inset left) is of Brahma atop his hamsa (swan).


"The philosopher Plato recorded the last words of his mentor, Socrates, in a dialogue called the Phaedo. According to him, Socrates tried to console his followers by contrasting the nightingale and the swan. In myth the nightingale sang for sorrow, while swans only sang once, at their death. Socrates argued that swans sang because, as Apollo’s birds, they could foresee the joys of the afterworld."

- In reference to the term "swan song." The quote (and the coin photo below) is found here: Apollo: The Swan GodRegarding the image (inset right), it possibly represents Apollo and likely alludes to the constellations Cygnus and Lyra.

An ancient Greek coin depicting the solar god, Apollo, on the obverse and his
sacred animal, the swan, on the reverse. According to Pythagorean lore, Apollo’s soul passed into a swan upon his death, "as do the souls of all good poets."

"Before the church usurped her worship, Brigid was one of the most important goddesses in all of Ireland, and certainly the most beloved.  This fiery goddess who was looked upon as a deity of healing and poetry and smiths, was known as the ‘Bride of the Golden Hair’ in Gaelic Scotland where she was remembered as a white swan. In a prototypical bardic exchange of “I Am” speeches as re-corded in the Carmina Gadelica between Bride and a male speaker who imagines himself as a deer, the goddess speaks to us in a most unequivocal manner about her shimmering whiteness and about her power, setting the record straight for once and for all:
“Black the town yonder,
 Black those that are in it;
 I am the White Swan,
 Queen of them all.”

Excerpt from The Queen of Fortune, 1978, 2011, Tracy Boyd.

The Greek goddess Aphrodite riding on a swan.

"... A stone-lined votive spring was discovered only fifteen feet away from the first ritual pit. This well contained offerings of textile fragments, leather strips, pins, human hair, and stones. It has been suggested that the Saveock ritual pits are evidence of a cult dedicated to the goddess Brigid, due to traditional offerings to the goddess being found, such as eggs, as well as the swan being her emblem and her connection to healing wells. It is also believed that a secretive coven of witches has existed there since the 17th century, and that these pits were part of fertility rituals to help local women become pregnant. Perhaps, just as the Siberian shaman was believed to collect the souls of children perched in the World Tree, the swan, as an avian psychopomp, could also be enticed to bring new souls into the world, just as it carried those of the newly dead into the celestial otherworld ‘north beyond the north wind’."

- From the article: The Cult of the Swan in reference to pagan "ritual pits" found in Saveock, Cornwall, some of which contain swan feathers or swan pelts. See Witches of Cornwall.

In The Dream of Angus Og, the young God fell in love with a woman he saw in his dream, named Caer. So great is his longing for her, that he grew ill. He set out to search for her, and discovered that she is no dream, but a mortal woman under enchantment. She and her sisters are transformed into swans at Samhain, and must remain so for six months, until Beltain. Angus found her at Loch Gel Dracon, where the transformation took place. When he arrived, there were 150 swans, all with Otherworldly silver chains around their necks, and he could not distinguish Caer from the others. Angus then called out to her, changing into a swan himself. In that shape, he recognized his beloved, and they flew off together, chanting such ethereal music that all who heard it fell into unconsciousness for three days and nights. He brought her home to Brugh na Boinne (Newgrange)."

- From this Silent Owl post regarding the Irish god of love and poetry (and a member of the Tuatha Dé Danann) Aengus.

"Brahma's wife is the goddess Saraswati. She is considered to be "the embodiment of his power, the instrument of creation and the energy that drives his actions". Saraswati is found in almost every major ancient and medieval Indian literature between 1000 BC to 1500 AD. In Hindu tradition, she has retained her significance as a goddess from the Vedic age up to the present day...

... A hamsa or swan is often located next to her feet. In Hindu mythology, the hamsa is a sacred bird, which if offered a mixture of milk and water, is said to be able to drink the milk alone. It thus symbolizes the ability to discriminate between good and evil, essence from outward show and the eternal from the evanescent. Due to her association with the swan, Saraswati is also referred to as Hamsavāhini, which means "she who has a hamsa as her vehicle". The swan is also a symbolism for spiritual perfection, transcendence and moksha."

