A Jewel in the Crown…

The Hermit (Tarot card) - Wikipedia

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‘…And it makes me wonder…’

Stairway to Heaven

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PROJECTION OF GOLD
In truth, it is certain and without doubt that whatever is above tends toward that which is below and whatever is below tends toward that which is above for the accomplishment of the One Perfected Thing.
As all things are discovered by one, alone through contemplation so all things are born from this one, alone by permutation: its Father is the Sun, its Mother is the Moon, the Wind bears it in its Belly, the Earth nurtures it in its Heart; Power of all powers it contains the subtle and penetrates the solid and is the progenitor of all wonder in the world yet its efficacy is only perfected through embodiment.
In order that the little world may be re-created in the image of the great world the Spirit must be separated from the Body gradually by the regulated heat of a gentle flame: it rises to heaven from earth and falls back to earth from heaven and thus it acquires the inferior and superior powers for the glory of the whole world and the dissipation of all darkness…
This is the Way of Perfection…
I alone transmit this threefold wisdom which is why I am called The Thrice Raised Hermes.

– The Emerald Tablet

*2 ‘Stone of the Wise’

the other side of colour (1 of 2)

It’s a poignant time of year…

I love colour. I’m sure we all do. It’s difficult to say farewell to the mellow flashes of autumn; to know that it will be four months – one third of a year – before renewed colour returns in full to this beautiful land.

It’s important to make the best of the last; to have the camera always ready for those few instances of brightness holding out against the rising trails of mud.

I’m a bit sentimental about this. I always say a silent thank you to the traces of colour that retain their brightness against the brown and grey. Sometimes, I find a single object worthy of more detailed study and bend or kneel to take a close-up shot of it. My favourites are ‘lines of things’ that draw the eye into the distance.

There are compensations… The blue skies of the winter are more intense than the summer’s softness and pastels. Best in the early morning, as below, when the sun’s capture of the leafless and bare branches of a tree contrasts in a deeply poetic way with the frosted darkness below it.

Buildings, too, respond to the stark contracts between winter’s light and shadow. The days are short, but the energy in the sky often makes up for this with intensity.

(Above: the old cobbled Market Street in Kendal invites the eye down to the River Kent)

It’s important that we find a way to react to the darkness, loss of colour, and short days in a positive way. That seems a tall order… but perhaps the winter has a story of parallel life to that of the spring and summer: one that is the key to our own psychological well-being… and one that may even have significant signposts to our spiritual development.

(Above: Sedgwick – the line of cottages behind an old stone wall highlights the frosty early light and shadow)

The ancient world had a different perspective on the ending of colour and the decay of ‘life’s bodies’. In this view, the processes had not stopped, but had removed themselves to the space beneath the ground, where, protected deep in soil, their activity intensified. The roots of organic forms are, literally, the foundations of life. In this view, life does not begin in the spring; it begins at the winter solstice deep in the warm and nurturing earth where there is protection from the bare, saturated and freezing surface of the earth that bears the full force of the winter… As do we.

(Above: the line of the old canal (long drained but still intact) passes under many bridges which now have no use

We live on that bare and freezing surface, but we have been gifted intelligence to mitigate the hardship. We also have eyes to see the whole process of the four seasons, each with its own definite purpose and ‘essence’. Such a quaternity features strongly at the heart of many of the ancient myths and religions.

(Above: deep autumn produces some of the most beautiful colours of the year)

I cannot follow the underground life with my camera. And even if I could that life would look quite alien and colourless, just as our organs would if we saw them outside the body. Their beauty is in the function they perform for the whole rather than the dance of colour in the visible world.

One day, our own physical organs will falter, then fail. Whether we see this as death or an embrace of unity depends on whether we can find a parallel in ourselves.

Perhaps our task is to see the cycle of four seasons as a whole, taking rest when we can in the darker months and letting a different, more contemplative part of us delve into the mysteries of life and possibly-not-death. The seasons are very present to us – they directly affect our lives and can be a threat to our survival. But to the globe of the planet, what is happening in the northern hemisphere is mirrored and reversed in the south. It is always summer, somewhere, as it is always winter, somewhere else.

Everything is in balance, providing we see the whole of the cycle. As long as we raise our eyes to see.