- From the Wiki entry for Saraswati. Inset left is an Indonesian sculpture of Saraswati found on the Wiki page.

"The Golden God, the Self, the immortal Swan
Leaves the small nest of the body, goes where He wants.

He moves through the realm of dreams;
makes numberless forms;
Delights in sex; eats, drinks, laughs with His friends;
Frightens Himself with scenes of heart-chilling terror.

But He is not attached to anything that He sees;
And after He has wandered in the realms of dream and awakeness,
Has tasted pleasures and experienced good and evil,
He returns to the blissful state from which he began."

- From the Hindu sacred text The Upanishads found here.

"In a Japanese folk tale about the Ainu, the swan was a divine bird that lived in heaven.  When a feudal war broke out amongst differing Ainu tribes, all were killed but for one small boy.  A swan descended from heaven and transformed itself into a woman, and reared the small boy to manhood.  She later married him to preserve the Ainu race."

- Found on George Knowles' Wiccan Swan page referring to this story.

***

Leda

Come not with kisses
not with caresses
of hands and lips and murmurings;
come with a hiss of wings
and sea-touch tip of a beak
and treading of wet, webbed,
wave-working feet
into the marsh-soft belly

 – D.H. Lawrence (found here).


Honestly, apart from the Greek god Zeus's famous transformation into a swan via that extremely titillating tale involving his "rape" of Leda, I had no idea there were swan gods and goddesses.

Of course, Zeus wasn't an authentic swan god; he only transformed into the bird to seduce the Spartan queen, Leda. Moreover, there exists a rival, more complex version of the tale in which the goddess Nemesis - Zeus's daughter - was the actual female coveted by the shapeshifting god. In this story, Zeus "bade Venus (Aphrodite), in the form of an eagle, pursue him; he, changed to a swan, as if in flight from the eagle, took refuge with Nemesis and lighted in her lap. Nemesis did not thrust him away, but holding him in her arms, fell into a deep sleep. While she slept, Jupiter (Zeus) embraced her, and then flew away. Because he was seen by men flying high in the sky, they said he was put in the stars."


Hence, the constellations Cygnus and Aquilla. But then the Greeks had other myths referring to Cygnus, the swan, so, let's stick with Leda's tale... so many artists have interpreted it in the past and continue to have fun with it. After all, depicting humans in erotic acts may have been (and may still be) censored in some parts of the world, but who ever heard of "swan porn"?*

Also, in terms of gods, the Leda myth is important here because it gives us some idea of how and why the swan might appear as an attractive, more powerful (and lusty) force than we generally give it credit for. Another example is the great god Apollo, who was considered a swan god as well as a solar god, the god of poetry, music, art and oracles. He was a bisexual god with numerous male and female lovers. While he didn't begin his life as an avian, he was either turning other humans into swans - or riding a swan or traveling in a swan-drawn chariot - before inevitably transforming into a swan himself. Interestingly, Apollo also had strong ties with the mythological Hyperborea - "a perfect land blessed with eternal spring" - where he was often found. There were flocks of swans in this northern paradise, but the swans may actually have been the Hyperboreans themselves, who - like Apollo - were known to transform into swans upon death.

Another shape-shifting god was the Celtic god of love, Aengus Og of the Tuatha de Danaan, who permanently transformed himself into a swan to join his enchanted swan lover, Caer. That being said, the swan god wasn't always a male figure. In the short poem quoted in this section's introduction, the Celtic goddess Brighid, or Bride - the most powerful religious figure in all of Irish history - describes herself as a white swan. If you remember, the goddess Brighid is celebrated on the pagan holiday of Imbolc (which is also Saint Brigid's day)... and not merely in the long past. Little more than a decade ago, an archaeological dig in Cornwall uncovered what proved to be a number of "witch" or ritual pits - some filled with swan pelts or swan feathers - that may have been the remains of offerings made to the goddess. Some of these pits were dated to the 1600s, but others were dated to around 1970.

Lastly, we come to the swan gods of India. Within the Hindu faith and its symbolism, the Swan or Hamsa (not to be confused with this amulet) represents the Supreme Spirit or Ultimate Reality; that is, the metaphysical creative and cosmic principles known as Brahman. In Western terms, the hamsa represents the God in the Hindu pantheon. At the same time it was a genderless or androgynous figure which united the fundamental forces of Shiva and Shakti and all dualities, including the intake and release of the breath. There is even a specific hamsa meditation which harmoniously regulates breathing and reinvigorates the body and psyche.

As for the god Brahma, a creator god, and his other half, Saraswati (Inset left and found here- the goddess who leads to both knowledge and self-knowledge - they are almost always depicted as riding or standing upon swans, their vahana or divine vehicles. The presence of the swan most likely alludes to their divinity, as well as the hamsa's ability to "eat pearls" and "separate milk from water," that is, its ability to discern the worthy from the unworthy.

All and all, whether in reference to mythological figures, religious or spiritual figures, shamanism, death, dreams, or precognition, the swan seems to hold court. At the same time it is a symbol of love and eros. It is the vehicle of gods, which implies great strength and strength of virtue. It is a shape-shifter, psychopomp and, in avian terms, a kind of angel. But, more importantly, its significance seems eerily similar in a number of diverse cultures. All seem to agree that swans rule, but, ultimately, no one ever lets on why this might be so.

And there's more. There's a shadow side to the swan - kind of a black swan, if you will - that seemingly emerges from the clandestine side of human affairs; hidden knowledge, secret societies... it's all there, as we'll see in the next section: The Alchemical Swan.**

From this Australian Maroochydore Masonic Lodge page.

Meanwhile, I've posted a cool little video (below) of a mute swan in Strasbourg strutting his or her stuff while threatening a disrespectful canine. Either it's a male swan with a god complex, or a female defending its young. In any case, it's a large, magnificent bird (and it knows it!) and its posturing is a pleasure to watch. One can almost emphatically identify with its unusually graceful moves. And, if looks could kill, well, Fido is history by now!






*Correction: Police Force Gallery To Remove Leda And The Swan Image For ‘Condoning Bestiality’. Ah well... different strokes for different folks.

** Oddly enough, in trying to solve the Swan People mystery we almost enter the realm of what is termed - believe it or not - the "Black Swan problem," "Black Swan theory," and "Black Swan Event"! The terms are based on the ancient presumption that true black swans did not exist in nature, when, in actuality, they do; specifically in Australia and New Zealand although they were eventually imported into other countries.


Dali's Leda Atomica,1945.

"Dalí himself described the painting in the following way:
'Dalí shows us the hierarchized libidinous emotion, suspended and as though
hanging in midair, in accordance with the modern 'nothing touches' theory of
intra-atomic physics. Leda does not touch the swan; Leda does not touch
the pedestal; the pedestal does not touch the base; the base does not touch
the sea; the sea does not touch the shore. . . '"

In reference to the unidentified inset images in the text portion of this section:
Inset right (the first image), is an extremely erotic life-size sculpture found in the Scindia Museum, India; artist unknown. An alternative view can be found here, along with other Leda sculptures.  Below it, inset leftis a lovely statue of Leda by Michael Parkes found here. More Leda can be found here (a source link for the Ruebens' Leda... and Dali's Leda Atomica above). And, finally, the image (detail) of the oceanic swans and lyre was part of Goethe's collection.

___________________________________

The Alchemical Swan

The Bath - 2003, Karena Karras.

"The Black Crow (sometimes also the Raven) is the beginning of the great work of soul alchemy.... the nigredo experience, and it is often pictured as a death process, as in the caput mortuum, the deaths head, or as some alchemical illustrations show, the alchemist dying within a flask. Thus in the symbol of the Black Crow we have the stepping out in consciousness from the world of the physical senses the restrictions that bind us to the physical body.

The next stage, is often shown as The White Swan. Now the alchemist begins to experience the inner world as being light filled - the initial inner brightness which is often erroneously mistaken for true illumination. This is merely a first conscious encounter with the etheric world, and in comparison with physical sense experience is for many souls so overpowering as to be pictured as bright white light. The alchemical tradition recognized this and symbolised this stage as the White Swan. The swan is a bird which is rarely seen in flight, but rather swimming upon lake or river, gracefully moving on the surface of water- in soul terms, on the soul's surface, its etheric interface with the physical."

-Excerpt from The Birds in Alchemy by Adam McLean.  Note that the Swan, or Albedo stage follows the "Nigredo experience," death.