To the ancients, the turning points were the four dates of solstice and equinox. The equinox gives us equal night and day, but travelling in different directions with respect to maximum light or darkness. The solistice gives us those maxima. Their significance was so great that the Christian church layered its own religious festivals over them, rather than trying to replace their historical and cultural presence. Its seldom remarked on that Jesus the Christ was born in mid-winter, at the time of the deepest darkness, rather than in the spring.

How we relate our lives and selves to nature’s entire cycle of life and death may be one of the key questions of our lives.

Our individual lives, like the beautiful leaves, dance in the sun until their term ends. We have been gifted the use of our intelligence to combat the cold and dark so that we may remain fully conscious during the winter. Our struggle – our challenge – is to locate that part of us that develops as invisible light in the darkness, and thus reconcile life and death to something far more embracing in the long life of this beautiful planet… and beyond to the Sun, which sacrifices all its life to the support of its children in all their forms.

With energy, everything else happens. With gravity and the radiation of light, the Sun provides stability and the basis of life within the Earth as well as just on its surface. Beyond the ‘big bang’ everything depended on the blue giant suns, whose dying nuclear furnaces gave us the very chemistry of life, itself.

Could we ask for a clearer lesson, or a more noble purpose, than to mirror this in our own way?

In part two, we will examine and, challenge some of the accepted ideas about colour; with the possibility that this familiar quality of life, most poignant in the autumn, will enable us to find a deeper understanding of life and death.

©Stephen Tanham 2021

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.

http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog

Wayland: Silver-Smith of Souls…

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There are a number of intriguing aspects to the legend of Wayland Smithy…

The earliest written sources appear late and are decidedly piecemeal.

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Wayland is the son of a God, Giant, or King of the Otherworld.

He is schooled in metallurgy by Dwarves, whom, in skill, he quickly surpasses.

He lives, hunts, and works alone in a region associated with wolves and bears.

One day he comes upon a swan-maiden bathing skin-less.

He finds her skin, appropriates it, and she lives with him for nine years.

At the end of which time she discovers her hidden skin and flies away.

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Wayland is then taken captive by the King of Sweden,

maimed to prevent escape and set to work on an island…

Wayland surreptitiously kills the king’s sons, turns their skulls into goblets

and presents them to the king and queen.

Their teeth he turns into a brooch for the king’s daughter.

The king’s daughter has a ring of Wayland’s, stolen from him by her father,

and when it breaks she asks him to mend it.

Wayland inebriates the king’s daughter and fathers a son on her.

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At this point, in the tale, Wayland’s swan-wife returns,

with a swan-skin for him and they fly away,

to the Blessed-Isles of Britain, together…

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A Union of Opposites (2)

(Photo by the author and ©Copyright)

In Part One, we looked at the subtle meaning of the word ‘elements’, and how spiritual paths like Yoga and the Western Mystery Tradition (WMT) view them as essential components of our being.

If these energy states are the foundations of our conscious existence, why do they not arrange themselves in a harmonic way? The answers lie in knowing which part of us has been given control of our daily lives. In terms of Yoga, this ‘decider’ is viewed as a kind of ‘information body’; one that also carries a Karmic burden from our past.

Psychology views it as the personality – an accumulation of responses to the largely survival and emotionally-based challenges by which we learn to protect our ‘selves’ in the world. Both point to the inescapable fact that we need to ‘transcend’ the personality and wrestle with its fears and desires, if we are to make true spiritual progress. Our effort, plus the struggle, creates a third condition, in which we may make real change to our-selves.

This is not to diminish psychology. The ‘ascent of life’ in the form of efficient organic responses, carries forward the potential of more effective and integrative consciousness, by which matter becomes increasingly aware of its environment and itself…

Yoga’s approach is powerful, because it gets to the core of the issue: our everyday selves are based upon accumulated, reactive information. We overlay this with what we believe to be ‘right’. This is not reactive, but is for the good of the greater whole.

As in previous posts, the nature and force of our intention is vital. We hinted, last time, that there is a direct relationship between intention and the elements. This will be explored in the form of a practical exercise, in what follows.

Psychology dedicates itself to the restoration of the stable personality – the ‘self’, allowing those who have been damaged to resume their normal functioning in the world. Generally, psychology is not concerned with the spiritual, though there are notable exceptions, such as the work of Carl Jung, who well understood the elements and their place in the scheme of human consciousness.