"Knight of the Swan. A very old and popular myth found in French, German, and English mediæval romances, first mentioned by William of Tyre about 1180. Helias, Knight of the Swan, is one of eight children of Oriant of Lilefort. Seven are changed to swans, one drawing the hero in a boat to become champion for Clarissa of Bouillon, the ancestor of Godfrey, thus connecting the story with the Crusades. After marriage the knight departs when his wife breaks the taboo on his name, a Grail feature common to all variants, as Lohengrin, showing its partly Celtic origin. The scene is generally on the Lower Rhine, connecting it with the dukes of Brabant and Cleves, whose symbol was a swan."

- Definition from The New International Encyclopædia (via Wikisource).

"Lohengrin is a character in German Arthurian literature. The son of Parzival (Percival), he is a knight of the Holy Grail sent in a boat pulled by swans to rescue a maiden who can never ask his identity. His story, which first appears in Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival, is a version of the Knight of the Swan legend known from a variety of medieval sources. Wolfram's story was expanded in two later romances. Richard Wagner's opera Lohengrin of 1848 is based upon the legend."

- Via the Wiki entry for Lohengrin. Inset right (above) is an illustration taken from that page. Note: Could the LOTR character - Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth - be Tolkien's nod to the Knight of the Swan & Lohengrin?


"Parsifal, as a virgin, naive youth, has reached the region of the Graal. There he killed a white swan with his arrow as his first deed. The white swan is (in accordance with Nordic mystical tradition) the symbol of ecstasy, of permanent spiritual delight, that dwells in and dominates the heart and soul of the Graal-Knight, as the highest rapture in whose spell live all inhabitants of Graal-region. Parsifal's deed of shooting the swan, who had flown out to seek his female to cross with her over the lake (the water-symbol of the female principle), thus wonderfully consecrated him to the bath of salvation with his arrow in the snow white breast. So the red blood colouring the white feathers of the dead swan is a symbolical depiction of the naive, virgin Parsifal with his unnatural (sexual) act (arrow) of commanding holy ecstasy which made a wound in the territory of the Graal, and injured. To appease this misdeed, Gurnemanz thought to lead Parsifal to the Graal... The test, if he is a pure fool, shall come to Parsifal first in the Temple of the Graal! This point cannot be worked out further here."

- From Theodor Reuss' Parsifal and the Secret of the Graal Unveiled, 1920. Inset left is a drawing I've reposted: Parsifal by the Belgian Symbolist, Jean Delville.

"Order of the Swan - A pious confraternity, indulgenced by the pope, which arose in 1440 in the Electorate of Brandenburg, originally comprising, with the Elector Frederick at their head, thirty gentleman and seven ladies united to pay special honour to the Blessed Virgin. It spread rapidly, numbering in 1464 about 330 members, as well as branches established in the Margraviate of Anspach (1465) and in the possessions of the Teutonic Order in Prussia.  But Protestantism, by suppressing devotion to Mary, abolished the confraternity’s raison d’etre. In 1843 King Frederick William IV of Prussia, in his infatuation for the Middle Ages, thought of re-establishing this order, but this was never more than a project. The name is due to the fact that the members wore a medal of the Blessed Virgin to which was attached a swan, the symbolic meaning being variously interpreted."

- Definition found here. Inset right is Portrait of a Lady wearing the Order of the Swan by an unknown German artist, circa 1490. An enlargement of the "order" is below. Note: there were also those known as the Swan Brethren (or Brethren of the Swan) of The Illustrious Brotherhood of Our Blessed Lady, in the Netherlands, founded in 1318. Allegedly, painter Hieronymus Bosch was a member of this group. But, apparently the Swan Brethren were so-called because they donated swans for the yearly banquet.






"Sweet Swan of Avon! What a sight it were
To see thee in our waters yet appear,
And make those flights upon the banks of Thames
That so did take Eliza, and our James
But, say I see thee in the Hemisphere 
Advanc'd, and made a constellation there!
Shine forth, thou Starre of Poets, and with rage, 
Or influence, chide, or cheer the drooping Stage:
Which, since thy flight from hence, hath mourn'd like night    
And despaires day, but for thy Volume's light."