Yoga has an intrinsic understanding of the Elements as the key to the foundation of the human. The energy centres that ascend up the spine – much like the WMT’s Middle Pillar on the Tree of Life – include the elements. I’ve appended a diagram of the Chakras to illustrate their positions:

(Table image source link)

Yoga’s temple is the body; with its interpenetrating layers. It is one of the finest conceptions of ‘divinity in matter’. In the West, we are less attuned to these ideas, and seem to respond more readily to a symbolic journey.

The WMT offers the basis of an interesting alternative to the yogic approach. This utilises the directions of space to represent the elements and their ‘signatures’.

We imagine ourselves to be in a cubic glass container (with no ceiling) whose walls are perfectly formed and glowing (within the material of the glass) with the mixed energies of the four elements. As such, they are not arranged in an orderly way, and are less able to serve us.

Designate one of the walls of the glass cube to be the East, the start of our rotation of the elements. Face this direction.

You can choose your own colour or pattern attributions if you wish, or adopt these: Pale yellow for the East; bright gold for the South; dark blue for the West and a rich and fertile earthy-brown for the North.

Extend your hands upwards over your head and and join them so that fingers 2-4 are intertwined and folded. Your first (index) fingers are aligned, raised and pressed together, and the thumbs crossed over each other, as in the photo below.

(Above: using the hands to create a living ‘intention’ symbol)

Your hands in this position form a potent symbol of INTENTION. By moving the balanced and locked fingers together, we are actively harmonising of opposites to produce a new, and higher, creation.

Now bring your raised hands down to point to the glass wall in front of you – the East. Look into the chaotic and swirling colours within the glass wall. Within your mind (or out loud if you can) speak your Intention that they resolve and assume their rightful energy. Then see in your living image the restoration of the pale yellow colour, flowing with peace and loving energy, but, above all, intelligence. At the same time feel a link between this cleansing and the energy within your heart chakra. Feel the same colour developing, there.

With the colour and the intelligence of the symbolic East wall of your cube established, let its light energise you and restore a great peace to your body.

We are now going to take this sense of intelligence, order and rightness around the other three directions of the compass and, at the same time, move vertically along the chakras.

To begin this, take a final look at the restored and orderly East face, with your hands still pointed there. Then raise your joined arms and rotate your body one cube face clockwise to face the South. As you make the rotation, be aware of a descent of the intelligence of the heart (and East) to the level of the navel.

Facing the South, take a breath to establish your Intention, then lower your arms and hands to point at the South face, issuing your command to order and rightness and extending the controlling intelligence and discrimination. See the swirling colours resolve to a beautiful gold, then feel the warmth of the overhead sun burning away any negative emotions you may have. Simply be with the sun, and let it feed you with the warmth of its power and rightness.

When this feeling is established, let the energy of the wall be reflected in your navel, slowly, but be conscious of the control coming from the heart centre, directed downwards. Raise your arms again, and, as you turn, visualise the descent of the sun energy, wrapped in the intelligence of the heart, to the level of the West face, linked with the Water element and centred at the root of the genitals. Feel the cleansing and cooling Water element wash away the disorderly colours of the West face. Feel and see the blue water wrapped in the gold of the sun, and, in turn, the pale yellow Intelligence of the heart.

Make the third turn to face the North in the same way. Link the North face with the basal chakra in the muscles of the anus. Apply an internal tension to this part of the body, seeing the colours of the North resolve into the rich and fertile earth colour, taking its place like a seed, embedded in the other colours.

Now make the final turn, but keep the hands raised while moving the accumulated energies up the spine to a place between the heart centre and the throat. Raise your head to ‘look to the heavens’. Gaze on your joined hands with their living symbol of Intention. Then gaze beyond them and offer the energies to the direction of your Higher Self, only. Feel you whole spine tingling with the harmonious joy of your being, with its elemental energies restored and balanced.

In next week’s final post in this series, we will describe one or two powerful refinements to this exercise of the Elements. If you have been able to practice this, you will gain additional focus and energy from these…

Other posts in this series:

A Union of Opposites (1)

[Recent posts related to intention and attention:

Intention chooses Heaven

Intention chooses Heaven (2)]

©Stephen Tanham 2021

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.

http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog

A Union of Opposites

(Photo by the author and ©Copyright)

Anyone having a basic knowledge of the history of philosophical thought will be familiar with the ‘quaint notion’ that the world is made of a mixture of four ‘elements’ – Earth, Air, Fire and Water; with possibly a fifth, the Quintessence.

Given to us by the Greeks, from probably older sources, this idea was seen to be displaced by the advance of science into the composition of matter – specifically the discover of atoms.

From an objective perspective, this is correct; but the ancient minds, lacking our science, built a system to explain the world that relied upon the ‘laboratory of the subjective’ – more specifically the retort of the ‘self’. Sympathetic insight and logic were two of the tools employed.

Modern psychology has given us accurate behavioural maps of the psychological self. Where, then, is the fit between the ‘elements’ and the parts of the ‘me’?

The artful science of Yoga may provide some clues…because, surprisingly, Yoga makes use of the ‘elements’, too.

Yoga means simply union. Yoga’s origins can be traced to northern India over 5,000 years ago. The word yoga was first mentioned in ancient sacred texts called the Rig Veda. In the yogic view of reality, the elements are types of energy that blend, in a divine union of the physical and emotional natures of us all. Surprisingly, yoga devotes little time to what we view as the psychological self, viewing it (to paraphrase in my own terms) as like being in a market full of the freshest fruit and vegetables, yet hearing only the competing voices of the owners of the stalls, as they vie for our attention.

The desired state of attention is one where we are only present to the beauty of the produce, in all its natural splendour; yet capable of switching ‘back on’ a stall-holder or two, in the event we find a new vegetable we don’t know how to prepare, or whose cost we have to ascertain.

I’ve referred to this mixture of intention and attention in previous posts.

So how does this level of intention relate to the four elements that make up our ‘energetic being’?

Yoga views everything real within the human vehicle as a body. These ‘bodies’ are like sheaths of increasingly fine experience. The idea of this is mirrored in the ‘temples of the mysteries’ of the Western Mystery Tradition (WMT), which assigns one of four (compass) quarters to the traditional four elements.

Uniting the two reveals some of the keys to this schema of the human. The East, the place of the officiating priest, is allocated to Air (intellect). The West, the place of the priestess, is allocated to Water (Emotions); the North (Physicality) to Earth; and the South to Fire (the Transformative force, the summer sun at noon).

An intrinsic part of yoga’s teaching is that the four energy types that comprise our real self are responsive to our intention. They are there to respond to our will, and can, with a little consistency on our part, transform our lives.

The basic Hatha Yoga teaching that promotes this is called ‘Bhuta Shuddhi’ – the cleansing of the five elements. It is traditionally taught in small classes, but we can glean some if it’s benefits by combining our knowledge of Yoga with the WMT, making a ‘temple’ of the space around us.

The fifth element is Akasha, translated as space. This needs to be explained, separately, and represents a higher perspective on the whole.

In next week’s post, we will describe one method to create this ‘space of the personal temple’, and describe how you can, using your own words and symbols, make interaction with your four energy bodies a more conscious part of your life.

[Recent posts related to intention and attention:

Intention chooses Heaven

Intention chooses Heaven (2)]

©Stephen Tanham 2021

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.

http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog

Newton: Wholesome Soul…

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To round off our brief but succinct survey of the Alchemists,

we shall give some examples from the works

of those savants that we have so far considered.

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Finally for now, Isaac Newton…

“… First of all know antimony to be a crude and immature mineral having in itself

what is uniquely metallic, even though otherwise it is indigested.

Two parts of antimony with iron give a regulus which in its fourth fusion

exhibits a star!

By this sign you may know that the soul of the iron

has been made totally volatile by virtue of the antimony.

If this stellate regulus is melted with gold or silver by an ash heat

in an earthen pot, the whole regulus is evaporated.

Which is a mystery!”

The Key

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The ‘star-regulus‘ or little-king,

a diminutive of latin, rex, King

was regarded by Newton as the bright-star

in the heart of the constellion Leo, the lion.

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Do not be misled by references to on high,

these are not pyrotechnics in the sky,

but fire-works of the ‘minds-eye’…

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Paracelsus: Conscious Mind…

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To round off our brief but succinct survey of the Alchemists,

we shall give some examples from the works

of those savants that we have so far considered.