- Found on this Swan of Avon (Masonic) Lodge page.


***


The "Invisible College" of the Rosicrucians, 1618, Theophilius Schweighardt. 
"There is a building, a great building lacking windows and doors, a princely, aye, imperial palace, everywhere visible, but hidden from the eyes of men, adorned with all kinds of divine and natural things, the contemplation of which in theory and practice is granted to every man free of charge and remuneration, but heeded by few... Oh how many men go unknowing and without understanding through all the rooms, all the secret hidden places of this palace, unseeing, uncomprehending, worse than a blind man..."
- From Schweighardt's Speculum sophicum rhodostauroticum (The Mirror of Wisdom).



At the turn of the 16/17th century, a strange thing occurred. Suddenly, two new stars popped up into the night sky! The first, in 1600, appeared in the constellation of the swan, Cygnus. Four years later, another new star appeared - although, in reality, it was a supernova - in the constellation of the snake-bearer, Serpentarius or Ophiuchus (inset right). In the illustration of the Rosicrucian Invisible College* (above) you can see the constellations in the background represented by the small figures of the snake-bearer and the swan. The illustration was executed a number of years after the stars appeared, but, for the Rosicrucians, the stars were such a momentous event that mention of them was written into their second (1615) manifesto, Confessio Fraternitatis:

."..yea, the Lord God hath already sent before certain messengers, which should testify his will, to wit, some new stars, which do appear and are seen in the firmament in Serpentario and Cygno, which signify and give themselves known to everyone, that they are powerful Signacula of great weighty matters."

It's hard to say how much significance was given to the fact that the first new star happened to appear in the constellation of the Swan** or if this was a meaningful factor in any of other references to swans in the esoteric camp - specifically Freemasonry*** - but  it may have been. Certainly the presence of the new stars were significant enough to be found on Rosicrucian gravestones (Inset left, found here). Of course, though rarely mentioned by the various parties regarding the similarities in their disciplines, the symbolism found in Alchemy, Rosicrucianism, Freemasonry (and, to some degree with the Knights Templar) frequently overlaps. In other words, it's obvious that they, at least, borrowed from each other. And for all we know - or they know, for that matter - two or three may have arisen from a singular source.****

For instance, Rosicrucian Max Heindel "emphasizes that the roots of the Brothers of the Rose Cross, immersed in the western mystery tradition, are almost impossible to be traced as 'theirs is a work which aims to encourage the evolution of humanity, they have labored far back into antiquity--under one guise or another'".

A Masonic monument with a Virgin Mary-like figure. Possibly through her
ties with the Celtic goddess Bridgid, or as a symbol of her purity, she, too, is
often associated with a swan.

To begin with, in the Wiki entry for Rosicrucianism, we find a tie with the Templars: "Around 1530, more than eighty years before the publication of the first manifesto, the association of cross and rose already existed in Portugal in the Convent of the Order of Christ, home of the Knights Templar, later renamed Order of Christ. Three bocetes were, and still are, on the abóboda (vault) of the initiation room. The rose can clearly be seen at the center of the cross. At the same time, a minor writing by Paracelsus called Prognosticatio Eximii Doctoris Paracelsi (1530), containing 32 prophecies with allegorical pictures surrounded by enigmatic texts, makes reference to an image of a double cross over an open rose; this is one of the examples used to prove the "Fraternity of the Rose Cross" existed far earlier than 1614."

And, then, we have the Masons, many who believe that the history of their fraternity may also include the Knights Templar who, in an attempt to escape persecution in the early 1300s, allegedly hid themselves among the early Masons, finally forming their own elite Masonic order within the order. There's only one problem: the formal Masonic organization wasn't developed until over three hundred years later, in the 1700s. There are, however, Masonic Knight Templar degrees, and there is a Masonic Rosicrucian Society, i.e., deeply embedded connections remain. Meanwhile, the Masons seem to frequently name their lodges after swans, either directly or indirectly. Inset right is the logo for the Sibelius Masonic Lodge in the UK, named for the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius - himself a Mason. The swan in the image is (allegedly) a reference to his tone-poem The Swan of Tuonela which, in the Kalevala, is the swan who lives on the Tuoni river in the Land of the Dead. As the story goes, whoever killed the mystical swan would also perish.

A medieval manuscript illumination of the Swan Knight (found here).

The swan connection to the Knights Templar seems to find its source in the tale of the Swan Knight, or Knight of the Swan, which is a medieval story about a mysterious knight who arrives in a swan-drawn boat to rescue a lady in distress. In the early French version (1192) - Le Chevalier au Cygne from the first Crusade cycle - a connection is established to Clarissa of Bouillon, the ancestor of crusader Godfrey of Bouillon, the Duke of Lower Lorraine (and a key figure in the novel Da Vinci Code) who, in 1099, became ruler of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Wiki tells us that: "Godfrey loomed large in the medieval Christian imagination, and his shadowy genealogy became a popular subject for writers of the period."

It is through Godfrey's relationship with the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, however, that Templar speculation is especially focused. Sandy Hamblett (from the Rhedesium website) writes:

     "It is my contention that Godfrey de Bouillon, once he had liberated the Holy Sepulchre, installed his Knights as well as canons into the Holy Sepulchre (this is a matter of historical record) as a military presence. Twenty years later out of this group came the Knights Templar. This appears to gain support when we realise that Bernard the Treasurers account of the formation of the Templars did not ascribe any initiative on the part of Hughes de Payns. He also did not refer to the alleged reason the Templars were formed - that is, the protection of pilgrims. 

    It is Bernard who emphasis’s the Templars and their connection with the Holy Sepulchre. This of course includes the fact that the Templars’ liturgy was that of the Holy Sepulchre, that the ‘french rule’ (dating to 1140) stated that it was ‘l’ordinaire del Sepulchre’, and that the peculiar way the Templars built their churches - which were very often polygonal, inspired no doubt by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre."

An example of the Bohun Swan found on a misericord - a hinged seat in a choir stall - in the Church of St Laurence, Shropshire, England. This one is missing a primary feature: a gold collar and chain around its neck. The collar is often in the shape of a crown.

That being said, apparently Godfrey of Bouillon - despite having no legitimate progeny - had many noble descendants... and, all of them used the swan in their heraldry. The insignia even has a name: the Bohun Swan, so-named for the medieval family de Bohun. It was adopted by the British House of Lancaster in the 14th century after the marriage of Mary de Bohun to the future King Henry. The plaque (inset left) features the arms of Arms of Peter Courtenay, Bishop of Exeter and Bishop of Winchester.

But, Royal references to the swan do not end there. As it so happens, there are royal swans in the UK, belonging to the royal family, and a very old custom related to them: Swan Upping. It's a ceremony designed to conserve the mute swans on the River Thames. The swans are caught and a census is taken. (Inset right is Queen Elizabeth and a cygnet.) Those caught by the Queen's "uppers" are ringed and belong to the Crown. The others are shared between the Vintners' and Dyers' Companies, who were granted rights of ownership by the Crown in the 15th century. And, here's a bit if trivia found on the Vintners' page:

"Swans were a prized source of meat in the Tudor age and their quills were also used for writing. Quills from geese were much more commonly used, cheaper, and preferred by many people who found a swan's quill too stiff to write with easily. However, a swan's quill was said to last as long as 50 goose quills, and Queen Elizabeth I preferred to write with a swan's quill."

Believe it or not, there was also a Swan King: Ludwig II of Bavaria, 1845-1886. Whether his ancestry included a de Bouillon/de Bohun connection, I can't say, but, I'm guessing he identified with the Swan Knight judging by the image inset left. In any case, his was a sad story, as Ludwig was just about everything a "head of state" wasn't: introverted, reclusive, and more inclined to devote his time and energy to creative pursuits. He also had homosexual tendencies which, while not persecuted in Bavaria, made it more unlikely he'd produce the desired heir to the throne. His hero - composer Richard Wagner of Lohengrin fame (whom Ludwig patronized) - said of him: 
"Alas, he is so handsome and wise, soulful and lovely, that I fear that his life must melt away in this vulgar world like a fleeting dream of the gods."

And, this turned out to be mostly true. The Swan King was (erroneously) declared mad and possibly murdered... but, not before he had created one of the most beautiful, iconic castles in the world: Schloss Neuschwanstein (New Swanstone Castle).