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Next up, Paracelsus…

“… It is necessary to state clearly what this Art comprises, what is its subject, and what its peculiarities.

First and chiefly, the principal subject of this Art is fire, which always exists in one and the same property and mode of operation, nor can it receive its life from anything else.

It possesses, therefore, a state and power, common to all fires which lie hidden in secret, of vivifying…

Just as the sun heats all things in the world both occult and apparent, but receives light from no other source, the ‘fire in the furnace’ may be compared to the sun. It heats the furnace and the vessels just as the sun lights the visible planets.

As nothing can be produced in this world without the sun, so also in this Art nothing can be produced without this simple fire. No operation can be completed without it.

It is the Great Arcanum of the Art!

It embraces all things which are comprised therein, neither can it be comprehended in anything else.

It abides in itself and needs nothing, but all others which stand in need of this can get fruition of it and have life from it, which is why, first of all, we have undertaken that this shall be made clear…”

Concerning the Spirits of the Planets

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It leads also, presumably, this fire, away from the Tower of Babel!

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Fulcanelli: Mysteries…

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To round off our brief but succinct survey of the Alchemists,

we shall give some examples from the works

of those savants that we have so far considered.

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First up, Fulcanelli…

“…For us, gothic art (fr: art gotique) is only a spelling distortion of the word argotique (slang), whose assonance is perfect in accordance with the phonetic law that governs in all languages and without taking into account spelling, the traditional cabal.

The cathedral is a work of Gothic Art or argot, that is, slang.

However, dictionaries define argot as ‘a language particular to all individuals who have an interest in communicating their thoughts to each other without being understood by those around them’ in other words, a spoken cabala.

The argoters, those who use this language, are hermetic descendants of the argonauts, who climbed aboard the Argo, spoke the argot language, which is our green language (fr: langue verte) – and sailed towards the rich shores of Colchis to conquer the famous Golden Fleece.

They still say today of a very intelligent, but also a very cunning man; he knows everything, he understands the argot, both the vagrant of the Court of Miracles – the poet Villon at their head – and the Freemasons of the Middle Ages, ‘members of the Lodge of God’ who built the argotique masterpieces that we admire today. They themselves, these builders, knew the road to the Garden of the Hesperides…”

The Mystery of the Cathedrals

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They knew also, presumably, these savants, the way from the Tower of Babel!

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The Alchemist: Last Judgement…

File:Gargoyles, Notre-Dame, Paris (3584514985).jpg - Wikimedia Commons

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Perhaps, taking his cue from what little was left of the Mediaeval originals,

Viollet-le-Duc incorporated and emphasised horns, and claws, and talons,

and tusks, and fangs, and beaks, and raised heckles, in his grotesques.

Even the feathers of the birds resembled scales, or chain-mail.

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Gargoyles of Notre Dame Cathedral - Album on Imgur

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Nature for the denizens of the two towers, which between them

encompassed the directions of West, North and South,

appeared to be red in tooth and claw,

with little or no desire to transcend that state.

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As monsters of the human mind, presumably,

this state also applied to the collective psyche,

and was, perhaps, forever exemplified by the

 inhabitants of Paris who moved through the streets below,

and over whom the grotesques so rapaciously brooded.

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Nevertheless, the monsters became objects

of deep and prolonged fascination for both Parisians

and those who came from much farther afield

to climb the spiral-stairwells, and gawp.

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File:Gargoyle, Notre Dame, Paris, France, about 1870.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

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Many of the fantastical beasts had captured prey,

and feasted, ravenously, some of them fought,

others appeared to be in the process of hunting.

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This is quite deliberate and contrasts with the Angel of the East

which sounds its heavenly horn to announce the Last Judgement.

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Parution du second volume de la biographie de Fulcanelli | Toison d'Or

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Behind Gabriel, arrayed along the length of the base of the harmonious spire,

pointing the way of ascent, stand the apostles, upright, and serene.

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But wait, what of the Christ Spirit?

Should not it too have been there?

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Folded Victory: Gargoyles at Notre-Dame de Paris | Gargoyles, De paris, Lion sculpture

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Oh, but it was…

It was one of the grotesques!