Lastly - conspiracy theorists take note - there exists today The Order of the Noble Companions of the Swan®, which is "an International Order of Christian Chivalry and Knighthood dedicated to perpetuating the memory and exemplary life of Godfrey de Bouillon, Duke of Lower Lorraine, legendary Knight of the Swan, principal leader of the First Crusade to the Holy Land and Advocate of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The Order continues the customs, traditions, duties and responsibilities embodied in the ancient and honored Code of Chivalry and their perpetuation and promulgation in the modern world through personal example and education of the general public.
The Order is represented by its membership throughout the world with Knights, Dames and Clergy resident in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, England, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Morocco, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Syria, Togo, the United States of America and Venezuela."

And, FINALLY we come to end of Part II... So, what do you think, cats & kitties, is that enough "swan people" for you? It is for me! And I didn't even get into all the Swan Children tales! Ultimately, I find all of this swan stuff a little strange. And, yet, while it's importance regarding both the Starman and the Swan People (of my dream) may be negligible, I felt obligated to post my discoveries. It's some kind of mental disorder... and they thought King Ludwig was mad. ;-)

In any case, I know all the things I promised to appear in the second part didn't appear as I said they would... BECAUSE THERE WASN'T ROOM! Sorry.

So, stay tuned for: The Starman & The Swan People (Part III): The Second Dream... this really does get better!



* An interesting description of the "Invisible College" from The Roots of Consciousness  by Jeffrey Mishlove, PhD:

"It was a building with wings, which existed nowhere and yet united the entire secret movement. The high initiates of this society, the Rosy Cross Brothers, were said to be invisible and were able to teach their knowledge of a higher social and scientific order to worthy disciples who themselves became invisible. The symbolism of the Invisible College is very complex and further complicated by the social furor that resulted from it. As adventurers and scholars desiring a new social order sought to make contact with the fabled R. C. Brothers, an increasing public outcry resulted in witch hunts and persecutions.

In one sense, the Invisible College refers to that type of teaching and inspiration that occurs to one in dreams."

** And, it's about to happen again (more or less)!  From National Geographic:
"Five or so years from now, (2022) you may be able to witness a new "star" appearing in the night sky, a cosmic gem that should glitter in the northern wing of the constellation Cygnus, the swan, for a good portion of a year.

For the first time, astronomers are confidently predicting that a specific stellar system will explode within a defined period of time, becoming more than 10,000 times brighter than it is now. The explosion will be visible from Earth with the naked eye, and it could be about as bright as Polaris, the north star."

*** The earliest mention of a Masonic Swan Lodge I could find was in a 1795 Norfolk document referring to the presence of the "Master of the Swan Lodge".

**** Regardless of the source, one thing we might keep in mind is that all four "camps" - the alchemists, the Rosicrucians, the Knights Templar and the Freemasons - surely had one thing in common: all were accused of heresy and "devil-worshiping" at some point or other and were subsequently persecuted.








6 comments:

  1. Beautiful post - it is a lot to digest, I haven't read all of it; but I admire the willingness to get to the bottom of the swan people idea. It must be some sub-hallway in the collective unconscious, or maybe that hallway is a dream version of the real swan people who are somewhere else. Love the sub-atomic stuff about consciousness at the beginning, relevant to what I am working on now. I do see a process here. You did exploratory pieces on birds, then angels, now swans ... . I liked what they did on Twin Peaks with Bowie's character, but that whole series was refreshing. I think it will make more sense five years from now.

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    1. Re: Swan People... I tend to see all the swan symbolism as a collective consciousness thing... with something very mysterious involved.

      Yeah, well let's hope something makes sense 5 years from now. In fact, let's hope there is a "5 years from now".

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  2. Don't know. The big turning point is supposedly 2020, at least according to astrologers. Have you seen this? https://www.guardianbookshop.com/david-bowie-the-life.html

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    1. Well, I've seen it now! Looks as if it may be interesting... but I'd so much rather a Bowie autobiography...

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  3. Fascinating...eclectic...a journey into the inner wired connections of consciousness. As Tam B pointed out, the opening is perfect for this -- the potential quantum nature of the mind, of self....i.e. soul.

    Wow. This is the kind of stuff that has to soak in for a while.

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